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HeadlinesOctober 28, 2015

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U.S. to Launch “Direct Action on the Ground” in Iraq, Syria

Oct 28, 2015

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the United States will launch “direct action on the ground” against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Speaking before a Senate panel, Carter outlined the ramped-up U.S. campaign against ISIL.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter: “The third and final 'R' is raids, signaling that we won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL or conducting such missions directly, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground.”

The Pentagon is also intensifying airstrikes against ISIL. And chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine General Joseph Dunford, told the Senate panel he would consider recommending more U.S. soldiers be placed with Iraqi troops.

Gen. Joseph Dunford: “If it had operational or strategic impact and we could reinforce success, that would be the basic framework within which I’d make a recommendation for additional forces to be co-located with Iraqi units.”

Turkey Attacks Kurdish Fighters Allied with U.S. Against ISIL

Oct 28, 2015

Turkey has acknowledged it attacked Kurdish fighters allied with the United States in Syria. The Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, said Turkey attacked them over the weekend. While Turkey and the United States are working together to fight ISIL in Syria, Turkey is also battling Kurdish militias, who are key U.S. allies in the fight against ISIL.

Yemen: U.S.-Backed Coalition Bombs Doctors Without Borders Hospital

Oct 28, 2015

The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital. Doctors Without Borders said hospital staff and two patients managed to escape as the hospital was hit multiple times over a two-hour period Monday night. The hospital’s roof was marked with the Doctors Without Borders logo, and the GPS coordinates had been shared multiple times with the Saudi-led coalition, most recently just two weeks ago. Doctors Without Borders’ Meguerditch Terzian described the damage.

Dr. Meguerditch Terzian: “Several airstrikes happened in the zone, including the hospital had been hit, and 99 percent of the compound is destroyed now. It was around midnight yesterday, so it was a miracle for me that we didn’t have any victims despite the fact that all the staff were in the hospital. And they were considering that the hospital is a safe place to stay during the night, so it was not the case, unfortunately.”

Thousands Rally to Demand Israel Release Palestinians’ Bodies

Oct 28, 2015

Thousands of Palestinians have rallied in the occupied West Bank calling for Israel to release the bodies of Palestinians killed by security forces for allegedly attacking Israelis. Clashes with Israeli security forces reportedly left 143 Palestinians wounded. The rally came as three Palestinians were shot dead Tuesday by Israeli forces who accused them of attempting to stab Israeli soldiers.

South Carolina: Feds Probe Officer’s Arrest of High School Student

Oct 28, 2015

Federal authorities have launched a civil rights investigation to determine if a white sheriff’s deputy in South Carolina broke the law when he slammed an African-American high school student to the ground in her classroom. Ben Fields was operating as a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School. Viral video shows him grabbing the student around her neck, flipping both her and her desk to the ground and then dragging her across the floor. The student was arrested. Another student, Niya Kenny, who filmed the assault, was also arrested and held on a $1,000 bail. Kenny spoke to WLTX.

Niya Kenny: “I was in disbelief. I know this girl don’t got nobody, and I couldn’t believe this was happening. I had never seen nothing like that in my life, like a man use that much force on a little girl—a big man, like 300 pounds of full muscle. I was like, 'No way, no way.' Like, you can’t do that to no little girl. I’m talking about, she’s like 5’6”. And I was screaming, 'What the F? What the F? Is this really happening?' I was praying out loud for the girl. And I just—I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was just crying, and he was like, 'Well, since you got so much to say, you're coming, too.’ And I was like, 'What?' And he—’What? You want some of this?’ M-mm, just put my hands behind my back.”

The incident reportedly began when the student refused to give her teacher her phone. The teacher called an administrator, who summoned Officer Fields to remove the student. Fields has been suspended without pay. We’ll have more on the case after headlines.

