Death toll in violence in Egypt between police, ex-president's supporters rises to 421
CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian Health Ministry spokesman has further raised the death toll from the previous day's clashes between police and supporters of the country's ousted president to 421.
The spokesman, Khaled el-Khateeb, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the number of injured in the previous day's violence has also risen to 3,572.
He says the ministry was in the process of updating the latest figures and that an even higher death toll was likely.
Wednesday's violence began when police moved to clear two sit-in camps in Cairo by supporters of Mohammed Morsi, ousted in a military coup on July 3. The clashes there later spread to elsewhere in Cairo and a string of other cities.
The violence prompted the government to declare a nationwide, month-long state of emergency.
Egypt's conflict enters new phase after Islamists driven from pro-Morsi protest camp
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt faced new uncertainty Thursday, the day after security forces drove out Mohammed Morsi's supporters from two sprawling encampments where they had been camped out for six weeks demanding the Islamist president's reinstatement. The move, which left dozens of protesters dead and saw the arrest of several leaders of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, has left the fundamentalist movement dangerously isolated. It also prompted Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and pro-reform leader in the interim government, to resign in protest over the violent crackdown as the military-backed leadership imposed a monthlong state of emergency and nighttime curfew.
The interim administration that took over after Morsi was toppled on July 3 has been warning for days that it planned to crackdown on the tent cities, which clogged intersections on opposite sides of the Egyptian capital. The government accused the protesters of frightening residents in the neighborhoods, sparking violence and disrupting traffic. Military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who ousted Morsi, called for mass rallies last month to show support action against the protesters. Millions turned up on July 26 to declare their support. The government later said diplomatic efforts had failed and the decision to clear the sit-ins was "irreversible." Morsi's supporters fortified their positions and even more people flooded the camps after plans for a crackdown on Monday morning were leaked to the media. Police announced they were postponing the decision but did not give a new date.
WHAT LED TO THIS?
Morsi was Egypt's first democratically elected leader after winning the first post-Hosni Mubarak presidential election with just under 52 percent of the vote. His rise to the helm of power was a sharp reversal for the Muslim Brotherhood, repressed for decades under Mubarak's rule, and it was part of a general rise to power of Islamists following the Arab Spring wave of revolutions that led to the ouster of Mubarak and autocratic leaders in Tunisia and Libya. But Morsi faced a backlash as liberal and secular activists accused him and the Muslim Brotherhood of trying to monopolize power and failing to implement much-needed social and economic reforms. Morsi and his backers argued they were doomed to fail because of constant protests and efforts to undermine his government. His government also drew criticism over a series of charges and complaints against activists, journalists and TV personalities, including well-known satirist Bassem Youssef, for insulting Morsi and even sometimes for insulting Islam. An activist group called Tamarod, or Rebel in Arabic, drew millions to the streets to call for Morsi's ouster on June 30, the anniversary of his inauguration. The powerful military responded by taking Morsi into custody on July 3 and forming an interim civilian leadership.
Papers show Calif. man called teen 13 times on day he abducted her, fled to Idaho
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Court papers shed new light on the slayings of a California mother and son and abduction of a teenager by a family friend, revealing that the suspect tortured his victims before he killed them and exchanged more than a dozen calls earlier that day with the teen.
Warrants unsealed Wednesday do not describe the torture but say firefighters found the mother's body in James Lee DiMaggio's garage near a crowbar and what appeared to be blood next to her head. DiMaggio is believed to have shot and killed their family dog, found under a sleeping bag in the garage with blood close to its head.
Investigators found the child's body as they sifted through rubble.
DiMaggio and 16-year-old Hannah Anderson exchanged about 13 calls before Hannah was picked up from cheerleading practice on Aug. 4. Both phones were turned off, and the home burned several hours later.
The warrants don't specify the times, duration or nature of the calls. San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore has been adamant that Hannah Anderson was taken against her will.
US: Embassy closings spurred by al-Qaida threat circulating on secretive jihadi chat rooms
WASHINGTON (AP) — In secretive chat rooms and on encrypted Internet message boards, al-Qaida fighters have been planning and coordinating attacks — including a threatened if vague plot that U.S. officials say closed 19 diplomatic posts across Africa and the Middle East for more than a week.
It's highly unlikely that al-Qaida's top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, or his chief lieutenant in Yemen, Nasser al-Wahishi, were personally part of the Internet chatter or, given the intense manhunt for both by U.S. spy agencies, that they ever go online or pick up the phone to discuss terror plots, experts say.
But the unspecified call to arms by the al-Qaida leaders, using a multilayered subterfuge to pass messages from couriers to tech-savvy underlings to attackers, provoked a quick reaction by the U.S. to protect Americans in far-flung corners of the world where the terror network is evolving into regional hubs.
For years, extremists have used online forums to share information and drum up support, and over the past decade they have developed systems that blend encryption programs with anonymity software to hide their tracks. Jihadist technology may now be so sophisticated and secretive, experts say, that many communications avoid detection by National Security Agency programs that were designed to uncover terror plots.
"This creates a bit of a cat-and-mouse game between terrorist groups that can buy commercial technology and intelligence agencies that are trying to find ways to continue to monitor," said Seth Jones, a former adviser to U.S. special operations forces and counterterrorism expert at Rand Corp., a Washington-based think tank that receives U.S. government funding. "Some of the technology you can buy is pretty good, and it evolves, and it is a game that is constantly evolving."
Republican officials push rising stars amid calls for solutions on major issues
BOSTON (AP) — Republican officials are looking to promote a fresh group of diverse rising stars to help resolve their election woes, while frustrated party elders insist that all Republicans must offer more solutions for the nation's most pressing issues.
