As violence blazed between security forces and supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the White House and State Department both urged the military to exercise "maximum restraint." They also said the military would not be punished with a cutoff of its $1.3 billion in annual U.S. aid for toppling Morsi.
But if the American government makes a legal determination that the removal was done through a coup d'etat, U.S. law would require ending all non-humanitarian aid to Egypt, the vast majority of which goes to the military.
Administration officials said lawyers were still reviewing developments to make that ruling. However, the absence of a coup determination, coupled with the administration's refusal to condemn Morsi's ouster, sent an implicit message of U.S. approval to the military.
And officials said the White House had made clear in U.S. inter-agency discussions — as recently as a Monday morning conference call — that continued aid to Egypt's military was a priority for America's national security, Israel's safety and broader stability in the turbulent Middle East that should not be jeopardized.
"It would not be in the best interests of the United States to immediately change our assistance program to Egypt," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. He stressed that more elements — notably what the United States deems best for itself, its Mideast allies and the larger region — than just the physical removal from office of a democratically elected leader would be considered in the legal review.
"We are going to take the time necessary to review what has taken place and to monitor efforts by Egyptian authorities to forge an inclusive and democratic way forward," Carney told reporters. "And as we do, we will review our requirements under the law, and we will do so consistent with our policy objectives. And we will also, of course, consult with Congress on that."
Some members of Congress appeared divided on the question.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., criticized Morsi's performance as president but stressed that he had been elected by a majority of Egyptians in 2012.
"It is difficult for me to conclude that what happened was anything other than a coup in which the military played a decisive role," he said. "I do not want to suspend our critical assistance to Egypt, but I believe that is the right thing to do at this time."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in comments Monday emphasized the important role of the Egyptian military.
"Well I think the situation in Egypt is a tenuous one," he said. "One of the most respected institutions in the country is their military. And I think their military, on behalf of the citizens, did what they had to do in terms of replacing the elected president. But anything further, I think we'll wait for consultations with the administration on how we would move ahead."
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., called for the administration to slow U.S. aid until Egypt takes steps to restore democracy.
"I think that we need to suspend aid to the new government until it does in fact schedule elections and put in place a process that comes up with a new constitution," he said.
Some others voiced caution. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said he had accompanied five Republican senators on a trip to the Middle East last week and that close U.S. allies in the region strongly advised against halting funding for Egypt.
"It's important that we not just shoot from the hip on that," he told reporters
Focusing on U.S. spending, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., tweeted: "In Egypt, governments come and go. The only thing certain is that American taxpayers will continue to be stuck with the $1.5 billion bill."
At the State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki used similar, if not identical, language to Carney's to describe the current take on developments, pointing out that the U.S. has long provided significant assistance to Egypt even when it had serious concerns about the actions of its government. She appeared to refer to the tens of billions of dollars in U.S. aid sent to the government and military of authoritarian former leader Hosni Mubarak who ruled Egypt for decades without free and fair elections and under emergency decrees that gave him vast powers.
"The reason we have provided this aid in the past doesn't mean we have supported, even prior to this, every action taken by the government of Egypt," she said. "But there are security interests in the region; there are security interests for the United States."
Psaki demurred when asked if deposing an elected leader, placing him under house arrest and appointing a new head of state — as the Egyptian military has done over the course of the past five days — was not a clear example of a military coup. She pointed out that millions of Egyptians opposed Morsi, who had become increasingly autocratic, and did not believe his ouster was a coup.
Some officials, speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to describe internal administration discussions in public, said that a "no-coup" finding may become increasingly difficult to justify given the rising violence among Morsi supporters, his opponents and security forces that has led to fears of a civil war.
Meanwhile, Egyptian soldiers and police clashed with Islamists protesting the military's ouster last week of the president. The bloodshed left more than 50 protesters and three members of the security forces dead, officials and witnesses said, and the Muslim Brotherhood's political party called for all-out rebellion against the army.
The violence outside the Republican Guard building in Cairo — where Morsi was first held last week — marked the biggest death count since the beginning of massive protests that led to the fall of Morsi's government. The U.S. has condemned the violence and is appealing for restraint from all sides as well as a speedy return to elected civilian governance.
In the latest high-level contact between Washington and Cairo, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke again with Egypt's defense minister, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, on Monday — their fifth conversation in four days, according to Pentagon press secretary George Little.
