BELLES OF THE BALL Ladies of WWII leagues honored in special tribute

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    Katie Horstman, 79, took the mound once again Monday in Albuquerque, some six decades after barnstorming across the U.S. as a star in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. (FoxNews.com)

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    Only about 120 women who played in the legendary league are still alive, but all have fond memories of their diamond days. (FoxNews.com)

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    Katie Horstman and Anna Meyer were stars in the all-women’s baseball league.

Katie Horstman stood on the pitcher’s mound at Albuquerque’s Isotope Stadium Monday and was transported back to 1951, when as a star in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, she barnstormed through the country wowing crowds and inspiring young girls with a brand of baseball that would later be immortalized in the film “A League of their Own.”

One of about only 120 women players remaining from the league that ran from 1943-1954, Horstman, 79, and 25 other veterans, all in their late 70s to 90s, were on hand as part of their annual reunion at the Dodger’s Triple A affiliate in Albuquerque.

“Oh, I was thrown out of my church because I was told girls playing baseball was a sin.”

- Anna “Pee Wee” Meyer, 86

Like many of her teammates, Horstman has stayed active over the years and shares the common bond of an unflappable passion for the game that brought many of them scorn for not being “lady like,” or not being as good as the male players who had gone off to fight World War II.

Anna “Pee Wee” Meyer, 86, who was a 15-year-old shortstop when she began playing for the Kenosha Comets in 1944, was wearing a T-shirt that said, “There’s no crying in baseball,” the iconic line uttered by Tom Hanks, as crusty manager Jimmy Dugan, in the 1992 film.

Meyer experienced her own unique brand of chastisement for playing baseball in the 1940s.

“Oh, I was thrown out of my church because I was told girls playing baseball was a sin,” said the still-spunky Meyer with a shrug and a grin. Her career in the league continued through 1950.

While Meyer was faced with religious conflict, Toni Ann Palermo of Chicago traded her short skirt uniform of the Springfield Sallies and Chicago Colleens for a nun’s habit. After her career ended in 1950, Palermo joined the School Sisters of St. Francis, which she has been a part of for 60 years.

Palermo received an undergraduate degree, three master’s degrees, and a doctorate. But her fondest memory remains playing a game in Yankee Stadium in 1949 and borrowing fellow shortstop and future Hall of Famer Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto’s glove.

“Felt like a star, like I could catch anything,” she said.

The stars rose for the women in 1943, when the league was established to fill the void of major and minor league players who were called or volunteered for service. While thousands of women went to work in factories driving rivets into planes and tanks, the women of the AAGPBL took to the field to entertain and help take people’s minds off places like Anzio, Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Normandy, if only for a little while.

The season drew a respectable 176,612 spectators and the women on the five Midwestern teams were paid $45-$85 per week. The league eventually folded and the women turned to careers, families and playing recreational baseball. Their exploits fell into obscurity until 1992, when Palermo was the first inductee into the Women’s National Baseball Hall of Fame and the release of the Penny Marshall-directed movie, which starred Madonna, Geena Davis and Rosie O’Donnell.

Doris “Cookie” Cook, 83, was the real life player O’Donnell’s character was modeled after.

“I was a little concerned at first how they would portray us, but they did pretty good,” Cook said.

Lena Lavato, 19, of Albuquerque, stood on the railing to the field waiting to have one of the women sign the baseball she was holding. The former high school softball and volleyball player was in awe of the unique opportunity.

“I think they’re really inspiring in what they did,” Lavato said. “A lot of girls play sports now because of them.”

With the grit and determination they played with 70 years ago, the women battled 93-degree desert heat after being introduced on the field before the Isotope game to sign autographs on the stadium concourse to fans ranging eight decades.

“I have to hurry up, I’m holding up the line,” Palermo said, as she would take time to speak with fans. “It’s like this everywhere we go.”

One former Catholic school student, now in her 60s, reminded Palermo to sign her name “Sister Toni Ann Palermo” on the logo autograph card that was distributed.

As Horstman took the mound for her ceremonial pitch, the spectators who gathered for the pre-game ceremony were reminded of the sacrifices and contribution the women made before most of them were even born.

This was lost on Horstman, who was all business. From the stretch, she lifted her arm to shoulder level like she had taught thousands of students in her physical education classes over the past half-century, stepped and released. The ball flew wide of the catcher.

Determined, she wanted another try.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2014/07/22/albuquerque-tribute-shows-these-women-are-still-in-league-their-own/

WHODUNNIT? Murder of law professor baffles colleagues, cops

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Police say an investigation thus far has indicated no signs of a burglary or robbery and detectives have yet to identify a suspect in the Friday morning shooting of Dan Markel, a 41-year-old Florida State University law professor who later died at a local hospital. (Florida State University)

Top legal scholars are in mourning and Florida police are puzzled over the murder of an internationally respected and Harvard-trained law professor, who was shot in his home in an upscale Tallahassee neighborhood.

Dan Markel, 41, a Florida State University law professor who made a name for himself with a new theory of retributive justice for liberal democracies and a blog popular in legal academic circles, was shot in his home Friday and died the next day in a local hospital. There were no signs of burglary or robbery, and police have no suspects so far, according to Tallahassee Police Department Chief Michael DeLeo.

“Investigators are assuring residents there is no evidence this was a random act,” DeLeo said in a statement. “Neighborhood residents should continue to be vigilant, but it appears at this time that Mr. Markel was the intended victim in this incident.”

Markel, a Toronto native, primarily taught criminal law at Florida State after graduating Harvard Law School in 2001. He was promoted to professor in 2012 and was known for applying the theory he developed to varying topics such as the proper scope of mercy, capital punishment, punitive damages and shaming punishments. His work was published in many leading law reviews, and he co-authored a book, “Privilege or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties.”

“Dan was unique in that he tried to push everyone around him to live up to his own (often impossibly high) standards.”

- Stephen Vladeck, professor of law, American University

Markel, who also contributed to several media outlets, including USA Today and The New York Times, also founded PrawfsBlawg, a popular blog on a variety of law-related topics. A post on Saturday announced Markel’s “terrible, senseless” killing.

“What we have in common, with many others, is Dan,” the post read. “His network of friends and loved ones — and he had a great deal of love for all his many friends, as we did and do for him — is enormous. His boundless energy was at the center of this community; it made it run, it gave it life.”

One of the professors who signed the post, Stephen Vladeck of American University, said Markel’s “devotion to scholarly enterprise” clearly set him apart from colleagues.

“Yes, he was a brilliant scholar and writer, but there are lots of law professors who fit those labels,” Vladeck wrote in an email to FoxNews.com. “Whether that meant tirelessly reading and providing feedback on his friends’ paper, organizing conferences where folks could present their ideas, or starting a blog where folks looking for an outlet could find a forum to develop and distribute their ideas, Dan cared about legal ideas, as such — even those that weren’t his own.”

Vladeck continued: “Dan was committed, across topics far afield of his own heartland of criminal law, to raising the level of scholarly debate — and to not pulling punches as he did it. Those make for tough qualities in a critic, but indispensable ones in a colleague and friend.”

Markel, a father of two young boys, divorced last year from Wendi Jill Adelson, a clinical professor at Florida State University’s College of Law. Adelson could not be reached for comment, but her attorney, Jimmy Judkins, said she is distraught and working with authorities.

“She’s semi-apoplectic I guess,” Judkins told FoxNews.com. “Her whole life changed immediately. They were co-parenting those boys and now it’s just a miserable experience. Her life is upside-down right now.”

Stefani Alexander, a recent Florida State law graduate, said both Markel and Adelson were highly valued at the school for pushing students to think in new ways.

“Although he wasn’t my criminal law professor, Professor Markel was a well-known scholar in the area and was known among students as being very challenging in the classroom, and to think about big-ticket issues,” Alexander told FoxNews.com. 

Tallahassee Police Department Officer David Northway said detectives are continuing to investigate the homicide on Tuesday, reiterating that no suspects have been identified.

“We are continuing our investigation,” Northway told FoxNews.com, declining further comment.

Police are now asking witnesses, residents and anyone in the area of the 2100 block of Trescott Drive between 10 a.m. and noon Friday to call detectives at (850) 891-4462. Callers are asked to leave a message with as much information as possible and any information leading to an arrest in the case could lead to a cash reward of up to $1,000.

“TPD will work tirelessly to follow up on all leads and evidence in this case, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Markel family as they endure this terrible tragedy,” DeLeo’s statement continued. “My investigators will do everything they can to see those responsible for this murder are brought to justice.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/07/22/legal-community-stunned-at-murder-top-law-professor/

NO-FLY ZONE: FAA halts all US flights to Tel Aviv for 24 hours

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In this file photo taken July 22, 2011 a Delta Air Lines jet takes off at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Mich. Delta Air Lines on Tuesday, July 22, 2014 canceled all flights to Israel until further notice, citing reports that a rocket landed near Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport.AP/File

The Federal Aviation Administration has told all U.S. airlines that flights to Israel’s Tel Aviv airport are prohibited for 24 hours after a rocket from Gaza landed in the area.

Delta Air Lines and United Airlines said earlier Tuesday they are suspending service between the U.S. and Israel indefinitely. US Airways scrapped its Tel Aviv service Tuesday and said it is monitoring the situation in regards to future flights.

The FAA said in a statement that the ban on flights is for 24 hours beginning at 12:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and that a rocket landed about one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport Tuesday morning.

The airport is located 50 miles north of Gaza, within range of rockets being fired by the militant group Hamas.

Delta Air Lines’ one daily flight was already in the air. Delta said a Boeing 747 from New York was flying over the Mediterranean headed for Tel Aviv when it turned around and flew to Paris instead. Flight 468 had 273 passengers and 17 crew on board.

The notice only applies to U.S. airlines since the FAA has no authority over carriers from other nations.

The FAA said it will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation, and that updated instructions will be provided to U.S. airlines “as soon as conditions permit, but no later than 24 hours” from the time the directive went into force.

Palestinian militants have fired more than 2,000 rockets toward Israel, and several heading toward the area of Ben-Gurion Airport have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system, but police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Tuesday’s landing was the closet to the airport since fighting began on July 8.

The rocket damaged a house and lightly injured one Israeli in Yehud, a village near the airport, Samri said.

Airlines and passengers are growing more anxious about safety since last week, when a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Airlines have rerouted planes to avoid the area over eastern Ukraine where pro-Soviet separatists are battling the Ukrainian army.

A Delta spokesman declined to go beyond the details released in a statement.

United Airlines has canceled its two daily flights to Israel out of Newark, N.J., according to spokesman Rahsaan Johnson.

US Airways, which has one daily flight from Philadelphia, canceled that flight Tuesday and the return trip from Tel Aviv.

“We are in constant contact with the FAA and are monitoring the situation closely,” said Casey Norton, spokesman for US Airways’ parent company American Airlines. The airline has not yet made a decision about flights to Israel scheduled for Wednesday and beyond.

Israel’s Transportation Ministry called on the companies to reverse their decision and said it was trying to explain that the airport was “safe for landings and departures.”

“There is no reason for the American companies to stop their flight and give a prize to terror,” Israeli Transportation Minister Israel Katz told The Jerusalem Post.

The order could take a toll on Israel’s economy, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“As soon as the FAA gives such an order to US carriers, in most cases it’s a domino effect, and most European carriers will be forced to suspend their flights,” an industry source told the newspaper. “This is a huge coup for Hamas.”

A representative of Germany’s national airline, Lufthansa, told Fox News at its ticketing office in London’s Heathrow Airport Tuesday that all of its flights to Tel Aviv have been canceled.

A spokesman for Air France told Reuters that all of the airliner’s flights to Tel Aviv have been canceled as well.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/22/us-airlines-scrap-flights-to-israel-over-missile-fears/

OBAMACARE CONFUSION Conflicting rulings issued on legality of subsidies

 

Two federal appeals court rulings put the issue of ObamaCare subsidies in limbo Tuesday, with one court invalidating some of them and the other upholding all of them. 

The first decision came Tuesday morning from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The panel, in a major blow to the law, ruled 2-1 that the IRS went too far in extending subsidies to those who buy insurance through the federally run exchange, known as HealthCare.gov. 

A separate federal appeals court — the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals — hours later issued its own ruling on a similar case that upheld the subsidies in their entirety. 

The conflicting rulings would typically fast-track the matter to the Supreme Court. However, it is likely that the administration will ask the D.C. appeals court to first convene all 11 judges to re-hear that case. 

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stressed Tuesday that different courts have reached different conclusions on the subsidy issue, and said the latest ruling “does not have any practical impact” at this point on the ability of people to get tax credits. 

Still, the D.C. court ruling nevertheless strikes at the foundation of the law by challenging subsidies that millions of people obtained through the federally run exchange known as HealthCare.gov. 

The suit maintained that the language in ObamaCare actually restricts subsidies to state-run exchanges — of which there are only 14 — and does not authorize them to be given in the 36 states that use the federally run system.  

The court agreed.

“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions  of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly,” the ruling stated.  

The case, Halbig v. Burwell, is one of the first major legal challenges that cuts to the heart of the Affordable Care Act by going after the legality of massive federal subsidies and those who benefit from them.

The decision said the law “unambiguously restricts” the subsidies to insurance bought on state-run exchanges. 

The dissenting opinion, though, claimed political motivations were at play. “This case is about Appellants’ not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (‘ACA’),” the dissent stated. 

The ruling, though likely to be appealed, could threaten the entire foundation of the newly devised health care system. Nearly 90 percent of the federal exchange’s insurance enrollees were eligible for subsidies because of low or moderate incomes, and the outcome of the case could potentially leave millions without affordable health insurance.

“Today’s decision rightly holds the Obama administration accountable to the law,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in a written statement adding, “… As it has on so many occasions, the Obama administration simply ignored the law and implemented its own policy instead.”

The next step for the Obama administration would be that they request a so-called en banc ruling, which means there would be a vote taken by all of the judges on the court. An appeals court can only overrule a decision made by a panel if the court is sitting en banc.

