U.S. airstrikes and aid for Iraqi city under siege

Last Updated Aug 30, 2014 10:30 PM EDT

WASHINGTON – An international airdrop of food and water supported by U.S. airstrikes sought to bring relief to the beleaguered Iraqi town of Amirli, which has been under siege by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militants for nearly two months, the Pentagon said Saturday night.

Aircraft from Australia, France and Britain joined the U.S. in delivering the aid to thousands of Shiite Turkmen in the farming community about 105 miles north of Baghdad, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement. The aid came at the request of the Iraqi government, he said.

The U.S. military conducted the airstrikes against ISIS militants to support the aid delivery, Kirby said. Operations will be limited in scope and duration as needed to address the humanitarian crisis in Amirli and protect the civilians trapped in the town, he said.

“These military operations were conducted under authorization from the commander in chief to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and to prevent an (ISIS) attack on the civilians of Amirli,” Kirby said.

Instead of fleeing in the face of the ISIS across northern Iraq, the Shiite Turkmens have stayed and fortified their town of 15,000 with trenches and armed positions.

While Amirli fought off the initial attack in June, it has been surrounded by the militants since mid-July. Some residents have said that the Iraqi military’s efforts to fly in food, water and other aid have not been enough amid oppressive heat, lack of electrical power – the town’s power station was destroyed weeks ago – and shelling from the militants.

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, which began earlier this month, have targeted ISIS militants attacking Yazidi Iraqis on Mount Sinjar and the militant forces operating in the vicinity of Ibril and Mosul Dam. The beleaguered Yazidis received several humanitarian drops of tons of food and water as well as military support aimed at protecting them.

Earlier Saturday, U.S. Central Command said five more airstrikes had taken place against Islamic State militants near Mosul Dam. Those attacks, carried out by fighter aircraft and unmanned drones, brought to 115 the total number of airstrikes across Iraq since Aug. 8.

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Study: Novel heart failure drug shows big promise

Last Updated Aug 30, 2014 9:20 PM EDT

A new study reports one of the biggest potential advances against heart failure in more than a decade – a first-of-a-kind, experimental drug that lowered the chances of death or hospitalization by about 20 percent.

Doctors say the Novartis drug – which doesn’t have a name yet – seems like one of those rare, breakthrough therapies that could quickly change care for more than half of the 6 million Americans and 24 million people worldwide with heart failure.

“This is a new day” for patients, said Dr. Clyde Yancy, cardiology chief at Northwestern University in Chicago and a former American Heart Association president.

“It’s been at least a decade since we’ve had a breakthrough of this magnitude,” said Yancy, who had no role in the study.

It involved nearly 8,500 people in 47 countries and was the largest experiment ever done in heart failure. It was paid for, designed and partly run by Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland. Independent monitors stopped the study in April, seven months earlier than planned, when it was clear the drug was better than an older one that is standard now.

During the 27-month study, the Novartis drug cut the chances of dying of heart-related causes by 20 percent and for any reason by 16 percent, compared to the older drug. It also reduced the risk of being hospitalized for heart failure by 21 percent.

“We are really excited,” said one study leader, Dr. Milton Packer of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The benefit “exceeded our original expectations.”

Results were disclosed Saturday at a European Society of Cardiology conference in Barcelona and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Novartis will seek approval for the drug – for now called LCZ696 – by the end of this year in the United States and early next year in Europe

Heart failure is the top reason older people are hospitalized, and a leading cause of death. It develops when the heart muscle weakens over time and can no longer pump effectively, often because of damage from a heart attack. Fluid can back up into the lungs and leave people gasping for breath.

The people in this study were already taking three to five medicines to control the condition. One medicine often used is an ACE inhibitor, and the study tested one of these – enalapril, sold as Vasotec and in generic form – against the Novartis drug.

The new drug is a twice-a-day pill combination of two medicines that block the effects of substances that harm the heart while also preserving ones that help protect it. One of the medicines also dilates blood vessels and allows the heart to pump more effectively.

In the study, 26.5 percent on the older drug, enalapril, died of heart-related causes or were hospitalized for heart failure versus less than 22 percent of those on the Novartis drug. Quality of life also was better with the experimental drug.

“We now have a way of stabilizing and managing their disease which is better than what we could offer them before,” Packer said.

CBS News’ chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook said one of the most exciting things about the new drug is its potential to improve the quality of patients’ lives.

“The thing that’s so terrible to watch in people with chronic heart failure is the decline. This is the quality of their lives. The ability to just take a few steps, the ability to go up steps, the ability to sleep at night without having to be upright, propped up by five pillows. So this is a big deal,” he said.

The new drug also seemed safe – reassuring because safety concerns doomed a couple of other promising-looking treatments over the last decade. There were more cases of too-low blood pressure and non-serious swelling beneath the skin with the Novartis drug, but more kidney problems, excess potassium in the blood and cough with the older drug. More people on the older treatment dropped out of the study than those on the new one.

About 32 people would need to be treated with the new drug to prevent one death from heart-related causes.

“That’s a favorable number,” said Dr. Joseph G. Rogers, a Duke University cardiologist with no role in the study. He said the benefits were big enough that “I would switch people over” as soon as the drug is available.

The drug “may well represent a new threshold of hope” for patients, Dr. Mariell Jessup, heart failure chief at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in a commentary in the journal. It may help “a wide spectrum of patients, even those who are currently receiving the best possible therapy.”

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Obama mulls delaying immigration action until after midterms, report says

 

President Obama is reportedly mulling the possibility of delaying making changes to U.S. immigration policy until after the upcoming midterm elections, after Democrats in tough Senate races have argued that it could damage their chances in November.

The president had been expected to use his executive authority to ease deportations and give temporary work permits to millions of illegal immigrants. 

After Republicans in the House of Representatives voted down a version of immigration reform, Obama announced that he intended to act on his own before the end of summer in order to make what he said were urgent changes to the immigration system. Republicans claim that such moves would exceed his legal authority if he were to act without congressional approval.

However, The Wall Street Journal reports that White House officials are now debating whether to put off some or all of Obama’s policy changes until after the November election, after several Democrats running in tight elections in conservative states have urged the president to do so, claiming that such a move would damage their election prospects.

Democratic Senators Mark Pryor in Arkansas, Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Mark Begich in Alaska and Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, all have called for immigration reform to be addressed by Congress, not by the White House, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Obama said in a news conference Thursday that his timeline for immigration reform was unclear, and said that the child-migration crisis could affect the timing of any announcement.

“Some of these things do affect timelines, and we’re just going to be working through as systematically as possible in order to get this done,” Obama said.

Obama also faces pressure from immigrant-rights advocates strongly urging the president not to back down and to move forward as planned, especially as he has already delayed action once in 2014.

However, Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Mr. Obama’s executive action on immigration would be unpopular no matter when he made it. 

“Whether President Obama declares executive amnesty in September, October or November, he has neither the legal authority nor the public support to do it,” Dayspring told The Wall Street Journal.

Click for more from The Wall Street Journal.

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COMING TO AMERICA? Saudi king warns jihadists could hit US within months

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June 27, 2014: Saudi King Abdullah speaks before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at his private residence in the Red Sea city of in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP)

The king of Saudi Arabia has warned that jihadists could target the United States and Europe if leaders across the globe do not react to growing terrorist threats as Islamic State militants make advances across Iraq and Syria.

While not mentioning any terrorist groups by name, King Abdullah’s statement appeared aimed at drawing Washington and NATO forces into a wider fight against the Islamic State terror organization and its supporters in the region. Saudi Arabia openly backs rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, but is concerned that the breakaway Al Qaeda group could also turn those very same weapons on the kingdom.

“If neglected, I am certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America,” he said at a reception for foreign ambassadors Friday.

“These terrorists do not know the name of humanity and you have witnessed them severing heads and giving them to children to walk with in the street,” the king said, urging the ambassadors to relay his message directly to their heads of state.

The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, has been fighting moderate rebels, other extremists and Assad’s forces in Syria for nearly three years. Iraq has faced an onslaught by the Sunni extremists and their supporters since early this year, and the country continues to be roiled by instability.

While providing arms and support to Sunni militants in Syria, Saudi Arabia has denied directly funding or backing the Islamic State group.

On Friday the UK government raised its terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe,” the fourth highest of five levels, in response to events in Iraq and Syria. The move means a terrorist attack is highly likely, although there is no intelligence to suggest one is imminent, Home Secretary Theresa May said. It was the first time in three years the level was raised to severe by the U.K.’s Joint Terrorist Analysis Center.

“This is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles away that we can hope to ignore,” Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday. “The ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the UK. And that is in addition to the many other Al Qaeda-inspired terrorist groups that exist in that region. The first ISIL terrorist attacks on the continent of Europe have already taken place.”

The White House has said it does not expect the U.S. to bump up its terrorism threat warning level and on Friday Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that officials were “unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland” from Islamic State.

However, despite assurances that no threat to American soil is imminent, the watchdog group Judicial Watch said Friday that Islamic State operatives are in Juarez, just across the border from Texas, and are planning to attack the United States with car bomb, while a Texas law enforcement bulletin obtained by FoxNews.com found that social media chatter shows Islamic State militants are keenly aware of the porous U.S.-Mexico border, and are “expressing an increased interest” in crossing over to carry out a terrorist attack.

Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally in the region, has taken an increasingly active role in criticizing the Islamic State group. Earlier this month, the country’s top cleric described the Islamic State group and Al Qaeda as Islam’s No. 1 enemy and said that Muslims have been their first victims. State-backed Saudi clerics who once openly called on citizens to fight in Syria can now face steep punishment and the kingdom has threatened to imprison its citizens who fight in Syria and Iraq.

A decade ago, Al Qaeda militants launched a string of attacks in the kingdom aimed at toppling the monarchy. Saudi officials responded with a massive crackdown that saw many flee to neighboring Yemen. In the time since, the kingdom has not seen any massive attacks, though it has imprisoned suspected militants and sentenced others to death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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Saudi king warns that Islamic jihadists could hit US, Europe within months

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June 27, 2014: Saudi King Abdullah speaks before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at his private residence in the Red Sea city of in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP)

The king of Saudi Arabia has warned that jihadists could target the United States and Europe if leaders across the globe do not react to growing terrorist threats as Islamic State militants make advances across Iraq and Syria.

While not mentioning any terrorist groups by name, King Abdullah’s statement appeared aimed at drawing Washington and NATO forces into a wider fight against the Islamic State terror organization and its supporters in the region. Saudi Arabia openly backs rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, but is concerned that the breakaway Al Qaeda group could also turn those very same weapons on the kingdom.

“If neglected, I am certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America,” he said at a reception for foreign ambassadors Friday.

“These terrorists do not know the name of humanity and you have witnessed them severing heads and giving them to children to walk with in the street,” the king said, urging the ambassadors to relay his message directly to their heads of state.

The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, has been fighting moderate rebels, other extremists and Assad’s forces in Syria for nearly three years. Iraq has faced an onslaught by the Sunni extremists and their supporters since early this year, and the country continues to be roiled by instability.

