by Michael Gryboski
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—In a landmark religious freedom case the U.S.
Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties,
in a 5-4 decision, stating that corporations can refuse to provide certain drugs that
may abort a fetus on the basis of religious objection.
The highest court in the land ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies
to privately owned businesses like Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties.
The decision was narrowed to only the contraceptive mandate and is not necessarily
applicable to all insurance mandates, like blood transfusions or vaccinations.
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Last week Newscast Media featured an open letter
from Homeland Security to parents of illegal aliens crossing the Southwest US border.
Today, President Obama has responded by writing a letter to the Speaker of the
House and both the Republican and Democrat leadership in the House and Senate,
with his rendition as to why the crossings are happening.
Obama also explains that individuals who embark upon this perilous journey are
subject to violent crime, abuse, and extortion as they rely on dangerous human
smuggling networks to transport them through Central America and Mexico. He
therefore approaches it as an “urgent humanitarian situation with an aggressive,
unified, and coordinated Federal response” being conducted by the US and the
relevant countries from which the immigrants originate. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Republicans own the courts in Texas. Barack Obama
understands this reality. Yet when he said he was determined to turn Texas from Red
to Blue it appears he wasn’t playing games. He has picked the initial battlefield—the
Texas courts. His goal is to populate them with as many Blue judges as possible to
neutralize the potency of the Red judges, most of whom started serving as far back
as the Reagan and Papa Bush eras.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal is where he will run into a brick wall. The judges who
sit on these benches are die-hard Conservatives. They control the show. Yet that
doesn’t appear to worry Obama. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media BAGHDAD—Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that the Syrian air
force carried out this week air strikes targeting Takfiri militants, who have been
waging an insurgency against Iraq.
In an interview with BBC, Maliki “welcomed” any such strike against militants, as he
noted that Baghdad did not request the aerial raids which took place on Tuesday.
The strikes came after terrorists of the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Levant
(ISIL) took control of the Al-Qaim border town on the Iraqi side of the frontier,
providing them a strategic route into conflict-hit Syria.
“Nouri Maliki said Syrian fighter jets had bombed militant positions around the border
town of Qaim on Tuesday,” the British broadcaster reported.
“While Iraq did not ask for the raid, he added, it “welcomed” any such strike,” it
The Iraqi PM said Iraq was buying Russian warplanes, which would arrive in a few
days, as the US kept delaying the sale of F16 jets.
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the crisis with Maliki by phone last Friday,
the Kremlin reported on its website at the time.
Putin confirmed his “full support” for the government’s efforts to rid Iraqi territory of
“terrorists”, it said, without giving details.
Source: Al Manar TV
Newscast Media BAGHDAD—US Secretary of State John Kerry has again emphasized
the need for an inclusive government as he met Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani.
The UN, meanwhile, says over a thousand people have been killed in Iraq in June.
During his second unannounced visit to Iraq, where he met Iraq’s Kurdish leader
Massoud Barazani in the regional capital Irbil, Kerry said “this a very critical time for
Iraq and the government formation challenge is the central challenge that we face.”
His visit in Irbil comes after Kerry met Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, for
closed-door talks in Baghdad on Monday.
Kerry reiterated Washington’s demand to “produce the broad-based, inclusive
government that all the Iraqis I have talked to are demanding.” The US hopes that a
power-sharing government will contain, if not end, sectarian strife in the country.
Barzani told Kerry that Kurds are seeking “a solution for the crisis that we have
witnessed”, but warned that it had created a “new reality and a new Iraq.”
Iraqi Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, have been the only forces that have
managed to defend their territory against fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and
Syria (ISIS) group, a Sunni insurgency that has overtaken several key areas in Iraq’s
west and north.
Kerry acknowledged on Tuesday that they had been “really critical” in helping restrain
Barzani has repeatedly blamed al-Maliki, who is a Shiite, for the current wave of
violence in the country. Speaking to broadcaster CNN before Tuesday’s talks, Barzani
called for al-Maliki to step down.
Pressed on whether Iraqi Kurds would seek independence, Barzani said that “the time
is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future and the decision of the
people is what we are going to uphold.”
Kurds make up 20 percent of Iraq’s population and are, therefore, crucial for any
political solution. The Kurdish north is home to several vast oil fields that have led to
relative prosperity and economic stability in the region.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media FREETOWN—Humanitarian-aid organization Doctors Without Borders
has warned that the deadly Ebola epidemic in West Africa is now out of control with
over 60 outbreak hotspots.
The medical charity NGO, known by its French initials MSF, said on Monday that the
scale of the current Ebola epidemic is unprecedented in terms of geographical
distribution, the number of people infected, and the tally of deaths.
The organization also added that it is stretched to the limit in responding to the
outbreak that is spreading in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“We have reached our limits,” said Bart Janssens, the director of
operations for the organization, adding, “Despite the human resources and
equipment deployed by MSF in the three affected countries, we are no
longer able to send teams to the new outbreak sites.”
