Cameron asks for tough anti-terrorism laws to defeat ‘scourge of extremism’

 

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday proposed sweeping legislation to combat the “scourge of extremism,” amid the fast and powerful rise of the extremist group Islamic State.

Cameron officially asked the House of Commons to agree to several temporary measures he proposed late last week, including the power to seize passports of suspected British jihadists leaving the country and controlling where they can move within the country.

“As I’ve said all along, this is not a knee-jerk response or sweeping, blanket changes that would be ineffective,” he said. “It’s not about just new powers, but about how we tackle extremism in all forms. … We will in the end defeat this extremism.”

In addition to laying out measures to defeat terrorism, Cameron also addressed the situations in Ukraine and Israel’s Gaza Strip.

Offering what he called “a tough and patient approach,” Cameron said Britain must fill two key gaps to thwarting religious extremists like the Islamic State, whose members are responsible for the murder of American journalist James Foley. 

He said his proposed legislation would give police officers temporary power to seize passports at the border. Secondly, he said it was key that Britain work to keep out foreign fighters who return from the Middle East and pose a threat to the nation, which recently upgraded its terror alert from substantial to severe.

Cameron said that Britain must prevent those suspected of extremism from traveling out of the country. 

“Passports are not an automatic right,” he told his colleagues. He said to date, 500 people from the UK have left the country to fight in Iraq and Syria; 700 have left France to fight and Germany has seen 400 people exit to join religious extremists.

Cameron is asking for the changes essentially to prevent attacks on Britain by Islamist militants coming and going for terror training in the Middle East.

His get-tough proposals come amid calls in the United States for President Obama to announce a comprehensive plan to combat Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, which started in Syria and has now taken control of much of northern Iraq. The group late last month released a video of a fighter — suspected to be a British rapper — beheading Foley.

The other proposals made by Cameron are to tighten aviation security by demanding airlines submit passenger flight lists, or not be allowed to land, and to exclude British nationals from return to Britain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/britain-cameron-asks-for-tough-anti-terrorism-laws-prevent-attacks-by-islamic/

US ‘ONLY HOPE’ Americans held in N. Korea call situation ‘urgent’

  • Baepix1.jpg

    Kenneth Bae, an American tour guide and missionary serving a 15-year sentence, detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix2.jpg

    Jeffrey Fowle, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix3.jpg

    Mathew Miller, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

North Korea gave foreign media access on Monday to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and — watched by officials as they spoke — called for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom.

Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month. But they said they do not know what punishment they could face or what the specific charges against them are. Kenneth Bae, who already is serving a 15-year term, said his health has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day.

The three were allowed to speak briefly with The Associated Press at a meeting center in Pyongyang. North Korean officials were present during the interviews, conducted separately and in different rooms, but did not censor the questions that were asked. The three said they did not know they were going to be interviewed until immediately beforehand.

All said they believe the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal.

That has often been North Korea’s bargaining chip in the past, when senior statesmen including former President Bill Clinton made trips to Pyongyang to secure the release of detainees.

“I’m desperate to get back to them.”

- Kenneth Bae, US missionary being held in North Korea

North Korea says Fowle and Miller committed hostile acts which violated their status as tourists. It has announced that authorities are preparing for the trial, but has not announced the date.

Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle, 56, lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, where he works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children aged 9, 10, and 12.

“Within a month I could be sharing a jail cell with Ken Bae,” he said, adding that he hasn’t spoken with his family for three weeks. “I’m desperate to get back to them.”

North Korea says Miller, 24, entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. Miller refused to comment on whether he was seeking asylum.

Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American missionary, has been held since November 2012. He was moved from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss but last month was sent back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labor. He said he has lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and has severe back pain, along with a sleep disorder. His family has said his health problems include diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.

“The only hope that I have is to have someone from the U.S. come,” he said. “But so far, the latest I’ve heard is that there has been no response yet. So I believe that officials here are waiting for that.”

Bae said he did not realize before the trial that he was violating North Korean law, but refused to go into details.

He said the lead up to his trial lasted about four months, but the trial itself only took about an hour. He said he elected not to have a defense attorney because “at that point there was no sense of me to get a lawyer because the only chance I had was to ask for mercy.”

“It was very quick,” he said.

The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send its envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to Pyongyang to seek a pardon for Bae and other U.S. detainees, but without success. Washington has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and no embassy in Pyongyang. Instead, the Swedish Embassy takes responsibility for U.S. consular affairs.

Fowle and Miller said they have met with the Swedish ambassador and have been allowed to make phone calls to their relatives.

Though a small number of U.S. citizens visit North Korea each year as tourists, the State Department strongly advises against it. After Miller’s detention, Washington updated its travel warning to note that over the past 18 months, “North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours.”

North Korea has been strongly pushing tourism lately in an effort to bring in foreign cash. But despite its efforts it remains highly sensitive to any actions it considers political and is particularly wary of anything it deems to be Christian proselytizing.

In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity after he apologized and requested forgiveness.

 

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/01/american-tourists-detained-in-north-korea-expect-trial-soon-bae-says-health/

Obama criticized by Dem as being ‘too cautious’ in ISIS approach

 

The leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees criticized President Obama on Sunday for failing to decide yet on whether to hit Islamic State targets in Syria and urged him ahead of this week’s key NATO summit to take decisive action before the militant group attacks on U.S. soil.

“His foreign policy is in absolute free fall,” Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told Fox News Sunday.”

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a separate interview that Obama is perhaps “too cautious” in his approach to combating Islamic State.

“This is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous,” she said on NBC’s Meet the Press.” And they’ll kill with abandon.”

Feinstein’s comments came 12 days after Islamic State released a video of a warrior beheading American journalist James Foley.

The NATO Summit is Thursday and Friday in Wales.

Obama will attend the summit with hopes of building a coalition, as the administration has proposed, to deal with several international crises including Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Russian-backed forces in neighboring Ukraine.

The president is expected to spend two days in Bosnia before the summit.

Rogers also said Sunday that Obama’s inertia regarding air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria is part of an overall foreign policy failure that is empowering China, North Korea, Russia and other rival nations.

“It’s all related,” Rogers said. “The world sees the United States as withdrawn.”

Rogers said the president’s apparent disengagement or slow response is the reason China has engaged U.S. pilots and Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved into eastern Ukraine without fear of consequence.

Rogers told Fox News he didn’t believe White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest last week when he said that military options are still being developed.”

Earnest’s remarks followed the president saying Thursday that the U.S. still doesn’t have a strategy for Islamic State and Syria.

Rogers said the president was presented with a range of military options at the start of the 2011 uprising in Syria to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad, a movement that gave rise to Islamic State.

“There have been plans on the table,” Rogers said. “The president just didn’t want to get engaged.”

Rogers also said the surprising and powerful surge of Islamic State — across the Syrian border and into northern Iraq — reached a critical point long before the group killed Foley.

He said the president’s plan to build a coalition isn’t wrong, “just late” because the U.S. now has fewer, safer options in the effort to stop Islamic State before it strikes on American soil.

Feinstein and Rogers, who have access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and receive regular and detailed briefings from the nation’s spy agencies, offered dire predictions of an attack on the United States or its European allies if the militants are not confronted.

“They have announced that they don’t intend to stop,” Feinstein said. “They have announced that they will come after us if they can, that they will, quote, `spill our blood.’ “

The threat, Rogers said, could include Americans who have trained with Islamic State fighters. He said there are hundreds of Islamic State-trained Americans who can return to the United States with their American passports.

“I’m very concerned because we don’t know every single person that has an American passport that has gone and trained and learned how to fight,” he said.

Rogers said U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking the Americans who are known to have traveled to the region. Those people, he added, should be charged under existing laws that prohibit Americans from aiding terrorists.

The president, in an interview published early this year by The New Yorker, appeared to minimize Islamic State by comparing the group to a junior varsity basketball team. The White House later said he was speaking about a different threat posed by a range of extremists across the world.

Feinstein said Sunday that the basketball analogy was wrong.

“I think it’s a major varsity team,” she said while declining to say whether Obama acknowledging a lack of a strategy projected weakness from the White House.

“I think I’ve learned one thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious,” she said. “Maybe in this instance, [he's] too cautious. I do know that the military, I know that the State Department, I know that others have been putting plans together. And so hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a strategy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/hill-intelligence-panel-leaders-urge-obama-to-develop-is-syria-strategy-ahead/

US ‘ONLY HOPE’ Americans held in N. Korea call situation ‘urgent’

  • Baepix1.jpg

    Kenneth Bae, an American tour guide and missionary serving a 15-year sentence, detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix2.jpg

    Jeffrey Fowle, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix3.jpg

    Mathew Miller, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

North Korea gave foreign media access on Monday to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and — watched by officials as they spoke — called for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom.

Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month. But they said they do not know what punishment they could face or what the specific charges against them are. Kenneth Bae, who already is serving a 15-year term, said his health has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day.

The three were allowed to speak briefly with The Associated Press at a meeting center in Pyongyang. North Korean officials were present during the interviews, conducted separately and in different rooms, but did not censor the questions that were asked. The three said they did not know they were going to be interviewed until immediately beforehand.

All said they believe the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal.

That has often been North Korea’s bargaining chip in the past, when senior statesmen including former President Bill Clinton made trips to Pyongyang to secure the release of detainees.

“I’m desperate to get back to them.”

- Kenneth Bae, US missionary being held in North Korea

North Korea says Fowle and Miller committed hostile acts which violated their status as tourists. It has announced that authorities are preparing for the trial, but has not announced the date.

Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle, 56, lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, where he works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children aged 9, 10, and 12.

“Within a month I could be sharing a jail cell with Ken Bae,” he said, adding that he hasn’t spoken with his family for three weeks. “I’m desperate to get back to them.”

North Korea says Miller, 24, entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. Miller refused to comment on whether he was seeking asylum.

Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American missionary, has been held since November 2012. He was moved from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss but last month was sent back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labor. He said he has lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and has severe back pain, along with a sleep disorder. His family has said his health problems include diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.

“The only hope that I have is to have someone from the U.S. come,” he said. “But so far, the latest I’ve heard is that there has been no response yet. So I believe that officials here are waiting for that.”

Bae said he did not realize before the trial that he was violating North Korean law, but refused to go into details.

He said the lead up to his trial lasted about four months, but the trial itself only took about an hour. He said he elected not to have a defense attorney because “at that point there was no sense of me to get a lawyer because the only chance I had was to ask for mercy.”

“It was very quick,” he said.

The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send its envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to Pyongyang to seek a pardon for Bae and other U.S. detainees, but without success. Washington has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and no embassy in Pyongyang. Instead, the Swedish Embassy takes responsibility for U.S. consular affairs.

Fowle and Miller said they have met with the Swedish ambassador and have been allowed to make phone calls to their relatives.

Though a small number of U.S. citizens visit North Korea each year as tourists, the State Department strongly advises against it. After Miller’s detention, Washington updated its travel warning to note that over the past 18 months, “North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours.”

North Korea has been strongly pushing tourism lately in an effort to bring in foreign cash. But despite its efforts it remains highly sensitive to any actions it considers political and is particularly wary of anything it deems to be Christian proselytizing.