While providing arms and support to Sunni militants in Syria, Saudi Arabia has denied directly funding or backing the Islamic State group.

On Friday the UK government raised its terror threat level from “substantial” to “severe,” the fourth highest of five levels, in response to events in Iraq and Syria. The move means a terrorist attack is highly likely, although there is no intelligence to suggest one is imminent, Home Secretary Theresa May said. It was the first time in three years the level was raised to severe by the U.K.’s Joint Terrorist Analysis Center.

“This is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles away that we can hope to ignore,” Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday. “The ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the UK. And that is in addition to the many other Al Qaeda-inspired terrorist groups that exist in that region. The first ISIL terrorist attacks on the continent of Europe have already taken place.”

The White House has said it does not expect the U.S. to bump up its terrorism threat warning level and on Friday Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that officials were “unaware of any specific, credible threat to the U.S. homeland” from Islamic State.

However, despite assurances that no threat to American soil is imminent, the watchdog group Judicial Watch said Friday that Islamic State operatives are in Juarez, just across the border from Texas, and are planning to attack the United States with car bomb, while a Texas law enforcement bulletin obtained by FoxNews.com found that social media chatter shows Islamic State militants are keenly aware of the porous U.S.-Mexico border, and are “expressing an increased interest” in crossing over to carry out a terrorist attack.

Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally in the region, has taken an increasingly active role in criticizing the Islamic State group. Earlier this month, the country’s top cleric described the Islamic State group and Al Qaeda as Islam’s No. 1 enemy and said that Muslims have been their first victims. State-backed Saudi clerics who once openly called on citizens to fight in Syria can now face steep punishment and the kingdom has threatened to imprison its citizens who fight in Syria and Iraq.

A decade ago, Al Qaeda militants launched a string of attacks in the kingdom aimed at toppling the monarchy. Saudi officials responded with a massive crackdown that saw many flee to neighboring Yemen. In the time since, the kingdom has not seen any massive attacks, though it has imprisoned suspected militants and sentenced others to death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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RAMS CUT SAM First openly gay NFL player released by St. Louis

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Aug 28, 2014: St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam (96) looks up at the scoreboard from the sidelines during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins. (AP)

The St. Louis Rams have cut Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

The 7th-round draft pick has been outspoken and confident as his progress was watched as closely as any rookie in the league. He has been cheered by athletes and celebrities. In the end, the defensive end couldn’t make a team stocked with pass-rushers.

The news was first reported by ESPN.

Sam still has a chance to get picked up by another team or to make the Rams’ practice squad.

On Saturday, he attended Missouri’s opener in Columbia, a 1 1/2-hour drive west on I-70 from Rams Park. He was introduced to the crowd at the cut down deadline in the end zone alongside defensive E.J. Gaines, a sixth-round pick who made the team.

Sam blew a kiss and waved to the crowd, then walked back to the sideline. He posed for a few pictures then started looking at his phone and headed for the locker room.

The Rams selected Sam, the SEC co-defensive player of the year at Missouri, with the 249th overall pick out of 256 overall during May’s draft. Sam came out following his final season at Missouri.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher was proud to have made the landmark pick, but he made clear from the start that he chose Sam because he thought he had the talent to make it.

The Rams selected Sam, the SEC co-defensive player of the year at Missouri, with the 249th overall pick out of 256 overall. He kissed his boyfriend as a national television audience looked on, and arrived brimming with confidence and with a quick retort for anyone who contended he was in the NFL only because he came out.

The cameras followed, but the extra attention did not seem to faze Sam or his teammates. Veteran defensive end Chris Long noted rosters are always made up of players from different backgrounds. One by one, players said Sam was now part of their family.

Coach Jeff Fisher called the draft pick a “second historic moment” for a franchise that signed running back Kenny Washington in 1946 as the league’s first black player in the modern era, but he was most interested in describing Sam as a way to upgrade the Rams’ defense. So was general manager Les Snead, who referred to Sam after the draft as a “designated pass rusher.” Sam recognized the challenge, so he shed weight to be faster for special teams duty, reporting at 257 pounds.

After the Rams’ first preseason game, a 26-24 loss to New Orleans, Fisher said Sam played “pretty well” but also made his share of mistakes. Sam, who was credited with one tackle and one quarterback hit in the game, emerged with confidence.

“You know, I can play in this league,” Sam said. “I can play in this league.”

Sam told his teammates at Missouri that he was gay before his senior year, and judging by the results it was no distraction at all. The Tigers made a seven-win improvement and tied the school record with 12 wins. Sam had 11 1/2 sacks and the lightly-regarded Tigers won the SEC Eastern Division, a huge step forward after going 5-7 during the first season in their new conference.

More than 100 coaches and players kept the revelation to themselves. Sam came out in February.

“If you look at our season, it didn’t hurt us at all,” recalled cornerback E.J. Gaines, a fellow rookie and former Missouri teammate. “If anything, it brought us closer.”

Sam was lightly regarded out of Hitchcock, Texas, a town of about 7,000 along the Gulf Coast about 40 miles southeast of Houston. His first two years at Missouri, Sam backed up Aldon Smith and Jacquies Smith, both of whom are in the NFL.

The Rams drafted Sam even though they didn’t need help at defensive end, where they have a pair of first-round picks as starters. The Rams were so well-stocked with picks, taking 11 players overall, they had leeway to take a shot. Fisher said Sam’s value as a player “was off the charts.”

“I’m determined to be great,” Sam said at his introductory news conference, packed with reporters. “I understand that right now you guys want to make a big deal of it.”

From the start, teammates seemed to like having Sam around. His energy was infectious and, if there were problems, they stayed behind closed doors. Publicly, Sam was just another late-round pick trying to make the Rams, which, like other NFL teams, held sensitivity training early in camp. The Oprah Winfrey Network put off a planned documentary on Sam, saying it would allow him to focus on his dream of making the team.

At one point, Sam’s Rams jersey was the No. 2 seller among rookies at NFLShop.com, trailing only Cleveland’s Johnny Manziel, and Sam was among just 10 draftees selected by the NFL to be featured on commemorative coins. Sam headed to the ESPY Awards to pick up the Arthur Ashe Courage award. He got a hug from Hall of Famer Jim Brown on his way to the stage and fought back tears throughout his speech.

“Great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself,” he told the audience.

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Amid ISIS violence, Saudi king warns of threat to U.S.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – The king of Saudi Arabia has warned that extremists could attack Europe and the U.S. if there is not a strong international response to terrorism after Islamist extremists seized a wide territory across Iraq and Syria.

While not mentioning any terrorist groups by name, King Abdullah’s statement appeared aimed at drawing Washington and NATO forces into a wider fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and its supporters in the region. Saudi Arabia openly backs rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, but is concerned that the breakaway al Qaeda group could also turn those very same weapons on the kingdom.

“I am certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America,” he said at a reception for foreign ambassadors Friday.

Official Saudi media carried the king’s comments early Saturday.

“These terrorists do not know the name of humanity and you have witnessed them severing heads and giving them to children to walk with in the street,” the king said, urging the ambassadors to relay his message directly to their heads of state.

CBS News correspondent Julianna Goldman reports from Washington that President Obama didn’t talk military planning Friday night when he met with Democratic donors, but he said that he understands that Americans are anxious about the growing threat of ISIS, and he acknowledged that it’s a dangerous time in the Middle East.

A day after the president said that he doesn’t have a strategy yet for confronting ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, in Syria, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Mr. Obama is waiting for his defense secretary to present a plan.

“There are some who probably would make the case that it’s OK to not have a formulated, comprehensive strategy but, just as one pundit I know recently suggested, that we could just go drop some bombs and see what happens,” Earnest told reporters Friday. “That is not what the president believes is a smart approach.”

Echoing that message, Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby said the Defense Department doesn’t have binders full of plans at any given moment.

“Planners down in Tampa and planners here in the Pentagon continually refine and change and update planning options for potential military activity,” Kirby told reporters Friday. “It is an ongoing effort.”

The U.S. military campaign against ISIS is so far limited to targets in Iraq, but Mr. Obama is considering expanding the mission to also include Syria, where this week he ordered surveillance flights.

ISIS has been fighting moderate rebels, other extremists and Assad’s forces in Syria for nearly three years. Iraq has faced an onslaught by the Sunni extremists and their supporters since early this year, and the country continues to be roiled by instability.

While providing arms and support to Sunni militants in Syria, Saudi Arabia has denied directly funding or backing ISIS.

British officials raised the country’s terror threat level Friday to “severe,” its second-highest level, because of developments in Iraq and Syria, but there was no information to suggest an attack was imminent. The White House has said it does not expect the U.S. to bump up its terrorism threat warning level.

Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally in the region, has taken an increasingly active role in criticizing ISIS. Earlier this month, the country’s top cleric described ISIS and al Qaeda as Islam’s No. 1 enemy and said that Muslims have been their first victims. State-backed Saudi clerics who once openly called on citizens to fight in Syria can now face steep punishment and the kingdom has threatened to imprison its citizens who fight in Syria and Iraq.

A decade ago, al Qaeda militants launched a string of attacks in the kingdom aimed at toppling the monarchy. Saudi officials responded with a massive crackdown that saw many flee to neighboring Yemen. In the time since, the kingdom has not seen any massive attacks, though it has imprisoned suspected militants and sentenced others to death.

Meanwhile Saturday, police in Iraq said a suicide bomber drove his explosives-laden car into an army checkpoint in the town of Youssifiyah, killing 11 people, including four soldiers, and wounding at least 24 people. Youssifiyah is 12 miles south of Baghdad.

Hours later, a roadside bomb targeting an army patrol killed two soldiers and wounded five in Latifiyah, a town 20 miles south of Baghdad.

Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

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EU weighs new sanctions against Russia as Ukraine crisis deepens

 

The European Union announced Saturday that new economic sanctions are being drawn up in response to the apparent incursion of Russian troops into Ukraine, although some European leader were hesitant about straining relations with Russia and damaging their own economies over the conflict.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who briefed a summit of the 28-nation EU’s leaders in Brussels, said a strong response was needed to the “military aggression and terror” facing his country.

“Thousands of the foreign troops and hundreds of the foreign tanks are now on the territory of Ukraine,” Poroshenko told reporters in English. “There is a very high risk not only for peace and stability for Ukraine, but for the whole peace and stability of Europe.”

French President Francois Hollande and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said upon their arrival for the summit in Brussels the leaders will make a political decision and then ask the EU’s executive arm to finalize the fine print of new sanctions.

Hollande argued that if Russia failed to reverse the flow of weapons and troops into Ukraine, then it would leave the EU with no other option than to impose new sanctions.

“Are we going to let the situation worsen, until it leads to war?” Hollande said at a news conference, Reuters reported. “Because that’s the risk today. There is no time to waste.”

Lithuanian leader Dalia Grybauskaite added Russia’s meddling in Ukraine, which seeks closer ties with the EU, amounts to a direct confrontation that requires stronger sanctions.

“Russia is practically in the war against Europe,” she said in English, The Associated Press reports.

