- Associated Press - Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pentagon chief Carter: Will agree to disagree with Israel’s Netanyahu on Iran nuke agreement

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Sunday he has no expectation of persuading Israeli leaders to drop their opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, but will instead emphasize that the accord imposes no limits on what Washington can do to ensure the security of Israel and U.S. Arab allies.

“Our ability to carry out that strategy is unchanged,” Carter told reporters aboard his plane en route to Tel Aviv.

The Obama administration reserves the right to use military force against Iran if necessary, he added, although the nuclear deal is intended to preclude that by resolving the issue diplomatically.

Carter is scheduled to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon on Monday and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday before traveling to Saudi Arabia and Jordan to consult on the implications of the Iran deal and to assess progress in the regional campaign against the Islamic State group. One of the bases used for U.S.-led training and arming of moderate Syrian rebels is in Jordan, and the Jordanian air force has carried out strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria. One Jordanian pilot was captured and killed by the militants.

Netanyahu has been harshly critical of the Iran nuclear deal, asserting that it clears the way for Iran to build nuclear weapons that would threaten Israel’s existence and ultimately diminish U.S. and global security.

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A black horse-trainer’s death at hands of white officer raises tensions in Mississippi town

STONEWALL, Miss. (AP) - It’s a tiny little memorial in the yard of an aging mobile home in a down-on-its-luck Mississippi mill town. Poster boards with votive candles form hearts, there are silk flowers and red, white and blue balloons. There’s a sign demanding “Justice 4 Jonathan.”

Here on Artesia Avenue is where Jonathan Sanders died after 10 p.m. on July 8, following a physical encounter with a white police officer for the town of Stonewall. What happened that night when Sanders - a 39-year-old black man riding in a two-wheel buggy pulled by a horse - crossed paths with Kevin Herrington - a 25-year-old part-time officer - is intensely disputed.

Lawyers for the Sanders family and witnesses who live in the mobile home say Herrington engaged in an unprovoked attack on Sanders after the two saw each other at a convenience store about a mile across town. C.J. Lawrence, the lawyer for three witnesses, said Sanders was doing nothing illegal and didn’t resist while Herrington choked him to death.

A lawyer for Herrington, though, said the officer found Sanders with what appeared to be illegal drugs. Sanders and Herrington struggled in the grass and Sanders grabbed Herrington’s gun from his holster, only to drop it in the grass, attorney Bill Ready Jr. said.

Trying to sort out the facts are the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. Herrington is on unpaid leave and left town on a family trip, Ready said. Sanders’ survivors - including a mother, sister and two children - buried him Saturday.

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At training camp, children told to behead dolls as Islamic State militants mold new generation

SANLIURFA, Turkey (AP) - The children had all been shown videos of beheadings and told by their trainers with the Islamic State group that they would perform one someday. First, they had to practice technique. The more than 120 boys were each given a doll and a sword and told, cut off its head.

A 14-year-old who was among the boys, all abducted from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority, said he couldn’t cut it right. He chopped once, twice, three times.

“Then they taught me how to hold the sword, and they told me how to hit. They told me it was the head of the infidels,” the boy, renamed Yahya by his IS captors, told The Associated Press last week in northern Iraq, where he fled after escaping the IS training camp.

When Islamic State extremists overran Yazidi towns in northern Iraq last year, they butchered older men and enslaved many of the women and girls. Dozens of young Yazidi boys like Yahya had a different fate: The IS sought to re-educate them. They forced them to convert to Islam from their ancient faith and tried to turn them into jihadi fighters.

It is part of a concerted effort by the extremists to build a new generation of militants, according to AP interviews with residents who fled or still live under IS in Syria and Iraq. The group is recruiting teens and children using gifts, threats and brainwashing. Boys have been turned into killers and suicide bombers. An IS video issued last week showed a boy beheading a Syrian soldier under an adult militant’s supervision. Last month, a video showed 25 children unflinchingly shooting 25 captured Syrian soldiers in the head.

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Under oath, Cosby detailed his womanizing, efforts to keep his exploits from his wife

Under oath in a hotel - away from the TV cameras and the soapbox where he did his public moralizing - Bill Cosby sketched a very different image of America’s Dad: a philanderer who plied young women with quaaludes, claimed to be adept at reading their unspoken desires and used his wealth to keep “Mrs. Cosby” in the dark.

The portrait comes from Cosby’s own words in a transcript of a 2005-06 deposition taken in Philadelphia. It is the only publicly available testimony he has given in response to accusations he drugged and sexually assaulted dozens of women over four decades. Cosby has denied the allegations, calling the sexual contact consensual.

In his testimony, the comedian told of how he tried to gain women’s trust and make them comfortable by talking about their families, their education and their career aspirations.

He seemed casual about his affairs, describing his relationship with one woman this way: “We had sex and we had dinners and sex and rendezvous.”

Asked how it ended, he said: “Stopped calling for rendezvous.”

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The silence between the gunshots: How a homegrown shooter’s rampage shattered Chattanooga

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - A single “pop” cut through the quiet morning. Those who heard it had a moment to ponder the noise.

On this ordinary Thursday, some thought a car had backfired, or maybe a tire had blown. Sgt. 1st Class Robert Dodge looked up from his computer in an Army recruiting office in a strip mall, more curious than alarmed.

Then a young man in a rented convertible re-aimed his rifle and unleashed a frenzy of bullets. These were the opening shots in a single-handed rampage against the military that seized this city for hours and reignited American fears about radicalization and homegrown terror. The shooter’s motive remains a mystery.

