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'Dances With Wolves' actor charged in Nevada sex abuse case

Actor formally charged

A former “Dances With Wolves” actor accused of sexually abusing Indigenous girls and women for two decades in multiple states has been charged in Nevada for crimes that prosecutors said occurred in the Las Vegas-area starting in 2012.

Nathan Chasing Horse, 46, was formally charged Monday morning during a brief appearance in a North Las Vegas courtroom full of his friends and relatives who had hoped to see him released on bail. But a judge postponed hearing arguments about his custody status until Wednesday to allow Chasing Horse to find a new attorney.

Nevada law requires prosecutors to present convincing evidence that a defendant should remain in custody. Clark County Deputy District Attorney Jessica Walsh said last week that she expected testimony from Las Vegas police detectives, FBI special agents and victims.

In the meantime, Chasing Horse is being held without bail at a jail in downtown Las Vegas. He has been in custody since his Jan. 31 arrest near the North Las Vegas home he shares with his five wives.

Chasing Horse is charged with eight felonies, including sex trafficking, sexual assault against a child younger than 16, and child abuse, according to a criminal complaint. Prosecutors also filed an additional felony charge Monday in connection with what detectives said were videos saved on a phone showing sexual assaults of a minor.

Seated opposite of Chasing Horse's family on Monday, some of the victims and their supporters held signs inside the courtroom reading “NO MORE STOLEN SISTERS” and “WOMEN AREN'T PRISONERS.”

Rulon Pete, executive director of the Las Vegas Indian Center, said after the hearing that the victims had been prepared “to help out with making sure justice has been served.”

“Unfortunately there's a lot of anxiety they're experiencing," he told The Associated Press after speaking with the victims and prosecutors. "When this got pushed back, it was like adding more weight to the situation.”

He did not enter a plea Monday after he was formally charged. In Nevada, defendants do not enter a plea until their criminal case is bound over to a state district court, either after a grand jury indictment or after a judge decides prosecutors have enough evidence for the defendant to stand trial.

Chasing Horse played the role of Sioux tribe member Smiles a Lot in Kevin Costner’s 1990 Oscar-winning film.

Since then, he has built a reputation among tribes across the United States and in Canada as a “medicine man.” Chasing Horse, police said, abused that position and took underage wives over two decades in multiple states, including South Dakota, Montana and Nevada, where he has lived for about a decade. He also was banished from the Fort Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montana, in 2015 following similar allegations.

Detectives described Chasing Horse in a 50-page search warrant as the leader of a cult known as The Circle, whose followers believed he could communicate with higher powers.

Pete, of the Las Vegas Indian Center, described the role of the medicine man in their culture as a highly respected leadership post. “They’re like priests, if you will."

“You follow what they teach,” he said, adding that the victims have shown great courage by speaking out despite the intimidation and threats Pete said they have faced since Chasing Horse's arrest.

An arrest report for Chasing Horse shows at least six victims have been identified, including one who was 13 when she said she was abused, and another who said she was offered to him as a “gift” when she was 15.

After SWAT officers took him into custody last week, detectives searched the family’s home and found guns, 41 pounds (18.5 kilograms) of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, according to the arrest report.

The criminal complaint filed Monday also charges Chasing Horse with two misdemeanors in connection with a dead bald eagle and parts of a dead hawk discovered during the search of his property.

Chasing Horse was born on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, which is home to the Sicangu Sioux, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota nation.





More than 3,400 dead after powerful quake rocks Turkey and Syria

Quake toll tops 3,400

UPDATE 1:00 p.m.

More than 3,400 people have died from the devastating earthquake in Turkey near the border with Syria.

Rescue efforts were still underway across both countries through the night and into Tuesday.


UPDATE 10:55 a.m.

A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swaths of Turkey and neighboring Syria on Monday, killing more than 2,600 people and injuring thousands more as it toppled thousands of buildings and trapped residents under mounds of rubble.

Authorities feared the death toll would keep climbing as rescuers searched through tangles of metal and concrete for survivors in a region beset by Syria’s 12-year civil war and a refugee crisis.

Residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake rushed outside in the rain and snow to escape falling debris, while those who were trapped cried for help. Throughout the day, major aftershocks rattled the region, including a jolt nearly as strong as the initial quake. After night fell, workers were still sawing away slabs and pulling out bodies as desperate families waited for news on trapped loved ones.

“My grandson is 1 1/2 years old. Please help them, please. We can’t hear them or get any news from them since morning. Please, they were on the 12th floor,” Imran Bahur wept by her destroyed apartment building in the Turkish city of Adana. Her daughter and family were still not found.

Tens of thousands who were left homeless in Turkey and Syria faced a night in the cold. In Turkey’s Gaziantep, a provincial capital about 33 kilometers (20 miles) from the epicenter, people took refuge in shopping malls, stadiums and community centers. Mosques around the region were opened to provide shelter.

The quake, which was centered on Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras, sent residents of Damascus and Beirut rushing into the street and was felt as far away as Cairo.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said officials do not know how high the number of dead and injured will rise.

The quake piled more misery on a region that has seen tremendous suffering over the past decade. On the Syrian side, the area is divided between government-held territory and the country’s last opposition-held enclave, which is surrounded by Russian-backed government forces. Turkey, meanwhile, is home to millions of refugees from the civil war.

In the rebel-held enclave, hundreds of families remained trapped in rubble, the opposition emergency organization, called the White Helmets said in a statement. The area is packed with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of the country by the war. Many of them live in buildings that are already wrecked from past bombardments.

Strained health facilities quickly filled with injured, rescue workers said. Others had to be emptied, including a maternity hospital, according to the SAMS medical organization.

More than 6,400 people were rescued across 10 provinces, according to Orhan Tatar, an official with Turkey’s disaster management authority.