In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity after he apologized and requested forgiveness.

 

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/01/american-tourists-detained-in-north-korea-expect-trial-soon-bae-says-health/

TRIGGER HAPPY Tourists flock to ranges for fun shoot-’em-ups

  • guntourism1.jpg

    Simon Winson of Manchester, England fires a fully automatic machine gun at Machine Guns Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Las Vegas. Most visitors to Machine Guns Vegas have already pulled the trigger on an Uzi or an M5, from the behind the controls of their XBox. But with strict gun laws keeping the real thing out of reach for most people, especially outside the U.S., indoor shooting ranges with high-powered weapons have become a hot tourist attraction. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • guntourism2.jpg

    Ryan Doherty holds up a fully automatic machine gun after firing it at Machine Guns Vegas Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Las Vegas. Most visitors to Machine Guns Vegas have already pulled the trigger on an Uzi or an M5, from the behind the controls of their XBox. But with strict gun laws keeping the real thing out of reach for most people, especially outside the U.S., indoor shooting ranges with high-powered weapons have become a hot tourist attraction. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The death of an Arizona firearms instructor by a 9-year-old girl who was firing a fully automatic Uzi displayed a tragic side of what has become a hot industry in the U.S.: gun tourism.

With gun laws keeping high-powered weapons out of reach for most people — especially those outside the U.S. — indoor shooting ranges with high-powered weapons have become a popular attraction.

Tourists from Japan flock to ranges in Waikiki, Hawaii, and the dozen or so that have cropped up in Las Vegas offer bullet-riddled bachelor parties and literal shotgun weddings, where newly married couples can fire submachine gun rounds and pose with Uzis and ammo belts.

“People just want to experience things they can’t experience elsewhere,” said Genghis Cohen, owner of Machine Guns Vegas. “There’s not an action movie in the past 30 years without a machine gun.”

The accidental shooting death of the firing-range instructor in Arizona set off a powerful debate over youngsters and guns, with many people wondering what sort of parents would let a child handle a submachine gun.

Instructor Charles Vacca, 39, was standing next to the girl Monday at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, when she squeezed the trigger. The recoil wrenched the Uzi upward, and Vacca was shot in the head.

“People just want to experience things they can’t experience elsewhere.”

- Genghis Cohen, owner of Machine Guns Vegas

Prosecutors say they will not file charges in the case. The identities of the girl and her family have not been released.

The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the state’s workplace safety agency, is investigating the shooting-range death, said agency spokeswoman Rachel Brockway, who declined to provide specifics on the examination.

The coroner in Las Vegas said Vacca suffered from a single gunshot to the head.

Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy told The Associated Press that it will take several weeks for blood-toxicology test results to be complete, and authorities were still investigating the shooting. The coroner said that an official cause of death was pending.

Attractions similar to the Last Stop range have been around since the 1980s in Las Vegas, although the city has experienced a boom of such businesses in the past few years. One dusty outdoor range in Las Vegas calls itself the Bullets and Burgers Adventure and touts its “Desert Storm atmosphere.”

Excitement over guns tends to spike when there’s fear of tighter gun restrictions, said Dan Sessions, general manager of Discount Firearms and Ammo, which houses the Vegas Machine Gun Experience.

There’s also the prohibitive cost of owning an automatic weapon — an M5 might go for $25,000, while a chance to gun down zombie targets with an AR-15 and three other weapons costs less than $200.

“It’s an opportunity that people may not come across again in their lifetime,” Sessions said.

Tourists from Australia, Europe or Asia, where civilians are barred from many types of guns, long to indulge in the quintessentially American right to bear arms.
“People have a fascination with guns,” said Cohen, who is from New Zealand and estimates about 90 percent of his customers are tourists. “They see guns as a big part of American culture, and they want to experience American culture.”

The businesses cast a lighthearted spin on their shooting experiences, staging weddings in their ranges and selling souvenir T-shirts full of bullet holes.

But behind the bravado, owners acknowledge they are one errant movement away from tragedy. Cohen’s business, for example, is installing a tethering system that will prevent machine guns from riding upward after firing — the same motion that killed the gun instructor this week.

“Guns are designed to cause damage, and if they’re mishandled, they’ll do exactly that,” said Bob Irwin, owner of The Gun Store, the original Las Vegas machine-gun attraction. “They have to be respected.”

Sam Scarmardo, who operates the outdoor range in Arizona where the instructor was killed, said Wednesday that the parents had signed waivers saying they understood the rules and were standing nearby, video-recording their daughter, when the accident happened.

“I have regret we let this child shoot, and I have regret that Charlie was killed in the incident,” Scarmardo said. He said he doesn’t know what went wrong, pointing out that Vacca was an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jace Zack, chief deputy for the Mohave County Attorney’s Office, said the instructor was probably the most criminally negligent person involved in the accident for having allowed the child to hold the gun without enough training.

“The parents aren’t culpable,” Zack said. “They trusted the instructor to know what he was doing, and the girl could not possibly have comprehended the potential dangers involved.”

Still, the accident has raised questions about whether children that young should be handling such powerful weapons.

“We have better safety standards for who gets to ride a roller coaster at an amusement park,” said Gerry Hills, founder of Arizonans for Gun Safety, a group seeking to reduce gun violence. Referring to the girl’s parents, Hills said: “I just don’t see any reason in the world why you would allow a 9-year-old to put her hands on an Uzi.”

In 2008, an 8-year-old boy died after accidentally shooting himself in the head with an Uzi at a gun expo near Springfield, Massachusetts. Christopher Bizilj was firing at pumpkins when the gun kicked back. A former Massachusetts police chief whose company co-sponsored the gun show was later acquitted of involuntary manslaughter.

Dave Workman, senior editor at thegunmag.com and a spokesman for the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, said it can be safe to let children shoot an automatic weapon if a properly trained adult is helping them hold it.

After viewing the video of the Arizona shooting, Workman said Vacca appeared to have tried to help the girl maintain control by placing his left hand under the weapon. But automatic weapons tend to recoil upward, he noted.

“If it was the first time she’d ever handled a full-auto firearm, it’s a big surprise when that gun continues to go off,” said Workman, a firearms instructor for 30 years. “I’ve even seen adults stunned by it.”

Scarmardo said his policy of allowing children 8 and older to fire guns under adult supervision and the watchful eye of an instructor is standard practice in the industry. The range’s policies are under review, he said.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2014/09/01/tourists-are-flocking-to-gun-ranges-to-make-us-visit-real-blast/

US ‘ONLY HOPE’ Americans held in N. Korea call situation ‘urgent’

  • Baepix1.jpg

    Kenneth Bae, an American tour guide and missionary serving a 15-year sentence, detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix2.jpg

    Jeffrey Fowle, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix3.jpg

    Mathew Miller, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

North Korea gave foreign media access on Monday to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and — watched by officials as they spoke — called for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom.

Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month. But they said they do not know what punishment they could face or what the specific charges against them are. Kenneth Bae, who already is serving a 15-year term, said his health has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day.

The three were allowed to speak briefly with The Associated Press at a meeting center in Pyongyang. North Korean officials were present during the interviews, conducted separately and in different rooms, but did not censor the questions that were asked. The three said they did not know they were going to be interviewed until immediately beforehand.

All said they believe the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal.

That has often been North Korea’s bargaining chip in the past, when senior statesmen including former President Bill Clinton made trips to Pyongyang to secure the release of detainees.

“I’m desperate to get back to them.”

- Kenneth Bae, US missionary being held in North Korea

North Korea says Fowle and Miller committed hostile acts which violated their status as tourists. It has announced that authorities are preparing for the trial, but has not announced the date.

Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle, 56, lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, where he works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children aged 9, 10, and 12.

“Within a month I could be sharing a jail cell with Ken Bae,” he said, adding that he hasn’t spoken with his family for three weeks. “I’m desperate to get back to them.”

North Korea says Miller, 24, entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. Miller refused to comment on whether he was seeking asylum.

Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American missionary, has been held since November 2012. He was moved from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss but last month was sent back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labor. He said he has lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and has severe back pain, along with a sleep disorder. His family has said his health problems include diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.

“The only hope that I have is to have someone from the U.S. come,” he said. “But so far, the latest I’ve heard is that there has been no response yet. So I believe that officials here are waiting for that.”

Bae said he did not realize before the trial that he was violating North Korean law, but refused to go into details.

He said the lead up to his trial lasted about four months, but the trial itself only took about an hour. He said he elected not to have a defense attorney because “at that point there was no sense of me to get a lawyer because the only chance I had was to ask for mercy.”

“It was very quick,” he said.

The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send its envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to Pyongyang to seek a pardon for Bae and other U.S. detainees, but without success. Washington has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and no embassy in Pyongyang. Instead, the Swedish Embassy takes responsibility for U.S. consular affairs.

Fowle and Miller said they have met with the Swedish ambassador and have been allowed to make phone calls to their relatives.

Though a small number of U.S. citizens visit North Korea each year as tourists, the State Department strongly advises against it. After Miller’s detention, Washington updated its travel warning to note that over the past 18 months, “North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours.”

North Korea has been strongly pushing tourism lately in an effort to bring in foreign cash. But despite its efforts it remains highly sensitive to any actions it considers political and is particularly wary of anything it deems to be Christian proselytizing.

In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity after he apologized and requested forgiveness.

 

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/01/american-tourists-detained-in-north-korea-expect-trial-soon-bae-says-health/

Obama criticized by Dem as being ‘too cautious’ in ISIS approach

 

The leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees criticized President Obama on Sunday for failing to decide yet on whether to hit Islamic State targets in Syria and urged him ahead of this week’s key NATO summit to take decisive action before the militant group attacks on U.S. soil.

“His foreign policy is in absolute free fall,” Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told Fox News Sunday.”

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a separate interview that Obama is perhaps “too cautious” in his approach to combating Islamic State.

“This is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous,” she said on NBC’s Meet the Press.” And they’ll kill with abandon.”

Feinstein’s comments came 12 days after Islamic State released a video of a warrior beheading American journalist James Foley.

The NATO Summit is Thursday and Friday in Wales.

Obama will attend the summit with hopes of building a coalition, as the administration has proposed, to deal with several international crises including Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Russian-backed forces in neighboring Ukraine.

The president is expected to spend two days in Bosnia before the summit.

Rogers also said Sunday that Obama’s inertia regarding air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria is part of an overall foreign policy failure that is empowering China, North Korea, Russia and other rival nations.

“It’s all related,” Rogers said. “The world sees the United States as withdrawn.”

Rogers said the president’s apparent disengagement or slow response is the reason China has engaged U.S. pilots and Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved into eastern Ukraine without fear of consequence.

Rogers told Fox News he didn’t believe White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest last week when he said that military options are still being developed.”

Earnest’s remarks followed the president saying Thursday that the U.S. still doesn’t have a strategy for Islamic State and Syria.

Rogers said the president was presented with a range of military options at the start of the 2011 uprising in Syria to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad, a movement that gave rise to Islamic State.