Glass shattered, televisions exploded, bullets whizzed past the heads of servicemen at their desks and rooted in the walls behind them. In nearby restaurants and hair salons and shops, people dived for cover or stood paralyzed by fear.

Inside the five side-by-side recruiting offices, one for each branch of the military and the National Guard, no one panicked.

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Medicaid enrollment surges under expanded program; states worry about paying for added care

ATLANTA (AP) - More than a dozen states that opted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act have seen enrollments surge way beyond projections, raising concerns that the added costs will strain their budgets when federal aid is scaled back starting in two years.

Some lawmakers warn the price of expanding the health care program for poor and lower-income Americans could mean less money available for other state services, including education.

In Kentucky, for example, enrollments during the 2014 fiscal year were more than double the number projected, with almost 311,000 newly eligible residents signing up. That’s greater than what was initially predicted through 2021. As a result, the state revised its Medicaid cost estimate from $33 million to $74 million for the 2017 fiscal year. By 2021, those costs could climb to a projected $363 million.

“That is a monstrous hole that we have got to figure out how to plug, and we don’t know how to do it,” said Kentucky state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a Republican who leads the Senate budget committee and opposed expansion. “The two biggest things that keep me up at night are state pensions and the cost of expanded Medicaid.”

For patients who have only recently gained access to health care, the program is about far more than dollars and cents. And supporters downplay the budget concerns, pointing to studies that indicate the economic benefits of expanding health care will result in significant savings over time.

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Trump’s McCain takedown rouses Republican presidential field, worries many in party

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans’ swift condemnation of Donald Trump’s disparaging comments about Sen. John McCain’s military service marks a turning point in the party’s cautious approach to the billionaire-turned-presidential candidate.

But Trump simply may not care; indeed he seemed to bask in his McCain takedown.

After dismissing McCain’s reputation as a war hero because he was captured in Vietnam and “I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump declared “I will say what I want to say.” He insisted he would stay in the GOP primary field, despite rivals who say he’s now shown he doesn’t merit the presidency.

“It’s not just absurd,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “It’s offensive. It’s ridiculous. And I do think it is a disqualifier as commander in chief.”

Numerous other GOP candidates, including Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and Scott Walker, were similarly critical of Trump. The Republican National Committee also put its thumb on the scale, issuing a statement saying “there is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably.”

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SC lawmakers may face debate whether segregationist’s statue should tell about massacre too

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - As South Carolina pulled down the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds, the statue of avowed segregationist and former governor and U.S senator “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman watched.

Tillman’s statue seems safe for now - Republican legislative leaders, Democrats in the General Assembly and civil rights leaders aren’t calling for it to come down. But there are calls to at least make sure the memorial to Tillman tells more than the story than what is currently on there, which reads in part: “Loving them he was the friend and leader of the common people.”

“If they just put the truth on it,” South Carolina NAACP President Lonnie Randolph said in a January speech about 20 yards from the statue. “Tell them he is a killer of people. Tell them he was part of a lynch mob. Tell them he was part of burning and shooting people even after he was dead.”

But whether the Tillman statue and other monuments get any scrutiny by the Legislature next year is in question. The same law that moved the Confederate flag from atop the Capitol dome in 2000 to the pole where it was removed permanently on July 10 also has a component called the Heritage Act which requires a two-thirds vote by lawmakers to change any historical monument in the state, from the Statehouse grounds to town squares.

House Speaker Jay Lucas of Hartsville said Thursday that while he runs the House there won’t be any debate about the specifics of public monuments, memorials or other items that fit under the Heritage Act.

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Texas residents fight plan to open Muslim cemetery; mayor calls their worries unfounded

DALLAS (AP) - Muslims say they’re looking for a place to bury their dead. Locals say it’s a plot to gain a foothold in their small rural Texas town.

A proposal to bring a Muslim cemetery to Farmersville has stoked fears among residents who are vehemently trying to convince community leaders to block the project. The sentiment reflects an anti-Muslim distrust that has been brewing over the last year in parts of Texas, most notably 25 miles away in Garland - the scene of a deadly May shooting outside a cartoon contest lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.

“The concern for us is the radical element of Islam,” David J. Meeks, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, told The Dallas Morning News. He said he thinks the cemetery would be the first step toward a broader Muslim expansion in town.

“How can we stop a mosque or madrassa training center from going in there?” he asked, referring to a type of Islamic school.

The issue is flaring up as Farmersville leaders consider a 35-acre development request from the Islamic Association of Collin County, which faces a shortage of space to bury members of its faith. Although the area already has a Buddhist center and Mormon church, residents showed up in force at a recent town meeting to oppose allowing a Muslim cemetery, which would include an open-air pavilion and small retail component that would run along a busy highway through town.

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History in the making at home of golf: Amateur shares lead, Jordan Spieth 1 shot behind

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) - For a place dripping with centuries of history, St. Andrews got more than it could have wanted Sunday.

Jordan Spieth punched his golf bag in frustration after a careless bogey, perhaps sensing the British Open was slipping away. Just like that, and because this is what Spieth does in big moments, he salvaged his bid for a Grand Slam. He made three straight birdies. He took 10 putts on the inward nine. And when he walked off the 18th green, he had a 6-under 66 and was one shot behind with one round left.

“I’m going to play to win,” Spieth said. “I’m not playing for a place. I don’t want to place third tomorrow. I want to win.”

But if there is history in the making at the home of golf, it no longer has to come from just Spieth.

Fans who filled the two-story grandstand and watched from the tops of buildings on Golf Place witnessed a moment not seen at St. Andrews in 88 years - an amateur in the lead going into the final round of the British Open.

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