The calls for change come nine months after a painful 2012 election in which the GOP lost the presidential race and a handful of close Senate contests. A tug of war over the Republican Party's future is on display as conservative activists and party leaders from across the country gather in Boston this week for the Republican National Committee's annual summer meeting.
"We have to get beyond being anti-Obama," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared at the gathering Wednesday, offering a particularly harsh critique of Republican strategy on health care.
Gingrich said congressional Republicans would have "zero answer" for how to replace the president's health care overhaul when asked, despite their having voted repeatedly to repeal the measure.
"We are caught right now in a culture, and you see it every single day, where as long as we're negative and as long as we're vicious and as long as we can tear down our opponent, we don't have to learn anything. And so we don't," Gingrich said. "This is a very deep problem."
UPS plane crash rattles residents near Ala. airport who worried about low-flying aircraft
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Residents in a hilly neighborhood near Birmingham's airport worried about the possibility of a plane crashing into their homes for years before a UPS cargo jet nearly did just that.
The A300 jet headed from Louisville, Ky., to Birmingham, Ala., landed in a field near the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport around daybreak Wednesday, killing the two pilots on board and scattering wreckage over a wide area. The aircraft rained pieces of metal into front yards and sheared off a piece of one family's back deck.
The crash happened in a grassy field where a neighborhood stood until several years ago, when airport officials began buying up and then razing the houses to clear the area near the end of the runway.
But such offers, which began in 1986, weren't made on some of the nearby houses, including that of Cornelius and Barbara Benson, who live in a two-story, split-foyer home just a short walk from the crash site.
"Hopefully we can get out of here now," said Cornelius Benson.
Pfc. Bradley Manning takes stand at sentencing hearing, apologizes for hurting US with leaks
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Pfc. Bradley Manning took the stand Wednesday at his sentencing hearing in the WikiLeaks case and apologized for hurting his country, pleading with a military judge for a chance to go to college and become a productive citizen.
He addressed the court on a day of often emotional testimony from family members about his troubled childhood and from a psychologist who said Manning felt extreme mental pressure in the "hyper-masculine" military because of his gender-identity disorder — his feeling that he was a woman trapped in a man's body.
"I am sorry that my actions hurt people. I'm sorry that they hurt the United States," he said as he began.
The soldier said that he understood what he was doing but that he did not believe at the time that leaking a mountain of classified information to the anti-secrecy website would cause harm to the U.S.
Though he often showed little reaction to court proceedings during most of the two and a half month court-martial, Manning appeared to struggle to contain his emotions several times Wednesday during testimony from his sister, an aunt and two mental health counselors, one who treated him and another who diagnosed him with several problems.
Paraguay's new president, target of undercover US probe, is a millionaire tobacco magnate
ASUNCION, Paraguay (AP) — The man taking over as Paraguay's new president Thursday has built a family fortune in one of the most unequal places in South America, dominating industries from banking to tobacco to soft drinks to soccer.
The 57-year-old Horacio Cartes also is a political neophyte who never registered to vote before running for president, and he's often faced accusations that his family's fortune was fed by money laundering, cigarette smuggling and drug trafficking.
Paraguayan voters overlooked these allegations, focusing instead on hopes that the boyish-looking businessman from the dominant Colorado Party can help the country reap more benefit from windfall soy profits that are boosting the economy at 10 percent a year.
His Grupo Cartes has grown quickly to include more than two dozen companies employing 3,500 people, and he won April's election with 46 percent support by promising to use his expertise to create more jobs. Inaugural organizers said his most important encounter Thursday would be a lunch with 150 foreign executives eager to improve the economic infrastructure in the country of 6.2 million people, where 39 percent of people live in poverty.
"We have declared war on poverty, and from this government we will call no truce," Cartes said in his victory speech.
Obama fills vacation time with golf and friends while waiting for kids to come from camp
WEST TISBURY, Mass. (AP) — President Barack Obama is filling his Martha's Vineyard vacation with golf, visits to friends' homes and dinners out with the first lady. But he will have to wait just a little bit longer to do one other thing: spend time with his daughters.
For the first time, Malia and Sasha Obama are missing from the family's vacation on this coastal Massachusetts island as they finish up at summer camp. White House spokesmen will only say that they will reunite with their parents later this week, without giving a specific date.
"When they get here, we'll let you know," said spokesman Josh Earnest.
Michelle Obama arrived Saturday with her husband and the family dog, Bo. Obama returns to Washington on Sunday.
In the meantime, the president is staying at a 5,000-square-foot, $7 million Chilmark home rented from Chicago friend David Schulte and is filling his days with golf, dinner outings with his wife of 20 years and basketball, among other leisurely pursuits.
Heyday already behind, drive-in theaters face the latest dilemma: Go digital or go dark
LANCASTER, Ohio (AP) — Through 80 summers, drive-in theaters have managed to remain a part of the American fabric, surviving technological advances and changing tastes that put thousands out of business. Now the industry says a good chunk of the 350 or so left could be forced to turn out the lights because they can't afford to adapt to the digital age.
Movie studios are phasing out 35 mm film prints, and the switch to an eventually all-digital distribution system is pushing the outdoor theaters to make the expensive change to digital projectors.
The $70,000-plus investment required per screen is significant, especially for what is in most places a summertime business kept alive by mom-and-pop operators. Paying for the switch would suck up most owners' profits for years to come.
The United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association figures 50 to 60 theaters have already converted. At least one operator has decided to close down instead of switch, but it's not clear how many more might bite the dust.
"Everyone knows eventually that you'll be digital or you'll close your doors," says Walt Effinger, whose Skyvue Drive-In in the central Ohio town of Lancaster has been showing movies on an 80-foot screen since 1948. "Some will. If you're not doing enough business to justify the expense, you're just going to have to close up."