Pakistani commandos arrive at an air force base in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. Militants in northwestern Pakistan attacked an air force base on the outskirts of Peshawar early Friday, triggering a shootout that left at least 20 wounded and six of the attackers dead, officials said. (Mohammad Sajjad/Associated Press)
By Riaz Khan and Munir Ahmed | APSeptember 18 at 8:07 AM
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A brazen Taliban attack on a Pakistani military base on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar killed 20 people on Friday, including 16 worshippers who were gunned down when the militants stormed a mosque inside the compound during prayers.
The attack triggered an hours-long firefight at the base and the Pakistani forces said they killed 13 of the attackers, though it was unclear how many were involved in the assault. Apart from 16 slain inside the mosque, three guards employed with the air force and an army captain were also killed, officials said.
The attack was a major blow for Pakistan’s military, which stepped up operations against the militants following a horrific Taliban attack last December at a Peshawar school that killed 150 people, mostly children. It also underscored the ability of the militants to stage spectacular attacks on targets linked to the country’s military and government.
In Friday’s assault, the attackers first stormed the guard room of the Badaber base, according to air force officials. The base was established in 1960s as an air force facility but has mostly been used as a residential place for air force employees and officers from Peshawar.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said 13 attackers were killed by the security forces. He said the attack was quickly repulsed and that the bodies of the slain “terrorist” were lying on the ground in the base compound.
However, details about how the Taliban managed to make their way into the mosque, which is inside the compound walls, and gun down 16 people during prayers were sketchy.
Bajwa said the militants entered the base from different directions in a two-pronged assault — apparently one push targeted the mosque — but that security forces quickly responded.
It was also unclear if any of the attackers got away.
According to Bajwa and a statement released by the air force, along with those killed, 10 soldiers were wounded in the firefight with militants, along with an unspecified number of civilians. The dead and most the wounded were taken to a military hospital in the area, where access was barred to reporters.
After just two months, sexting aficionado Anthony Weiner has been pushed out of his consulting position at public relations group MWW over the negative attention the disgraced congressman brought to the firm.
MWW chief Michael Kempner announced the former politician’s departure from the firm, which mainly focuses on crisis management, in an internal memo obtained by the New York Post.
“Over the past few months, it has become clear that a handful of people and a few media outlets continue to be fixated on Anthony, attempting to cause harm to him and by extension to our agency,” Kempner wrote. “The continuous noise from these parties has caused both Anthony and the MWW team to have to deal with many inflammatory, insulting and false stories. To Anthony’s credit, he understands that his presence here has created noise and distraction that just isn’t helpful, and at the same time, he has other interests that he wishes to pursue.”
Weiner, who was forced to resign his congressional post after it was revealed he was sending women lewd pictures over Twitter, said he didn’t express the same sentiments as his former boss.
The remains of 16 pyramids with tombs underneath have been discovered in a cemetery near the ancient town of Gematon in Sudan.
They date back around 2,000 years, to a time when a kingdom called “Kush” flourished in Sudan. Pyramid building was popular among the Kushites. They built them until their kingdom collapsed in the fourth century AD.
Derek Welsby, a curator at the British Museum in London, and his team have been excavating at Gematon since 1998, uncovering the 16 pyramids, among many other finds, in that time. “So far, we’ve excavated six made out of stone and 10 made out of mud brick,” Welsby said.
Wealthy and powerful individuals built some of the pyramids, while people of more modest means built the others, Welsby said. “They’re not just the upper-elite burials,” he said.
In fact, not all the tombs in the cemetery have pyramids: Some are buried beneath simple rectangular structures called “mastaba,” whereas others are topped with piles of rocks called “tumuli.” Meanwhile, other tombs have no surviving burial markers at all.
A tin-bronze offering table was found in one of the tombs beneath a pyramid in the cemetery in Sudan.
Credit: D. A. Welsby; Copyright SARS NDRS Archive
In one tomb, archaeologists discovered an offering table made of tin-bronze. Carved into the tableis a scene showing a prince or priest offering incense and libations to the god Osiris, the ruler of the underworld. Behind Osiris is the goddess Isis, who is also shown pouring libations to Osiris.
Though Osiris and Isis originated in Egypt, they were also venerated in Kush as well as other parts of the ancient world. The offering table “is a royal object,” Welsby said. The person buried with this table “must have been someone very senior in the royal family.”
Most of the tombs had been robbed, to some degree, in ancient or modern times. The only tomb with a pyramid that survived intact held 100 faience beads (faience is a type of ceramic) and the remains of three infants. The fact that the infants were buried without gold treasures may have dissuaded thieves from robbing the tomb, Welsby said.
Beneath this pyramid in Sudan, archaeologists found a burial chamber holding the skeletal remains of three young children, buried with faience beads.
Credit: D. A. Welsby; Copyright SARS NDRS Archive
The Kushite kingdom controlled a vast amount of territory in Sudan between 800 B.C. and the fourth century A.D. There are a number of reasons why the Kushite kingdom collapsed, Welsby said.