Little would not disclose details of those conversations, but other officials said they had centered on U.S. concerns that the actions of the Egyptian military might force a suspension in American assistance, something the army relies on. They say that Hagel, and other senior administration officials, have told the Egyptian army brass to appoint a transitional civilian leadership and call for new elections and the drafting of a new constitution so as to give Washington some leeway in its legal review of the situation.
___ Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn, Bradley Klapper and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.
Authorities also reviewed the initial rescue efforts after fire officials acknowledged that one of their trucks may have run over one of the two Chinese teenagers killed in the crash at San Francisco International Airport. The students were the accident's only fatalities.
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Deborah Hersman said investigators watched airport surveillance video to determine whether an emergency vehicle hit one of the students. But they have not reached any firm conclusions. A coroner said he would need at least two weeks to rule in the matter.
The students had been in the rear of the aircraft, where many of the most seriously injured passengers were seated, Hersman said.
The NTSB also said part of the jet's tail section was found in San Francisco Bay, and debris from the seawall was carried several hundred feet down the runway, indicating the plane hit the seawall on its approach.
Investigators have said Flight 214 was flying "significantly below" its target speed during approach when the crew tried to abort the landing just before the plane smashed onto the runway. Authorities do not know yet whether the pilot's inexperience with the Boeing 777 and landing it at San Francisco's airport played a role.
The airline acknowledged Monday in Seoul that the pilot at the controls had flown that type of plane for only a short time and had never before landed one at that airport.
Asiana spokeswoman Lee Hyomin said pilot Lee Gang-guk had logged nearly 10,000 hours operating other planes but had only 43 hours in the 777, a plane she said he was still getting used to.
It's not unusual for veteran pilots to learn about new aircraft by flying with more experienced colleagues. Another pilot on the flight, Lee Jeong-min, had 12,390 hours of flying experience, including 3,220 hours on the 777, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in South Korea.
Lee Jeong-min was the deputy pilot helping Lee Gang-guk get accustomed to the 777, according to Asiana Airlines.
It was unclear whether the other two pilots were in the cockpit, which in the Boeing 777 typically seats four. But that would be standard procedure at most airlines at the end of a long international flight.
NTSB lead investigator Bill English said pilot interviews were going slowly because of the need for translation. The interviews began only after agents from the Korean Aviation and Rail Accident Investigation Board arrived from South Korea.
New details of the investigation have also raised questions about whether the pilots may have been so reliant on automated cockpit systems that they failed to notice the plane's airspeed had dropped dangerously low, aviation safety experts and other airline pilots said.
Information gleaned from the Boeing 777's flight-data recorders revealed a jet that appeared to be descending normally until the last half-minute before impact.
The autopilot was switched off at about 1,600 feet as the plane began its final descent, according to an account of the last 82 seconds of flight provided by Hersman.
Over the next 42 seconds, the plane appeared to descend normally, reaching about 500 feet and slowing to 134 knots (154 mph), a 777 pilot for a major airline familiar with Hersman's description told The Associated Press. The pilot spoke on the condition of anonymity because his company had not authorized him to speak publicly.
But something went wrong during the following 18 seconds. The plane continued slowing to 118 knots (136 mph), well below its target speed of 137 knots (158 mph) that is typical for crossing the runway threshold. By that time, it had descended to just 200 feet.
Eight seconds later, with the speed still falling, Hersman said, the throttles were moved forward, an apparent attempt by the pilot to increase speed. But it was too little, too late.
Five seconds later, at 50 percent power, speed began to increase.
A key question raised by the NTSB's account is why two experienced pilots — the pilot flying the plane and another supervising pilot in the other seat — apparently didn't notice the plane's airspeed problem.
Part of the answer to that question may lie in whether the pilot flying, after switching off the autopilot, still had the plane's autothrottle engaged during the descent.
Aviation safety experts have long warned that an overreliance on automation is contributing to an erosion of pilots' stick-and-rudder flying skills. It's too soon to say if that was the case in the Asiana crash, but it's something NTSB investigators will be exploring, they said.
"It sounds like they let the airplane get slow and it came out from under them," said John Cox, a former US Airways pilot and former Air Line Pilots Association air crash investigator.
