Investigators found fired nuke commander may have made counterfeit poker chips
WASHINGTON (AP) — The admiral fired last year as No. 2 commander of U.S. nuclear forces may have made his own counterfeit $500 poker chips with paint and stickers to feed a gambling habit that eventually saw him banned from an entire network of casinos, according to a criminal investigative report obtained by The Associated Press.
Although Rear Adm. Timothy M. Giardina’s removal as deputy head of U.S. Strategic Command was announced last year, evidence of his possible role in manufacturing the counterfeit chips has not previously been revealed. Investigators said they found his DNA on the underside of an adhesive sticker used to alter genuine $1 poker chips to make them look like $500 chips.
Nor had the Navy disclosed how extensively he gambled.
The case is among numerous embarrassing setbacks for the nuclear force. Disciplinary problems, security flaws, weak morale and leadership lapses documented by The Associated Press over the past two years prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Nov. 14 to announce top-to-bottom changes in how the nuclear force is managed that will cost up to $10 billion.
The records obtained by the AP under the Freedom of Information Act show Giardina was a habitual poker player, spending a total of 1,096 hours — or an average of 15 hours per week — at the tables at the Horseshoe casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the 18 months before being caught using three phony chips in June 2013.
Economists say broader immigration overhaul would drive more growth than Obama’s actions
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s expansive executive action on immigration is good for the U.S. economy — just not as good as partnering with Congress on broader reforms.
The executive order signed Friday would prevent the deportation of about 4 million parents and guardians who lack the same legal status as their children. By gaining work permits, they will likely command higher wages, move more easily between jobs and boost government tax revenues, according to multiple economic analyses.
“This is focused on people who are already in the economy today, who are contributing mightily but are basically operating in the shadows,” said Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Their economic potential is being held back.”
The new order could boost labor income by $6.8 billion, helping to generate 160,000 new jobs and $2.5 billion in additional tax revenues, according to estimates by Hinojosa-Ojeda. The findings dovetail with separate research showing that a 1986 amnesty measure raised incomes for illegal workers in the years that followed.
Still, any gains from the executive action would be modest in the $17 trillion U.S. economy.
Ferguson prepares for grand jury decision; civic group says no decision reached
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Crews erected barricades Saturday around the building where a grand jury has been considering whether to indict the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, even as a grand jury decision seemed unlikely this weekend.
Tension has been mounting in Ferguson and elsewhere in the St. Louis area in recent days, with many speculating that the grand jury’s decision would be announced on Sunday. That seemed increasingly unlikely by Saturday afternoon, although there was a noticeable uptick in the preparations being made.
Downtown STL Inc., a St. Louis civic group that promotes downtown businesses, told members in an email Saturday that the grand jury will reconvene Monday to continue deliberating whether charges are warranted against Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Brown.
The email did not explain how the group knew the information, and a spokeswoman declined comment. Ed Magee, a spokesman for St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch, didn’t respond to several messages Saturday.
The Brown family’s attorney, Ben Crump, said Saturday that he hadn’t heard a decision had been reached and that prosecutors had promised to tell him when that happened.
Somalia’s al-Shabab Islamic extremist rebels kill 28 non-Muslims on bus in Kenya
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — One gunman shot from the right, one from the left, each killing the non-Muslims lying in a line on the ground, growing closer and closer to Douglas Ochwodho, who was in the middle.
And then the shooting stopped. Apparently each gunman thought the other shot Ochwodho. He lay perfectly still until the 20 Islamic extremists left, and he appears to be the only survivor of those who had been selected for death.
Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, attacked a bus in northern Kenya at dawn Saturday, singling out and killing 28 passengers who could not recite an Islamic creed and were assumed to be non-Muslims, Kenyan police said.
Those who could not say the Shahada, a tenet of the Muslim faith, were shot at close range, Ochwodho told The Associated Press.
Nineteen men and nine women were killed in the bus attack, said Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo.
Missouri grand jury proceedings in Michael Brown shooting unusual in a variety of ways
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Not much is normal about the Missouri grand jury responsible for deciding whether to charge a suburban St. Louis police officer for fatally shooting Michael Brown.
Not the length of deliberations, not the manner in which it has heard evidence, not the way in which its work could be made public. Then again, the case itself is unusual.
Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, shot the black unarmed 18-year-old shortly after noon on Aug. 9 in the center of a street, after some sort of scuffle occurred between them. As Brown’s body lay there for hours, an angry crowd gathered. Riots and looting occurred the next night. In the following days, police responded with tear gas and smoke canisters as some protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails.