The region sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Some 18,000 were killed in similarly powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured Monday’s quake at 7.8, with a depth of 18 kilometers (11 miles). Hours later, a 7.5 magnitude temblor struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away.

The second jolt in the afternoon caused a multistory apartment building to topple face-forward onto the street in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa. The structure disintegrated into rubble and raised a cloud of dust as bystanders screamed, according to video of the scene.


ORIGINAL 7 a.m.

A powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked wide swaths of Turkey and Syria early Monday, toppling hundreds of buildings and killing more than 2,300 people. Hundreds were still believed to be trapped under rubble, and the toll was expected to rise as rescue workers searched mounds of wreckage in cities and towns across the area.

On both sides of the border, residents jolted out of sleep by the pre-dawn quake rushed outside on a cold, rainy and snowy night. Buildings were reduced to piles of pancaked floors, and major aftershocks or new quakes, including one nearly as strong as the first, continued to rattle the region.

Rescue workers and residents in multiple cities searched for survivors, working through tangles of metal and concrete. A hospital in Turkey collapsed, and patients, including newborns, were evacuated from facilities in Syria.

In the Turkish city of Adana, one resident said three buildings near his home were toppled. “I don’t have the strength anymore,” one survivor could be heard calling out from beneath the rubble as rescue workers tried to reach him, said the resident, journalism student Muhammet Fatih Yavuz.

“Because the debris removal efforts are continuing in many buildings in the earthquake zone, we do not know how high the number of dead and injured will rise,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. “Hopefully, we will leave these disastrous days behind us in unity and solidarity as a country and a nation.”

The quake, which was centered on Turkey's southeastern province of Kahramanmaras, was felt as far away as Cairo. It sent residents of Damascus rushing into the street, and jolted awake people in their beds in Beirut.

It struck a region that has been shaped on both sides of the border by more than a decade of civil war in Syria. On the Syrian side, the swath affected is divided between government-held territory and the country’s last opposition-held enclave, which is surrounded by Russian-backed government forces. Turkey, meanwhile, is home to millions of refugees from that conflict.

The opposition-held regions in Syria are packed with some 4 million people displaced from other parts of the country by the fighting. Many of them live in buildings that are already wrecked from past bombardments. Hundreds of families remained trapped in rubble, the opposition emergency organization, called the White Helmets, said in a statement.

Strained health facilities and hospitals were quickly filled with injured, rescue workers said. Others had to be emptied, including a maternity hospital, according to the SAMS medical organization.

The region sits on top of major fault lines and is frequently shaken by earthquakes. Some 18,000 were killed in a similarly powerful earthquakes that hit northwest Turkey in 1999.

The U.S. Geological Survey measured Monday's quake at 7.8. Hours later, a 7.5 magnitude one struck more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) away. An official from Turkey’s disaster management agency said it was a new earthquake, not an aftershock, though its effects were not immediately clear. Hundreds of aftershocks were expected after the two temblors, Orhan Tatar told reporters.

Thousands of buildings were reported collapsed in a wide area extending from Syria’s cities of Aleppo and Hama to Turkey’s Diyarbakir, more than 330 kilometers (200 miles) to the northeast. A hospital collapsed in the Mediterranean coastal city of Iskenderun, but casualties were not immediately known, Turkey's vice president, Fuat Oktay, said.

Televisions stations in Turkey aired screens split into four or five, showing live coverage from rescue efforts in the worst-hit provinces. In the city of Kahramanmaras, rescuers pulled two children alive from the rubble, and one could be seen lying on a stretcher on the snowy ground.

Offers of help — from search-and-rescue teams to medical supplies and money — poured in from dozens of countries, as well as the European Union and NATO.

The damage evident from photos of the affected areas is typically associated with a significant loss of life — while bitterly cold temperatures and the difficulty of working in areas beset by civil war will only complicate rescue efforts, said Dr. Steven Godby, an expert in natural hazards at Nottingham Trent University.

In Turkey, people trying to leave the quake-stricken regions caused traffic jams, hampering efforts of emergency teams trying to reach the affected areas. Authorities urged residents not to take to the roads. Mosques around the region were opened to provide shelter for people unable to return to damaged homes amid temperatures that hovered around freezing.

In Diyarbakir, hundreds of rescue workers and civilians formed lines across a mountain of wreckage, passing down broken concrete pieces, household belongings and other debris as they searched for trapped survivors while excavators dug through the rubble below.

In northwest Syria, the quake added new woes to the opposition-held enclave centered on the province of Idlib, which has been under siege for years, with frequent Russian and government airstrikes. The territory depends on a flow of aid from nearby Turkey for everything from food to medical supplies.

The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense described the situation there as “disastrous.”

In a hospital in Darkush in Idlib, Osama Abdelhamid said most of his neighbors died. He said their shared four-story building collapsed just as he, his wife and three children ran toward the exit. A wooden door fell on them and acted as a shield.

“God gave me a new lease on life,” he said.

In the small Syrian rebel-held town of Azmarin in the mountains by the Turkish border, the bodies of several dead children, wrapped in blankets, were brought to a hospital.

The Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria said the earthquake has caused some damage to the Crusader-built Marqab, or Watchtower Castle, on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. Part of a tower and parts of some walls collapsed.

In Turkey, meanwhile, the quake damaged a historic castle perched atop a hill in the center of the provincial capital of Gaziantep, about 33 kilometers (20 miles) from the epicenter. Parts of the fortresses’ walls and watch towers were leveled and other parts heavily damaged, images from the city showed.

The USGS said the quake was 18 kilometers (11 miles) deep.

Nearly 1,500 people were killed in 10 Turkish provinces, with some 8,500 injured, according to the president of the country's disaster management agency. The death toll in government-held areas of Syria climbed over 430 people, with some 1,280 injured, according to the Health Ministry. In the country’s rebel-held northwest, groups that operate there said the death toll was at least 380, with many hundreds injured.

