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Breaking: President Obama Formally Requests Congress Approve Military Strike Against Syria

Source: Reuters

@BreakingNews: White House: President Obama formally requests Congressional authorization for military strikes on Syria - @Reuters

Obama asks Congress to approve military strike against Syria

Sat Aug 31, 2013 8:10pm EDT

By Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama stepped back from the brink on Saturday and delayed an imminent military strike against Syria to seek approval from the U.S. Congress in a gamble that will test his ability to project American strength abroad and deploy his own power at home.

Before Obama put on the brakes, the path had been cleared for a U.S. assault. Navy ships were in place and awaiting orders to launch missiles, and U.N. inspectors had left Syria after gathering evidence of a chemical weapons attack that U.S. officials say killed 1,429 people.

But Obama decided to seek the backing of U.S. lawmakers before attacking, as polls showed strong opposition from Americans already weary of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Approval will take at least 10 days, if it comes at all.

"Today I'm asking Congress to send a message to the world that we are ready to move as one nation," Obama said in a dramatic shift he announced in the White House Rose Garden.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE97K0EL20130901

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Activist Dies in NY Wreck

Source: Associated Press


Aug. 30 7:36 PM EDT

PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Darren Manzella, a gay combat medic discharged from the Army after criticizing the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy in a 2007 television interview, has died in a traffic accident in western New York. He was 36.

His aunt, Robin Mahoney, on Friday confirmed his death. Manzella lived in the Chautauqua County town of Portland; he and his partner were married in July.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office said Manzella was driving on Interstate 490 in suburban Rochester about 8:30 p.m. Thursday when his vehicle sideswiped a car. Deputies said he stopped his vehicle, got out and began pushing the car from behind. He was then hit by an SUV, pinning him between the two vehicles. He died at the scene.

Manzella's December 2007 appearance on "60 Minutes" from the combat zone in Iraq was followed by his discharge in June 2008 for "homosexual admission," a violation of the since-rescinded policy prohibiting service members from openly acknowledging they are gay.

After the television appearance and his return from Iraq, Manzella did media interviews, each a potential violation of the policy.

"This is who I am. This is my life," Manzella said at a Washington news conference before his discharge. "It has never affected my job performance before. I don't think it will make a difference now. And to be honest since then, I don't see a difference because of my homosexuality."

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/dont-ask-dont-tell-activist-dies-ny-wreck

UK Asked N.Y. Times to Destroy Snowden Material

Source: Reuters

UK asked N.Y. Times to destroy Snowden material

WASHINGTON | Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:54pm EDT

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The British government has asked the New York Times to destroy copies of documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden related to the operations of the U.S. spy agency and its British partner, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), people familiar with the matter said.

The British request, made to Times executive editor Jill Abramson by a senior official at the British Embassy in Washington D.C., was greeted by Abramson with silence, according to the sources. British officials indicated they intended to follow up on their request later with the Times, but never did, one of the sources said.

On Friday, in a public statement, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, said his newspaper, which had faced threats of possible legal action from British authorities, on July 20 had destroyed copies of leaked documents which it had received from Snowden.

Rusbridger said that two days later, on July 22, the Guardian informed British authorities that materials related to GCHQ had made their way to the New York Times and the independent investigative journalism group ProPublica.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSBRE97T0RC20130830

FOX's O'Reilly: I Made Wrong Claim About March

Source: Associated Press


Aug. 30 3:18 PM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly has apologized for incorrectly stating that no Republicans were invited to participate in a ceremony this week marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for civil rights and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

In fact, Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor were invited but did not attend. Former President George W. Bush sent a statement in commemoration. O'Reilly had made the incorrect claim on Wednesday, the day of the ceremony.

"The mistake — entirely on me," O'Reilly said on his show Thursday. "I simply assumed that since all the speakers were liberal Democrats, Republicans had been excluded. So here's the tip of the day: Always check out the facts before you make a definitive statement and when you make a mistake, admit it."

O'Reilly said the Republicans made a mistake, too. He said they should have been there.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/foxs-oreilly-i-made-wrong-claim-about-march

Experts: Don't Bomb Chemical Weapon Sites in Syria

Source: Associated Press


— Aug. 30 6:50 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — You simply can't safely bomb a chemical weapon storehouse into oblivion, experts say. That's why they say the United States is probably targeting something other than Syria's nerve agents.

But now there is concern that bombing other sites could accidentally release dangerous chemical weapons that the U.S. military didn't know were there because they've lost track of some of the suspected nerve agents.

Bombing stockpiles of chemical weapons — purposely or accidentally — would likely kill nearby civilians in an accidental nerve agent release, create a long-lasting environmental catastrophe or both, five experts told The Associated Press. That's because under ideal conditions — and conditions wouldn't be ideal in Syria — explosives would leave at least 20 to 30 percent of the poison in lethal form.

- snip -

"It's a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease," Kimball said. He said some of the suspected storage sites are in or near major Syrian cities like Damascus, Homs and Hama. Those cities have a combined population of well over 2 million people.

When asked if there is any way to ensure complete destruction of the nerve agents without going in with soldiers, seizing the chemicals and burning them in a special processing plant, Ralf Trapp, a French chemical weapons consultant and longtime expert in the field, said simply: "Not really."