Earnest said the Department of Justice will likely appeal to the full D.C. Circuit Court and defended the administration’s position that Congress intended “all eligible Americans” to have access to the subsidies regardless of which entity set up the exchange.

“We are confident in the legal position that we have,” Earnest said.

Ron Pollack, founding executive director of Families USA, said in a written statement that the ruling “represents the high-water mark for Affordable Care Act opponents, but the water will recede very quickly.”

He added, “It will inevitably be placed on hold pending further proceedings; will probably be reheard by all of the 11-member active D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals members, who predictably will reverse it; and runs contrary to” the ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The appeals process could eventually lead to the U.S. Supreme Court deciding on the legality of the subsidies, but Pollack, whose group supports the law, believes that won’t happen.

Of the 11 judges that could rehear the case, seven are Democrats and four are Republicans.

Halbig v. Burwell, which previously had been called Halbig v. Sebelius, is one of four federal lawsuits that have been filed aimed at targeting the idea of tax credits and other subsidies afforded under ObamaCare.

A total of $1 trillion in subsidies is projected to be doled out over the next decade. 

A U.S. District Court previously sided with the Obama administration on Jan. 15.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/22/federal-appeals-court-invalidates-some-obamacare-subsidies-in-blow-to-health/

ISRAELI GAME-CHANGER Iron Dome tackles Hamas rockets, but fear remains

The success of Israel’s vaunted Iron Dome has not shielded civilians like Hadar Zilberstein from the constant fear of increasingly frequent and sophisticated rockets launched from Gaza, but the thought of life without it is changing opinions on the ground.

As Israel Defense Forces continue to press inside Gaza in a bid to close off tunnels and stop the constant bombardment from the Hamas-controlled territory, the barrage of rockets has continued. Early Tuesday, a rocket launched from Gaza hit the Tel Aviv suburb of Yehud, burrowing into the roof of a home with a 60-pound warhead that failed to detonate. It was a reminder of how, even as Israel’s defenses have improved, Hamas rockets have increased dramatically in payload and range.

“When you see it with your own eyes and it gets close to you, it gets too real,” said Zilberstein, who avoided a separate incident on Saturday night in Nes Ziona. “You’re just frightened for your life. You just want to be home.”

Zilberstein, 29, recounted pulling into the parking lot at her job in the coastal town just south of Tel Aviv and hearing the rocket siren even as a missile passed over her. It crashed into a nearby field, sending shrapnel flying, but injuring no one despite the deadly intent behind it.

“It’s so in your face,” she said. “The boom, the sound of breaking glass, seeing the metal pieces all around where I had walked only a few seconds before.”

The bombardment from Gaza has made Israelis grateful for the Iron Dome, the mobile missile defense system that intercepts rockets aimed at populated areas. The system was initially deployed in 2011, but has been upgraded substantially since then and has been credited with greatly reducing the number of deadly rockets falling in civilian territory. It has also changed the perception of the raging conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

“If it hadn’t been for the Iron Dome, this war would have been a very different story,” said Zilberstein. “Usually I’m pretty left-wing in my opinions, but while there is so much violence in this conflict, most people I know are saying pretty good things about the conduct of our government and the efforts made by the army.”

Ben Eliad, 26, a colleague of Zilberstein at a broadcast studio, was on-air when the missile struck.

“I felt the building shudder and shake,” he recalled. “After the 5-minute all-clear I came back to the studio, saw the fire in the field a few hundred meters away. This was definitely the closest such experience I’ve ever known.”

“I can’t begin to understand how the citizens in the south of Israel feel after this day-to-day reality for nearly 14 years,” Eliad said. “On the other hand, this is a really tough conflict affecting innocent children who don’t want any part in this war. Hamas are responsible for the casualties for using their own citizens as human shields.”

Monday saw seven more Israeli soldiers killed in combat, four killed tackling Islamist terrorists emerging from a tunnel under the Israeli border. The deaths brought Israel’s military losses to 25, a big blow for the Jewish state, but less than 20 times the unverified figure that has been declared by the Hamas authorities in Gaza. Even those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause appear to accept that Hamas has been using innocent civilians as human shields, deliberately placing targets within highly populated areas to apparently maximize human losses in order to garner public sympathy.

On Monday, the IDF reported that a cache of anti-tank missiles had been stored “in the immediate vicinity of the Al Aqsa Hospital.” An IDF statement added that “Hamas and its deliberate tactic of embedding terrorist activities within the urban environment are ultimately responsible [for the civilian casualties].”

For the parents of reserve Israeli soldiers called up to their units and sent to the Gaza region these are anxious times, especially as each new day brings further news of losses in the field of combat.

“I took part in the Yom Kippur War and the First Lebanon War,” Avi Barda, from Ramle, whose 30-year-old son Moshe is a lieutenant in a support unit, told FoxNews.com. “These are very difficult times for us all, but I have to say that we just want to be like any other country and not spend our lives in bomb shelters, living every day in fear. We have to put an end to these kinds of things.”

Linda and Rami Lador’s 32-year-old son, Yona, was drafted on Thursday, the day Israel’s land incursion into Gaza began. Both anxious about their son’s safety, they nonetheless believe Israel had no other option but to go ahead with the latest phase of the military engagement with Hamas. Texas-born Linda has formed a Facebook group to support parents of other drafted soldiers to keep their morale up.

“We feel the camaraderie of stress and concern. I haven’t slept much at night since Yona joined his unit,” she admitted.

“We know we’re on the right side,” Rami Lador added. “It’s just that so many people just haven’t realized it yet.”

Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist who can be followed on Twitter @ paul _ alster and at www.paulalster.com

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/22/iron-dome-changes-game-opinions-in-israel-though-hamas-rockets-still-land/

Blow to ObamaCare: Court tosses federal subsidies for HealthCare.gov

 

A federal appeals court dealt a major blow to ObamaCare on Tuesday, ruling against the legality of some subsidies issued to people through the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

Though the ruling is likely to be appealed, the decision threatens to gut the foundation of the law by potentially nixing subsidies that millions of people obtained through the federally run exchange known as HealthCare.gov.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 that the IRS went too far in extending subsidies to those who buy insurance through that website.

The suit maintained that the language in ObamaCare actually restricts subsidies to state-run exchanges — of which there are only 14 — and does not authorize them to be given in the 36 states that use the federally run system.  

The court agreed.

“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions  of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly,” the ruling stated.  

The case, Halbig v. Burwell, is one of the first major legal challenges that cuts to the heart of the Affordable Care Act by going after the legality of massive federal subsidies and those who benefit from them.

The decision said the law “unambiguously restricts” the subsidies to insurance bought on state-run exchanges. 

The dissenting opinion, though, claimed political motivations were at play. “This case is about Appellants’ not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (‘ACA’),” the dissent stated. 

The ruling, though likely to be appealed, could threaten the entire foundation of the newly devised health care system. Nearly 90 percent of the federal exchange’s insurance enrollees were eligible for subsidies because of low or moderate incomes, and the outcome of the case could potentially leave millions without affordable health insurance.

The next step for the Obama administration would be that they request a so-called en banc ruling, which means there would be a vote taken by all of the judges on the court. An appeals court can only overrule a decision made by a panel if the court is sitting en banc.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stressed Tuesday that different courts have reached different conclusions on the subsidy issue, and said that the latest ruling “does not have any practical impact” at this point on the ability of people to get tax credits.

He said the Department of Justice will likely appeal to the full D.C. Circuit Court and defended the administration’s position that Congress intended “all eligible Americans” to have access to the subsidies regardless of which entity set up the exchange.

“We are confident in the legal position that we have,” Earnest said.

Ron Pollack, founding executive director of Families USA, said in a written statement that the ruling “represents the high-water mark for Affordable Care Act opponents, but the water will recede very quickly.”

He added, “It will inevitably be placed on hold pending further proceedings; will probably be reheard by all of the 11-member active D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals members, who predictably will reverse it; and runs contrary to an expected ruling on a similar case in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

The appeals process could eventually lead to the U.S. Supreme Court deciding on the legality of the subsidies, but Pollack, whose group supports the law, believes that won’t happen.

Of the 11 judges that could rehear the case, seven are Democrats and four are Republicans.

Halbig v. Burwell, which previously had been called Halbig v. Sebelius, is one of four federal lawsuits that have been filed aimed at targeting the idea of tax credits and other subsidies afforded under ObamaCare.

A total of $1 trillion in subsidies is projected to be doled out over the next decade. 

A U.S. District Court previously sided with the Obama administration on Jan. 15.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/22/federal-appeals-court-invalidates-some-obamacare-subsidies-in-blow-to-health/

FLAG MYSTERY Who took down American flags at Brooklyn Bridge?

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Two American flags were replaced by mysterious white flags at the Brooklyn BridgeMyFoxNY.com

New York City police Tuesday were investigating how the two American flags that historically sit on top of the Brooklyn Bridge’s 273-foot towers were stolen and replaced with two white flags, which are known universally to symbolize surrender.

The white flags were replaced by noon, but police said they are investigating the issue, which may indicate a serious security breach on one of the city’s most secured landmarks.

One of the white flags, viewed via video, appeared to have faint traces of stars and stripes on it. Police said it was not clear what time they were placed there – or by whom, but told Fox News that there is a chance the flags were put in place legally.

Either way, it appeared to take city leaders by surprise. 

Mark S. Weprin, a city councilman, posted a photo of the white flag on his Twitter account. He wrote, “Why are there white flags on top of the Brooklyn Bridge?”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told The New York Post that security for these high-risk targets are a top priority for law enforcement. 

“Political and social expression, whatever its message may be, has a place in our society, but not at the expense of others’ security. I am confident in the NYPD’s ability to investigate this matter,” he told the paper.

A city employee told NBC 4 that the flags are 12 feet by 18 feet.

The iconic span connects Manhattan to Brooklyn and is close to police headquarters near City Hall. 

The city’s Department of Transportation, which operates the bridge, referred all queries to the NYPD. 

Click for more from NYPost.com

Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche and The Associated Press contributed to this report

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/07/22/white-flag-mysteriously-replace-american-flags-on-top-brooklyn-bridge/

KEEPING UP WITH EPA? Agency’s Twitter sends out Kardashian game promo

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It seems whoever runs the EPA’s official Twitter account may also be a fan of Kim Kardashian.

On Monday evening, a tweet went out from the official @EPAwater account promoting the increasingly popular “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” game. 

“I’m now a C-List celebrity in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Come join me and become famous too by playing on iPhone! http://t.co/SrloiiwUFZ,” read the tweet, according to various screengrabs of the post.

The tweet was deleted after approximately three hours but it garnered more than 3,000 retweets and even warranted a comment from Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell.

The EPA has did not explain why the tweet went out or whether or not the account was hacked when FOX411 reached out to them for comment. They did however tweet out this apology shortly after we talked to them Tuesday morning: 

“Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” has earned a lot of attention over the past few weeks, and according to Mashable, it’s estimated it could become the most-profitable game of the year. 

According to Bloomberg, since its June 25 release, Kim K’s game has become the second-most downloaded free-to-play game from the Apple App Store. Though it doesn’t cost anything to play, “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” prompts users to make in-app purchases, and Bloomberg estimates it could earn $200 million in revenue this year. 

Kim Kardashian has yet to tweet about the incident. But we bet she will!

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/07/22/epa-sends-out-tweet-promoting-kim-kardashian-game/

Kerry begins new cease-fire push as Israeli soldier reported missing

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July 22, 2014: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri in Cairo. Kerry has returned to the Middle East as the Obama administration attempts to bolster regional efforts to reach a ceasefire and sharpens its criticism of Hamas in its conflict with Israel. (AP Photo/Pool)

Egypt’s Foreign Minister raised the possibility of rebooting stalled peace talks between Israel and Hamas Tuesday as he and Secretary of State John Kerry made a new push for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli army confirmed that one of its soldiers was missing after a deadly battle earlier this week. 

The Times of Israel reported that the Israel Defense Forces said that it had not recovered the body of a seventh serviceman believed to be killed in action early Sunday morning when an armored personnel carrier was destroyed in an attack. The IDF said that the bodies of the other six soldiers killed in the armored personnel carrier had been recovered and identified. The paper reported that the IDF had stressed that there was little chance the soldier had survived the attack. 

Hamas claimed on Sunday that it had captured an Israeli soldier, a claim that was initially denied by Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. Hamas and other terror groups have been known to use the remains dead Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips to trade for living prisoners. 

Hamas-allied militants seized an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid in 2006 and held him captive in Gaza until Israel traded more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom were involved in grisly killings, for his return in 2011.

In Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said he planned to work with U.S. and other world leaders “to not only resolve this issue but also to set in motion once again the peace process that Secretary Kerry has been so actively involved in so as to end this ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

Kerry said his discussions with Shukri sought to “hopefully find not only a way to a cease-fire, but a way to deal with the underlying issues, which are very complicated.” But he stopped short of agreeing to reopen the peace talks that abruptly broke off last April after nearly nine months of his personal attention.

Kerry is in Cairo trying to help broker a truce after two weeks of fighting that have reportedly killed more than 500 Palestinians and two dozen Israelis. Before Kerry began his meetings with top Egyptian and Arab League officials Tuesday, Israeli aircraft hit more than 70 targets in the Gaza Strip, including the home of the late leader of Hamas’ military wing, five mosques and a soccer stadium, according to a Gaza police official.

President Barack Obama, meanwhile, is trying a delicate balancing act on the Mideast conflict. Obama on Monday reaffirmed his belief that Israel has the right to defend itself against a barrage of more than 1,500 rockets launched by Hamas, while voicing fresh concern about the reported number of civilian casualties.

He said Israel’s military assault of Gaza had already done “significant damage” to Hamas’ network of tunnels, safe havens and other infrastructure as he talked of the need for a cease-fire.

“We have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives,” Obama said in Washington. “And that is why it now has to be our focus and the focus of the international community to bring about a cease-fire that ends the fighting and can stop the deaths of innocent civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel.”