Huseyin Yayman, a legislator from Turkey's Hatay province, said several of his family members were stuck under the rubble of their collapsed homes.

“There are so many other people who are also trapped,” he told HaberTurk television by telephone. “There are so many buildings that have been damaged. People are on the streets. It’s raining, it’s winter.”



Israeli troops kill 5 Palestinian gunmen in West Bank raid

5 killed in West Bank raid

Israeli forces killed five Palestinian gunmen linked to the Islamic militant Hamas group in a raid on refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Monday, the latest bloodshed in the region that will likely further exacerbate tensions.

The Palestinian president's office called the violence a crime, urging the United States to pressure Israel to hold back on its incursions. The military said the raid was meant to apprehend a militant cell that staged a botched shooting attack on a restaurant in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

The violence extends one of the deadliest periods in years in the West Bank and comes during the first weeks of Israel’s new government, its most right-wing ever, which has promised to take a tough stance against the Palestinians.

The Israeli military said it was operating in the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp to apprehend the suspects behind a failed shooting attack last month at a West Bank restaurant, where attackers allegedly were thwarted by a weapon malfunction. The attackers then fled the scene, the military said, adding that they were members of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and has elements in the West Bank as well.

The military said it was searching Monday for the militant cell behind the shooting that it said had sealed itself inside a home in the refugee camp. During the search, troops encountered gunmen and a gun battle erupted. The military said several of the gunmen who were killed were involved in the attempted attack on the restaurant.

“The new Israeli government is continuing its series of crimes against our Palestinian people,” a statement from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' office said.

In Aqabat Jabr, bullets were strewn across a blood-streaked floor at the scene of the gunfight. Bullet marks pocked a door and glass shards from a broken window littered the ground.

Jihad Abu al-Assal, the governor of Jericho and the Jordan Valley, said the military was holding on to the gunmen's bodies. The Palestinian Health Ministry later confirmed that five Palestinians had been killed.

Speaking at an event at the site of a recent deadly Palestinian shooting attack, Netanyahu confirmed earlier reports by Israeli security officials that five gunmen were killed.

Hamas said all five of those killed were members of its armed wing. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the violence would be met with a response.

“Our people and their resistance will not delay in responding to this crime,” he said.

The raid comes days after an earlier incursion in the Aqabat Jabr camp, which is near the Palestinian city of Jericho, a desert oasis in an area of the West Bank that rarely sees such unrest, where troops were also searching for the suspects.

Since the shooting at the nearby settlement, the Israeli military has blocked access to several roads into Jericho — a closure that has placed the city under a semi-blockade, disrupting business and creating hourslong bottlenecks at checkpoints that affected even Palestinian security forces, footage showed.

Monday’s violence comes days after an Israeli military raid on the Jenin refugee camp killed 10 Palestinians, mostly militants but also a 61-year-old woman. The next day, a Palestinian shooting attack outside an east Jerusalem synagogue killed seven people, including a 14-year-old.

The Israeli army has ramped up near-nightly raids in the occupied West Bank since a series of deadly Palestinian attacks within Israel last spring. Over the last year of escalating raids, Jericho has remained a sort of sleepy desert town, spared much of the violence.

The Palestinian Authority, in retaliation for the raid into the Jenin refugee camp, declared a halt to security coordination with Israel.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed last year in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, making it the deadliest year in those areas since 2004, according to figures by the Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Since the start of this year, 41 Palestinians have been killed in those territories. Palestinian attacks against Israelis killed some 30 people in 2022.

The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their hoped-for independent state.



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Poland redeploys Patriot missiles to capital city for drills

Poland redeploys missiles

Patriot missile batteries that Poland acquired from the U.S. last year have been deployed to the country's capital Warsaw as part of military exercise, according to Poland's defense ministry.

Poland is taking additional steps to strengthen its defensive capabilities as Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine enters its second year later this month.

At least three ground-to-air missile launchers were seen Monday at Warsaw’s Bemowo airport.

Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Twitter over the weekend that the redeployment of the missile batteries from their base in Sochaczew, central Poland, to Warsaw was “an important element to the training" of the 3rd Warsaw Brigade of Missile Air Defense.

The Patriot batteries are part of Poland’s multibillion dollar armaments purchases from the U.S., South Korea and elsewhere.

Poland has also received Patriot batteries from Germany, to boost its air defenses in the east, where a stray missile came from across the border with Ukraine and killed two civilians last year.



Pakistan blocks Wikipedia, says it hurt Muslim sentiments

Pakistan blocks Wikipedia

Pakistan's media regulator said Monday it blocked Wikipedia services in the country for hurting Muslim sentiment by not removing purportedly blasphemous content from the site. Critics denounced Islamabad's action, saying it was a blow to digital rights.

Under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, anyone found guilty of insulting Islam or its figures can be sentenced to death, although the country has yet to carry out capital punishment for blasphemy.

But even allegations of the offense are often enough to provoke mob violence and even deadly attacks. International and domestic rights groups say that accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority says it blocked Wikipedia because a 48-hour deadline to remove the content was ignored, according to a spokesperson. "Such things hurt the sentiments of Muslims," said Malahat Obaid, from the regulator.

She said Pakistani authorities are in talks with Wikipedia officials and the ban could be lifted if the platform completely removes anti-Islam content.

The Wikimedia Foundation on Saturday confirmed the ban, saying: "We hope that the Pakistan government joins us in a commitment to knowledge as a human right and restores access to @Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects promptly, so that the people of Pakistan can continue to receive and share knowledge with the world."

Mohsin Raza Khan, a Pakistani social media expert, said it is easy to update or replace Wikipedia material deemed sacrilegious or offensive for Muslims — so blocking the site is not the answer.

