Secretary of State John Kerry is in Turkey today in an ongoing effort to drum up support for a U.S.-led military campaign against militants with the Islamic State. On Thursday, Kerry was in Saudi Arabia, where 10 Arab countries, including Egypt, Jordan and Qatar, agreed to help the United States fight the militants, who have seized swaths of Iraq and Syria. Turkey has not signed on. Kerry praised the support of Arab nations, calling it “critical” to the U.S.-led effort.
Secretary of State John Kerry: “Arab nations play a critical role in that coalition, the leading role, really, across all lines of effort: military support, humanitarian aid, our work to stop the flow of illegal funds and foreign fighters, which ISIL requires in order to thrive, and certainly the effort to repudiate once and for all the dangerous, the offensive, the insulting distortion of Islam that ISIL propaganda attempts to spread throughout the region and the world.”
Retired Marine General John Allen has been tapped to oversee the campaign against the Islamic State. Allen previously served at the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. The Pentagon has announced it will soon start flying bombing missions out of the Kurdish region of northern Iraq as part of its expanded campaign against ISIL, but it remains unclear when the United States will begin launching airstrikes in Syria. Obama is facing key questions over his claim of authority to strike Syria without congressional approval. White House officials have cited the 2001 authorization of force passed after 9/11, but critics note that resolution applies only to nations and groups that “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 attacks.
The mother of slain U.S. journalist James Foley says she is “appalled” by the U.S. government’s handling of her son’s imprisonment by ISIL militants. Diane Foley told CNN the government threatened her family with prosecution if they tried to raise money for Foley’s ransom. She also criticized the broader U.S. response toward ISIL, also known as ISIS.
Diane Foley: “We’re dealing with very difficult people when we talk about ISIS. Their hate for us is great. And yet, some of our response to them has only increased the hate.”
We’ll hear from James Foley speaking in a 2012 interview later in the broadcast. Click here to watch.
Syrian rebels with the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front have released 45 Fijian peacekeepers held captive for two weeks. The Fijians were part of a United Nations force serving in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
The United States marked the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on Thursday with solemn ceremonies in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Chile, meanwhile, marked the 41st anniversary of its own 9/11. On September 11, 1973, democratically elected President Salvador Allende died in the palace in a U.S.-backed coup, ushering in 17 years of brutal dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet urged people to come forward if they have information on the more than 1,000 “disappeared” people still missing after the Pinochet era.
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet: “I have already said this the past few days, and I will repeat it again today: This is the time for us to join together in truth, and it is essential that those who have relevant information come forward, whether they are citizens or military.”
A new tally by the Associated Press finds more than 5,000 people have died in Central African Republic since December, when fighting erupted between Muslims and Christians. The clashes have sparked fears of genocide. The tally is more than twice the number cited by the United Nations in April when it approved a peacekeeping force due to arrive next week. The AP said there has been no official record of the steady rise in deaths since then.
Hundreds of thousands of Catalans have flooded the streets of Barcelona to demand a vote on independence from Spain. Turnout estimates ranged from half a million to nearly two million people. The call for secession was bolstered by next week’s referendum in Scotland on independence from the United Kingdom. Ahead of the march, Catalan President Artur Mas said European leaders should accept a referendum on Catalan independence scheduled for November.
Catalan President Artur Mas: “There are European leaders that accept the referendum in Scotland, but don’t accept at the same level the referendum in Catalonia. And my question is: Is Catalonia a different nation? It is a different nation, but it is also a nation. So if the Scottish people have the right to decide their political future, why not the Catalan people?”
Scotland’s top banks have threatened to move to England if Scottish voters choose independence in next Thursday’s referendum. Polls show Scots are about equally divided.
Historic monsoon floods in India and Pakistan have killed more than 400 people and displaced nearly a million. The flooding is the worst to hit the Kashmir region in half a century.