Kerry flew to Cairo on Monday to join diplomatic efforts to resume a truce that last had been agreed to in November 2012. He will urge the militant Palestinian group to accept a cease-fire agreement offered by Egypt.

Upon arriving, Kerry headed almost immediately into a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, where he announced the U.S. will send $47 million in humanitarian aid for tens of thousands of Palestinians who have fled their homes in Gaza to escape the violence. Kerry’s top aides warned that achieving an immediate and lasting cease-fire would be difficult, but said he hoped to make progress over the next several days to secure at least a temporary pause in the bloodshed.

Ban, speaking to reporters before the meeting with Kerry, said he was disappointed that nine months of U.S.-led talks between Israel and the Palestinians hadn’t yielded better results. Those negotiations ended after it was clear that neither side would make major concessions needed to clinch a peace plan.

“Violence must stop and must stop now,” Ban told reporters.

It’s not clear exactly what Israel and Hamas would each demand in return for agreeing to a truce now, but senior State Department officials said the issue of opening border crossings from Gaza — potentially into Israel and Egypt — was under discussion.

Kerry met early Tuesday with Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj, and was expected to meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Arab League President Nabil Elaraby and other top officials over the next few days. But there were no immediate plans for face-to-face meetings with officials from Qatar, Turkey, Israel and Ramallah, and the State Department aides said it remained uncertain what could be accomplished in the talks.

A truce between Israel and Hamas has been beset by violence three times since 2009, and was last brokered in November 2012 by Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton.

Having already deployed an estimated 1,000 ground troops, Israel’s military has pushed farther into Gaza than it had in 2012 and the conflict is farther along now than it was then. At the same time, the State officials noted, Hamas believes it was not given what it was promised in 2012 to lay down its arms, making it more skeptical of a cease-fire now.

Finally, Hamas’ relationship with Egypt, which is negotiating directly with the militant group, has deteriorated since President Mohammed Morsi was ousted in last year’s coup. Egypt has since outlawed Morsi’s party, the Muslim Brotherhood, which has ties to Hamas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click for more from The Times of Israel

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/22/egypt-raises-possiblity-restarting-peace-talks-as-israeli-soldier-reported/

AIRPORT ALERT Sources say Norwegian tied to security boost

 

A Norwegian citizen who trained with a master bomb maker in Yemen and recently was added to the State Department’s list of international terrorists has been linked to the increased security screening of flights coming to the U.S., according to congressional sources familiar with the intelligence.

Anders Dale was believed to be trained by the master bomb maker Ibrahim al Asiri, who was responsible for the underwear device that nearly brought down a jet over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, the sources said.

Since he’s a top target of the U.S. drone campaign, al Asiri has trained other operatives to build the non-metallic bombs as a kind of backup insurance policy for Al Qaeda.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told Fox News that Al Qaeda’s desire to bring down a U.S. commercial jet is greater now than it was before 9/11, and the terrorist group has the capability and potential to do so, especially with the growing number of Western recruits fighting alongside the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria known as the al Nusra front.

“Al Qaeda has not given up on its threat to the aviation sector. I can’t stress that enough,”McCaul said. “It was before 9/11 and it’s even stronger after 9/11.”

“A Norwegian who can maybe blend in more into society that doesn’t look like the typical Muslim radical extremist, with this type of expertise in bomb making with clean travel documents is precisely the threat that I think Homeland Security officials are concerned about,”McCaul added.

“We have Western Europeans.We have some Americans. We have Australians in Syria, foreign fighters that are training in this capacity and so that gives me great concern of the ability to pull off a bombing plot on an airline.”

McCaul said that with Al Qaeda in Yemen providing the technical expertise and the Western recruits in Syria the manpower, Dale is the new face of the terrorist threat.

A convert to Islam, he first travelled to Yemen in 2008, eventually joining Al Qaeda and training with the bomb maker before leaving in 2011. It was believed at one point he travelled to Syria but his current whereabouts are not publicly known.

On July 2, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement citing a credible threat that prompted the new security measures at airports in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, requiring passengers on direct flights to the U.S. to power on and off their cell phones.

“DHS (Homeland Security) continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security. As part of this ongoing process, I have directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures…We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry,” said DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.

On July 15, Dale was formally added to the State Department terrorist list that blocks U.S. citizens from doing business with him and allows the U.S. government to freeze his assets within reach of American financial institutions.

The State Department designation highlighted Dale’s bomb-making capabilities. “As part of AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), (Anders) Dale has received terrorist training and was taught to make bomb-belts, improvised explosive devices, and larger explosives used in car bombs,” a Department statement said.

The US intelligence community has credible evidence that operatives from Al Qaeda in Yemen are working with Western nationals in Syria, who have clean backgrounds and no criminal records, along with passports that allow them to travel to the U.S. and throughoutEurope without a visa.

Counter-terrorism analysts say Al Qaeda sees these operatives as the ideal “mules” to carry non-metallic explosive devices that can circumvent traditional airport security.

Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge’s bestselling book “The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits” draws on her reporting at Fox News and predicted that the next generation of recruits would come from the U.S. as well as Western Europe. http://www.amazon.com/The-Next-Wave-American-Recruits/dp/0307885267

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/22/norwegian-citizen-linked-to-increased-airport-security-screening-congressional/

KEPT IN THE DARK? Cops say Md. couple locked sons in basement nightly

4271141_G640.jpg

These photos released July 21, 2014 show John and Janice Land, who are accused of keeping their autistic twin sons padlocked in a basement room of their house in Rockville, Md. every night for six years (Montgomery County Police Department)

A Rockville, Maryland couple has been arrested and charged with locking their 22-year-old autistic twin sons in the basement of their home.

Montgomery County police told WTTG-TV that the room had no lights, a strong smell of urine, and only a single comforter was provided for the men to sleep on. Police also said the room only had one window, which was far too small for either man to climb through in case of an emergency,

The Washington Post reported that police arrested 57-year-old John Land and 59-year-old Janice Land this past Thursday after showing up at the couple’s home to serve a search warrant on an unrelated matter. Once inside, police discovered that one of the doors in the basement was secured from the outside with a deadbolt. When they opened it, they discovered the room and the two men inside. 

According to court documents, John Land told police he had been locking up his sons every night between about 10 p.m. to just before 5 a.m. for the past six years in order to prevent them from leaving the house unsupervised, as had happened in the past. The Lands said the twins are nonverbal, and can only communicate by pointing at objects. 

The Post reported that John Land claimed to police that he had recently removed furniture from the room because it had become soiled, and planned to purchase new furniture when he could afford it. Court documents also claimed that when officers asked how the Lands would know when their sons wanted something, John Land said he would eventually be awakened by their screams and yells. 

“I don’t know how anyone would think that’s an acceptable way to keep anybody,” Natalie Larson, a neighbor of the couple who works with disabled children, told MyFoxDC.com 

Sharon Drennan, another neighbor, said her now-20-year-old son was friends with the Lands’ other children and told her about the conditions in the home. She says she contacted authorities as far back as three years ago, but nothing was ever done.

“There were cops in that house several times and [they] never removed the children,” Drennan said. “And it came to this? This long?”

John Land’s brother says the police report is all lies and his brother and sister-in-law love their sons and took care of them the best they knew how. He says police are targeting the couple because their other children have had run-ins with police.

The twins are in protective custody. The Lands have been released on bond, but face facing two counts each of false imprisonment and two counts each of vulnerable adult abuse of a family member. 

Click for more from MyFoxDC.com

Click for more from The Washington Post

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/07/22/maryland-parents-accused-keeping-autistic-sons-locked-in-basement/

MALAYSIA CRASH PROBE Rebels release black boxes, victims’ remains

  • Ukraine Plane stuffed animals.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – Toys and flowers are placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Another 21 bodies have been found in the sprawling fields where Malaysia Air Flight 17 was downed last week, killing all 298 people aboard.

  • Ukraine plane bodies Jul21.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – Ukrainian Emergency workers carry a victim’s body in a plastic bag at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine.AP

  • Ukraine Plane body train.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – A man covers his face with a rag due to the smell, as deputy head of the OSCE mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug, center right, stands outside a refrigerated train as members of Netherlands’ National Forensic Investigations Team inspect bodies, seen in plastic bags, 9 miles from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, in Torez, eastern Ukraine.

The bodies of nearly 300 passengers and crew aboard the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine are being turned over to Dutch authorities, while the black boxes from Flight 17 were handed over to Malaysian authorities, pro-Russian separatists said Monday.

The announcement came amid increasing criticism of the separatists’ handling of the crash site in eastern Ukraine, and charges that Moscow was helping ethnic Russian insurgents orchestrate a cover-up.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters Monday the leader of the pro-Russian rebels agreed to hand over both of the jetliner’s black boxes to Malaysian investigators in Ukraine.

Najib also said that the remains of 282 of the crash victims currently in the rebel-held eastern town of Torez are being moved by train to Kharkiv in Ukraine, where they will be handed over to Dutch authorities. The remains are then expected to be flown to Amsterdam.

Najib also said that as part of an agreement he reached with rebel leader Alexander Borodai Monday night, independent international investigators will be given “safe access” to the crash site.

Earlier Monday, international leaders said the probe into the downing of the Boeing 777 had turned “shambolic,” and an intercepted communication appeared to capture Moscow directing Russian separatists in Ukraine to keep evidence out of the hands of objective investigators.

Since the plane went down over Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, killing all 298 aboard, separatists had kept investigators from the scene, seized the black boxes and even taken custody of corpses, packing them in body bags and onto refrigerated train cars. There were even reports of looting from the bodies, and the credit cards of the dead used by ghoulish thieves.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country lost 192 citizens on the plane, told a news conference Sunday that repatriating the bodies was his “No. 1 priority.” His persistence appears to have paid off as a refrigerated train bearing many of the bodies pulled away Monday from Torez — 9 miles from the crash site.

Earlier in the day, Dutch experts had called for a full forensic sweep of the Flight 17 crash site and told armed separatists guarding the rail cars that the train must be allowed to leave as soon as possible. AP journalists said the smell of decay was overwhelming at the Torez train station and many of the inspectors wore masks or pressed cloths to their faces on the sunny, hot day.

A Ukrainian train engineer told The Associated Press that a power outage had hit the cars’ refrigeration system for several hours overnight but was back up early Monday.

Peter Van Vilet, leader of the Dutch National Forensic Investigations Team visiting Ukraine, said seeing the crash site in the farm fields near the eastern village of Hrabove was an emotional experience that gave him goose bumps despite the heat.

“As anyone who has been watching the footage will know, this is still an absolutely shambolic situation,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a news conference. “The site is being treated more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation.”

“Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

- Ethnic Russian separatist leader

International outrage followed Ukraine’s SBU security agency’s release of audio recordings that appeared to capture separatists scheming with Moscow to seize the “black boxes,” or flight data recorders, from the wreckage.

“I have a request for you. It is not my request,” a man identified as Battalion Vostok Commander Alexander Khodakovsky, a separatist leader, is heard saying on one recording. “Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

Abbott on Monday likened leaving pro-Russian rebels in charge of the crash zone to “a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene.”

Although several nations lost citizens aboard the flight, it is not clear who can or will conduct the full-scale investigation. The 9-mile debris field– crucial to determining what happened to the plane — lies within Ukraine but in territory controlled by ethnic Russian separatists. In addition to barring access to the site, there are reports that local residents have stolen from the dead.

“The facts of looting, how the terrorists are dealing with the bodies, are beyond the moral boundaries,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted

Dutch banks said Saturday they were taking “preventative measures” after reports of credit cards being looted from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

“International media report that victims’ bank cards have been stolen,” the Dutch Banking Association said in a statement. “Banks are taking preventative measures as necessary.”

French President François Hollande, after conferring with U.K. and German leaders, demanded that Putin force separatists in Eastern Ukraine to provide “free and total” access to the crash site. “If Russia does not immediately take the necessary measures, consequences will be decided by the European Union when its foreign-affairs council meets on Tuesday,” Hollande’s office said.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it was “an utter outrage” that the site had been contaminated and evidence removed. “This is not a time to use bodies as hostages or pawns in a Ukrainian-Russian conflict,” Bishop told reporters in Washington.

In Donetsk, separatist leader Alexander Borodai said “technical items” had been recovered.

“Some items, presumably the black boxes, were found, and they have been delivered to Donetsk, and they are under our control,” he said at a news conference, adding that they were to be handed over to international experts.

A senior National Transportation Safety Board source told Fox News the recovery of the black boxes was important, but investigators anticipate the boxes may only confirm that a missile brought down the flight, and not a mechanical failure. The data would not show who fired the missile and its origin. 

The type of missile could be determined with access to an uncontaminated crash site, the source said. Missiles leave explosive residue on the fuselage, which could help investigators identify the type of missile fired, and even its manufacturer.  

Moscow denies any involvement in the downing of the plane, by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air-missile, from an area inside Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists. Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the incident on Ukraine, saying it occurred because Kiev has stoked the violent tensions between the Ukrainian government and ethnic Russians.

“We can say with confidence that if fighting in eastern Ukraine had not been renewed on June 28, this tragedy would not have happened,” Putin said. “Nobody should or does have a right to use this tragedy for such mercenary objectives.”

U.S. officials suspect that Russia supplied the rebels with several Buk, or SA-11 antiaircraft systems, by smuggling them into eastern Ukraine with other military equipment, including tanks. Those systems are believed to have been moved back into Russia following the downing of the jetliner.

A team of international experts arrived in Kharkiv Monday, including 23 Dutch, three Australians, two Germans, two Americans, and one person from the U.K.