“There have been plans on the table,” Rogers said. “The president just didn’t want to get engaged.”

Rogers also said the surprising and powerful surge of Islamic State — across the Syrian border and into northern Iraq — reached a critical point long before the group killed Foley.

He said the president’s plan to build a coalition isn’t wrong, “just late” because the U.S. now has fewer, safer options in the effort to stop Islamic State before it strikes on American soil.

Feinstein and Rogers, who have access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and receive regular and detailed briefings from the nation’s spy agencies, offered dire predictions of an attack on the United States or its European allies if the militants are not confronted.

“They have announced that they don’t intend to stop,” Feinstein said. “They have announced that they will come after us if they can, that they will, quote, `spill our blood.’ “

The threat, Rogers said, could include Americans who have trained with Islamic State fighters. He said there are hundreds of Islamic State-trained Americans who can return to the United States with their American passports.

“I’m very concerned because we don’t know every single person that has an American passport that has gone and trained and learned how to fight,” he said.

Rogers said U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking the Americans who are known to have traveled to the region. Those people, he added, should be charged under existing laws that prohibit Americans from aiding terrorists.

The president, in an interview published early this year by The New Yorker, appeared to minimize Islamic State by comparing the group to a junior varsity basketball team. The White House later said he was speaking about a different threat posed by a range of extremists across the world.

Feinstein said Sunday that the basketball analogy was wrong.

“I think it’s a major varsity team,” she said while declining to say whether Obama acknowledging a lack of a strategy projected weakness from the White House.

“I think I’ve learned one thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious,” she said. “Maybe in this instance, [he's] too cautious. I do know that the military, I know that the State Department, I know that others have been putting plans together. And so hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a strategy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/hill-intelligence-panel-leaders-urge-obama-to-develop-is-syria-strategy-ahead/

US ‘ONLY HOPE’ Americans held in N. Korea call situation ‘urgent’

  • Baepix1.jpg

    Kenneth Bae, an American tour guide and missionary serving a 15-year sentence, detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix2.jpg

    Jeffrey Fowle, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix3.jpg

    Mathew Miller, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

North Korea gave foreign media access on Monday to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and — watched by officials as they spoke — called for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom.

Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month. But they said they do not know what punishment they could face or what the specific charges against them are. Kenneth Bae, who already is serving a 15-year term, said his health has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day.

The three were allowed to speak briefly with The Associated Press at a meeting center in Pyongyang. North Korean officials were present during the interviews, conducted separately and in different rooms, but did not censor the questions that were asked. The three said they did not know they were going to be interviewed until immediately beforehand.

All said they believe the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal.

That has often been North Korea’s bargaining chip in the past, when senior statesmen including former President Bill Clinton made trips to Pyongyang to secure the release of detainees.

“I’m desperate to get back to them.”

- Kenneth Bae, US missionary being held in North Korea

North Korea says Fowle and Miller committed hostile acts which violated their status as tourists. It has announced that authorities are preparing for the trial, but has not announced the date.

Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle, 56, lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, where he works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children aged 9, 10, and 12.

“Within a month I could be sharing a jail cell with Ken Bae,” he said, adding that he hasn’t spoken with his family for three weeks. “I’m desperate to get back to them.”

North Korea says Miller, 24, entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. Miller refused to comment on whether he was seeking asylum.

Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American missionary, has been held since November 2012. He was moved from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss but last month was sent back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labor. He said he has lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and has severe back pain, along with a sleep disorder. His family has said his health problems include diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.

“The only hope that I have is to have someone from the U.S. come,” he said. “But so far, the latest I’ve heard is that there has been no response yet. So I believe that officials here are waiting for that.”

Bae said he did not realize before the trial that he was violating North Korean law, but refused to go into details.

He said the lead up to his trial lasted about four months, but the trial itself only took about an hour. He said he elected not to have a defense attorney because “at that point there was no sense of me to get a lawyer because the only chance I had was to ask for mercy.”

“It was very quick,” he said.

The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send its envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to Pyongyang to seek a pardon for Bae and other U.S. detainees, but without success. Washington has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and no embassy in Pyongyang. Instead, the Swedish Embassy takes responsibility for U.S. consular affairs.

Fowle and Miller said they have met with the Swedish ambassador and have been allowed to make phone calls to their relatives.

Though a small number of U.S. citizens visit North Korea each year as tourists, the State Department strongly advises against it. After Miller’s detention, Washington updated its travel warning to note that over the past 18 months, “North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours.”

North Korea has been strongly pushing tourism lately in an effort to bring in foreign cash. But despite its efforts it remains highly sensitive to any actions it considers political and is particularly wary of anything it deems to be Christian proselytizing.

In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity after he apologized and requested forgiveness.

 

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/01/american-tourists-detained-in-north-korea-expect-trial-soon-bae-says-health/

Obama criticized by Dem as being ‘too cautious’ in ISIS approach

 

The leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees criticized President Obama on Sunday for failing to decide yet on whether to hit Islamic State targets in Syria and urged him ahead of this week’s key NATO summit to take decisive action before the militant group attacks on U.S. soil.

“His foreign policy is in absolute free fall,” Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told Fox News Sunday.”

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a separate interview that Obama is perhaps “too cautious” in his approach to combating Islamic State.

“This is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous,” she said on NBC’s Meet the Press.” And they’ll kill with abandon.”

Feinstein’s comments came 12 days after Islamic State released a video of a warrior beheading American journalist James Foley.

The NATO Summit is Thursday and Friday in Wales.

Obama will attend the summit with hopes of building a coalition, as the administration has proposed, to deal with several international crises including Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Russian-backed forces in neighboring Ukraine.

The president is expected to spend two days in Bosnia before the summit.

Rogers also said Sunday that Obama’s inertia regarding air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria is part of an overall foreign policy failure that is empowering China, North Korea, Russia and other rival nations.

“It’s all related,” Rogers said. “The world sees the United States as withdrawn.”

Rogers said the president’s apparent disengagement or slow response is the reason China has engaged U.S. pilots and Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved into eastern Ukraine without fear of consequence.

Rogers told Fox News he didn’t believe White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest last week when he said that military options are still being developed.”

Earnest’s remarks followed the president saying Thursday that the U.S. still doesn’t have a strategy for Islamic State and Syria.

Rogers said the president was presented with a range of military options at the start of the 2011 uprising in Syria to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad, a movement that gave rise to Islamic State.

“There have been plans on the table,” Rogers said. “The president just didn’t want to get engaged.”

Rogers also said the surprising and powerful surge of Islamic State — across the Syrian border and into northern Iraq — reached a critical point long before the group killed Foley.

He said the president’s plan to build a coalition isn’t wrong, “just late” because the U.S. now has fewer, safer options in the effort to stop Islamic State before it strikes on American soil.

Feinstein and Rogers, who have access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and receive regular and detailed briefings from the nation’s spy agencies, offered dire predictions of an attack on the United States or its European allies if the militants are not confronted.

“They have announced that they don’t intend to stop,” Feinstein said. “They have announced that they will come after us if they can, that they will, quote, `spill our blood.’ “

The threat, Rogers said, could include Americans who have trained with Islamic State fighters. He said there are hundreds of Islamic State-trained Americans who can return to the United States with their American passports.

“I’m very concerned because we don’t know every single person that has an American passport that has gone and trained and learned how to fight,” he said.

Rogers said U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking the Americans who are known to have traveled to the region. Those people, he added, should be charged under existing laws that prohibit Americans from aiding terrorists.

The president, in an interview published early this year by The New Yorker, appeared to minimize Islamic State by comparing the group to a junior varsity basketball team. The White House later said he was speaking about a different threat posed by a range of extremists across the world.

Feinstein said Sunday that the basketball analogy was wrong.

“I think it’s a major varsity team,” she said while declining to say whether Obama acknowledging a lack of a strategy projected weakness from the White House.

“I think I’ve learned one thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious,” she said. “Maybe in this instance, [he's] too cautious. I do know that the military, I know that the State Department, I know that others have been putting plans together. And so hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a strategy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/hill-intelligence-panel-leaders-urge-obama-to-develop-is-syria-strategy-ahead/

US ‘ONLY HOPE’ Americans held in N. Korea call situation ‘urgent’

  • Baepix1.jpg

    Kenneth Bae, an American tour guide and missionary serving a 15-year sentence, detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix2.jpg

    Jeffrey Fowle, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

  • baepix3.jpg

    Mathew Miller, an American detained in North Korea, speaks to the Associated Press, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea has given foreign media access to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and watched by officials as they spoke, called for Washington to send a representative to negotiate for their freedom. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

North Korea gave foreign media access on Monday to three detained Americans who said they have been able to contact their families and — watched by officials as they spoke — called for Washington to send a high-ranking representative to negotiate for their freedom.

Jeffrey Fowle and Mathew Miller said they expect to face trial within a month. But they said they do not know what punishment they could face or what the specific charges against them are. Kenneth Bae, who already is serving a 15-year term, said his health has deteriorated at the labor camp where he works eight hours a day.

The three were allowed to speak briefly with The Associated Press at a meeting center in Pyongyang. North Korean officials were present during the interviews, conducted separately and in different rooms, but did not censor the questions that were asked. The three said they did not know they were going to be interviewed until immediately beforehand.

All said they believe the only solution to their situation is for a U.S. representative to come to North Korea to make a direct appeal.

That has often been North Korea’s bargaining chip in the past, when senior statesmen including former President Bill Clinton made trips to Pyongyang to secure the release of detainees.

“I’m desperate to get back to them.”

- Kenneth Bae, US missionary being held in North Korea

North Korea says Fowle and Miller committed hostile acts which violated their status as tourists. It has announced that authorities are preparing for the trial, but has not announced the date.

Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin. Christian proselytizing is considered a crime in North Korea. Fowle, 56, lives in Miamisburg, Ohio, where he works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children aged 9, 10, and 12.

“Within a month I could be sharing a jail cell with Ken Bae,” he said, adding that he hasn’t spoken with his family for three weeks. “I’m desperate to get back to them.”

North Korea says Miller, 24, entered the country on April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. Miller refused to comment on whether he was seeking asylum.

Bae, a 46-year-old Korean-American missionary, has been held since November 2012. He was moved from a work camp to a hospital because of failing health and weight loss but last month was sent back to the work camp outside of Pyongyang, where he said he does farm-related labor. He said he has lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and has severe back pain, along with a sleep disorder. His family has said his health problems include diabetes, an enlarged heart, liver problems and back pain.

“The only hope that I have is to have someone from the U.S. come,” he said. “But so far, the latest I’ve heard is that there has been no response yet. So I believe that officials here are waiting for that.”

Bae said he did not realize before the trial that he was violating North Korean law, but refused to go into details.

He said the lead up to his trial lasted about four months, but the trial itself only took about an hour. He said he elected not to have a defense attorney because “at that point there was no sense of me to get a lawyer because the only chance I had was to ask for mercy.”

“It was very quick,” he said.

