Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

Monday, 26 October 2015

New Jersey town first in U.S. to use Uber to curb drunken driving

A New Jersey town on track for a record-breaking number of drunken driving cases has become the first U.S. municipality to partner with ride service app Uber [UBER.UL] to keep inebriated residents from getting behind the wheel.

To keep the roads safe in Evesham Township, a town of 45,000 people in southern New Jersey, anyone drinking in at least 19 alcohol-serving establishments can now get a free ride home from Uber in a program funded by donors and started last week.

Donations from area nonprofits and businesses are also funding a second free ride option that started on Friday: the mobile app BeMyDD, through which people can hire a driver to get both them and their car home.

"We're dealing with people who might've had too much to drink, so we needed to make it so easy for them to open their iPhone and push a button," Evesham Mayor Randy Brown said.

Evesham had been on track to reach 250 DUI arrests in 2015, a record for the town, Brown said.

The effort extends a pilot program tested during September, when town shuttles provided free rides to more than 350 people. The shuttles helped decrease DUI arrests to eight in September from a monthly average of 23 from January to August, a drop of 65 percent, Brown said.

Free rides are available from the designated bars and restaurants from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. every night of the week. The partnership with both apps runs through Jan. 2.

"We began working with Mayor Brown through our national partner, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and realized it was the perfect opportunity to use our technology to help take drunk drivers off the road," Ana Mahony, general manager for Uber New Jersey, said in a statement.

Uber is testing the pilot locally and is considering working with other towns to create a similar partnership, a spokesman for the company said.

Alexa Milkovich, vice president of marketing for BeMyDD, said the company recruited drivers quickly to make sure the area would have enough to meet demand.

Source Reuters
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Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Buffett donates record $2.84 billion to Gates, family charities

Warren Buffett meets young finalists in his Secret Millionaires Club 'Grow Your Own Business Challenge' in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, May 18, 2015.
 Warren Buffett on Monday donated about $2.84 billion of Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and four family charities, as part of the billionaire's plan to give away nearly all of his wealth.

The 10th annual donation, Buffett's largest, comprised 20.64 million Class "B" shares of Berkshire, and increased Buffett's total contributions to the charities to more than $21.5 billion.

The Gates Foundation, which focuses on improving education and health and reducing poverty, received about 15.76 million shares, or 76 percent of the total donated.

Also receiving donations were the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, named for Buffett's late first wife, and the Howard G. Buffett, Sherwood and NoVo Foundations, respectively overseen by his children Howard, Susan and Peter.

Buffett, 84, still owns 18.8 percent of Berkshire's stock. Forbes magazine on Monday estimated that would give him a net worth exceeding $64 billion, ranking fourth worldwide.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) co-founder, ranked first, at $78.7 billion, Forbes said after U.S. markets closed. Gates is also a Berkshire director, and a close friend and bridge partner of Buffett's.

Most of Buffett's holdings are in Class "A" stock, which gives him 32.9 percent of Berkshire's voting power.

Buffett typically makes his donations in July, reducing the number of shares by 5 percent from the prior year. Dollar amounts often rise because of increases in Berkshire's stock price.

The charities typically sell donated shares to finance their activities, reflecting Buffett's desire that the money be spent. Buffett also makes smaller donations to other charities.

Buffett has run Berkshire since 1965. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company has more than 80 businesses in such areas as insurance, railroads, energy and chemicals, and as of March 31 had more than $143 billion of stock and bond investments.

Berkshire also owns more than 325.4 million shares, or nearly 27 percent, of food and beverage company Kraft Heinz Co (KHC.O), which began trading on Monday. That stake is worth nearly $24 billion.

Source Reuters
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U.S. rapper Kendrick Lamar delights London's 'Wireless' festival

The sun was out for double-Grammy-award-winning U.S. rapper Kendrick Lamar this weekend as he performed an energetic set of his hits to an enraptured young North London crowd. 

On stage at the Wireless festival on Saturday, less than a week after winning "Best Male Hip-Hop Artist" at the BET awards, Lamar performed a stream of favorites. 

"We gon' be alright! We gon' be alright!" the crowd shouted along with Lamar as they jumped up and down and pumped their arms in time with his latest single, the up-tempo "Alright" produced by U.S. hitmaker Pharrell Williams. 

It has been a good year for Lamar. After winning two Grammy awards in February for his single "i", his critically acclaimed album "To Pimp a Butterfly" reached the top spot on both the U.S. and British album charts, in a first for the star. 

And ask any hip-hop fan who they reckon is this generation's most gifted rapper and 28-year-old Lamar's name is among them. That is because of his skills as an emcee and for his ability to produce catchy hooks while delivering a strongly politicized account of life as a black man in the United States.

"On how the infamous, sensitive N-word control us ... Well this is my explanation straight from Ethiopia / N-E-G-U-S definition: royalty, king, royalty — wait listen / N-E-G-U-S description: Black emperor, King, ruler," he raps on "i".

Lamar follows a line of famous hip-hop artists from the city of Compton in southern Los Angeles County, notorious for its gang culture, such as the rap supergroup N.W.A that spawned Dr Dre and Ice Cube.

Although his lyrics focus on the United States and its politics, they seemed to chime with the young, racially mixed London crowd who rapped along enthusiastically with "Compton", Lamar's ode to his hometown.

Ella Asiegbu, 17, who spent much of her childhood in Nigeria before moving to London, had come just to see Lamar.

"He's changed my life - it's a very cheesy to thing to say but it's true. I've actually lost my voice from screaming so much," she said.

Musically and lyrically Lamar breaks away from hip-hop stereotypes: "To Pimp A Butterfly" is accompanied by a jazz band.

But it was Lamar's older songs that elicited some of the most rapturous responses. After saying goodbye, he returned to perform 2011's "A.D.H.D.", one of his first songs to get attention from the mainstream media.

"It was amazing," Levi Laing, 17, said of Lamar. "I've never seen anything like it."

Source Reuters
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Monday, 6 July 2015

Why did Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis quit?

In a shock announcement, Greece finance minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned on Monday, a day after the cash-strapped country overwhelmingly rejected international creditors' tough bailout terms.