"There are two real big questions here: Why did they let the airplane get that slow, and where was the non-flying pilot, the monitoring pilot, who should have been calling out 'airspeed, airspeed, airspeed,' " Cox said.
More than 180 people aboard the plane went to hospitals with injuries. But remarkably, 305 of 307 passengers and crew survived, and more than a third didn't even require hospitalization. Only a small number were badly hurt.
The passengers included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 64 Americans, three Canadians, three Indians, one Japanese, one Vietnamese and one person from France. Asiana President Yoon Young-doo planned to leave for San Francisco later Tuesday to visit hospitalized passengers, according to Asiana spokeswoman Lee Hyomin.
Twenty-three South Koreans have so far left for San Francisco to visit their injured family members and relatives since the crash, according to South Korea's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
After the crash, three firefighters — and two police officers without safety gear — rushed onto the plane to help evacuate trapped passengers, including one who was trapped under a collapsed bulkhead.
They had gotten everyone off the craft except one elderly man, who was in his seat, moaning and unable to move.
"We were running out of time," San Francisco Fire Department Lt. Dave Monteverdi recalled Monday at a news conference. "The smoke was starting to get thicker and thicker. So we had no choice. We stood him up and amazingly, he started shuffling his feet. That was a good sign...we were able to get him out and he was pretty much the last person off the plane."
The two dead passengers were identified as 16-year-old students from China who were scheduled to attend summer camp in California with dozens of classmates.
One of their bodies was found on the tarmac near where the plane's tail broke off when it slammed into the runway, the other was found on the left side of the plane about 30 feet (10 meters) away from where the jetliner came to rest after it skidded down the runway.
The flight originated in Shanghai, China, and stopped over in Seoul, South Korea, before making the nearly 11-hour trip to San Francisco.
NTSB investigators are also sure to examine whether pilot fatigue played a role in the accident, which occurred after a 10-hour nighttime flight. As is typical for long flights, four pilots were aboard, allowing the crew to take turns flying and resting. But pilots who regularly fly long routes say it's difficult to get restful sleep on planes.
The accident occurred in the late morning in San Francisco, but in Seoul it was 3:37 a.m.
"Fatigue is there. It is a factor," said Kevin Hiatt, a former Delta Air Lines chief international pilot. "At the end of a 10-hour flight, regardless of whether you have had a two-hour nap or not, it has been a long flight."
The two teenagers killed in the crash were close friends and top students.
Wang Linjia showed talent in physics and calligraphy; Ye Mengyuan was a champion gymnast who excelled in literature. Both were part of a trend among affluent Chinese families willing to spend thousands of dollars to send their children to the U.S. for a few weeks in the summer to practice English and hopefully boost their chances of attending a U.S. college — considered better than China's alternatives by many Chinese families.
The girls posted their last messages on their microblog accounts Thursday and Friday. The last posting from Wang said simply, "Go."
___ Lowy reported from Washington. ___ Associated Press writers Jason Dearen, Terry Collins, Paul Elias, Lisa Leff and Sudhin Thanawala in San Francisco, Gillian Wong and Didi Tang in Beijing, and Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul also contributed to this report.
A St. Louis family just got a little bigger. Salmone Numbere gave birth to four babies on July 2 at SSM St. Mary’s Health Center in Richmond Heights, MO.
The babies, two boys and two girls, range from 2 pounds, 6 ounces to 3 pounds, 12 ounces and are all breathing on their own. Salmone and her husband Aroloye said, “this is truly a blessing. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
The babies (pictured left to right) are named Eliel, Elias, Elietha, and Elidad.
But nationally, Perry is better known for his 'oops' presidential debate brain freeze or for not opposing forcefully enough the notion that Texas could secede from the union. For many outside the Lone Star State, he's a political punchline on par with Dan Quayle — if he's known at all.
Now, the longest-serving governor in Texas history is quitting his day job. Perry announced Monday that he won't seek a fourth full term in office next year, but notably didn't say whether another run for the White House in 2016 could be next.
"The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership. Today I'm announcing I will not seek re-election as governor of Texas," Perry said Monday. "I will spend the next 18 months working to create more jobs, opportunity and innovation. I will actively lead this great state. And I'll also pray and reflect and work to determine my own future."
But for that future to include another run for president, Perry will first need to concentrate on rebuilding his tattered image outside of Texas.
