- Associated Press - Sunday, December 14, 2014

Senate report on CIA revives legal debate around interrogation and memos that permitted it

WASHINGTON (AP) - When the CIA sought permission to use harsh interrogation methods on a captured al-Qaida operative, the response from Bush administration lawyers was encouraging, even clinical.

In one of several memos forming the legal underpinnings for brutal interrogation techniques, the CIA was told Abu Zubaydah could lawfully be placed in a box with an insect, kept awake for days at a time and slapped multiple times in the face. Waterboarding, too, was acceptable because it didn’t cause the lengthy mental anguish needed to meet the legal standard of torture, the 2002 Justice Department memo says.

The release last week of a Senate report cataloging years of such interrogation tactics has revived debate about legal opinions since discredited and withdrawn and about the decision to not prosecute the program’s architects or officers who used the methods. Civil rights groups in the United States and abroad are renewing calls to prosecute those who relied on techniques that President Barack Obama has called torture.

“How can we seriously use the phrase ‘rule of law’ if crimes of this magnitude go uninvestigated and unprosecuted?” said Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Justice Department, which spent years looking into the matter, says it lacks sufficient evidence to convict anyone and found no new information in the report. It also is far from clear that any international case could be brought.

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UN climate talks end with crack in rich-poor firewall, raising hopes for Paris deal

LIMA, Peru (AP) - A last-minute deal that salvaged U.N. climate talks from collapse early Sunday sends a signal the rich-poor divide that long held up progress can be overcome with a year to go before a landmark pact is supposed to be adopted in Paris.

Still, it remains to be seen whether governments can come up with a new formula for how countries in different stages of development should contribute in a way that keeps global warming from reaching dangerous levels.

“This issue will be contentious and it will need to be worked through all the way to Paris,” U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said after the marathon talks in Lima finished, more than 30 hours behind schedule.

The U.N. talks were still far away from reaching any agreement on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to a level that scientists say would keep global warming in check. But the Paris agreement would be the first to call on all countries to control their emissions.

The U.S. and other developed nations say that means tearing down the firewall in negotiations that compels only rich countries to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

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10 Things to Know for Monday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:

1. WHO SEEKS PROSECUTIONS OVER CIA INTERROGATION TACTICS

Civil rights groups in the U.S. and abroad renew calls to charge those in government agencies who relied on harsh techniques to pressure from terror suspects.

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With coverage of each homicide, newspaper ‘challenging the community to own this problem’

PITTSBURGH (AP) - At the start of every month, the same image of a pistol points from the same place on the front page of the New Pittsburgh Courier, above the same caption: Under Attack By Us!

The only thing that changes is the number of the dead.

 ”75 of 91 homicides Black lives,” read a recent headline in the renowned black newspaper’s crusade against black-on-black violence. It was accompanied, as always, by a literal body count: The name, race and manner of death for every homicide in Pittsburgh in 2014 - with victims being overwhelmingly black, as the headline shows.

For years across the news media, stories have focused on cases like the killing of Michael Brown, the unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. And for years, the Courier has kept asking: What about all these other black lives lost?

 That gun on its front page might as well be a finger pointed at black America - from a mirror.

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Hostage situation erupts in Sydney cafe, prime minister says it may be ‘politically motivated’

SYDNEY (AP) - A hostage situation erupted inside a chocolate shop and cafe in Australia’s largest city on Monday, with the nation’s prime minister saying it may be “politically motivated.”

New South Wales state police said they were dealing with “an armed incident,” and said they were trying to make contact with people inside the Lindt Chocolat Cafe in Sydney.

Television footage shot through the cafe’s windows showed several people with their arms in the air and hands pressed against the glass, and two people holding up what appeared to be a black flag with white Arabic writing on it.

Zain Ali, the head of the Islamic Studies Research Unit at the University of Auckland, said it was difficult to read the message because media images showed only the lower part of the flag. But he believed it was the Shahada, or declaration of faith, largely because a black flag with white writing in a contemporary context often contains that message. He said he could make out the word “Muhammad.”

Ali said the Shahada translates as “There is no deity of worship except God (Allah), and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” It is considered the first pillar of Islam’s five pillars of faith, and has been used by groups like al-Qaida and Islamic State but wasn’t invented by them, Ali said.