 "Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some eurogroup participants, and assorted 'partners', for my'absence' from its meetings," Varoufakis, who had often clashed with creditors in negotiations over the past months, said on his blog after announcing the news on Twitter.

It was "an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the ministry of finance today," he said. He warned that the referendum result which saw over 60 % of Greeks vote to reject the austerity measures demanded by its international creditors "comes with a large price tag attached like all struggles for democratic rights".

"The great capital bestowed upon our government" must be "invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution," he said, calling for a deal that involves "debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms."

Outspoken and flamboyant Varoufakis, who has sent tremors through the Eurogroup since his appointment in January with his refusal to bow to convention, said: "I shall wear the creditors' loathing with pride".

Source Hindustan Times

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Thursday, 2 July 2015

U.S. Intelligence Chief Points Finger at China for Data Hack

James Clapper

Large data breach left millions of Social Security numbers exposed

The most senior U.S. intelligence official has openly implicated China in a large hack of U.S. government data.

James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, said Thursday that China was a “leading suspect” in a recent security breach that saw millions of personnel records of Americans stolen from government computers.

Previously, U.S. officials hadn’t named a suspect for the breach, which was disclosed in early June. Clapper mentioned China at an intelligence conference in Washington, D.C. “You have to kind of salute the Chinese for what they did,” he said, noting the difficulty of the attack.

Earlier this year Barack Obama signed an executive order that grants the Treasury greater ability to impose sanctions on countries who conduct cyberattacks against the U.S. China has denied involvement in the attack, which may have exposed as many as 18 million Social Security numbers.

Source Time 
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Saturday, 27 June 2015

What Each Supreme Court Justice Who Opposed Marriage Equality Said

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court made history affirming the constitutional right for same-sex marriage. Not everyone is celebrating the Obergefell v. Hodges decision. In fact four judges dissented in the 5-4 ruling. All four of them wrote their own individual dissent, an uncommon occurrence that SCOTUSblog described as, "you know, Bush v Gore rare."

ATTN: has already highlighted five passages from the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Here are the most notable passages from the dissenting judges:


Chief Justice Roberts tried to temper his 29 page dissent by acknowledging the celebrations that the majority opinion would preclude. Yet he still denied that marriage equality was a constitutional right, arguing that marriage equality should have been decided by individual states (before 10:01 AM ET on Friday, 14 states had gay marriage bans). On the twenty-seventh page of his dissent he wrote:

"Indeed, however heartened the proponents of same-sex marriage might be on this day, it is worth acknowledging what they have lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause," Roberts wrote in his dissent. "And they lose this just when the winds of change were freshening at their backs."

He concluded saying:

 "If you are among the many Americans--of whatever sexual orientation--who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today's decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not Celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it."


Next on the list of dissenting Justices was Antonin Scalia, known for his socially conservative positions (he's a staunch Catholic) and his colorful language (earlier this week he used the phrase "jiggery-pokery" in his dissenting opinion in King v. Burwell). Here are Scalia's most scathing passages:

"Hardly a distillation of essence. If the opinion is correct that the two clauses “converge in the identification and definition of [a] right,” that is only because the majority’s likes and dislikes are predictably compatible.) I could go on. The world does not expect logic and precision in poetry or inspirational popphilosophy; it demands them in the law. The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis."

* * *

"Hubris is sometimes defined as o’erweening pride; and pride, we know, goeth before a fall. The Judiciary is the “least dangerous” of the federal branches because it has “neither Force nor Will, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm” and the States, “even for the efficacy of its judgments.”26 With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence."

He also wrote this in the footnotes:

"If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,” I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie."


Justice Thomas took issue with the ability for the government to bestow or remove dignity. On page nine of his dissent he wrote:

"Petitioners cannot claim, under the most plausible definition of “liberty,” that they have been imprisoned or physically restrained by the States for participating in same-sex relationships. To the contrary, they have been able to cohabitate and raise their children in peace. They have been able to hold civil marriage ceremonies in States that recognize same-sex marriages and private religious ceremonies in all States. They have been able to travel freely around the country, making their homes where they please. Far from being incarcerated or physically restrained, petitioners have been left alone to order their lives as they see fit."

On page 17 he made comparisons to slavery and internment:

"The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away."


In his dissent, Justice Alito stated the following:

"Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage. The decision will also have other important consequences.

"It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. E.g., ante, at 11–13. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent."

He concludes with:

"Most Americans—understandably—will cheer or lament today’s decision because of their views on the issue of same-sex marriage. But all Americans, whatever their thinking on that issue, should worry about what the majority’s claim of power portends."

Source ATTN
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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

US President Barrack Obama tells French President Hollande US no longer spying on France after WikiLeaks claims US spied on three French presidents

President Obama has assured his French counterpart Francois Hollande that the US is no longer spying on France.
Mr Obama spoke to Mr Hollande following reports on the Wikileaks website that the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on successive French presidents.
The White House said after the two leaders' phone call "we are not targeting and will not target" Mr Hollande's communications.

French intelligence officials are due to travel to Washington for more talks.
Wikileaks reported that the NSA had intercepted communications from President Francois Hollande and former leaders Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac between 2006-12.
The allegations prompted a backlash from the French government, with Mr Hollande saying he would "not tolerate" acts that threaten France's security.
He called two emergency meetings, the first with France's top security officials and another with leading legislators.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls urged the US to quickly repair "damage" to its relationship with France.
The US Ambassador Jane Hartley was also summoned to the foreign ministry in Paris to discuss the latest claims, French officials said.
Analysis: Hugh Schofield, BBC News, Paris
Politicians and other leading figures are taking turns on television to express outrage at US spying.

The US ambassador was summoned to give explanations.
Mr Hollande has telephoned Mr Obama.
An intelligence chief is being despatched to Washington.
If that is the extent of it, though, it hardly amounts to a major rupture. From previous Wikileaks scoops, the French have known for years that they are spied on by the Americans. Only last month it was revealed that the Germans - acting on behalf of the NSA - were snooping after industrial secrets.

The unwritten rule in all of this is that if you are caught, expect a very public denunciation. But behind the scenes life will go on as normal. The fact is that the French and US intelligence services enjoy a degree of cooperation and interdependence that no government in Paris would ever dream of jeopardising.
The NSA has previously been accused of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on Brazilian and Mexican leaders.