“Pakistan’s media regulator and other authorities should try to find some viable technical solution to such problems as blasphemous content is available everywhere," he said. “It is equal to a drop in the ocean of knowledge.”

The Lahore-based Digital Rights Foundation earlier called the Wikipedia ban an affront to Pakistanis' right to access information and a mockery of the country's commitment to uphold its human rights obligations.

In the past, Pakistan briefly banned TikTok twice for allegedly uploading “immoral, obscene and vulgar” content.

But the ban was later lifted after TikTok assured Pakistan it would remove immoral content and also block users who upload “unlawful content.” The app was downloaded millions of times in Pakistan when the ban was imposed in 2020 and 2021.

Also, in 2008, Pakistan banned YouTube over videos depicting Prophet Muhammad. Muslims generally believe any physical depiction of Islam’s prophet is blasphemous.

Also on Monday, Amir Mahmood, spokesman for Pakistan's Ahmadi community, sought protection from the government, saying unidentified Islamists in multiple separate attacks have damaged Ahmadi places of worship in southern Sindh province and elsewhere in the country.

“The freedom of worship given to us by the constitution is shrinking," he told The Associated Press.

The attacks, which took place over several days, caused no casualties, Mahmood said.

The Ahmadi faith was established on the Indian subcontinent in the 19th century by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, whose followers believe he was the messiah that was promised by the Prophet Muhammad.

Pakistan’s parliament declared Ahmadis non-Muslims in 1974. Since then, they have repeatedly been targeted by Islamic extremists in the Muslim-majority nation, drawing international condemnation.



Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan martial ruler in 9/11 wars, dies

Pakistan's Musharraf dies

Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup and later led a reluctant Pakistan into aiding the U.S. war in Afghanistan against the Taliban, has died, officials said Sunday. He was 79.

Musharraf, a former special forces commando, became president through the last of a string of military coups that roiled Pakistan since its founding amid the bloody 1947 partition of India. He ruled the nuclear-armed state after his 1999 coup through tensions with India, an atomic proliferation scandal and an Islamic extremist insurgency. He stepped down in 2008 while facing possible impeachment.

Later in life, Musharraf lived in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid criminal charges, despite attempting a political comeback in 2012. But it wasn’t to be as his poor health plagued his last years. He maintained a soldier’s fatalism after avoiding a violent death that always seemed to be stalking him as Islamic militants twice targeted him for assassination.

“I have confronted death and defied it several times in the past because destiny and fate have always smiled on me,” Musharraf once wrote. “I only pray that I have more than the proverbial nine lives of a cat.”

Musharraf’s family announced in June 2022 that he had been hospitalized for weeks in Dubai while suffering from amyloidosis, an incurable condition that sees proteins build up in the body’s organs.

“Going through a difficult stage where recovery is not possible and organs are malfunctioning,” the family said. They later said he also needed access to the drug daratumumab, which is used to treat multiple myeloma. That bone marrow cancer can cause amyloidosis.

Shazia Siraj, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai, confirmed his death and said diplomats were providing support to his family. The Pakistani military also offered its condolences.

“May Allah bless the departed soul and give strength to bereaved family,” a military statement said.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif similarly offered his condolences in a short statement.

“May God give his family the courage to bear this loss,” Sharif said.

Pakistan, a nation nearly twice the size of California along the Arabian Sea, is now home to 220 million people. But it would be its border with Afghanistan that would soon draw the U.S.?s attention and dominate Musharraf’s life a little under two years after he seized power.

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden launched the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks from Afghanistan, sheltered by the country’s Taliban rulers. Musharraf knew what would come next.

“America was sure to react violently, like a wounded bear,” he wrote in his autobiography. “If the perpetrator turned out to be al-Qaida, then that wounded bear would come charging straight toward us.”

By Sept. 12, then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Musharraf that Pakistan would either be “with us or against us.” Musharraf said another American official threatened to bomb Pakistan ”back into the Stone Age” if it chose the latter.

Musharraf chose the former. A month later, he stood by then-President George W. Bush at the Waldorf Astoria in New York to declare Pakistan’s unwavering support to fight with the United States against “terrorism in all its forms wherever it exists.”

Pakistan became a crucial transit point for NATO supplies headed to landlocked Afghanistan. That was the case even though Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency had backed the Taliban after it swept into power in Afghanistan in 1994. Prior to that, the CIA and others funneled money and arms through the ISI to Islamic fighters battling the 1980s Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

The U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan saw Taliban fighters flee over the border back into Pakistan, including bin Laden, whom the U.S. would kill in 2011 at a compound in Abbottabad. They regrouped and the offshoot Pakistani Taliban emerged, beginning a yearslong insurgency in the mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The CIA began flying armed Predator drones from Pakistan with Musharraf’s blessing, using an airstrip built by the founding president of the United Arab Emirates for falconing in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The program helped beat back the militants but saw over 400 strikes in Pakistan alone kill at least 2,366 people — including 245 civilians, according to the Washington-based New America Foundation think tank.

Though Pakistan under Musharraf launched these operations, the militants still thrived as billions of American dollars flowed into the nation. That led to suspicion that still plagues the U.S. relationship with Pakistan.

“After 9/11, then President Musharraf made a strategic shift to abandon the Taliban and support the U.S. in the war on terror, but neither side believes the other has lived up to expectations flowing from that decision,” a 2009 U.S. cable from then-Ambassador Anne Patterson published by WikiLeaks said, describing what had become the diplomatic equivalent of a loveless marriage.

“The relationship is one of co-dependency we grudgingly admit — Pakistan knows the U.S. cannot afford to walk away; the U.S. knows Pakistan cannot survive without our support.”

But it would be Musharraf’s life on the line. Militants tried to assassinate him twice in 2003 by targeting his convoy, first with a bomb planted on a bridge and then with car bombs. That second attack saw Musharraf’s vehicle lifted into the air by the blast before touching the ground again. It raced to safety on just its rims, Musharraf pulling a Glock pistol in case he needed to fight his way out.

