Attacks across Iraq

Coordinated bombings hit Iraq multiple times each month, feeding a spike in bloodshed that has killed more than 5,000 people since April.

BAGHDAD — A series of car bombings in Baghdad, an explosion at a market and a suicide assault in a northern city killed at least 62 people Sunday across Iraq, officials said g-suite cardinal manchester, the latest in a wave of attacks washing over the country.

Coordinated bombings hit Iraq multiple times each month, feeding a spike in bloodshed that has killed more than 5,000 people since April. The local branch of al-Qaida often takes responsibility for the assaults, although there was no immediate claim for Sunday's blasts.

Sunday's attacks were the deadliest single-day series of assaults since Oct. 5, when 75 people were killed in violence.

Police officers said that the bombs in the capital, placed in parked cars and detonated over a half-hour period, targeted commercial areas and parking lots, killing 42 people.

The deadliest blasts struck in the southeastern Nahrwan district, where two car bombs exploded simultaneously, killing seven and wounding 15, authorities said. Two other explosions hit the northern Shaab and southern Abu Dshir neighborhoods, each killing six people, officials said. Other blasts hit the neighborhoods of Mashtal, Baladiyat and Ur in eastern Baghdad, the southwestern Bayaa district and the northern Sab al-Bor and Hurriyah districts.

Meanwhile, in the northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden car into a group of soldiers as they were sealing off a street leading to a bank where troops were receiving salaries, killing 14, a police officer said g-suite in oldham. At least 30 people were wounded, the officer said. Also in Mosul, police said gunmen shot dead two off-duty soldiers in a drive-by shooting.

Iraw car bombs: Citizens inspect the site of a car bomb attack in the capital's eastern Mashtal neighborhood, Iraq, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013.AP Photo: Khalid Mohammed
Citizens inspect the site of a car bomb attack in the capital's eastern Mashtal neighborhood, Iraq, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013.
The former insurgent stronghold of Mosul is located about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad.

In the afternoon, a bomb blast killed four people and wounded 11 inside an outdoor market in the Sunni town of Tarmiyah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Baghdad, authorities said.

Such coordinated attacks are a favorite tactic of al-Qaida's local branch. It frequently targets civilians in markets, cafes and commercial streets in Shiite areas in an attempt to undermine confidence in the government, as well as members of the security forces. All of the car bombings Sunday in Baghdad struck Shiite neighborhoods.

Seven medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to publicly release the information.

Related: Bombs targeting Shiites kill 16 across Iraq

In Mashtal in Baghdad, police and army forces sealed off the scene as ambulances rushed to pick up the wounded. Pools of blood covered the pavement g-suite cardinal. The force of the explosion damaged number of cars and shops. At one restaurant, the blast overturned wooden benches and left broken eggs scattered on the ground. In Shaab, a crane lifted away at least 12 charred cars as cleaners swept away debris.

Violence has spiked in Iraq since April, when the pace of killing reached levels unseen since 2008. Today's attacks bring the death toll across the country this month to 545, according to an Associated Press count.

Safety door open

Transgressions such as leaving a security or "blast" door open are rarely revealed publicly. But officials with knowledge of the Air Force told the AP they have occurred.

WASHINGTON — Twice this year alone, Air Force officers entrusted with the launch keys to nuclear-tipped missiles have been caught leaving open a blast door that is intended to help prevent a terrorist or other intruder from entering their underground command post g-suite cardinal manchester, Air Force officials have told The Associated Press.

The blast doors are never to be left open if one of the crew members inside is asleep — as was the case in both these instances — out of concern for the damage an intruder could cause, including the compromising of secret launch codes.

Transgressions such as this are rarely revealed publicly. But officials with direct knowledge of Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile operations told the AP that such violations have happened, undetected, many more times than in the cases of the two launch crew commanders and two deputy commanders who were given administrative punishments this year.

The blast door violations are another sign of serious trouble in the handling of the nation's nuclear arsenal. The AP has discovered a series of problems within the ICBM force, including a failed safety inspection, the temporary sidelining of launch officers deemed unfit for duty and the abrupt firing last week of the two-star general in charge. The problems, including low morale, underscore the challenges of keeping safe such a deadly force that is constantly on alert but is unlikely ever to be used.

The crews who operate the missiles are trained to follow rules without fail, including the prohibition against having the blast door open when only one crew member is awake, because the costs of a mistake are so high.

Related: US nuclear force faces a cascade of missteps

The officers, g-suite manchester known as missileers, are custodians of keys that could launch nuclear hell. The warheads on the business ends of their missiles are capable of a nuclear yield many times that of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.

"The only way that you can have a crew member be in 'rest status' is if that blast door is shut and there is no possibility of anyone accessing the launch control center," said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, the commander of Air Force Global Strike Command. He is responsible for the entire force of 450 Minuteman 3 missiles, plus the Air Force's nuclear-capable bombers.

The written Air Force instruction on ICBM weapon safety, last updated in June 1996, says, "One crewmember at a time may sleep on duty, but both must be awake and capable of detecting an unauthorized act if ... the Launch Control Center blast door is open" or if someone other than the crew is present.

The blast door is not the first line of defense. An intruder intent on taking control of a missile command post would first face many layers of security before encountering the blast door, which — when closed — is secured by 12 hydraulically operated steel pins. The door is at the base of an elevator shaft. Entry to that elevator is controlled from an above-ground building. ICBM missile fields are monitored with security cameras and patrolled regularly by armed Air Force guards.

