16 blamed for mistakes in deadly US attack on Afghan clinic
WASHINGTON (AP) — Human error, violations of combat rules and untimely equipment failures led to the mistaken U.S. aerial attack on a charity-run hospital in Afghanistan last fall that killed 42 people, a senior American general said Friday. Investigators called the attack a “disproportional response to a threat that didn’t exist.”
Sixteen military members were given administrative punishments that could stall or end careers, but no one faces a court martial. A senior defense official said one of the disciplined was a two-star general.
The AC-130 gunship, bristling with side-firing cannons and guns, fired on the hospital in the northern city of Kunduz for 30 minutes before the mistake was realized and the attack was halted, Gen. Joseph Votel told a news conference as he released the Pentagon’s final report on the incident. The intended target was an Afghan intelligence agency building about 450 yards away.
No one involved knew the targeted compound was a hospital, Votel said, but investigators concluded the U.S. ground and air commanders should have known.
Votel expressed “deepest condolences” to those injured and to the families of those killed and said the U.S. government made “gesture of sympathy” payments of $3,000 to each injured person and $6,000 to each family of the killed.
Rowdy Trump protests portend explosive California primary
BURLINGAME, Calif. (AP) — Hundreds of rowdy protesters broke through barricades and threw eggs at police Friday outside a hotel where Donald Trump addressed the state’s Republican convention. Several Trump supporters said they were roughed up but no serious injuries were reported.
The protest just outside San Francisco occurred a day after anti-Trump protesters took to the streets in Southern California, blocking traffic and damaging five police cars in Costa Mesa following a speech by the leader in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
Demonstrators at both locations waved Mexican flags, an action meant to counter Trump’s hard stance on immigration and disparaging remarks about Mexico.
Because of the protest, Trump was rerouted to a back entrance. In a surreal scene, news helicopters showed the billionaire businessman and his security detail walking between two concrete freeway barriers before hopping down onto a grass verge and walking across a service road.
“That was not the easiest entrance I ever made,” Trump quipped when he started speaking to the convention delegates. “It felt like I was crossing the border.”
Trump makes case to GOP insiders amid chaotic protest scene
BURLINGAME, Calif. (AP) — Donald Trump took his outsider campaign to the inner sanctum of California’s Republican party on Friday, making his case directly to the GOP’s state convention even as angry demonstrators shadowed him.
Trump spoke for about 30 minutes in a basement banquet hall in this town just outside San Francisco. It was the sort of small-scale interaction with party activists and donors that he has generally eschewed for grander rallies. Trump made his pitch as the nominating calendar moves toward its end game in the nation’s most populous and diverse state — which, with 172 delegates at stake on June 7, could decide the GOP presidential nomination.
The billionaire front-runner told Republicans they needed to come together after their divisive primary but also delivered a warning.
“There has to be unity in our party,” Trump said. “Would I win — can I win — without it? I think so, to be honest with you, because they’re going to be voting for me” — and not the party, he added.
Trump supporters snapped up tickets to the luncheon and cheered heartily for their candidate from a ring of tables around the perimeter of the ballroom. But Trump’s speech got an icier reception from the party veterans and donors who sat just beneath the stage, separated from the rest of the room by a rope.
Rising violence kills over 200 in a week in Syria’s Aleppo
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — The Syrian army and rebels unleashed deadly new attacks on each other Friday in Aleppo, with insurgents shelling a mosque during weekly prayers and government airstrikes hitting opposition neighborhoods in escalating bloodshed the U.N. decried as a “monstrous disregard for civilian lives by all parties.”
More than 200 people have been killed in eight days of mounting violence in and around the contested northern city, including 15 at the Malla Khan mosque hit by rebel rockets and another 10 from the government warplanes and helicopters, officials said.
The surge in fighting has caused the collapse of a two-month cease-fire brokered by the U.S. and Russia. It also has raised fears of an all-out government assault on Aleppo and warnings of a humanitarian disaster in the 5-year-old civil war.
In rebel-held neighborhoods, medical facilities, bakeries and a water station have been pounded by a government bombardment, residents say. Electricity is down to a few hours a week. A single road out of Aleppo is the only supply line for the insurgent-controlled districts, where an estimated 250,000 people remain. If forces loyal to President Bashar Assad take the road, there could be major shortages of food and medicines.
“People have already started fleeing the city,” said Baraa al-Halaby, an activist who watched older men, women and children leave his rebel-held neighborhood Friday. “If Aleppo comes under siege, people will starve to death within a month.”
LBs Jack, Smith go early in 2nd round of NFL draft
CHICAGO (AP) — It was a long wait and a soft landing for Myles Jack and Jaylon Smith.