NATO estimates that at least 1,000 Russian soldiers are in Ukraine even though Russia denies any military involvement in the fighting that has so far claimed 2,600 lives, according to U.N. figures.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also warned that Europe can’t be complacent about Russian troops on Ukrainian soil.

“Countries in Europe shouldn’t have to think long before realizing just how unacceptable that is,” he said. “We know that from our history. So consequences must follow if that situation continues.”

However some leaders were cautious about implementing new sanctions, The Wall Street Journal reported, with leaders of Hungary and Slovakia blasting sanctions as ineffective measures that would only hurt EU economies as much as they hurt Russia.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann warned the Union that it should be “speaking less” about sanctions.

“The effect of sanctions as they have been applied so far hasn’t always produced what some expected,” he said.

In Brussels, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso provided no specifics about which sanctions were being considered but also said that “sanctions are not an end in themselves,” but a means to dissuade Russia from further destabilizing Ukraine.

“We may see a situation where we reach the point of no return,” Barroso warned. “If the escalation of the conflict continues, this point of no return can come.”

The U.S. and the EU have so far imposed sanctions against dozens of Russian officials, several companies and the country’s financial industry. Moscow has retaliated by banning food imports.

Grybauskaite said the EU should impose a full arms embargo, including the canceling of already agreed contracts. France has so far staunchly opposed that proposal because it has a $1.6 billion contract to build Mistral helicopter carriers for Russia.

New EU sanctions have to be agreed unanimously — a requirement that has in the past blocked or softened decisions since some nations fear the economic fallout. Russia is the EU’s No. 3 trading partner and one of its biggest oil and gas suppliers.

Barroso said that the EU — a bloc encompassing 500 million people and stretching from Lisbon to the border with Ukraine — stands ready to grant Kiev further financial assistance if needed. The bloc will also organize a donors’ conference to help rebuild the country’s east at the end of the year, he added.

Ukrainian officials say that their forces face increasingly strong resistance from Russian-backed separatist rebels just weeks after racking up significant gains and forcing rebels out of much of the territory they had held.

Ukrainian forces had been surrounded by rebels in the town of Ilovaysk, about 15 miles east of the largest rebel-held city of Donetsk for days.

“We are surrendering this city,” Ukraine’s Lysenko told reporters. “Our task now is to evacuate our military with the least possible losses in order to regroup.”

Lysenko said that regular units of the military had been ordered to retreat from Novosvitlivka and Khryashchuvate, two towns on the main road between the Russian border and Luhansk, the second-largest rebel-held city. Ukraine had claimed control of Novosvitlivka earlier in August.

Separately, Ukrainian forces said one of their Su-25 fighter jets was shot down Friday over eastern Ukraine by a missile from a Russian missile launcher. The pilot ejected and was uninjured, the military said in a brief statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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NOT POLITICAL? Sen. Reid’s name yanked from alma mater building

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Friday, Aug. 29, 2014: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s name has been removed from a Southern Utah University facility, following pressure from a conservative group to make the change.

The group received $40,000 in pledges over five days toward removing the Nevada Democrat’s name from the school’s Outdoor Engagement Center.

University President Scott Wyatt acknowledged he was under pressure from a group of conservatives to remove Reid’s name but insisted that politics had nothing to do with his decision.

Reid’s name was removed last week from the front door of the facility, several months after two local elected officials and others met with Wyatt and told him about the campaign, Wyatt said.

He said he told the group to stop raising money and that pledge money would not be accepted to remove Reid’s name.

Wyatt said he removed Reid’s name because “nobody” associated the senator with the outdoors. 

The center rents outdoor equipment to students, offers internship programs for students seeking outdoor careers and coordinates project-based learning activities for students. Reid graduated from the school in 1959.

Wyatt also said the school’s 2011 naming of the center in Reid’s honor generated no donations to it from the senator’s friends as had been hoped. 

“The decision has nothing to do with politics,” Wyatt told The Associated Press. “We’re a university. We’re full of Democrats and Republicans and Green Party members and Libertarians. We don’t make partisan calls with regard to our esteemed alumnus.

“The leading factor is the center’s leadership reported to me it created confusion. When people looked at the name, they didn’t understand the connection (between the center and Reid). It was just a little difficult.”

Reid issued a brief statement Friday.

“I was approached and asked to use my name and I was happy to, but there was no such agreement to have me raise funds for it,” he said. “I’m not going to raise money to have my name placed on anything.”

When the center was named for him, Reid touted his congressional record concerning public lands in Nevada, noting his role in the creation of Great Basin National Park, the designation of wilderness areas and an annual summit to protect Lake Tahoe.

At the time, he also criticized Utah’s attempts to wrest control of public lands from the federal government.

Cedar City Councilman Paul Cozzens and Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller praised Wyatt’s decision to remove Reid’s name. They were among the group of conservatives who met with him last spring.

“This is a conservative base in southern Utah, and many people in southern Nevada also feel the same way,” Cozzens told The Spectrum of St. George, Utah. “These people in Nevada do not espouse to Reid’s political philosophies, and they told me they would not support the university or send any more of their children there … so long as Harry Reid’s name remained.”

But Wyatt said plans call for a future center to be named for Reid on campus. The center’s purpose will depend on who donates and their interests.

“Absolutely, he’s one of our most distinguished alumnus,” Wyatt said. “He’s somebody we should all be proud of, regardless of politics … . It’s not Sen. Reid’s concern as to whether we raise money (for the new center). It’s ours.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/08/30/reid-name-removed-from-center-at-utah-university-from-which-graduated/

Russia to be hit with new EU sanctions

 

The European Union on Saturday warned that the apparent incursion of Russian troops on Ukrainian soil pushes the conflict closer to a point of no return, with new economic sanctions being drawn up to make Moscow reconsider its position.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who briefed a summit of the 28-nation EU’s leaders in Brussels, said a strong response was needed to the “military aggression and terror” facing his country.

“Thousands of the foreign troops and hundreds of the foreign tanks are now on the territory of Ukraine,” Poroshenko told reporters in English. “There is a very high risk not only for peace and stability for Ukraine, but for the whole peace and stability of Europe.”

French President Francois Hollande and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said upon their arrival for the summit in Brussels the leaders will make a political decision and then ask the EU’s executive arm to finalize the fine print of new sanctions.

Lithuanian leader Dalia Grybauskaite added Russia’s meddling in Ukraine, which seeks closer ties with the EU, amounts to a direct confrontation that requires stronger sanctions.

“Russia is practically in the war against Europe,” she said in English.

NATO estimates that at least 1,000 Russian soldiers are in Ukraine even though Russia denies any military involvement in the fighting that has so far claimed 2,600 lives, according to U.N. figures.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also warned that Europe can’t be complacent about Russian troops on Ukrainian soil.

“Countries in Europe shouldn’t have to think long before realizing just how unacceptable that is,” he said. “We know that from our history. So consequences must follow.”

Conceding ground in the face of a reinvigorated rebel offensive, Ukraine said Saturday that it was abandoning a city where its forces have been surrounded by rebels for days. Government forces were also pulling back from another it had claimed to have taken control of two weeks earlier.

The statements by Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the national security council, indicate that Ukrainian forces face increasingly strong resistance from Russian-backed separatist rebels just weeks after racking up significant gains and forcing rebels out of much of the territory they had held.

Poroshenko, meanwhile, said Ukraine would welcome an EU decision to help with military equipment and further intelligence-sharing.

The office of the Donetsk mayor reported in a statement that at least two people died in an artillery attack on one of Donetsk’s neighborhoods. Shelling was reported elsewhere in the city, but there was no immediate word on casualties.

In Brussels, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said “sanctions are not an end in themselves,” but a means to dissuade Russia from further destabilizing Ukraine.

“We may see a situation where we reach the point of no return,” Barroso warned. “If the escalation of the conflict continues, this point of no return can come.”

He provided no specifics about which sanctions the heads of state and government might adopt to inflict more economic pain to nudge Russia toward a political solution.

The U.S. and the EU have so far imposed sanctions against dozens of Russian officials, several companies and the country’s financial industry. Moscow has retaliated by banning food imports.

Grybauskaite said the EU should impose a full arms embargo, including the canceling of already agreed contracts. France has so far staunchly opposed that proposal because it has a $1.6 billion contract to build Mistral helicopter carriers for Russia.

New EU sanctions have to be agreed unanimously — a requirement that has in the past blocked or softened decisions since some nations fear the economic fallout. Russia is the EU’s No. 3 trading partner and one of its biggest oil and gas suppliers.

Barroso said that the EU — a bloc encompassing 500 million people and stretching from Lisbon to the border with Ukraine — stands ready to grant Kiev further financial assistance if needed. The bloc will also organize a donors’ conference to help rebuild the country’s east at the end of the year, he added.

Ukrainian forces had been surrounded by rebels in the town of Ilovaysk, about 15 miles east of the largest rebel-held city of Donetsk for days.

“We are surrendering this city,” Ukraine’s Lysenko told reporters. “Our task now is to evacuate our military with the least possible losses in order to regroup.”

Lysenko said that regular units of the military had been ordered to retreat from Novosvitlivka and Khryashchuvate, two towns on the main road between the Russian border and Luhansk, the second-largest rebel-held city. Ukraine had claimed control of Novosvitlivka earlier in August.

Separately, Ukrainian forces said one of their Su-25 fighter jets was shot down Friday over eastern Ukraine by a missile from a Russian missile launcher. The pilot ejected and was uninjured, the military said in a brief statement.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/08/30/russia-to-get-hit-with-new-eu-sanctions-over-ukraine/

JIHAD INFIGHTING Militants turn on each other to control global push

 

Syria’s bloody civil war has spawned a separate rift with ramifications well beyond the region known as the Levant — a battle for the very soul of the global jihad movement.

Islamic militants who poured into the embattled nation to help the Free Syrian Army in its bid to topple dictator Bashar Assad are now fighting Assad, the rebels and each other in a barbaric free-for-all. At the center is the split between Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the newly emerged Islamic State, which are fighting each other on the battlefield and in the war for recruits to the cause of Islamic terrorism.

“The two groups are now in an open war for supremacy of the global jihadist movement,” according to Middle East scholar Aaron Zelin in a research paper published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a U.S.-based think tank.

Throw in the jihadist-led insurgency in neighboring Iraq, which has become intertwined in the insurrection in Syria, and the shifting alliances are becoming for many even harder to understand.

“The two groups are now in an open war for supremacy of the global jihadist movement.”

- Aaron Zelin, Middle east scholar

Last week, Al-Nusra, struggling to stay relevant and recruit fighters, released a video featuring three of their fighters as they head off in northern Syria near the city of Aleppo to battle the Islamic State, which was disowned by Al Qaeda. The message was that they, not Islamic State, have the purer motives.

“We in the Al Nusra Front only fight to raise the word of Allah, to make the oppressed triumphant,” one fighter says. “We only fight to get rid of the enemy Bashar and his soldiers. We have come to fight them so that we can impose Allah’s laws on the country. We have not come to oppress people, steal from people, or take their property.”

