Clinton, Sanders, O’Malley tackle minority issues at Iowa Brown & Black Forum Liz Goodwin January 12, 2016 Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Martin O’Malleywill face questions that affect the country’s growing minority population at the Iowa Brown & Black Forum in Des Moines Monday night.The three Democratic rivals will take the stage separately and each face questions alone.Issues of race and ethnicity have dominated this campaign season, with GOP candidate Donald Trump suggesting Mexican immigrants are criminals and that all Muslims should be barred from entering the country. Clinton and Sanders both have been protested by the Black Lives Matter movement, which has sought to push them to the left on criminal justice reform and other issues following the deaths of young minority men in confrontations with police. Clinton also faced criticism for heavy-handed efforts on social media to reach out to young minority voters, including changing her Twitter avatar to a Kwanzaa candleholder.Democratic Iowans, whose caucuses are just a few weeks away, slightly favor Clinton over the more liberal Sanders in recent polling.Univision’s Jorge Ramos — who became a political football when Trump threw him out of a press conference for questioning his immigration comments last year — as well as Alicia Menendez, Akilah Hughes, and New York Magazine’s Rembert Browne, will moderate the discussion, which will air on Fusion.The event, which began in 1984, is billed as the oldest forum that presses presidential candidates to address issues that affect the nation’s growing multicultural population.The forum begins at 8:00 p.m. ET and will be live-streamed above
Officials discuss how to coordinate fight against extremism By MIKE CORDER7 hours ago Europol director Rob Wainwright listens to a speech at the start of an anti terror conference at the Europol headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Police, politicians and intelligence officials from more than 50 countries met Monday to discuss how to improve coordination in the fight against extremist violence and crack down on foreigners traveling to fight in conflict-torn countries like Syria and Iraq.The meeting came two months after the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, in which extremists took advantage of gaps in European intelligence as they plotted and executed the rampage that killed 130 people.Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, who was chairing the meeting at European Union police organization Europol, said countries and crime fighters must build trust so they can work together far more closely.”It is essential that our way of working matches much better that of the foreign terrorist fighters,” he told reporters ahead of the meeting of officials from the EU countries and other nations hit hard by extremists, including Somalia and Nigeria.Salah Abdeslam and Mohamed Abrini, two fugitives in the Paris attacks, had appeared on a list of suspected Belgian extremists, but the list apparently was never widely shared..Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Bert Koenders answers questions of journalists prior the start of an anti terror …Authorities say Abdeslam was able to crisscross Europe, pick up accomplices, rent rooms and cars, and buy detonators from a fireworks shop. He was even stopped by police and released again Nov. 14 because his name had not yet been linked to the attacks, even though he rented apartments in the Paris area and a car under his name.Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected planner of the attacks, was among the most wanted men in Europe, but French authorities were seemingly unaware until after Nov. 13 that his first cousin, with whom he was in close contact, was living in the Paris region.The cousin, Hasna Ait Boulahcen, was tapped in an unrelated drug investigation, but it was Moroccan intelligence that pointed French authorities to the apartment in Saint-Denis where the cousins were hiding out with an accomplice. They died in a raid there.Koenders warned that the extremist organizations are constantly evolving — pointing out that Paris attackers sometimes used computer games consoles to communicate — and law enforcement and intelligence agencies must work together to keep ahead of them.”We have made agreements, but it’s very important right now that those who make the agreements and those who do the work build the trust to make sure there’s a real time exchange of information,” he said._Associated Press Writer Lori Hinnant in Paris contributed to this report.