One important reason is that the Kushite rulers lost several sources of revenue. A number of trade routes that had kept the Kushite rulers wealthy bypassed the Nile Valley, and instead went through areas that were not part of Kush. As a result, Kush lost out on the economic benefits, and the Kush rulers lost out on revenue opportunities. Additionally, as the economy of the Roman Empire deteriorated, trade between the Kushites and Romans declined, further draining the Kushite rulers of income.
As the Kushite leaders lost wealth, their ability to rule faded. Gematon was abandoned, and pyramid building throughout Sudan ceased.
Wind-blown sands, which had always been a problem for those living at Gematon, covered both the town and its nearby pyramids.
General Motors agreed to pay $900 million as part of a Justice Department investigation into its failure to fix a deadly ignition-switch defect blamed for more than 120 deaths.
Federal prosecutors hit GM with a wire-fraud charge and a charge for “engaging in a scheme to conceal a deadly safety defect” from regulators. But those counts would be dismissed in three years if GM fixes its recall processes. GM’s official plea is not guilty.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara left the door open to prosecuting specific GM employees. But he said it’s difficult to pin blame on an individual who may have had only partial knowledge of a backward bureaucratic process that led to tragedy.
“We’re not done, and it remains possible we will charge an individual,” Bharara said at a news conference in New York. “If there is a way to bring a case like that, we will bring it.”
GM engineers, attorneys and midlevel executives failed to fix the defect for more than a decade.
“To sum it up, they didn’t tell the truth in the best way that they should have, to their regulators, to the public, about the serious safety defects that risked life and limb,” Bharara said.
As part of the settlement, GM admitted to having defrauded customers by marketing its vehicles as safe during that period.
Separately, GM reached a deal to extend settlement offers to up to 1,385 additional victims of the defect. GM also confirmed that it has settled a shareholder lawsuit over its handling of the matter — with the two civil settlements collectively accounting for a $575 million charge on its third-quarter earnings.
That means the defect has now cost GM more than $2 billion in fines and settlements, a figure that does not include the cost of actually fixing 2.6 million recalled vehicles.
GM CEO Mary Barra on Thursday apologized again for the company’s behavior and said she’s overhauled internal procedures to encourage efficient communication and transparency.
“We promised to take responsibility for our actions,” she told employees in a town hall meeting. “So we accept the penalties being announced today because that’s what it means to be held accountable. But apologies and accountability won’t count for much if we don’t change our behavior. We can be proud that we have.”
The Justice Department will appoint a monitor to oversee the automaker’s recall processes for three years. No individual GM employees have been prosecuted, though prosecutors noted in the settlement documents that GM had fired “wrongdoers.”
That has been met with scorn from victims of the defect.
“There are people at GM who made decisions that caused these deaths. Yet, they will not suffer any consequences,” said Laura Christian, whose 16-year-old birth daughter Amber Marie Rose was killed in a July 2005 crash in a car affected by the defect, in a statement.
Bharara said the case posed a challenge because there are no federal laws that specifically cover failure to disclose motor vehicle safety defects.
“In the end, we can only do what the law permits,” Bharara said. “This is not only about justice for certain families, but for the safety of the car-driving public going forward.”
In a 52-page document chronicling their findings, federal investigators recited many of the same details regarding GM’s failure to fix the defect that were disclosed in various investigations in 2014, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and congressional committees.
That included a statement to the press in 2005 acknowledging the issue but claiming that it did not pose a safety matter.
By no later than 2012, GM realized that the faulty ignition switches could cut off power to air bags, thus endangering front-seat passengers in a bad accident.
But instead of disclosing the issue, GM “concealed the defect from NHTSA and the public, taking the matter ‘offline,’ outside the normal recall process, so that the company could buy time to package, present, explain and manage the issue,” according to the settlement documents to which GM stipulated.
Barra, who did not know about the defect until days before it was publicly disclosed in February 2014, dismissed about 15 employees after an internal investigation blamed those workers for failing to disclose or fix the deadly flaw.
On Thursday, she called the settlement a “tough agreement” but appropriate. She told GM employees it’s imperative to never forget the company’s failures on this issue.
Before Thursday’s deal with additional victims, the automaker had already agreed to offer settlements for families of 124 people who were killed and 275 who were injured.
People who opted to sue GM instead of taking the original settlements may get compensated as part of the settlement negotiated by Texas attorney Bob Hilliard.
Lauren Gomez, a spokeswoman for Hilliard, said in an email that another 370 potential injury victims and families of another 84 potential victims who were killed are not part of the deal. Hilliard will continue to pursue lawsuits in those cases.
It was not immediately clear how many of the 1,385 additional plaintiffs who may qualify for settlements are tied to fatal cases or injury crashes. GM spokesman Pat Morrissey said he could not disclose that information.