Another fighter urges Islamic State fighters to defect and “return to the truth” by joining Al Nusra, which is aligned with several Islamist rebel militias in Syria and has been fighting against the Islamic State since last winter, when Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri disavowed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the boss of the upstart group then known as ISIS.

“Al Qaeda announces that it does not link itself with [ISIS] … It is not a branch of the Al Qaeda group, does not have an organizational relationship with it and [Al Qaeda] is not the group responsible for their actions,” the terror network’s General Command declared.

The pointed disavowal sparked mass defections from Al Baghdadi’s burgeoning operation. Jihadist and rebel groups eager to avenge ISIS assassinations of their comrades, took it as a sign it was open season on ISIS.

But Al Baghdadi, whose mentor was Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant who himself was rebuked in 2005 by Al Zawahiri for excessive extremism in Iraq, clawed back. The success Islamic State, as it is now known, has enjoyed since is testament to his leadership skills and strategic savvy of the jihadist veterans from Iraq and Chechnya who are at the core of ISIS. By forming alliances with Sunni tribes along the border and deep into Iraq, Al Baghdadi managed to magnify his power.

Some terror experts believe Al Zawahiri, Usama bin Laden’s successor as Al Qaeda chief, was too slow in identifying Al Baghdadi as a serious rival for leadership of the global jihad movement. Tensions had existed within the jihadist movement in Syria since April 2013, the year before the disavowal, and “core Al Qaeda failed to take a genuinely commanding line,” said Charles Lister, a terrorism expert with the think tank Brookings Doha Center.

Some analysts view the split as having been prompted by Al Qaeda’s leadership fear that Al Baghdadi was too cruel with his beheadings, beatings and whippings and imposition of religious Shariah law on territory his men controlled.

But the dispute is, in some ways, more of a generational difference and a vying for the loyalty of jihadists affiliates and offshoots around the world – a jostling that is fracturing the jihadist movement and represents the biggest challenge Al Qaeda has faced since U.S. Navy SEALs took out bin Laden.

Many of the younger generation of jihadists support the Al Baghdadi idea of seizing territory and carving out a jihadist caliphate. They want their own state and have tired of Al Qaeda’s traditional approach of gradualism.

Caliphate refers to a system of government stretching across most of the Middle East and Turkey that ended nearly a century ago with the fall of the Ottomans.

And Al Baghdadi has been smart in his marketing – outshining Al Nusra in the use of social media to recruit and message.

“Taken globally, the younger generation of the jihadist community is becoming more and more supportive, largely out of fealty to its slick and proven capacity for attaining rapid results through brutality,” Lister said.

Al Baghdadi’s announcement of a caliphate in the summer straddling the border of Syria and Iraq – he has ambitions to spread it all the way west to Lebanon — has increased his standing among jihadi groups worldwide and more foreign fighters are choosing to join him than Al Nusra.

Several important affiliates have sworn allegiance to ISIS, while many others are avoiding declaring their choice between al Baghdadi or Al Qaeda, preferring to hedge their bets and wait to see who comes out on top.

On the ground in Syria and Iraq, the top dog at the moment is ISIS. With the advanced weaponry it has captured from fleeing Iraqi forces and the money it looted from Iraq’s regional banks, it has taken over the group and has much to offer recruits.

But Islamic State’s expansion has brought new battlefronts that could stretch the terror group to the breaking point. In Iraq, where it has carried out horrific executions of Christians and other religious minorities, it now faces hardened Kurdish fighters, the Iraqi Army, U.S. airstrikes and a budding international coalition and even Iran.

All that comes even as Islamic State, estimated to include less than 20,000 fighters, continues to seize villages and kill enemies in Syria. If the well-funded upstart terror group hopes to stay on top of the global jihad movement, it will have to maintain its momentum.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/08/29/fighting-in-syria-spawns-separate-civil-war-in-global-jihadist-movement/

DEADLY CRASH Teen dies in Lamborghini test drive crash

lam2b.jpg

Aug. 29: A New York teen taking a test drive of a family friend’s Lamborghini has died after crashing the high-powered sports car into a guardrail.NEWSDAY

A New York teen taking a test drive of a family friend’s Lamborghini has died after crashing the high-powered sports car into a guardrail.

Police say 18-year-old Samuel Shepard was taking the car for a spin on a county road in Mount Sinai on Long Island early Friday when he lost control. The car’s owner, Michael Power, was a passenger in the car and was treated for nonlife-threatening injuries.

Det. Sgt. Michael Fitzharris told Newsday that excessive speed is believed to be a factor in the crash. Police told the paper that the two were heading back to a parking lot.

Of the test drive, Fitzharris said, “I think it was probably just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the kid, and this man chose to give him this opportunity.”

Shepard’s father, Gene, tells the newspaper that Lamborghinis were his son’s favorite car.

The report said Shepard had recently graduated from high school and hoped to serve in the Army for a few years and become a police officer.

“He knew exactly what he was going to do,” his father told the paper.

Photo by Newsday

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/30/new-york-teen-dies-taking-lamborghini-for-once-in-lifetime-test-drive/

NOT POLITICAL? Sen. Reid’s name yanked from alma mater building

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Friday, Aug. 29, 2014: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.AP

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s name had been removed from a Southern Utah University facility, following pressure from a conservative group to make the change.

The group received $40,000 over five days toward removing the Utah Democrat’s name from the school’s Outdoor Engagement Center.

University President Scott Wyatt acknowledged he was under pressure from a group of conservatives to remove Reid’s name but insisted that politics had nothing to do with his decision.

Reid’s name was removed last week from the front door of the facility, several months after two local elected officials and others met with Wyatt and told him about the campaign, Wyatt said.

He said he told the group to stop raising money and that the pledge money would not be accept to remove Reid’s name.

Wyatt said he removed Reid’s name because “nobody” associated the senator with the outdoors. 

The center rents outdoor equipment to students, offers internship programs for students seeking outdoor careers and coordinates project-based learning activities for students. Reid graduated from the school in 1959.

Wyatt also said the school’s 2011 naming of the center in Reid’s honor generated no donations to it from the senator’s friends as had been hoped. Reid graduated from the university in 1959.

“The decision has nothing to do with politics,” Wyatt told The Associated Press. “We’re a university. We’re full of Democrats and Republicans and Green Party members and Libertarians. We don’t make partisan calls with regard to our esteemed alumnus.

“The leading factor is the center’s leadership reported to me it created confusion. When people looked at the name, they didn’t understand the connection (between the center and Reid). It was just a little difficult.”

Reid issued a brief statement Friday.

“I was approached and asked to use my name and I was happy to, but there was no such agreement to have me raise funds for it,” he said. “I’m not going to raise money to have my name placed on anything.”

When the center was named for him, Reid touted his congressional record concerning public lands in Nevada, noting his role in the creation of Great Basin National Park, the designation of wilderness areas and an annual summit to protect Lake Tahoe.

At the time, he also criticized Utah’s attempts to wrest control of public lands from the federal government.

Cedar City Councilman Paul Cozzens and Iron County Commissioner Dave Miller praised Wyatt’s decision to remove Reid’s name. They were among the group of conservatives who met with him last spring.

“This is a conservative base in southern Utah, and many people in southern Nevada also feel the same way,” Cozzens told The Spectrum of St. George, Utah. “These people in Nevada do not espouse to Reid’s political philosophies, and they told me they would not support the university or send any more of their children there … so long as Harry Reid’s name remained.”

But Wyatt said plans call for a future center to be named for Reid on campus. The center’s purpose will depend on who donates and their interests.

“Absolutely, he’s one of our most distinguished alumnus,” Wyatt said. “He’s somebody we should all be proud of, regardless of politics … . It’s not Sen. Reid’s concern as to whether we raise money (for the new center). It’s ours.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/08/30/reid-name-removed-from-center-at-utah-university-from-which-graduated/

ECONOMICS 101 College offers students $10G bachelor’s program

 

Experts estimate the average college graduate will leave school after four years carrying more than $30,000 in debt, a figure that prompted Southern New Hampshire University to offer a much different price point- a $10,000 Bachelor of Arts degree through the school’s new College for America.

The program, created as a partnership with employers, is designed specifically for working people, with real life experience who, for one reason or another, never got a college degree. The curriculum is competency based, self-paced and student work is submitted largely online.

“One thing we know that can move people from their socio-economic position to something better is an education and that’s the goal. We’re trying to get more Americans across that finish line,” said Paul LeBlanc, President of SNHU. “The hurdles for many people are that they have incredibly busy lives- so they’re juggling work and family and kids and soccer practice and church and whatever else that sort of informs their calendar.”

Some 70 corporate partners nationwide have signed on since the program launched in October of last year and 1,000 students have enrolled.

“I immediately thought it was brilliant,” said Lisa Guertin, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire. She says her company jumped at the chance to join the pilot program.

Instead of traditional lectures and course work, College for America aims to ensure a student can complete certain tasks and master skills related to key areas needed in the working world.

“An employer knows that when someone finishes the degree they will have demonstrated mastery in 120 very specific areas that are immediately applied to the job,” said Guertin. “So in terms of a corporate return on investment, I feel like it’s even stronger than just paying for general college courses, which we were already doing, so this was a bit of a no-brainer.”

“There are a lot of adults who know things. They don’t need to sit through sixteen weeks of college math if they’ve been the book keeper in their family company or if they’ve been doing this work for a long time,” said LeBlanc. “Our notion is let’s get you credit for what you know and let’s find you speedy ways for you to demonstrate your competency and move on.”

Darby Conley, a 36-year-old working mom, was among the first to enter the program through Anthem.

“I have three young children. I was pregnant at the time. I was allowed to be as aggressive as I needed to be and I was also able to take some time off to be with my newborn and sometimes it can seem not attainable when you’re looking at a two-year stretch or a four-year stretch,” said Conley who was drawn to the program’s low cost and flexability. “I was in control and I really got to dictate what my experience was going to be like.”

She has already earned her associate’s degree through the College for America and is now working toward her bachelor’s degree, achievements that have gave her a greater sense of confidence.

“Society can make you feel that if you don’t have that degree, if you don’t have that plaque that’s up on your wall, that you’re not worthy and I would say that I took that to heart,” said Conley. “I wouldn’t apply for a job because it would say degree required, bachelor’s required and I would be hesitant because I didn’t have that even though I knew I was strong and I’d proven myself so that checked box has empowered me.”

Molly Line joined Fox News Channel as a Boston-based correspondent in January 2006.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/30/economics-degree-college-offers-10g-bachelor-program/

TEACHING FERGUSON Group’s lesson plan cites Black Panther platform

 

Even though the police shooting of an unarmed man in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is only weeks old and a grand jury is still trying sort out what really happened, a Washington-based nonprofit is offering a classroom lesson plan that draws a link between the incident and the revolutionary rhetoric of the 1960s Black Panther Party.

Teaching for Change says its “Teaching about Ferguson” guide can help students think critically about the shooting of Michael Brown in an Aug. 9 confrontation with police and ways they can be proactive in their own communities.

“The Black Panther Party’s 1966 platform, known as the 10-point program, included the demand: ‘We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people, other people of color, and all oppressed people inside the United States,’” the group’s Julian Hipkins III wrote.