Obama’s SOTU guest list includes gay rights activist, Mexican immigrant, Syrian refugee Dylan Stableford January 11, 2016As President Obama delivers his final State of the Union on Tuesday night, 23 people who “represent the progress” and “personify” his time in office will be seated in first lady Michelle Obama’s box, the White House announced on Sunday. Among them: a gay rights activist, a Syrian refugee and a Mexican immigrant.Refaai Hamo, who fled Syria after a bombing killed seven of his family members, received refugee status and was resettled in Troy, Mich., last month, the White House said.“Welcome to your new home,” President Obama wrote to Hamo after reading about his story online. “You’re part of what makes America great.”Joining Hamo will be Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the landmark marriage equality case that gave same-sex couples nationwide the right to marry. Obergefell’s 2013 marriage to his dying partner — performed in Maryland — wasn’t recognized in his home state of Ohio, setting up a legal battle that found its way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor last year.President Obama delivers his State of the Union address, Jan. 20, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)“Jim considers himself an accidental activist, one who became entwined in a political statement larger than himself — a statement of equality and dignity that Americans have been fighting for since this nation’s founding,” the White House said. “And he now remains committed to ensuring the civil rights for all Americans.”Oscar Vazquez, a Mexican immigrant who lived for nearly a decade in Phoenix illegally before being granted a green card and enlisting in the Army, will also be seated in the box. Vazquez, who served one tour in Afghanistan, is now “a proud U.S. citizen,” the White House said, and an advocate for “opportunities for Latino and other under-represented youth.”Spencer Stone, the U.S. Air Force sergeant who helped halt a gunman’s planned attack on a Paris-bound train in August — and survived a stabbing outside a Sacramento, Calif., bar in October — is also among Obama’s State of the Union guests.Others include military veterans, college students, small business owners, community advocates and activists, and even a governor: Connecticut’s Dannel P. Malloy, who has become a key figure in the president’s push for stricter gun laws since the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.There will be one empty seat in the first lady’s box Tuesday night, its vacancy intentional:We leave one seat empty in the First Lady’s State of the Union Guest Box for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice — because they need the rest of us to speak for them. To tell their stories. To honor their memory. To support the Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the terrible ripple effect of gun violence — survivors who’ve had to learn to live with a disability, or without the love of their life. To remind every single one of our representatives that it’s their responsibility to do something about this.The guests will be seated alongside the first lady, Jill Biden and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. All of the invitees “represent who we are as Americans: inclusive and compassionate, innovative and courageous,” the White House said.Below, the full guest list: A vacant seat for the victims of gun violence
Hero who thwarted train attack considers career in politics 13 minutes agoFILE – In this Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks to Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Stone, one of three Americans to thwart a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train, will be a guest of First Lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union. Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone told The Associated Press, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, that attending Tuesday’s presidential address will be the highlight of the revelry that followed the thwarted train attack. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — A U.S. airman who was hailed as a hero for helping thwart a terror attack on a Paris-bound train and later survived a stabbing attack in his hometown of Sacramento will be a guest Tuesday of first lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union address.Related Stories
Attending the presidential address will be the highlight of the acclaim that followed last year’s thwarted train attack, Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone told The Associated Press on Monday.The previous highlight was meeting Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, he said.Stone plans to finish his commitment to the U.S. Air Force then use his veteran benefits to pursue a college degree.After that, he said, he may consider a career in politics, though he described himself as a typical 23-year-old who frequently changes his mind.”It never has been a thought in my head before, but being around different politicians and meeting them and what they do, it’s pretty interesting,” Stone said of a potential political career.Among the other possible future careers would be medicine or federal law enforcement, if his health allows it.Stone suffered a severely cut thumb and a knife wound to his neck in August when he and two childhood friends from Sacramento, California, stopped a terror attack aboard a Paris-bound passenger train.Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and college student Anthony Sadler were vacationing in Europe when they tackled Ayoub El-Khazzani, a man who authorities said has ties to radical Islam and boarded the train with a Kalashnikov rifle, pistol and box cutter.Stone was knifed on Oct. 8 in a fight near a bar in Sacramento shortly after nightclub patrons applauded him for his role in stopping the gunman.
