Guthrie Public Library - Online Catalog
Officials: Mayor shot, killed by wife
The mayor of a city in Los Angeles County, California, was shot and killed Tuesday, an official said.
Hikers' bodies moved from volcano
Efforts to recover bodies from an erupting volcano in central Japan resumed Wednesday, after search teams had been hampered by gas and hot ash shooting into the air.
35,000 walruses crowd one beach
Arctic ice is dwindling, the waters of the North Pacific Ocean are the warmest on record and tens of thousands of walruses have taken notice, "hauling out" on an Alaskan beach in numbers never seen before.
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Terror charges dropped against former Guantanamo prisoner
Moazzam Begg was released from Belmarsh Prison in London on Oct. 1. The Crown Prosecution Service has dropped seven terrorism-related charges against the former Guantanamo Bay detainee, deciding there was insufficient evidence to continue with the prosecution. Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images
British prosecutors have dropped seven terrorism-related charges against former Guantanamo Bay prisoner, Moazzam Begg, Wednesday, just days before his Oct. 6 trial.
Begg was accused of attending a terrorist training camp in Syria between Oct. 9, 2012 and April 9, 2013, possessing a document likely to be of use to a terrorist, and facilitating terrorism, according to the BBC. He pleaded not guilty.
The charges against Begg were dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service said it had insufficient evidence to prosecute him.
Assistant chief constable Marcus Beale said, “New material has recently been disclosed to police and CPS, which has a significant impact on key pieces of evidence that underpinned the prosecution’s case.”
Following his release, Begg told reporters that he was happy with the outcome and that it was “important to point out some of the government’s failures in its foreign policy and its internal policy.”
In a statement released by Asim Qureshi, research director of Cage, a London-based organization that advocates for the fair treatment of individuals affected by the “war on terror” said that it “has been a testing time for Moazzam, his family and the Muslim community.”
Prior to his arrest, Begg served as the director of outreach for the organization.
In 2002, Begg was arrested in Pakistan as a suspected al-Qaida member and was subsequently held at the U.S. air base in Bagram, Afghanistan. He later was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where he was behind bars for nearly three years. Begg was returned to Britain but did not face prosecution.
Begg was arrested earlier this year along with three others and has been in prison since March.
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Obama, Netanyahu discuss Iran, civilian deaths
President Barack Obama (right) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House on Oct. 1 in Washington, D.C. They were expected to discuss U.S. efforts against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, Iranian nuclear capabilities, and the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
Updated at 12:30 p.m. EDT:
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pressed each other politely but firmly Wednesday to address areas of tension in their relationship, with the U.S. president calling for an end to Palestinian civilian deaths and the Israeli leader warning of the consequences of leaving Iran with nuclear capabilities.
Obama and Netanyahu spoke to reporters before convening private discussions in the Oval Office. It’s the first time the two leaders have met since Israel’s summer war with Hamas, which killed more than 2,100 Palestinians — the vast majority of them civilians — and more than 70 Israelis.
The civilian deaths in Gaza deeply angered U.S. officials, prompting more biting public condemnations of Israel’s actions than are typical from the Obama administration.
Sitting alongside Netanyahu Wednesday, Obama said leaders must “find ways to change the status quo so that both Israel citizens are safe in their own homes, and schoolchildren in their schools, from the possibility of rocket fire but also that we don’t have the tragedy of Palestinian children being killed as well.”
Much of Obama and Netanyahu’s meeting was expected to focus on the U.S-led nuclear negotiations with Iran. The U.S. and its negotiating partners — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — have until Nov. 24 to reach a deal with Iran, though all sides say significant gaps remain.
Israel sees Iran’s attempt to build a nuclear weapon as an existential threat, and Netanyahu reiterated his skepticism that the diplomatic process will be allow Tehran to keep aspects of its program intact.
“Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a threshold nuclear power,” Netanyahu told Obama. “And I firmly hope under your leadership that would not happen.”
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Obama and Netanyahu were also expected to discuss the U.S.-led airstrike campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, an effort the Israeli leader said he “fully supports.” During a speech at the United Nations earlier this week, Netanyahu sought to draw a comparison between the Islamic State group and Hamas.
Also on the agenda for Wednesday’s talks were stalled efforts to forge peace between Israel and Palestinians. The process broke down earlier this year and there’s has been little sign that either side is eager to resume talks.
Instead, the Palestinians plan to ask the U.N. Security Council to set a deadline of November 2016 for an Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian territory occupied since 1967 including East Jerusalem.
The draft resolution, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, would affirm the Security Council’s determination to contribute to attaining a peaceful solution that ends the Israeli occupation “without delay” and fulfills the vision of two states, “an independent, sovereign, democratic, contiguous and viable state of Palestine” living side by side with Israel in peace and security in borders based on those before the 1967 Mideast war.
