- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

US analyst Jonathan Pollard, who spied for Israel, to be paroled in November after 30 years

WASHINGTON (AP) - Jonathan Pollard, the former Navy intelligence analyst whose conviction of spying for Israel stoked fierce international passions, has been granted parole and will be released from prison in November after nearly 30 years.

The decision to free Pollard from his life sentence, announced Tuesday by his lawyers and then confirmed by the Justice Department, caps an extraordinary espionage case that spurred decades of legal and diplomatic wrangling. Critics have condemned the American as a traitor who betrayed his country for money and disclosed damaging secrets, while supporters have argued that he was punished excessively given that he spied for a U.S. ally.

Pollard is due to be released on Nov. 21, three decades after he was arrested while trying to gain asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Though American Jews have wrestled with how much leniency he should get, Israelis have long campaigned for his freedom. The government there has recognized him as an Israeli agent and granted him citizenship, even as recent American presidents have resisted efforts to free him early.

“We are looking forward to his release,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Tuesday.

White House officials strongly denied that the release was in any way tied to the nuclear deal recently reached with Iran, or that it was intended as a concession to Israel. Secretary of State John Kerry, who testified before Congress on the nuclear deal on Tuesday, told reporters Pollard’s parole was “not at all” connected. And Israeli officials have said that while they would welcome the release, it would not ease their opposition to the Iran agreement.

___

Obama speaks frankly about Africa’s problems, seeking to capitalize on popularity, family ties

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) - President Barack Obama arrived in East Africa with no big American aid packages, no ramped up U.S. military resources for fighting terror groups and no new initiatives with billions in government backing.

Instead, he brought a frank message on democracy, corruption and security that could perhaps be delivered only by a Western leader viewed in Africa as a local son.

“The future of Africa is up to Africans,” Obama said during a trip to Kenya and Ethiopia that concluded Tuesday. “For too long, I think that many looked to the outside for salvation and focused on somebody else being at fault for the problems of the continent.”

The president’s advisers reject the notion that Obama’s policy toward Africa is all talk, pointing to the long-term potential of initiatives to boost power access and food security for millions on the continent. They stress the importance of America’s first black president, one with a sprawling family still living in Kenya, capitalizing on his ability to speak not as a lecturing Westerner, but as someone with a personal stake in the continent’s success.

“He is someone who is broadly respected by not just the leaders, but the peoples of these countries, especially young populations who make up an increasing percentage of these countries,” said Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser. “So, for that reason, I think people pay close attention to what he has to say.”

___

10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. US INTEL ANALYST WHO SPIED FOR ISRAEL TO BE PAROLED

The decision to free Jonathan Pollard after nearly 30 years caps an extraordinary espionage case that stoked public passions.

___

The respite’s over for health care spending: Growth in nation’s tab will outpace economy

WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation’s respite from accelerating health care costs appears to be over.

Spending on health care will outpace the nation’s overall economic growth over the next decade, the government forecast on Tuesday, underscoring a coming challenge for the next president, not to mention taxpayers, businesses and individual Americans.

A combination of expanded insurance coverage under President Barack Obama’s law, an aging population, and rising demand, will be squeezing society’s ability to pay.

By 2019, midway through the next president’s term, health care spending will be increasing at roughly 6 percent a year, compared to an average annual rise of 4 percent from 2008 through 2013.

The higher rate of increase is still “relatively modest,” says the report from the Office of the Actuary in the Health and Human Services Department. The forecast, through 2024, does not foresee a return to pre-recession days of torrid health care inflation, as the government and private employers try to revamp the way they pay hospitals and doctors to emphasize quality over quantity.

___

Kerry implores skeptical Congress to back nuclear deal; agreement picks up crucial support

WASHINGTON (AP) - Secretary of State John Kerry warned skeptical lawmakers not to nix the contentious nuclear deal with Iran, insisting that it includes strict inspections and other safeguards to deter cheating by Tehran.

“If Congress does not support the deal, we would see this deal die - with no other options,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday as he testified for the second time in a week, part of the Obama administration’s all-out campaign to sell the accord.

Kerry spoke as the administration picked up critical support for the deal from Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., a strong supporter of Israel who referred to his Jewish background in announcing his decision.

“I believe the agreement offers the best option to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Levin said in a statement circulated by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is leading the effort to round up Democratic support for the deal in the House.

Congress has begun a 60-day review of the international agreement that curbs Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from sanctions stifling its economy. All members must weigh the deal, but it’s especially a tough decision for those who have a large number of Jewish constituencies because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called it a “historic mistake.”

