Fort Hood gunman had argument with other soldiers before opening fire on Texas Army base
FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — The Fort Hood soldier who gunned down three other military men before killing himself had an argument with colleagues in his unit before opening fire, and investigators believe his mental condition was not the "direct precipitating factor" in the shooting, authorities said Friday.
The base's commander, Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, offered those details a day after saying that Spc. Ivan Lopez's mental condition appeared to be an underlying factor in the attack.
On Friday, Milley said that an "escalating argument" precipitated the assault. He declined to discuss the cause of the argument but said investigators believe Lopez made no effort to target specific soldiers — even though at least one of the soldiers shot was involved in the dispute.
Milley would not say whether those involved were among the dead or wounded, or how many shooting victims had been a part of the argument.
"There was no premeditated targeting of an individual," he said.
Judge dismisses case against Obama administration officials over drone strikes on US citizens
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against Obama administration officials for the 2011 drone-strike killings of three U.S. citizens in Yemen, including an al-Qaida cleric.
U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer said the case raises serious constitutional issues and is not easy to answer, but that "on these facts and under this circuit's precedent," the court will grant the Obama administration's request.
The suit was against then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, then-CIA Director David Petraeus and two commanders in the military's Special Operations forces.
Permitting a lawsuit against individual officials "under the circumstances of this case would impermissibly draw the court into 'the heart of executive and military planning and deliberation,'" said Collyer. She said the suit would require the court to examine national security policy and the military chain of command as well as operational combat decisions regarding the designation of targets and how best to counter threats to the United States.
"Defendants must be trusted and expected to act in accordance with the U.S. Constitution when they intentionally target a U.S. citizen abroad at the direction of the president and with the concurrence of Congress," said Collyer. "They cannot be held personally responsible in monetary damages for conducting war." The lawsuit sought unspecified damages.
Anja Niedringhaus, slain in Afghanistan, acclaimed AP photographer of life and death
Anja Niedringhaus faced down some of the world's greatest dangers and had one of the world's loudest and most infectious laughs. She photographed dying and death, and embraced humanity and life. She gave herself to the subjects of her lens, and gave her talents to the world, with images of wars' unwitting victims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and beyond.
Shot to death by an Afghan policeman Friday, Niedringhaus leaves behind a broad body of work — from battlefields to sports fields — that won awards and broke hearts. She trained her camera on children caught between the front lines, yet who still found a place to play. She singled out soldiers amid their armies as they confronted death, injuries and attacks.
Two days before her death, she made potatoes and sausage in Kabul for veteran AP correspondent Kathy Gannon, who was wounded in the attack that killed Niedringhaus, and photographer Muhammed Muheisen.
"I was so concerned about her safety. And she was like, 'Momo, this is what I'm meant to do. I'm happy to go,'" Muheisen recalled. And then they talked, and argued. Mostly, they laughed.
Niedringhaus, 48, started her career as a freelance photographer for a local newspaper in her hometown in Hoexter, Germany, at the age of 16. Her coverage of the fall of the Berlin Wall led to a staff position with the European Pressphoto Agency in 1990. Based in Frankfurt, Sarajevo and Moscow, she spent much of her time covering the brutal conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
Afghans see hope in first democratic transition of power but fear election violence and fraud
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Two Afghan women shrouded in black emerged from a campaign rally carrying bundles of sticks with pieces of torn posters still attached. The women weren't intending to knit back together what pictures remained of the presidential hopeful. They simply needed firewood to heat their home.
Afghanistan's enduring poverty — and corruption — is making it easier for the Taliban to make inroads nearly 13 years after a U.S.-led invasion ousted them from power.
The militants have vowed to disrupt Saturday's nationwide elections with violence, and recent high-profile attacks in the heart of Kabul are clearly designed to show they are perfectly capable of doing just that.
On Friday, a veteran Associated Press photographer was killed and an AP reporter was wounded when an Afghan policeman opened fire while the two were sitting in their car in the city of Khost, in eastern Afghanistan. The two were at a security forces base, waiting to move in a convoy of election workers delivering ballots.
If voters turn out in large numbers and the Afghans are able to hold a successful election, that could undermine the Taliban's appeal by showing democracy can indeed work.
Nuclear Missteps: Leader of new probe led review that praised nuke professionalism, discipline
WASHINGTON (AP) — A retired general chosen to explore flaws in U.S. nuclear forces signed off one year ago on a study describing the nuclear Air Force as "thoroughly professional, disciplined" and performing effectively — an assessment service leaders interpreted as an encouraging thumbs-up.
The overall judgment conveyed in the April 2013 report by a Pentagon advisory group headed by retired Gen. Larry Welch, a former Air Force chief of staff, appears to contradict the picture that has emerged since then of a nuclear missile corps suffering from breakdowns in discipline, morale, training and leadership.
That same month last year, for example, an Air Force officer wrote that the nuclear missile unit at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., was suffering from "rot," including lax attitudes and a poor performance by launch officers on a March 2013 inspection.
It's unclear whether the Air Force took an overly rosy view of the Welch assessment, which was not uniformly positive, or whether his inquiry missed signs of the kinds of trouble documented in recent months in a series of Associated Press reports.