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Friends of UVA ‘Jackie’ in Rolling Stone story say they pushed to call cops after assault

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - Three friends of an alleged victim of a gang rape at a University of Virginia frat house told The Associated Press that a magazine article that used the woman’s attack to paint a picture of a culture of sexual violence on college campuses was wrong on a number of key points: most important that they didn’t encourage her to report the attack and that they were more concerned about their reputations than her well-being.

One of the friends, a 20-year-old, third-year student referred to as “Randall” in the Rolling Stone article but whose real name is Ryan Duffin, told the AP that not only did he encourage the alleged victim to go to police, but he started to dial 9-1-1 on his cellphone until she begged off saying she just wanted to go back to her dorm and go to sleep.

“I couldn’t help but notice that everything that the article said about me was incorrect,” Duffin said.

The Rolling Stone article set off an intense debate about sexual violence, alcohol, fraternities, and journalism ethics.

The Associated Press also spoke with the other two friends portrayed in the article: third-year, 20-year-old U.Va. students Kathryn Hendley and Alex Stock, known as “Cindy” and “Andy” in the article. None of the three friends was contacted by the Rolling Stone’s reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, before the article was published; each of them rejected multiple assertions made in the article, which has since been retracted.

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Very personalized medicine: Some cancer patients are using mouse ‘avatars’ to test drugs

Scientists often test drugs in mice. Now some cancer patients are doing the same - with the hope of curing their own disease.

They are paying a private lab to breed mice that carry bits of their own tumors so treatments can be tried first on the customized rodents. The idea is to see which drugs might work best on a specific person’s specific cancer.

The mice may help patients make what can be very hard choices under difficult circumstances. Studies can suggest a certain chemotherapy may help, but patients wonder whether it will work for them. Often there’s more than one choice, and if the first one fails, a patient may be too sick to try another. So hundreds of people have made “mouse avatars” over the last few years to test chemotherapies.

“What I’m doing is personalized cancer treatment. It’s the wave of the future,” said Eileen Youtie, a Miami woman using mice to guide care for her hard-to-treat form of breast cancer. “Part of this is trying to eliminate chemos that are not going to work on me. I don’t want to waste time taking them and poison my body.”

But there are no guarantees the mice will help.

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Japan’s ruling coalition wins big in lower house elections, firming up Abe’s hold on power

TOKYO (AP) - Japan’s ruling coalition won a solid victory in lower house elections Sunday, giving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democrats up to four more years to pursue a wide range of economic and political reforms.

The conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled for most of the post-World War II era, locked up a solid majority of 291 seats and with its coalition partner, the Buddhist-backed Komei party, will hold more than two-thirds of the House of Representatives, national broadcaster reported.

Abe said his top priority was the economy, which fell back into recession after a tax hike in April. “Economy first,” he told national broadcaster NHK, adding that he would also tackle other major issues, including national security.

That could help reassure businesses worried over prospects for a recovery.

The central bank’s quarterly survey of business sentiment, or “tankan,” released Monday showed a slight deterioration in expectations, with manufacturers anticipating weak demand both at home and abroad, and rising production costs.

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Led by Lynch and defense, Seattle eliminates 49ers from playoff contention with 17-7 win

SEATTLE (AP) - Doug Baldwin was caught. Not in the sense of getting tackled, but caught being an observer.

Baldwin couldn’t help himself. When Seattle’s wide receiver saw that Green Bay had lost, he gave a little fist pump knowing what that meant for the Seahawks.

The NFC playoffs could be routed through the Pacific Northwest again.

“We can only control what we can control and so we’re focused on us,” Baldwin said.

The Seahawks knocked their most heated rival out of contention Sunday behind another stingy defensive effort and Marshawn Lynch’s 91 yards rushing and a touchdown in Seattle’s 17-7 win over San Francisco.

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Rare air: Kobe Bryant passes Michael Jordan for 3rd on NBA’s career scoring list

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Kobe Bryant has reached rarefied air.

The Los Angeles Lakers star passed Michael Jordan for third on the NBA’s career scoring list Sunday night in a 100-94 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Bryant entered the game needing nine points to pass the icon with whom he is often compared. He got the mark with two free throws with 5:24 to play in the second quarter.

Now only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone have scored more points than Bryant.

“I congratulate Kobe on reaching this milestone,” Jordan, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, said in a statement released to The Associated Press. “He’s obviously a great player, with a strong work ethic and has an equally strong passion for the game of basketball. I’ve enjoyed watching his game evolve over the years, and I look forward to seeing what he accomplishes next.”

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