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ISIL Suicide Attack Kills Dozens; Pentagon Says Shiite Codename “Unhelpful”

May 27, 2015

A suicide attack by the self-proclaimed Islamic State has reportedly killed dozens near the Iraqi city of Fallujah. The bombing hit an Iraqi army convoy involved in the ongoing offensive to retake the capital of Anbar province from ISIL. At the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest stood by comments from Defense Secretary Ash Carter that Iraqi forces have lacked the will to fight.

White House Secretary Josh Earnest: “That certainly has been a problem that we’ve seen in the past. That’s what allowed ISIL to make such significant gains last summer. And so, what the United States and our coalition has been focused on is making sure that we can enhance the capacity of the Iraqi security forces in supporting the Iraqi central government as they try to unite that country and build a multisectarian security force to face the threat that is posed by ISIL.”

Shiite militias have given the offensive to recapture Ramadi a sectarian codename, “Labaik ya Hussein,” in honor of an ancient figure killed in a war that helped set off the Shiite-Sunni divide. On Tuesday, the Pentagon called the codename “unhelpful.”

Top FIFA Officials Detained, Face U.S. Extradition in Sweeping Corruption Probe

May 27, 2015

Top officials with the world’s governing soccer body FIFA have been detained in a sweeping corruption investigation that could see them tried in the United States. The suspects were arrested while gathering for FIFA’s annual meeting at a luxury hotel in the Swiss city of Zurich. The Justice Department has requested their extradition on charges related to accepting bribes on World Cup bids and television broadcast deals. The FBI says “undisclosed and illegal payments, kickbacks, and bribes became a way of doing business at FIFA.”

Cleveland Agrees to Limits on Police Force, Federal Oversight

May 27, 2015

Cleveland has agreed to some of the nation’s toughest limits on the use of police force under a settlement with a federal government. Officers are now barred from firing warning shots and pistol-whipping suspects, and can no longer use force against those who talk back or run away. The police force will also undergo increased training on racial bias and will be tracked by an independent monitor. U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said the terms could be a model for other police forces nationwide.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach: “We have signed and are filing this 105-page comprehensive consent decree that, once approved by a federal judge, will not only serve as a roadmap for reform in Cleveland but as a national model for any police department that is ready to escort a great city to the forefront of the 21st century. And even though we are speaking, what we are announcing here today is way more than just talk.”

The consent agreement was reached after the Justice Department sued Cleveland over a pattern of unlawful abuses uncovered in a probe last year.
It comes just days after an officer was acquitted in the fatal shootings of two unarmed African Americans in their car, sparking protests that continued on Tuesday. Mayor Frank Jackson called it a defining moment for Cleveland.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson: “I want to say that this is really a defining moment for the city of Cleveland and for the citizens of the city of Cleveland. It will define who we are as a people and who we are as a city. Over the last several days, the general peaceful response to the Officer Brelo verdict has reinforced my belief that Cleveland is a community where peaceful demonstrations and dialogue will and can provide for change and will make a lasting difference for the people of the city of Cleveland.”

Appeals Court Maintains Hold on Obama Deportation Reprieve

May 27, 2015

A federal appeals court has refused to restore President Obama’s executive actions protecting millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. A right-wing judge blocked Obama’s deportation reprieve earlier this year after a motion filed by Texas and 25 other states. The federal government had asked for the injunction to be lifted while the original ruling is appealed, but a divided two-to-one panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that bid.

Nebraska Gov. Vetoes Bill to Abolish Death Penalty

May 27, 2015

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has vetoed a landmark measure that calls for abolishing the state’s death penalty. Nebraska lawmakers passed the bill last week and appear to have enough votes to override Ricketts’ veto. If the override prevails, Nebraska would be the first conservative state to ban the death penalty in more than four decades.

Floodwaters Strand Residents Across Texas

May 27, 2015

Record-setting flooding continues to inundate Texas and Oklahoma, leaving 17 dead. Houston was brought to a near standstill on Tuesday as surging floodwaters stranded motorists across the city. Houston Mayor Annise Parker urged residents to stay in their homes.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker: “We all have to remember that we’re the point of a really big funnel that kind of extends up into Central Texas, and a lot of water that falls upstream flows through Houston. It’s still a dangerous situation along the bayous. They’re full of water. The water is moving very, very rapidly, and a lot of folks want to come down and look. A lot of kids, particularly, want to come and toss something in the bayou, see what they can see. It’s exciting. Still a very dangerous place to be. So I would urge caution. And if you can stay home, please stay home today.”

Death Toll in India Heat Wave Hits 1,100

May 27, 2015

The death toll from a scorching heat wave in India has topped 1,100. Temperatures have reached as high as 50 degrees Celsius, or 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Trial of U.S. Journalist Jason Rezaian Begins in Iran

May 27, 2015

An American journalist is on trial in Iran nearly one year after he was detained. Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post’s bureau chief in Tehran, is accused of espionage and passing information to “hostile governments.” He faces up to 20 years behind bars. In Washington, State Department spokesperson Jeff Rathke called for Rezaian’s release.

Jeff Rathke: “We continue to monitor this as closely as possible, and we continue to call for all of the absurd charges to be dropped and for Jason Rezaian to be released immediately. We always raise the cases of detained and missing U.S. citizens with Iranian officials on the sidelines of the P5+1 talks and the other interactions that happen in that context, and we will continue to do that until all of them are home.”

Israel Bombs Gaza After Rocket Hits Ashdod; Aid Groups Seek Pressure to Lift Blockade

May 27, 2015

Israel has carried out bombings on the Gaza Strip after a rocket landed in the Israeli city of Ashdod. Palestinian militants say the rocket crossed into Israel by mistake as they fired test rockets into the sea. It’s at least the fourth time Palestinians have launched rockets and Israelis conducted airstrikes since the ceasefire ending last summer’s 50-day Israeli assault. But Israeli forces have also fired into Gaza more than 400 times, including on farmers and fishermen. Meanwhile, a new report from dozens of aid agencies is calling for pressure on Israel to lift the blockade and allow Gaza’s reconstruction. The groups, including Oxfam and Save the Children, endorse measures such as suspending arms transfers that could be used to violate international law.

Amnesty: Hamas Killed Alleged Collaborators During Gaza Assault

May 27, 2015

Amnesty International meanwhile says Hamas used last summer’s Israeli assault to kill 23 Palestinians and torture dozens of others accused of collaborating with Israel. In a new report, Amnesty alleges Hamas gave its security forces “free rein to carry out horrific abuses.” Hamas has denied responsibility for the killing of alleged collaborators and has blamed Israel for sowing chaos with attacks on the Gaza security apparatus.

Sanders Formally Launches Presidential Campaign

May 27, 2015

And independent Senator Bernie Sanders has formally kicked off his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Addressing a rally in his home state of Vermont, Sanders vowed to tackle income inequality and the political power of the 1 percent.

Senator Bernie Sanders: “I am proud to announce my candidacy for president of the United States of America. Today, with your support and the support of millions of people throughout our country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally. Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly: Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires.”

Sanders is the only challenger to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton so far, but former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley could declare later this week.

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