- Associated Press - Saturday, August 9, 2014

US airlifts more aid to stranded Iraqis as airstrikes help Kurds combat militant advance

KHAZER CAMP, Iraq (AP) - President Barack Obama justified the U.S. military’s return to fighting in Iraq Saturday by saying America must act now to prevent genocide, protect its diplomats and provide humanitarian aid to refugees trapped by Islamic State militants on a mountain ridge near the Syrian border.

“This is going to be a long-term project” that won’t end and can’t succeed unless Iraqis form an inclusive government in Baghdad capable of keeping the country from breaking apart, Obama said at the White House.

U.S. planes and drones launched four airstrikes on Islamic State forces Saturday as they fired indiscriminately on Yazidi civilians taking shelter in the Sinjar mountains, U.S. Central Command said. The strikes, which were spread out during the day, destroyed armored carriers and a truck, according to the Central Command statement. It was the third round of airstrikes against Islamic State forces by the U.S. military since they were authorized by Obama on Thursday.

The military support also has been helping clear the way for aid flights to drop food and water to thousands of starving refugees in the Sinjar area. Central Command announced Saturday night that the military had made the third such drop, delivering another 72 bundles of supplies, including more than 3,800 gallons of water and more than 16,000 meals.

But the help comes too late for many of the religious minorities targeted for elimination by the Islamic State group, which swept past U.S.-trained and equipped Iraqi government forces in recent weeks and now controls much of Iraq.

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Obama offers no time limit on renewed US military involvement in Iraq, awaits new government

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama on Saturday refused to give a time limit on America’s renewed military involvement in Iraq, saying he doesn’t think “we are going to solve this problem in weeks” as the country struggles to form a new government.

“I think this is going to take some time,” he said at the White House before departing for a vacation on Martha’s Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast.

Obama warned Americans that the new campaign to bring security in Iraq requires military and political changes and “is going to be a long-term project.”

The president said Iraqi security forces need to revamp to effectively mount an offensive, which requires a government in Baghdad that the Iraqi military and people have confidence in. Obama said Iraq needs a prime minister - an indication that suggests he’s written off the legitimacy of the incumbent, Nouri al-Maliki.

Obama said he will not close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or the consulate in Irbil, which means American troops and diplomats will remain on the ground. He said he is obligated as commander in chief to protect U.S. personnel wherever and whenever they are threatened.

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Riot police called to Liberian town amid protest over Ebola bodies left in street

MONROVA, Liberia (AP) - Riot police raced to quell a demonstration blocking Liberia’s busiest highway Saturday as an angry crowd protested the government’s delays in collecting the bodies of Ebola victims.

In Guinea, where the deadly Ebola outbreak emerged in March, health officials announced Saturday that the country was closing its land borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone - two of the countries where the killer virus has now spread and where deaths are mounting.

The World Health Organization declared the Ebola outbreak an international health emergency Friday. The growing unease in Liberia, where nearly 300 people have died from the gruesome disease, raises the specter of social unrest.

Several bodies had been lying by the roadside for two days in the central town of Weala, 50 miles (75 kilometers) from the capital of Monrovia, and no government agency had picked them up, residents said.

The Ebola virus spreads through the bodily fluids of its victims and many in West Africa have fallen ill after touching or handling corpses. Liberia’s government has ordered that all Ebola victims be cremated amid community opposition to neighborhood burials for fear of further contamination.

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Missouri woman finds grandson on street, fatally shot by officer; hundreds confront police

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - A woman whose grandson was fatally shot by police says she found his body in the middle of the street minutes after he was expected to arrive at her home.

Desiree Harris says she was driving through her suburban St. Louis neighborhood Saturday afternoon when she saw her 18-year-old grandson, Michael Brown, walking a few blocks from her house. After she arrived home minutes later, she heard a commotion and ran outside to see Brown’s body on the pavement nearby.

Hundreds of angry residents gathered for hours after the incident, shouting and cursing at police.

A spokesman with the St. Louis County Police Department confirmed a Ferguson police officer shot the man. The spokesman didn’t give the reason for the shooting.

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Democrat incumbents face strong challenges for governor, US Senate in Hawaii’s primary races

HONOLULU (AP) - As the final days of campaigning drew to a close in Hawaii’s dramatic primary races, a pair of big storms thrashed toward the islands.

The storms posed considerable risk, but for Gov. Neil Abercrombie, they also represented an opportunity to cast himself as a steady leader with a strong emotional connection to people in the state.

He hugged military response personnel, emphasized his national network of contacts and, even as forecasters predicted the storms would weaken and veer away, Abercrombie reminded everyone to remain vigilant.

Whether this final image will be decisive for voters casting ballots on Saturday was not yet known. The incumbent governor faces a surprisingly strong challenge from a fellow Democrat and many voters had already cast ballots during early voting before Tropical Storm Iselle hit the islands.

The governor’s race was not the only one splitting the Democratic Party establishment during Saturday’s primary. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz to determine who will fill the rest of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s term.

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BACK TO SCHOOL: US schools projected to have more minority students than whites for first time

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) - For the first time, U.S. public schools are projected this fall to have more minority students than non-Hispanic whites, a shift largely fueled by growth in the number of Hispanic children.