Multiple jihadist attacks kill more than 30 in Iraq By Ahmad Mousa 3 hours agoIraqi security forces gather at the site of a car bomb in New Baghdad, January 11, 2016. (REUTERS/Stringer)Baghdad (AFP) – Jihadist gunmen and bombers killed at least 12 people in a busy market area of Baghdad while a double blast at a cafe north of the Iraqi capital claimed another 20 lives.Related Stories
An attack claimed by the Islamic State group and involving suicide explosions, gunfights and hostage-taking in the eastern neighbourhood of Baghdad al-Jadida wreaked chaos.”A car came… gunmen came out of it and spread out. They started shooting, killing people, there were lots of dead people,” said a witness, Salman Hussein.The shocked young man, wearing a black tracksuit, recounted how one of the attackers held a shop owner and spoke on a mobile phone before detonating his suicide belt.”The car they came in was laden with explosives and also blew up,” he said.The head of Baghdad Operations Command, Lieutenant General Abdelamir al-Shammari, insisted to reporters on the scene that the situation was quickly brought under control.He denied reports by several officials in the Baghdad police and in the interior ministry that the attackers held several people hostage in the nearby Zahrat Baghdad mall.But a senior police officer said the attackers entered the mall and took hostages after blowing up a car bomb and spraying gunfire on the street.Flames rise from an attack on a mall in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. Gunmen stormed into a Baghdad mall …”When the security forces got too close, they killed three hostages,” he said. Several other sources gave a similar account of events.The sequence of the attack, a departure from IS’ usual modus operandi in Baghdad, remained unclear and the statement posted by the jihadists online provided few details.It said the attack was carried out by „four soldiers of the caliphate” and targeted Shiites.It said one of the IS members blew himself up in an explosives-laden vehicle when „the apostates sent reinforcements”.- Diyala bombings -IS claimed that a total of 90 people were killed or wounded but the group has exaggerated the number of casualties caused by its attacks in previous such statements.”These people were shooting everywhere, there was even one guy with an RPG,” said Fadhel, another witness from Baghdad al-Jadida, a populous Shiite neighbourhood.”I saw the body of small child strewn on the ground over there, human flesh… What were the sins these people committed to deserve this?” he said.Police and hospital sources put the casualty toll from the attack, one of the worst to hit Baghdad in months, at 12 dead and more than 30 wounded.Almost simultaneously, in the late afternoon, bombings killed at least 20 people at a cafe in the town of Muqdadiyah northeast of Baghdad, security officers said.A bomb exploded at the cafe and a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle after people gathered at the scene, a police captain and an army colonel said.IS also claimed the Muqdadiyah attack and named the suicide bomber as Abu Abdallah, an Iraqi.The security officers said that Shiites set alight several Sunni homes and a mosque following the attack.The mixed province of Diyala, where Muqdadiyah is located, was declared liberated by the government almost a year ago but attacks have continued.Iraq’s intelligence services announced on December 24 they had dismantled a major IS cell and made 40 arrests in Baghdad and Diyala.At least three people were killed and eight wounded in another car bomb blast in Nahrawan, south of Baghdad.Monday’s combined attacks made for one of the worst days of violence in months in areas that are not active frontlines.IS has suffered a number of military setbacks across Iraq in the past year. Security officials say fierce battles and relentless air strikes have depleted its manpower.Analysts see that as a reason for the drop in attacks targeting civilians in the capital which were an almost daily occurrence two years ago.The European Union issued a statement expressing its support to Iraq in the aftermath of the attacks and stressing that „these tragic events underline the fragility of the security situation.”
NATO interception of Russian planes in Baltics rise Lithuania says Russian incursions into the airspace of countries in the Baltics has increased 14 percent.By Richard Tomkins | Jan. 11, 2016 at 1:17 PMA typhoon fighter of Britain’s Royal Air Force (bottom) intercepts a Russian Air Force plane off the coast of Lithuania. RAF VILNIUS, Lithuania, Jan. 11 (UPI) — NATO fighters scrambled 160 times last year to intercept Russian aircraft violating the airspace of alliance members in the Baltics, which used to be part of the Soviet Union.The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense said the number of interceptions in 2015 were a 14 percent rise from the previous year.”The number of times jets were scrambled last year was up on the 140 occasions in 2014,” the ministry said. „Russian military aircraft activity over the Baltic Sea has significantly increased since 2014 amid a heightening of tensions between Moscow and Western countries over Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.”NATO’s Baltic members — Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia — have no air forces of their own. Other NATO countries fill the defense vacuum by sending aircraft in rotating four-month deployments to the region. Aircraft from Spain and Belgium take up station in the Baltics this week, relieving those from Hungary and Germany.Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com Related UPI StoriesNATO awards Latvian construction contracts Work underway on F-35 for Israel Indian Army likely to get K9 Vajra-T howitzers General Dynamics receives U.S. Navy electronic warfare contract
College Football Playoff title game chat and analysis By Yahoo Sports Staff 4 hours ago 2. Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1)01. ClemsonTigers(14-0)
3:57 AM – 12 Jan 20162 minutes agoCould’ve done without that angle on the kick returnKevin Kaduk3 minutes agoClemson needed that. Well, a TD would have been even better.