It wasn’t until his wife, Sehba, saw the car covered in gore that the scale of the attack dawned on him.

“She is always calm in the face of danger,” he recounted. But then, “she was screaming uncontrollably, hysterically.”

Born Aug. 11, 1943, in New Delhi, India, Musharraf was the middle son of a diplomat. His family joined millions of other Muslims in fleeing westward when predominantly Hindu India and Islamic Pakistan split during independence from Britain in 1947. The partition saw hundreds of thousands of people killed in riots and fighting.

Musharraf entered the Pakistani army at age 18 and made his career there as Islamabad fought three wars against India. He’d launch his own attempt at seizing territory in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir in 1999 just before seizing power from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Sharif had ordered Musharraf’s dismissal as the army chief flew home from a visit to Sri Lanka and denied his plane landing rights in Pakistan, even as it ran low on fuel. On the ground, the army seized control and after he landed Musharraf took charge.

Yet as ruler, Musharraf nearly reached a deal with India on Kashmir, according to U.S. diplomats at the time. He also worked toward a rapprochement with Pakistan’s longtime rival.

Another major scandal emerged under his rule when the world discovered that famed Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, long associated with the country’s atomic bomb, had been selling centrifuge designs and other secrets to countries including Iran, Libya and North Korea, making tens of millions of dollars. Those designs helped Pyongyang to arm itself with a nuclear weapon, while centrifuges from Khan’s designs still spin in Iran amid the collapse of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Musharraf said he suspected Khan but it wasn’t until 2003 when then-CIA director George Tenet showed him detailed plans for a Pakistani centrifuge that the scientist had been selling that he realized the severity of what happened.

Khan would confess on state television in 2004 and Musharraf would pardon him, though he’d be confined to house arrest after that.

“For years, A.Q.’s lavish lifestyle and tales of his wealth, properties, corrupt practices and financial magnanimity at state expense were generally all too well known in Islamabad’s social and government circles,” Musharraf later wrote. “However, these were largely ignored. ... In hindsight that neglect was apparently a serious mistake.”

Musharraf’s domestic support eventually eroded. He held flawed elections in late 2002 — only after changing the constitution to give himself sweeping powers to sack the prime minister and parliament. He then reneged on a promise to stand down as army chief by the end of 2004.

Militant anger toward Musharraf increased in 2007 when he ordered a raid against the Red Mosque in downtown Islamabad. It had become a sanctuary for militants opposed to Pakistan’s support of the Afghan war. The weeklong operation killed over 100 people.

The incident severely damaged Musharraf’s reputation among everyday citizens and earned him the undying hatred of militants who launched a series of punishing attacks following the raid.

Fearing the judiciary would block his continued rule, Musharraf fired the chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court. That triggered mass demonstrations.

Under pressure at home and abroad to restore civilian rule, Musharraf stepped down as army chief. Though he won another five-year presidential term, Musharraf faced a major crisis following former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in December 2007 at a campaign rally as she sought to become prime minister for the third time.

The public suspected Musharraf’s hand in the killing, which he denied. A later United Nations report acknowledged the Pakistani Taliban was a main suspect in her slaying but warned that elements of Pakistan’s intelligence services may have been involved.

Musharraf resigned as president in August 2008 after ruling coalition officials threatened to have him impeached for imposing emergency rule and firing judges.

“I hope the nation and the people will forgive my mistakes,” Musharraf, struggling with his emotions, said in an hourlong televised address.

Afterward, he lived abroad in Dubai and London, attempting a political comeback in 2012. But Pakistan instead arrested the former general and put him under house arrest. He faced treason allegations over the Supreme Court debacle and other charges stemming from the Red Mosque raid and Bhutto’s assassination.

The image of Musharraf being treated as a criminal suspect shocked Pakistan, where military generals long have been considered above the law. Pakistan allowed him to leave the country on bail to Dubai in 2016 for medical treatment and he remained there after facing a later-overturned death sentence.

But it suggested Pakistan may be ready to turn a corner in its history of military rule.

“Musharraf’s resignation is a sad yet familiar story of hubris, this time in a soldier who never became a good politician,” wrote Patterson, the U.S. ambassador, at the time.

“The good news is that the demonstrated strength of institutions that brought Musharraf down — the media, free elections and civil society — also provide some hope for Pakistan’s future. It was these institutions that ironically became much stronger under his government.”



China accuses US of indiscriminate use of force over balloon

China accuses US

China on Monday accused the U.S. of indiscriminate use of force when the American military shot down a suspected Chinese spy balloon Saturday.

The U.S. shot down a balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America. China insisted the flyover was an accident involving a civilian aircraft.

Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng said he lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. Embassy on Sunday over the “U.S. attack on a Chinese civilian unmanned airship by military force.”

The presence of the balloon in the skies above the U.S. dealt a severe blow to already strained U.S.-Chinese relations that have been in a downward spiral for years. It prompted Secretary of State Antony Blinken to abruptly cancel a high-stakes Beijing trip aimed at easing tensions.

Xie repeated China’s insistence that the balloon was a Chinese civil unmanned airship that blew into U.S. mistake, calling it “an accidental incident caused by force majeure.”

China would “resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies, resolutely safeguard China’s interests and dignity and reserve the right to make further necessary responses," he said.



Judge: Banning guns for marijuana users unconstitutional

Cannabis and firearms?

A federal judge in Oklahoma has ruled that a federal law prohibiting people who use marijuana from owning firearms is unconstitutional, the latest challenge to firearms regulations after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority set new standards for reviewing the nation’s gun laws.

Lawyers for Jared Michael Harrison had argued that their client's Second Amendment right to bear arms was being violated by a federal law that makes it illegal for “unlawful users or addicts of controlled substances” to possess firearms.