A statement released by the French presidency after the phone call (in French) said Mr Obama had pledged to "finish with practices that have taken place in the past".
The conversation between Mr Hollande and Mr Obama had focused on "the principles that should govern relations between allies on intelligence matters".
French aware?

Wikileaks began publishing the files on Tuesday, under the heading "Espionnage Elysee" - a reference to the French presidential palace.
It said the secret files "derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications" of the three French presidents as well as French ministers and the ambassador to the US.

The Wikileaks files have now been published by France's Liberation newspaper and the Mediapart investigative website.
One of the files, dated 2012, is about Mr Hollande discussing Greece's possible exit from the eurozone. Another one - from 2011 - alleges that Mr Sarkozy was determined to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, possibly without US involvement.
A file dated 2010 suggests that French officials were aware that the US was spying on them and intended to complain about it.
According to the summary of an intercepted exchange, the French envoy to Washington and Mr Sarkozy's diplomatic adviser discussed Mr Sarkozy's plan to express his "frustration" over US unwillingness to sign a "bilateral intelligence co-operation agreement".
"The main sticking point is the US desire to continue spying on France," the intercept says.
It is unclear whether the material comes from data stolen by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the BBC's security correspondent Gordon Corera says.
French media reaction

"Bugged", left-leaning Liberation says bluntly, devoting its entire front page to the story. "The USA tapped Chirac, Sarkozy, Hollande", says the centre-right Le Figaro, while the centrist Le Monde headline is: "How the NSA tapped conversations at the highest state level."

A Liberation editorial entitled "Distrust" acknowledges that both Washington and Paris spy on allies and enemies but says the "US obsession with political commentary and 'horizon scanning' analysis … is a monumental waste of time and money."
Le Figaro also takes Washington to task for "obsessive US spying on France" adding that not just three presidents but ministers, high-ranking officials, MPs and diplomats may also have been spied on.

Le Monde notes that while the government has remained largely silent in the past, the latest revelation is "the last straw". It says Paris asked Washington to stop spying in 2013 when Wikileaks revealed that the US was spying on French companies - but did not get a concrete answer.

Source BBC
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Wednesday, 17 June 2015


A U.S. airstrike has killed al-Qaida's second-most-powerful figure, the head of its Yemeni branch, dealing the terror network its biggest blow since the killing of Osama bin Laden at a time when it is vying with the Islamic State group for the mantle of global jihad.

Nasir al-Wahishi was the latest in a series of senior figures from al-Qaida's powerful Yemeni branch eliminated by U.S. drone attacks over the past five months, including its top ideologue and a senior military commander. The U.S. has intensified its campaign, trying to push back the group as it has captured new territory in Yemen by taking advantage of the southern Arabian nation's chronic chaos.

In confirming the killing of al-Wahishi in a June 9 drone attack, the White House said Tuesday that his death "removes from the battlefield an experienced terrorist leader and brings us closer to degrading and ultimately defeating these groups."

The U.S. activity against al-Qaida has not been limited to Yemen. Over the weekend, a U.S. airstrike in Libya targeted an al-Qaida-linked militant commander, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who led a 2013 attack on an Algerian gas complex that killed 35 hostages, including several Americans. U.S. officials are still trying to confirm whether he was killed in the raid.

Al-Wahishi was a former aide to bin Laden who, after the al-Qaida affiliate in Saudi Arabia was crushed in the mid-2000s, rebuilt it in his Yemeni homeland and turned it into the terror network's most dangerous branch. He also served as deputy to Ayman al-Zawahri, who succeeded bin Laden in 2011 as the network's leader. The U.S. had put a bounty of up to $10 million on al-Wahishi.

The Yemeni branch, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, claimed responsibility for January's attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that killed 12 people. It also attempted several direct attacks on the United States, including a botched 2009 plot to bomb an American passenger jet.

Al-Wahishi's death is a major loss for al-Qaida as it struggles to compete with the Islamic State group, an al-Qaida breakaway that has seized vast swaths of Syria and Iraq and spawned its own affiliates elsewhere in the region. The Islamic State group has also gained loyalists in Yemen in competition with al-Qaida.

Both groups are dedicated to bringing about Islamic rule by force, but al-Qaida does not recognize the IS group's self-styled caliphate and maintains the priority should be to wage jihad against America in order to drive it out of the Middle East.

Amid fierce competition with the Islamic State group for recruits and prestige across the Middle East, the successive blows to al-Qaida in Yemen have raised questions of whether they would only serve the Islamic State group as fighters from the al-Qaida affiliate defect and join IS ranks.

However, Bill Roggio, senior fellow at the Defense of Democracies think tank and managing editor of the Long War Journal, which chronicles the U.S. war on terror, predicted the impact would be limited to the short-term morale of the group's fighters and would not hurt its strength and strategy.

"The group will move on," Roggio said. "If you had a single strike that decapitated senior leaders and chopped off the top leaving it headless, then I would say fighters will look for a more organized group. But this was not the case. They were killed over time."

A senior operative in Yemen's al-Qaida affiliate eulogized al-Wahishi in a video statement released online Tuesday and said his deputy, Qassim al-Raimi, had been tapped to replace him.

"Our Muslim nation, one of your heroes and masters has departed to God," Khaled Batrafi said of al-Wahishi's killing in the southern Yemeni port city of Mukalla, which al-Qaida captured in April. Two other militants also died in the strike, according to Yemeni security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the media.

Al-Raimi, the new AQAP leader, is thought to have masterminded a 2010 plot in which bombs concealed in printers were shipped to the U.S. on cargo planes before being detected and defused. He is believed to direct training camps in Yemen's remote deserts and mountains, where he organizes cells and plans attacks.

Al-Qaida has been able to make major gains in Yemen in recent months as the country is torn by war between Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, and their opponents, a mix of local militias, Sunni tribesmen and other backers of the president, Abed Rabbo Hadi Mansour, who was driven abroad by the fighting. Al-Qaida's militants have allied with some of the anti-Houthi forces in fighting the rebels. Batarfi said his group is fighting rebels and allied forces on 11 fronts.