GM said the plaintiffs, which it said numbered 1,380, represent about 60% of the personal-injury lawsuits it faces.
The shareholder lawsuit, which was filed in a federal court in Michigan, posed a threat to GM because it called into question the automaker’s failure to adequately disclose substantive financial risks to its investors.
The settlement of the criminal investigation into GM’s handling of the defective ignition switches comes after the matter triggered recalls of small cars, mostly from the 2003 through 2007 model years, such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion.
“Lives were taken and families were devastated, and there is no way to ever change that sad fact,” Hilliard said. “Still, this agreement will allow some healing, as GM recognizes, through its payment of financial compensation.”
GM last year created a settlement fund administered by lawyer Ken Feinberg, who also ran the 9/11 victims compensation fund. Feinberg has approved settlement offers of more than $1 million per victim of fatal accidents — and often much more.
Prosecutors credited GM with providing “unvarnished” facts and what Bharara described as “fairly extraordinary” cooperation with their investigation. The company also faces probes by state attorneys general and other lawsuits.
Lance Cooper — a Georgia attorney who discovered the hidden defect during a lawsuit, triggering the chain of events that led to its public disclosure — blasted the settlement.
“We had hoped that justice would be served in the criminal investigation of GM,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, it’s the same old story — if you have enough power and money you can always buy your way out of truly being held accountable for your misdeeds.”
The ignition-switch defect caused small cars, mostly from GM’s pre-bankruptcy era, to turn off suddenly when jostled, cutting off engine power and disabling airbags.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
Sky News – Revealed: How Lee Harvey Oswald Planned Escape
Lee Harvey Oswald visited embassies in Mexico apparently planning his escape before he assassinated President John F Kennedy, according to newly declassified CIA documents.
Three days after the shooting in Dallas, Texas, on 22 November 1963, Lyndon B Johnson was informed that Oswald had visited the Cuban and former Soviet Union embassies in Mexico City on 28 September that year to arrange visas.
Oswald, a former US Marine who defected to the Soviet Union in 1959, used a sniper rifle to shoot President Kennedy in the head as he was driven through Dealey Plaza, Dallas, in an open motorcade.
He was arrested 45 minutes later on suspicion of shooting a police officer before being charged with killing Mr Kennedy. Oswald was shot dead by night club owner Jack Ruby two days later.
The report is among nearly 19,000 pages of newly declassified documents from the Cold War released by the CIA.
Many of the documents are stamped “For the President’s Eyes Only” and were delivered to the White House.
Known as the President’s Daily Brief, they are tightly guarded rundowns of CIA intelligence from around the globe.
Among the other documents was top-secret intelligence that a new warhead had been spotted in Cuba in 1962 as the US and Russia were on the brink of nuclear war.
But conspiracy theorists looking for CIA plots are likely to be disappointed as many of the intelligence briefs remain partially blacked out.
William Inboden, who worked under President George W Bush and leads the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas, said the memos reveal real-time intelligence which shaped decisions from the Bay of Pigs to Vietnam.
He said: “These are an incomparable window into how a president thinks.
“When we’re reading these, it’s a mirror image of what the president’s concerns were.”
The documents also reveal that the CIA published a second brief after Mr Kennedy’s assassination.
It had no intelligence in it, only a poem the late president was fond of which read: “Bullfight critics ranked in rows/Crowd the enormous plaza full/But only one is there who knows/And he’s the man who fights the bull.”
They also contain intelligence briefings from Vietnam.
The release of the documents, posted on the CIA website, comes from a 2009 executive order by President Barack Obama that all classified material is automatically declassified and released after 25 years.
DALLAS — American Airlines stopped flights heading to Dallas, Chicago and Miami on Thursday because of a computer-systems problem.
American spokesman Casey Norton said the airline did not immediately know the cause of the outage, which began around 11 a.m. CDT. He said crews were working to fix it.
The Federal Aviation Administration said that American Airlines planes destined for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, O’Hare Airport in Chicago and Miami International Airport were being held on the ground until midafternoon.
American did not immediately say how many flights were affected.
Four flights from Denver International Airport were held to help ease American’s internal congestion, airport spokesman Heath Montgombery said.
“No other AA flights are showing delays the rest of the day. We are told that the issue is in the process of being resolved and the airline should be recovering soon,” he said in an e-mail. “If passengers have an American Airlines flight today, it’s a good idea to check your flights status with American directly.”
The outage comes at an awkward time for American Airline Group Inc., the world’s biggest airline. In less than a month, the company plans to complete combining the reservations systems of American and its US Airways subsidiary and retiring the US Airways brand.
Combining technology systems is a difficult feat that has tripped up other airlines, notably leading to several outages at United Airlines after it merged with Continental Airlines in 2010. United suffered two major outages this summer.
American has made meticulous plans to avoid a similar fate. Among other moves, it will reduce flights to lighten the load on its network while it combines the two reservations systems.