Among the issues that Obama is likely to find is that the program lacks oversight and accountability. Once Pentagon weapons reach the 8,000 police departments that participate in the program, many of them in tiny towns, the federal government has little control over them. The departments are not allowed to sell or dispose of any of the 1033 program's “controlled” items, which include small arms and tactical vehicles. An agency in each state takes over responsibility for checking the inventory once a year and reporting anything missing to the Defense Department’s Defense Logistics Agency.
When the House voted in May to authorize the select committee, which could cost taxpayers up to $3.3 million to operate, the media attention such a panel was sure to draw was a huge part of the attraction for the Republicans who pushed for it. They wanted a channel to attack President Obama and the Democrats in the lead-up to the midterm election — so much so that House Democrats weren’t even sure they wanted to appoint representatives to the panel out of fear it would legitimize the GOP’s charged rhetoric on the issue. But the politics of Benghazi have shifted. Domestically, the GOP appears poised to win back the Senate for the first time in nearly a decade, and internationally, the foreign policy picture has become much more complicated, with unrest in the Middle East growing dramatically since the last election.
New York (AFP) - Oil services company Halliburton said Monday it would pay a $1.1 billion settlement over its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil rig blowout that led to the United States' worst-ever oil spill.
Russia vowed on Tuesday to adopt a beefed-up military doctrine over NATO's plans to establish a rapid-response team that could ward off the Kremlin's expansion into Ukraine and feared push further west. Moscow's surprise announcement added a new and threatening new layer of tensions ahead of NATO's two-day summit that starts Thursday in Wales and will see Ukraine's beleaguered leader Petro Poroshenko personally lobby US President Barack Obama for military help.
By David Greising, Karen Pierog and Tim Reid DETROIT Reuters) - Detroit’s plan to recover from bankruptcy includes several blueprints for a new future. Detroit is far short of the $1.7 billion it needs over the next 10 years to remove abandoned buildings, replace outdated technology and increase public safety to stem the exodus from the city. “What Detroit needed to start with was a reinvestment program,” said James Spiotto, managing director of Chapman Strategic Advisors, a municipal finance consultancy. “If you don’t solve the systemic problem and fix it for real, all you’re going to do is repeat it going forward.” Detroit’s 1,034-page plan for fixing the city’s finances will be the subject of a weeks-long bankruptcy court proceeding, beginning on Tuesday.
The protests, announced on Twitter by organizer Fight For 15, come as cities across the nation propose minimum wage increases while Democrats seek to raise the federal minimum wage ahead of this year's mid-term congressional elections. Fast food workers have launched a series of protests over the last nearly two years to bring awareness to their demands, which include the right to unionize without retaliation. In one of the last major actions, restaurant workers launched rallies in 150 cities, including Boston, Chicago, New York and Miami in May. This time, organizers are staging walkouts in more than 100 cities and plan to use nonviolent civil disobedience tactics such as sit-ins, The New York Times reported.
(Reuters) - A California high school has retired its Middle Eastern-themed mascot and accompanying belly dancers and redrawn its logo after criticism from Arab-Americans that they played on harmful stereotypes, a group advocating for the change said on Monday. Coachella Valley High School agreed to use a new image of a stoic-looking Arab man to represent its sports teams, dubbed "the Arabs," said Abed Ayoub, a spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which worked with the school to choose the new logo.
Hong Kong police said on Tuesday they arrested 19 people during scuffles with pro-democracy activists prompted by China's decision not to allow the Asian financial hub to choose its next leader. The 19, aged between 20 and 45, were arrested on Monday for illegal assembly, trying to force their way on to a carriageway, charging a police line and for pushing barriers, a police spokeswoman said. Police used pepper spray to disperse activists as Hong Kong center braces for a wave of disruptive protests against China's decision. Hong Kong is in the midst of a political upheaval as activists in the former British colony push for full democracy.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has sent official notification to Congress of his order for last week's airstrikes and humanitarian aid drops to help Iraqis threatened by Islamic State militants.
By David Adams MIAMI (Reuters) - When Charlie Crist last governed Florida, his green energy and climate policies made him few friends among the state's powerful electricity corporations. Now, as the Republican-turned Democrat bids to return to the governor's mansion, it may be payback time. Florida's three largest utilities have poured money into the re-election campaign of Republican incumbent Governor Rick Scott in an expensive and closely watched political battle for the nation's largest swing state. ...
Boko Haram militants on Monday launched a pre-dawn raid on Nigerian troops as they prepared for a major offensive to retake a town that the group's leader declared part of his Islamic caliphate. Scores of Boko Haram fighters stormed the town of Bama as soldiers readied for an attack on the nearby town of Gwoza, which was seized by the Islamists on August 7. Bama is just 70 kilometres (45 miles) by road from the Borno state capital, Maiduguri. Boko Haram has seized a number of towns and villages in southern Borno and near the border with Cameroon in recent weeks, leading to claims that it is planning to encircle Maiduguri and make it the centre of a hardline Islamic state.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hampered by low approval ratings and an unfriendly electoral map, President Barack Obama enters the fall campaign as a liability to some vulnerable Democrats and a target for Republicans trying to fire up conservatives and appeal to disillusioned independents.
Three top Chinese universities have vowed to tighten "ideological" control over students and teachers, as a wider clampdown on free expression in the country intensifies. The comments came from the Communist Party committees of Peking University, Shanghai's Fudan University, and Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, which each wrote a statement in the Communist Party theoretical journal Qiushi. The statement from Peking University -- China's top academic institution -- condemned those with "ulterior motives" who target the ruling party. "In recent years, some people go on the Internet and with ulterior motives add fuel to the fire... ultimately targeting the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system," it said.
By Richard Balmforth and Pavel Polityuk KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's military said on Monday it had pulled its forces back from defending a vital airport in the east against Russian tanks, as President Petro Poroshenko accused Moscow of "direct and open aggression". The withdrawal from the civilian airport outside the city of Luhansk was the latest in a string of reverses for Ukrainian forces fighting pro-Russian separatists who Kiev says have the direct support of hundreds of Russian troops and armor. A military statement said Ukrainian paratroopers were engaging a Russian tank battalion near the airport.
By Pavel Polityuk and Polina Devitt KIEV/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia on Monday of "direct and undisguised aggression" which he said had radically changed the battlefield balance as Kiev's forces suffered a further reverse in their war with pro-Moscow separatists. In the latest in a string of setbacks in the past week, Ukraine's military said it had pulled back from defending a vital airport in the east of the country, near the city of Luhansk, where troops had been battling a Russian tank battalion. Poroshenko said in a speech there would be high-level personnel changes in the Ukrainian armed forces, whose troops fled a new rebel advance in the south which Kiev and its Western allies say has been backed up by Russian armored columns. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called on Sunday for immediate negotiations on the "statehood" of southern and eastern Ukraine, blamed Kiev's leadership for refusing to enter into direct political talks with the separatists.
HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers disrupted a Beijing official's speech Monday as he sought to explain a decision announced over the weekend to tightly limit voting reforms for the southern Chinese financial hub.
PARIS (AP) — The death toll in the partial collapse of a four-story apartment building in a Paris suburb has risen to eight after emergency crews pulled the bodies of a man and a woman from the rubble.
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