“The issue of police brutality in communities of color has a long history and the Panther platform gives an example of how to turn grievances into a clear set of goals for meaningful change,” he said. The issue was first reported by education watchdog EAG News.

The shooting of Brown, 18, prompted several nights of angry protests near the spot where he was killed. Local police responded to those protests with tear gas, smoke canisters, and the use of surplus military equipment, including tanks. Some public officials and others called that response heavy-handed. Eventually, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called in the National Guard to restore order.

Brown was buried Monday after hundreds attended his funeral at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. A St. Louis County grand jury began reviewing evidence last week.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could take the grand jury until mid-October to hear all evidence.

“As the new school year begins, first and foremost on our minds and in our hearts will be the killing of Michael Brown,” Hipkins wrote. “Teachers may be faced with students’ anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, and questions. Some students will wonder how this could happen in the United States.”

Hipkins said his group’s lesson plan will introduce students to the history of the Black Panther movement and invite them to create their own list of demands. Huey Newton and other Panther leaders created the demands as the basis of the group’s radical, and sometimes violent, philosophy.

Hipkins and Teaching for Change included another topic for discussion in the lesson plan. It involved having students watch a video of Malcolm X accusing the United States of human rights violations against blacks and calling for a United Nations investigation.

“Indeed, the U.S. government is quick to condemn human rights violations in other countries, but does not expect to be accountable to the world for actions within its borders,” he wrote.

The lesson plan’s other areas of discussion include “History of Racism,” “Militarization of the Police” and “Student Fear and Resilience.”

Administrators for the public school system in Washington D.C. took a less controversial approach, distributing new guidance to teachers on how to talk about Ferguson in the classroom.

“While the facts of the case are still being sorted out by those in the criminal justice system, these events are teachable moments in classrooms across the District of Columbia Schools,” the school system said in a five-page teacher’s guide, “Preparing to Discuss Michael Brown in the Classroom.”

“If you are going to discuss the killing of Michael Brown, content questions might be: Who was Michael Brown? Where did he grow up? Why was he in Ferguson? These questions are important, but questions such as Why do you believe the police shot him? And how should communities react to this tragedy? Push students to make connections beyond one news story and lead to a more complex understanding of the situation,” DC Schools said.

While Washington schools weren’t shying away from the shooting, that wasn’t the case in Edwardsville, an Illinois school district 25 miles from Ferguson, . Teachers there were being told to avoid the subject altogether.

Superintended Ed Hightower told KMOX News that if students bring up the shooting in class, teachers have been told to change the subject.

Hightower told the station Ferguson wasn’t open for discussion because the shooting “has become a situation whereby there are so many facts that are unknown.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/30/ferguson-shooting-spurs-curriculum-advocates-to-craft-lesson-on-race/

ECONOMICS 101 College offers students $10G bachelor’s program

 

Experts estimate the average college graduate will leave school after four years carrying more than $30,000 in debt, a figure that prompted Southern New Hampshire University to offer a much different price point- a $10,000 Bachelor of Arts degree through the school’s new College for America.

The program, created as a partnership with employers, is designed specifically for working people, with real life experience who, for one reason or another, never got a college degree. The curriculum is competency based, self-paced and student work is submitted largely online.

“One thing we know that can move people from their socio-economic position to something better is an education and that’s the goal. We’re trying to get more Americans across that finish line,” said Paul LeBlanc, President of SNHU. “The hurdles for many people are that they have incredibly busy lives- so they’re juggling work and family and kids and soccer practice and church and whatever else that sort of informs their calendar.”

Some 70 corporate partners nationwide have signed on since the program launched in October of last year and 1,000 students have enrolled.

“I immediately thought it was brilliant,” said Lisa Guertin, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire. She says her company jumped at the chance to join the pilot program.

Instead of traditional lectures and course work, College for America aims to ensure a student can complete certain tasks and master skills related to key areas needed in the working world.

“An employer knows that when someone finishes the degree they will have demonstrated mastery in 120 very specific areas that are immediately applied to the job,” said Guertin. “So in terms of a corporate return on investment, I feel like it’s even stronger than just paying for general college courses, which we were already doing, so this was a bit of a no-brainer.”

“There are a lot of adults who know things. They don’t need to sit through sixteen weeks of college math if they’ve been the book keeper in their family company or if they’ve been doing this work for a long time,” said LeBlanc. “Our notion is let’s get you credit for what you know and let’s find you speedy ways for you to demonstrate your competency and move on.”

Darby Conley, a 36-year-old working mom, was among the first to enter the program through Anthem.

“I have three young children. I was pregnant at the time. I was allowed to be as aggressive as I needed to be and I was also able to take some time off to be with my newborn and sometimes it can seem not attainable when you’re looking at a two-year stretch or a four-year stretch,” said Conley who was drawn to the program’s low cost and flexability. “I was in control and I really got to dictate what my experience was going to be like.”

She has already earned her associate’s degree through the College for America and is now working toward her bachelor’s degree, achievements that have gave her a greater sense of confidence.

“Society can make you feel that if you don’t have that degree, if you don’t have that plaque that’s up on your wall, that you’re not worthy and I would say that I took that to heart,” said Conley. “I wouldn’t apply for a job because it would say degree required, bachelor’s required and I would be hesitant because I didn’t have that even though I knew I was strong and I’d proven myself so that checked box has empowered me.”

Molly Line joined Fox News Channel as a Boston-based correspondent in January 2006.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/30/economics-degree-college-offers-10g-bachelor-program/

TEACHING FERGUSON Group’s lesson plan cites Black Panther platform

 

Even though the police shooting of an unarmed man in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is only weeks old and a grand jury is still trying sort out what really happened, a Washington-based nonprofit is offering a classroom lesson plan that draws a link between the incident and the revolutionary rhetoric of the 1960s Black Panther Party.

Teaching for Change says its “Teaching about Ferguson” guide can help students think critically about the shooting of Michael Brown in an Aug. 9 confrontation with police and ways they can be proactive in their own communities.

“The Black Panther Party’s 1966 platform, known as the 10-point program, included the demand: ‘We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people, other people of color, and all oppressed people inside the United States,’” the group’s Julian Hipkins III wrote.

“The issue of police brutality in communities of color has a long history and the Panther platform gives an example of how to turn grievances into a clear set of goals for meaningful change,” he said. The issue was first reported by education watchdog EAG News.

The shooting of Brown, 18, prompted several nights of angry protests near the spot where he was killed. Local police responded to those protests with tear gas, smoke canisters, and the use of surplus military equipment, including tanks. Some public officials and others called that response heavy-handed. Eventually, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called in the National Guard to restore order.

Brown was buried Monday after hundreds attended his funeral at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. A St. Louis County grand jury began reviewing evidence last week.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could take the grand jury until mid-October to hear all evidence.

“As the new school year begins, first and foremost on our minds and in our hearts will be the killing of Michael Brown,” Hipkins wrote. “Teachers may be faced with students’ anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, and questions. Some students will wonder how this could happen in the United States.”

Hipkins said his group’s lesson plan will introduce students to the history of the Black Panther movement and invite them to create their own list of demands. Huey Newton and other Panther leaders created the demands as the basis of the group’s radical, and sometimes violent, philosophy.

Hipkins and Teaching for Change included another topic for discussion in the lesson plan. It involved having students watch a video of Malcolm X accusing the United States of human rights violations against blacks and calling for a United Nations investigation.

“Indeed, the U.S. government is quick to condemn human rights violations in other countries, but does not expect to be accountable to the world for actions within its borders,” he wrote.

The lesson plan’s other areas of discussion include “History of Racism,” “Militarization of the Police” and “Student Fear and Resilience.”

Administrators for the public school system in Washington D.C. took a less controversial approach, distributing new guidance to teachers on how to talk about Ferguson in the classroom.

“While the facts of the case are still being sorted out by those in the criminal justice system, these events are teachable moments in classrooms across the District of Columbia Schools,” the school system said in a five-page teacher’s guide, “Preparing to Discuss Michael Brown in the Classroom.”

“If you are going to discuss the killing of Michael Brown, content questions might be: Who was Michael Brown? Where did he grow up? Why was he in Ferguson? These questions are important, but questions such as Why do you believe the police shot him? And how should communities react to this tragedy? Push students to make connections beyond one news story and lead to a more complex understanding of the situation,” DC Schools said.

While Washington schools weren’t shying away from the shooting, that wasn’t the case in Edwardsville, an Illinois school district 25 miles from Ferguson, . Teachers there were being told to avoid the subject altogether.

Superintended Ed Hightower told KMOX News that if students bring up the shooting in class, teachers have been told to change the subject.

Hightower told the station Ferguson wasn’t open for discussion because the shooting “has become a situation whereby there are so many facts that are unknown.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/30/ferguson-shooting-spurs-curriculum-advocates-to-craft-lesson-on-race/

DEADLY CRASH Teen dies in ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ Lamborghini drive

lam2b.jpg

Aug. 29: A New York teen taking a test drive of a family friend’s Lamborghini has died after crashing the high-powered sports car into a guardrail.NEWSDAY

A New York teen taking a test drive of a family friend’s Lamborghini has died after crashing the high-powered sports car into a guardrail.

Police say 18-year-old Samuel Shepard was taking the car for a spin on a county road in Mount Sinai on Long Island early Friday when he lost control. The car’s owner, Michael Power, was a passenger in the car and was treated for nonlife-threatening injuries.

Det. Sgt. Michael Fitzharris told Newsday that excessive speed is believed to be a factor in the crash. Police told the paper that the two were heading back to a parking lot.

Of the test drive, Fitzharris said, “I think it was probably just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the kid, and this man chose to give him this opportunity.”

Shepard’s father, Gene, tells the newspaper that Lamborghinis were his son’s favorite car.

The report said Shepard had recently graduated from high school and hoped to serve in the Army for a few years and become a police officer.

“He knew exactly what he was going to do,” his father told the paper.

Photo by Newsday

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/30/new-york-teen-dies-taking-lamborghini-for-once-in-lifetime-test-drive/

‘A TOUGH TIME’ Comedian Morgan still struggling after fatal crash

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April 9, 2014: Actor Tracy Morgan attends the FX Networks Upfront premiere screening of “Fargo” at the SVA Theater in New York. (AP)

Nearly three months after being involved in an accident that left a fellow comedian dead, Tracy Morgan may be months away from being able to fully walk again.

Benedict P. Morelli, an attorney for the former “Saturday Night Live” star, said Morgan is “really having a tough time” following the six-car June 7 crash that killed comedian James McNair, The Star-Ledger reported. Morgan’s limo bus, in which McNair was traveling, was struck by a Wal-Mart truck.

Morelli said Morgan, who suffered a broken leg, nose and several ribs in the crash, still relies on a wheelchair.

“He’s making incremental progress,” Morelli said. “But they’ll have to wait another month before they assess him cognitively.”

The truck driver has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide and assault by auto.

Morgan accused Wal-Mart of negligence in a federal lawsuit.