The U.S. has repeatedly offered to send its envoy for North Korean human rights issues, Robert King, to Pyongyang to seek a pardon for Bae and other U.S. detainees, but without success. Washington has no diplomatic ties with North Korea and no embassy in Pyongyang. Instead, the Swedish Embassy takes responsibility for U.S. consular affairs.

Fowle and Miller said they have met with the Swedish ambassador and have been allowed to make phone calls to their relatives.

Though a small number of U.S. citizens visit North Korea each year as tourists, the State Department strongly advises against it. After Miller’s detention, Washington updated its travel warning to note that over the past 18 months, “North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours.”

North Korea has been strongly pushing tourism lately in an effort to bring in foreign cash. But despite its efforts it remains highly sensitive to any actions it considers political and is particularly wary of anything it deems to be Christian proselytizing.

In March, North Korea deported an Australian missionary detained for spreading Christianity after he apologized and requested forgiveness.

 

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/01/american-tourists-detained-in-north-korea-expect-trial-soon-bae-says-health/

CASHING ITS CHIPS Costly Atlantic City casino forced to shut its doors

Revel Closing_Cham640090114.jpg

FILE – In this July 23, 2014, file photo, people stand on a high deck at Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

The most spectacular and costly failure in Atlantic City’s 36-year history of casino gambling begins to play out Monday when the $2.4 billion Revel Casino Hotel empties its hotel.

Its casino will close early Tuesday morning.

Revel is shutting down a little over two years after opening with high hopes of revitalizing Atlantic City’s struggling gambling market. But mired in its second bankruptcy in two years, Revel has been unable to find anyone willing to buy the property and keep it open as a casino. It has never turned a profit.

So what killed Revel?

Analysts and competitors say it was hampered by bad business decisions and a fundamental misunderstanding of the Atlantic City casino customer.

“The timing of it could not have been worse,” said Mark Juliano, president of Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania and the former CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts in Atlantic City. “The financial climate while Revel was developing and when it opened were completely different.”

Revel officials declined to comment.

The casino broke ground just before the Great Recession. It ran out of money halfway through construction and had to drop its plans for a second hotel tower while scrambling for the remaining $1 billion or so it needed to finish the project. When it opened in April 2012, it was so laden with debt that it couldn’t bring in enough revenue to cover it.

The idea behind Revel was to open a totally different resort, a seaside pleasure palace that just happened to have a casino as one of its features. That included Atlantic City’s only total smoking ban, which alienated many gamblers; the lack of a buffet and daily bus trips to and from the casino; and the absence of a players’ club. By the time those decisions were reversed, it was already too late. High room and restaurant prices hurt, too.

“If there had been a range of new attractions and potential customers with enough discretionary income, I think that Atlantic City could have absorbed the new capacity,” said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. “That’s certainly what happened with Borgata more than 10 years ago. But the market that Revel foresaw for its property just didn’t materialize, partially because of the growing perception that the city wasn’t ready for that kind of customer. At the same time, Revel didn’t have a plan to successfully market to the traditional Atlantic City customer.”

It also started at a huge disadvantage by not having a pre-existing database of gamblers to solicit, in the way that casinos owned by nationwide companies like Caesars Entertainment or Tropicana Entertainment can.

Customers found Revel’s design off-putting as well, said Joe Lupo, senior vice president of the Borgata, whose upscale market Revel appeared to target. Entering from the Boardwalk, they had to take a vertiginous escalator up four flights to reach the casino floor. Once there, the property wound around a circular pattern instead of the linear layout of most other casinos.

“Revel struggled with the execution of plans to develop their market, as well as with their design and just a basic understanding of the Atlantic City visitor,” he said.

A huge power plant proved enormously costly. Some potential buyers in bankruptcy court reportedly were scared off by the ongoing expense of the heating, cooling and electrical plant, and they sought unsuccessfully to exclude it from their purchase offers. Juliano said Revel apparently hoped there would be additional development in the immediate area that it could sell utility service to, but that never materialized.

Revel still hopes to find a buyer for the property after it has ceased to operate as a casino.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/09/01/revel-becomes-latest-atlantic-city-casino-hotel-to-go-bust/

POLE OVER PARENTING? Stripper mom puts cops on hold during hunt for girl

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Bobbey Jo Boucher, 29, was arrested Wednesday night for misdemeanor obstruction and booked into the Pasco County, Fla., jail.PASCO COUNTY JAIL

A stripper in Florida is facing criminal charges after hanging up on a deputy from the Pasco Sheriff’s Department who called about the woman’s missing 10-year-old daughter.

The sheriff’s office report about Bobbey Jo Boucher says she hung up on the deputy Wednesday after she told him that she “had to get on stage.” MyFox Tampa Bay said the deputy had contacted the 29-year-old about her missing daughter at the Calendar Girls strip club in the City of Hudson.

The deputy’s complaint says he was trying to gather information from Boucher so that he could file a missing persons report on her daughter, WTSP reported. The station said Boucher later said she put the deputy on hold to take another call.

The girl had been reported missing by her grandmother. The grandmother said the girl and Boucher had gone to a BBQ joint up the street from the strip club. Boucher told the deputy she left the girl there to go to work. The girl was found unharmed. She reportedly was missing about four hours.

Boucher was charged with obstruction. MyFox Tampa Bay said Boucher later posted bond and was released.

Click for more from MyFoxTampaBay.com.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/31/stripper-mom-missing-girl-hangs-up-on-cops-says-had-to-get-on-stage/?intcmp=latestnews

Islamic militia group says it has ‘secured’ US compound in Libya

 

An Islamic militant group said Sunday it has “secured” a U.S. Embassy compound in Libya’s capital city of Tripoli.

American personnel evacuated the area roughly a month ago amid ongoing fighting in the country.

An Associated Press journalist walked through the compound Sunday after the Dawn of Libya, an umbrella group for Islamist militias, invited onlookers inside.

Windows at the compound had been broken, but it appeared most of the equipment there remained untouched.

The breach of a deserted U.S. diplomatic post likely will reinvigorate debate in the U.S. over its role in Libya, more than three years after supporting rebels who toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

A commander for the Dawn of Libya group said his forces had entered and been in control of the compound since last week.

“We’ve seen the reports and videos and are seeking additional details.” a senior State Department official told Fox News late Sunday. “At this point, we believe the Embassy compound itself remains secure but we continue to monitor the situation on the ground, which remains very fluid.”

“We continue to work with the Government of Libya and other parties on issues of concern. Our Ambassador and other officials remain engaged both in Washington and from our Embassy in Valetta, Malta, where Embassy staff from Tripoli were recently relocated,” the official said.

No U.S. military or assets were guarding the property after the State Department pulled out.

On Sept. 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, and State Department information management officer Sean Smith were killed in a terror attack on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya.

A video posted online showed men playing in a pool at the compound. In a message on Twitter, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah Jones said the video appeared to have been shot in at the embassy’s residential annex.

However, two sources with first-hand knowledge of the embassy and other U.S. facilities in Libya say the YouTube video in which the militia members are diving from a roof into pool was taken at the CIA annex in Tripoli that was abandoned when U.S. Embassy personnel and the ambassador pulled out July 26. It is about a mile away from the U.S. Embassy in Libya.

When CIA abandoned the annex in July, it would no longer be considered sovereign US territory.

Jones also said the compound appears to be “safeguarded,” not “ransacked.”

The fighting prompted diplomats and thousands of Tripoli residents to flee. Dozens were killed in the fighting.

On July 26, U.S. diplomats evacuated to neighboring Tunisia under a U.S. military escort. The State Department said embassy operations would be suspended until the security situation improved.

The Dawn of Libya militia is deployed around the capital and has called on foreign diplomats to return now that the fighting has subsided.

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

 

  

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/08/31/islamic-militia-groups-says-it-has-secured-us-compound-in-libya/

Putin calls for talks on east Ukraine ‘statehood’ as Kiev forces retreat

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August 31, 2014: Russian President Vladimir Putin, foreground right, gestures, as he attends the Judo World Cup in the city of Chelyabinsk in Siberia. Putin is calling on Ukraine to immediately start talks on a political solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine, including discussing statehood. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

Ukrainian forces lost more ground Sunday as Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Kiev to engage in talks on “statehood in southeastern Ukraine” ahead of cease-fire talks scheduled to begin Monday in Belarus. 

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, later told the Russian news agency Interfax that Putin did not envision sovereignty for the two separatist eastern regions that style themselves as “Novorossiya” (New Russia), despite his use of the word “statehood.” 

Putin has previously made comments supporting federalization, which would devolve more powers from the central government in Kiev to Ukraine’s regions. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko released a peace plan in June that proposed an unspecified level of decentralization of executive powers and budgetary matters. But rebels have so far rejected any talks unless Ukrainian forces halt their offensive.

Hours after Putin’s comments, Ukraine said a border guard vessel operating in the Azov Sea was attacked by land-based forces. Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, a Ukraine military spokesman, said  the attack occurred Sunday afternoon but he had no further information, including how many people were aboard the boat. The incident appears to be the first such clash at sea since fighting began in April, and will only heighten concern that the rebels are attempting to seize a key land bridge linking Russia and Crimea. 

Also Sunday, Kiev agreed to release 10 Russian paratroopers who had been captured in Ukrainian territory last week. The soldiers had been subjected to videotaped interrogations, which Ukraine’s military posted online as evidence of Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine. The Kiev government, NATO and Western officials say that thousands of Russian troops backed by tanks and artillery are now inside Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly denied their presence, and in the case of the paratroopers, insisted that they wandered into Ukraine while on a routine patrol near the border.

In return, Russia handed back 63 Ukrainian soldiers who were surrounded and pinned down by artillery fire during Kiev’s most recent offensive and crossed the border into Russia, where they surrendered.

Ukrainian officials told The Wall Street Journal that the exchange of prisoners was also supposed to include the safe withdrawal of several hundred Ukrainian troops who were surrounded and pounded by artillery in the town of Ilovaisk in eastern Ukraine.

But Ukraine military officials said the retreating troops were shot at anyway, and withdrew with heavy casualties.

Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, said “Russia did not honor the customs of war” in the withdrawal and that an undetermined number of Ukrainians were captured or killed.

Residents began returning to their homes Sunday in areas vacated by retreating Ukrainian forces.

In the village of Hrabske, Alexander Bezpalko and his son worked to salvage parts from a burned-out Ukrainian tank.

“My home was leveled and I need to rebuild it somehow,” Bezpalko said. “This heap of junk is scrap that I can make some money from. Everything is destroyed and there is no work.”

There is barely a street in Hrabske and the nearby town of Ilovaysk left unscarred by artillery strikes. The bitter fight for Ilovaysk and surrounding areas lasted the best part of a month. On Saturday, the government conceded its inevitable defeat as its armed forces were surrounded and under relentless attack.

Meanwhile, two prominent U.S. senators said Sunday that the Obama administration should not only push for tougher sanctions on Russia, but should also send weapons to help Ukraine defend itself.

“We should be providing the Ukrainians with the type of defensive weapons that will impose a cost on Putin for further aggression,” Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Menendez, speaking from the Ukrainian capital Kiev, added, “This is no longer the question of some rebel separatists, this is a direct invasion by Russia. And we must recognize it as that.”

