Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 10:36 pm
Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET.
A spokesman for Hamas claimed Sunday that the group has captured an Israeli soldier. Reuters quotes Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor, as saying that no Israeli soldier has been kidnapped.
It's the latest development in a bloody day of fighting between Israel and Hamas. Israel's military said today that a series of attacks on its forces inside the Gaza Strip has killed 13 soldiers, by far the heaviest single-day toll for its troops since the beginning of the offensive nearly two weeks ago.
In the most emphatic U.S. statement to date on culpability for the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Eastern Ukraine that killed 298 people, Secretary of State John Kerry says evidence overwhelmingly points to Russian-backed separatists.
In an interview with CNN, he says that U.S. intelligence, as well as social media put out by the rebels, "obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists.
President Barack Obama said one American was killed on a downed plane in Ukraine on Thursday, and that the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. He called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, where he said heavily armed and trained separatists receive Russian support.
Calling it a "critical moment" in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing for a partial recount in the country's presidential elections amid alleged vote fraud.
"We are in a very, very critical moment for Afghanistan," Kerry told reporters. "Legitimacy hangs in the balance. The future potential of the transition hangs in the balance. So we've a lot of work to do."
A group of Central American migrant children who made the perilous journey through Mexico into the U.S. are staying now in the New Haven area. They're among the estimated 50,000 unaccompanied youngsters who have inundated the U.S. border since last October.
It's turning into the largest influx of asylum seekers on U.S. soil since the 1980 Mariel boatlift out of Cuba.
Since October, more than 52,000 children — most from Central America and many of them unaccompanied by adults — have been taken into custody. That's nearly double last year's total and 10 times the number from 2009.
The White House said it's asking Congress for $3.7 billion to address the humanitarian crisis along the border with Mexico.
The statement said the funds would cover domestic enforcement, repatriation and reintegration of migrants, transportation costs, additional immigration judges, prosecutors and litigation attorneys to "ensure cases are processed fairly and as quickly as possible."
A surge in migrants to the U.S. southwest border has prompted President Obama to ask Congress for $2 billion in emergency funding to combat the problem. His request comes one year after a Senate immigration reform bill was passed, and then stalled, in the U.S. House.
Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 12:17 pm
When President Obama announced last week that he was creating a federal task force to investigate the nation's vanishing bee colonies, the moment provided newly minted Press Secretary Josh Earnest an opportunity to crack one of his first jokes on the job.
"When I walked out here today, I knew I was going to be handling a range of sensitive issues," he told reporters. "I didn't know I was going to be talking about the birds and the bees."
Well, the U.S. couldn't do it until the Iraqi government gave U.S. soldiers immunity from prosecution, through what's called a "diplomatic note." If those U.S. soldiers committed any crimes or had any legal troubles while advising Iraqis, the U.S. wanted to handle any prosecutions.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has released a long-secret memo in which the Obama administration lays out its legal reasoning for launching a drone attack on an American citizen overseas.
The legal justification concerns the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who the United States claims was tied to plots against the U.S. and played a key role in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 11:48 am
As Sunni militants make gains against Iraq's Shiite-led central government, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry paid a previously unannounced visit to Baghdad to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.
Maliki has been criticized for not being more inclusive of Sunnis and Kurds in his government — a change the Obama administration is calling for as part of any plans for military support.
President Barack Obama said the U.S. is prepared to take targeted military actions in Iraq if they would help fight a growing threat from extremist militants. He also said the U.S. is ready to send as many as 300 military advisers to Iraq.
President Obama has ruled out the use of ground troops in Iraq, saying any action will be "targeted and precise" but must be accompanied by political action by Iraqis to end sectarian divisions.
"We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq's security forces," Obama said from the south lawn of the White House.
A Black Hawk helicopter swoops in to pick up Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a valley in Afghanistan, in a video of the handover of the American prisoner of war that was posted online early Wednesday. The Pentagon says it's reviewing the video; a spokesman says there's no reason to question its authenticity.
NPR's Steve Inskeep interviewed President Obama on Wednesday about foreign policy, including his approaches to Syria, Ukraine and China, as well as his remaining White House priorities and his effort to close Guantanamo Bay prison. A full transcript of the interview follows:
American leadership in the 21st century will be defined in part by the nation's military strength, "but only in part," President Obama said in a wide-ranging interview with NPR about his foreign policy priorities.
Echoing themes he expressed during a speech Wednesday to West Point graduates, Obama emphasized the importance of international norms and alliances in addressing challenges such as Russia, China and Syria.
A day ahead of a big foreign policy speech at West Point tomorrow, President Obama is making public his plan to pull troops out of Afghanistan.
Obama is largely taking the recommendation of his generals and plans to leave 9,800 troops in Afghanistan for one year beyond the withdrawal of combat forces in December. By the end of 2015, that number will be halved with troops consolidated in the Kabul area, and their primary mission will not be combat but counter-terrorism.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. This coming week, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is expected to update President Obama on a nationwide review on VA facilities. Many VA hospitals have been accused of covering up long wait times for veterans and cooking the books to hide these delays. Shinseki announced yesterday that some VA clinics would enhance their capacity and the administration would also make it easier for veterans to get more of their care from private facilities.
Three years ago, members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities identified eight of the lowest-performing schools in the country, and enrolled them in a new program called the Turnaround Arts Initiative. The goal: to prove that arts education could improve academic achievement and overall school culture.