Click here to read more from The Star-Ledger.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/08/30/comedian-tracy-morgan-still-struggling-after-crash/

Syria’s civil war turns into fight for control of global jihad movement

 

Syria’s bloody civil war has spawned a separate rift with ramifications well beyond the region known as the Levant — a battle for the very soul of the global jihad movement.

Islamic militants who poured into the embattled nation to help the Free Syrian Army in its bid to topple dictator Bashar Assad are now fighting Assad, the rebels and each other in a barbaric free-for-all. At the center is the split between Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the newly emerged Islamic State, which are fighting each other on the battlefield and in the war for recruits to the cause of Islamic terrorism.

“The two groups are now in an open war for supremacy of the global jihadist movement,” according to Middle East scholar Aaron Zelin in a research paper published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a U.S.-based think tank.

Throw in the jihadist-led insurgency in neighboring Iraq, which has become intertwined in the insurrection in Syria, and the shifting alliances are becoming for many even harder to understand.

“The two groups are now in an open war for supremacy of the global jihadist movement.”

- Aaron Zelin, Middle east scholar

Last week, Al-Nusra, struggling to stay relevant and recruit fighters, released a video featuring three of their fighters as they head off in northern Syria near the city of Aleppo to battle the Islamic State, which was disowned by Al Qaeda. The message was that they, not Islamic State, have the purer motives.

“We in the Al Nusra Front only fight to raise the word of Allah, to make the oppressed triumphant,” one fighter says. “We only fight to get rid of the enemy Bashar and his soldiers. We have come to fight them so that we can impose Allah’s laws on the country. We have not come to oppress people, steal from people, or take their property.”

Another fighter urges Islamic State fighters to defect and “return to the truth” by joining Al Nusra, which is aligned with several Islamist rebel militias in Syria and has been fighting against the Islamic State since last winter, when Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri disavowed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the boss of the upstart group then known as ISIS.

“Al Qaeda announces that it does not link itself with [ISIS] … It is not a branch of the Al Qaeda group, does not have an organizational relationship with it and [Al Qaeda] is not the group responsible for their actions,” the terror network’s General Command declared.

The pointed disavowal sparked mass defections from Al Baghdadi’s burgeoning operation. Jihadist and rebel groups eager to avenge ISIS assassinations of their comrades, took it as a sign it was open season on ISIS.

But Al Baghdadi, whose mentor was Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant who himself was rebuked in 2005 by Al Zawahiri for excessive extremism in Iraq, clawed back. The success Islamic State, as it is now known, has enjoyed since is testament to his leadership skills and strategic savvy of the jihadist veterans from Iraq and Chechnya who are at the core of ISIS. By forming alliances with Sunni tribes along the border and deep into Iraq, Al Baghdadi managed to magnify his power.

Some terror experts believe Al Zawahiri, Usama bin Laden’s successor as Al Qaeda chief, was too slow in identifying Al Baghdadi as a serious rival for leadership of the global jihad movement. Tensions had existed within the jihadist movement in Syria since April 2013, the year before the disavowal, and “core Al Qaeda failed to take a genuinely commanding line,” said Charles Lister, a terrorism expert with the think tank Brookings Doha Center.

Some analysts view the split as having been prompted by Al Qaeda’s leadership fear that Al Baghdadi was too cruel with his beheadings, beatings and whippings and imposition of religious Shariah law on territory his men controlled.

But the dispute is, in some ways, more of a generational difference and a vying for the loyalty of jihadists affiliates and offshoots around the world – a jostling that is fracturing the jihadist movement and represents the biggest challenge Al Qaeda has faced since U.S. Navy SEALs took out bin Laden.

Many of the younger generation of jihadists support the Al Baghdadi idea of seizing territory and carving out a jihadist caliphate. They want their own state and have tired of Al Qaeda’s traditional approach of gradualism.

Caliphate refers to a system of government stretching across most of the Middle East and Turkey that ended nearly a century ago with the fall of the Ottomans.

And Al Baghdadi has been smart in his marketing – outshining Al Nusra in the use of social media to recruit and message.

“Taken globally, the younger generation of the jihadist community is becoming more and more supportive, largely out of fealty to its slick and proven capacity for attaining rapid results through brutality,” Lister said.

Al Baghdadi’s announcement of a caliphate in the summer straddling the border of Syria and Iraq – he has ambitions to spread it all the way west to Lebanon — has increased his standing among jihadi groups worldwide and more foreign fighters are choosing to join him than Al Nusra.

Several important affiliates have sworn allegiance to ISIS, while many others are avoiding declaring their choice between al Baghdadi or Al Qaeda, preferring to hedge their bets and wait to see who comes out on top.

On the ground in Syria and Iraq, the top dog at the moment is ISIS. With the advanced weaponry it has captured from fleeing Iraqi forces and the money it looted from Iraq’s regional banks, it has taken over the group and has much to offer recruits.

But Islamic State’s expansion has brought new battlefronts that could stretch the terror group to the breaking point. In Iraq, where it has carried out horrific executions of Christians and other religious minorities, it now faces hardened Kurdish fighters, the Iraqi Army, U.S. airstrikes and a budding international coalition and even Iran.

All that comes even as Islamic State, estimated to include less than 20,000 fighters, continues to seize villages and kill enemies in Syria. If the well-funded upstart terror group hopes to stay on top of the global jihad movement, it will have to maintain its momentum.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/08/29/fighting-in-syria-spawns-separate-civil-war-in-global-jihadist-movement/

ECONOMICS 101 College offers students $10G bachelor’s program

 

Experts estimate the average college graduate will leave school after four years carrying more than $30,000 in debt, a figure that prompted Southern New Hampshire University to offer a much different price point- a $10,000 Bachelor of Arts degree through the school’s new College for America.

The program, created as a partnership with employers, is designed specifically for working people, with real life experience who, for one reason or another, never got a college degree. The curriculum is competency based, self-paced and student work is submitted largely online.

“One thing we know that can move people from their socio-economic position to something better is an education and that’s the goal. We’re trying to get more Americans across that finish line,” said Paul LeBlanc, President of SNHU. “The hurdles for many people are that they have incredibly busy lives- so they’re juggling work and family and kids and soccer practice and church and whatever else that sort of informs their calendar.”

Some 70 corporate partners nationwide have signed on since the program launched in October of last year and 1,000 students have enrolled.

“I immediately thought it was brilliant,” said Lisa Guertin, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire. She says her company jumped at the chance to join the pilot program.

Instead of traditional lectures and course work, College for America aims to ensure a student can complete certain tasks and master skills related to key areas needed in the working world.

“An employer knows that when someone finishes the degree they will have demonstrated mastery in 120 very specific areas that are immediately applied to the job,” said Guertin. “So in terms of a corporate return on investment, I feel like it’s even stronger than just paying for general college courses, which we were already doing, so this was a bit of a no-brainer.”

“There are a lot of adults who know things. They don’t need to sit through sixteen weeks of college math if they’ve been the book keeper in their family company or if they’ve been doing this work for a long time,” said LeBlanc. “Our notion is let’s get you credit for what you know and let’s find you speedy ways for you to demonstrate your competency and move on.”

Darby Conley, a 36-year-old working mom, was among the first to enter the program through Anthem.

“I have three young children. I was pregnant at the time. I was allowed to be as aggressive as I needed to be and I was also able to take some time off to be with my newborn and sometimes it can seem not attainable when you’re looking at a two-year stretch or a four-year stretch,” said Conley who was drawn to the program’s low cost and flexability. “I was in control and I really got to dictate what my experience was going to be like.”

She has already earned her associate’s degree through the College for America and is now working toward her bachelor’s degree, achievements that have gave her a greater sense of confidence.

“Society can make you feel that if you don’t have that degree, if you don’t have that plaque that’s up on your wall, that you’re not worthy and I would say that I took that to heart,” said Conley. “I wouldn’t apply for a job because it would say degree required, bachelor’s required and I would be hesitant because I didn’t have that even though I knew I was strong and I’d proven myself so that checked box has empowered me.”

Molly Line joined Fox News Channel as a Boston-based correspondent in January 2006.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/30/economics-degree-college-offers-10g-bachelor-program/

TEACHING FERGUSON Group’s lesson plan cites Black Panther platform

 

Even though the police shooting of an unarmed man in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is only weeks old and a grand jury is still trying sort out what really happened, a Washington-based nonprofit is offering a classroom lesson plan that draws a link between the incident and the revolutionary rhetoric of the 1960s Black Panther Party.

Teaching for Change says its “Teaching about Ferguson” guide can help students think critically about the shooting of Michael Brown in an Aug. 9 confrontation with police and ways they can be proactive in their own communities.

“The Black Panther Party’s 1966 platform, known as the 10-point program, included the demand: ‘We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people, other people of color, and all oppressed people inside the United States,’” the group’s Julian Hipkins III wrote.

“The issue of police brutality in communities of color has a long history and the Panther platform gives an example of how to turn grievances into a clear set of goals for meaningful change,” he said. The issue was first reported by education watchdog EAG News.

The shooting of Brown, 18, prompted several nights of angry protests near the spot where he was killed. Local police responded to those protests with tear gas, smoke canisters, and the use of surplus military equipment, including tanks. Some public officials and others called that response heavy-handed. Eventually, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called in the National Guard to restore order.

Brown was buried Monday after hundreds attended his funeral at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. A St. Louis County grand jury began reviewing evidence last week.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could take the grand jury until mid-October to hear all evidence.

“As the new school year begins, first and foremost on our minds and in our hearts will be the killing of Michael Brown,” Hipkins wrote. “Teachers may be faced with students’ anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, and questions. Some students will wonder how this could happen in the United States.”

Hipkins said his group’s lesson plan will introduce students to the history of the Black Panther movement and invite them to create their own list of demands. Huey Newton and other Panther leaders created the demands as the basis of the group’s radical, and sometimes violent, philosophy.

Hipkins and Teaching for Change included another topic for discussion in the lesson plan. It involved having students watch a video of Malcolm X accusing the United States of human rights violations against blacks and calling for a United Nations investigation.

“Indeed, the U.S. government is quick to condemn human rights violations in other countries, but does not expect to be accountable to the world for actions within its borders,” he wrote.

The lesson plan’s other areas of discussion include “History of Racism,” “Militarization of the Police” and “Student Fear and Resilience.”

Administrators for the public school system in Washington D.C. took a less controversial approach, distributing new guidance to teachers on how to talk about Ferguson in the classroom.

“While the facts of the case are still being sorted out by those in the criminal justice system, these events are teachable moments in classrooms across the District of Columbia Schools,” the school system said in a five-page teacher’s guide, “Preparing to Discuss Michael Brown in the Classroom.”

“If you are going to discuss the killing of Michael Brown, content questions might be: Who was Michael Brown? Where did he grow up? Why was he in Ferguson? These questions are important, but questions such as Why do you believe the police shot him? And how should communities react to this tragedy? Push students to make connections beyond one news story and lead to a more complex understanding of the situation,” DC Schools said.

While Washington schools weren’t shying away from the shooting, that wasn’t the case in Edwardsville, an Illinois school district 25 miles from Ferguson, . Teachers there were being told to avoid the subject altogether.

