Mattis says US competitive warfighting edge has eroded
WASHINGTON — Countering China’s rapidly expanding military and an increasingly aggressive Russia are now the U.S. military’s top national security priorities, outpacing the threat of terrorism, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday. He said competition with those adversaries has threatened America’s military advantage around the world.
Laying out a broad new strategy for the Defense Department, Mattis warned that all aspects of the military’s competitive warfighting edge have eroded.
He said building a force that can deter war with established and emerging military powers in Moscow and Beijing, and U.S. enemies such as North Korea and Iran will require increased investment to make the military more lethal, agile and ready to fight.
“We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today, but great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in remarks at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
He said the Islamic State group’s “physical caliphate” in Iraq and Syria had been defeated, but that IS, al-Qaida and other extremists still pose threats across the globe.
Autopsy: Tom Petty died of accidental drug overdose
LOS ANGELES — Tom Petty’s family says his death last year was due to an accidental drug overdose.
His wife and daughter released the results of Petty’s autopsy via a statement Friday on his Facebook page. Dana and Adria Petty say they got the results from the coroner’s office earlier in the day that the overdose was due to a variety of medications.
The statement was posted moments before the Los Angeles coroner’s office issued its official findings, which confirmed that Petty had a variety of medications, including fentanyl and oxycodone, in his system.
Petty suffered from emphysema, a fractured hip and knee problems that caused him pain, the family said, but he was still committed to touring.
He had just wrapped up a tour a few days before he died in October at age 66.
Conservatives question pope’s airborne, shotgun nuptials
LIMA, Peru — The honeymoon, as it were, is apparently over.
A day after Pope Francis grabbed headlines by pronouncing two flight attendants man and wife while flying 36,000 feet over Chile, the conservative Catholic commentariat on Friday questioned the legitimacy of the shotgun sacrament and warned it could cheapen the church’s marriage preparation down the line.
“Do you know what’s a ‘marriage’ ripe for annulment?” tweeted the traditionalist blog Rorate Caeli. “One celebrated apparently on a whim in an airplane whose celebrant cannot even be sure if parties are validly baptized.”
For those who missed the news, Francis on Thursday presided over what the Vatican said was the doctrinally and canonically legitimate wedding of Paula Podest and Carlos Ciuffardi, two flight attendants from LATAM flight 1250 that brought the pope, his delegation and travelling press from Santiago to the northern city of Iquique.
As the happy couple told journalists after the fact — and after serving breakfast — they had hoped to just get a blessing from the pope. They told him that they had been married civilly in 2010, but that their plans for a church wedding fell through when an earthquake hit.
Tabloid held porn star’s 2011 interview after Trump threat
NEW YORK — A tabloid magazine held back from publishing an adult film star’s 2011 account of an alleged affair with Donald Trump after the future president’s personal lawyer threatened to sue, four former employees of the tabloid’s publisher told The Associated Press.
In Touch magazine published its 5,000-word interview with the pornographic actor Stormy Daniels on Friday — more than six years after Trump’s long-time attorney, Michael Cohen, sent an email to In Touch’s general counsel saying Trump would aggressively pursue legal action if the story was printed, according to emails described to the AP by the former employees.
At the time, Trump was a reality TV star on the NBC show “The Apprentice.”
The ex-employees spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to discuss their former employer’s editorial policies.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, signed a source contract with the magazine, which said a friend and Clifford’s ex-husband corroborated her account of a 2006 tryst. She also passed a lie detector test, the magazine said.
Women will march again with aim to become a political force
A year after more than 1 million people rallied at women’s marches worldwide with a message of female empowerment and protest against President Donald Trump, activists will return to the streets this weekend in hopes of converting anger and enthusiasm into political force.
The 2017 rally in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of similar marches created solidarity for those denouncing Trump’s views on abortion, immigration, LGBT rights and more. Since then, a wave of women decided to run for elected office and the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct became a cultural phenomenon.
“We made a lot of noise,” said Elaine Wynn, an organizer. “But now how do we translate that noise into something concrete or fulfilling?”
Along with hundreds of gatherings Saturday and Sunday across the U.S. and in places such as Beijing, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Nairobi, Kenya, a rally Sunday in Las Vegas will launch an effort to register 1 million voters and target swing states in the midterm elections.
Linda Sarsour, one of the four organizers of last year’s Washington march, said Las Vegas was targeted for a major rally because it’s a strategic swing state that gave Hillary Clinton a narrow win in the presidential election and will have one of the most competitive Senate races in 2018. Democrats believe they have a good chance of winning the seat held by embattled Republican Sen. Dean Heller and weakening the GOP’s hold on the chamber.
Experts: Shackled children face long road to recovery
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — They are safe for now and, according to authorities, they are relieved.
But the 13 children, aged 2 to 29, rescued from what was described as nothing less than a torture chamber will have years of therapy ahead, experts say, as they learn to live in a world that, until a week ago, they never really knew.
Since arresting David and Louise Turpin earlier this week, authorities said they have learned the children were confined to the house, chained to furniture, starved and often deprived the use of a toilet. Some of the children were so detached they didn’t understand the concept of a police officer or medicine.
“You don’t need to learn what a police officer is from going to school, you learn that from just being out in the world,” said Patricia Costales, chief executive of The Guidance Center, a Long Beach, California-based nonprofit that provides mental health therapy to thousands of children.
“To not even know something like that really speaks to how incredibly controlled their environment was. They’re going to experience a culture shock even apart from the trauma they have undergone,” said Costales, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist who has treated kidnap victims, some held for years.
Vegas gunman studied SWAT tactics, music site before attack
LAS VEGAS — The Las Vegas gunman meticulously planned the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, researching SWAT tactics, renting other hotel rooms overlooking outdoor concerts and investigating potential targets in at least four cities, authorities said Friday.
But almost four months after Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded more than 800 others with a barrage of bullets from the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel, investigators still have not answered the key question: Why did he do it?
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo released a preliminary report on the Oct. 1 attack and said he did not expect criminal charges to be filed against Paddock’s girlfriend, Marilou Danley, who had been called the only person of interest in the case. Investigators believe Paddock acted alone, and he did not leave a suicide note or manifesto.
Paddock, who killed himself before police reached him, told friends and relatives that he always felt ill, in pain and fatigued, authorities said.
His doctor thought he may have had bipolar disorder but told police that Paddock refused to discuss the possibility, the report said. The doctor offered him antidepressants, but Paddock accepted only a prescription for anxiety medication. He was fearful of medication and often refused to take it, the doctor told investigators.
Oscar winner Dorothy Malone, mom on ‘Peyton Place,’ has died
DALLAS — Actress Dorothy Malone, who won hearts of 1960s television viewers as the long-suffering mother in the nighttime soap “Peyton Place,” died Friday in her hometown of Dallas at age 93.
Malone died in an assisted living center from natural causes days before her 94th birthday, said her daughter, Mimi Vanderstraaten.
After 11 years of mostly roles as loving sweethearts and wives, the brunette actress decided she needed to gamble on her career instead of playing it safe. She fired her agent, hired a publicist, dyed her hair blonde and sought a new image.
“I came up with a conviction that most of the winners in this business became stars overnight by playing shady dames with sex appeal,” she recalled in 1967. She welcomed the offer for “Written on the Wind,” in which she played an alcoholic nymphomaniac who tries to steal Rock Hudson from his wife, Lauren Bacall.
“And I’ve been unfaithful or drunk or oversexed almost ever since— on the screen, of course,” she added.