Meanwhile, fighting flared again Monday between the separatists and government troops near the airport in the eastern rebel-held city of Donetsk, 30 miles west of the crash site. There were reports of several explosions and smoke rising from the area. Fighting began in mid-April between the government and the Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula a month earlier.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/21/outrage-at-moscow-grows-over-shambolic-flight-17-probe/

CRIME AND COVER-UP? Monitors say rebels defy UN, move plane wreckage

 

A refrigerated train carrying the bodies of many of the victims of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 arrived in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv Tuesday, while an international monitoring group charged that pro-Russia rebels cotinued to tamper with the crash site in apparent defiance of a United Nations resolution that called for international investigators to have unfettered access to where the plane went down in eastern Ukraine last week.

The train carrying the bodies pulled into a station in Kharkiv, where the Ukrainian government has based its investigation into the crash that killed all 298 people on board, at approximately 11:40 a.m. local time (4:40 a.m. Eastern Time). The train had stopped overnight in the rebel-held city of Donetsk, but departed early Tuesday morning. The bodies are expected to be put into coffins and transported by plane to the Netherlands for identification and forensic investigation. 

Oleksander Kharchenko, spokesman for the state committee on the crash, said “we will do our best” to send the bodies to the Netherlands by the end of the day Tuesday. Of the 298 who died in the crash, 193 were Dutch citizens. 

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) told Fox News that the rebels had used chainsaws to dismantle the nose cone and front sections of the Boeing 777 and had carted some pieces of the plane away. 

The spokesman said that investigators who have seen the debris believe that the surface-to-air missile responsible for bringing the plane down impacted near the aircraft’s front section. That hypothesis would make a full examination of the parts reportedly tampered with by the rebels crucial for confirming what many Western leaders already believe: that Flight 17 was shot down by rebels using a SA-11 antiaircraft missile supplied by Moscow. 

The claims made by international monitors of rebel tampering with the debris are not new. On Monday, OSCE monitors observed workers at the crash site “hacking into the fuselage with gas-powered equipment.” The spokesman added that there was no security perimeter around one of the bigger debris fields, and monitors saw that one of the largest pieces of the plane “had somewhat been split or moved apart.”

The report drew outrage from President Barack Obama, who asked of the rebels, “What exactly are they trying to hide?”

“This is an insult to those who have lost loved ones. This is the kind of behavior that has no place in the community of nations,” Obama added.

On Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose country lost 37 citizens and residents in the disaster, decried what he called “evidence-tampering on an industrial scale” and claimed that his country, along with Malaysia and the Netherlands, should be responsible for providing security at the crash site as nations “wronged” by the tragedy. However, Abbott did not elaborate on whether he would be prepared to send troops or police to secure the site for independent investigators, saying the security arrangements were still under discussion among government leaders.

Earlier Tuesday, the rebels handed over both black boxes from Flight 17 to Malaysian investigators in Donetsk. A rebel leader, Alexander Borodai, said the orange-colored flight recorders were being handed over to Malaysian officials on the condition that they would be delivered to experts at the International Civil Aviation Organization.

“I can see that the black box is intact even though a little bit damaged, but in a good condition,” Col. Mohamad Sakri of the Malaysian National Security Council. He added that the number one priority was for the bodies of the victims to be delivered to Amsterdam.

International forensics experts had finally gained access to the crash site Monday — an emotional experience for the head of the Dutch National Forensic Investigations Team, Peter Van Vliet. Seeing the wreckage gave him goosebumps, he said.

The team stumbled across remains that had not yet been removed and inspected the perished passengers’ luggage.

Russia has angrily denied any suggestion that it or the rebels were at fault for the plane crash. On Monday, the country’s Defense Ministry suggested that the Ukraine military was responsible for bringing down the plane. Officials insisted Russia had not given the rebels any surface-to-air missiles — and said they have no evidence that any missiles were launched at all. They asked the U.S. to share any satellite images of the launch.

Fox News’ Greg Palkot and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/22/osce-claims-that-rebels-tamper-with-malaysia-plane-crash-site-as-train-bodies/

MALAYSIA CRASH PROBE Rebels release black boxes, victims’ remains

  • Ukraine Plane stuffed animals.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – Toys and flowers are placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Another 21 bodies have been found in the sprawling fields where Malaysia Air Flight 17 was downed last week, killing all 298 people aboard.

  • Ukraine plane bodies Jul21.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – Ukrainian Emergency workers carry a victim’s body in a plastic bag at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine.AP

  • Ukraine Plane body train.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – A man covers his face with a rag due to the smell, as deputy head of the OSCE mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug, center right, stands outside a refrigerated train as members of Netherlands’ National Forensic Investigations Team inspect bodies, seen in plastic bags, 9 miles from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, in Torez, eastern Ukraine.

The bodies of nearly 300 passengers and crew aboard the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine are being turned over to Dutch authorities, while the black boxes from Flight 17 were handed over to Malaysian authorities, pro-Russian separatists said Monday.

The announcement came amid increasing criticism of the separatists’ handling of the crash site in eastern Ukraine, and charges that Moscow was helping ethnic Russian insurgents orchestrate a cover-up.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters Monday the leader of the pro-Russian rebels agreed to hand over both of the jetliner’s black boxes to Malaysian investigators in Ukraine.

Najib also said that the remains of 282 of the crash victims currently in the rebel-held eastern town of Torez are being moved by train to Kharkiv in Ukraine, where they will be handed over to Dutch authorities. The remains are then expected to be flown to Amsterdam.

Najib also said that as part of an agreement he reached with rebel leader Alexander Borodai Monday night, independent international investigators will be given “safe access” to the crash site.

Earlier Monday, international leaders said the probe into the downing of the Boeing 777 had turned “shambolic,” and an intercepted communication appeared to capture Moscow directing Russian separatists in Ukraine to keep evidence out of the hands of objective investigators.

Since the plane went down over Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, killing all 298 aboard, separatists had kept investigators from the scene, seized the black boxes and even taken custody of corpses, packing them in body bags and onto refrigerated train cars. There were even reports of looting from the bodies, and the credit cards of the dead used by ghoulish thieves.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country lost 192 citizens on the plane, told a news conference Sunday that repatriating the bodies was his “No. 1 priority.” His persistence appears to have paid off as a refrigerated train bearing many of the bodies pulled away Monday from Torez — 9 miles from the crash site.

Earlier in the day, Dutch experts had called for a full forensic sweep of the Flight 17 crash site and told armed separatists guarding the rail cars that the train must be allowed to leave as soon as possible. AP journalists said the smell of decay was overwhelming at the Torez train station and many of the inspectors wore masks or pressed cloths to their faces on the sunny, hot day.

A Ukrainian train engineer told The Associated Press that a power outage had hit the cars’ refrigeration system for several hours overnight but was back up early Monday.

Peter Van Vilet, leader of the Dutch National Forensic Investigations Team visiting Ukraine, said seeing the crash site in the farm fields near the eastern village of Hrabove was an emotional experience that gave him goose bumps despite the heat.

“As anyone who has been watching the footage will know, this is still an absolutely shambolic situation,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a news conference. “The site is being treated more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation.”

“Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

- Ethnic Russian separatist leader

International outrage followed Ukraine’s SBU security agency’s release of audio recordings that appeared to capture separatists scheming with Moscow to seize the “black boxes,” or flight data recorders, from the wreckage.

“I have a request for you. It is not my request,” a man identified as Battalion Vostok Commander Alexander Khodakovsky, a separatist leader, is heard saying on one recording. “Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

Abbott on Monday likened leaving pro-Russian rebels in charge of the crash zone to “a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene.”

Although several nations lost citizens aboard the flight, it is not clear who can or will conduct the full-scale investigation. The 9-mile debris field– crucial to determining what happened to the plane — lies within Ukraine but in territory controlled by ethnic Russian separatists. In addition to barring access to the site, there are reports that local residents have stolen from the dead.

“The facts of looting, how the terrorists are dealing with the bodies, are beyond the moral boundaries,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted

Dutch banks said Saturday they were taking “preventative measures” after reports of credit cards being looted from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

“International media report that victims’ bank cards have been stolen,” the Dutch Banking Association said in a statement. “Banks are taking preventative measures as necessary.”

French President François Hollande, after conferring with U.K. and German leaders, demanded that Putin force separatists in Eastern Ukraine to provide “free and total” access to the crash site. “If Russia does not immediately take the necessary measures, consequences will be decided by the European Union when its foreign-affairs council meets on Tuesday,” Hollande’s office said.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it was “an utter outrage” that the site had been contaminated and evidence removed. “This is not a time to use bodies as hostages or pawns in a Ukrainian-Russian conflict,” Bishop told reporters in Washington.

In Donetsk, separatist leader Alexander Borodai said “technical items” had been recovered.

“Some items, presumably the black boxes, were found, and they have been delivered to Donetsk, and they are under our control,” he said at a news conference, adding that they were to be handed over to international experts.

A senior National Transportation Safety Board source told Fox News the recovery of the black boxes was important, but investigators anticipate the boxes may only confirm that a missile brought down the flight, and not a mechanical failure. The data would not show who fired the missile and its origin. 

The type of missile could be determined with access to an uncontaminated crash site, the source said. Missiles leave explosive residue on the fuselage, which could help investigators identify the type of missile fired, and even its manufacturer.  

Moscow denies any involvement in the downing of the plane, by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air-missile, from an area inside Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists. Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the incident on Ukraine, saying it occurred because Kiev has stoked the violent tensions between the Ukrainian government and ethnic Russians.

“We can say with confidence that if fighting in eastern Ukraine had not been renewed on June 28, this tragedy would not have happened,” Putin said. “Nobody should or does have a right to use this tragedy for such mercenary objectives.”

U.S. officials suspect that Russia supplied the rebels with several Buk, or SA-11 antiaircraft systems, by smuggling them into eastern Ukraine with other military equipment, including tanks. Those systems are believed to have been moved back into Russia following the downing of the jetliner.

A team of international experts arrived in Kharkiv Monday, including 23 Dutch, three Australians, two Germans, two Americans, and one person from the U.K.

Meanwhile, fighting flared again Monday between the separatists and government troops near the airport in the eastern rebel-held city of Donetsk, 30 miles west of the crash site. There were reports of several explosions and smoke rising from the area. Fighting began in mid-April between the government and the Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula a month earlier.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/21/outrage-at-moscow-grows-over-shambolic-flight-17-probe/

MALAYSIA CRASH PROBE Rebels release black boxes, victims’ remains

  • Ukraine Plane stuffed animals.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – Toys and flowers are placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Another 21 bodies have been found in the sprawling fields where Malaysia Air Flight 17 was downed last week, killing all 298 people aboard.

  • Ukraine plane bodies Jul21.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – Ukrainian Emergency workers carry a victim’s body in a plastic bag at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine.AP

  • Ukraine Plane body train.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – A man covers his face with a rag due to the smell, as deputy head of the OSCE mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug, center right, stands outside a refrigerated train as members of Netherlands’ National Forensic Investigations Team inspect bodies, seen in plastic bags, 9 miles from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, in Torez, eastern Ukraine.

The bodies of nearly 300 passengers and crew aboard the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine are being turned over to Dutch authorities, while the black boxes from Flight 17 were handed over to Malaysian authorities, pro-Russian separatists said Monday.

The announcement came amid increasing criticism of the separatists’ handling of the crash site in eastern Ukraine, and charges that Moscow was helping ethnic Russian insurgents orchestrate a cover-up.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters Monday the leader of the pro-Russian rebels agreed to hand over both of the jetliner’s black boxes to Malaysian investigators in Ukraine.

Najib also said that the remains of 282 of the crash victims currently in the rebel-held eastern town of Torez are being moved by train to Kharkiv in Ukraine, where they will be handed over to Dutch authorities. The remains are then expected to be flown to Amsterdam.

Najib also said that as part of an agreement he reached with rebel leader Alexander Borodai Monday night, independent international investigators will be given “safe access” to the crash site.

Earlier Monday, international leaders said the probe into the downing of the Boeing 777 had turned “shambolic,” and an intercepted communication appeared to capture Moscow directing Russian separatists in Ukraine to keep evidence out of the hands of objective investigators.

Since the plane went down over Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, killing all 298 aboard, separatists had kept investigators from the scene, seized the black boxes and even taken custody of corpses, packing them in body bags and onto refrigerated train cars. There were even reports of looting from the bodies, and the credit cards of the dead used by ghoulish thieves.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country lost 192 citizens on the plane, told a news conference Sunday that repatriating the bodies was his “No. 1 priority.” His persistence appears to have paid off as a refrigerated train bearing many of the bodies pulled away Monday from Torez — 9 miles from the crash site.

Earlier in the day, Dutch experts had called for a full forensic sweep of the Flight 17 crash site and told armed separatists guarding the rail cars that the train must be allowed to leave as soon as possible. AP journalists said the smell of decay was overwhelming at the Torez train station and many of the inspectors wore masks or pressed cloths to their faces on the sunny, hot day.

A Ukrainian train engineer told The Associated Press that a power outage had hit the cars’ refrigeration system for several hours overnight but was back up early Monday.

Peter Van Vilet, leader of the Dutch National Forensic Investigations Team visiting Ukraine, said seeing the crash site in the farm fields near the eastern village of Hrabove was an emotional experience that gave him goose bumps despite the heat.

“As anyone who has been watching the footage will know, this is still an absolutely shambolic situation,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a news conference. “The site is being treated more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation.”

“Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

- Ethnic Russian separatist leader

International outrage followed Ukraine’s SBU security agency’s release of audio recordings that appeared to capture separatists scheming with Moscow to seize the “black boxes,” or flight data recorders, from the wreckage.

“I have a request for you. It is not my request,” a man identified as Battalion Vostok Commander Alexander Khodakovsky, a separatist leader, is heard saying on one recording. “Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

Abbott on Monday likened leaving pro-Russian rebels in charge of the crash zone to “a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene.”

Although several nations lost citizens aboard the flight, it is not clear who can or will conduct the full-scale investigation. The 9-mile debris field– crucial to determining what happened to the plane — lies within Ukraine but in territory controlled by ethnic Russian separatists. In addition to barring access to the site, there are reports that local residents have stolen from the dead.

