In our news wrap Friday, a new report by the Government Accountability Office concludes that the U.S. government is not ready for a nuclear terrorist attack or a large-scale natural disaster. Also, Turkey signaled it could start training Syrian opposition fighters this winter.
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One of its own agencies says the U.S. government is not ready to handle a nuclear terrorist attack or a large-scale natural catastrophe. That was part of a report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office obtained by the Associated Press. It found the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a hard time coordinating different agencies’ disaster efforts, and an overall medical response plan in the event of a nuclear attack is still five to 10 years away.
This is one of several disaster response reports the GAO plans to release in the coming months. Turkey signaled today that it could start training Syrian opposition fighters this winter. The Turkish foreign minister gave a time frame of before March.
It includes both training and equipping fighters going after Islamic State militants. One of the key portions of President Obama’s strategy in Syria involves fielding local forces in the fight against the insurgents.
Pakistan executed two militants today after reinstating its death penalty in the wake of a deadly school siege in Peshawar. The men had no links to the siege. Meanwhile, Pakistani ground troops, backed by warplanes, also killed 77 militants in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border. And in Islamabad, lawmakers walked out of Parliament to light candles for the 148 victims of this week’s massacre.
RUBINA KHALID, Pakistani Senator (through interpreter):
The concept of good and bad Taliban has to come to an end. They have to be wiped out across the board. Right now, Pakistan doesn’t need politics; it needs harmony.
The United Nations Office on Human Rights appealed to Pakistan today to stop carrying out executions in response to this week’s attack. A U.N. spokesman said it could do more harm than good by — quote — “feeding a cycle of revenge.”
Back in this country, a listeria outbreak linked to tainted caramel Apples has killed four people and sickened at least 28 others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the bacterial illnesses were reported in 10 states, from Washington to North Carolina, between mid-October and late November. The pre-packaged caramel apples were sold under the Carnival and Kitchen Cravings brands.
The Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with T-Mobile today over the practice of cramming. The company will pay up to $90 million for billing customers for cell phone text services that they didn’t order. Most affected customers will get refunds for text services they never signed up for, like horoscopes and celebrity gossip updates.
In economic news, prices at the gas pump keep falling. The average price for a gallon of gasoline is now below $2.50, for the first time in about five years. Meanwhile, the price of crude oil ended a little higher in New York trading, rising more than $2.00, to close above $56 a barrel.
Stocks extended their gains on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average was up more than 26 points to close above 17,804. The Nasdaq rose nearly 17 points to finish at 4,765. And the S&P 500 added nine to close at 2,070. For the week, both the Dow and the S&P gained around 3 percent. The Nasdaq rose 2 percent.