Hewlett-Packard has pleaded guilty to charges that former employees bribed officials at Russia’s top prosecutor’s office for a technology contract. In total, the firm has agreed to pay $108 million for bribing officials in Mexico, Poland and Russia -– that’s a tiny fraction of HP’s net revenue, which totaled $27.6 billion in the last quarter alone. The news came as the Obama administration announced it would implement new economic sanctions on Russia over its handling of Ukraine. A new round of European sanctions on Russia takes effect today.
Human Rights Watch has found Israel committed war crimes by attacking schools where displaced residents were sheltering in Gaza. The report looked at three attacks on U.N.-run shelters this summer which killed at least 45 people, 17 of them children. It came a day after Israel said it had opened criminal probes into two of the most publicized killings of Palestinian civilians during this summer’s assault, including one of the school attacks. But Human Rights Watch noted “Israel has a long record of failing to undertake credible investigations into alleged war crimes.”
South African Olympian and double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, known around the world as “the Blade Runner,” has been found guilty of culpable homicide, the equivalent of manslaughter, for killing his girlfriend. Pistorius was acquitted of murder. Judge Thokozile Masipa accepted Pistorius’ claim he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for an intruder when he fired four shots at her through a locked bathroom door last Valentine’s Day. But the judge deemed his behavior “negligent.”
Judge Thokozile Masipa: “I am of the view that the accused acted too hastily and used excessive force. In the circumstances, it is clear that his conduct was negligent.”
Argentina has enacted legislation to repay its debts domestically in a bid to skirt the ruling of a U.S. judge which sent the country into default. The judge blocked Argentina from making any repayments without also repaying U.S. hedge funds led by billionaire Paul Singer. Argentina has refused to pay the so-called vulture funds, which bought the country’s debt for bargain prices after its financial crisis, then demanded full repayment. Argentina has vowed to meet its other debts.
Newly unsealed documents have revealed how much pressure the U.S. government exerted on Yahoo after the tech company opposed its demands for user communications. In 2008, the government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 per day if it did not comply with a secret court order which Yahoo believed was unconstitutional. Yahoo ultimately lost its legal battle and ended up providing user communications to the National Security Agency under the secret PRISM program, as did other tech companies.
Missouri has enacted one of the longest waiting periods for abortion in the country. The legislation extends Missouri’s waiting period from 24 to 72 hours with no exception for victims of rape or incest. Missouri lawmakers overrode a veto of the measure by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, who said it would “jeopardize the health and wellbeing of women.” About half of U.S. states impose a waiting period between counseling and an abortion; most commonly the wait is 24 hours. Utah and South Dakota have also enacted 72-hour waiting periods.
In New York City, students at Columbia University are holding a rally today in solidarity with Emma Sulkowicz, a Columbia senior who has been lugging a dorm room mattress around campus to protest the university’s handling of sexual assault. Sulkowicz says she will continue carrying the mattress until the student who raped her two years ago is expelled. On Wednesday, students gathered to support Sulkowicz by helping her carry her mattress to class.
Trustees at the University of Illinois have voted nearly unanimously not to reinstate Steven Salaita, a professor whose job offer was withdrawn after he posted tweets harshly critical of the Israeli assault on Gaza. Students, faculty and a number of academic associations had urged the trustees to reinstate Salaita, saying his academic freedom had been violated. Salaita said he is consulting with his attorneys about future options.
A new study has found people living near fracking wells are more than twice as likely to report certain health issues. A former Yale University School of Medicine professor surveyed residents in southwestern Pennsylvania. He found 39 percent of people living within about half a mile of gas wells reported upper respiratory health problems, compared to 18 percent for those who lived more than 1.2 miles away from wells.
The Federal Communications Commission says it has received a record number of comments about its proposal to effectively end net neutrality. On Wednesday, thousands of websites joined the “Internet Slowdown,” a day of action against the FCC’s plans, which would let corporate ISPs create fast and slow lanes for Internet service. The protest helped bring in nearly 1.5 million comments. That beats the previous record set in 2004 when the FCC was flooded with complaints over a wardrobe malfunction that revealed Janet Jackson’s breast on live television during the Super Bowl halftime show.