AP News in Brief
Napolitano’s resignation bares leadership gap
WASHINGTON — The leadership vacancy created by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s resignation is the latest and greatest blow to a department where one-third of the heads of key agencies and divisions have been filled with acting officials or remained vacant for months.
Napolitano’s departure, slated for September, will create the 15th hole in the department’s 45 leadership positions. Napolitano’s chief of staff and the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement are leaving this month. The deputy secretary, general counsel, heads of Customs and Border Protection, privacy, legislative affairs, intelligence and analysis and more are filled with acting officials. Other key positions, like the executive secretariat, inspector general and deputy undersecretary for cybersecurity remain vacant.
The pattern of putting acting officials in leadership positions at the Homeland Security Department— sometimes replacing acting officials with other acting officials — has been going on for months. This swath of vacancies raises questions about how a department depleted of permanent leadership could implement changes, particularly as Congress considers overhauling the nation’s immigration system.
The White House referred a request for comment to the Homeland Security Department, which did not respond.
Third girl to die from injuries in San Francisco jetliner crash ID’d
SAN FRANCISCO — The name of a girl who died of injuries suffered in the crash-landing of an Asiana Airlines flight in San Francisco has emerged early Saturday.
Chinese state media identified her as Liu Yipeng. China News says she went to school with the other two victims killed in the accident, a pair of 16-year-old girls.
Liu Yipeng’s identification comes a day after her death was announced amid the official confirmation that one of the other girls who died in the disaster had been covered on the runway in flame-retardant foam and hit by a fire truck speeding to the crash site, a disclosure that raised the tragic possibility she could have survived the crash only to die in its chaotic aftermath.
Russian official says no asylum app received from Snowden
MOSCOW — Russian immigration officials said Saturday they have not received an application from Edward Snowden, the U.S. National Security Agency leaker who wants to get asylum in Russia.
Snowden came to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport on June 23 from Hong Kong, apparently intending to board a flight to Cuba. But he did not get on that flight and is believed to have spent the last three weeks marooned in the airport’s transit zone.
On Friday, he met with human rights activists there and said he would seek Russian asylum, at least as a temporary measure before going to Venezuela, Bolivia or Nicaragua, all of which have offered him asylum.
But the Interfax news agency quoted Russian migration service head Konstantin Romodanovsky as saying no asylum request had been received as of Saturday. The state news agency RIA Novosti cited migration service spokeswoman, Zalina Kornilova, as also saying no request had been received.
— The Associated Press
Snowden had made a previous bid for Russian asylum, but President Vladimir Putin said he would have to agree to stop further leaks of information about American intelligence service activities before it would be considered. Snowden withdrew the bid, but participants in Friday’s meeting said he was now ready to agree to stop leaks.
Police mum on motive behind SF jewelry store killings that left 2 dead, 1 wounded
SAN FRANCISCO — A bloodied gunman suspected of killing two women and seriously wounding a man inside a jewelry store at a popular San Francisco shopping center is in custody, but police have yet to release a motive.
Officers encountered the suspect Friday outside the San Francisco Giftcenter & Jewelrymart in the trendy South of Market area. Initially, the officers were not sure if the man, who had blood on his clothes, was a shooting victim or a suspect, police Chief Greg Suhr said.
The man, whose name was not released, then opened fire at officers while retreating into a restaurant, Suhr said.
“The suspect fired additional multiple rounds at the officers and then, we believe, ran out of ammunition, threw the gun on the ground and surrendered,” Suhr said.
Officers did not return fire because the sidewalks were crowded with shoppers and residents, police said.
Iraq officials: Bomb blasts strike Sunni mosques in Baghdad, killing at least 21 people
BAGHDAD (AP) — Bombs exploded outside two Sunni mosques in Baghdad late Saturday, killing at least 21 people leaving prayers and extending a wave of daily violence rippling across Iraq since the start of the holy month of Ramadan, authorities said.