“The facts of looting, how the terrorists are dealing with the bodies, are beyond the moral boundaries,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted

Dutch banks said Saturday they were taking “preventative measures” after reports of credit cards being looted from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

“International media report that victims’ bank cards have been stolen,” the Dutch Banking Association said in a statement. “Banks are taking preventative measures as necessary.”

French President François Hollande, after conferring with U.K. and German leaders, demanded that Putin force separatists in Eastern Ukraine to provide “free and total” access to the crash site. “If Russia does not immediately take the necessary measures, consequences will be decided by the European Union when its foreign-affairs council meets on Tuesday,” Hollande’s office said.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it was “an utter outrage” that the site had been contaminated and evidence removed. “This is not a time to use bodies as hostages or pawns in a Ukrainian-Russian conflict,” Bishop told reporters in Washington.

In Donetsk, separatist leader Alexander Borodai said “technical items” had been recovered.

“Some items, presumably the black boxes, were found, and they have been delivered to Donetsk, and they are under our control,” he said at a news conference, adding that they were to be handed over to international experts.

A senior National Transportation Safety Board source told Fox News the recovery of the black boxes was important, but investigators anticipate the boxes may only confirm that a missile brought down the flight, and not a mechanical failure. The data would not show who fired the missile and its origin. 

The type of missile could be determined with access to an uncontaminated crash site, the source said. Missiles leave explosive residue on the fuselage, which could help investigators identify the type of missile fired, and even its manufacturer.  

Moscow denies any involvement in the downing of the plane, by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air-missile, from an area inside Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists. Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the incident on Ukraine, saying it occurred because Kiev has stoked the violent tensions between the Ukrainian government and ethnic Russians.

“We can say with confidence that if fighting in eastern Ukraine had not been renewed on June 28, this tragedy would not have happened,” Putin said. “Nobody should or does have a right to use this tragedy for such mercenary objectives.”

U.S. officials suspect that Russia supplied the rebels with several Buk, or SA-11 antiaircraft systems, by smuggling them into eastern Ukraine with other military equipment, including tanks. Those systems are believed to have been moved back into Russia following the downing of the jetliner.

A team of international experts arrived in Kharkiv Monday, including 23 Dutch, three Australians, two Germans, two Americans, and one person from the U.K.

Meanwhile, fighting flared again Monday between the separatists and government troops near the airport in the eastern rebel-held city of Donetsk, 30 miles west of the crash site. There were reports of several explosions and smoke rising from the area. Fighting began in mid-April between the government and the Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula a month earlier.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/21/outrage-at-moscow-grows-over-shambolic-flight-17-probe/

Norwegian citizen linked to boost in airport screening, sources say

 

A Norwegian citizen who trained with a master bomb maker in Yemen and recently was added to the State Department’s list of international terrorists has been linked to the increased security screening of flights coming to the U.S., according to congressional sources familiar with the intelligence.

Anders Dale was believed to be trained by the master bomb maker Ibrahim al Asiri, who was responsible for the underwear device that nearly brought down a jet over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, the sources said.

Since he’s a top target of the U.S. drone campaign, al Asiri has trained other operatives to build the non-metallic bombs as a kind of backup insurance policy for Al Qaeda.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told Fox News that Al Qaeda’s desire to bring down a U.S. commercial jet is greater now than it was before 9/11, and the terrorist group has the capability and potential to do so, especially with the growing number of Western recruits fighting alongside the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria known as the al Nusra front.

“Al Qaeda has not given up on its threat to the aviation sector. I can’t stress that enough,”McCaul said. “It was before 9/11 and it’s even stronger after 9/11.”

“A Norwegian who can maybe blend in more into society that doesn’t look like the typical Muslim radical extremist, with this type of expertise in bomb making with clean travel documents is precisely the threat that I think Homeland Security officials are concerned about,”McCaul added.

“We have Western Europeans.We have some Americans. We have Australians in Syria, foreign fighters that are training in this capacity and so that gives me great concern of the ability to pull off a bombing plot on an airline.”

McCaul said that with Al Qaeda in Yemen providing the technical expertise and the Western recruits in Syria the manpower, Dale is the new face of the terrorist threat.

A convert to Islam, he first travelled to Yemen in 2008, eventually joining Al Qaeda and training with the bomb maker before leaving in 2011. It was believed at one point he travelled to Syria but his current whereabouts are not publicly known.

On July 2, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement citing a credible threat that prompted the new security measures at airports in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, requiring passengers on direct flights to the U.S. to power on and off their cell phones.

“DHS (Homeland Security) continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security. As part of this ongoing process, I have directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures…We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry,” said DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.

On July 15, Dale was formally added to the State Department terrorist list that blocks U.S. citizens from doing business with him and allows the U.S. government to freeze his assets within reach of American financial institutions.

The State Department designation highlighted Dale’s bomb-making capabilities. “As part of AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), (Anders) Dale has received terrorist training and was taught to make bomb-belts, improvised explosive devices, and larger explosives used in car bombs,” a Department statement said.

The US intelligence community has credible evidence that operatives from Al Qaeda in Yemen are working with Western nationals in Syria, who have clean backgrounds and no criminal records, along with passports that allow them to travel to the U.S. and throughoutEurope without a visa.

Counter-terrorism analysts say Al Qaeda sees these operatives as the ideal “mules” to carry non-metallic explosive devices that can circumvent traditional airport security.

Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge’s bestselling book “The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits” draws on her reporting at Fox News and predicted that the next generation of recruits would come from the U.S. as well as Western Europe. http://www.amazon.com/The-Next-Wave-American-Recruits/dp/0307885267

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/22/norwegian-citizen-linked-to-increased-airport-security-screening-congressional/

MIDDLE EAST DEADLOCK Gaza fighting overshadows hopes for peace talks

 

Israeli fighter planes hit homes and a high-rise tower in Gaza Monday and seven Israeli soldiers, including an officer, were killed in a firefight there as more violence overshadowed hope for peace negotiations.

Sirens wailed and loud explosions rocked the streets of Gaza as Israeli planes continued to strike homes and Hamas fired more rockets. 

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo Monday for a new round of negotiations to end two weeks of deadly fighting. 

Across Gaza, Israeli fighter planes hit homes and a high-rise tower, burying families in the rubble. The strike on the Gaza City tower brought down most of the building, killing 11 people — including six members of the same family — and wounding 40, said Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra.

Israeli tanks, meanwhile, shelled a hospital in central Gaza, killing four people and wounding dozens as the daily death toll surpassed 100 for a second day. Israel said the shelling targeted rockets hidden near the compound, and accused militants of using civilians as shields.

At least 565 Palestinians have been killed and more than 3,600 wounded in the past two weeks, al-Kidra said.

On the Israeli side, seven more soldiers were killed in clashes with Gaza fighters Monday, bringing the military death toll to 25 — more than twice as many as in Israel’s last Gaza ground war in 2009. One of those killed was reported to be a lieutenant colonel.

A press statement issued by the U.N. Security Council expressed “serious concern at the escalation of violence,” called for the protection of civilians under international humanitarian law, and said it was troubled by the growing number of casualties. 

Kerry said Sunday that the U.S. supports the Egyptian proposal for a halt to the hostilities that Israel accepted and Hamas rejected last week. Hamas remains deeply suspicious of the motives of the Egyptian government, which has banned the Muslim Brotherhood, a region-wide group to which Hamas also belongs.

Two Islamic insurgents snuck into southern Israel from Gaza Monday, using one of a network of Hamas tunnels aimed at infiltrating the country. Roads were closed and residents were warned to stay indoors in the morning until the Israeli military gave the all-clear, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.  Monday marked the 14th day of what Israel is calling “Operation Protective Edge.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosnor, defended the Israeli military’s actions, saying that Israel had been forced to defend itself against rocket attacks launched by the Islamic militant group Hamas and adding that Israel’s military was exercising restraint. 

Hamas and its allies fired multiple missiles across southern and central Israel, and heavy fighting in the north and east of Gaza persisted, Reuters reported Monday.

Despite the rising death toll, there was no sign of a decrease in the violence. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Monday he is prepared to continue the offensive “as long as necessary” to halt rocket fire and other attacks from Gaza on Israelis.

Hamas says that before halting fire, it wants guarantees that Israel and Egypt will significantly ease a seven-year border blockade of Gaza.

“The resistance (Hamas) will not respond to any pressure,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a text message, in a reference to the renewed cease-fire efforts.

Israel launched a ground offensive late last week, preceded by a 10-day air campaign. Air and artillery strikes have targeted Gaza’s border areas in an attempt to destroy tunnels and rocket launchers. The Jewish state accepted an Egyptian call for an unconditional cease-fire last week, but resumed its offensive after Hamas rejected the proposal.

Israeli tank shells struck a hospital in central Gaza on Monday, a health official and a doctor at the facility said. The health official said the shells killed at least four people and wounded 60, including 30 medical staff. The Israeli military said it was looking into the report.

Al-Kidra said 12 shells hit the Al Aqsa hospital in the town of Deir el-Balah. He said the shells landed in the administration building, the intensive care unit and the surgery department.

Live footage on Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV station showed wounded being moved on gurneys into the emergency department.

“There is still shelling against the hospital,” Fayez Zidane, a doctor at the hospital said. He said he found bits of a rocket, presumably from one of the projectiles.

Sunday marked the single deadliest day in Gaza since the conflict erupted on July 8, with more than 100 Palestinians killed, according to Palestinian health officials. At least 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in Shijaiyah, while thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians fled the devastated area, which Israel says is a major source for rocket fire against its civilians.

Among the Israeli dead were two American-born IDF soldiers: California-born Max Steinberg, 24, and Texas native Sean Carmeli, 21.

Hamas militants tried to sneak into Israel through two tunnels early Monday. The Israeli military said 10 infiltrators were killed after being detected and targeted by Israeli aircraft.  Hamas fighters have persistently tried to infiltrate Israel in the past week through a vast network of hidden tunnels, aiming to attack villages and army encampments that dot the border area.

Hamas also fired 50 more rockets at Israel, including two at Tel Aviv, causing no injuries or damage. Since the start of the Israeli operation, Hamas has fired almost 2,000 rockets at Israel.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri in Gaza claimed his group had captured an Israeli soldier Sunday. It named the man as Shaul Aron and showed his ID papers, but did not release any picture of him alive, Reuters reported. An announcement on Gaza TV of the soldier’s capture set off celebration in the streets of West Bank.   

Israel’s U.N. ambassador denied the claim, and Israel’s military said it was still investigating. “We still cannot rule it out,” military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said Monday. The capture of an Israeli soldier would increase pressure on Netanyahu to intensify the military campaign.

Also Monday, an Israeli airstrike hit the home of the Siyam family in southern Gaza, near the town of Rafah, said the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The strike killed 10 people, including four young children and a 9-month-old baby girl, said Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra.

“This is not the time to talk of a ceasefire,” Gilad Erdan, communications minister and a member of Netanyahu’s inner security cabinet told reporters Monday. “We must complete the mission, and the mission cannot end until the threat of the tunnels is removed,” he Erdan said, according to a Reuters report.

Fox News’ Jonathan Wachtel, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.  

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/21/un-security-council-demands-gaza-cease-fire-stops-short-calling-for-israel/

THE MYSTERY DEEPENS Tycoon sought in S. Korea ferry sinking found dead

ferry-cropped-internal.jpg

April 17, 2014: South Korean Coast Guard officers search for missing passengers aboard sunken ferry Sewol in the waters off the southern coast near Jindo, South Korea.AP

South Korean police said Tuesday that they had found the body of a fugitive businessman wanted in connection with April’s ferry disaster that left more than 300 people, many of them high school students, dead or missing. 

Police spokesman Wu Hyung-ho told a televised news conference that the body of a man identified as Yoo Byung-eun was found in an agricultural field in the southern South Korean city of Suncheon on June 12. Wu said that the body was decomposed beyond recognition when it was found, but results of DNA and fingerprint tests matched those of the billionaire. 

The cause of Yoo’s death is not known. Police said he was wearing a pair of expensive shoes and a costly Italian-made jacket. Also found near him were three empty Korean local liquor bottles, a bag and a magnifying glass, according to police.

Authorities believe Yoo was the owner of the ferry, the MV Sewol, and say that his alleged corruption may have contributed to its sinking.

The sinking, one of South Korea’s deadliest disasters in decades, has caused an outpouring of national grief, and the country is undergoing national soul searching about public safety. About 100 days after the disaster, 294 dead bodies have been retrieved but 10 people are still missing.

Police and prosecutors had been seeking Yoo for weeks and offered a $500,000 reward for tips about him.

Yoo, head of the now-defunct predecessor of the ferry’s current operator, Chonghaejin, allegedly still controlled the company through a complex web of holding companies in which his children and close associates are large shareholders. The government offered a $100,000 bounty for Yoo’s eldest son, and one of his daughters was arrested in France in May.

The predecessor company, Semo Marine, went bankrupt in the late 1990s but Yoo’s family continued to operate ferry businesses under the names of other companies, including one that eventually became Chonghaejin.

Yoo is also a member of a church that critics and defectors say is a cult. Yoo’s church made headlines in 1987 when 32 people, who critics suspect were church members, were found dead in the attic of a factory near Seoul in what authorities said was a collective murder-suicide pact. Church members have denied involvement.

Yoo was investigated over the deaths after a probe into the dead people’s financial transactions showed some of their money was funneled to him. He was cleared of suspicions that he was behind the suicides because of a lack of evidence, but was convicted on a separate fraud charge.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/22/south-korea-ferry-disaster-body-missing-shipping-tycoon-found/

OBAMACARE LAWSUIT Judge tosses senator’s challenge to health care law

 

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a U.S. senator’s lawsuit challenging a requirement that congressional members and their staffs obtain government-subsidized health insurance through small business exchanges, saying the senator had no grounds to sue.

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, filed the lawsuit in January after the Office of Personnel Management decided months earlier that lawmakers and their staffs should continue to receive health care benefits covering about 75 percent of their premium costs after leaving the health insurance program for federal workers.