The capture of Mukalla was the al-Qaida affiliate's biggest victory. It freed a number of prisoners, including Batrafi, before striking a power-sharing deal with local tribesmen.

But the victory in Mukalla has proved something of a death trap. Besides al-Wahishi, U.S. drone strikes in and around the city have killed the group's top military commander, Nasr al-Ansi, its most senior religious ideologue, Ibrahim al-Rubaish, and key operatives Mamoun Hatem and Khawlan al-Sanaani.

In recent years, U.S. strikes have also killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-Yemeni militant preacher who was a major recruiter for the group, and Saeed al-Shihri, an ex-Guantanamo detainee from Saudi Arabia who was al-Wahishi's deputy at the time.

The intensity of U.S. drone strikes comes despite the withdrawal earlier this year of U.S. counterterrorism personnel from the al-Annad air base in southern Yemen and the closure of the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Sanaa, because of the fighting. The Special Forces commandos at the base had played a key role in drone strikes and there had been major concerns that the withdrawal would undermine the fight against al-Qaida.

Al-Wahishi was known as bin Laden's "black box," keeping the al-Qaida leader's secrets. During the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, he fought alongside bin Laden at Tora Bora before the al-Qaida leader slipped across the border into Pakistan. Al-Wahishi fled to Iran, where he was detained and deported to Yemen in 2003.

He was among 23 al-Qaida militants who broke out of a detention facility in the Yemeni capital in February 2006. Three years later, al-Wahishi announced the creation of AQAP, which gathered together Yemeni and Saudi militants following a sweeping crackdown on the extremist group by Riyadh.

According to the U.S. government's "Wanted to Justice" program, al-Wahishi, was "responsible for approving targets, recruiting new members, allocating resources to training and attack planning, and tasking others to carry out attacks."

Source AP 
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Saturday, 13 June 2015

Dallas Shooting Suspect Shot By Police Sniper: Report

A suspect in Friday's shootout at Dallas Police headquarters has been shot by a police sniper, The Associated Press reported Saturday.

Police are checking to see if the suspect was killed, Dallas Police Chief David Brown told the AP.

The suspect, who identified himself to police as James Boulware, opened fire on officers outside Dallas Police headquarters Friday after ramming his van into a squad car, Brown said in a news conference Saturday.

He then led cops on a chase to a Jack-in-the-Box parking lot in suburban Hutchins, Texas, where a standoff ensued.

Boulware, who was in contact with police via cellphone, had been negotiating with officers. He said he had been hurt, Reuters reported. The suspect had not been heard from in hours as of 7:30 a.m. local time, the Dallas Morning News reported.

A police sniper fired on the vehicle with a .50-caliber rifle in an effort to gain access to the inside of the vehicle, according to law enforcement tweets.

Up to four suspects were reported by witnesses at the scene of Friday’s shooting outside of police headquarters. In a news conference, Brown said that the headquarters are being treated as an active crime scene.

Police found four bags outside headquarters, at least one of which contained a pipe bomb that exploded when a bomb squad robot attempted to move it.

Dallas Police shared photos of the damage to headquarters on Twitter. No officers were injured in the assault on the building, or in the subsequent shootout.

Source HuffingtonPost
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Friday, 12 June 2015

U.S. asks China to end island building, again, seeks more military contact

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter met a top Chinese general on Thursday and repeated a U.S. call for a halt to land reclamation in the South China Sea, while stressing that the Pentagon remained committed to expanding military contacts with China.

In the meeting with General Fan Changlong, a deputy head of China's powerful Central Military Commission, Carter stressed his commitment to developing "a sustained and substantive U.S.-China military-to-military relationship", the Pentagon said.

It said this would be based on a shared desire to deepen cooperation in areas including humanitarian assistance, disaster response, peacekeeping, counter-piracy, as well as "constructive management of differences".

In reiterating U.S. concerns about tensions in the South China Sea, Carter called on China and all rival claimants to halt land reclamation and militarization of disputed territory, and to pursue a peaceful resolution in accordance with international law, the Pentagon statement said.

Carter also reaffirmed his commitment to reach a consensus by September on a memorandum of understanding aimed at reducing the risk of accidents when the two countries' aircraft operate in close proximity, the statement said.

Fan told Carter that China's construction work in the South China Sea was mostly to improve living conditions in order to better protect its sovereignty. He also said China had a right to build on its own territory and deploy forces there, China's Defence Ministry said.

Fan also urged the United States to stop its military activities in the South China Sea.

"The South China Sea issue is only an interlude in Sino-U.S. ties and both sides should look further ahead and pay attention to more important and bigger international and regional issues," it paraphrased Fan as saying.

Fan's visit to the Pentagon was part of a week-long trip to the United States, which will include a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice at the White House on Friday. Earlier this week, Fan visited the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and U.S. military bases.

Wu Xi, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese embassy in Washington, said on Wednesday that Fan's trip was aimed at preparing the way for a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September.

China protested to the United States last month after a U.S. spy plane with a television crew aboard flew close to artificial islands China has been building in the South China Sea.

The need for an understanding on air operations was shown last year when the Pentagon accused a Chinese fighter pilot of conducting a "dangerous intercept" of a U.S. Navy patrol plane by flying a few yards from the U.S. jet and performing acrobatic maneuvers around it.

Source Reuters
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Sunday, 12 April 2015

Disturbed 10-year-old who killed younger boy by bashing his head was excited when describing murder to friends

  • Lee Allan Bonneau, 6, was attacked by a 10-year-old boy and beaten to death with a rock and a stick in August 2013 in Saskatchewan, Canada 
  • The killer, identified only as L.T., has not been charged because of his young age 
  • He told friends after the slaying he had witnessed a 'big guy' murder a boy 
  • L.T. later admitted he was the killer and pleaded, 'Don't tell on me' 
  • The child had a history of violence, including one incident when he killed a pregnant dog and her puppies
  • Lee Bonneau had been removed from his birth mother's care two and a half months before the killing and placed with foster family  
A 10-year-old boy who beat a younger child to death in Canada went to his friends claiming that he had witnessed a 'big guy' strike the victim with a rock.