South Carolina: Cop Who Killed 19-Year-Old Avoids Criminal Charges

Oct 28, 2015

In other news from South Carolina, a local prosecutor says a police officer who fatally shot a white 19-year-old who was sitting in his car will not face criminal charges. Seneca Police Lieutenant Mark Tiller shot Zachary Hammond through the open window of his car in July. Police claim Hammond drove his car at officers after they asked him to put his hands on the wheel during a drug sting. Attorneys for Hammond’s family say he was not given a chance to put his hands up. Federal authorities are still investigating the shooting.

U.N. Condemns U.S. Embargo of Cuba for 24th Year

Oct 28, 2015

The United Nations General Assembly has voted to condemn the U.S. embargo on Cuba for the 24th year. The United States had reportedly considered abstaining from the vote as Cuba and the United States work to restore diplomatic ties. The U.N. vote condemning the embargo was 191 to 2—only Israel voted with the United States in opposition.

Senate Passes Cybersecurity Bill Critics Say Violates Privacy

Oct 28, 2015

The Senate has passed a bill critics say will expand mass surveillance by allowing corporations to share sensitive user data with the government under the guise of cybersecurity. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, or CISA, would give corporations who share bulk user data with the government immunity from Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requests related to the data sharing. Critics include tech companies, like Apple, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who tweeted, “A vote for #CISA is a vote against the internet.”

Report: Key Chevron Witness in Amazon Pollution Case Admits Lying

Oct 28, 2015

A key witness in Chevron’s effort to avoid paying for environmental contamination in the Ecuadorean Amazon has admitted he lied. In 2011, a group of indigenous plaintiffs won a landmark $9 billion judgment for widespread contamination from toxic dumping by Texaco, which Chevron later bought. But last year, in a victory for Chevron, a U.S. judge ruled the plaintiffs used “corrupt means” to win. Much of Chevron’s defense rested on former Ecuadorean Judge Alberto Guerra, who claimed the plaintiffs offered him a $300,000 bribe to ghostwrite the ruling in their favor. But newly released documents from a secret tribunal in Washington show Guerra repudiated many of his allegations and admitted to lying about the bribe. The group Amazon Watch said in a statement: “Guerra has so thoroughly perjured himself he should be behind bars. And so should Chevron management.”

Nicaragua: Thousands Flock to Capital to Rally Against Canal

Oct 28, 2015

In Nicaragua, thousands of rural residents from across the country flocked to the capital Managua Tuesday to protest the construction of a canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The $50 billion project will be larger than the Panama Canal and could displace up to 120,000 people. Farmer Rafael Ángel Bermúdez was among those calling for the repeal of a 2013 law allowing a Chinese firm to expropriate land in order to build the canal.

Rafael Ángel Bermúdez: “I am a producer. They want to take our land with this canal. Here the fight is ours. We don’t want a canal. Get rid of Law 840, and we won’t continue. It’s Law 840 that we want them to get rid of, so we can work in peace and not waste our time here with this march.”

Many Nicaraguan residents traveled days to attend the protest in Managua. Police reportedly set up multiple roadblocks in a bid to prevent them from reaching the capital.

Northrop Grumman Wins $20 Billion Contract to Build Bombers

Oct 28, 2015

The Pentagon has awarded Northrop Grumman a more than $20 billion contract to build new long-range stealth bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. It’s the largest Pentagon contract in more than a decade and could eventually be valued at $80 billion and yield 100 new bombers.

Polls Show Carson in the Lead Ahead of GOP Debate

Oct 28, 2015

A new poll shows retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has pulled ahead of business mogul Donald Trump in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The New York Times/CBS News poll shows Carson with 26 percent support and Trump with 22 percent. The next Republican debate takes place tonight in Boulder, Colorado.

House to Vote on Budget as GOP Nominates Ryan for House Speaker

Oct 28, 2015

And the House is expected to vote on a bipartisan budget deal today as Republicans are set to nominate Wisconsin Congressmember Paul Ryan to become the new House speaker. The two-year budget includes cuts to Social Security disability benefits and Medicare payments to providers. New revenue would come from sales of U.S. strategic oil reserves and the use of public airwaves for telecommunications firms. Senator Rand Paul, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, has vowed to filibuster the budget when it reaches the Senate.

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