KABUL, Afghanistan

Multiple suicide bombings kill 46, mostly civilians

Suicide bombers launched multiple attacks in a remote corner of southwestern Afghanistan near the Iranian border Tuesday, killing dozens of people including shoppers buying sweets for a Muslim holiday and leaving charred and smoldering bits of cookies and dried fruit among the bodies on the ground.

A separate market bombing, this one in northern Afghanistan, brought the overall death toll to 46, most of whom were civilians. It was the deadliest day for Afghan civilians this year.

The attacks in provinces on opposite ends of the country – Nimroz in the southwest and Kunduz in the north – come as Taliban insurgents and their allies step up their assaults in a display of force that often results in civilian carnage. Militants are especially trying to weaken the still-developing Afghan security forces, who are to assume control of security across their homeland in 28 months when most foreign combat troops will have left.

“The Taliban “want to expand their influence – show that they are everywhere,” said Afghan political analyst Jawid Kohistani. “They want to show that the Afghan police are not strong enough so they are targeting the security forces and the government.”

CANBERRA, Australia

Court upholds logo ban on packs of cigarettes

Australia’s highest court upheld the world’s toughest law on cigarette promotion on Wednesday despite protests from tobacco companies that argued the value of their trademarks will be destroyed under new rules that will strip all logos from cigarette packs.

The decision by the High Court means that starting in December, tobacco companies will no longer be able to display their distinctive colors, brand designs and logos on cigarette packs. The packs will instead come in a drab shade of olive and feature graphic health warnings and images of cancer-riddled mouths, blinded eyeballs and sickly children.

The government hopes the new packs will make smoking as unglamorous as possible.

British American Tobacco, Philip Morris International, Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International are worried that the law will set a global precedent that could slash billions of dollars from the values of their brands. They challenged the new rules on the grounds that they violate intellectual property rights and devalue their trademarks.

The cigarette makers argued that the government would unfairly benefit from the law by using cigarette packs as a platform to promote its own message, without compensating the tobacco companies. Australia’s constitution says the government can only acquire the property of others on “just terms.”

The court, which ordered the tobacco companies to pay the government’s legal fees, withheld its reasons for the judgment Wednesday. They’ll be released later this year.


Family: Shootout gunman suffered from mental illness

In the months leading up to Monday’s shootout near Texas A&M University that killed three, gunman Thomas Alton Caffall III, 35, had cut off contact with his family, even though his mother was seriously ill.

Caffall’s family said he told them he had his own issues, an unspecified mental illness they declined to comment on.

On Monday, Caffall opened fire on a law enforcement officer who was trying to serve him with a court summons for being two months behind on rent. The officer was killed.

Police said officers shot and killed Caffall during the 30-minute shootout. A bystander also died.

“It breaks our hearts his illness led to this,” Caffall’s family said in a statement released through an attorney.

Authorities continued their investigation Tuesday, saying Caffall was in possession of multiple weapons and fired numerous times.

College Station Police Chief Jeff Capps said he wasn’t aware of any previous law enforcement contact with the gunman.


Bank settles Iran money inquiry for $340 million

The state’s financial regulator said Tuesday his agency has reached a $340 million settlement with Standard Chartered Bank to resolve an investigation into whether the British bank schemed with the Iranian government to launder $250 billion from 2001 to 2007.

The bank will pay the civil penalty to the state and will strengthen oversight of overseas transactions, state Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said.

Standard Chartered spokeswoman Julie Gibson noted the New York announcement set out the terms of an agreement, including payment of $340 million, and a formal agreement with details is expected shortly.

Standard Charter will install for at least two years a monitor who will evaluate the money laundering risk controls of its New York branch and take corrective measures, Lawsky said. It also will permanently install personnel to oversee and audit offshore money laundering monitoring, the agency said, and agency examiners will be placed at the bank.

A department hearing on the issue scheduled for Wednesday in New York City has been adjourned. The date for the civil payment, which will go to the state’s general fund, has not been set.