Harrison had been charged after being arrested by police in Lawton, Oklahoma, in May 2022 following a traffic stop. During a search of his car, police found a loaded revolver as well as marijuana. Harrison told police he had been on his way to work at a medical marijuana dispensary, but that he did not have a state-issued medical-marijuana card.

His lawyers had argued the portion of federal firearms law focused on drug users or addicts was not consistent with the nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation, echoing what the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled last year in a case known as New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. That case set new standards for interpreting the Second Amendment.

Federal prosecutors had argued that the portion of the law focused on drug users is “consistent with a longstanding historical tradition in America of disarming presumptively risky persons, namely, felons, the mentally ill, and the intoxicated.”

U.S. District Judge Patrick Wyrick in Oklahoma City agreed with Harrison’s lawyers, ruling on Friday that federal prosecutors’ arguments that Harrison’s status as a marijuana user “justifies stripping him of his fundamental right to possess a firearm ... is not a constitutionally permissible means of disarming Harrison.”

“But the mere use of marijuana carries none of the characteristics that the Nation’s history and tradition of firearms regulation supports,” Wyrick said, adding that under Oklahoma law, marijuana can be bought legally at more than 2,000 store fronts in the state.

Attorneys for Harrison, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma, which was prosecuting the case, did not immediately return emails seeking comment Sunday.

The ruling came a day after a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans on Thursday ruled that the government can’t stop people who have domestic violence restraining orders against them from owning guns. The panel referenced the Bruen decision in its ruling.

The Justice Department has said it will seek further review of the appeals court’s decision.

In September, a federal judge in Midland, Texas, ruled that a firearms law that bans those under felony indictment from buying guns is unconstitutional. In that case, U.S. District Judge David Counts also echoed the Supreme Court’s language in the Bruen case, saying there was “little evidence” the ban related to being under indictment “aligns with this Nation’s historical tradition.”



Pope, Anglican, Presbyterian minister denounce anti-gay laws

Denouncing anti-gay laws

Pope Francis, the head of the Anglican Communion and top Presbyterian minister together denounced the criminalization of homosexuality on Sunday and said gay people should be welcomed by their churches.

The three Christian leaders spoke out on LGBTQ rights during an unprecedented joint airborne news conference returning home from South Sudan, where they took part in a three-day ecumenical pilgrimage to try to nudge the young country’s peace process forward.

They were asked about Francis’ recent comments to The Associated Press, in which he declared that laws that criminalize gay people were “unjust” and that “being homosexual is not a crime.”

South Sudan is one of 67 countries that criminalizes homosexuality, 11 of them with the death penalty. LGBTQ advocates say even where such laws are not applied, they contribute to a climate of harassment, discrimination and violence.

Francis referred his Jan. 24 comments to the AP and repeated that such laws are “unjust.” He also repeated previous comments that parents should never throw their gay children out of the house.

“To condemn someone like this is a sin,” he said. “Criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice.”

“People with homosexual tendencies are children of God. God Loves them. God accompanies them,” he added.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recalled that LGBTQ rights were very much on the current agenda of the Church of England, and said he would quote the pope’s own words when the issue is discussed at the church’s upcoming General Synod.

“I wish I had spoken as eloquently and clearly as the pope. I entirely agree with every word he said,” Welby said.

Recently, the Church of England decided to allow blessings for same-sex civil marriages but said same-sex couples could not marry in its churches. The Vatican forbids both gay marriage and blessings for same-sex unions.

Welby told reporters that the issue of criminalization had been taken up at two previous Lambeth Conferences of the broader Anglican Communion, which includes churches in Africa and the Middle East where such anti-gay laws are most common and often enjoy support by conservative bishops.

The broader Lambeth Conference has come out twice opposing criminalization, “But it has not really changed many people’s minds,” Welby said.

The Rt. Rev. Iain Greenshields, the Presbyterian moderator of the Church of Scotland who also participated in the pilgrimage and news conference, offered an observation.

“There is nowhere in my reading of the four Gospels where I see Jesus turning anyone away,” he said. “There is nowhere in the four Gospels where I see anything other than Jesus expressing love to whomever he meets.

“And as Christians, that is the only expression that we can possibly give to any human being, in any circumstance.”

The Church of Scotland allows same-sex marriages. Catholic teaching holds that gay people must be treated with dignity and respect, but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.”



US downs Chinese balloon over ocean, moves to recover debris

Balloon downed over ocean

UPDATE: 11:57 a.m.

The United States on Saturday downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the Carolina coast after it traversed sensitive military sites across North America and became the latest flashpoint in tensions between Washington and Beijing.

An operation was underway in U.S. territorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean to recover debris from the balloon, which had been flying at about 60,000 feet and was estimated to be about the size of three school buses.

President Joe Biden had told reporters earlier Saturday that "we’re going to take care of it,” when asked about the balloon. The Federal Aviation Administration and Coast Guard worked to clear the airspace and water below the balloon as it reached the ocean.

Television footage showed a small explosion, followed by the balloon descending toward the water. U.S. military jets were seen flying in the vicinity and ships were deployed in the water to mount the recovery operation.

Officials were aiming to time the operation so they could recover as much of the debris as possible before it sinks into the ocean. The Pentagon had previously estimated that any debris field would be substantial.

The balloon was spotted Saturday morning over the Carolinas as it approached the coast. In preparation for the operation, the FAA Administration temporarily closed airspace over the Carolina coastline, including the airports in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina. The FAA rerouted air traffic from the area and warned of delays as a result of the flight restrictions.

The Coast Guard advised mariners to immediately leave the area because of U.S. military operations “that present a significant hazard.”

