NATION & WORLD NEWS
NATION & WORLD NEWS
UK launches airstrikes on ISIS in Syria
British warplanes carried out airstrikes in Syria early Thursday, hours after Parliament voted to authorize air attacks against Islamic State group targets there.
Four Royal Air Force Tornados took off from a British air base in Akrotiri, Cyprus, shortly after the 397-223 vote by lawmakers in the House of Commons.
A Ministry of Defense spokesman told the AP the planes had constructed strikes in Syria, and details about their targets would be provided later Thursday, He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give his name when discussing operations.
The RAF has been launching strikes against IS targets in Iraq since 2014. The decision to expand the campaign to Syria came after an emotional 10 1/2-hour debate in which Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain must strike the militants in their heartland and not “sit back and wait for them to attack us.”
Budget talks hit snag about environmental issues, refugees
WASHINGTON (AP) — Talks on a massive, government- wide spending bill hit a snag Wednesday as Republicans pressed demands to block new power plant rules, weaken financial services regulations and make it more difficult for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the U.S. Democrats, whose votes will be needed to carry the $1.1 trillion measure through the House, flatly rejected the initial offer from top Republicans. With little more than a week to pass a measure to avert a government shutdown, it’s likely that a short-term funding bill will be needed to keep the government open past the Dec. 11 deadline.
Republican aides characterized Tuesday night’s offer from House Speaker Paul Ryan and top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell as an opening move, but the White House weighed in sharply, saying it threatened a government shutdown. Many lower-tier items in the massive measure have been worked out, leaving numerous policy provisions, known as “riders” as the main unresolved items.
“The effort they’re engaged in now is to lard the bill up with ideological riders,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.
House OKs rewriting ‘No Child Left Behind’
WASHINGTON (AP) — After years of failed efforts, the House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to sharply scale back the federal role in American education. But the bill would retain the testing requirement in the 2002 No Child Left Behind law that many parents, teachers and school districts abhor.
The legislation, approved 359-64, would return to the states the decision-making power over how to use students’ test performance in assessing teachers and schools. The measure also would end federal efforts to encourage academic standards such as Common Core.
The 1,000-plus page measure was a compromise reached by House and Senate negotiators. The Senate is to vote on it early next week and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.
Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., who led the House-Senate conference committee on the legislation, said Washington has been micromanaging the nation’s classrooms for too long.
“Today, we turn the page on the failed status quo and turn over to our nation’s parents and our state and local leaders the authority, flexibility and certainty they need to deliver children an excellent education,” he said.
Ex-wife: Colo. shooting suspect vandalized another clinic
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The man accused of killing three people at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic left a decades-long trail of broken marriages, scant social connections and a reputation for religious zealotry that didn’t match his yen for gambling and extramarital affairs.
New court documents and interviews reveal Robert Lewis Dear as an occasionally violent, fundamentalist loner who was known to nurse a grudge. He had one for at least 20 years against abortion providers, going so far as to put glue in the locks of a clinic in Charleston years earlier, a common protest technique among activists trying to shut down abortion clinics.
But still unknown is what caused Dear, 57, to escalate from petty vandalism to the fusillade he is accused of unleashing at the Colorado Springs office, where a law enforcement official said he rambled about “no more baby parts” after his arrest. Colorado Springs police have refused to disclose a motive for Dear’s violence, but there’s mounting evidence that Dear was deeply concerned about abortion.
Dear’s ex-wife, Barbara Mescher Micheau, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that her former husband came home one day bragging about gluing the doors of a clinic. Micheau, who lives in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, said Dear never talked much about Planned Parenthood, although “obviously he was against abortion.”
“He was always plotting revenge against people he felt did him wrong and you know it didn’t take much for him to feel like somebody did him wrong,” Micheau said. “So he would spend a lot of time trying to get back at people, trying to figure out ways to get back at people.”
AP test: Rio Olympic water badly polluted
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Olympic sailor Erik Heil floated a novel idea to protect himself from the sewage-infested waters he and other athletes will compete in during next year’s games: He’d wear plastic overalls and peel them off when he was safely past the contaminated waters nearest shore.
Heil, 26, was treated at a Berlin hospital for MRSA, a flesh-eating bacteria, shortly after sailing in an Olympic test event in Rio in August. But his strategy to avoid a repeat infection won’t limit his risk.
A new round of testing by The Associated Press shows the city’s Olympic waterways are as rife with pathogens far offshore as they are nearer land, where raw sewage flows into them from fetid rivers and storm drains. That means there is no dilution factor in the bay or lagoon where events will take place and no less risk to the health of athletes like sailors competing farther from the shore.
More questions arise in Chicago police videos
CHICAGO (AP) — A police dash-cam video that captures a white Chicago officer fatally shooting a black teenager 16 times has no sound, nor do videos from four other squad cars at the scene. But department protocol indicates all the cruisers should have been recording audio that night.
The silence is almost sure to figure into the ongoing federal investigation of the case, and it raises questions about whether officers were careless with the recording equipment or, worse, attempting a cover-up.
“When you’ve got a standup cop with nothing to hide, the dash-cam is his friend,” said Gregg Stutchman, who has specialized in video forensics in California for 23 years. “But for cops who aren’t quite as standup, it would make sense that they wouldn’t want things recorded.”
Several experts on the type of equipment commonly installed in police vehicles told The Associated Press that it’s plausible for a single squad car to have a glitch preventing sound recording. But they could not imagine how an entire fleet of cars would ever lose audio at the same time and place by mere happenstance.
“I’ve never heard of it before,” Stutchman said. “It raises a red flag.” The more likely explanation is that audio was intentionally switched off, he said.