He said the issue of supplying weapons to Ukraine “may be very well on the table right now” for the Obama administration considering “these are changed circumstances.”

Sen. John McCain said that if unchecked in Ukraine, Russia could begin to threaten other nations in Eastern Europe, including Moldova and the Baltic states, former Soviet republics. McCan denied that providing weapons to Ukraine could make things worse.

“For God’s sake, can’t we help these people defend themselves? This is not an incursion, this is an invasion,” McCain said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” ”Give them the weapons they need, give them the wherewithal they need, give them the ability to fight. They will fight. “

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click for more from The Wall Street Journal. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/01/ukraine-forces-lose-more-ground-to-rebels-as-putin-calls-for-statehood-talks/

Putin calls for talks on east Ukraine ‘statehood’ as Kiev forces retreat

Russia Putin_Cham(1)640090114.jpg

August 31, 2014: Russian President Vladimir Putin, foreground right, gestures, as he attends the Judo World Cup in the city of Chelyabinsk in Siberia. Putin is calling on Ukraine to immediately start talks on a political solution to the crisis in eastern Ukraine, including discussing statehood. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

Ukrainian forces lost more ground Sunday as Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Kiev to engage in talks on “statehood in southeastern Ukraine” ahead of cease-fire talks scheduled to begin Monday in Belarus. 

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, later told the Russian news agency Interfax that Putin did not envision sovereignty for the two separatist eastern regions that style themselves as “Novorossiya” (New Russia), despite his use of the word “statehood.” 

Putin has previously made comments supporting federalization, which would devolve more powers from the central government in Kiev to Ukraine’s regions. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko released a peace plan in June that proposed an unspecified level of decentralization of executive powers and budgetary matters. But rebels have so far rejected any talks unless Ukrainian forces halt their offensive.

Hours after Putin’s comments, Ukraine said a border guard vessel operating in the Azov Sea was attacked by land-based forces. Oleksiy Dmitrashkovsky, a Ukraine military spokesman, said  the attack occurred Sunday afternoon but he had no further information, including how many people were aboard the boat. The incident appears to be the first such clash at sea since fighting began in April, and will only heighten concern that the rebels are attempting to seize a key land bridge linking Russia and Crimea. 

Also Sunday, Kiev agreed to release 10 Russian paratroopers who had been captured in Ukrainian territory last week. The soldiers had been subjected to videotaped interrogations, which Ukraine’s military posted online as evidence of Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine. The Kiev government, NATO and Western officials say that thousands of Russian troops backed by tanks and artillery are now inside Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly denied their presence, and in the case of the paratroopers, insisted that they wandered into Ukraine while on a routine patrol near the border.

In return, Russia handed back 63 Ukrainian soldiers who were surrounded and pinned down by artillery fire during Kiev’s most recent offensive and crossed the border into Russia, where they surrendered.

Ukrainian officials told The Wall Street Journal that the exchange of prisoners was also supposed to include the safe withdrawal of several hundred Ukrainian troops who were surrounded and pounded by artillery in the town of Ilovaisk in eastern Ukraine.

But Ukraine military officials said the retreating troops were shot at anyway, and withdrew with heavy casualties.

Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, said “Russia did not honor the customs of war” in the withdrawal and that an undetermined number of Ukrainians were captured or killed.

Residents began returning to their homes Sunday in areas vacated by retreating Ukrainian forces.

In the village of Hrabske, Alexander Bezpalko and his son worked to salvage parts from a burned-out Ukrainian tank.

“My home was leveled and I need to rebuild it somehow,” Bezpalko said. “This heap of junk is scrap that I can make some money from. Everything is destroyed and there is no work.”

There is barely a street in Hrabske and the nearby town of Ilovaysk left unscarred by artillery strikes. The bitter fight for Ilovaysk and surrounding areas lasted the best part of a month. On Saturday, the government conceded its inevitable defeat as its armed forces were surrounded and under relentless attack.

Meanwhile, two prominent U.S. senators said Sunday that the Obama administration should not only push for tougher sanctions on Russia, but should also send weapons to help Ukraine defend itself.

“We should be providing the Ukrainians with the type of defensive weapons that will impose a cost on Putin for further aggression,” Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Menendez, speaking from the Ukrainian capital Kiev, added, “This is no longer the question of some rebel separatists, this is a direct invasion by Russia. And we must recognize it as that.”

He said the issue of supplying weapons to Ukraine “may be very well on the table right now” for the Obama administration considering “these are changed circumstances.”

Sen. John McCain said that if unchecked in Ukraine, Russia could begin to threaten other nations in Eastern Europe, including Moldova and the Baltic states, former Soviet republics. McCan denied that providing weapons to Ukraine could make things worse.

“For God’s sake, can’t we help these people defend themselves? This is not an incursion, this is an invasion,” McCain said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” ”Give them the weapons they need, give them the wherewithal they need, give them the ability to fight. They will fight. “

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click for more from The Wall Street Journal. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/01/ukraine-forces-lose-more-ground-to-rebels-as-putin-calls-for-statehood-talks/

STRATEGY NEEDED Hill intel leaders press Obama over ISIS plan

 

The leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees criticized President Obama on Sunday for failing to decide yet on whether to hit Islamic State targets in Syria and urged him ahead of this week’s key NATO summit to take decisive action before the militant group attacks on U.S. soil.

“His foreign policy is in absolute free fall,” Michigan GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told Fox News Sunday.”

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a separate interview that Obama is perhaps “too cautious” in his approach to combating Islamic State.

“This is a group of people who are extraordinarily dangerous,” she said on NBC’s Meet the Press.” And they’ll kill with abandon.”

Feinstein’s comments came 12 days after Islamic State released a video of a warrior beheading American journalist James Foley.

The NATO Summit is Thursday and Friday in Wales.

Obama will attend the summit with hopes of building a coalition, as the administration has proposed, to deal with several international crises including Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Russian-backed forces in neighboring Ukraine.

The president is expected to spend two days in Bosnia before the summit.

Rogers also said Sunday that Obama’s inertia regarding air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria is part of an overall foreign policy failure that is empowering China, North Korea, Russia and other rival nations.

“It’s all related,” Rogers said. “The world sees the United States as withdrawn.”

Rogers said the president’s apparent disengagement or slow response is the reason China has engaged U.S. pilots and Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved into eastern Ukraine without fear of consequence.

Rogers told Fox News he didn’t believe White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest last week when he said that military options are still being developed.”

Earnest’s remarks followed the president saying Thursday that the U.S. still doesn’t have a strategy for Islamic State and Syria.

Rogers said the president was presented with a range of military options at the start of the 2011 uprising in Syria to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad, a movement that gave rise to Islamic State.

“There have been plans on the table,” Rogers said. “The president just didn’t want to get engaged.”

Rogers also said the surprising and powerful surge of Islamic State — across the Syrian border and into northern Iraq — reached a critical point long before the group killed Foley.

He said the president’s plan to build a coalition isn’t wrong, “just late” because the U.S. now has fewer, safer options in the effort to stop Islamic State before it strikes on American soil.

Feinstein and Rogers, who have access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and receive regular and detailed briefings from the nation’s spy agencies, offered dire predictions of an attack on the United States or its European allies if the militants are not confronted.

“They have announced that they don’t intend to stop,” Feinstein said. “They have announced that they will come after us if they can, that they will, quote, `spill our blood.’ “

The threat, Rogers said, could include Americans who have trained with Islamic State fighters. He said there are hundreds of Islamic State-trained Americans who can return to the United States with their American passports.

“I’m very concerned because we don’t know every single person that has an American passport that has gone and trained and learned how to fight,” he said.

Rogers said U.S. intelligence agencies were tracking the Americans who are known to have traveled to the region. Those people, he added, should be charged under existing laws that prohibit Americans from aiding terrorists.

The president, in an interview published early this year by The New Yorker, appeared to minimize Islamic State by comparing the group to a junior varsity basketball team. The White House later said he was speaking about a different threat posed by a range of extremists across the world.

Feinstein said Sunday that the basketball analogy was wrong.

“I think it’s a major varsity team,” she said while declining to say whether Obama acknowledging a lack of a strategy projected weakness from the White House.

“I think I’ve learned one thing about this president, and that is he’s very cautious,” she said. “Maybe in this instance, [he's] too cautious. I do know that the military, I know that the State Department, I know that others have been putting plans together. And so hopefully, those plans will coalesce into a strategy.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/hill-intelligence-panel-leaders-urge-obama-to-develop-is-syria-strategy-ahead/

MISSING FIREPOWER Police agencies lose guns supplied by Pentagon

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FILE: Aug. 18, 2014: Police in suburban St. Louis after the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer started rancorous protests in Ferguson, Mo.AP

Images showing high-powered military rifles in the hands of law enforcement in Ferguson, Mo., after the police shooting of an unarmed black man focused attention on a controversial Pentagon program that supplies that kind of weaponry to local police departments. Now reports reveal how some of those guns have been lost by law enforcement officials who received the weapons.

Take Huntington Beach, Calif., which was given 23 M-16 rifles and has reported one missing.

“Bottom line is the gun is not here and we were suspended from the program, haven’t received anything since 1999,” Huntington Beach Police Department Lt. Mitchell O’Brien told ABC News Friday.

O’Brien told the network the lost weapon could have been melted down, but that’s uncertain.

“Bottom line is the gun is not here and we were suspended from the program.”

- Huntington Beach Police Department Lt. Mitchell O’Brien

“Probably, [it was] one of those things where we used it for parts and the spare parts probably got discarded at some point — but again, it’s inconclusive,” he said. “But we are pretty confident nobody got into our armory and took it.

The program O’Brien was referencing is the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which gives away surplus military weapons to local police departments. In a report Friday the Cox Washington Bureau said Huntington Beach is one of 145 local law enforcement agencies across the country that has been suspended from the program.  Three states — Alabama, North Carolina and Minnesota — also have been suspended.

Cox named some of the banned agencies.

The Daytona Beach Police Department was suspended after reporting a lost M-16 in January.

“We still have not been able to find it,” Daytona Beach Police spokesman Jimmie Flynt told Cox.

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office was banned after someone stole a rifle from an employee’s personal vehicle.

“If I knew where it was, I’d go get it,” Undersheriff Jean Donaldson told Cox. “It’s equipment we can obtain at no cost to our budget, so the taxpayers don’t get taxed twice.”

KARK-TV in Arkansas said three law enforcement agencies in the state have been suspended for losing weapons or having weapons stolen: the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the Woodruff County Sheriff’s Office and the Judsonia Police Department.

James Ray, who oversees the 1033 program in Arkansas, told the station officials are worried the missing weapons could end up in the wrong hands.

“I have no reason to believe that, but if we don’t know where they are then hopefully we can get them back,” he said. “I mean they’ve been reported stolen by the law enforcement agencies….”

“It just appears that the Pentagon’s not minding the store, that once the inventory is gone, it’s out of sight, out of mind—and we can’t afford to have weapons of this type walking around the streets,” Steve Ellis, vice president of Tax Payers for Common Sense, told ABC.

