AP Exclusive: US No-Fly list doubles in past year to 21,000 known or suspected terrorists
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Even as the Obama administration says it's close to defeating al-Qaida, the size of the government's secret list of suspected terrorists who are banned from flying to or within the United States has more than doubled in the past year, The Associated Press has learned.
The no-fly list jumped from about 10,000 known or suspected terrorists one year ago to about 21,000, according to government figures provided to the AP. Most people on the list are from other countries; about 500 are Americans.
The flood of new names began after the failed Christmas 2009 bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner. The government lowered the standard for putting people on the list, and then scoured its files for anyone who qualified. The government will not disclose who is on its list or why someone might have been placed on it.
The surge in the size of the no-fly list comes even as the U.S. has killed many senior members of al-Qaida. That's because the government believes the current terror threat extends well beyond the group responsible for the September 2001 attacks.
"Both U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities and foreign services continue to identify people who want to cause us harm, particularly in the U.S. and particularly as it relates to aviation," Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole said in an interview.
Now it's Facebook's turn to share: IPO filing lifts veil on the company behind social network
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Facebook is baring its business soul.
The unveiling came late Wednesday when the company that depends on people to share their lives online filed its plans to raise $5 billion in an initial public offering of stock. It's a revelatory moment that prospective investors, curious competitors and nosy reporters have been awaiting for two years. During that time, Facebook established itself as a communications hub and emerged as a threat to the Internet's most powerful company, Google Inc.
As with almost anything crafted by a bunch of lawyers and bankers, the 197-page prospectus that Facebook filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission is filled with boilerplate legalese and mind-numbing numbers.
But there were some juicy details in there, too.
Above all, the documents confirmed what everyone had been hearing: Facebook is very profitable and getting stronger. The company Mark Zuckerberg started with some friends in 2004 has seen its annual revenue soar from $777 million in 2009 to $3.7 billion last year. Facebook's earnings have grown at a similar rate too, ballooning from $122 million in 2009 to $668 million last year.
As Egypt mourns deaths of 74 soccer fans, activists blame military, police for deadly riot
CAIRO (AP) -- Witnesses say scores of Egyptian soccer fans were stabbed to death while many others suffocated, trapped in a long narrow corridor trying to flee rival fans armed with knives, clubs and stones in the country's worst ever soccer violence that killed at least 74 people.
The tragedy Wednesday evening -- which followed an Egyptian league match between Al-Masry, the home team in the Mediterranean city of Port Said, and Al-Ahly, based in Cairo and one of Egypt's most popular teams -- was a bloody reminder of the deteriorating security in the Arab world's most populous country, as instability continues nearly a year after former President Hosni Mubarak was swept out of power in a popular uprising.
It was also the deadliest soccer violence worldwide since 1996. One player said it was "like a war."
Egyptian activists have accused the police and military of failing to intervene to stop the mayhem.
On Thursday morning, dozens of angry protesters sealed off Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the uprising that toppled Mubarak, while others blocked the street in front of the state TV building in downtown Cairo, ahead of planned marches later in the day to the Interior Ministry to denounce the police force.
Romney took years after promising to sell investments inconsistent with Republican positions
WASHINGTON (AP) -- During his presidential campaign in 2007, Republican candidate Mitt Romney promised that a trust overseeing his financial portfolio would shed any investments that conflicted with GOP positions toward Iran, China, stem cell research and other issues. But Romney's family trusts kept some of those stocks and repeatedly bought new investments in similar holdings as recently as 2010, when they were sold in advance of his latest White House campaign, a detailed review of Romney's financial records by The Associated Press shows.
Recently disclosed 2010 tax returns for three family trust funds for Romney, his wife, Ann, and their adult children show scores of trades in such investments, worth more than $3 million when the holdings were all sold in 2010.
A Romney campaign spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said the former Massachusetts governor has no control over the investments made by his blind trust but the trustee has tried to manage the trades "in a manner consistent with Gov. Romney's publicly expressed positions."
The continual trading between 2006 and 2010 raises questions about why the investments continued for three years even after Romney said the trust would sell off any conflicted holdings, during a period when Romney has sought to convince voters of his conservative Republican values. The trades also raise questions about whether any of the transactions were vetted for possible conflicts or purposes of political perception before they were made.
"Financially, these would seem to be completely legitimate investments," said Thomas B. Cooke, a professor of business law at Georgetown University and former president of the National Society of Tax Professionals. "But for someone running for president, there's also a smell test."
AP ENTERPRISE: Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett, other ex-players suing NFL, describe negligence
The helmet-to-helmet shot knocked Tony Dorsett out cold in the second quarter of a 1984 Cowboys-Eagles game, the hardest hit he ever took during his Hall of Fame NFL career.
"It was like a freight train hitting a Volkswagen," Dorsett says now.
"Did they know it was a concussion?" he asks rhetorically during an interview with The Associated Press. "They thought I was half-dead."
And yet, he says, after being examined in the locker room -- a light shined in his eyes; queries such as who sat next to him on the Cowboys' bus ride to the stadium -- Dorsett returned to the field and gained 99 yards in the second half. Mainly, he says, by running plays the wrong way, because he couldn't remember what he was supposed to do.