Johnson said the decision would make him decide which staff members qualified for subsidized insurance, potentially creating conflict in his office. He also said it forced him to participate in a program that he believed was illegal and that it could make voters view him negatively because his staff received benefits the general public did not.

But U.S. District Judge William Griesbach said Johnson and a staff member who filed the lawsuit with him didn’t have grounds to bring the suit.

Johnson’s belief that subsidies provided to lawmakers and their staffs are illegal isn’t a strong enough reason to disqualify him from the rule put in place under the Affordable Care Act, Griesbach said. The judge also said Johnson failed to show voters would view him negatively if his staff received subsidized insurance.

And, the judge said, Johnson could simply avoid the problem by failing to designate any employees as official congressional office staff, a classification that qualifies them for the benefit.

Johnson faulted Griesbach for dismissing the lawsuit on “the legal technicality of standing” and not fully considering his arguments.

“Americans increasingly — and correctly — believe that their government in Washington is out of control, out of touch and lawless,” he said in a statement. “By its decision today, the court has chosen not to address the important constitutional issues at hand.”

Johnson’s spokeswoman, Melinda Whitemarsh Schnell, said he was discussing the decision with lawyers and deciding whether to appeal.

The White House responded to a request for comment Monday by referring to remarks White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the day Griesbach heard oral arguments in the case. Earnest noted then that even some Republicans didn’t agree with Johnson’s decision to sue.

“What the President believes is that the whole goal of the Affordable Care Act in the first place was to lower health care costs, to expand access to quality, affordable health insurance for every American, including those who were employed by small businesses,” he said.

The Affordable Care Act approved by Congress includes provisions that say the federal government can offer congressional members and staffers only health care plans that come through an exchange. It was meant to end generous subsidies to lawmakers and force them and their staffs into the same situation as uninsured Americans.

Johnson argued that the OPM’s decision essentially allowed the Obama administration to rewrite the law. He also said using small-business exchanges to serve congressional staffers constituted an illegal scheme because the federal government is a huge employer.

But he told reporters after oral arguments on July 7 that he had designated “a majority” of his 40 or so staffers to go through the small-business exchanges. He said he bought private insurance for himself outside the exchanges.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/21/judge-tosses-senator-obamacare-lawsuit/

MALAYSIA CRASH PROBE Rebels release black boxes, victims’ remains

  • Ukraine Plane stuffed animals.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – Toys and flowers are placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Another 21 bodies have been found in the sprawling fields where Malaysia Air Flight 17 was downed last week, killing all 298 people aboard.

  • Ukraine plane bodies Jul21.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – Ukrainian Emergency workers carry a victim’s body in a plastic bag at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine.AP

  • Ukraine Plane body train.jpg

    July 21, 2014 – A man covers his face with a rag due to the smell, as deputy head of the OSCE mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug, center right, stands outside a refrigerated train as members of Netherlands’ National Forensic Investigations Team inspect bodies, seen in plastic bags, 9 miles from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, in Torez, eastern Ukraine.

The bodies of nearly 300 passengers and crew aboard the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine are being turned over to Dutch authorities, while the black boxes from Flight 17 were handed over to Malaysian authorities, pro-Russian separatists said Monday.

The announcement came amid increasing criticism of the separatists’ handling of the crash site in eastern Ukraine, and charges that Moscow was helping ethnic Russian insurgents orchestrate a cover-up.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters Monday the leader of the pro-Russian rebels agreed to hand over both of the jetliner’s black boxes to Malaysian investigators in Ukraine.

Najib also said that the remains of 282 of the crash victims currently in the rebel-held eastern town of Torez are being moved by train to Kharkiv in Ukraine, where they will be handed over to Dutch authorities. The remains are then expected to be flown to Amsterdam.

Najib also said that as part of an agreement he reached with rebel leader Alexander Borodai Monday night, independent international investigators will be given “safe access” to the crash site.

Earlier Monday, international leaders said the probe into the downing of the Boeing 777 had turned “shambolic,” and an intercepted communication appeared to capture Moscow directing Russian separatists in Ukraine to keep evidence out of the hands of objective investigators.

Since the plane went down over Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, killing all 298 aboard, separatists had kept investigators from the scene, seized the black boxes and even taken custody of corpses, packing them in body bags and onto refrigerated train cars. There were even reports of looting from the bodies, and the credit cards of the dead used by ghoulish thieves.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country lost 192 citizens on the plane, told a news conference Sunday that repatriating the bodies was his “No. 1 priority.” His persistence appears to have paid off as a refrigerated train bearing many of the bodies pulled away Monday from Torez — 9 miles from the crash site.

Earlier in the day, Dutch experts had called for a full forensic sweep of the Flight 17 crash site and told armed separatists guarding the rail cars that the train must be allowed to leave as soon as possible. AP journalists said the smell of decay was overwhelming at the Torez train station and many of the inspectors wore masks or pressed cloths to their faces on the sunny, hot day.

A Ukrainian train engineer told The Associated Press that a power outage had hit the cars’ refrigeration system for several hours overnight but was back up early Monday.

Peter Van Vilet, leader of the Dutch National Forensic Investigations Team visiting Ukraine, said seeing the crash site in the farm fields near the eastern village of Hrabove was an emotional experience that gave him goose bumps despite the heat.

“As anyone who has been watching the footage will know, this is still an absolutely shambolic situation,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a news conference. “The site is being treated more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation.”

“Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

- Ethnic Russian separatist leader

International outrage followed Ukraine’s SBU security agency’s release of audio recordings that appeared to capture separatists scheming with Moscow to seize the “black boxes,” or flight data recorders, from the wreckage.

“I have a request for you. It is not my request,” a man identified as Battalion Vostok Commander Alexander Khodakovsky, a separatist leader, is heard saying on one recording. “Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

Abbott on Monday likened leaving pro-Russian rebels in charge of the crash zone to “a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene.”

Although several nations lost citizens aboard the flight, it is not clear who can or will conduct the full-scale investigation. The 9-mile debris field– crucial to determining what happened to the plane — lies within Ukraine but in territory controlled by ethnic Russian separatists. In addition to barring access to the site, there are reports that local residents have stolen from the dead.

“The facts of looting, how the terrorists are dealing with the bodies, are beyond the moral boundaries,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted

Dutch banks said Saturday they were taking “preventative measures” after reports of credit cards being looted from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

“International media report that victims’ bank cards have been stolen,” the Dutch Banking Association said in a statement. “Banks are taking preventative measures as necessary.”

French President François Hollande, after conferring with U.K. and German leaders, demanded that Putin force separatists in Eastern Ukraine to provide “free and total” access to the crash site. “If Russia does not immediately take the necessary measures, consequences will be decided by the European Union when its foreign-affairs council meets on Tuesday,” Hollande’s office said.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it was “an utter outrage” that the site had been contaminated and evidence removed. “This is not a time to use bodies as hostages or pawns in a Ukrainian-Russian conflict,” Bishop told reporters in Washington.

In Donetsk, separatist leader Alexander Borodai said “technical items” had been recovered.

“Some items, presumably the black boxes, were found, and they have been delivered to Donetsk, and they are under our control,” he said at a news conference, adding that they were to be handed over to international experts.

A senior National Transportation Safety Board source told Fox News the recovery of the black boxes was important, but investigators anticipate the boxes may only confirm that a missile brought down the flight, and not a mechanical failure. The data would not show who fired the missile and its origin. 

The type of missile could be determined with access to an uncontaminated crash site, the source said. Missiles leave explosive residue on the fuselage, which could help investigators identify the type of missile fired, and even its manufacturer.  

Moscow denies any involvement in the downing of the plane, by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air-missile, from an area inside Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists. Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the incident on Ukraine, saying it occurred because Kiev has stoked the violent tensions between the Ukrainian government and ethnic Russians.

“We can say with confidence that if fighting in eastern Ukraine had not been renewed on June 28, this tragedy would not have happened,” Putin said. “Nobody should or does have a right to use this tragedy for such mercenary objectives.”

U.S. officials suspect that Russia supplied the rebels with several Buk, or SA-11 antiaircraft systems, by smuggling them into eastern Ukraine with other military equipment, including tanks. Those systems are believed to have been moved back into Russia following the downing of the jetliner.

A team of international experts arrived in Kharkiv Monday, including 23 Dutch, three Australians, two Germans, two Americans, and one person from the U.K.

Meanwhile, fighting flared again Monday between the separatists and government troops near the airport in the eastern rebel-held city of Donetsk, 30 miles west of the crash site. There were reports of several explosions and smoke rising from the area. Fighting began in mid-April between the government and the Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula a month earlier.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/21/outrage-at-moscow-grows-over-shambolic-flight-17-probe/

OBAMACARE LAWSUIT Judge tosses senator’s challenge to health care law

 

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a U.S. senator’s lawsuit challenging a requirement that congressional members and their staffs obtain government-subsidized health insurance through small business exchanges, saying the senator had no grounds to sue.

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, filed the lawsuit in January after the Office of Personnel Management decided months earlier that lawmakers and their staffs should continue to receive health care benefits covering about 75 percent of their premium costs after leaving the health insurance program for federal workers.

Johnson said the decision would make him decide which staff members qualified for subsidized insurance, potentially creating conflict in his office. He also said it forced him to participate in a program that he believed was illegal and that it could make voters view him negatively because his staff received benefits the general public did not.

But U.S. District Judge William Griesbach said Johnson and a staff member who filed the lawsuit with him didn’t have grounds to bring the suit.

Johnson’s belief that subsidies provided to lawmakers and their staffs are illegal isn’t a strong enough reason to disqualify him from the rule put in place under the Affordable Care Act, Griesbach said. The judge also said Johnson failed to show voters would view him negatively if his staff received subsidized insurance.

And, the judge said, Johnson could simply avoid the problem by failing to designate any employees as official congressional office staff, a classification that qualifies them for the benefit.

Johnson faulted Griesbach for dismissing the lawsuit on “the legal technicality of standing” and not fully considering his arguments.

“Americans increasingly — and correctly — believe that their government in Washington is out of control, out of touch and lawless,” he said in a statement. “By its decision today, the court has chosen not to address the important constitutional issues at hand.”

Johnson’s spokeswoman, Melinda Whitemarsh Schnell, said he was discussing the decision with lawyers and deciding whether to appeal.

The White House responded to a request for comment Monday by referring to remarks White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the day Griesbach heard oral arguments in the case. Earnest noted then that even some Republicans didn’t agree with Johnson’s decision to sue.

“What the President believes is that the whole goal of the Affordable Care Act in the first place was to lower health care costs, to expand access to quality, affordable health insurance for every American, including those who were employed by small businesses,” he said.

The Affordable Care Act approved by Congress includes provisions that say the federal government can offer congressional members and staffers only health care plans that come through an exchange. It was meant to end generous subsidies to lawmakers and force them and their staffs into the same situation as uninsured Americans.

Johnson argued that the OPM’s decision essentially allowed the Obama administration to rewrite the law. He also said using small-business exchanges to serve congressional staffers constituted an illegal scheme because the federal government is a huge employer.

But he told reporters after oral arguments on July 7 that he had designated “a majority” of his 40 or so staffers to go through the small-business exchanges. He said he bought private insurance for himself outside the exchanges.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/21/judge-tosses-senator-obamacare-lawsuit/

OBAMACARE LAWSUIT Judge tosses senator’s challenge to health care law

 

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a U.S. senator’s lawsuit challenging a requirement that congressional members and their staffs obtain government-subsidized health insurance through small business exchanges, saying the senator had no grounds to sue.

Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, filed the lawsuit in January after the Office of Personnel Management decided months earlier that lawmakers and their staffs should continue to receive health care benefits covering about 75 percent of their premium costs after leaving the health insurance program for federal workers.

Johnson said the decision would make him decide which staff members qualified for subsidized insurance, potentially creating conflict in his office. He also said it forced him to participate in a program that he believed was illegal and that it could make voters view him negatively because his staff received benefits the general public did not.

But U.S. District Judge William Griesbach said Johnson and a staff member who filed the lawsuit with him didn’t have grounds to bring the suit.

Johnson’s belief that subsidies provided to lawmakers and their staffs are illegal isn’t a strong enough reason to disqualify him from the rule put in place under the Affordable Care Act, Griesbach said. The judge also said Johnson failed to show voters would view him negatively if his staff received subsidized insurance.

And, the judge said, Johnson could simply avoid the problem by failing to designate any employees as official congressional office staff, a classification that qualifies them for the benefit.

Johnson faulted Griesbach for dismissing the lawsuit on “the legal technicality of standing” and not fully considering his arguments.

“Americans increasingly — and correctly — believe that their government in Washington is out of control, out of touch and lawless,” he said in a statement. “By its decision today, the court has chosen not to address the important constitutional issues at hand.”

Johnson’s spokeswoman, Melinda Whitemarsh Schnell, said he was discussing the decision with lawyers and deciding whether to appeal.

The White House responded to a request for comment Monday by referring to remarks White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the day Griesbach heard oral arguments in the case. Earnest noted then that even some Republicans didn’t agree with Johnson’s decision to sue.

“What the President believes is that the whole goal of the Affordable Care Act in the first place was to lower health care costs, to expand access to quality, affordable health insurance for every American, including those who were employed by small businesses,” he said.

The Affordable Care Act approved by Congress includes provisions that say the federal government can offer congressional members and staffers only health care plans that come through an exchange. It was meant to end generous subsidies to lawmakers and force them and their staffs into the same situation as uninsured Americans.

Johnson argued that the OPM’s decision essentially allowed the Obama administration to rewrite the law. He also said using small-business exchanges to serve congressional staffers constituted an illegal scheme because the federal government is a huge employer.