Biden had been inclined to down the balloon over land when he was first briefed on it on Tuesday, but Pentagon officials advised against it, warning that the potential risk to people on the ground outweighed the assessment of potential Chinese intelligence gains.

The public disclosure of the balloon this week prompted the cancellation of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing scheduled for Sunday for talks aimed at reducing U.S.-China tensions. The Chinese government on Saturday sought to play down the cancellation.

“In actuality, the U.S. and China have never announced any visit, the U.S. making any such announcement is their own business, and we respect that," China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Saturday morning.

China has continued to claim that the balloon was merely a weather research “airship” that had been blown off course. The Pentagon rejected that out of hand — as well as China’s contention that it was not being used for surveillance and had only limited navigational ability.

The balloon was spotted over Montana, which is home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

The Pentagon also acknowledged reports of a second balloon flying over Latin America. “We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a question about the second balloon.

Blinken, who had been due to depart Washington for Beijing late Friday, said he had told senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in a phone call that sending the balloon over the U.S. was “an irresponsible act and that (China’s) decision to take this action on the eve of my visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have.”

Uncensored reactions on the Chinese internet mirrored the official government stance that the U.S. was hyping the situation. Some used it as a chance to poke fun at U.S. defenses, saying it couldn’t even defend against a balloon, and nationalist influencers leapt to use the news to mock the U.S.

China has denied any claims of spying and said it is a civilian-use balloon intended for meteorology research. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that the balloon's journey was out of its control and urged the U.S. not to “smear” it based on the balloon.


ORIGINAL: 10:47 a.m.

The Biden administration is considering a plan to shoot down a large Chinese balloon suspected of conducting surveillance on the U.S. military, by bringing it down once it is above the Atlantic Ocean where the remnants could potentially be recovered, according to four U.S. officials.

One of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation, said President Joe Biden had given the go-ahead. In a brief remark Saturday in response to a reporter’s question about the balloon, Biden said: “We’re going to take care of it.”

The balloon was spotted Saturday morning over the Carolinas as it approached the Atlantic coast. In preparation for the operation, the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily closed airspace over the Carolina coastline, including the airports in Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina, until at least 2:45 p.m. EST Saturday.

Biden had been inclined to down the balloon over land when he was first briefed on it on Tuesday, but Pentagon officials advised against it, warning that the potential risk to people on the ground outweighed the assessment of potential Chinese intelligence gains.

The public disclosure of the balloon this week prompted the cancellation of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing scheduled for Sunday for talks aimed at reducing U.S.-China tensions. The Chinese government on Saturday sought to play down the cancellation.

“In actuality, the U.S. and China have never announced any visit, the U.S. making any such announcement is their own business, and we respect that," China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Saturday morning.

China has continued to claim that the balloon was merely a weather research “airship” that had been blown off course. The Pentagon rejected that out of hand — as well as China’s contention that it was not being used for surveillance and had only limited navigational ability.

The balloon was spotted over Montana, which is home to one of America’s three nuclear missile silo fields at Malmstrom Air Force Base.

Meanwhile, people with binoculars and telephoto lenses tried to find the “spy balloon” in the sky as it headed southeastward over Kansas and Missouri at 60,000 feet (18,300 meters).

The Pentagon also acknowledged reports of a second balloon flying over Latin America. “We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a question about the second balloon.

Blinken, who had been due to depart Washington for Beijing late Friday, said he had told senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in a phone call that sending the balloon over the U.S. was “an irresponsible act and that (China’s) decision to take this action on the eve of my visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have.”

Uncensored reactions on the Chinese internet mirrored the official government stance that the U.S. was hyping the situation.

Many users made jokes about the balloon. Some said that since the U.S. had put restrictions on the technology that China is able to buy to weaken the Chinese tech industry, they couldn’t control the balloon.

Others called it the “wandering balloon" in a pun that refers to the newly released Chinese sci-fi film called “The Wandering Earth 2.” In a sign of censorship, the “wandering balloon” hashtag on Weibo was no longer searchable by Saturday evening.

Still others used it as a chance to poke fun at U.S. defenses, saying it couldn’t even defend against a balloon, and nationalist influencers leapt to use the news to mock the U.S.

“The U.S. is hyping this as a national security threat posed by China to the U.S. This type of military threat, in actuality, we haven’t done this. And compared with the U.S. military threat normally aimed at us, can you say it’s just little? Their surveillance planes, their submarines, their naval ships are all coming near our borders,” Chinese military expert Chen Haoyang of the Taihe Institute said on Phoenix TV, one of the major national TV outlets.

China has denied any claims of spying and said it is a civilian-use balloon intended for meteorology research.

On Saturday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs again emphasized that the balloon's journey was out of its control and urged the U.S. not to “smear” it based on the balloon.

Wang said China “has always strictly followed international law, we do not accept any groundless speculation and hype. Faced with unexpected situations, both parties need to keep calm, communicate in a timely manner, avoid misjudgments and manage differences.”

Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore, said China’s apology did not appear sincere.

“In the meantime, the relationship will not improve in the near future ... the gap is huge.”



6th officer fired after beating death of Tyre Nichols

Tyre death: 6th officer fired

A sixth Memphis officer was fired Friday after an internal police investigation showed he violated multiple department policies in the violent arrest of Tyre Nichols, including rules surrounding the deployment of a stun gun, officials said.

Preston Hemphill had previously been suspended as he was investigated for his role in the Jan. 7 arrest of Nichols, who died three days later. Five Memphis officers have already been fired and charged with second-degree murder in Nichols’ death.

Hemphill was the third officer at a traffic stop that preceded the violent arrest but was not where Nichols was beaten.

On body camera footage from the initial stop, Hemphill is heard saying that he stunned Nichols and declaring, “I hope they stomp his ass.”

Also Friday, a Tennessee board suspended the emergency medical technician licenses of two former Memphis Fire Department employees for failing to render critical care.