Now about those knees.
The pair of athletic linebackers with health questions went early in the second round of the NFL draft on Friday, with Jacksonville trading up to grab Jack two spots after Dallas selected Smith with the No. 34 overall pick.
Jack and Smith were two of the biggest names still on the board at the beginning of the day, and Alabama running back Derrick Henry went to Tennessee at No. 45. Henry powered the Crimson Tide to the national championship last season and won the Heisman Trophy.
Jack was considered a potential top-five pick at one point, but concerns about his right knee sent him tumbling down the board. He played both ways as a freshman at UCLA and was the Pac-12 offensive and defensive newcomer of the year. But a knee injury limited him to three games last season.
Most states do bare minimum on fire-foam contamination
The military is checking U.S. bases for potential groundwater contamination from a toxic firefighting foam, but most states so far show little inclination to examine civilian sites for the same threat.
The foam was likely used around the country at certain airports, refineries and other sites where catastrophic petroleum fires were a risk, but an Associated Press survey of emergency management, environmental and health agencies in all 50 states showed most haven’t tracked its use and don’t even know whether it was used, where or when.
Only five states — Alaska, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont and Wisconsin — are tracking the chemicals used in the foam and spilled from other sources through ongoing water monitoring or by looking for potentially contaminated sites.
A dozen states are beginning or planning to investigate the chemicals — known as perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs — which have been linked to prostate, kidney and testicular cancer, along with other illnesses. The rest of the states, about two thirds, are waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make a move.
In addition to the Aqueous Film Forming Foam used in disaster preparedness training and in actual fires, PFCs are in many household products and are used to manufacture Teflon.
Exxon sees smallest profit in 16 years, Chevron posts loss
DALLAS (AP) — Motorists are saving billions on cheaper gasoline, but the long slump in oil prices is taking a heavy toll on companies that find and produce crude.
Exxon Mobil posted its smallest quarterly profit in more than 16 years Friday, while Chevron lost $725 million, its worst showing since 2002, and raised the number of jobs it expects to cut this year from 7,000 to 8,000. Other oil companies are expected to report weak earnings in the next few days.
Oil prices have tumbled from their 2014 highs of over $100 a barrel, bottoming out at under $30 in mid-February, because of a worldwide glut. Giant companies like Exxon and major petroleum-producing countries such as Saudi Arabia have continued to pump more from the ground despite the slide in prices.
Forecasters expect U.S. shale producers to cut production, however, which could ease the glut, and prices have been recovering over the past three months. Benchmark U.S. crude is trading at close to $46. Exxon and Chevron stock have gained ground.
“Investors are really focused on where things are heading, and that is higher oil prices,” said Brian Youngberg, an analyst with Edward Jones.
San Francisco chief releases racist texts, orders training
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco’s police chief said Friday that he has ordered that all officers finish an anti-harassment class within the next month amid a racist texting scandal that has rocked the department already dogged by fatal shootings of unarmed minority suspects.
Flanked by religious and minority community leaders at a San Francisco press conference, Chief Greg Suhr also released more transcripts of racist and homophobic text messages first made available to The Associated Press along with inflammatory and inappropriate images found on former officers’ cellphones.
It’s the second texting scandal since 2014 in a department that is attempting to diversify its officers to reflect the San Francisco culture and population. The department of 2,100 was led by an Asian-American woman and a black man before Suhr took over five years ago.
About half the officers are white, roughly reflecting the white population in San Francisco. Asians make up a third of the city population, but account for about 16 percent of the officers. Close to 9 percent of its officers are black, exceeding a city population of 6 percent,
Suhr says he has no plans to resign and Mayor Ed Lee says he supports the chief.
Pop went the weasel and down went the Large Hadron Collider
GENEVA (AP) — It’s one of the physics world’s most complex machines, and it has been immobilized — temporarily — by a weasel.
Spokesman Arnaud Marsollier says the world’s largest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN outside of Geneva, has suspended operations because a weasel invaded a transformer that helps power the machine and set off an electrical outage on Friday.
Authorities say the incident was one of several small glitches that will delay plans to restart the $4.4 billion collider by a few days.
Marsollier says Friday that the weasel died — and little remains of it.
Officials of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN, have been gearing up for new data from the 27-kilometer (17-mile) circuit that runs underground on the Swiss-French border.
The Latest: 4 Alabama players go in 2nd round of NFL draft
CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the second day of the NFL draft (all times local):
The Alabama getaway began late at the NFL draft.
Only one member of the national champion Crimson Tide, center Ryan Kelly, went in the first round. And none was selected through nine spots in the second round.
Then three All-Americans heard their names called.