The changing demographics of American education are apparent inside Jane Cornell’s summer school classroom, where giggling grade-schoolers mostly come from homes where Spanish is the primary language. The sign outside the classroom reads “Welcome” and “Bienvenidos” in polished handwriting.

Non-Hispanic white students are still expected to be the largest racial group in the public schools this year at 49.8 percent. But according to the National Center for Education Statistics, minority students, when added together, will now make up the majority.

About one-quarter of the minority students are Hispanic, 15 percent are black and 5 percent are Asian and Pacific Islanders. Biracial students and Native Americans make up an even smaller share of the minority student population.

The shift brings new academic realities, such as the need for more English language instruction, and cultural ones, such as changing school lunch menus to reflect students’ tastes.

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Gaza talks in Cairo on hold as Israel says no negotiations with Hamas under rocket fire

JERUSALEM (AP) - Egyptian-brokered talks between Israel and Hamas on a new border deal for Gaza were thrown into doubt Saturday after senior officials said an Israeli team would not rejoin negotiations in Cairo unless rocket fire from Gaza stops.

A day after the end of a temporary truce, cross-border attacks continued Saturday, though at a lower intensity than on most days in the past month of fighting.

Gaza militants fired 28 rockets at Israel, the army said, while Israel struck about 50 targets in Gaza that it said were linked to militants, including mosques and homes.

The indirect talks in Cairo - which began earlier in the week with Egyptians shuttling between the Israeli and Palestinian delegations - were meant to produce a sustainable cease-fire and new border arrangements for Gaza.

Israel and Egypt have severely restricted trade and movement in and out of Gaza since the Islamic militant Hamas seized the territory by force seven years ago.

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Islamic militants in Syria introduce stoning as latest form of punishment against civilians

BEIRUT (AP) - A cleric read the verdict before the truck came and dumped a large pile of stones near the municipal garden. Jihadi fighters then brought in the woman, clad head to toe in black, and put her in a small hole in the ground. When residents gathered, the fighters told them to carry out the sentence: Stoning to death for the alleged adulteress.

None in the crowd stepped forward, said a witness to the event in a northern Syrian city. So the jihadi fighters, mostly foreign extremists, did it themselves, pelting Faddah Ahmad with stones until her body was dragged away.

“Even when she was hit with stones she did not scream or move,” said an opposition activist who said he witnessed the stoning near the football stadium and the Bajaa garden in the city of Raqqa, the main Syrian stronghold of the Islamic State group.

The July 18 stoning was the second in a span of 24 hours. A day earlier, 26-year-old Shamseh Abdullah was killed in a similar way in the nearby town of Tabqa by Islamic State fighters. Both were accused of having sex outside marriage.

The killings were the first of their kind in rebel-held northern Syria, where jihadis from the Islamic State group have seized large swaths of territory, terrorizing residents with their strict interpretation of Islamic law, including beheadings and cutting off the hands of thieves. The jihadis recently tied a 14-year-old boy to a cross-like structure and left him for several hours in the scorching summer sun before bringing him down — punishment for not fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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Donetsk rebels say city is surrounded by govt forces, want cease-fire to avoid ‘catastrophe’

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine’s rebels are surrounded and ready to agree to a cease-fire to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe,” the insurgents’ new leader said Saturday as conditions deteriorated in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, artillery thundering through deserted streets.

There was no immediate government response to the cease-fire statement. Ukrainian troops have made steady advances against the rebels in recent weeks.

“We are prepared to stop firing to bar the spread of the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe in Donbass (eastern Ukraine),” Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the so-called prime minister of the Donetsk separatists, said in a statement on a rebel website.

His motive for offering a cease-fire was not clear but his comments could be aimed at increasing the pressure on Ukraine to allow in a Russian aid mission.

Russia, which the Ukrainian government in Kiev and Western countries allege is supporting the rebels, has called repeatedly for a humanitarian mission into eastern Ukraine. But Kiev and the West suggest that could be just a pretext to send Russian forces into the region - and say about 20,000 of them have gathered just across the border.

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Manziel’s preseason debut solid, but Browns fall to Lions 13-12 on late TD

DETROIT (AP) - Johnny Manziel showed off some of his fancy footwork, and the Cleveland rookie looked sharp with his arm too in his preseason debut, although the Browns lost to the Detroit Lions 13-12 on Saturday night.

Manziel entered the game as a backup in the middle of the second quarter, and although he couldn’t take his team to the end zone, he did go 7 of 11 for 63 yards, completing one more pass than starting quarterback Brian Hoyer. Manziel also ran for 27 yards on six carries, including a 16-yard scramble in the third quarter.

Matthew Stafford led the Lions to a field goal on his only drive of the game. Star receiver Calvin Johnson didn’t play.

Cleveland receiver Nate Burleson, who played in Detroit the last four seasons, also sat out this game.

Detroit’s Kellen Moore threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Corey Fuller with 1:05 remaining in the game, and Giorgio Tavecchio made the long extra point to give the Lions the one-point win.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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