Good thing you’ve got us, JP I get it. This is not the world I grew up in. It is the world I live in. Not being able to watch the National Championship game because I choose not to subscribe with a cable network is a very poor game plan. Certain events should be for all of us. Am I wrong?jpat 7:40 PM
„Concerning our possibilities on the international financial markets, the sanctions are severely harming Russia,” he said in a long interview, calling the EU sanctions „a theatre of the absurd”.Moscow has been hit by US and European sanctions over the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces which has claimed more than 9,000 lives since April 2014.In late December, the EU extended its sanctions by six months, arguing that the Minsk peace agreement signed by Moscow has not been fully implemented.Putin said, however, that „the biggest harm is currently caused by the decline of the prices for energy,” according to an English-language transcript published by Bild online.”We suffer dangerous revenue losses in our export of oil and gas, which we can partly compensate for elsewhere,” he said.”But the whole thing also has a positive side: if you earn so many petrodollars –- as we once did -– that you can buy anything abroad, this slows down developments in your own country.”Putin said Russia was now „gradually stabilising our economy”.”Last year, the gross domestic product had dropped by 3.8 percent. Inflation is approximately 12.7 percent. The trade balance, however, is still positive.”For the first time in many years, we are exporting significantly more goods with a high added value, and we have more than $300 billion in gold reserves.”While Russia has since September 30 launched airstrikes in Syria, Putin called on Western countries to collaborate more closely with Moscow in the fight against the Islamic State group.”Yes, we should cooperate much more closely in fighting terrorism, which is a great challenge,” he said.According to Moscow, the Russian strikes target only jihadist groups, including IS, while the West has accused Russia of also hitting other rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.Asked about the crisis in Ukraine, caused by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Putin said that „for me, it is not borders and state territories that matter, but people’s fortunes.””Of course one always has to follow international law. This was also the case in Crimea.”The Russian population is absolutely clear about the situation. Napoleon once said that justice is the incarnation of God on Earth. I’m telling you: the reunification of Crimea and Russia is just,” Putin continued, describing the sanctions against Russia as „foolish”.Ukraine is not the first former Soviet-era satellite to be involved in a conflict with Moscow.In August 2008, Georgia fought a brief border war with Russia, losing control of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions as a result.
Armed group says it has accessed government files at refuge By RICK BOWMER 1 hour agoMembers of the FBI stand guard at the Burns Municipal Airport, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, in Burns, Ore. A small, armed group has been occupying a remote national wildlife refuge in Oregon since a week earlier to protest federal land use policies. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)BURNS, Ore. (AP) — The leader of a small, armed group occupying a national wildlife refuge in southeastern Oregon said Monday he and his followers are going through government documents stored inside refuge buildings.Ammon Bundy told reporters the documents will be used to „expose” how the government has discriminated local ranchers who use federal land for cattle grazing.Bundy said the documents would also help secure the release of Steven and Dwight Hammond, two area ranchers convicted of arson who returned to prison last week to serve longer sentences. The Hammonds’ case set off the occupation of the Burns-area refuge on Jan. 2.Bundy said his group is not accessing government computers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, including personnel files.After the news conference, the group drove in a convoy to a ranch near the refuge and tore down a stretch of government-erected fence. The goal, according to the armed men, was to give the rancher access to the range that had been blocked for years. It’s not clear where the fence was located or which rancher sought the group’s help.The refuge is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Spokesman Jason Holm said because the documents and files at the refuge may have personally identifiable information, the agency „is taking necessary steps to ensure employee and family safety.” „Removing fences, damaging any Refuge property, or unauthorized use of equipment would be additional unlawful actions by the illegal occupiers,” Fish and Wildlife said in a statement. „Any movement of cattle onto the Refuge or other activities that are not specifically authorized by USFWS constitutes trespassing.”Sixteen full time employees and one part time employee usually work at the refuge, Holm said. Some who can’t work away from the refuge have taken administrative leave, while others are working from home or another office.In Burns, about 30 miles from the refuge, schools reopened after being canceled for a week over safety concerns due to the refuge standoff.Government offices in the area remained closed, including those of the Bureau of Land Management. BLM spokesman Randy Eardley said about 60 BLM employees were working from home.”There is a very clear threat to BLM employees,” Eardley said, but he did not cite any specific threats.Ammon Bundy called his group’s occupation of the refuge „peaceful” and said the armed men would not leave until the Hammonds are out of prison and abuses against ranchers are exposed. Bundy called the occupation a „moral and righteous stand for the future of this country.”A man representing hunters and anglers, who arrived in Oregon from New Mexico this weekend, condemned the Bundy group at the news conference.”What I see is a lunatic fringe of extremists who have taken my land over,” said New Mexico Wildlife Federation executive director Garrett VeneKlasen. The group represents sportsmen, including hunters and anglers.Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are monitoring the occupation but have not taken any action.The county sheriff and many locals have asked that Bundy and his group leave. But Bundy says he is not ready to go.Ammon Bundy is a son of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who was at the center of a tense standoff with federal officials in 2014 over unpaid grazing fees.