But he told reporters after oral arguments on July 7 that he had designated “a majority” of his 40 or so staffers to go through the small-business exchanges. He said he bought private insurance for himself outside the exchanges.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/21/judge-tosses-senator-obamacare-lawsuit/

AIRPORT ALERT LINK Sources: Norwegian tied to increased security

 

A Norwegian citizen who trained with a master bomb maker in Yemen and recently was added to the State Department’s list of international terrorists has been linked to the increased security screening of flights coming to the U.S., according to congressional sources familiar with the intelligence.

Anders Dale was believed to be trained by the master bomb maker Ibrahim al Asiri, who was responsible for the underwear device that nearly brought down a jet over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, the sources said.

Since he’s a top target of the U.S. drone campaign, al Asiri has trained other operatives to build the non-metallic bombs as a kind of backup insurance policy for Al Qaeda.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told Fox News that Al Qaeda’s desire to bring down a U.S. commercial jet is greater now than it was before 9/11, and the terrorist group has the capability and potential to do so, especially with the growing number of Western recruits fighting alongside the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria known as the al Nusra front.

“Al Qaeda has not given up on its threat to the aviation sector. I can’t stress that enough,”McCaul said. “It was before 9/11 and it’s even stronger after 9/11.”

“A Norwegian who can maybe blend in more into society that doesn’t look like the typical Muslim radical extremist, with this type of expertise in bomb making with clean travel documents is precisely the threat that I think Homeland Security officials are concerned about,”McCaul added.

“We have Western Europeans.We have some Americans. We have Australians in Syria, foreign fighters that are training in this capacity and so that gives me great concern of the ability to pull off a bombing plot on an airline.”

McCaul said that with Al Qaeda in Yemen providing the technical expertise and the Western recruits in Syria the manpower, Dale is the new face of the terrorist threat.

A convert to Islam, he first travelled to Yemen in 2008, eventually joining Al Qaeda and training with the bomb maker before leaving in 2011. It was believed at one point he travelled to Syria but his current whereabouts are not publicly known.

On July 2, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement citing a credible threat that prompted the new security measures at airports in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, requiring passengers on direct flights to the U.S. to power on and off their cell phones.

“DHS (Homeland Security) continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security. As part of this ongoing process, I have directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures…We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry,” said DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.

On July 15, Dale was formally added to the State Department terrorist list that blocks U.S. citizens from doing business with him and allows the U.S. government to freeze his assets within reach of American financial institutions.

The State Department designation highlighted Dale’s bomb-making capabilities. “As part of AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), (Anders) Dale has received terrorist training and was taught to make bomb-belts, improvised explosive devices, and larger explosives used in car bombs,” a Department statement said.

The US intelligence community has credible evidence that operatives from Al Qaeda in Yemen are working with Western nationals in Syria, who have clean backgrounds and no criminal records, along with passports that allow them to travel to the U.S. and throughoutEurope without a visa.

Counter-terrorism analysts say Al Qaeda sees these operatives as the ideal “mules” to carry non-metallic explosive devices that can circumvent traditional airport security.

Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge’s bestselling book “The Next Wave: On the Hunt for Al Qaeda’s American Recruits” draws on her reporting at Fox News and predicted that the next generation of recruits would come from the U.S. as well as Western Europe. http://www.amazon.com/The-Next-Wave-American-Recruits/dp/0307885267

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/21/norwegian-citizen-linked-to-increased-airport-security-screening-congressional/

TOUGHER BORDERS Texas Gov. Perry to send in National Guard troops

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July 19, 2014: Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks to the media before speaking to a meeting of local party activists in Algona, Iowa. (AP)

Gov. Rick Perry said Monday he is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops over the next month to the Texas-Mexico border to combat criminals that Republican state leaders say are exploiting a surge of children and families entering the U.S. illegally.

Perry, a vocal critic of the White House’s response to the border crisis — and who is mulling a second presidential run in 2016 — said the state has a responsibility to act after “lip service” from the federal government.

He rejected suggestions that Texas was militarizing local communities by putting National Guard troops on the ground or that crime data along the border doesn’t justify additional resources.

The deployment will cost Texas an estimated $12 million a month. Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said his troops would simply be “referring and deterring” immigrants and not detaining people — though Nichols said the National Guard could if asked.

“We think they’ll come to us and say, `Please take us to a Border Patrol station,” Nichols said.

More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents currently work in the region, and Perry has repeatedly asked Obama to send the National Guard to the border. Much of the area has been overwhelmed in recent months by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children illegally entering the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday.

As governor, Perry is commander in chief of Texas military forces unless those forces have already been mobilized by the White House. But if Perry deploys National Guard troops it is up to Texas to pay for them, while an order from Obama would mean Washington picks up the tab.

“Gov. Perry has referred repeatedly to his desire to make a symbolic statement to the people of Central America that the border is closed,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “And he thinks that the best way to do that is to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. It seems to me that a much more powerful symbol would be the bipartisan passage of legislation that would actually make a historic investment in border security and send an additional 20,000 personnel to the border.”

Earnest also said the White House hasn’t received the kind of “formal communication” with Perry’s office that usually accompanies such deployments.

President George W. Bush sent 6,000 National Guard troops to the border in 2006, and Obama eventually extended that deployment while ordering a second wave of National Guard forces to Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico in 2010. But the second round saw reduced numbers of troops, and most of their work was limited to air patrols in counterdrug operations.

Perry announced last month that Texas would steer another $1.3 million each week to the Department of Public Safety to assist in border security through at least the end of the year. In a letter to Obama on June 20, Perry made several requests for help along the border, including 1,000 National Guard troops, additional helicopters and giving troops “arrest powers to support Border Patrol operations until sufficient Border Patrol resources can be hired, trained and deployed to the border.”

It’s not clear why Perry would need the Obama administration to authorize arrest powers and the governor’s office has not offered details ahead of the announcement. Texas law simply states that the governor can “adopt rules and regulations governing enlistment, organization, administration” of the Texas State Guard.

In a White House letter to Perry on July 7, Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett laid out steps the administration was taking to deal with what the president had called an “urgent humanitarian situation,” but did not mention the National Guard. Obama met with Perry two days later in Dallas, and the administration has worked with Mexico and other countries the immigrants are leaving to make it clear they will not be allowed to stay in the U.S.

On previous border deployments, National Guard soldiers have served in support roles — administrative, intelligence gathering — while the Border Patrol expanded its ranks. Some National Guard troops already participate in counter-drug operations on the border, though they don’t have arrest powers.

Since October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children and teenagers have entered the U.S. illegally — more than double compared to the same period a year earlier. Most have been from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where rampant gang violence and intense poverty have driven tens of thousands of people outside their borders.

Their numbers overwhelmed Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, leading Perry and the Texas Department of Public Safety to argue that Border Patrol agents distracted by groups of children and families were leaving gaps.

Most of those children have been turning themselves in to the first person in a uniform they see.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/21/texas-gov-rick-perry-plans-to-deploy-1000-guardsmen-to-border/

‘HUMILITY AND LOYALTY’ Obama awards Medal of Honor to Army staff sgt.

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July 21, 2014: President Obama bestows the Medal of Honor on former Army Staff Sgt. Ryan M. Pitts.Fox News

President Barack Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor Monday on a former Army staff sergeant who fought off enemy fighters during one of the bloodiest battles of the Afghanistan war.

Ryan M. Pitts is the ninth living recipient of the nation’s highest decoration for battlefield valor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama says Pitts displays “the humility and loyalty” that define America’s men and women in uniform. Obama noted that the 28-year-old Pitts has said his honor belongs to everyone who was with him during the July 13, 2008 attack in Wanat, Afghanistan.

Obama described how Pitts defended an observation post after the eight other soldiers providing security alongside him were killed in a well-organized attack by about 200 insurgents. Obama said Pitts was bleeding, hit by shrapnel in his arms and legs and sure he would die, as he lobbed grenades and pulled himself to his knees to man a machine gun against approaching insurgents.

“That little post was on the verge of falling, giving the enemy a perch to devastate the base below,” Obama said in a White House ceremony. “Against that onslaught, one American held the line.”

He called in for air support that helped repel the attack and prevented the enemy from taking his fellow soldiers who had been killed.

Obama honored each of those killed in battle with Pitts by name, and asked their families to rise and be recognized, including two of their children who have grown up without a parent. He also noted it was the second wedding anniversary for Pitts and his wife, who have a 1-year-old son.

“It’s going to be tough topping this one, as anniversaries go,” Obama joked. But he advised Pitts, “You should try. Don’t rest on your laurels after just two years.”

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/21/obama-to-bestow-medal-honor-on-nh-veteran/

Texas Gov. Rick Perry to deploy up to 1,000 National Guard troops to border

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July 19, 2014: Texas Gov. Rick Perry talks to the media before speaking to a meeting of local party activists in Algona, Iowa. (AP)

Gov. Rick Perry said Monday he is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops over the next month to the Texas-Mexico border to combat criminals that Republican state leaders say are exploiting a surge of children and families entering the U.S. illegally.

Perry, a vocal critic of the White House’s response to the border crisis — and who is mulling a second presidential run in 2016 — said the state has a responsibility to act after “lip service” from the federal government.

He rejected suggestions that Texas was militarizing local communities by putting National Guard troops on the ground or that crime data along the border doesn’t justify additional resources.

The deployment will cost Texas an estimated $12 million a month. Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said his troops would simply be “referring and deterring” immigrants and not detaining people — though Nichols said the National Guard could if asked.

“We think they’ll come to us and say, `Please take us to a Border Patrol station,” Nichols said.

More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents currently work in the region, and Perry has repeatedly asked Obama to send the National Guard to the border. Much of the area has been overwhelmed in recent months by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children illegally entering the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday.

As governor, Perry is commander in chief of Texas military forces unless those forces have already been mobilized by the White House. But if Perry deploys National Guard troops it is up to Texas to pay for them, while an order from Obama would mean Washington picks up the tab.

“Gov. Perry has referred repeatedly to his desire to make a symbolic statement to the people of Central America that the border is closed,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “And he thinks that the best way to do that is to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. It seems to me that a much more powerful symbol would be the bipartisan passage of legislation that would actually make a historic investment in border security and send an additional 20,000 personnel to the border.”

Earnest also said the White House hasn’t received the kind of “formal communication” with Perry’s office that usually accompanies such deployments.

President George W. Bush sent 6,000 National Guard troops to the border in 2006, and Obama eventually extended that deployment while ordering a second wave of National Guard forces to Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico in 2010. But the second round saw reduced numbers of troops, and most of their work was limited to air patrols in counterdrug operations.

Perry announced last month that Texas would steer another $1.3 million each week to the Department of Public Safety to assist in border security through at least the end of the year. In a letter to Obama on June 20, Perry made several requests for help along the border, including 1,000 National Guard troops, additional helicopters and giving troops “arrest powers to support Border Patrol operations until sufficient Border Patrol resources can be hired, trained and deployed to the border.”

It’s not clear why Perry would need the Obama administration to authorize arrest powers and the governor’s office has not offered details ahead of the announcement. Texas law simply states that the governor can “adopt rules and regulations governing enlistment, organization, administration” of the Texas State Guard.

In a White House letter to Perry on July 7, Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett laid out steps the administration was taking to deal with what the president had called an “urgent humanitarian situation,” but did not mention the National Guard. Obama met with Perry two days later in Dallas, and the administration has worked with Mexico and other countries the immigrants are leaving to make it clear they will not be allowed to stay in the U.S.

On previous border deployments, National Guard soldiers have served in support roles — administrative, intelligence gathering — while the Border Patrol expanded its ranks. Some National Guard troops already participate in counter-drug operations on the border, though they don’t have arrest powers.

Since October, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children and teenagers have entered the U.S. illegally — more than double compared to the same period a year earlier. Most have been from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where rampant gang violence and intense poverty have driven tens of thousands of people outside their borders.

Their numbers overwhelmed Border Patrol facilities in the Rio Grande Valley, leading Perry and the Texas Department of Public Safety to argue that Border Patrol agents distracted by groups of children and families were leaving gaps.

Most of those children have been turning themselves in to the first person in a uniform they see.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/07/21/texas-gov-rick-perry-plans-to-deploy-1000-guardsmen-to-border/

MALAYSIA CRASH PROBE Rebels release black boxes, victims’ remains

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    July 21, 2014 – Toys and flowers are placed at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine. Another 21 bodies have been found in the sprawling fields where Malaysia Air Flight 17 was downed last week, killing all 298 people aboard.

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    July 21, 2014 – Ukrainian Emergency workers carry a victim’s body in a plastic bag at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine.AP

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    July 21, 2014 – A man covers his face with a rag due to the smell, as deputy head of the OSCE mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug, center right, stands outside a refrigerated train as members of Netherlands’ National Forensic Investigations Team inspect bodies, seen in plastic bags, 9 miles from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, in Torez, eastern Ukraine.

The bodies of nearly 300 passengers and crew aboard the Malaysia Airlines jet shot down over Ukraine are being turned over to Dutch authorities, while the black boxes from Flight 17 will be handed over to Malaysian authorities, pro-Russian separatists said Monday.

The announcement came amid increasing criticism of the separatists’ handling of the crash site in eastern Ukraine, and charges that Moscow was helping ethnic Russian insurgents orchestrate a cover-up.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters Monday the leader of the pro-Russian rebels has agreed to hand over both of the jetliner’s black boxes to Malaysian investigators in Ukraine.

Najib also said that the remains of 282 of the crash victims currently in the rebel-held eastern town of Torez are being moved by train to Kharkiv in Ukraine, where they will be handed over to Dutch authorities. The remains are then expected to be flown to Amsterdam.

Najib also said that as part of an agreement he reached with rebel leader Alexander Borodai Monday night, independent international investigators will be given “safe access” to the crash site.

Earlier Monday, international leaders said the probe into the downing of the Boeing 777 had turned “shambolic,” and an intercepted communication appeared to capture Moscow directing Russian separatists in Ukraine to keep evidence out of the hands of objective investigators.