___

GOP leaders say Senate will vote on ending Planned Parenthood federal aid before August break

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate will vote before its August recess on a Republican effort to bar federal aid to Planned Parenthood, GOP leaders said Tuesday, as anti-abortion groups clamored for action by lawmakers. Democrats said they will strongly oppose what they called the latest Republican effort to weaken women’s health care programs, but stopped short of flatly predicting its defeat.

The positioning came as an anti-abortion group released a third covertly recorded video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing procedures for obtaining tissue from aborted fetuses for research and showing stark close-ups of what it said was fetal tissue in a Planned Parenthood lab. The unveiling of the videos has put Planned Parenthood and many Democrats on the defensive, though there is little sign that they won’t be able to head off the GOP effort.

“Good luck,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said of the uphill Republican drive to garner the 60 of 100 Senate votes they will need to cut off Planned Parenthood’s money. “We’re dealing with the health of American women, and they’re dealing with some right-wing crazy.”

There are a total of 54 Republicans in the Senate, mostly opposed to abortion, and just a handful of anti-abortion Democrats. One of them, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said in a brief interview that he would not support the effort to end government help for Planned Parenthood because “they provide all kinds of primary health care” for women and because of the prohibition against using federal funds for virtually any abortions.

GOP senators unveiled a bill Tuesday evening prohibiting federal aid to Planned Parenthood and directing that the money instead be directed to “other eligible entities to provide women’s health care services.” Aides said an initial vote on the measure, sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, was likely early next week.

___

In response to conspiracy theories, Texas jail releases footage of Bland before her death

HEMPSTEAD, Texas (AP) - Texas authorities on Tuesday released several hours of footage showing Sandra Bland during her three days in jail, saying they wanted to dispel rumors that she was dead before arriving there.

Waller County Judge Trey Duhon said such conspiracy theories - including one that Bland’s mug shot was taken after her death - have prompted death threats against county officials.

“Because of some of the things that’s gone out on social media, this county has been literally attacked,” he said at a news conference, adding that the FBI is investigating the most serious threats.

“Sandra Bland was alive and well” until she was found hanging on July 13 in her cell at the Waller County Jail, Duhon said. Authorities have ruled that Bland’s death, three days after her arrest during a confrontational traffic stop, was a suicide.

The video released shows her arriving at the jail, being questioned by a jailer filling out forms, making phone calls, getting her mug shot taken, sleeping in her cell and being taken in and out.

___

Minnesota man accused of killing protected African lion says he was unaware of lion’s status

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) - An avid Minnesota hunter accused of illegally killing a protected lion in Zimbabwe said Tuesday that he thought everything about his trip was legal and wasn’t aware of the animal’s status “until the end of the hunt.”

Walter Palmer, who has a felony record in the U.S. related to shooting a black bear in Wisconsin, released a statement through a public relations firm after being identified by Zimbabwean authorities as the American involved in the July hunt. They said Palmer is being sought on poaching charges, but Palmer said he hasn’t heard from U.S. or Zimbabwean authorities.

“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt,” said Palmer, a dentist who lives in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie.

The 55-year-old was identified by the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe and police as the American facing poaching charges for the crossbow killing of Cecil, a well-known and protected lion. Local authorities allege the lion was lured from a protected area and killed in early July. Zimbabwean conservationists said the American allegedly paid $50,000 for the trip.

The lion’s death has outraged animal conservationists and others, including U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Minnesota Democrat. In a statement late Tuesday, the congresswoman called for an investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to see whether any U.S. laws were violated.

___

Doctors: Boy, 8, who lost hands to infection becomes youngest double-hand transplant recipient

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - An 8-year-old boy who lost his hands and feet to a serious infection has become the youngest patient to receive a double-hand transplant, surgeons said Tuesday.

Zion Harvey’s forearms were heavily bandaged but his hands were visible as he flashed some big smiles Tuesday at a hospital news conference. He demonstrated his still-delicate grip and described waking up with new hands as “weird at first, but then good.”

The boy, from the Baltimore suburb of Owings Mills, Maryland, received the transplant earlier this month at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, though doctors did not publicly disclose the nearly 11-hour operation until this week.

A 40-person medical team used steel plates and screws to attach the old and new bones. Surgeons then painstakingly reconnected Zion’s arteries, veins, muscles, tendons and nerves.

“He woke up smiling,” said Dr. L. Scott Levin, who heads the hand transplant program. “There hasn’t been one whimper, one tear, one complaint.”

___

NFL Commissioner Goodell upholds Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension, citing destroyed cell phone

NEW YORK (AP) - The commissioner pointed to concealed evidence. The team described it as a folly. And the agent added sham to the lexicon of “Deflategate.”

Then the players’ union said it would take it all to court.

Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in using underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game was upheld Tuesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell said the New England quarterback told an assistant to destroy Brady’s cellphone on or just before March 6. Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells on that day.

“He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone,” Goodell said in his decision.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide