Archive for June 2014
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that closely held companies cannot be required to pay to cover some types of contraceptives for their employees, ending its term with a narrow legal and political setback for a controversial part of President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law.
Obama to Request $500 Million to Aid Syrian Opposition
President Obama on Thursday requested $500 million from Congress to train and equip what the White House is calling “appropriately vetted” members of the Syrian opposition. The request comes as the administration is trying to put some form to the president’s surprise announcement last month of plans for a $5 billion counterterrorism fund to provide training for operations in vulnerable countries in the Middle East.
The training program would be the most significant action yet by the United States in the conflict in Syria, which has spilled over the border now to Iraq, where a Qaeda-inspired insurgency is threatening the American-backed government.
(CNN) — Militants with black masks stand by as 15-year-old Mohammed watches a video of fighters cutting off a man’s head.
“This is jihad for the sake of God,” the men with Kalashnikov rifles say.
Mohammed begins to feel lost, confused. “Does God want me to do jihad?” he wonders.
This is Mohammed’s eyewitness account, told to CNN on Wednesday in a telephone interview.
He was one of the more than 140 Kurdish schoolboys kidnapped in Syria last month by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and forced to take daily lessons in radical Islamic theology, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitoring group, and local activists say.
Mohammed’s account provides insight into the workings of an organization that has the stated goal of creating a single caliphate across Syria and neighboring Iraq.
Armed fighters in pickup trucks on May 29 stopped buses driving children back to their hometown of Ayn al-Arab from their junior high final exams in Aleppo.
“How can you sit with the girls? It is forbidden!” the men, many with foreign accents, yelled as they separated the female students and took only the boys.
(CNN) — Gary Oldman has written a letter apologizing for statements he made in a Playboy interview that have been slammed by Jewish groups.
In a letter to the Anti-Defamation League, Oldman said he was “deeply remorseful” for the comments about Mel Gibson, which the ADL said put forward anti-Semitic stereotypes.
“I am deeply remorseful that comments I recently made in the Playboy Interview were offensive to many Jewish people,” Oldman said. “Upon reading my comments in print — I see how insensitive they may be, and how they may indeed contribute to the furtherance of a false stereotype. Anything that contributes to this stereotype is unacceptable, including my own words on the matter.”
In the interview, on newstands Friday and already published online, Oldman wades into the controversies involving Mel Gibson and Alec Baldwin, though to be fair, he does so in the context of ripping hypocrisy and political correctness.
Gibson was pilloried for anti-Semitic remarks he made in 2006; Baldwin was criticized for lashing out at paparazzi with an anti-gay slur last year.
“Mel Gibson is in a town that’s run by Jews and he said the wrong thing because he’s actually bitten the hand that I guess has fed him — and doesn’t need to feed him anymore because he’s got enough dough,” Oldman said in the interview. “But some Jewish guy in his office somewhere hasn’t turned and said, ‘That f***ing kraut’ or ‘F*** those Germans,’ whatever it is? We all hide and try to be so politically correct. That’s what gets me. It’s just the sheer hypocrisy of everyone.”
Oldman’s longtime manager, Douglas Urbanski, defended Oldman in a statement to CNN.
(CNN) — The U.S. military successfully conducted a test of the Ballistic Missile Defense System in a joint military exercise on Sunday, the Pentagon confirmed in a statement.
“This is a very important step in our continuing efforts to improve and increase the reliability of our homeland Ballistic Missile Defense System,” Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. James D. Syring said in the statement.
A long-range, ground-based interceptor was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and successfully intercepted a simulated incoming ballistic missile threat launched from a test site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, colliding over the Pacific Ocean.
Islamic extremists have abducted 60 more girls and women and 31 boys from villages in northeast Nigeria, witnesses said Tuesday.
Security forces denied the kidnappings. Nigeria’s government and military have been widely criticized for their slow response to the abductions of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped April 15.
There was no way to safely and independently confirm the report from Kummabza, 150 kilometers (95 miles) from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state and headquarters of a military state of emergency that has failed to curtail near-daily attacks by Boko Haram fighters.
Kummabza resident Aji Khalil said Tuesday the abductions took place Saturday in an attack in which four villagers were killed. Khalil is a member of one of the vigilante groups that have had some success in repelling Boko Haram attacks with primitive weapons.
This year, the Boko Haram insurgents have embarked on a two-pronged strategy — bombing in cities and a scorched-earth policy in rural areas where they are devastating villages. Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, the central city of Jos and the northeastern state capital of Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, all have been bombed.
On Monday, an explosion at a medical college in the northern city of Kano killed at least eight people and wounded 12, police said. It was the third bomb blast in four months in Kano, Nigeria’s second city.
Also on Saturday, the same day as the latest abductions, scores of Boko Haram fighters attacked four other villages, near Chibok town from which the girls were kidnapped. Witnesses said at least 33 villagers were killed as well as six vigilantes and about two dozen Boko Haram fighters.
President Obama receives low marks for his handling of the situation in Iraq: just 37 percent approve, and 52 percent disapprove. While most Democrats approve, nearly a third of them disapproves.
Moreover, more than two-thirds of Americans do not think Mr. Obama has clearly explained what the U.S. goals are in Iraq. Among members of his own party, more say the president hasn’t explained U.S. goals than say he has.
Most Americans say Iraq war wasn’t worth the costs: Poll
Discussions of U.S. involvement in stemming the violence in Iraq are occurring amid a backdrop of highly negative views of the Iraq war, a new CBS News/New York Times poll out Monday reveals.
Just 18 percent of Americans think the result of the war in Iraq was worth the loss of American lives and other costs of attacking Iraq, the lowest percentage ever recorded in CBS News Polls. Seventy-five percent do not think the Iraq War was worth it, up eight percentage points since 2011 (just before all U.S. troops were removed), and up 30 points since August 2003.