Afghan president says U.S. violating detainee pact
KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s president accused U.S. forces of capturing and holding Afghans in violation of an agreement to turn over that responsibility to his forces, complicating a new round of security talks between the two countries.
Hamid Karzai’s statement late Sunday came just days after the beginning of negotiations on a bilateral security agreement that will govern the U.S. military presence in the country after the majority of troops draw down in 2014.
Karzai’s critics say he frequently strikes populist, nationalist poses that give him leverage in talks with the Americans. Karzai, in turn, has said that he needs to protect Afghanistan’s national interest in the face of a much stronger partner.
The two countries signed the detainee transfer pact in March, but the accord was vaguely worded and the U.S. has slowed the handover of detention facilities. Washington believes that the Afghans are not ready to take over their management, while insisting that the Afghan government agree to hold without trial some detainees that the U.S. deems too dangerous to release.
California sells out of first pollution permits
SAN FRANCISCO – California sold out of the first pollution permits issued as part of a landmark offensive against greenhouse gases at an inaugural auction that regulators said Monday went smoothly.
The effort to curtail carbon emissions involved the sale of 23.1 million permits – each allowing for the release of one ton of carbon – for $10.09 apiece, the California Air Resources Board said.
The permit sales last week opened the largest carbon marketplace in the nation and the second-biggest in the world after the European Union. The California air board will hold four such auctions a year.
Judge rejects Nativity displays in Santa Monica
LOS ANGELES – There’s no room for the baby Jesus, the manger or the wise men this Christmas in a Santa Monica park after a judge’s ruling Monday against churches that tried to keep a 60-year Nativity tradition alive after atheists stole the show with anti-God messages.
U.S. District Judge Audrey B. Collins rejected a motion from the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee to allow the religious display this season while their lawsuit plays out against the city.
Collins said the city was within its constitutional right to eliminate the exemption that had allowed the Nativity at the oceanfront Palisades Park because the change affected all comers – from Christians to Jews to atheists – and provided other avenues for public religious speech.
High wind and rain slam Pacific Northwest
SEATTLE – Rain and wind pounded Washington and Oregon on Monday, snarling the commute, causing sporadic road closures and power outages and at least one death.
The wet weather was expected to continue throughout the week, and forecasters warned of hurricane-strength wind into the evening on the Washington and Oregon coasts.
Forecasters in Seattle said up to 5 inches of rain could fall in the next couple of days in the mountains below snow level and more than 2 inches in the Western Washington lowlands.