A separate attack at a funeral northeast of the capital killed at least three others.
Police said the first Baghdad blast went off around 10 p.m. near the gate of the Khalid bin al-Walid mosque in the capital’s southern Dora neighborhood, a largely Sunni Muslim area. It struck just after the end of special late-evening prayers held during Ramadan.
At least 16 people were killed and 31 were wounded, police said. A hospital official confirmed the casualty toll.
Soon after, a car bomb exploded at another Sunni worship center, the Mullah Huwaish mosque, in the Hay al-Jami’a area in western Baghdad. That blast killed five and wounded 19, according to police and health officials.
Texas Republicans finally pass abortion limits delayed by filibuster; Democrats vow challenge
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republican lawmakers passed a bill that would give Texas some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws and force most of its clinics to close, leading Democrats to promise a fight over the contentious measure in the courts at the ballot box.
More than 2,000 demonstrators filled the Capitol building in Austin to voice their opposition to the bill, including six protesters who were dragged out of the Senate chamber by state troopers for trying to disrupt the debate. The Republican majority passed the bill unchanged just before midnight, with all but one Democrat voting against it.
“Today the Texas Legislature took its final step in our historic effort to protect life,” said Gov. Rick Perry, who will sign the bill into law in the next few days. “This legislation builds on the strong and unwavering commitment we have made to defend life and protect women’s health.”
Democrats promised a legal challenge to the measure, which will ban abortions after 20 weeks, require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and require all abortions to take place in surgical centers. Only five out of Texas’ 42 existing abortion clinics meet the requirements to be a surgical center, and clinic owners say they can’t afford to upgrade or relocate.
“There will be a lawsuit. I promise you,” Dallas Sen. Royce West said on the Senate floor, raising his right hand as if taking an oath.
Mandela’s long hospitalization sparks end-of-life discussions in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Sean Davison’s mother, a doctor, knew she faced an impending, painful death from cancer. Not willing to endure it, she chose to end her life by not eating. That attempt, Davison said, went terribly wrong.
“It went on for five weeks drinking a glass of water each day,” said Davison, a South African citizen by way of New Zealand. “She was decomposing. She couldn’t move any limb of her body, which is when I helped her, at her request, to end her life.”
End-of-life decisions have become a burning topic of discussion in South Africa, where former President Nelson Mandela has been hospitalized for five weeks, much of that time in critical condition.
A court filing late last month stated that Mandela was in a “permanent vegetative state” but that appears to have been either exaggerated or simply incorrect.
A report from the Mail and Guardian, a respected South African newspaper, said that the 94-year-old does not have a living will, meaning tricky end-of-life decisions could be left to a very fractured Mandela family.
Islamic militants intensify attacks in Egypt’s Sinai after Morsi’s fall
CAIRO (AP) — Military attack helicopters rattle over the impoverished desert towns of northern Sinai and the sound of gunfire erupts nightly, raising fears among residents of a looming confrontation between Egypt’s military and Islamic militants who have intensified attacks since the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.
Militant groups have grown bolder, striking security forces almost daily and also turning on local Christians. Some are now openly vowing to drive the military out of the peninsula on the borders with Israel and Gaza and establish an “Islamic emirate.” Further fueling the turmoil is the longtime resentment among many in the Bedouin population over decades of neglect and harsh security crackdowns by the state.
The military and security forces have widened their presence, and military intelligence officials told The Associated Press an offensive is being planned, but no further details were given.
In a rare move, the Egyptian military sent a helicopter across the border to fly over the southern end of the Gaza Strip early Friday. Egyptian security officials said it was intended as a warning to its Hamas rulers amid concerns that Gaza militants are trying to cross to back those in the Sinai. The security and intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.
Israeli security officials say their military has not taken any special precautions, but it is watching the situation carefully. They say they remain in close contact with their Egyptian counterparts, and that Egypt has coordinated its security moves in Sinai with Israel, as required by their 1979 peace treaty.
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