Since the plane went down over Ukraine near the Russian border on Thursday, killing all 298 aboard, separatists had kept investigators from the scene, seized the black boxes and even taken custody of corpses, packing them in body bags and onto refrigerated train cars. There were even reports of looting from the bodies, and the credit cards of the dead used by ghoulish thieves.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, whose country lost 192 citizens on the plane, told a news conference Sunday that repatriating the bodies was his “No. 1 priority.” His persistence appears to have paid off as a refrigerated train bearing many of the bodies pulled away Monday from Torez — 9 miles from the crash site.

Earlier in the day, Dutch experts had called for a full forensic sweep of the Flight 17 crash site and told armed separatists guarding the rail cars that the train must be allowed to leave as soon as possible. AP journalists said the smell of decay was overwhelming at the Torez train station and many of the inspectors wore masks or pressed cloths to their faces on the sunny, hot day.

A Ukrainian train engineer told The Associated Press that a power outage had hit the cars’ refrigeration system for several hours overnight but was back up early Monday.

Peter Van Vilet, leader of the Dutch National Forensic Investigations Team visiting Ukraine, said seeing the crash site in the farm fields near the eastern village of Hrabove was an emotional experience that gave him goose bumps despite the heat.

“As anyone who has been watching the footage will know, this is still an absolutely shambolic situation,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a news conference.  “The site is being treated more like a garden clean-up than a forensic investigation.”

“Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

- Ethnic Russian separatist leader

International outrage followed Ukraine’s SBU security agency’s release of audio recordings that appeared to capture separatists scheming with Moscow to seize the “black boxes,” or flight data recorders, from the wreckage.

“I have a request for you. It is not my request,” a man identified as Battalion Vostok Commander Alexander Khodakovsky, a separatist leader, is heard saying on one recording. “Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

Abbott on Monday likened leaving pro-Russian rebels in charge of the crash zone to “a little like leaving criminals in control of a crime scene.”

Although several nations lost citizens aboard the flight, it is not clear who can or will conduct the full-scale investigation. The 9-mile debris field– crucial to determining what happened to the plane — lies within Ukraine but in territory controlled by ethnic Russian separatists. In addition to barring access to the site, there are reports that local residents have stolen from the dead.

“The facts of looting, how the terrorists are dealing with the bodies, are beyond the moral boundaries,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted

Dutch banks said Saturday they were taking “preventative measures” after reports of credit cards being looted from the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

“International media report that victims’ bank cards have been stolen,” the Dutch Banking Association said in a statement. “Banks are taking preventative measures as necessary.”

French President François Hollande, after conferring with U.K. and German leaders, demanded that Putin force separatists in Eastern Ukraine to provide “free and total” access to the crash site. “If Russia does not immediately take the necessary measures, consequences will be decided by the European Union when its foreign-affairs council meets on Tuesday,” Hollande’s office said.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said it was “an utter outrage” that the site had been contaminated and evidence removed. “This is not a time to use bodies as hostages or pawns in a Ukrainian-Russian conflict,” Bishop told reporters in Washington.

In Donetsk, separatist leader Alexander Borodai said “technical items” had been recovered.

“Some items, presumably the black boxes, were found, and they have been delivered to Donetsk, and they are under our control,” he said at a news conference, adding that they were to be handed over to international experts.

Moscow denies any involvement in the downing of the plane, by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air-missile, from an area inside Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists. Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed the incident on Ukraine, saying it occurred because Kiev has stoked the violent tensions between the Ukrainian government and ethnic Russians.

“We can say with confidence that if fighting in eastern Ukraine had not been renewed on June 28, this tragedy would not have happened,” Putin said. “Nobody should or does have a right to use this tragedy for such mercenary objectives.”

U.S. officials suspect that Russia supplied the rebels with several Buk, or SA-11 antiaircraft systems, by smuggling them into eastern Ukraine with other military equipment, including tanks. Those systems are believed to have been moved back into Russia following the downing of the jetliner.

A team of international experts arrived in Kharkiv Monday, including 23 Dutch, three Australians, two Germans, two Americans, and one person from the U.K.

Meanwhile, fighting flared again Monday between the separatists and government troops near the airport in the eastern rebel-held city of Donetsk, 30 miles west of the crash site. There were reports of several explosions and smoke rising from the area. Fighting began in mid-April between the government and the Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula a month earlier.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/21/outrage-at-moscow-grows-over-shambolic-flight-17-probe/

NEW GAZA VIOLENCE High-ranking officer among 7 Israelis killed in clashes

 

A lieutenant general was among seven Israeli soldiers killed in a firefight in Gaza Monday, as more violence overshadowed hope for peace negotiations in the Jewish state.  

Sirens wailed and loud explosions rocked the streets of Gaza as Israeli planes continued to strike homes and Hamas fired more rockets. 

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo Monday for a new round of negotiations to end two weeks of deadly fighting.  A barrage of rocket attacks and days of ground assaults have left at least 27 Israelis and 550 Palestinians dead, and tens of thousands driven from their homes in Gaza.  

A press statement issued by the U.N. Security Council expressed “serious concern at the escalation of violence,” called for the protection of civilians under international humanitarian law, and said it was troubled by the growing number of casualties. 

Kerry said Sunday that the U.S. supports the Egyptian proposal for a halt to the hostilities that Israel accepted and Hamas rejected last week. Hamas remains deeply suspicious of the motives of the Egyptian government, which has banned the Muslim Brotherhood, a region-wide group to which Hamas also belongs.

Two Islamic insurgents snuck into southern Israel from Gaza Monday, using one of a network of Hamas tunnels aimed at infiltrating the country. Roads were closed and residents were warned to stay indoors in the morning until the Israeli military gave the all-clear, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.  Monday marked the 14th day of what Israel is calling “Operation Protective Edge.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosnor, defended the Israeli military’s actions, saying that Israel had been forced to defend itself against rocket attacks launched by the Islamic militant group Hamas and adding that Israel’s military was exercising restraint. 

Hamas and its allies fired multiple missiles across southern and central Israel, and heavy fighting in the north and east of Gaza persisted, Reuters reported Monday.

Despite the rising death toll, there was no sign of a decrease in the violence. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Monday he is prepared to continue the offensive “as long as necessary” to halt rocket fire and other attacks from Gaza on Israelis.

Hamas says that before halting fire, it wants guarantees that Israel and Egypt will significantly ease a seven-year border blockade of Gaza.

“The resistance (Hamas) will not respond to any pressure,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a text message, in a reference to the renewed cease-fire efforts.

Israel launched a ground offensive late last week, preceded by a 10-day air campaign. Air and artillery strikes have targeted Gaza’s border areas in an attempt to destroy tunnels and rocket launchers. The Jewish state accepted an Egyptian call for an unconditional cease-fire last week, but resumed its offensive after Hamas rejected the proposal.

Israeli tank shells struck a hospital in central Gaza on Monday, a health official and a doctor at the facility said. The health official said the shells killed at least four people and wounded 60, including 30 medical staff. The Israeli military said it was looking into the report.

Health official Ashraf al-Kidra said 12 shells hit the Al Aqsa hospital in the town of Deir el-Balah. He said the shells landed in the administration building, the intensive care unit and the surgery department.

Live footage on Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV station showed wounded being moved on gurneys into the emergency department.

“There is still shelling against the hospital,” Fayez Zidane, a doctor at the hospital said. He said he found bits of a rocket, presumably from one of the projectiles.

Sunday marked the single deadliest day in Gaza since the conflict erupted on July 8, with more than 100 Palestinians killed, according to Palestinian health officials. At least 65 Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in Shijaiyah, while thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians fled the devastated area, which Israel says is a major source for rocket fire against its civilians.

Among the Israeli dead were two American-born IDF soldiers: California-born Max Steinberg, 24, and Texas native Sean Carmeli, 21.

Hamas militants tried to sneak into Israel through two tunnels early Monday. The Israeli military said 10 infiltrators were killed after being detected and targeted by Israeli aircraft.  Hamas fighters have persistently tried to infiltrate Israel in the past week through a vast network of hidden tunnels, aiming to attack villages and army encampments that dot the border area.

Hamas also fired 50 more rockets at Israel, including two at Tel Aviv, causing no injuries or damage. Since the start of the Israeli operation, Hamas has fired almost 2,000 rockets at Israel.

Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri in Gaza claimed his group had captured an Israeli soldier Sunday. It named the man as Shaul Aron and showed his ID papers, but did not release any picture of him alive, Reuters reported. An announcement on Gaza TV of the soldier’s capture set off celebration in the streets of West Bank.   

Israel’s U.N. ambassador denied the claim, and Israel’s military said it was still investigating. “We still cannot rule it out,” military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner said Monday. The capture of an Israeli soldier would increase pressure on Netanyahu to intensify the military campaign.

Also Monday, an Israeli airstrike hit the home of the Siyam family in southern Gaza, near the town of Rafah, said the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. The strike killed 10 people, including four young children and a 9-month-old baby girl, said Palestinian health official Ashraf al-Kidra.

“This is not the time to talk of a ceasefire,” Gilad Erdan, communications minister and a member of Netanyahu’s inner security cabinet told reporters Monday. “We must complete the mission, and the mission cannot end until the threat of the tunnels is removed,” he Erdan said, according to a Reuters report.

Fox News’ Jonathan Wachtel, The Associated Press, and Reuters contributed to this report.  

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/world/2014/07/21/un-security-council-demands-gaza-cease-fire-stops-short-calling-for-israel/

HONOR SYSTEM Vet, 100, to donate money he received after robbery

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James V. Sorrentino, of Carson City, Nev., received the hefty lump sum in the form of an oversized check from members of Western Nevada College’s Veterans Resource Center on Friday, nearly two months after two men forced their way into his home looking for a safe on May 25. (Courtesy: Western Nevada College Veterans Resource Center)

A 100-year-old veteran is “overwhelmed” and paying it forward after fellow service members presented him with a check for $1,000 to take the sting out of a home invasion two months ago, he told FoxNews.com.

James V. Sorrentino, of Carson City, Nev., received the hefty lump sum in the form of an oversized check from members of Western Nevada College’s Veterans Resource Center on Friday, nearly two months after two men forced their way into his home looking for a safe on May 25.

“I was overwhelmed,” Sorrentino told FoxNews.com of the group’s kindness. “But I really don’t need it, so I’ll donate it to charity.”

Sorrentino, a World War II Army Air Corps and Air Force veteran, said he hadn’t decided exactly where he’ll donate the money, which was raised by the veterans group during a benefit poker run in June.

“I was overwhelmed. But I really don’t need it, so I’ll donate it to charity.”

- James Sorrentino

“I’m just grateful,” he continued. “[It] shows the spirit of the group.”

Timothy Galluzi said the group was “more than thrilled” to come to Sorrentino’s aid after learning of the incident.

“Our efforts are in keeping with our motto of ‘veterans helping veterans,’” Galluzi wrote in an email. “The smile on his face made the months of hard work for this event well worth it.”

After ransacking Sorrentino’s home, which does not contain a safe, the suspects fled with a wristwatch, pocketknife and a wallet containing about $30.

One of the suspects, Jordan Burkhart, has pleaded guilty to a felony robbery charge against a person over 60. The 24-year-old Wellington man now faces up to 35 years in prison when he’s sentenced next month.

The other suspect, 27-year-old Robert Hernandez of Carson City, tried to plead guilty to the same charge but his plea wasn’t accepted, KRNV-TV reports. He’s expected to appear at another hearing this week.

Galluzi, meanwhile, told FoxNews.com that Sorrentino was “definitely surprised” when he saw the oversized check on Friday.

“It was a community effort and it got brought to my attention and once I told my guys up here what happened, we definitely wanted to get involved,” Galluzi told FoxNews.com. “That huge smile on his face made it all worthwhile.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/07/21/100-year-old-vet-plans-to-donate-money-received-from-local-group-after-robbery/

Boston Marathon suspect’s friend guilty of impeding probe

 

A college friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted Monday of impeding the investigation into the bombing.

Azamat Tazhayakov was charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy, with prosecutors saying he agreed with a friend’s plan to remove Tsarnaev’s backpack containing altered fireworks from his dorm room a few days after the 2013 bombing.

His trial was the first stemming from the bombing, which killed three and injured more than 260 near the marathon’s finish line. Tazhayakov’s mother sobbed loudly and rocked in her seat as the jury announced the guilty verdicts, which it reached on the third day of deliberations.

Tazhayakov’s lawyers argued that it was the other friend, Dias Kadyrbayev, who removed the items from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth dorm room and then threw them away.

Prosecutors told the jury that both men shared in the decision to remove the items and get rid of them to protect Tsarnaev. Kadyrbayev faces a separate trial in September. A third friend, Robel Phillipos, is charged with lying to investigators.

During Tazhayakov’s trial, FBI agents testified that Tazhayakov told them he and Kadyrbayev decided to take the backpack, fireworks and Tsarnaev’s laptop computer hours after Kadyrbayev received a text message from Tsarnaev that said he could go to his dorm room and “take what’s there.” The items were removed hours after the FBI released photos and video of Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, and identified them as suspects in the bombing.

But Tazhayakov’s lawyer, Matthew Myers, said his client was a naive college kid who was prosecuted because he was a “friend of the bomber.” Myers said Tazhayakov and another friend, Robel Phillipos, sat passively watching a movie in Tsarnaev’s dorm room as Kadyrbayev took the backpack.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Kadyrbayev is the one who actually threw away the items taken from Tsarnaev’s room, but they said Tazhayakov agreed with the plan.

The backpack and fireworks were later recovered in a New Bedford landfill. Prosecutors said the fireworks had been emptied of their explosive powder — an ingredient that can be used to make bombs.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev escaped, but was found later that day, wounded and hiding in a boat parked in a backyard in nearby Watertown.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty in the bombing and is scheduled to stand trial in November. He faces the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

Tazhayakov is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 16. He faces a five-year maximum for conspiracy and 20-year maximum for obstruction but likely will get a lot less under sentencing guidelines.

Source Article from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/07/21/boston-marathon-suspect-friend-guilty-impeding-probe/