- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 19, 2015

AP Exclusive: UN-Iran deal will let Tehran inspect site where it allegedly worked on nukes

VIENNA (AP) - Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate a site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the U.N. agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by The Associated Press.

The revelation on Wednesday newly riled Republican lawmakers in the U.S. who have been severely critical of a broader agreement to limit Iran’s future nuclear programs, signed by the Obama administration, Iran and five world powers in July. Those critics have complained that the wider deal is unwisely built on trust of the Iranians, while the administration has insisted it depends on reliable inspections.

A skeptical House Speaker John Boehner said, “President Obama boasts his deal includes ‘unprecedented verification.’ He claims it’s not built on trust. But the administration’s briefings on these side deals have been totally insufficient - and it still isn’t clear whether anyone at the White House has seen the final documents.”

Said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce: “International inspections should be done by international inspectors. Period.”

The newly disclosed side agreement, for an investigation of the Parchin nuclear site by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, is linked to persistent allegations that Iran has worked on atomic weapons. That investigation is part of the overarching nuclear-limits deal.


Ex-Subway pitchman Jared Fogle to plead guilty to sex acts with minors, child porn charges

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Longtime Subway pitchman Jared Fogle agreed Wednesday to plead guilty to allegations that he paid for sex acts with minors and received child pornography in a case that destroyed his career at the sandwich-shop chain and could send him to prison for more than a decade.

Prosecutors alleged that Fogle knew the pornography had been secretly produced by the former director of his charitable foundation, which sought to raise awareness about childhood obesity and arranged for Fogle to visit schools and urge children to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits.

Authorities said Fogle offered to pay adult prostitutes a finder’s fee if they could connect him with minors for sex acts, including some as young as 14 or 15 years old.

“This is about using wealth, status and secrecy to illegally exploit children,” U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said.

A tight-lipped Fogle sat in federal court with his hands clasped and quietly answered “no” when the judge asked whether he had any questions about his rights. He is expected to enter the formal plea at a later date to one count each of travelling to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and distribution and receipt of child pornography.


Islamic State beheads Syrian antiquities scholar in ancient town of Palmyra

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - The 81-year-old antiquities scholar had dedicated his life to exploring and overseeing Syria’s ancient ruins of Palmyra, one of the Middle East’s most spectacular archaeological sites. He even named his daughter after Zenobia, the queen that ruled from the city 1,700 years ago.

That dedication may have cost him his life. On Wednesday, relatives and witnesses said Khaled al-Asaad was beheaded by Islamic State militants, his bloodied body hung on a pole in a main square.

Antiquities officials said they believed IS militants had interrogated al-Asaad, a long-time director of the site, trying to get him to divulge where authorities had hidden treasures secreted out of Palmyra before the extremists seized the ruins last spring.

The brutal killing stunned Syria’s archaeological community and underscored fears the extremists will destroy or loot the 2,000-year-old Roman-era city on the edge of a modern town of the same name, as they have other major archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq.

“We have lost not just a scholar of archaeology but one of the pillars of archaeology in the 20th century,” said Ahmad Ferzat Taraqji, a 56-year-old antiquities expert and friend of the victim.


Scientists figure out how a gene glitch makes people fat; suggests new way to treat obesity

Scientists have finally figured out how the key gene tied to obesity makes people fat, a major discovery that could open the door to an entirely new approach to the problem beyond diet and exercise.

The work solves a big mystery: Since 2007, researchers have known that a gene called FTO was related to obesity, but they didn’t know how, and could not tie it to appetite or other known factors.

Now experiments reveal that a faulty version of the gene causes energy from food to be stored as fat rather than burned. Genetic tinkering in mice and on human cells in the lab suggests this can be reversed, giving hope that a drug or other treatment might be developed to do the same in people.

The work was led by scientists at MIT and Harvard University and published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The discovery challenges the notion that “when people get obese it was basically their own choice because they choose to eat too much or not exercise,” said study leader Melina Claussnitzer, a genetics specialist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “For the first time, genetics has revealed a mechanism in obesity that was not really suspected before” and gives a third explanation or factor that’s involved.


Israel suspends detention of Palestinian hunger striker while he receives medical care

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel’s Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended the detention order against a Palestinian prisoner who has been on a hunger strike for 65 days, releasing him while he receives medical care in a ruling that his relatives and supporters hailed as a victory.

The decision means that Mohammed Allan will no longer be shackled to his bed and his family will be able to visit him in the hospital, where his lawyer said he remains sedated and unconscious.

The court’s action did little to resolve a debate over Israel’s practice of holding suspects without charge, known as administrative detention, or a new law that permits the force-feeding of hunger strikers.

Before he fell unconscious Aug. 14, Allan had appeared set to be the first test of the law. Since then, he has been given fluids and nutritional supplements while the case went to court, although those treatments were not considered to be force-feeding.

After a long day of deliberations, the Supreme Court announced that Allan, who doctors say has suffered some brain damage, would remain hospitalized but that his administrative detention was suspended.


Prosecutor: Ohio mom who suffocated 3 young sons is to blame for deaths, not the legal system

BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio (AP) - A mother accused of killing her three sons was dominated and isolated by her husband, a man nearly twice her age who had been her own mother’s live-in boyfriend before they married, authorities said Wednesday.

Investigators believe Brittany Pilkington used each boy’s comfort blanket to suffocate them in their crib or bed over the last 13 months, because she wanted her husband to pay more attention to herself and their 3-year-old daughter, Logan County Prosecutor William Goslee said.