A Pentagon spokesman told the station that 8,000 law enforcement agencies participate in the 1033 program and that 98 percent remain in good standing.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/dozens-police-agencies-report-loss-pentagon-supplied-military-weapons/

‘IMPORTANT VICTORY’ Iraqis say they’ve broken ISIS siege of Shiite town

 

Iraqi security forces, along with Shiite militiamen, broke a nearly two-month siege by Islamic State militants on the northern Shiite Turkmen town of Amirli, Iraqi officials said on Sunday.

Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said the operation started at dawn Sunday and the forces entered the town shortly after midday, The Associated Press reported.

Speaking live on state TV, al-Moussawi said the forces suffered “some casualities,” but did not give a specific number. He said fighting was “still ongoing to clear the surrounding villages.”

Breaking the siege was a “big achievement and an important victory” he said, for all involved: the Iraqi army, elite troops, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militias.

However, U.S. officials would not confirm reports that security forces had broken the siege and Pentagon sources told Fox News to expect more U.S. airstrikes in the Amerli area throughout Sunday.

About 15,000 Shiite Turkmens had been stranded in the farming community, some 105 north of Baghdad. Instead of fleeing in the face of the Islamic State drive across northern Iraq, the Shiite Turkmens have stayed and fortified their town with trenches and armed positions.

Iraqi troops began the push to retake the town from ISIS on Saturday. Its water and electricity have been cut off since June and surrounded by 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.

The U.S. had been watching the area closely in case a slaughter of the Turkmen appeared imminent and air support was needed, said Michael Knights, who studies Iraq and the Persian Gulf as a fellow of The Washington Institute. U.S. airstrikes will hasten the success of the relief effort on the ground, he said.

About half of the town’s population is age 15 and under while many others are elderly, sick or wounded, Knights said.

“They are remarkably vulnerable, and ISIS is determined to kill as many of these people as possible,” Knights said, referring to an acronym for the Islamic State group. “As the Nazis felt about the Jews, so ISIS feels about the Shia Muslims.”

The Turkmen are Iraq’s third largest ethnic group after Arabs and Kurds. They make up about 4 percent of Iraq’s population. Iraqi forces were airlifted into the area on Saturday

“We thank God for this victory over terrorists,” al-Bayati told The Associated Press by phone from the outskirts of Amirli. “The people of Amirli are very happy to see that their ordeal is over and that the terrorists are being defeated by Iraqi forces. It is a great day in our life.”

State TV stopped regular programs and started airing patriotic songs following the victory announcement, praising the country’s security forces. They have been fighting the militants for weeks without achieving significant progress on the ground.

On Saturday, the U.S. conducted airstrikes against the Sunni militants and air-dropped humanitarian aid to residents. Aircraft from Australia, France and Britain joined the U.S. in the aid drop, which came after a request from the Iraqi government.  The U.S. Central Command said another airstrike on Sunday damaged a tank used by Islamic State fighters.

The Pentagon’s press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said military operations would be limited in scope and duration as needed to address the humanitarian crisis in Amirli and protect the civilians trapped in the town.

The Islamic State extremist group has seized cities, towns and vast tracts of land in northeastern Syria and northern and western Iraq. It views Shiites as apostates and has carried out a number of massacres and beheadings — often posting grisly videos and photos of the atrocities online.

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/08/31/iraqi-forces-claim-to-have-broken-isis-siege-shiite-town/

‘THERE WAS NO SOUND’ Five people dead in Colo. small plane crash

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Aug 31, 2014: Police and firefighters work on the scene where three people were killed and two others injured after an airplane crashed in a field northwest of the main runway at Erie Municipal Airport while coming in for a landing in Erie, Colo.AP

Five people were killed when a small plane crashed near an airport north of Denver Sunday, according to a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board. 

Peter Knudson said the Piper PA-46 airplane crashed near the Erie Municipal Airport, approximately 20 miles north of Colorado’s capital, at about 11:50 a.m. local time. Three of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene, while the other two were taken to local hospitals. 

KDVR and the Denver Post reported that a dog also died in the crash. The identities of the victims are being withheld by authorities pending notification of next of kin. The Boulder Daily Camera reported that the six-passenger plane is registered to Boulder-based company The Real Estate School LLC. The company is owned by real estate lawyer Oliver Frascona, who lives next to the airport where the crash occurred. 

Erie Police Cmdr. Lee Mathis said the six-passenger plane crashed a few hundred yards northwest of the runway, but he did not know if it was landing or taking off. A photo of the crash site posted on the Daily Camera’s website showed the mangled wreckage of the plane, which crashed into a grassy field.

Jan Culver told the newspaper she was with a friend in a pasture near the airport when she heard the plane and saw it flying “really, really low.”

“We heard it sputtering,” she said. “Then there was no sound. We knew it was a crash.”

She saw a small cloud of dust as the plane crashed and, because she has some medical knowledge, went to the scene to help, Culver said.

“It was a plane upside down with some folks already out of the plane,” she said. “I could tell there were some bad injuries.”

The Post reported that NTSB records show the airport was the scene of three crashes in 2013 and two in 2012. None of those incidents had a fatality.

The last fatality at the airport was in May 2011, when 64-year-old Christian R. Hansen crashed on takeoff in a plane he was demonstrating for a potential buyer, according to the newspaper. The autopsy indicated Hansen had a heart attack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click for more from KDVR.com.

Click for more from the Daily Camera.

Click for more from The Denver Post.

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Dozens of police departments report losing weapons supplied by Pentagon

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FILE: Aug. 18, 2014: Police in suburban St. Louis after the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer started rancorous protests in Ferguson, Mo.AP

Images showing high-powered military rifles in the hands of law enforcement in Ferguson, Mo., after the police shooting of an unarmed black man focused attention on a controversial Pentagon program that supplies that kind of weaponry to local police departments. Now reports reveal how some of those guns have been lost by law enforcement officials who received the weapons.

Take Huntington Beach, Calif., which was given 23 M-16 rifles and has reported one missing.

“Bottom line is the gun is not here and we were suspended from the program, haven’t received anything since 1999,” Huntington Beach Police Department Lt. Mitchell O’Brien told ABC News Friday.

O’Brien told the network the lost weapon could have been melted down, but that’s uncertain.

“Bottom line is the gun is not here and we were suspended from the program.”

- Huntington Beach Police Department Lt. Mitchell O’Brien

“Probably, [it was] one of those things where we used it for parts and the spare parts probably got discarded at some point — but again, it’s inconclusive,” he said. “But we are pretty confident nobody got into our armory and took it.

The program O’Brien was referencing is the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which gives away surplus military weapons to local police departments. In a report Friday the Cox Washington Bureau said Huntington Beach is one of 145 local law enforcement agencies across the country that has been suspended from the program.  Three states — Alabama, North Carolina and Minnesota — also have been suspended.

Cox named some of the banned agencies.

The Daytona Beach Police Department was suspended after reporting a lost M-16 in January.

“We still have not been able to find it,” Daytona Beach Police spokesman Jimmie Flynt told Cox.

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office was banned after someone stole a rifle from an employee’s personal vehicle.

“If I knew where it was, I’d go get it,” Undersheriff Jean Donaldson told Cox. “It’s equipment we can obtain at no cost to our budget, so the taxpayers don’t get taxed twice.”

KARK-TV in Arkansas said three law enforcement agencies in the state have been suspended for losing weapons or having weapons stolen: the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the Woodruff County Sheriff’s Office and the Judsonia Police Department.

James Ray, who oversees the 1033 program in Arkansas, told the station officials are worried the missing weapons could end up in the wrong hands.

“I have no reason to believe that, but if we don’t know where they are then hopefully we can get them back,” he said. “I mean they’ve been reported stolen by the law enforcement agencies….”

“It just appears that the Pentagon’s not minding the store, that once the inventory is gone, it’s out of sight, out of mind—and we can’t afford to have weapons of this type walking around the streets,” Steve Ellis, vice president of Tax Payers for Common Sense, told ABC.

A Pentagon spokesman told the station that 8,000 law enforcement agencies participate in the 1033 program and that 98 percent remain in good standing.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/01/dozens-police-agencies-report-loss-pentagon-supplied-military-weapons/

‘IMPORTANT VICTORY’ Iraqis say they’ve broken ISIS siege of Shiite town

 

Iraqi security forces, along with Shiite militiamen, broke a nearly two-month siege by Islamic State militants on the northern Shiite Turkmen town of Amirli, Iraqi officials said on Sunday.

Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said the operation started at dawn Sunday and the forces entered the town shortly after midday, The Associated Press reported.

Speaking live on state TV, al-Moussawi said the forces suffered “some casualities,” but did not give a specific number. He said fighting was “still ongoing to clear the surrounding villages.”

Breaking the siege was a “big achievement and an important victory” he said, for all involved: the Iraqi army, elite troops, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militias.

However, U.S. officials would not confirm reports that security forces had broken the siege and Pentagon sources told Fox News to expect more U.S. airstrikes in the Amerli area throughout Sunday.

About 15,000 Shiite Turkmens had been stranded in the farming community, some 105 north of Baghdad. Instead of fleeing in the face of the Islamic State drive across northern Iraq, the Shiite Turkmens have stayed and fortified their town with trenches and armed positions.

Iraqi troops began the push to retake the town from ISIS on Saturday. Its water and electricity have been cut off since June and surrounded by 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.

The U.S. had been watching the area closely in case a slaughter of the Turkmen appeared imminent and air support was needed, said Michael Knights, who studies Iraq and the Persian Gulf as a fellow of The Washington Institute. U.S. airstrikes will hasten the success of the relief effort on the ground, he said.

About half of the town’s population is age 15 and under while many others are elderly, sick or wounded, Knights said.

“They are remarkably vulnerable, and ISIS is determined to kill as many of these people as possible,” Knights said, referring to an acronym for the Islamic State group. “As the Nazis felt about the Jews, so ISIS feels about the Shia Muslims.”

The Turkmen are Iraq’s third largest ethnic group after Arabs and Kurds. They make up about 4 percent of Iraq’s population. Iraqi forces were airlifted into the area on Saturday

“We thank God for this victory over terrorists,” al-Bayati told The Associated Press by phone from the outskirts of Amirli. “The people of Amirli are very happy to see that their ordeal is over and that the terrorists are being defeated by Iraqi forces. It is a great day in our life.”

State TV stopped regular programs and started airing patriotic songs following the victory announcement, praising the country’s security forces. They have been fighting the militants for weeks without achieving significant progress on the ground.

On Saturday, the U.S. conducted airstrikes against the Sunni militants and air-dropped humanitarian aid to residents. Aircraft from Australia, France and Britain joined the U.S. in the aid drop, which came after a request from the Iraqi government.  The U.S. Central Command said another airstrike on Sunday damaged a tank used by Islamic State fighters.

The Pentagon’s press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said military operations would be limited in scope and duration as needed to address the humanitarian crisis in Amirli and protect the civilians trapped in the town.

The Islamic State extremist group has seized cities, towns and vast tracts of land in northeastern Syria and northern and western Iraq. It views Shiites as apostates and has carried out a number of massacres and beheadings — often posting grisly videos and photos of the atrocities online.