"He's starting behind the eight ball," said South Carolina-based Republican operative Hogan Gidley, an adviser to former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — both unsuccessful presidential hopefuls who have remained national conservative forces.
Perry had never lost an election during his 27-year political career when he strapped on his signature cowboy boots and strode into the race for the GOP presidential nomination in August 2011, becoming a near-instant front-runner.
But his White House run flamed out spectacularly, culminating in a debate in Michigan where Perry remembered that he'd pledged to shutter the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Education but forgot the third one, the Department of Energy. Quipped late-night comedian Jimmy Fallon: "It turns out George Bush was actually the smart Texas governor."
It wasn't the first time Perry's mouth had gotten him into trouble. Ending a television interview in 2005, Perry smirked at the camera and signed off: "Adios, mofo."
Those incidents, however, did little to lessen Perry's influence in Texas, where he is considered the most powerful governor since the Civil War.
Perry, who took office when then-Gov. George W. Bush left for the White House in December 2000, set the tone for his tenure the following June — vetoing more than 80 bills in what became known in Austin as the "Father's Day Massacre." Since then, he's vetoed scores of other would-be laws, including a $35 billion public education budget and a ban on executing mentally disabled inmates.
But most of Perry's power has come from his sheer longevity. He remained in office long enough to tap loyalists — sometimes even his top donors — to every major appointed post statewide.
"He's made the state into his personal fiefdom," said Matt Glazer, a Democratic consultant.
Still, Gidley and others note Perry has been successful at appearing regularly on national television, attracting a great deal of media attention in his recent job-poaching tours of California, Illinois and New York.
Perry also still has his TV anchorman good looks — he's often dubbed "Governor Good Hair." He has been a ferocious fundraiser buoyed by both grassroots activists and mainstream Republicans while presiding over a flourishing Texas economy.
The governor said Monday he is "looking forward to the next 18 months as I serve out my term. Any future considerations I will announce in due time and I will arrive at that decision appropriately. But my focus will remain on Texas."
Longtime staffer and former presidential campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan attended Monday's event and said afterward that Perry would have more opportunity to prepare for a presidential run.
"Without the pressure of another campaign, a governor's campaign and without the pressure of another legislative session, there's a lot more opportunity to make those trips, to have those opportunities," he said.
Sullivan said of Perry's legacy: "He has held the line on government. He has created an economic engine that is the envy of the nation and has really stuck to his conservative principles and been successful doing so."
Perry's decision opens up the field to a wide swath of gubernatorial contenders. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is expected to seek the governorship and becomes the immediate front-runner. Spokesman Matt Hirsch said Monday that Abbott will announce his plans soon, and Abbott has said he plans to travel to many cities across the state.
Perry has been a leading voice on many social issues conservatives hold dear, including states' rights, relaxed environmental regulations, strict abortion limits and opposition to gay marriage.
An Eagle Scout, Perry urged the Boy Scouts not to accept openly gay youngsters. And the avid defender of gun rights once produced a laser-sighted pistol from his running shorts and shot a coyote while jogging in rural Austin.
Over the past decade, Texas has created a third of the net new jobs nationwide, though critics note Texas has a disproportionate percentage of hourly workers earning minimum wage or even less, according to federal employment data.
Perry also credits the state's relaxed regulatory climate and limits on civil lawsuits for job creation, though some have pointed to the consequences of little oversight, noting the West fertilizer plant explosion in April that killed 15 people was lightly regulated and even firefighters were unaware of the highly combustible chemicals inside.
Perry detractors also note that the governor opposes expanding Medicaid coverage in Texas — a centerpiece of the White House's health care reform — even though Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the country.
Perry first won a seat in the Texas Legislature as a Democrat in 1984, when Texas was still reliably blue. As the state turned deeply red, Perry shifted too. Democrats have not captured a statewide office in nearly 20 years.
The opposition party insists, though, that a booming Hispanic population means it's only a matter of time before Texas switches back — a notion Perry has dismissed as a "pipe dream."
It didn't look so far-fetched last week, however, when Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis was on her feet for 12-plus hours as Democrats used the filibuster to help block sweeping new restrictions on abortion in Texas. She became a national political sensation, prompting many supporters to urge her to run for governor.
Perry's response was swift, immediately calling lawmakers back for an extra special session. He said he was confident they'd approve the law in record time.