Lee Allan Bonneau, 6, died from blunt force trauma to the head in August 2013 following a savage attack on a reservation in Saskatchewan.

A 10-year-old boy, identified in court documents as L.T., reportedly admitted to killing Lee Bonneau and crushing his head after initially blaming a stranger for the slaying.

Lee Allan Bonneau was 6 years old when in August 2013 he was attacked by a 10-year-old boy and beaten to death with a rock and a stick

Lee Bonneau was found savagely beaten in a field in Saskatchewan, Canada
Brief life: Lee was pronounced dead from severe head injuries four hours after he went missing in Saskatchewan, Canada, while in the care of his foster mother

Tribute: A collage created by Lee's biological family celebrating his short, troubled life
On Thursday, a coroner's jury in Regina heard how the underage suspect ran to his friends after the attack on Bonneau telling them he had witnessed a murder, reported National Post.

The troubled 10-year-old was described as appearing scared but also excited, telling his friends how a 'big guy' had struck Lee with a stick three times, pushed him down an embankment and then bashed him with a rock.

L.T. then changed his story, according to Thursday's hearing, saying the he was the one who killed the 6-year-old. He then pleaded with his pals, 'Don't tell on me,' because he was afraid of being jailed.

During an interview with investigators a day after Lee Bonneau's slaying August 21, 2013, L.T. reverted back to his original version of events, telling Royal Canadian Mounted Police that a 'big person' committed the crime.

The 10-year-old named the purported killer and told law enforcement officials that he even walked up to the man and asked him what he was doing.

'I'm just killing a little boy,' L.T. quoted the man as saying.

Police later questioned the person identified by L.T. and cleared him of any wrongdoing.

On the evening of August 21, 2013, Lee Bonneau accompanied his foster mother, Mary Ramstead, to a bingo game at the Kahkewistahaw First Nation hall.

At around 8pm, Lee stepped outside the bingo venue to buy snacks and never returned. He was last seen playing with some dogs and walking in the company of an older boy, later identified as 10-year-old L.T.

More than two hours after his disappearance, Lee was found critically injured in a remote field more than half a mile from the bingo hall.

Family troubles: Lee was removed from the home of his biological mother, Stacey Merk (pictured) just two and a half months before his murder

Lee is pictured here with his birth father, Dave Bonneau. Child servers reportedly refused to release the 6-year-old into his parent's care

The 6-year-old was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead from his injuries at around midnight.

Forensic pathologist Dr Shaun Ladhman determined that Lee died from blunt force trauma to the left side of the head after suffering multiple skull fractures.

In his testimony at the coroner's inquest Thursday, Ladhman compared the boy's injuries to those seen in high-speed car collisions or a three-story fall. Bonneau also had bite marks on his body.

Because of his young age, 10-year-old L.T. has not been charged with Lee Bonneau's murder.

RCMP Cpl. Donna Zawislak testified court that when officers came to the child's house and said that Lee Bonneau has died, the 10-year-old did not react.

The following day, L.T. sat down for a forensic interview, saying he had been a witness to the killing, not the perpetrator. When asked about the blood stains on his clothes and shoes, the 10-year-old blamed it on a nosebleed.

The child had a history of troubling behavior, including a break-in where he killed a pregnant dog and her puppies, which had been cut out of the animal's body.

Lee had been removed from the home of his biological mother, Stacey Merk, just two and a half months before his death citing concerns related to his verbal skills and behavioral problems.

A pathologist testified that 6-year-old Lee suffered injuries often observed in high-speed car collisions +13
A pathologist testified that 6-year-old Lee suffered injuries often observed in high-speed car collisions

He had multiple skull fractures and bite marks on his body

Lies: The troubled 10-year-old was described as appearing scared but also, telling his friends after the killing how a 'big guy' had struck Lee
Unpunished: L.T. will not face any charges in connection to Lee Bonneau's death because of his young age

During the coroner’s inquest, Ms Merk testified that a social worker became alarmed when she confided in her that she has been struggling with depression and had suicidal thoughts.

On August 1, child services placed Lee with Mary Ramstead's family on a temporary basis. Three weeks later, the 6-year-old was murdered while in the care of his foster mother.

L.T. will not face any charges in connection to Lee Bonneau's death because of his young age. The goal of the coroner's inquest is to determine the circumstances of the murder and make recommendations to prevent similar tragedies going forward.

Source Daily Mail
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Girl aged 9 pregnant after being raped by twisted Islamic State militants

Kidnapped: A Yazidi family returning to their homes on Wednesday (file pictures)

The youngster was one of 216 people from the Yazidis religious minority community who were kidnapped at gunpoint and later released

Yazidi girls kidnapped by Islamic StateKidnapped: A Yazidi family returning to their homes on Wednesday (file pictures)
A 9-year-old girl is pregnant after being kidnapped and raped by twisted Islamic State militants.

The traumatised youngster is one of 40,000 people from the Yazidis religious minority community who were taken at gunpoint by ISIS thugs in August last year.

Thousands of girls and women torn from their homes in Iraq were raped, tortured, forcibly married and enslaved.

Islamic StateAbandoned: Families from the minority Yazidi sect were forced to flee their homes
Many of the the traumatised victims were discarded and have now found their way back to their families; battered, broken, humiliated and several of them pregnant.

The youngest is a 9-year-old girl, according to Canadian-based aid worker Yousif Daoud.

He told the Toronto Star: "This girl is so young she could die if she delivers a baby.

"Even a caesarian section is dangerous. The abuse she has suffered left her mentally and physically traumatised.”

More than 200 elderly and infirm Yazidis were freed on Wednesday by Islamic State militants.

ReutersYazidiRescued: A member of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces helps people from the minority Yazidi sect
They were handed over to Kurdish forces near the city of Kirkuk and many were too exhausted and disoriented to speak.

One elderly woman said she had been captured by the insurgents last August when they overpowered Kurdish forces in the Sinjar area and proceeded to purge its Yazidi population, killing hundreds and taking thousands captive.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said she had told her son and two young daughters to run away as the militants closed in, but stayed behind herself because she was unwell and did not want to slow them down.

She said: "I had lost hope of seeing my children again, but today it has happened."