The Palestinian quest for Security Council action is likely to face an uphill struggle in the U.N.’s most powerful body where the United States, Israel’s closest ally, has veto power and has used it to block many Palestinian-related resolutions.
U.S. officials have long told their Palestinian counterparts that a negotiated solution with Israel is the only way to resolve the conflict.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, has begun calling for more bringing an alliance of moderate Arab states into the peace process, an idea he said he would raise during his meeting with Obama.
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Senior congressman wants Secret Service chief out
Secret Service Director Julia Pierson testifies at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the White House perimeter breach on Sept. 30 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Updated at 12:07 p.m. EDT with clarification of Cummings’ remarks:
WASHINGTON — A senior Republican lawmaker wants Secret Service Director Julia Pierson to leave her job, and a senior Democrat said Wednesday he is not comfortable with her leading the Secret Service but subsequently said he hasn’t decided whether she should resign or be fired.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, unconditionally called for Pierson’s ouster in a television interview Tuesday night, hours after a congressional hearing in which Pierson sought to explain an embarrassing White House security breach.
“It’s time that she be fired by the president of the United States or she resign,” he said.
On Wednesday, Rep. Elijah Cummings told MSNBC that he did “not feel comfortable with her in that position.” A spokeswoman, Aryele N. Bradford, confirmed to The Associated Press that Cummings was calling for Pierson’s ouster. But Cummings later tweeted, “I have not decided about Pierson, but I’m not comfortable about the safety of the president of the United States of America.”
Chaffetz and Cummings are senior members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. They notably did not call for Pierson’s firing or resignation during the committee’s hearing Tuesday.
The Sept 19 incident involving a Texas Army veteran who jumped the White House fence and was able to make it deep into the executive mansion before being stopped is now just one of several embarrassing disclosures about lapses in presidential security that just keep coming for the Secret Service.
Despite more than three hours of questioning by House lawmakers on Tuesday, Pierson neglected to mention another security breach that occurred just days before.
On Sept. 16, a security contractor armed with a gun who had previously been arrested for assault rode on an elevator with Obama and his security detail at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, violating Secret Service protocol. It was not immediately clear Wednesday whether the contractor, who was not identified by name, had actually been convicted of a crime. The Washington Examiner and The Washington Post reported details of that breach and reported that the guard had been convicted, just hours after Pierson finished testifying at the House hearing. A convicted person generally is not allowed to carry a gun.
A Secret Service spokesman confirmed the Atlanta elevator incident late Tuesday but did not elaborate, citing an ongoing investigation of the episode. It was not clear whether the president or Pierson herself knew about the incident until recently.
Pierson on Tuesday had won a vote of low confidence from the lawmakers, who called at that time instead for additional reviews into the agency’s incidents. The chairman of the House committee with oversight responsibilities for the Secret Service called for an independent commission to do a “top-to-bottom” review of the agency.
“I am deeply concerned with the lack of transparency from the Secret Service regarding the recent security breach at the White House,” Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said of the Sept. 19 incident. “This latest episode adds to the growing list of failures from an agency plagued by operational challenges, cultural problems and reporting difficulties.”
At Tuesday’s hearing, Pierson said she is the one who briefs Obama on threats to his personal security and said she had briefed him only once this year, “for the Sept. 19 incident.” She also disclosed that shortly before the alleged intruder, Omar J. Gonzalez, scaled the fence at least two of her uniformed officers recognized him from an earlier troubling encounter but did not approach him or report his presence to superiors.
On Aug. 25, Gonzalez was stopped while carrying a small hatchet near the fence south of the White House, Pierson said.
Lawmakers were aghast, too, about a four-day delay in 2011 before the Secret Service realized a man had fired a high-powered rifle at the White House, as reported by the Post on Sunday.
Pierson told the hearing the security plan for protecting the White House was not “properly executed” on Sept. 19 when the intruder sprinted across the White House North Lawn and through the unlocked front door of the mansion, knocking over a Secret Service officer and then running past the staircase that leads to the first family’s residential quarters. He ran through the East Room before being tackled by a Secret Service agent near the entrance to the Green Room. The Post reported Tuesday that the agent was off duty at the time and just happened to be in the area.
The Secret Service’s story about the extent of that breach changed late Monday night after the Post reported that Gonzalez got well past the front door of the White House. Previously it had said Gonzalez had been stopped just inside the front door. After hours of questioning Tuesday, it remained unclear what and when Pierson and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson knew about the incident. The Secret Service is part of the Homeland Security Department.
Three days after the breach, Johnson described it as “events on the North Lawn of the White House.”
No one has been fired or demoted since the Sept. 19 White House intrusion.
Pierson said she was conducting an internal review to determine the facts. Wednesday marks day 12 of that review. Pierson did not say when it was expected to be completed, but said the results would guide any security adjustments and personnel actions “that are necessary to properly ensure the safety and security of the president and first family and the White House.”
Gonzalez was indicted Tuesday and was scheduled to appear Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in U.S. District Court.
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