Six years after the U.S. government rescued the auto industry from bankruptcy, the Department of Treasury is $9.26 billion short, according to accounting figures released yesterday. The Treasury said it recovered $70.43 billion of the $79.69 billion it gave General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC, as well as auto lending firms Ally Financial Inc. and Chrysler Financial. The government closed the books on the program on Dec. 19, following the Treasury’s sale of its remaining 11.4 percent stake in the Detroit-based Ally, formerly known as GMAC. The bailout program began in December 2008 under President George W. Bush with $25 billion in aid, followed by an additional $55 billion under President Obama. The government was repaid through dividends, interest payments, partial loan payments, and stock sales.
This weekend, in the wake of Sony’s decision to release The Interview after all, North Korea accused the U.S. of shutting down the country’s Internet service and compared President Barack Obama to a “monkey.” The National Defence Commission, North Korea’s ruling body, held Obama responsible for the release of the movie in a statement. “Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” a spokesman for the commission said in the statement. Main Internet sites in North Korea suffered intermittent outages this week, including one nine-hour long blackout, before being largely restored to normal.
A coalition airstrike killed the ISIS-appointed governor of Mosul, Iraqi police said. Hassan Hassan Saeed al-Jabouri, known as Abu Taluut, was killed in Qayyara about 18 miles south of Mosul, according to Maj. Gen Watheq Al-Hamdani, a senior regional Iraqi police commander leading a government campaign to retake Mosul. Jabouri, who had been in office for less than 25 days, is the second ISIS-appointed governor of Mosul to be killed by airstrikes in December. ISIS fighters overtook Mosul from Iraqi forces earlier this year. The Pentagon said it will begin efforts to retake the ISIS stronghold in January.
At a press conference to address the recently murdered NYPD officers, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio railed against the media, saying it promoted the city’s divisions. When asked about protesters behaving badly against police, he shot back at the reporter, asking, “What are you gonna do? Are you gonna keep dividing us?” De Blasio said the media has ignored the largely peaceful protests in favor of the ones at which police tensions have been visible, and then called out reporters for enabling the division: “That’s how you want to portray the world, but we know a different reality.”
Life expectancy across the world has risen by more than six years since 1990, according to an analysis from a 2013 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. Falling death rates from cancer and heart disease in developed countries and better survival rates of diarrhea, tuberculosis, and malaria in poorer countries contributed to the falling death rate. The one exception, however, is southern sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV/AIDS has reduced life expectancy by five years since 1990.
The U.S. government has determined that North Korea was “centrally involved” in the cyberattack on Sony Pictures. U.S. investigators penetrated North Korean computer networks to trace the source of the hacking. According to investigators, the primary suspects are members of a North Korean cybersecurity unit called Bureau 121. However, it has not been ruled out that it is an insider at Sony with a grudge that cooperated with an outside group like the North Koreans. The White House is debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of launching a cyberterrorism campaign against Sony. According to The New York Times, the NSA tried four years ago to infiltrate the country’s elite cyberteam to monitor malware, but the system is not foolproof as a lot of the hacking is done from China.
More than 100 people--mainly children--were killed during a Taliban attack on a military-run school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar earlier today. The final death toll is being reported as 126 casualties although the number could still rise. Pakistani authorities say more than 500 students have been evacuated from the school, but it is unclear how many are being held hostage. The attack began when five or six gunmen swarmed the school early morning and began opening fire randomly, authorities said. Army commandos were deployed to the scene and exchanged gunfire with the militants. The Taliban told The Daily Beast the attack is revenge for the children's army parents helping the U.S. fight them.
Tomorrow, many parents of the 20 children killed in the December 2012 school shooting in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, will announce their decision to sue Bushmaster, the manufacturer of the gun Adam Lanza used. The parents are working with Michael Koskoff, the attorney who represented Michael Jackson’s family, and a former Clinton administration Democratic lobbyist, Karen Hinton. Today marks the two-year anniversary of the massacre and the legal cutoff for filing a wrongful death suit in civil court. Not all believe the lawsuit is well-founded, however.