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/08/31/iraqi-forces-claim-to-have-broken-isis-siege-shiite-town/

‘OUT OF CONTROL’ US doctor takes on Ebola with faith, technology

 

In two layers of protective gear in humid equatorial heat, the doctor slowly picks his way through the packed ETU – Ebola Treatment Unit — in one of the main hospitals in Monrovia, Liberia. It’s so full of patients that many are having to lie on the floor. The doctor treads warily: If he trips, his protective suit might rip, exposing him to the deadly virus.

“This thing is out of control; it could potentially de-populate huge sections of the country,” the American doctor, who asked not to be named, told FoxNews.com hours later. “All of the ETUs are at or beyond capacity.”

With the infectious disease ravaging Liberia’s capital, nurses and doctors are in short supply. The World Health Organization says more than 170 have died from the disease, while those who continue the battle face infected facilities and patients who hide their symptoms.

“[Victims] are in denial,” a West African hygienist working at the same facility, JFK Hospital, said. “People ask us to help them, they say they have a cold, they say it’s not necessary to wear special clothing, they deny it is Ebola. We have lost our families, our friends. They are infecting our nurses, our doctors – they are all gone.”

“People ask us to help them, they say they have a cold, they say it’s not necessary to wear special clothing, they deny it is Ebola.”

- Health care worker battling Ebola in Liberia

Stepping into this dangerous scene of misery with a message of hope is another U.S. doctor, tropical diseases specialist Jeff Deal. The key to his strategy is to make it safe to treat patients, and his weapon of choice is a pair of 5-foot high, germ-zapping devices called the Tru-D Smart UVC.

Deal, a devout Christian who took a leave from his job as director of anthropology and water studies for the Center for Global Health at the Medical University of South Carolina and paid his own way to this impoverished nation, persuaded the Memphis-based manufacturer of the machine to donate and ship two of the machines with him.

Emanating UVC light at a particular frequency known to kill Ebola particles, the machine looks like something from Star Wars. With so many health care workers and patients becoming infected inside ETUs, Deal knew he had to get his decontamination system installed in the isolation wards — Ground Zero for the epidemic.

“I feel like in a lot of ways we had no choice, we had to come,” he said. “I wish I had hundreds and hundreds of these to deploy.”

In recent days, Deal has supervised one of these ultimate bug-slaying devices being installed in each of Monrovia’s two main ETUs. He laughed as he described the moment when, while wearing his protective suit, he turned the first machine on.

“I was so excited I could hardly stay in my suit,” Deal said. “To see this device be used in a place like this, where it’s so needed, is like a dream come true. It’s a very special time, I’ll remember that forever.”

One of the machines is now up and running at Monrovia’s Elwa hospital, in the very ward where Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol got infected. Both were airlifted to Atlanta for treatment and are recovering.

At that hospital, people who are suspected of being infected are observed in an isolation ward for up to three days while doctors await lab results. One doctor said people are so crammed in next to each other that, “if you don’t have Ebola when you go in there, chances are that you will have it by the time you come out.”

Yet another American doctor is visiting Monrovia’s beleaguered hospitals — U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

“Every new transmission that occurs increases the risk to the community, the region and the world,” Frieden, wearing a protective suit, told FoxNews.com. “This is a crisis which will continue to spiral out of control in Liberia unless the world comes together to respond in an unprecedented way.”

At a crematorium in Monrovia, Frieden watched recently as bodies of Ebola victims found lying in the capital’s streets were incinerated.

Despite the grim situation, Deal remains an optimist. He told of meeting a teenage boy and a nurse earlier this week, deep inside an Ebola ward, both without protective clothing. The nurse in uniform, attending to patients with a smile on her face, the boy just in shorts – and a mask, busy scrubbing mattresses.

Both had survived Ebola, are now immune and want to help others. Their selflessness touched him.

“One of the things that this tells me is that there is hope, these recovering patients tell me that this is not a hopeless disease,” Deal said. “It can be managed and patients can do quite well.”

Paul Tilsley is a freelance TV and Radio correspondent for Fox News, based out of Johannesburg, South Africa. Follow him on Twitter @paultilsley

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/09/01/us-doctor-takes-on-ebola-with-faith-american-tech/

‘THIS IS A NEW ONE’ Police: Inmates smuggled pot in grandmother’s coffin

Sheriff’s deputies in Georgia say they foiled a bizarre smuggling scheme in which two jailed inmates used their dead grandmother’s casket to help them smuggle drugs and other contraband back into the jail.

Jailers escorted Henry Ison Rouse, 27, and Nekoase Antwan Vinson, 30, in handcuffs and leg restraints to the Bentley Brothers funeral home Thursday evening to bid farewell to their grandmother.

Emma Mae Faulk of Macon died last Sunday at age 74 and the prisoners were allowed a private viewing.

“One of them stayed in there (with the casket) a good amount of time,” the Rev. Roland Stroud told the Macon Telegraph.

Back at the jail, when guards searched Vinson they found a baggie of marijuana, a packet of tobacco, a lighter and cellphone crammed in a rag tucked in his groin.

Sheriff David Davis believes Vinson and Rouse had acquaintances leave the weed and other items in their grandmother’s casket for them to find.

“We see ingenious ways for the inmates to bring in contraband,” Davis told the newspaper. “But this is a new one on us.”

The two were charged with marijuana possession and trying to take contraband into jail.

“This incident illustrates the audacity of this generation of jail inmates,” Davis said in a statement. “To use the body of a deceased grandmother to hide drugs and other contraband is wicked.”

Vinson was behind bars on an undisclosed FBI matter. Rouse was locked up in July on drug and other charges.

 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/08/31/inmates-used-grandmothers-coffin-to-smuggle-marijuana-police-say/

‘THIS IS A NEW ONE’ Police: Inmates smuggled pot in grandmother’s coffin

Sheriff’s deputies in Georgia say they foiled a bizarre smuggling scheme in which two jailed inmates used their dead grandmother’s casket to help them smuggle drugs and other contraband back into the jail.

Jailers escorted Henry Ison Rouse, 27, and Nekoase Antwan Vinson, 30, in handcuffs and leg restraints to the Bentley Brothers funeral home Thursday evening to bid farewell to their grandmother.

Emma Mae Faulk of Macon died last Sunday at age 74 and the prisoners were allowed a private viewing.

“One of them stayed in there (with the casket) a good amount of time,” the Rev. Roland Stroud told the Macon Telegraph.

Back at the jail, when guards searched Vinson they found a baggie of marijuana, a packet of tobacco, a lighter and cellphone crammed in a rag tucked in his groin.

Sheriff David Davis believes Vinson and Rouse had acquaintances leave the weed and other items in their grandmother’s casket for them to find.

“We see ingenious ways for the inmates to bring in contraband,” Davis told the newspaper. “But this is a new one on us.”

The two were charged with marijuana possession and trying to take contraband into jail.

“This incident illustrates the audacity of this generation of jail inmates,” Davis said in a statement. “To use the body of a deceased grandmother to hide drugs and other contraband is wicked.”

Vinson was behind bars on an undisclosed FBI matter. Rouse was locked up in July on drug and other charges.

 

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Iraqi forces claim to have broken Islamic State siege of Shiite town

 

Iraqi security forces, along with Shiite militiamen, broke a nearly two-month siege by Islamic State militants on the northern Shiite Turkmen town of Amirli, Iraqi officials said on Sunday.

Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said the operation started at dawn Sunday and the forces entered the town shortly after midday, The Associated Press reported.

Speaking live on state TV, al-Moussawi said the forces suffered “some casualities,” but did not give a specific number. He said fighting was “still ongoing to clear the surrounding villages.”

Breaking the siege was a “big achievement and an important victory” he said, for all involved: the Iraqi army, elite troops, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militias.

However, U.S. officials would not confirm reports that security forces had broken the siege and Pentagon sources told Fox News to expect more U.S. airstrikes in the Amerli area throughout Sunday.

About 15,000 Shiite Turkmens had been stranded in the farming community, some 105 north of Baghdad. Instead of fleeing in the face of the Islamic State drive across northern Iraq, the Shiite Turkmens have stayed and fortified their town with trenches and armed positions.

Iraqi troops began the push to retake the town from ISIS on Saturday. Its water and electricity have been cut off since June and surrounded by 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.

The U.S. had been watching the area closely in case a slaughter of the Turkmen appeared imminent and air support was needed, said Michael Knights, who studies Iraq and the Persian Gulf as a fellow of The Washington Institute. U.S. airstrikes will hasten the success of the relief effort on the ground, he said.

About half of the town’s population is age 15 and under while many others are elderly, sick or wounded, Knights said.

“They are remarkably vulnerable, and ISIS is determined to kill as many of these people as possible,” Knights said, referring to an acronym for the Islamic State group. “As the Nazis felt about the Jews, so ISIS feels about the Shia Muslims.”

The Turkmen are Iraq’s third largest ethnic group after Arabs and Kurds. They make up about 4 percent of Iraq’s population. Iraqi forces were airlifted into the area on Saturday

“We thank God for this victory over terrorists,” al-Bayati told The Associated Press by phone from the outskirts of Amirli. “The people of Amirli are very happy to see that their ordeal is over and that the terrorists are being defeated by Iraqi forces. It is a great day in our life.”

State TV stopped regular programs and started airing patriotic songs following the victory announcement, praising the country’s security forces. They have been fighting the militants for weeks without achieving significant progress on the ground.

On Saturday, the U.S. conducted airstrikes against the Sunni militants and air-dropped humanitarian aid to residents. Aircraft from Australia, France and Britain joined the U.S. in the aid drop, which came after a request from the Iraqi government.  The U.S. Central Command said another airstrike on Sunday damaged a tank used by Islamic State fighters.

The Pentagon’s press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said military operations would be limited in scope and duration as needed to address the humanitarian crisis in Amirli and protect the civilians trapped in the town.

The Islamic State extremist group has seized cities, towns and vast tracts of land in northeastern Syria and northern and western Iraq. It views Shiites as apostates and has carried out a number of massacres and beheadings — often posting grisly videos and photos of the atrocities online.

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.

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MISSING FIREPOWER Police agencies lose guns supplied by Pentagon

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FILE: Aug. 18, 2014: Police in suburban St. Louis after the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer started rancorous protests in Ferguson, Mo.AP

Images showing high-powered military rifles in the hands of law enforcement in Ferguson, Mo., after the police shooting of an unarmed black man focused attention on a controversial Pentagon program that supplies that kind of weaponry to local police departments. Now reports reveal how some of those guns have been lost by law enforcement officials who received the weapons.

Take Huntington Beach, Calif., which was given 23 M-16 rifles and has reported one missing.

“Bottom line is the gun is not here and we were suspended from the program, haven’t received anything since 1999,” Huntington Beach Police Department Lt. Mitchell O’Brien told ABC News Friday.

O’Brien told the network the lost weapon could have been melted down, but that’s uncertain.

“Bottom line is the gun is not here and we were suspended from the program.”

