Millions In Federal Emergency Communications Funding Lost, Diverted

WASHINGTON (MCT) — Four years ago, Commerce Department officials were touting their pilot grant program as a way to vault police, firefighters and other emergency responders into the age of high-speed broadband.

With seven grant awards, the department promised to show how public safety agencies could use new data-delivery networks to beam suspects’ images to cops on the beat or life-saving video instructions to medics hunched over disaster victims.

But now, the public safety broadband communication program is in turmoil — and tens of millions of Federal grant dollars have been lost or diverted to other purposes while a new agency sets out to build a nationwide broadband network. Mississippi officials have even been asked to retrieve equipment for their aborted project from scores of transmission towers.

Federal Agent Who Fired Gun During Pro-Israel Rally Is Placed On Leave

LOS ANGELES (MCT) — A Federal Protective Service agent is on administrative leave after firing his gun when a truck full of men who allegedly assaulted pro-Israel protesters Sunday in Westwood tried to get away, an agency official said.

The shooting occurred about 5:20 p.m. outside the Federal building in the 11000 block of Wilshire Boulevard as demonstrators faced off over Israel’s recent offensive against the Gaza Strip, authorities said.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said the men were in a truck with a Palestinian flag when a pro-Israel protester grabbed the flag and stepped on it. The men then got out of the truck and confronted the group, and used the wooden sticks holding their flags to hit the demonstrators, said Sgt. Dave Valentine.

“It was a pretty chaotic thing,” he said.

Appeals Court Vacates 2 Convictions Of Bin Laden Aide

WASHINGTON (MCT) — A civilian appeals court on Monday vacated two convictions of a former aide to terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

In a split decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded a military commission lacked authority to convict Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman al-Bahlul of two out of three charges.

Military prosecutors charged al-Bahlul with conspiracy to commit war crimes, providing material support for terrorism and solicitation of others to commit war crimes. A military commission convicted him of all three crimes and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

In the decision Monday, the appellate court rejected al-Bahlul’s challenge to the conspiracy charge but vacated the other two.

“Solicitation of others to commit war crimes is plainly not an offense traditionally triable by military commission,” Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson wrote, adding that “the government offers little domestic precedent to support the notion that material support or a sufficiently analogous offense has historically been triable by military commission.”

Citigroup To Pay $7 Billion To Settle Subprime Mortgage Investigations

WASHINGTON (MCT) — Citigroup Inc. said Monday it has agreed to pay $7 billion to settle Federal and State investigations into the sale of defective mortgage investments during the subprime housing boom.

California is among several States that will share in the settlement, one of the largest to come from probes into the role of Wall Street banks in helping trigger the 2008 financial crisis.

Citigroup, the nation’s third-largest bank by assets, said it would pay $4.5 billion in fines and $2.5 billion in consumer relief.

“We believe that this settlement is in the best interests of our shareholders, and allows us to move forward and to focus on the future, not the past,” said Citigroup Chief Executive Michael Corbat.

The consumer relief will come from principal reductions and other assistance for struggling borrowers as well as financing the bank will provide for building and preserving affordable rental housing, Citigroup said.

Released Afghan POW Bowe Bergdahl Completes Treatment, Takes New Army Post

WASHINGTON (MCT) — Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive for five years in Afghanistan until he was traded May 31 for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo, has completed his U.S. military-led reintegration and has been assigned to an army unit in Texas to continue his military service.

Senior Pentagon officials told McClatchy that Bergdahl, who was promoted from private first class to sergeant during his captivity, has been assigned to Army North headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Houston in Texas. The posting will allow him to remain near the military doctors who’ve treated him through his reintegration process at San Antonio Military Medical Center.

He is likely to receive some leave time during his new assignment, the officials said.

Gaza Conflict Stretches Into Seventh Day With 173 Palestinians Dead

JERUSALEM (MCT) — Israel’s offensive against the Gaza Strip entered its seventh day on Monday with more mutual bombardment and little progress in reported backstage bargaining for a cease-fire to end the conflict that has left 173 Palestinians dead and millions of Israelis pinned down by rocket fire.

The rising death toll, combined with more than 1,200 Palestinians injured, has prompted extreme concern from international organizations and leaders, as relief authorities said at least 80 percent of fatalities were civilians, including dozens of children.

Israel’s military confirmed Monday that Maj. Gen. Noam Tibon has been appointed to examine incidents reported to have caused extensive civilian fatalities and damage by airstrikes carried out largely to counter more than 1,000 rockets fired by militants at Israel. So far, there have been no Israeli deaths in the conflict.

For Senate Leaders, Conflicts Take A Personal Turn And Play Out In Public

WASHINGTON (MCT) — Four minutes after the Senate returned from its Fourth of July recess last week, Harry Reid laced into Mitch McConnell.

Senate Republican leaders were throwing a “temper tantrum,” Reid told the Senate. Their conduct was “outrageous.”

Once uncommon, it was another ugly yet routine day in the dysfunctional U.S. Senate. Reid and McConnell can barely stand each other.

Their feud echoes America’s political mood: Polarized. Angry. Untrusting. And it’s a key reason Congress doesn’t work.

Routine spending bills are caught in the maelstrom, stalled in a standoff that could trigger another showdown in September over funding the Federal government. In one pivotal dispute, Reid is making it harder for McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, to pass a proposal that would help would his State’s coal industry.

Also hanging in the gridlock: the highway trust fund, which might run out of money as soon as next month, and talks to help the troubled Department of Veterans Affairs.