Each underground launch center, known as a capsule for its pill-like shape, monitors and operates 10 Minuteman 3 missiles.

The missiles stand in reinforced concrete silos and are linked to the control center by buried communications cables. The ICBMs are split evenly among "wings" based in North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Each wing is divided into three squadrons, each responsible for 50 missiles.

In neither of the two reported violations was security of the crews' missiles compromised, the Air Force said in response to questions from the AP, "due to the multiple safeguards and other protections in place." But these were clear-cut violations of what the Air Force calls "weapon system safety rules" meant to be strictly enforced in keeping with the potentially catastrophic, g-suite oldham consequences of a breach of nuclear security.

In the two episodes confirmed by the Air Force, the multi-ton concrete-and-steel door that seals the entrance to the underground launch control center was deliberately left open while one of two crew members inside napped.

One officer lied about a violation but later admitted to it.

Spending a stumbling block to budget deal

Senate leaders are working to find a deal before Thursday, when the U.S. will deplete its borrowing authority and risk a federal default.

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans and Democrats hit an impasse Sunday over spending in their last-ditch struggle to avoid an economy-jarring default in just four days and end a partial government shutdown that's entering its third week.

After inconclusive talks between President Barack Obama and House Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Set up Business in Hong Kong and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took charge in trying to end the crises, although a conversation Sunday afternoon failed to break the stalemate.

"Americans want Congress to compromise," Reid said at the start of a rare Sunday session in the Senate, during which he pressed for a long-term budget deal.

The two cagy negotiators are at loggerheads over Democratic demands to undo or change the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts to domestic and defense programs that the GOP see as crucial to reducing the nation's deficit.

McConnell insisted a solution was readily available in the proposal from a bipartisan group of 12 senators, led by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that would re-open the government and fund it at current levels for six months while raising the debt limit through Jan. 31.

"It's time for Democrat leaders to take 'yes' for an answer," McConnell said in a statement.

The latest snag comes as 350,000 federal workers remain idle, hundreds of thousands more work without pay and an array of government services, from home loan applications to environmental inspections, were on hold on the 13th day of the shutdown.

Several parks and monuments remain closed, drawing a protest at the National World War II Memorial on Sunday that included tea party-backed lawmakers who had unsuccessfully demanded defunding of President Barack Obama's 3-year-old health care law in exchange for keeping the government open.

Unnerving to world economies is the prospect of the United States defaulting on its financial obligations on Thursday if Congress fails to raise the borrowing authority above the $16.7 trillion debt limit.

Christine Lagarde, the International Monetary Fund's managing director, spoke fearfully about the disruption and uncertainty, warning of a "risk of tipping, yet again, hong kong company register into recession" after the fitful recovery from 2008. The reaction of world financial markets and the Dow Jones on Monday will influence any congressional talks.

Related: Hope remains for global recovery beyond US impasse

Congress is racing the clock to get a deal done, faced with time-consuming Senate procedures that could slow legislation, likely opposition from tea partyers and certain resistance in the Republican-led House before a bill gets to Obama.

Politically, Republicans are reeling, bearing a substantial amount of the blame for the government shutdown and stalemate.

"We're in a free-fall as Republicans, but Democrats are not far behind," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in warning Democrats about seizing on the GOP's bruised brand as leverage to extract more concessions.

McConnell and Republicans want to continue current spending at $986.7 billion and leave untouched the new round of cuts in January, commonly known as sequester, that would reduce the amount to $967 billion. Democrats want to figure out a way to undo the reductions, plus a long-term extension of the debt limit increase and a short-term spending bill to reopen the government.

"Republicans want to do it with entitlement cuts," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "Democrats want to do it with a mix of mandatory cuts, some entitlements and revenues. And so how do you overcome that dilemma? We're not going to overcome it in the next day or two."

He suggested keeping the government running through mid-January.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, told reporters the two sides are roughly $70 billion apart, the difference between the $1.058 trillion Senate budget amount and the $988 billion envisioned by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

"We haven't picked a number, but clearly we need to negotiate between those two," Durbin said.

Republicans dismiss the latest request as Reid moving the goalposts in negotiations as they were getting closer to resolving the stalemate that has paralyzed Washington. They also argue that it is disingenuous for Democrats to resist any changes in the 3-year-old health care law while trying to undo the 2011 budget law that put the cuts on track.

"I think the Democrats are on the verge of being one tick too cute as they see the House possibly in disarray — they now are overreaching, and I think that what we've got to do is get this back in the middle of the road, act like adults," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Graham and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said they would not support any deal that upends the spending limits imposed by the 2011 law, how to register a business and predicted that their Senate GOP colleagues would oppose it as well.

Out of play, for now, was the Republican-led House, where Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told GOP lawmakers early Saturday that his talks with the president had ground to a halt. Obama telephoned House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Sunday, focusing on the need for any increase in the debt limit without concessions.

Also sidelined, at least for now, was the plan forged by Collins and a bipartisan coalition to briefly fund the government and extend the $16.7 trillion debt limit, in exchange for steps like temporarily delaying the medical device tax that helps fund the health care law.

Democrats said Collins' plan curbed spending too tightly, and Reid announced Saturday it was going nowhere.
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