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July 12, 2012 at 12:09 PM
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Freeh: Penn State put rep over children

PHILADELPHIA, July 12 (UPI) -- Senior leaders at Penn State University failed for years to act to protect children victimized by former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, an investigation found.

"Our most saddening and sobering finding is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky's child victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State," former FBI Director Louis Freeh, said Thursday of the independent report. "The most powerful men at Penn State failed to take any steps for 14 years to protect the children who Sandusky victimized."

Sandusky last month was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse, including rape and sodomy, by a jury in Bellefonte, Pa.

Freeh's investigation, which began seven months ago, included more than 430 interviews of current and former Penn State employees from various departments, as well as current and past board of trustee members, former coaches, athletes and others. Investigators also analyzed more than 3.5 million e-mails and other documents.

Freeh said university leaders at the time -- President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz, head football Coach Joe Paterno and Athletic Director Tim Curley -- "never demonstrated, through actions or words, any concern for the safety and well-being of Sandusky's victims until after Sandusky's arrest."

U.S. jobless claims hit 4-year low

WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) -- The number of Americans filing initial claims for unemployment fell last week to the lowest level since March 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics report said about 350,000 people filed for initial jobless claims in the week ended July 7, down 26,000 from the previous week. The size of the decrease was a surprise to economists who say the numbers may be distorted by the July 4th holiday and fewer auto factories shutting down for retooling, CNN reported.

In the week ending July 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted first-time claims was 350,000, a drop of 26,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 376,000. The 4-week moving average was 376,500, a decrease of 9,750 from the previous week's revised average of 386,250.

The total number of people claiming jobless benefits in all programs for the week ending June 23 was 5,874,035, an increase of 17,011 from the previous week.

The largest increases in initial claims for the week ending June 30 were in New York, Kentucky, Michigan, California and Oklahoma. The largest decreases were in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland.

Karzai: Taliban could be opposition party

KABUL, Afghanistan, July 12 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai Thursday invited the Taliban to open an office in Kabul as an official opposition party.

"To the armed opposition of Afghanistan ... I ask [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar, if he is not working for others, if he is an Afghan, to come to Afghanistan and talk to us," Karzai said in a speech. "The foreigners are leaving, so come and talk to us. Political parties can have their offices and say what they want about the government. Put down your guns and open an office."

Karzai also took a dig at the former Taliban regime, saying the country now enjoys "huge international support," Stars and Stripes reported.

"When you had your own government, just two countries recognized [Afghanistan]. Now the world recognizes us," he said.

"[We] have to lay a new foundation for building Afghanistan for our children," Karzai said.

Taliban leaders have resisted talking with Karzai, demanding instead to negotiate with the U.S. government.

100 die when Nigerian fuel tanker explodes

OKOBE, Nigeria, July 12 (UPI) -- More than 100 people were burned to death Thursday as they tried to scoop fuel from a wrecked tanker that exploded at Okobe, Nigeria, officials said,

A state police spokesman said the fuel truck was involved in a crash with three other vehicles about 7 miles from Ahoada-Mbiama in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

Police said many other people were injured, the Daily Times of Nigeria reported.

Officials said people were near the tanker to collect the free fuel because the vehicle apparently didn't catch fire immediately after the crash.

"As I speak to you, we do not know the number or extent of casualties at the scene," Ben Ugwuegbulam, a Rivers Police Command spokesman, told the Daily Times. "We have cordoned off the area to ensure that miscreants do not take laws into their hands. We also want to know what exactly caused the inferno."

Residents banned from flying U.S. flags

WRENTHAM, Mass., July 12 (UPI) -- Residents of a Massachusetts public housing complex said officials have notified them of a new policy banning U.S. flags in common areas.

Wrentham residents in the Garden Lane complex, operated by the Wrentham Housing Authority, said they received letters taped to their doors Wednesday informing them that flag displays would no longer be allowed, despite the doors in the complex having flag-holding hardware installed, The Sun Chronicle, Attleboro, Mass., reported Thursday.

"(The) Wrentham Housing Authority has been informed that the public display of the American flag in common areas is not permitted," the letter reads.

The letter said there were multiple complaints to the state Department of Housing and Community Development from a tenant around the Fourth of July holiday.

"Flags may be visible through the apartment windows, but may not be displayed on the exterior of the buildings or on the ground around the buildings," the housing authority wrote.

Resident Barbara Marshall, 82, called the policy "unbelievable."

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