The Associated Press spoke with a veteran prosecutor and criminal defense attorney in Missouri about the typical grand jury process — and the ways the Brown case is far from the norm.
Why now? Assault victim advocates point to shifting cultural attitudes in Cosby allegations
Tamra Wade struggled mightily over whether to go to the police more than a decade ago, when, she says, a trusted professor forced himself on her in an empty classroom. Ultimately she couldn’t bring herself to do it.
But if it happened now, she says, she’d be a lot bolder — not just because she’s older, but because she feels there’s less of a stigma connected to being a victim of sexual assault.
And this, say advocates for sexual assault victims, may be one reason why the allegations against Bill Cosby have exploded into public consciousness now so much more than they did when they emerged a decade ago: an evolving cultural understanding of the crime of sexual assault, and increased empathy toward those claiming to be victims.
“I think our society really has changed,” says Wade, a data analyst who now mentors young assault victims. “Ten years ago, it was much harder for a victim to get an audience listening to her. Now there’s less of a stigma, and that gives people more confidence to come forward.”
A key element in the cultural shift, say some advocates, have been a series of high-profile cases like the Penn State molestation scandal, stories of abuse in the military or the Catholic Church, and cases of date rape at university campuses. Particularly when a number of people come forward, it’s harder for the public to ignore, they say.
Bill Cosby’s career unravels as allegations spiral
Since renewed allegations of sexual assault erupted in late October, Bill Cosby has seen a career resurgence begin to crumble. Here’s what’s happened since Oct. 31:
— Appearances on “The Queen Latifah Show” and “Late Show With David Letterman” were canceled.
— NBC has scrapped a Bill Cosby sitcom that was in development.
— TV Land has pulled “The Cosby Show” reruns off the air.
— Netflix indefinitely postponed rolling out “Bill Cosby 77,” an original stand-up special.
Winners and losers: Obama brings joy to millions of immigrants, sorrow to many others
SAN DIEGO (AP) — President Barack Obama unveiled one of the most sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration system in decades, shielding millions from deportation.
Among those breathing easier: a Mexican woman in Birmingham, Alabama, who barely missed qualifying for a reprieve in 2012 but can apply now because she has three U.S.-born children; a pair of 9- and 11-year-old brothers in Tucson, Arizona, who can stay under more generous guidelines for immigrants who arrived as children.
About 5 million people are expected to qualify under the measures outlined Thursday. But about 6 million who are in the country illegally will be left out.
Many who were recently deported also miss out.
The Associated Press interviewed immigrants around the country — and in Mexico — for examples of who wins and who loses.
Strong earthquake strikes central Japan, destroying homes and injuring at least 30 people
TOKYO (AP) — A strong earthquake in the mountainous area of central Japan that hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics destroyed more than half a dozen homes in a ski resort town and injured at least 30 people, officials said.
The magnitude-6.8 earthquake struck Saturday near Nagano city shortly after 10 p.m. (1300 GMT) at a depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles), the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake’s magnitude at 6.2. Since the quake occurred inland, there was no possibility of a tsunami.
Ryo Nishino, a restaurant owner in Hakuba, a ski town west of Nagano, told Japanese broadcaster NHK that he had “never experienced a quake that shook so hard. The sideways shaking was enormous.” He said he was in the restaurant’s wine cellar when the quake struck, and that nothing broke there.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said no abnormalities were reported at three nuclear power plants in the affected areas. All of Japan’s nuclear plants are offline following a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami in 2011 that sent three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant into meltdown. Fukushima is about 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of where Saturday’s earthquake occurred.
Thirty people were injured, at least two seriously, the Federal Disaster Management Agency said Sunday.
AP sources: Obama approves limited re-engagement with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. troops in Afghanistan may once again engage Taliban fighters, not just al-Qaida terrorists, under new guidelines quietly approved by President Barack Obama, administration officials say.
The armed forces were to limit their operations in Afghanistan to counterterrorism missions against al-Qaida after this year, until Obama broadened the guidelines in recent weeks. The plan comes as the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, thousands of troops return home and the military prepares for a narrower counterterrorism and training mission for the next two years.
Obama’s decision also means the U.S. can conduct air support when needed.
One U.S. official said the military could only go after the Taliban if it posed a threat to American forces or provided direct support to al-Qaida, while the latter could be targeted more indiscriminately.
“To the extent that Taliban members directly threaten the United States and coalition forces in Afghanistan or provide direct support to al-Qaida, however, we will take appropriate measures to keep Americans safe,” the official said.