It was not clear why the radical jihadists had decided to release the Yazidis, whom they consider devil-worshippers, but the group previously freed 200 more it was holding under similarly mysterious circumstances.

Some of the Yazidis said they had been held in the Islamic State stronghold of Tel Afar most of the time, but in the days leading up to their release, they were moved from one town to another in Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate.

ReutersYazidi sectFree: An elderly woman from the Yazidi sect is freed on Wednesday
The Yazidis thought they were being led to their execution, but instead, were piled onto a minibus that drove them to peshmerga positions in batches.

Yazidi community leaders were there to receive them and an ambulance was on standby.

Yazidi activists say many remain in the hands of Islamic State, which has often subjected women to rape or sexual slavery.

The United Nations said last month Islamic State may have committed genocide against the minority.

The Yazidis are an ancient, predominantly Kurdish people who follow their own religion derived from Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism.

Source Mirror
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Saturday, 11 April 2015

Officials release video of Boston cop shooting

Police officers (top L) fire their weapons at a man fleeing a stopped car (top R) who police identified as Angelo West, in a still image taken from surveillance video released by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office in Boston, Massachusetts.
Massachusetts officials on Friday released video footage showing the near-fatal shooting of a Boston police officer last month by a man who was subsequently shot dead by other officers.

The decision to release the footage comes amid protests in several major U.S. cities over a series of killings of civilians in recent months. The latest occurred last Saturday when a white officer in South Carolina was videotaped shooting an unarmed black man as he fled after a traffic stop.

Angelo West, 41, is seen in an undated picture released by the Boston Police Department in Boston, Massachusetts March 28, 2015. .

"It is in everyone’s best interest to share (this) information as soon as possible in order to tamp down speculation and rumors meant to inflame and not inform," Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said at a news conference.

The video shows six-year Boston Police Department veteran John Moynihan and two colleagues approaching a car stopped at about 6:40 p.m. on March 27 in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.

As Moynihan stands near the driver's door, a man identified by police as 41-year-old Angelo West jumps out of the vehicle, shoots Moynihan in the face and runs out of the camera frame as Moynihan falls to the ground.

Authorities say West, who had a criminal record including prior gun charges, was shooting at police as he ran and that Moynihan’s fellow officers returned fire, killing him.

Moynihan, 34, is recovering after surgery to remove a bullet lodged in his neck.

Boston police officer John Moynihan, 34, is seen in an undated picture released by the Boston Police Department in Boston, Massachusetts March 28, 2015.

Local leaders at the news conference said that anger toward police over the incident was minimal.

"We need to be very aware that the work of police officers is indeed very dangerous," said Rev. Mark Scott, of the Azusa Christian Community in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

He called West’s death "tragic,” but added that once someone pulls a gun on a police officer, "you don’t leave the police any other option but to respond."

The Suffolk District Attorney’s office is investigating the shootings and has said it will release a full report on the incident later.

Source Reuters
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Iran deal could stumble on sensitive nuclear monitoring

(L-R) German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarifat, Russian Deputy Political Director Alexey Karpov and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond are seen following nuclear talks Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman (2nd R) and staff watch a tablet in Lausanne as President Obama delivers a state address on the status of the Iran nuclear program talks, April 2, 2015.
Beefing up international monitoring of Iran's nuclear work could become the biggest stumbling block to a final accord between Tehran and major powers, despite a preliminary deal reached last week.

As part of that deal, Iran and the powers agreed that United Nations inspectors would have "enhanced" access to remaining nuclear activity in Iran, where they already monitor key sites.

But details on exactly what kind of access the inspectors will have were left for the final stage of talks, posing a major challenge for negotiators on a complex and logistically challenging issue that is highly delicate for Iran's leaders.

Securing proper inspections is crucial for the United States and other Western powers to ensure a final deal, due by June 30, is effective and to persuade a skeptical U.S. Congress and Israel to accept the agreement. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but it has never welcomed intrusive inspections and has in the past kept some nuclear sites secret.

Sharply differing interpretations have emerged on what was covered by last week's framework agreement - a sign of what diplomats and nuclear experts say will be tough talks ahead.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say for Iran on the deal, on Thursday ruled out any "extraordinary supervision measures" over nuclear activities and said military sites could not be inspected.

That appeared to contradict a U.S. "fact sheet" issued after last week's marathon talks in Switzerland which said the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would have "regular access to all Iran's nuclear activities" and to the supply chain that supports it, as well as a joint Iranian-European Union statement that said the IAEA would have expanded access in Iran.

Aside from the question of Iranian consent, the logistical requirements for increased monitoring of Iranian sites would be daunting. It would involve more cameras, on-site inspections, satellite surveillance and other methods and might require the IAEA to assign more people and resources to its Iran team.

› Inspections critical to Iran nuclear deal: U.S.'s Carter
› White House: Kerry, Moniz to brief Congress next week on Iran deal
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said it was crucial to come up with a mechanism for "anytime, anywhere" inspections that go beyond the IAEA's own special arrangements for short-notice inspections, known as the Additional Protocol.

The Additional Protocol was created in the 1990s, after the discovery of Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program and revelations that North Korea and Romania had separated plutonium, as a means of smoking out covert arms-related activities.

"It’s extremely difficult for Iran," said Albright, himself a former U.N. weapons inspector. "They don’t want it. They want to keep smuggling (nuclear-related dual-use items). They’re buying a lot of things, and they’re not going to want to stop."


Last week's framework accord between Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China cleared the way for talks on a final settlement by a June 30 deadline. The aim is to block an Iranian path to a nuclear bomb in return for lifting sanctions on Tehran.

The framework would require Iran to mothball most of its installed enrichment centrifuges and curtail uranium enrichment and other sensitive work for at least a decade. The plan calls for IAEA-monitored storage by Iran of thousands of centrifuges and other infrastructure.

Among the splits that have already emerged in the Iranian and Western interpretations of the deal are timing of sanctions relief and the removal of U.N. sanctions, as well as monitoring.

"I believe monitoring and inspections may prove to be the most difficult nut to crack and I wouldn't be surprised if Iran and the P5+1 (six powers) have some big fights about it," a senior diplomatic source told Reuters condition of anonymity.