Detroit's financial emergency is over and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is done with his work. Orr's letter of resignation was sent to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder outlining the completion of his work. "This letter approves termination of the financial emergency status, the receivership of the City of Detroit, and your contract as Emergency Manager of the City of Detroit," Snyder wrote in a reply to Orr. A press conference has been scheduled for Wednesday at which officials are expected to say the city will begin the process of paying off creditors as it exits the largest civic bankruptcy in U.S. history. Detroit's bankruptcy was filed in July of 2013.
A top UN special investigator has declared that the senior U.S. officials who authorized and carried out torture under President George W. Bush should be prosecuted for violating international law. In addition, Ben Emmerson said that all CIA and other U.S. officials who used waterboarding and other torture methods should be pursued. He claimed that the new Senate CIA report shows “there was a clear policy orchestrated at a high level within the Bush administration, which allowed to commit systematic crimes and gross violations of international human rights law.” Emmerson argued that the U.S. government is “legally obliged to bring those responsible to justice” and that public officials who authorize or conduct torture cannot be given immunity under international law.
The majority report issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee is a damning condemnation of the tactics the Bush administration deployed in the fear-laden days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The techniques, according to the report, were "deeply flawed," poorly managed and often resulted in "fabricated" information. The long-delayed study, distilled from more than six million CIA documents, also says the agency consistently misled Congress and the Bush White House about the harsh methods it used and the results it obtained from interrogating al Qaeda suspects.
American photographer Luke Somers (along with another hostage) was killed by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen during an attempted rescue operation, President Obama acknowledged yesterday. Obama said that the hostages were “murdered” by the militants. Another official, speaking to the New York Times, said that Somers was “badly wounded” when commandos got to him and died by the time he was flown to a United States naval ship. This was the second failed attempt to rescue Somers, who was kidnapped from a street in Yemen's capital in September 2013. Earlier in the week, al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula released a video threatening to kill Somers by the end of the week if demands were not met. Somers' family broke their silence after the video was released in a video of their own, in which they insisted they had no prior knowledge of the U.S.'s first rescue attempt.
In the aftermath of Ferguson, tensions are high between protesters and politicians. This week, Missouri State Representative Keith English took to Facebook to suggest that those marching to Jefferson City to protest racial profiling should instead march to Mexico. The march is one of many actions that have come from the Aug. 9 fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who was not indicted and has since resigned. English, a Democrat from Florissant, posted a map of the United States with a line drawn from Missouri to Mexico. Above it, he stated: “Protesters are marching to Jefferson City this week. I gave them a map to help in their cause.” The map has been shared on social media, drawing both criticism and support.
The autopsy of Kosta Karageorge, the Ohio State football player who died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, will include an investigation into signs of traumatic brain injury. The coroner announced that a neuropathologist will be part of the examination, and "may or may not be able to determine any sort of abnormality or defect from traumatic brain injury." Karageorge disappeared last week after texting his parents: "I am sorry if I am an embarrassment but these concussions have my head all f----- up."
In recent years, more and more evidence has appeared connecting the injuries sustained while playing football to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, an incurable, degenerative disease found in people with a history of head injury. CTE has also been linked to boxing -- the sport from which it derived an earlier name, dementia pugilistica -- soccer and rugby. CTE has been linked with memory loss, impaired judgment, depression, aggression and dementia. It can only be diagnosed after death, a complication in efforts to broaden study of the disease. To aid research, a number of football players have donated their brains for study.
The gunman killed in Austin on Friday after opening fire downtown tried to burn down the Mexican consulate and shot more than 100 rounds at city buildings and at one police officer. The shooter has been identified as 49-year-old Larry Steven McQuilliams. Residents in the area reported hearing shots at 2:22 a.m. Police noticed that McQuilliams was wearing a vest after firing at him and a bomb squad was called, but the suspect died at the scene. No officers were injured. McQuilliams’s record showed a 1992 arrest by the Austin Police Department for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, but the case was dismissed. He has since been linked with an extremist Christian group.