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/experts-dont-bomb-chemical-weapon-sites-syria

Judge: V.A. Can't Deny Benefits to Lesbian Army Vet

Source: Associated Press


Aug. 30 1:49 AM EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge in Los Angeles has ruled that a lesbian Army veteran and her spouse should be entitled to disability benefits given the recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.

U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall said Thursday that a federal code defining a spouse as a person of the opposite sex is unconstitutional since the high court's decision allowing legally married gay couples the right to health care benefits.

The Department of Veterans Affairs denied an application from veteran Tracey Cooper-Harris and her spouse seeking additional money and benefits that married veterans are entitled to receive. Cooper-Harris suffers from multiple sclerosis and receives disability benefits.

She and Maggie Cooper-Harris got married in California during the brief period in 2008 when same-sex unions were legal in the state.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/judge-va-cant-deny-benefits-lesbian-army-vet

U.S. Releases Some Prisoners from Guantanamo Bay Prison

Source: CBS News

@CBSNews: U.S. releases some prisoners from Guantanamo Bay prison http://t.co/pyopUUdSNQ

Guantanamo Bay prisoners Nabil Hadjarab, Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab sent to Algeria homeland

August 29, 2013

MIAMI The U.S. military says it has sent two men who had been held at Guantanamo Bay prison back to their homeland of Algeria.

A brief Pentagon statement says the release of the two men brings the prisoner population at the U.S. base in Cuba down to 164 men. The United States said it was grateful for Algeria's willingness to accept the men, Nabil Hadjarab and Mutia Sadiq Ahmad Sayyab.

According to the Pentagon statement, the cases for the two men were reviewed by an interagency task force and the Obama administration informed Congress of the decision.

The human rights group Reprieve represents the 34-year-old Hadjarab and it welcomed Thursday's announcement, calling for the release of more prisoners from Guantanamo.

Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57600607/guantanamo-bay-prisoners-nabil-hadjarab-mutia-sadiq-ahmad-sayyab-sent-to-algeria-homeland

Egypt Moves Closer to Al-Jazeera TV Affiliate Ban

Source: Associated Press


Aug. 29 9:49 AM EDT

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's official news agency says the interim government has deemed Al-Jazeera's local affiliate a national threat, moving closer to banning its broadcasts.

The MENA news agency says three government ministers met Thursday and issued a statement saying that Al-Jazeera Mubashir Misr is operating "illegally" and using satellite transmitters without license.

The agency says the ministers allege that the station is resented for spreading "rumors and claims which are harmful to Egyptian national security and threaten the country's unity."

Amid Egypt's current political turmoil after July 3 coup that toppled Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the channel aired statements by fugitive Islamist leaders. The Qatar-based network also broadcast hours of protests by supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood live across its channels.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/egypt-moves-closer-al-jazeera-tv-affiliate-ban

Former Gov. Don Siegelman Seeks New Trial

Source: Birmingham News

Former Gov. Don Siegelman seeks new trial

By Kim Chandler | kchandler@al.com

on August 28, 2013 at 6:00 PM, updated August 28, 2013 at 7:34 PM

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- Former Gov. Don Siegelman is seeking a new trial on his 2006 bribery conviction, arguing the case was tainted by the involvement of a prosecutor with ties to GOP politics.

His lawyers are also contending a federal judge erred at Siegelman's sentencing and wrongly held the politician accountable for acquitted conduct.

Lawyers for Siegelman, a Democrat, filed the brief Monday with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals asking for a new trial, or “at a minimum” additional discovery about the role of former U.S. Attorney Leura Canary after she announced she was stepping aside from the case in 2002 .

“First, U.S. Attorney Leura Canary’s failure to honor her disqualification violated Siegelman’s right to a disinterested prosecutor,” Siegelman’s lawyers wrote.

“While Siegelman was being criminally investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Canary’s husband was a hired consultant for Siegelman’s political opponent; Canary had a direct financial interest in the success of her husband’s client and in Siegelman’s defeat.”

Canary, a Bush appointee, was the sitting U.S. Attorney in the early days of the investigation. She is the wife of Billy Canary, who was a political ally of former Gov. Bob Riley, who defeated Siegelman in 2002, and did some consulting work for 2002 GOP primary candidate Steve Windom.

Read more: http://blog.al.com/wire/2013/08/former_gov_don_siegelman_seeks.html

Japan Formally Raises Fukushima Water Leak to INES Level 3 Incident

Source: Reuters

Japan formally raises Fukushima water leak to INES Level 3 incident

Tue Aug 27, 2013 11:13pm EDT

TOKYO, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Japan's nuclear regulator said on Wednesday it has officially raised the severity rating of the latest radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to Level 3 on an international scale for radiological releases.

The upgrade by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) raises the rating of what was Japan's first warning on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) since the three reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima plant in March 2011, which were triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami. Those meltdowns were classified as Level 7, the highest INES rating.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said last week that 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water leaked from a storage tank at the facility. The utility still does not know how long the water may have been leaking and said it was possible the contaminated water may have reached the Pacific Ocean.

The NRA had said last week that it may upgrade the severity of the crisis from a Level 1 "anomaly" to a Level 3 "serious incident" on the INES scale, after consultations with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUST9N0F304B20130828
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