The suspensions of EMT Robert Long and advanced EMT JaMichael Sandridge build on efforts by authorities to hold officers and other first responders accountable for the violence against Nichols, who was Black. Six Black officers have been fired and charged with second-degree murder and other charges. One other officer has been suspended. The Justice Department has opened a civil rights probe into the attack that was captured on video.

Three fire department employees were fired after Nichols died. Former fire department Lt. Michelle Whitaker was the third employee let go, but her license was not considered for suspension Friday. The department has said she remained in the engine with the driver during the response to Nichols' beating Jan. 7. He died Jan. 10.

Emergency Medical Services Board member Jeff Beaman said during Friday's emergency meeting that there may have been other licensed personnel on scene — including a supervisor — who could have prevented the situation that led to the death of Nichols. Beaman said he hopes the board addresses those in the future.

Matt Gibbs, an attorney for the state Department of Health, said the two suspensions were “not final disposition of this entire matter.”

Board members watched 19 minutes of surveillance video that showed Long and Sandridge as they failed to care for Nichols, who couldn't stay seated upright against the side of the vehicle, laying prone on the ground multiple times. They also considered an affidavit by the Memphis Fire Department's EMS deputy chief.

“The (state) Department (of Health) alleges that neither Mr. Sandridge nor Mr. Long engaged in emergency care and treatment to patient T.N., who was clearly in distress during the 19 minute period,” Gibbs said.

Board member Sullivan Smith said it was "obvious to even a lay person" that Nichols “was in terrible distress and needed help.”

“And they failed to provide that help,” Smith said. "They were his best shot, and they failed to help.”

Fire Chief Gina Sweat has said the department received a call from police after someone was pepper-sprayed. When the workers arrived at 8:41 p.m., Nichols was handcuffed on the ground and slumped against a squad car, the statement said.

Long and Sandridge, based on the nature of the call and information they were told by police, “failed to conduct an adequate patient assessment of Mr. Nichols,” the statement said.

There was no immediate response to a voicemail seeking comment left at a number listed for Long. A person who answered a phone call to a number listed for Sandridge declined to comment on the board’s decision.

An ambulance was called, and it arrived at 8:55 p.m., the statement said. An emergency unit cared for Nichols and left for a hospital with him at 9:08 p.m., which was 27 minutes after Long, Sandridge and Whitaker arrived, officials said.

An investigation determined that all three violated multiple policies and protocols, the statement said, adding that “their actions or inactions on the scene that night do not meet the expectations of the Memphis Fire Department.”

Nichols was beaten after police stopped him for what they said was a traffic violation. Video released after pressure from Nichols’ family shows officers holding him down and repeatedly punching, kicking and striking him with a baton as he screamed for his mother.

Six of the officers involved were part of the so-called Scorpion unit, which targeted violent criminals in high-crime areas. Police Chief Cerelyn “CJ” Davis said after the video’s release that the unit has been disbanded.

The killing led to renewed public discussion of how police forces can treat Black citizens with excessive violence, regardless of the race of both the police officers and those being policed.

At Nichols' funeral on Wednesday, calls for reform and justice were interwoven with grief over the loss of a man remembered as a son, a sibling, a father and a passionate photographer and skateboarder.



Authorities: 2 arrested in California shooting that killed 6

2 arrested in gunbattle

Two gang members were arrested early Friday, one after a gunbattle, in the January massacre of six people including a baby at a central California home associated with a rival gang, the Tulare County sheriff said.

Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said Noah David Beard, 25, was taken into custody and Angel “Nanu” Uriarte, 35, was wounded in the shootout with federal agents and was undergoing surgery, but was stable and expected to survive.

“I’m happy we were able to put these two men behind bars,” the sheriff said.

The suspects and members of the victims' family have a long history of gang violence but the motive for the shooting “is not exactly clear,” Boudreaux said at a news conference at the sheriff's headquarters in Visalia.

The Tulare County District Attorney's Office charged both suspects with six counts of murder and other crimes. They face a potential sentence of the death penalty or life in prison without parole, prosecutors said.

The six victims, including a teen mother and her baby, were gunned down on Jan. 16 in rural Goshen, a community of 3,000 in the San Joaquin Valley.

Authorities said both suspects had been under around-the-clock surveillance since Jan. 23 in a massive investigation that culminated in Friday's arrests and involved sheriff's detectives, prosecutors, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other law enforcement agencies.

Search warrants were served at locations in Goshen and Visalia, and about eight inmate cells associated with the Nuestra Familia prison gang were searched in five state prisons, Boudreaux said.

He said sheriff's authorities waited until they had DNA evidence to make the arrests to bolster the case. No further details of the evidence were provided.

Both suspects had prior run-ins with the law. Uriarte was convicted in 2015 of assault with a firearm in association with a street gang, and Beard had juvenile convictions, prosecutors said in the court filing.

The victims were identified as: Rosa Parraz, 72; Eladio Parraz, Jr., 52; Jennifer Analla, 49; Marcos Parraz, 19; Alissa Parraz, 16; and Nycholas Parraz, 10 months.

A surveillance video released by authorities Friday showed a teenage girl running outside and placing a baby on the other side of a fence, then jumping over it herself. Authorities said Beard shot and killed the teen and baby, who were both found dead in the street, shot in the back of the head.

Among the adult victims was a woman who was found kneeling and shot in the head, authorities said.

The sheriff has said Alissa Parraz had just been awarded full custody of her son after he spent months in the foster care system. The two were reunited on Jan. 13 — three days before they were killed.

The Goshen killings were part of a violent and deadly month in California.

On Jan. 21, a shooting at Monterey Park dance hall killed 11 and wounded nine. The gunman later killed himself. On Jan. 23, shootings at two Half Moon Bay farms killed seven and wounded one before the suspect was arrested.



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