"That ain't the first time I was knocked out or been dazed over the course of my career, and now I'm suffering for it," the 57-year-old former tailback says. "And the NFL is trying to deny it."
Report: Ex-students say they complained about LA teacher charged with lewd acts years ago
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- School officials questioned how an elementary school teacher suspected of taking bizarre bondage-style photographs of children in his class went undetected for years as new allegations of past and potentially inappropriate behavior by Mark Berndt surfaced.
Berndt remained jailed on $23 million bail after his first court appearance Wednesday on felony charges that he committed lewd acts on 23 boys and girls, ages 6 to 10, between 2005 and 2010. The alleged acts occurred at Miramonte Elementary School where he taught for more than 30 years. He could face multiple life sentences if convicted.
Angry parents confronted school officials Wednesday, demanding to know why they weren't told for a year that Berndt was suspected of photographing children in class for sexual thrills.
Berndt was removed from classwork in January 2011 and fired within the month, but only parents of children identified as victims were told by authorities at that time of the investigation.
School officials and investigators said proper procedures were followed to prevent anything that might harm efforts to investigate and build a case against the teacher.
Turkey's ties with Hamas deepen amid questions about the influence of sponsors Iran and Syria
ISTANBUL (AP) -- Ties between Turkey, NATO's biggest Muslim member, and Hamas, the Islamic militant group that says Israel should not exist, are blossoming.
Last month, the Hamas premier visited the Turkish prime minister at his Istanbul home. Today, Turkish and Palestinian flags fly side by side at a building site in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
It seems like bad news for Israel, whose alliance with Turkey collapsed over a deadly raid by Israeli troops on a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza in 2010. Yet some pundits believe that Turkey, a rising power that has worked with Washington on Iraq and other regional problems, could seek to nudge Hamas away from the principle of armed struggle or reduce the influence of Iranian sponsors.
They acknowledge closer engagement with Hamas could disrupt Turkish diplomacy if there is another Gaza war, or a return to rocket attacks and bombings of Israeli targets. Israel wonders if Turkey will veer closer to the Hamas line, rather than the other way around.
Another Hamas sponsor, Syria, is struggling to quell an uprising and has broken with Turkey, a former ally that says President Bashar Assad should resign. Turkey has said there are no plans for Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas political leader based in Damascus, to move to Turkey, though some Turkish analysts think the government phrasing did not close the door on the idea of a Hamas office in Turkey.
House Republicans, Justice on collision course over access to internal department documents
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department and Republicans on a House committee looking into a flawed gun smuggling probe called Operation Fast and Furious appear to be headed for an impasse over congressional demands for internal Justice documents.
The dispute is expected to be a prime topic at a congressional hearing Thursday, when Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before a panel whose chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has alleged that the Justice Department is engaging in a cover-up.
Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has threatened to seek a contempt of Congress ruling against Holder for failing to turn over congressionally subpoenaed documents created after problems with Fast and Furious came to light.
On Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the department will provide material created after Feb. 4, 2011, the day the department gave incorrect information to Congress about Fast and Furious.
Cole said the department had made an exception to longstanding policy to provide material on how the erroneous Feb. 4 letter was created, but other documents about the congressional inquiries on Fast and Furious would not be turned over.
Pot smoker wins case when Ore. AG says marijuana drying on clothes hangers wasn't yet "usable"
ROGUE RIVER, Ore. (AP) -- When police knocked on Josh Brewer's door to check for marijuana, even one of the nation's most liberal medical marijuana laws was put to the test.
Officers were fine with the two pounds 10 ounces he and a cousin had grown, harvested, and processed. That was under the pound and a half each allowed by law. And they didn't care about the 12 plants -- six each -- growing in the backyard. Also legal.
But after they discovered the additional two pounds 11 ounces drying on coat hangers suspended from the ceiling in the living room, officers arrested Brewer, sparking a legal battle over what was enough -- in the maximum sense -- for medical use, and what crossed the line into the potential for illegal sales.
After all, even 1.5 pounds by one measure would equal 1,200 joints.
A motion to dismiss the case because the drying marijuana was not "usable" under Oregon law was turned down by a judge. Brewer served 60 days in jail and received three years of probation, putting him back on conventional pain pills for a wrist he said he injured in a construction accident.
'Soul Train' host Don Cornelius remembered for bringing black music, culture to masses
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- "Soul Train" host Don Cornelius was the arbiter of cool, a brilliant TV showman who used his purring, baritone voice to seduce mainstream America into embracing black music and artists.
But the "love, peace, and SOUL!" he wished viewers as he closed each show for decades escaped him as his life descended into marital trouble, illness and, finally, a fatal self-inflicted gunshot wound on Wednesday.
Police said they went to his Mulholland Drive home around 4 a.m. after receiving a call from one of his sons, who became concerned after being contacted by his father. Cornelius, 75, was found shot and was pronounced dead an hour later at a nearby hospital.
Authorities ruled out foul play, but have not found a suicide note and are talking to relatives about his mental state.
To music-hungry viewers, he was a smooth, sharp-dressed man who got them dancing to the hottest tracks going. The pop world's biggest stars recalled him as much more: A cultural groundbreaker who advanced African-American music and culture; a black entrepreneur who overcame racism by strength of will; a visionary who understood rap's emergence but criticized its rawness.