Superintended Ed Hightower told KMOX News that if students bring up the shooting in class, teachers have been told to change the subject.

Hightower told the station Ferguson wasn’t open for discussion because the shooting “has become a situation whereby there are so many facts that are unknown.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/30/ferguson-shooting-spurs-curriculum-advocates-to-craft-lesson-on-race/

Ukraine: Fighter jet shot down by missile

KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainian forces say one of their fighter jets has been shot down by a Russian missile in combat against Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

A brief statement posted Saturday on the Facebook page for the so-called operation against separatists said the Su-25 was hit on Friday, and that the pilot ejected and was uninjured. The statement said the plane was hit by a missile from a Russian launcher, but did not give more detail.

NATO estimates that at least 1,000 Russian soldiers are in Ukraine and Kiev claimed this week that Russian tanks and armored vehicles entered the country as rebels open a new front along the Azov Sea coast. Russia consistently denies both that its forces are in Ukraine and allegations that it is supplying the rebels.

Until this week, the fighting had been concentrated well inland. But rebels this week took control of the town of Novoazovsk with the apparent aim of pushing further west along the coast which connects Russia to the Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

The expansion of the four-month-old conflict raised strong calls by the West for Russia to back off its involvement in Ukraine.

Several European Union foreign ministers on Friday accused Russia of invading eastern Ukraine and said Moscow should be punished with additional economic sanctions.

“We see regular Russian army units operating offensively on the Ukrainian territory against the Ukrainian army,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. “We must call a spade a spade.”

The foreign ministers were set to propose new sanctions against Russia for consideration at a summit of the bloc’s 28 heads of state on Saturday in Brussels.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the West had better not “mess with us,” adding that no one should forget that Russia is a leading nuclear power, CBS Radio News reporter Larry Miller reports from London.

All options except military action will be considered to punish Russia for pursuing “the wrong path,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said.

In an apparent bid for more support and tougher action against Russia, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will address the summit on Saturday. He will also meet with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and summit Chairman Herman Van Rompuy in Brussels a few hours before the summit.

Fighting between Ukrainian military forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine has already claimed at least 2,200 lives, according to U.N. figures.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/kMA90fNzq4w/

"Yes means yes" law aims to reduce sexual assaults when "no" isn’t enough

Last Updated Aug 29, 2014 10:15 PM EDT

A presidential task force found that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during college.

The government is investigating how dozens of schools handle sexual assault complaints.

Now, the California legislature has sent the governor the first law of its kind designed to reduce assaults.

It’s called the “yes means yes” law.

University of California, Los Angeles senior Savanah Badalich is an advocate for the proposed law. She says she learned “no” is not enough when she was raped by a fellow student.

“I had said ‘no’ numerous times. But after a while, I just stopped saying anything at all,” said Badalich. “I don’t think had I said no nine times versus the eight times that I did, it would have made a difference, so I just stopped talking. And that could technically be used against me without this affirmative consent bill.”

The California bill is unique because it requires “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” before students have sex. The legislation also says a “lack of resistance or silence cannot be interpreted as a yes.”

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Ultimately, whether it’s “yes means yes” or “no means no,” it’s still going to be a he said-she said. Badalich said that’s always going to be a concern, “but what I can say is, if a survivor goes into a hearing committee and says ‘I was so scared I didn’t say anything at all,’ before affirmative consent, that means that you could have been consenting.”

If the measure passes, it would apply to California colleges and universities receiving state financial aid.

Steve Meister, a defense attorney specializing in sexual assault cases, thinks the proposed law is confusing and will make little difference.

“The more chances you give a sexual assault victim to talk and tell her story in different ways to different people, the more you create problems for the prosecutor and opportunities for the defense and that’s what this bill does,” said Meister.

Advocates say the bill would provide a “consistent standard” that isn’t currently in place. And California colleges will also have to improve their assault prevention programs.

Source Article from http://feeds.cbsnews.com/~r/CBSNewsMain/~3/DgzH33cMiGI/

WHERE DOES QATAR STAND? Experts say nation supporting terror

 

If the Middle East were one big room, Qatar would be the elephant, according to a growing number of regional experts who believe the oil rich emirate is propping up violent jihadists around the globe even as it poses as a U.S. ally and would-be broker of peace.

Israel has long complained of Qatar’s alleged duplicity, accusing it of meddling, bankrolling Hamas in Gaza, exporting radical Islamic terrorism through its tight links to the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Nusra. And a German official recently suggested that Qatar may also play a role in funding Islamic State, the savage extremist group behind the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley.

“You have to ask who is arming, who is financing ISIS troops? The key word there is Qatar – and how do we deal with these people and states politically?” German Development Minister Gerd Muller said last week.

In response, Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah unequivocally denied funding the Islamic State group.

“Qatar does not support extremist groups, including ISIS, in any way,” he said in an emailed statement. “We are repelled by their views, their violent methods and their ambitions. The vision of extremist groups for the region is one that we have not, nor will ever, support in any way.”

Indeed, Qatar was one of the first Middle Eastern countries to condemn Foley’s murder, saying it was “a heinous crime that goes against all Islamic and humanitarian principles, as well as international laws and conventions.”

Qatar hosts a U.S. military base, helped broker U.S.-backed peace talks between Israel and Hamas, helped free U.S. journalist Peter Theo Curtis from Al Nusra earlier this week and even played a role in the U.S. swap of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees earlier this year.

Yet previous statements from U.S. officials indicate that they know Qatar has a multi-faceted role in the region.

“Qatar, a longtime U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability,” Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen told the Center for New American Security on “Confronting New Threats in Terrorist Financing” in March. “Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria. To say the least, this threatens to aggravate an already volatile situation in a particularly dangerous and unwelcome manner.”

Qatar is a U.S. “frenemy,” according to Jonathan Schanzer, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. On one hand, it hosts the biggest U.S. military base in the Middle East at Al Udeid; invests tens of billions of dollars in the U.S and across the globe in a bid to make itself indispensable and acts as the ‘white knight’ intermediary in hostage negotiations.

On the other hand, Qatar is arming and funding Hamas in Gaza, brazenly fueling violent Arab uprisings including the brief and bloody reign in Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood and is long alleged to be arming vicious rebel groups in Libya, Mali, Syria, Iraq, and Tunisia.

“Qatar is trying to cozy up to everyone,” Meir Dagan, former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, warned the U.S. in a 2010 cable revealed by Wikileaks. “I think that you should remove your bases from [Qatar]. [The Qataris] owe their security to the presence of the Americans.”

Noting that Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have all recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, called for Qatar to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.

“If we can get that done, then we can stop [the sale of U.S.] defense equipment and arms to Qatar.,” Klein said. “There is an $11 billion deal to Qatar right now to sell them Apache helicopters, Patriot missiles, anti-tank rockets and such. This [designation] would enable both Israeli and Arab victims of Hamas attacks to sue Qatar in the United States.”

Klein is also working to try to suspend the FAA license for Qatar government-owned airline Qatar Airways to operate in the United States, but admits that getting enough U.S. politicians to speak out is a challenge.

Qatar’s policy of involving itself in so many different spheres on the world stage might finally be catching up with the tiny Gulf state that has a native population of just 250,000. The more Qatar seeks the limelight, the more scrutiny it attracts, and a growing number of informed observers around the world appear to increasingly believe that Qatar’s two-faced foreign policy posture is being exposed.

“There are simply too many links, this network is too great, for us to pretend these are isolated instances of misguided individuals operating independently of government policy; or that this is merely part of talking to all sides in an argument,” Martin Samuel of Britain’s Daily Mail noted earlier this year. “Qatar has systematic and long-standing associations with some extremely dangerous people and information to support these allegations are established and in the public domain.”

Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist. Follow him on Twitter @paul_alster and visit his website: www.paulalster.com

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/08/30/qatar-role-as-us-ally-at-odds-with-claims-it-sponsors-terror/

TEACHING FERGUSON Group’s lesson plan cites Black Panther platform

 

Even though the police shooting of an unarmed man in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is only weeks old and a grand jury is still trying sort out what really happened, a Washington-based nonprofit is offering a classroom lesson plan that draws a link between the incident and the revolutionary rhetoric of the 1960s Black Panther Party.

Teaching for Change says its “Teaching about Ferguson” guide can help students think critically about the shooting of Michael Brown in an Aug. 9 confrontation with police and ways they can be proactive in their own communities.

“The Black Panther Party’s 1966 platform, known as the 10-point program, included the demand: ‘We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people, other people of color, and all oppressed people inside the United States,’” the group’s Julian Hipkins III wrote.

“The issue of police brutality in communities of color has a long history and the Panther platform gives an example of how to turn grievances into a clear set of goals for meaningful change,” he said. The issue was first reported by education watchdog EAG News.

The shooting of Brown, 18, prompted several nights of angry protests near the spot where he was killed. Local police responded to those protests with tear gas, smoke canisters, and the use of surplus military equipment, including tanks. Some public officials and others called that response heavy-handed. Eventually, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called in the National Guard to restore order.

Brown was buried Monday after hundreds attended his funeral at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. A St. Louis County grand jury began reviewing evidence last week.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch said it could take the grand jury until mid-October to hear all evidence.

“As the new school year begins, first and foremost on our minds and in our hearts will be the killing of Michael Brown,” Hipkins wrote. “Teachers may be faced with students’ anger, frustration, sadness, confusion, and questions. Some students will wonder how this could happen in the United States.”

Hipkins said his group’s lesson plan will introduce students to the history of the Black Panther movement and invite them to create their own list of demands. Huey Newton and other Panther leaders created the demands as the basis of the group’s radical, and sometimes violent, philosophy.

Hipkins and Teaching for Change included another topic for discussion in the lesson plan. It involved having students watch a video of Malcolm X accusing the United States of human rights violations against blacks and calling for a United Nations investigation.

“Indeed, the U.S. government is quick to condemn human rights violations in other countries, but does not expect to be accountable to the world for actions within its borders,” he wrote.

The lesson plan’s other areas of discussion include “History of Racism,” “Militarization of the Police” and “Student Fear and Resilience.”

Administrators for the public school system in Washington D.C. took a less controversial approach, distributing new guidance to teachers on how to talk about Ferguson in the classroom.

“While the facts of the case are still being sorted out by those in the criminal justice system, these events are teachable moments in classrooms across the District of Columbia Schools,” the school system said in a five-page teacher’s guide, “Preparing to Discuss Michael Brown in the Classroom.”

“If you are going to discuss the killing of Michael Brown, content questions might be: Who was Michael Brown? Where did he grow up? Why was he in Ferguson? These questions are important, but questions such as Why do you believe the police shot him? And how should communities react to this tragedy? Push students to make connections beyond one news story and lead to a more complex understanding of the situation,” DC Schools said.

While Washington schools weren’t shying away from the shooting, that wasn’t the case in Edwardsville, an Illinois school district 25 miles from Ferguson, . Teachers there were being told to avoid the subject altogether.

