Hundreds of teenage boys suffered brutal physical and sexual abuse at an Australian naval base, a taskforce said Wednesday, as it slammed the Defence Force for failing to protect them. The Defence Abuse Response Taskforce said the shocking and systemic treatment at HMAS Leeuwin between 1960 and 1984 was "much more serious and widespread" than previously acknowledged. "The pattern of abuse at HMAS Leeuwin was such that Defence knew or ought to have known that abuse was occurring, yet failed to take appropriate action to stop it," said the taskforce head, retired judge Len Roberts-Smith. The abuse at Western Australia's Leeuwin navy base, which has since closed, was considered so serious that a separate report was instigated to deal with more than 200 complaints from junior recruits, many of whom were 15 or 16 at the time.
Forward Operating Base Pasab (Afghanistan) (AFP) - As Afghans await the results of Saturday's presidential election run-off, American soldiers at a dusty outpost in the country's south are tearing down wooden huts and packing up. After 13 years of war, NATO's US-led force -- and most of its hardware -- is heading home before a December 31 deadline. We do our best to reintegrate it into the system, but some stuff is just plain broken," said US Army Major Rob Wolfenden, 37, who is helping oversee the withdrawal from Forward Operating Base Pasab in Kandahar province.
Alutgama (Sri Lanka) (AFP) - Sri Lanka's police arrested 49 people overnight over deadly anti-Muslim riots in a tourist region where Buddhist hardliners have set shops and homes ablaze, a senior officer said Wednesday. Both Buddhists and Muslims were arrested during a police crackdown in the southern resort towns, where two nights of violence have left four people dead, the officer said. "We have already arrested 49 and remanded 25 of them and further arrests will take place today," Sri Lanka police spokesman Ajith Rohana told AFP. A curfew was also lifted in the mainly-Muslim towns of Beruwala and Alutgama, where followers of the extremist Buddhist Force, or BBS, went on the rampage on Sunday and Monday nights.
General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra is returning to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to face intense questioning about whether the automaker has a grip on the safety crisis that has enveloped it this year, as recalls connected to ignition-switch issues continue to grow. Barra's latest turn in the congressional hot seat comes just days after GM recalled more than 3 million additional vehicles that apparently suffer from a separate ignition defect. GM has not tied any fatalities to that defect. For the hearing on Wednesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton said he wants "straight and honest answers" about what got the company into the mess and how GM is fixing it.
Japan on Wednesday finally fell into line with other developed countries and made the possession of child pornography illegal. Campaigners had long urged Japan to toughen its stance on child pornography. The new legislation bans possession of photographs and videos depicting real children aged below 18; The law excludes "manga" comics, "anime" video and computer-generated graphics, following calls to protect freedom of expression.
American Airlines, owed some $750 million by Venezuela, said it was sharply reducing flights to the South American nation from July after the two sides failed to read a deal, a spokesman said. "Since we are owed a substantial outstanding amount and have been unable to reach resolution on the debt, we will significantly reduce our flights to the country after July 1," said American Airlines spokesman Casey Norton. President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government's payment problems -- it owes $4.2 billion dollars to international airlines -- have led many carriers to end or reduce service to Venezuela. Venezuela requires airlines to sell tickets in bolivars and then trudge through government bureaucracy to eventually get the greenbacks they are owed.
By Gabriel Debenedetti WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Potential Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pointed out her differences with President Barack Obama on Tuesday over his decision not to arm moderate Syrian rebels, as neighboring Iraq struggles to cope with extremist spillover from Syria. But as I say in my book, I believe that Harry Truman was right, the buck stops with the president," Clinton said in a CNN interview. The former secretary of state said she, along with the then heads of the Pentagon and CIA tried but failed to persuade Obama to arm the rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that the White House resisted. Clinton said it was not clear whether arming moderates in Syria would have prevented the rise of the al Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has swept toward Baghdad aiming to build a Muslim caliphate across the Iraqi-Syrian border.
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. special forces seized a "key leader" of the deadly Benghazi, Libya, attack and he is on his way to face trial in the U.S. for the fiery assault that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, the Obama administration announced Tuesday. It was the first breakthrough in the sudden overseas violence in 2012 that has become a festering political sore at home.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko held talks over a possible ceasefire in Ukraine, as two members of a Russian television crew were killed in the ex-Soviet state's separatist east. Poroshenko assured Putin that an investigation would be launched into the deaths, and vowed to take necessary measures to protect reporters covering the conflict, the Kremlin said in a statement following the talks. "The issue of a possible ceasefire in the area of a military operation in Ukraine's southeast has been touched upon," the Kremlin said. Moscow had earlier responded furiously to the death of the TV crew members, accusing Kiev of a campaign of "terror" and demanding an investigation.
US authorities have yet to determine what exactly caused the deaths of more than 1,000 dogs that consumed jerky pet treats made in China, a Congressional panel heard. Major pet supply retailers Petco and Petsmart have said they will phase out all China-made pet food in their stores over the coming months, amid growing consumer jitters about the safety of their ingredients. Tracey Forfa of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that more than 5,600 dogs in the United States are known to have fallen ill since 2007 due to jerky products imported from China. "Unfortunately, to date, the FDA has not been able to identify a specific cause for the reported illnesses or deaths despite an intensive scientific investigation," said Forfa, deputy director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.
By Roberta Rampton NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he will sign an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation, but told gay rights activists they need to keep up the pressure on Congress to pass a broader law. Drawing a lengthy standing ovation from a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) gala raising money for the Democratic National Committee, Obama said the order was the right thing to do for human rights and the economy. "We don't benefit as a country or an economy - businesses don't benefit - if they're leaving talent off the field," Obama said. The White House confirmed on Monday that Obama would sign the order, which would make it illegal for companies with U.S. government contracts to fire or avoid hiring employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity, just as it now is with race.