- Huntington Beach Police Department Lt. Mitchell O’Brien

“Probably, [it was] one of those things where we used it for parts and the spare parts probably got discarded at some point — but again, it’s inconclusive,” he said. “But we are pretty confident nobody got into our armory and took it.

The program O’Brien was referencing is the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which gives away surplus military weapons to local police departments. In a report Friday the Cox Washington Bureau said Huntington Beach is one of 145 local law enforcement agencies across the country that has been suspended from the program.  Three states — Alabama, North Carolina and Minnesota — also have been suspended.

Cox named some of the banned agencies.

The Daytona Beach Police Department was suspended after reporting a lost M-16 in January.

“We still have not been able to find it,” Daytona Beach Police spokesman Jimmie Flynt told Cox.

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office was banned after someone stole a rifle from an employee’s personal vehicle.

“If I knew where it was, I’d go get it,” Undersheriff Jean Donaldson told Cox. “It’s equipment we can obtain at no cost to our budget, so the taxpayers don’t get taxed twice.”

KARK-TV in Arkansas said three law enforcement agencies in the state have been suspended for losing weapons or having weapons stolen: the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the Woodruff County Sheriff’s Office and the Judsonia Police Department.

James Ray, who oversees the 1033 program in Arkansas, told the station officials are worried the missing weapons could end up in the wrong hands.

“I have no reason to believe that, but if we don’t know where they are then hopefully we can get them back,” he said. “I mean they’ve been reported stolen by the law enforcement agencies….”

“It just appears that the Pentagon’s not minding the store, that once the inventory is gone, it’s out of sight, out of mind—and we can’t afford to have weapons of this type walking around the streets,” Steve Ellis, vice president of Tax Payers for Common Sense, told ABC.

A Pentagon spokesman told the station that 8,000 law enforcement agencies participate in the 1033 program and that 98 percent remain in good standing.

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‘DO THEY WANT WAR’? Ukrainians on the front lines losing faith in Europe

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August 30, 2014: Ukrainian army personnel carry an Ukrainian government soldier injured by tank fire to an ambulance in the rebel-held town of Starobesheve. Half an hour later the soldier died. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

For several weeks last winter, bus driver Ivan Borys ferried people from his hometown in western Ukraine to and from the demonstrations in Kiev in favor of closer ties with the European Union.

Now, the 51-year-old holds a rifle in this southern port city, the newest front line of Ukraine’s confrontation with Russia—and wonders where Europe is now.

“They promised to help, but how are they helping?” Mr. Borys said, standing next to a truck that volunteers had armored with metal plates.

He said that Europe’s promotion of peace talks and a political solution—rather than throwing its weight behind Ukraine with weapons and other military assistance—has simply encouraged Russian aggression. “Do they want war?” he asked.

Many Ukrainians welcomed U.S. and EU support during the protests against a corrupt, pro-Russia government, when many Western politicians joined them on the main protest square in Kiev. But the West has tread cautiously since then in dealing with the aftermath, which has seen Russia invade and annex Crimea and support a rebellion in the country’s east.

Click for more from The Wall Street Journal.

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Cruz calls for US to bomb Islamic State jihadists ‘back to the Stone Age’

 

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, made clear this weekend his foreign policy strategy for dealing with the militant group Islamic State: “bomb them back to the Stone Age.”

“They want to go back and reject modernity,” he said. “Well, I think we should help them. We ought to bomb them back to the Stone Age.”

Cruz made his remarks Saturday in Dallas at a summit for Americans for Prosperity, the political arm of the billionaire GOP donors Charles and David Koch.

The influential gathering of conservatives also included speeches by a few other potential 2016 GOP White House candidates — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Cruz also staked out his position on such domestic issues as the U.S. border-illegal immigration crisis and the Affordable Care Act.

“In the year 2017, a Republican president in the Rose Garden is going to sign a bill repealing every word of ObamaCare,” he said.

Cruz joked about inviting President Obama to the southern border to see where thousands of unaccompanied immigrant children have poured into the country. The president declined such an invitation from Perry.

“I figured out the only way there is a chance in heaven he might come (is if) I’m inviting him to come to a golf course,” Cruz said.

A crowd of more than 3,000 at a hotel ballroom serenaded him with calls of “Run Ted, Run.”

However, Cruz ignored direct questions about a presidential campaign when he met with reporters after the speech.

He told conservatives in the audience, “Each of you is here because we are part of a grassroots fire that is sweeping this country. … We are building an army.”

On Friday, Perry and Paul pounced on Obama’s “we don’t have a strategy yet” comments earlier in the week regarding the violent militant faction of Islamic State attacking cities in Iraq.

“Yesterday, the president admitted he had no strategy to deal with ISIS,” Perry said, drawing hoots and hisses from a packed convention hall. “The deepening chaos in Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and Ukraine is all the clear and compelling evidence the world needs of a president one step behind, lurching from crisis to crisis.”

Paul fired up the audience by suggesting that Obama’s lack of leadership showed he’d been on the job too long.

Republicans criticizing Obama’s foreign policy is nothing new, but there are deepening divisions within the GOP over how to move forward.

The broader debate pits those who favor the GOP’s traditional muscular foreign policy — a group that includes Perry and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — and those, like Paul and Cruz, who prefer a smaller international footprint. The so-called isolationist approach plays well with grassroots activists and a war-weary public, but worries many Republican officials and donors who prefer an aggressive American role in world affairs.

The intra-party divisions largely weren’t much on display at the Americans for Prosperity event, but will become clearer as the crowded group of possible presidential candidates tries to distinguish themselves in the coming months.

Pence didn’t mention Obama’s comments. He told the Associated Press afterward only that “the president of the United States is the commander of chief of our armed forces. I wouldn’t want to prejudge what his military advisers counsel.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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US IN ‘FREE FALL’? Rogers: Obama’s inertia on Syria empowering rivals

 

Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Sunday that President Obama’s inertia on whether to launch airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria is part of an overall foreign policy failure that is empowering China, North Korea, Russia and other rival nations.

“It’s all related,” Rogers, R-Mich., told “Fox News Sunday.” “The world sees the United States as withdrawn.”

Rogers said the president’s apparent disengagement or slow response is the reason China has engaged U.S. pilots and Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved into eastern Ukraine without fear of consequence.

“U.S. foreign policy is in free fall,” he said. “Traditional allies are saying maybe the United States is not the best to lead us.”

The president faces a big test later this week when he travels to Europe for a NATO summit where he hopes to build a coalition to stop Islamic State, the terror group formerly known as ISIS, and other militant groups in the Middle East.

Rogers told Fox News he doesn’t believe White House Press Secretary Josh Ernest when he said last week that military options are “still being developed.”

Ernest’s remarks followed the president saying the U.S. still doesn’t have a strategy for Islamic State and Syria.

Rogers said the president was presented with a range of military options at the start of the 2011 uprising in Syria to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad, a movement that gave rise to Islamic State.

“There have been plans on the table,” Rogers said. “The president just didn’t want to get engaged. That is a decision. That is foreign policy.”

Rogers also said the surprising and powerful surge of Islamic State — across the Syrian border and into northern Iraq — reached a critical point longer before the group earlier this month beheaded American journalist James Foley.

He said the president’s plan to build a coalition isn’t “wrong,” just “late” because the U.S. now has fewer, safer options in the efforts to stop Islamic State before it strikes on American soil.

Rogers estimated that “hundreds” of Americans have already traveled or trained with Islamic State at least once.

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STEWART TO START NASCAR star returns to racing after fatal crash

 

Tony Stewart was cheered in practice Saturday.

Jeff Gordon and other drivers wouldn’t be surprised if Stewart hears bigger cheers Sunday night.

Kevin Harvick will be on the pole, but Stewart, who will start 12th, will be in the spotlight in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Stewart is competing for the first time since the sprint car he was driving struck and killed 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. in an Aug. 9 race at a dirt track in upstate New York.

Gordon was impressed when Stewart ran close to 190 mph in practice on Friday. Stewart was a bit slower in qualifying at 187.907 and again in Saturday, when he posted the 18th-fastest time at 184.806.

Still, Gordon said Friday that Stewart “may make quite a return.”

Gordon and other drivers said the return to racing will provide therapy for Stewart, who was visibly emotional, with his voice breaking, as he read a prepared statement on Friday.

“I do think that the best thing for him is to be in that race car,” Gordon said.

Said Harvick, Stewart’s teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing: “Being in that car cures a lot of problems for a short time.”

Harvick warmed up for the Sprint Cup race by winning Saturday night’s Nationwide Series event, leading the final 159 laps.

In his prepared statement, Stewart said he skipped the last three races “out of respect for Kevin and his family and also to cope with the accident in my own way.”

“It’s given me the time to think about life and how easy it is to take it for granted,” Stewart said. “I missed my team, my teammates and missed being back in the race car. I think that being back in the car this week with my racing family will help me get through this difficult time.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Saturday he tried to reach out to Stewart but was unsuccessful.

“Tony has sort of been underground and not really having communication with anyone,” Earnhardt said.

“I’m glad he’s back. It was fun seeing him out there in the car in practice. I just can’t imagine what that situation must be like. … It’s a hard situation for everybody, the whole sport.”

Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, one of Stewart’s primary sponsors, released a statement Saturday expressing support for Stewart in his return. Morris said he met with Stewart last week.

“It made my heart ache to see him so devastated by this incident,” said Morris, who described Stewart as “one of the most compassionate and kind-hearted individuals I have ever met.”

Brad Keselowski will start beside Harvick on the front row.

It is the next-to-last race before the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Stewart can make the 16-car Chase field with a win Sunday night or next week at Richmond, thanks to a waiver announced by NASCAR on Friday. NASCAR requires its drivers to compete in every event to make the playoff, but Stewart received the waiver that is normally applied to a driver who misses a race for medical reasons.

Gordon, the points leader, and other drivers supported the decision to grant Stewart the waiver.

“I think the whole intent of eligibility for the Chase is just so that somebody doesn’t go just take a vacation after winning a few races,” Gordon said. “That’s the way I look at it. It’s not for unforeseen circumstances or medical or anything like that to prevent you from going out and competing in the Chase.

“They want the teams and the drivers that have earned their way in it and deserve to be in it and I believe if they win a race they should be in it.”

The new Chase format places an emphasis on wins. Drivers who don’t have a win must nervously watch the points standings for the final spots in the Chase field.

The format could force some drivers to adapt an all-or-nothing strategy for the final two races before the Chase.

“There are two races left and it’s going to be a battle,” said Brian Vickers, who is 19th in points and seeking his first win of the year. “It’s going to be intense these next two races, knowing it’s not just about the guys on the cusp of the points. It’s anybody who can win.”

Matt Kenseth, who was fifth in qualifying, is in the best position of those still trying to lock up a spot in the Chase. He will be locked in by finishing seventh or better, regardless of who wins the race.

Gordon is reaching a milestone with his 750th career race. It’s an appropriate setting for Gordon, who made his debut in Atlanta in the final race of the 1992 season.

“It just seems like it was just yesterday it started right here,” Gordon said. “I love this track. I love racing here. So it’s pretty cool to have 750 happening here.”

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