AP News in Brief 11-30-19

UK police: Bridge attacker once jailed for terror crimes

LONDON — A man imprisoned six years for terrorism offenses before his release last year stabbed several people in London on Friday, two fatally, before being tackled by members of the public and then fatally shot by officers on London Bridge.

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Neil Basu, London’s police counterterrorism head, said 28-year-old Usman Khan was attending a program that works to educate prisoners when he launched the attack, killing a man and a woman and injuring three others just yards from the site of a deadly 2017 van and knife rampage. Basu said the suspect appeared to be wearing a bomb vest but it turned out to be “a hoax explosive device.”

Health officials said one of the injured was in critical but stable condition, one was stable and the third had less serious injuries.

The attack raises difficult questions for Britain’s government and security services. Police said Khan was convicted in 2012 of terrorism offenses and released in December 2018 “on license,” which means he had to meet certain conditions or face recall to prison. Several British media outlets reported that he was wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had “long argued” that it was a “mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early.”

Assailant wounds 3 in stabbing in busy Hague shopping area

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An assailant stabbed three people Friday night in a busy shopping district in the Netherlands, and police were searching for the suspect, authorities said.

The attack came just hours after a man wearing a fake explosive vest stabbed several people in London, killing two, before he was tackled by members of the public and then fatally shot by officers. Police treated it as a terrorist attack.

A Dutch police spokeswoman said it was too early to establish a motive for the attack in The Hague.

The victims, all minors, were released from the hospital late Friday. It was unclear whether they might have been hurt when the crowds of holiday shoppers panicked. Video from the scene showed people running away and shrieking. Calm returned soon after police arrived.

The stabbing happened about 7:45 p.m., when a man attacked several people on the street. Investigators were “keeping every scenario open,” police spokeswoman Marije Kuiper said.

Powerful storm interrupts nation’s busiest travel weekend

A powerful storm making its way east from California is causing major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend, as forecasters warned that intensifying snow and ice could thwart millions of people across the country hoping to get home after Thanksgiving.

The storm caused the death of at least one person in South Dakota and shut down highways in the western U.S., stranding drivers in California and prompting authorities in Arizona to plead with travelers to wait out the weather before attempting to travel.

The storm was tracking into the Plains Friday and expected to track east through the weekend — into the Midwest by Saturday and the Northeast on Sunday — pummeling a huge portion of the country with snow, ice or flash flooding.

From wire sources

The National Weather Service said travel could become impossible in some places.

The weather could be particularly disruptive on Sunday, when millions of holiday travelers head home. Airlines for America, the airline industry’s trade group, expects 3.1 million passengers during what could be the busiest day ever recorded for American air travel.

Head start on holiday deals tempers Black Friday frenzy

NEW YORK — Black Friday enthusiasts woke up before dawn and traveled cross-state to their favorite malls in search of hot deals, kicking off a shortened shopping season that intensified the scramble between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

But the ever-growing popularity of online shopping and holiday discounts that started weeks earlier dampened the frenzy. This year, more people got a head start on gift-hunting, lured by deals from retailers trying to compensate for the shorter season.

The shopping season is the shortest since 2013 because Thanksgiving fell on the last Thursday in November — the latest possible date it could be.

Shoppers up since the wee hours slept in chairs at Nashville’s Opry Mills mall, known for its outlet stores. Outside, deal-seekers were still fighting for parking spots by midmorning.

Haley Wright left Alabama at 4 a.m. to arrive at the Tennessee mall by 7 a.m. She makes the annual trip because she says the stores offer better deals and a more fun environment than the shops back home.

Party like a spy: Spookstock is intel world’s hush-hush bash

WASHINGTON — Sometime earlier this year, one of the most elite social events in Washington took place, but without any fanfare or news coverage.

It drew about 1,800 attendees and Grammy-winning rocker Lenny Kravitz performed. Yet there were no written invitations, and the actual date and location were carefully guarded secrets.

The annual charitable event is mischievously known as Spookstock. While many Washington insiders, let alone the public, haven’t heard of it, the gala has become a centerpiece for the capital region’s tightknit intelligence and military special operations communities.

“I’ve done my share of formal events and black dress nights. This is a lot more fun,” said retired Maj. Gen. Clay Hutmacher, the former director of operations for U.S. Special Operations Command. “It’s very casual. If you want to show up in a Def Leppard T-shirt, that’s fine.”

Now in its seventh year, Spookstock has raised millions for the CIA Officers Memorial Foundation and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which look after the families of CIA officers and special operations forces killed in the field. Last year, after expenses, each charity received about $400,000, according to Spookstock board member Mark Kelton.

Impeachment may complicate 2020 for lonely Michigan moderate

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — For more than 30 years and under five presidents, Republican Rep. Fred Upton easily won reelection to his southwest Michigan House seat by touting “common-sense values” and bipartisan accomplishments.

Republicans and even many Democrats have appreciated his moderate views and the way he hustled around the district on his days back home, meeting people at schools and senior homes and doing weekly radio interviews.

But then came the hyperpolarized politics of the Donald Trump era. Now no one, including Upton, really knows what the future holds for him heading into the 2020 election.

For officeholders who were proud of holding the middle ground and working with the opposing party, big questions loom about whether being a moderate is still a viable political position, or whether the impeachment storm sweeping U.S. politics will force everyone to accept a new identity — pro-Trump or anti-Trump — and await voters’ judgment on it.

What happens to this ever-shrinking group of politicians — a dozen or so left after a rash of retirements or midterm losses — could make a big difference in which party emerges on top when the televised hearings have ended and the votes are counted next November. Some of the seats are in key swing states like Michigan, typically in suburban or fast-growing areas like Upton’s. His largely white district stretches from tourist destinations along Lake Michigan and across rural, Republican communities to more diverse Kalamazoo, home to Western Michigan University.

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Belated bill to help solve indigenous cold cases gains steam

FARGO, N.D. — A bill originally meant to help law enforcement investigate cold cases of murdered and missing indigenous women that has floundered in Congress for two years may have the missing ingredients to become law — money and muscle.

The money comes from an appropriations subcommittee chaired by Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who told The Associated Press that for the first time funding is being directed specifically to murdered and missing indigenous people. The muscle comes from the White House and specifically the Department of Justice, which last week unveiled a plan that would investigate issues raised in the bill like data collection practices and federal databases.

It adds up to a strong outlook for Savanna’s Act, which was originally introduced in 2017 by Murkowski, Democratic Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastro and former North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Murkowski and Heitkamp, longtime allies on issues affecting indigenous people, also created the Commission on Native Children, which recently held its first meeting.

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“The great thing about Lisa’s work has been her willingness to not just pass this law but make sure there’s an appropriation for it,” Heitkamp said Friday.

The bill is named for Savanna Greywind, a Native American North Dakota woman who was killed in 2017 when her baby was cut from her womb. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, chaired by North Dakota Republican John Hoeven, earlier this month advanced another version of bill to the full Senate for consideration.

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