The interim deal makes clear that broader inspections will be mandatory for Iran. The joint EU-Iranian statement said that the IAEA "will have enhanced access through agreed procedures, including to clarify past and present issues."

Iran signed the Additional Protocol in 2003, a year after the existence of its Natanz enrichment site and Arak heavy-water production facility was revealed. Tehran began voluntarily implementing the protocol but never ratified it. It eventually stopped implementing it.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that Iran had agreed that it would resume implementation of the Additional Protocol and would submit it for ratification.

But Olli Heinonen, the IAEA's former chief nuclear inspector who is now at Harvard University, said Additional Protocol inspections would likely not be enough for proper monitoring.

The Additional Protocol has limitations, experts say, such as not covering research by Iran that the IAEA is investigating and which Western countries believe was linked to weaponization.

Heinonen said there would have to be a new comprehensive Iranian declaration about its nuclear program that also includes information about Iranian cooperation with foreign states.

"You need some provision about nuclear cooperation with other countries given the stories about cooperation with North Korea," Heinonen said.

Jacqueline Shire, a non-proliferation expert and former member of the U.N. Security Council's Panel of Experts on Iran, said resolving questions about the so-called "possible military dimensions" of Iran's past nuclear activities was crucial but extremely difficult.

"Iran will have to engage with the IAEA on this in a way it has not, up to this point, been willing to," she said.

Heinonen, Albright and Shire said that failure to address the possible military dimensions could undermine confidence in any monitoring and inspection regime.

"If you leave PMD unresolved, then there could be many unknowns," Heinonen said.

(This version of the story has been refiled to clarify editorial insertion in David Albright quote to "nuclear-related dual-use items," not "nuclear materials", in 11th paragraph)

Source Reuters
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Obama, Castro shake hands as U.S., Cuba seek better ties

Cuba's President Raul Castro (L) stands with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama before the inauguration of the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama City April 10, 2015.
President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands on Friday at a summit in Panama, a symbolically charged gesture as the pair seek to restore ties between the Cold War foes.

A photograph showed Obama and Castro, both wearing dark suits, chatting in a small group of leaders at the summit's opening ceremony. A White House official confirmed the two men shook hands and spoke briefly.

"This was an informal interaction and there was not a substantive conversation between the two leaders," the official said.

Obama and Castro are expected to meet again on Saturday and talk about their efforts to restore full diplomatic relations and boost trade and travel between the two countries.

Their rapprochement, first unveiled in a historic policy shift in December, is the central issue at the Summit of the Americas meeting in Panama.

"As we move towards the process of normalization, we'll have our differences government to government with Cuba on many issues. Just as we differ at times with other nations within the Americas, just as we differ with our closest allies," Obama said earlier on Friday.

But the 53-year-old Obama, who was not even born when Fidel and Raul Castro swept to power in Cuba's 1959 revolution, also said the United States is no longer interested in trying to impose its will on Latin America.

"The days in which our agenda in this hemisphere so often presumed that the United States could meddle with impunity, those days are past," he said.

Apart from a couple of brief, informal encounters, the leaders of the United States and Cuba have not had any significant meetings since the Castro brothers toppled U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista and then steered their Caribbean country into a close alliance with the Soviet Union.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos hailed Obama's push to improve relations with Cuba, saying it was helping to heal a "blister" that was hurting the region.

However, Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas said civic groups in Cuba have been sidelined from talks and appealed to Obama to support their push for more democracy.

"The Cuban government is showing no goodwill ... They don't want to make any kind of concessions," he told Reuters.

Obama, who met with activists from across Latin America, including two Cuban dissidents, appears to be close to removing communist-run Cuba from a U.S. list of countries that it says sponsor terrorism.

Its inclusion on the list brings a series of automatic U.S. sanctions and Cuba is insisting it be taken off as a condition of restoring diplomatic ties.

Washington imposed trade sanctions on Cuba from 1960 and broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961, but the ensuing freeze did it no favors, said Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser.

"Our Cuba policy, instead of isolating Cuba, was isolating the United States in our own backyard," he noted.


The two countries have maintained contact through interests sections in Havana and Washington since 1977, and in recent years they have increasingly cooperated on issues such as migration and drug trafficking.

The State Department has now recommended that Cuba be taken off the terrorism list, a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee aide said. Obama is expected to agree, although it is not clear whether he will announce it during the summit.

Obama has already used his executive authority to ease some trade and travel restrictions, and is seeking to encourage nascent small businesses in Cuba by allowing more exports there.

But only Congress, controlled by Republicans, can remove the overall U.S. economic embargo on the island. The rapprochement by Obama, a Democrat, has met some resistance in Washington and among some influential Cuban-Americans.

Critics say Cuba should not be rewarded unless it changes its one-party political system.

While Obama's policy has been widely praised around Latin America, this was tempered last month when his administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela, Cuba's closest ally and main benefactor.

That controversy now hangs over the summit this weekend.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro plans to present Obama with a petition signed by millions of people demanding that the sanctions be reversed. He is certain to receive support from Castro and other left-wing leaders in Latin America.

"It is no time for imperialism, threats, it is time for peace, cooperation, union, progress, prosperity," Maduro said on arrival in Panama.

Source Reuters
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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Everything you need to know about National Beer Day

As Beer was banned in the United States from 1920 to 1933 as Drunkenness was condemned and punished, but only as an abuse of a God-given gift. Drink itself was not looked upon as culpable, any more than food deserved blame for the sin of gluttony. Excess was a personal indiscretion.Tea merchants and soda fountain manufacturers generally supported prohibition, believing a ban on alcohol would increase sales of their products

In 1933 ,  National Beer Day was celebrated on April 7 the first day in 13 years,that people could legally buy, sell, and drink beer.It is also an unofficial holiday.

National Beer Day is a celebration of the Cullen–Harrison Act being signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 22, 1933. That law went into effect on April 7 of that year, allowing people to buy, sell and drink beer again as long as it was < 3.2% alcohol-by-weight (4.05% alcohol-by-volume). People across the country responded by gathering outside breweries, some beginning the night before. On that first day, 1.5 million barrels of beer were consumed, inspiring the future holiday. Today, April 7 is recognized as National Beer Day and April 6 is known as New Beer's Eve.