Superintended Ed Hightower told KMOX News that if students bring up the shooting in class, teachers have been told to change the subject.

Hightower told the station Ferguson wasn’t open for discussion because the shooting “has become a situation whereby there are so many facts that are unknown.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/30/ferguson-shooting-spurs-curriculum-advocates-to-craft-lesson-on-race/

BRAVE NEW WORLD Microchip implants could become part of human life

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REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

You can inject one under your skin and no one will ever notice. Using short-range radio frequency identification (RFID) signals, it can transmit your identity as you pass through a security checkpoint or walk into a football stadium. It can help you buy groceries at Wal-Mart. In a worst-case scenario – if you are kidnapped in a foreign country, for example – it could save your life.

Microchip implants like the ones pet owners use to track their dogs and cats could become commonplace in humans in the next decade. Experts are divided on whether they’re appropriate for people, but the implants could offer several advantages. For soldiers and journalists in war zones, an implant could be the difference between life and death. A tracker could also help law enforcement quickly locate a kidnapped child.

“In the long run, chip implants could make it less intrusive than some emerging ID systems which rely on physical biometrics (like your fingerprints or unique eye pattern),” says Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of the book “Distraction Addiction” and visiting scholar at Stanford’s University’s Peace Innovation Lab.

“This should be a matter of individual choice, but fighting crime should be much easier using chips,” adds sci-fi author Larry Niven, who predicted chip implants in the ’70s. Niven said he supports chip implantation for security reasons, provided it is an opt-in measure.

Ramez Naam, who led the early development of Microsoft software projects and is now a popular speaker and author, said he envisions using chip implantation to help monitor the location of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

They could be used to track the activities of felons who have been released from prison.

Chips are being used today to manage farm animals. Farmers can track sheep, pigs and horses as they move through a gate, weigh them instantly and make sure they are eating properly.

“Those same chips have found their way into RFID devices to activate the gas pump from a key ring and for anti-theft devices in cars,” said Stu Lipoff, an electrical engineer and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers spokesman.

“There have been people who volunteered to use them for opening the door of an apartment as a personalized ID using your arm. It could be used to track criminals targeted for patrol who might wander into a restricted area.”

Possible uses in the future

Implants are normally useful only at short ranges – as you walk through a portal or close to a transponder. So using chip implants to track people would require an infrastructure of transponders scattered around a city that read their identity in public buildings and street corners, Lipoff said.

But consider the possibilities:  People could unlock their homes or cars, gain access to a building, pass through an airport and even unlock their laptops without using a phone or watch. A pin code could be used to activate the chip – or to deactivate it to maintain privacy. 

They are easy to install and remove, and, because they are implanted under the skin, they are unobtrusive. The chips, which could be the size of a thumbnail, could be injected into an arm or a hand.

If children were chipped, teachers could take attendance in the classroom. Lipoff said that GPS would not work because skin would block the signal, although new Near Field Communication chips like those in current smartphones could work because of their low-power requirement. However, no-one has yet tried to implant NFC chips.

Police could track cars and read data without needing to scan license plates. At a hospital, administrators could locate a doctor without having to rely on a pager. And if you walked into a donut shop, the owner could read your taste preferences (glazed or not glazed) without needing a loyalty card.

But is it ethical?

Like any tech advancement, there are downsides. Concerns about the wrong people accessing personal information and tracking you via the chips have swirled since the FDA approved the first implantable microchip in 2004.

Naam and Pang both cited potential abuses, from hacking into the infrastructure and stealing your identity to invading your privacy and knowing your driving habits. There are questions about how long a felon would have to use a tracking implant. And, an implant, which has to be small and not use battery power — might not be as secure as a heavily encrypted smartphone.

Troy Dunn, who attempts to locate missing persons on his TNT show “APB with Troy Dunn,” said a chip implant would make his job easier, but he is strongly against the practice for most people. “I only support GPS chip monitoring for convicted felons while in prison and on parole; for sex offenders forever; and for children if parents opt in,” he says. “I am adamantly against the chipping of anyone else.”

Using chip implants to locate abducted children could actually have the opposite effect. Pang says a microchip would make a missing person easier to rescue, but “Kidnappers want ransoms, not dead bodies. The most dangerous time for victims is during rescue attempts or when the kidnappers think the police are closing in.”

And beyond the obvious privacy issues, there’s something strange about injecting a chip in your body, Lipoff says. Yet pacemakers and other embedded devices are commonly used today. “People might find it a bit unsavory, but if it is not used to track you, and apart from the privacy issues, there are many interesting applications,” he says.

At least it’s better than having a barcode stitched onto our foreheads.

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2014/08/30/is-there-microchip-implant-in-your-future/

‘A TOUGH TIME’ Comedian Morgan still struggling after fatal crash

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April 9, 2014: Actor Tracy Morgan attends the FX Networks Upfront premiere screening of “Fargo” at the SVA Theater in New York. (AP)

Nearly three months after being involved in an accident that left a fellow comedian dead, Tracy Morgan may be months away from being able to fully walk again.

Benedict P. Morelli, an attorney for the former “Saturday Night Live” star, said Morgan is “really having a tough time” following the six-car June 7 crash that killed comedian James McNair, The Star-Ledger reported. Morgan’s limo bus, in which McNair was traveling, was struck by a Wal-Mart truck.

Morelli said Morgan, who suffered a broken leg, nose and several ribs in the crash, still relies on a wheelchair.

“He’s making incremental progress,” Morelli said. “But they’ll have to wait another month before they assess him cognitively.”

The truck driver has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide and assault by auto.

Morgan accused Wal-Mart of negligence in a federal lawsuit.

Click here to read more from The Star-Ledger.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/08/30/comedian-tracy-morgan-still-struggling-after-crash/

Surge of illegal immigrant children poses challenge for school districts

 

What was a crisis on America’s southern border is now turning into a major challenge for school administrators across the country. 

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors have crossed into the U.S. in recent months, and those not being held in health department-run facilities have in many cases been sent to live with sponsors, who are typically extended family members. As the new school year begins, the children, who in many cases don’t speak English and have limited reading skills, are showing up for class. 

This has raised questions in local districts about the strain it could put on teachers. 

“They may have only gone to 2nd or 3rd grade, have limited literacy in their first language. That does create a different kind of teaching impact on a school than our traditional immigrant families,” Anne Arundel County, Md., administrator Kelly Reider told Fox affiliate WBFF. 

Other officials, including the mayor of Lynn, Mass., have traveled to Washington seeking answers from the Obama administration. 

“I love the fact that Lynn is a diverse community,” Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy said. “By speaking out about this, I have been called a racist, I have been called a hater. That is not the case. I’m simply looking at this from the point of view of the economic impact it has had on my city.” 

Her community in Essex County has recently taken in 204 of the unaccompanied children, many of whom presumably would be entering school. 

New York’s Nassau County, on Long Island, has taken in 1,096 of these children. 

And the Houston-area Harris County in Texas has received 2,866, according to numbers provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has complained that Obama Cabinet members promised to keep state officials in the loop, yet he says Louisiana received no warning of the influx. 

“In my state, the Obama administration sent over a thousand children without telling us, without telling social services, without telling the schools,” Jindal said on “The Laura Ingraham Show.” 

Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill claim the administration has gotten lax when it comes to even verifying the backgrounds of young illegal immigrants trying to stay. 

“I really think that 95 percent of these illegal minors are in the country to stay. The administration is not serious about sending them back home to their families they left behind,” Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith told Fox News. “They’re going to be enrolled in our schools, that’s for certainty, and that’s going to be an additional strain on the resources there.” 

He alleged the administration “is not double-checking to make sure that what we’re being told is accurate.” 

Separately, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Friday wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson expressing concerns about what they believe is a fraud loophole. 

The lawmakers say immigration officials are not verifying documentation that is presented to them as part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (or DACA), which gives a reprieve to some young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and generally applies to those who were already in the country. 

They said the administration effectively has made it optional for officials to verify certain information given by applicants. 

President Obama, though, told reporters the numbers right now at the border are trending in the right direction. “The number of apprehensions in August are down from July, and they’re actually lower than they were August of last year. Apprehensions in July were half of what they were in June,” Obama said. 

But Smith says the problem hasn’t been solved, and he expects more surges at the border. 

“There is a downturn with all categories of illegal immigrants in the summer. It’s the hottest month, it’s probably the most dangerous time to cross hundreds of miles of desert, and so this is not unusual,” Smith said. “I do think there will be an uptick again.”

Mike Emanuel currently serves as chief congressional correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined FNC in 1997 as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/08/30/crisis-in-classroom-surge-illegal-immigrant-kids-poses-challenge-for-schools/

COMBATING ISIS DHS looks at new ways to intercept foreign fighters

 

The Department of Homeland Security said Friday that officials are considering “additional security measures” to intercept foreign fighters who have joined up with radical militants overseas, on the heels of reports that two Americans have died fighting for the Islamic State in Syria.

The development comes as the British government raises its threat level to “severe” amid the crisis in the Middle East. The White House said Friday there are “no plans” to follow suit in Washington; DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said his department and the FBI are not aware of any “specific, credible threat” to the U.S. homeland from the Islamic State.

However, Johnson said the government is “deeply concerned” about the situation in Iraq and Syria and is considering additional precautions – presumably regarding westerners fighting with ISIS who would try to return home.  

“We are contemplating additional security measures concerning foreign fighters,” he announced.  

Without getting into specifics, Johnson said “some of the security measures will be visible to the public and some understandably will be unseen.”

He noted DHS already has taken a “number of steps” to boost security at overseas airports with direct flights to the U.S., as well as steps to “track foreign fighters who travel in and out of Syria.”

Comments from Washington and London on Friday reflected growing concern about the possibility of terror being exported from the battlefields in Syria and Iraq.

President Obama continues to review options for addressing the threat, including the possibility of expanding airstrikes in Syria. The president, though, said Thursday that “we don’t have a strategy yet” for Syria and indicated there would be no imminent decision on a plan.

Republican critics hammered the president for the remarks, saying a strategy is needed soon to “finish them off.”

Across the Atlantic, British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke in dire and tough terms as he raised the U.K. terror threat level.

“We cannot appease this ideology; we have to confront it at home and abroad,” he said.

Cameron voiced specific concern about the threat posed by foreign fighters in the Middle East. He said at least 500 people are believed to have traveled from Britain to fight in Syria and possibly Iraq.  

Though fewer Americans are believed to have joined the fight in the Middle East, the White House said Friday the government will be “vigilant” about the threat posed by foreign fighters with western passports considering returning to the West to stage attacks.

In recent days, two Americans were reported to have been killed fighting for ISIS in Syria. One was from Minneapolis; the other, from San Diego. 

Citing those cases, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday asking whether lethal force can be used against Americans who join terrorist organizations in Syria and elsewhere. 

“We believe that, consistent with the Law of War, the United States may use lethal force against or detain as an unprivileged enemy belligerent any citizen … who collaborates with or joins terrorist groups like ISIL,” the letter said.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/08/30/dhs-considering-new-security-measures-to-intercept-foreign-fighters-returning/