Whichever the case, Welch is again at the forefront of an effort — this time at Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's personal direction — to dig for root causes of problems that Hagel says threaten to undermine public trust in the nation's nuclear arsenal. The most recent such problem is an exam-cheating scandal at a nuclear missile base that prompted the Air Force to remove nine midlevel commanders and accept the resignation of the base's top commander. Dozens of officers implicated in the cheating face disciplinary action, and some might be kicked out.
Kerry declares it's 'reality check' time for Mideast talks after fruitless months of efforts
WASHINGTON (AP) — With Mideast peace talks on the verge of collapse, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry declared Friday that "it's reality check time" on whether an agreement can be reached anytime soon after decades of bitterness between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The U.S. will re-evaluate its role as mediator, he said.
It was Kerry's most pessimistic take yet on the peace effort after nearly nine months of frustrating talks with little progress to show.
Kerry made clear that his push for peace is not yet over, and he said both sides claim to want to continue negotiating. But he also said that continuing setbacks in the process — culminating this week with tit-for-tat moves by Israeli and Palestinian officials that have upended good-faith bargaining — could force the U.S. to shift focus to other crises where Washington might have more success.
"We have an enormous amount on the plate," Kerry told reporters during a diplomatic visit to Rabat, Morocco, the end of a marathon trip that saw him jumping back and forth between Israel, Ramallah and Europe. He noted that the U.S. is also dealing with challenges in Ukraine, Iran and Syria, and he said, "There are limits to the amount of time and effort the United States can spend if the parties themselves are unwilling to take constructive steps in order to be able to move forward."
The nine months of talks are scheduled to end April 29, and Kerry has been pressing to have them continue through much of the rest of the year. "But we're not going to sit here indefinitely," he said. "So it's reality check time, and we intend to evaluate precisely what the next steps will be."
Mozilla CEO resignation over anti-gay marriage contribution raises free-speech issues
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The resignation of Mozilla's CEO amid outrage that he supported an anti-gay marriage campaign is prompting concerns about how Silicon Valley's strongly liberal culture might quash the very openness that is at the region's foundation.
Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich stepped down Thursday as CEO, just days after his appointment. He left the nonprofit maker of the Firefox browser after furious attacks, largely on Twitter, over his $1,000 contribution to support of a now-overturned 2008 gay-marriage ban in California.
"There was no interest in creating an Internet lynch mob," OkCupid co-founder Sam Yagun, whose dating service site was among those engaged in online protest, said Friday. "I am opposed to that with every bone in my body."
But Eich's abrupt departure has stirred the debate over the fairness of forcing out a highly qualified technology executive over his personal views and a single campaign contribution six years ago. And it raises questions about how far corporate leaders are allowed to go in expressing their political views.
Some are also questioning whether the episode undercuts the well-groomed image of Silicon Valley as a marketplace of ideas and diversity of thought, and whether, in this case, the tech world surrendered to political correctness enforced through a public shaming on social media.
Samsung announces 2 anti-theft solutions for Galaxy S 5 smartphones to help prevent theft
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Samsung Electronics will add two safeguards to its latest smartphone in an effort to deter rampant theft of the mobile devices nationwide, the company said Friday.
The world's largest mobile-phone maker said users will be able to activate for free its "Find My Mobile" and "Reactivation Lock" anti-theft features to protect the soon-to-be-released Galaxy 5 S.
The features that will lock the phone if there's an unauthorized attempt to reset it will be on models sold by wireless carriers Verizon and U.S. Cellular. The phones go on sale next week.
"Samsung takes the issue of smartphone theft very seriously, and we are continuing to enhance our security and anti-theft solutions," the company said in a statement.
The announcement comes as San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other U.S. law enforcement officials demand that manufacturers create kill switches to combat surging smartphone theft across the country.
Black military women concerned that new Army hair regulations unfairly target them
WASHINGTON (AP) — New Army regulations meant to help standardize and professionalize soldiers' appearance are now coming under criticism by some black military women, who say changes in the hair requirement are racially biased.
The Army earlier this week issued new appearance standards, which included bans on most twists, dreadlocks and large cornrows, all styles used predominantly by African-American women with natural hairstyles. More than 11,000 people have signed a White House petition asking President Barack Obama, the commander in chief, to have the military review the regulations to allow for "neat and maintained natural hairstyles."
Some black military women, who make up about a third of the women in the armed forces, feel they have been singled out with these new regulations.
"I think that it primarily targets black women, and I'm not in agreement with it," said Patricia Jackson-Kelley of the National Association of Black Military Women. "I don't see how a woman wearing three braids in her hair, how that affects her ability to perform her duty in the military."
Even before the current controversy, the association had already planned to showcase the hairstyles of African-American women in the military throughout the years at its national convention in Phoenix in September.
Twin brothers Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison maestros orchestrating Kentucky's Final Four run
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Whether they're setting up game-winning shots or hitting them, Andrew and Aaron Harrison have become the maestros orchestrating Kentucky's unexpected run to the Final Four.
Andrew is the point guard who runs the show. He's dished out 21 assists in four NCAA tournament games, including six in a win over Michigan that sent the Wildcats to Dallas.
Aaron is the shooting guard with the hot outside stroke. He had 12 points against the Wolverines, including the deciding 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in a 75-72 victory.
Naturally, his twin brother made the pass.
Now, the Harrison boys will try to guide Kentucky past Wisconsin in the national semifinals on Saturday night, and move one step close to winning the Wildcats' ninth national title.