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Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Race, reforms eyed as Ferguson, Missouri, voters head to polls

Ferguson is a city in St. Louis County, Missouri, United States.

It is part of the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area. The population was 21,203 at the 2010 census.

Residents in Ferguson, Missouri, cast their votes on Tuesday in a closely watched election seen as a critical step toward ending racially discriminatory practices that thrust the St. Louis suburb into the national spotlight last year.

Eight candidates, including four African-Americans, are vying for three seats on the six-member City Council in Ferguson, where two-thirds of residents are black but the city's leadership has been long dominated by whites.

Ferguson has about 21,000 residents. But it has had only two black council members since its incorporation in 1894, including Councilman Dwayne James, who is not up for re-election.

A heavy thunderstorm rolled through the area on Tuesday morning, which some feared could discourage turnout. Advocates spread through the community to encourage people to vote.

"I'm positive. People are coming out, but the weather is not helping," said Patricia Bynes, a Democratic committeewoman for Ferguson Township who has been leading voter turnout efforts.

Bynes said she was handing out ponchos and umbrellas at polling sites in Ferguson.

No incumbents are running, and advocates have said it is imperative that change-minded individuals gain seats on the council, which will be charged with hiring a new police chief and city manager.

Both the previous chief and manager resigned, as did Ferguson's municipal judge, after the U.S. Justice Department said in March that it found widespread racially discriminatory practices in the police department and the municipal court.

The Justice Department launched the investigation after a white Ferguson police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, 18, an unarmed African-American. The shooting triggered months of sometimes violent protests and spurred a national debate over police treatment of minorities.

Community activists in Ferguson say a lack of adequate representation for African-Americans has contributed to a range of racially discriminatory practices by police and city leaders.

"This may be a little municipal election, but ... city council can have a tremendous impact in the community," said attorney Denise Lieberman, who has helped run a voter protection program for the Advancement Project civil rights organization.

"These local leaders make important and significant decisions that affect the day-to-day lives of people," Lieberman told Reuters.

Black representation is guaranteed to double to two after Tuesday's election and could increase to three seats.

Municipal Judge Wesley Bell and retiree Lee Smith, both African-American, are running for a seat in the ward where Brown lived.

Two black candidates and two white candidates are running for a second seat: Ella Jones, Adrienne Hawkins, Mike McGrath and Doyle McClellan. Former Ferguson Mayor Brian Fletcher and Bob Hudgins, both white, are running for a third seat.

Voter turnout in Ferguson for local elections historically runs from 10 percent to 40 percent, according to St. Louis County records, though voter registration was up about 4.6 percent in the past nine months to more than 12,000 voters.

Source Reuters
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Rand Paul promises to 'take our country back' in 2016 White House bid

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) formally announces his candidacy for president during an event in Louisville, Kentucky, April 7, 2015.
Senator Rand Paul promised to be a different kind of Republican on Tuesday, launching a 2016 White House bid that he said would highlight the conservative principles of reduced government and spending as he vowed to break up "the Washington machine."

The senator from Kentucky, a libertarian who has built a national reputation for challenging party orthodoxy, criticized Republicans in Congress and recent Republican presidents for helping to drive up the federal debt and reducing personal liberties.

"We have come to take our country back," he told cheering supporters on a flag-draped stage in Louisville, Kentucky, promising to break up "the Washington machine that gobbles up our freedoms and invades every nook and cranny of our lives."

With his announcement, Paul becomes the second major Republican to announce presidential ambitions for 2016, after Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. A crowded field is expected, with candidates competing hard for constituencies ranging from the Christian right to traditional Wall Street Republicans.

Paul starts the campaign in the second tier of Republican candidates, drawing the support of 8.4 percent of Republicans, according to a March Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll.

That puts him behind former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is considered a top contender among Republicans although he has not declared himself a presidential candidate; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker; and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

He is in a statistical tie with four other candidates - Cruz, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Paul, who entered Congress on the Tea Party wave of 2010, has been reaching out in recent months to attract more mainstream voters.

The anti-war agitator who mounted a 13-hour filibuster to call attention to the United States' use of drones recently proposed a boost to military spending. The firebrand who wants to scale back the authority of the Federal Reserve has been quietly courting Wall Street donors.

And the 52-year-old former eye surgeon who harnessed the anti-establishment energy of the Tea Party movement, has been raising money for fellow Republicans, at times upsetting the grassroots activists who have made him a national figure.

Paul told the Louisville crowd he would campaign with "the Constitution in one hand and the Bill of Rights in the other."

Paul's father, Ron Paul, the libertarian former congressman and failed presidential candidate, attended the announcement but did not speak at the rally.

Source Reuters
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China peeved as Hillary Clinton denounces women's detention

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers remarks during the 2015 Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting award in Washington March 23, 2015.
 China called on other countries on Tuesday to respect its judicial sovereignty after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced as "inexcusable" the detention of five women activists.

China has previously rejected calls from Britain and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to release the women activists, who had planned to demonstrate against sexual harassment on public transport.

The five young women had made signs and stickers bearing slogans like "stop sexual harassment" and calling for police to arrest molesters, photographs circulated by rights groups showed.

The women - Li Tingting, Wei Tingting, Wang Man, Zheng Churan and Wu Rongrong - were detained on the weekend of International Women's Day, March 8, on suspicion of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble", a charge that carries a jail sentence of up to five years.

Clinton had tweeted "The detention of women's activists in China must end. This is inexcusable".

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said the matter was an internal affair.

"China is a country ruled by law. Relevant departments will handle the relevant case according to law. We hope that public figures in other countries can respect China's judicial sovereignty and independence," Hua told a daily news briefing.

The decision to detain the women comes amid a clampdown on dissent. President Xi Jinping's administration has detained hundreds of activists in the past two years in what some rights groups say is the worst suppression of dissent in two decades.

Clinton, the Democrats' presumed 2016 presidential front-runner, has been a long-time critic of China's human rights record. In 2012, she led a tense week of negotiations with China over the fate of blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who is now living in the United States.
Source Reuters
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