Pilkington, 23, is jailed on murder charges in all three deaths, including her 3-month-old son Noah, who died Tuesday, less than a week after he was returned from protective custody on a judge’s order.

Goslee said he won’t likely seek the death penalty because of the background of Brittany Pilkington, including the fact she had been dominated by her husband Joseph Pilkington, 43, who had been her “semi-stepfather” at one point. Goslee said she apparently feared how the boys would grow up, and described her daughter Hailey as her only friend.

“It was her plan to eliminate male children in order that this father would have more attention available for her and for Hailey the daughter,” Goslee said. “That’s a fact.”


Police hunt ‘foreigner’ in bombing of Bangkok shrine that killed 20, wounded more than 120

BANGKOK (AP) - A police manhunt was underway Wednesday for an “unidentified foreign man” shown in a security video leaving a backpack at a popular Bangkok shrine just minutes before a bomb exploded there.

Two other people seen on the video near the man are also considered suspects in Monday’s deadly bombing, police said.

Authorities released a sketch of the man who left behind the backpack and offered a 1 million baht ($28,000) reward for information leading to his arrest. But apart from the rough portrait, they had few solid leads in Monday’s bombing at the Erawan Shrine that killed 20 people and wounded 120 others.

The grainy security video shows the man, wearing a yellow T-shirt and shorts, sitting down on a bench at the shrine, taking off a black backpack and leaving it behind as he stands up and walks away. Time stamps show he left the shrine 15 minutes before the explosion, which struck just before 7 p.m.

The two possible accomplices are seen standing in front of the man, said police spokesman Lt. Gen. Prawut Thavornsiri. One of the men was wearing a red shirt and the other was in white, and they were seen leaving the area shortly before the man in yellow also leaves.


Analysis: Clinton’s exchange with activists shows her preference for pragmatism over passion

EDGARTOWN, Mass. (AP) - During her failed 2008 White House campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton derided rival Barack Obama’s lofty talk of hope and change as equivalent to expecting “celestial choirs” to drop from the sky and inspire people to do the right thing.

Obama’s optimism ultimately trumped Clinton’s pragmatism. Now, as she seeks the White House again, Clinton has tried to pull a few pages from Obama’s playbook, looking to make more personal connections with voters and infusing her campaign with reminders that she could make history as the nation’s first female president. Her first TV ads focused on how her mother’s difficult upbringing inspired her to enter public service.

Yet a frank exchange between Clinton and black activists that was made public this week underscores that her core approach to politics remains unchanged. The former senator and secretary of state puts practicality over passion.

“I don’t believe you change hearts,” Clinton told leaders from the Black Lives Matter movement. “I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate.”

The exchange also crystalized a persistent concern that some Clinton supporters have about her candidacy. Her advice to the activists could be viewed as level-headed and reasoned, reflecting what supporters see as a solutions-oriented style that is sorely lacking in Washington. But it also highlighted that empathy isn’t her first instinct and that forging the kind of connections with voters that her campaign insists are important remains a challenge.


Rand Paul: a humanitarian in Haiti, a pit bull in Republican presidential race

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (AP) - Even while fighting blindness in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere this week, Republican presidential contender Rand Paul intensified political attacks against rivals in both parties, vowing to continue pressing billionaire businessman Donald Trump in particular as the Kentucky senator embraces the role as the GOP’s leading pit bull.

An ophthalmologist by training, Paul left Haiti on Wednesday afternoon after spending four days on a humanitarian mission to the island nation. From a small urban clinic guarded by a team of armed police, Paul joined six eye surgeons who restored vision to dozens of impoverished Haitians, many living for years in blindness because of ailments such as cataracts that are easily treated in the United States.

The trip offered the tea party firebrand a brief respite from a presidential campaign in which his standing has slipped substantially in recent weeks. Yet the 2016 election - especially Trump - was a regular topic of conversation when Paul wasn’t in the operating room.

“His candidacy is an insult to the intellectual movement that has called for small government for decades,” said Paul, wearing operating room scrubs, in an interview with The Associated Press shortly before returning to surgery Tuesday morning. He described the reality star’s candidacy as “buffoonery” and promised to continue leading the anti-Trump charge “until he fades away.”

This week’s Haiti trip was organized by the University of Utah’s Moran Eye Center, an institution that organizes regular missions to combat “curable blindness” in developing nations around the world. Paul participated in a similar mission with the same group last summer in Guatemala.


AP Interview: Republican presidential hopeful Huckabee vows to shake up US Mideast policies

JERUSALEM (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee on Wednesday vowed to abandon key American policies in the Mideast if he is elected next year, endorsing positions that would put the U.S. at odds with its closest allies.

Huckabee said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday that he considers the West Bank to be part of Israel and spoke against the establishment of a Palestinian state. He also said he would withdraw from the recent U.S.-led international nuclear agreement with Iran.

Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, is among 17 Republicans seeking the party’s nomination. A one-time Baptist pastor, he draws support from conservative Christians, and he is a frequent visitor to Israel.

Huckabee arrived in Israel on Tuesday and held a campaign fundraiser in “ancient” Shilo - a spot in the West Bank where tradition holds the ancient Israelites kept the tabernacle with Moses’ tablets on its way to Jerusalem. Referring to the West Bank by the biblical names Judea and Samaria, he told supporters that he considered the entire area to be part of Israel.

In the interview, Huckabee said recognizing the West Bank as Israeli would be the “formal position” of his administration.

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