New sites in the countries have been added to the disease’s reach, prompting
concerns that the disease is quickly spreading to other areas.
In a statement released on the same day, the World Health Organization said at least
337 people have died from Ebola in 2014. Most of the cases and deaths have been
reported in Guinea, where 267 have succumbed to the virus.
There is currently no known cure for Ebola, whose symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting
The virus spreads through direct contact with infected blood, feces or sweat. It can
also be spread through sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated
Ebola was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 in an outbreak
that killed 280 people.
It remains one of the world’s most virulent diseases, which kills between 25 to 90
percent of those who fall sick.
Source: Press TV
Newscast Media DAMASCUS—A hundred percent of Syria’s declared chemical
weapons material has been destroyed or removed from Syria, the joint international
mission overseeing the elimination of Damascus’ chemical weapons stockpile
announced in the last 24 hours.
“The Joint Mission welcomes the removal of the remaining 7.2 per cent of chemical
weapons material from the Syrian Arab Republic. With this last movement, the total of
declared chemical weapons materials destroyed or removed from Syria has reached
100%,” the UN-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons joint mission said
in a written statement.
The statement said, with the elimination of Syria’s last acknowledged stockpile of
chemical weapons, the most operationally challenging task had come to an end.
“We hope that our contribution will ultimately make a meaningful difference for the
Syrian people and the region,” the mission said.
Syria accepted a removal plan in 2013 following a chemical gas attack on the Ghota
suburbs of the capital Damascus on August 2, in which nearly 1,500 civilians,
including women and children, died.
Source: Al Manar TV
As fighting continued between Ukrainian forces and pro-Moscow rebels, more residents of towns and
villages in eastern Ukraine made their way toward the border and sought refuge in Russia’s Rostov
region on June 21.
Newscast Media BRUSSELS—Several European foreign ministers are threatening
further sanctions if Russia fails to both cooperate with Ukraine’s proposed peace plan
and halt what Europe sees as interference in the country’s east.
The bloc has so far ordered visa bans and asset freezes for officials but refrained
from imposing broader economic sanctions on Russia.
Ahead of the EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on June 23, British Foreign
Secretary William Hague said the EU will be able to agree further measures at a
summit of EU leaders on June 27, if necessary.
He said Moscow must be in “no doubt” it faces further sanctions.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt accused Russia of “conducting a propaganda war
with full speed,” adding that Moscow must face further sanctions unless it changes
Meanwhile, the European Council said it has finalized technical preparations ahead of
the signature of an Association Agreement with Kyiv in Brussels on June 27.
Newscast Media NEW YORK—Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the foreign-backed
militant groups in Syria recruit children to fight in battles, warning the militants and
their foreign supporters that the move constitutes “war crimes.”
The human rights organization said in a report on Monday that the militants are using
“children as young as 15 to fight in battles,” adding that some militant groups recruit
teenagers “under the guise of offering education.”
HRW interviewed 25 child soldiers fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIL), the so-called Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, al-Nusra Front and Kurdish
The children said they participated in battles, manned checkpoints, spied, worked as
snipers, and carried supplies to the front line. Many of the children said they joined
the militant groups to follow their family and friends, while others said they were
recruited after attending anti-government protests.
The exact number of the children fighting along with the militant groups in Syria is not
known. A foreign-backed opposition organization, the Violations Documentation
Centre, said that 194 “non-civilian” children have been killed in the conflict since
HRW also called on the foreign supporters of the militant groups to urge an end to the
recruitment of children, saying “anyone providing funding for sending children to war
could be complicit in war crimes.”
Source: Press TV
Newscast Media LONDON—Amnesty International has written to the African Union
Summit discouraging the granting of immunity to African heads of state who have
committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Amnesty argues that
such a move will completely undermine the integrity of the African Court of Justice
and Human Rights, even before it becomes operational.
In an open letter Amnesty International called on African Union (AU) heads of state
and government meeting in Equatorial Guinea this week not to adopt a proposed
amendment which would grant immunity from prosecution to sitting government
leaders and senior officials in the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The President has announced some additional steps
that will be taken to include creating joint operation centers in Baghdad and northern
Iraq that can facilitate our coordination with Iraqi security forces. Also, a decision
has been made to send an additional number of American military advisors — up to
300, who can help provide an additional assessment of how to train, advise, and
support the Iraqi security forces.
Obama emphasized that while the fate of Iraq hangs in the balance, sending in US
combat troops is not an option.
“American combat troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again. We do not have
the ability to simply solve this problem by sending in tens of thousands of troops and
committing the kinds of blood and treasure that has already been expended in Iraq,”
the president said.
He also stressed the need for an inclusive partnership among Sunnis, Shia and Kurds
to effectively stomp out terrorist threats and avoid a “whack-a-mole” situation.
When asked about Iran’s potential involvement he responded:
“Iran can play a constructive role if it is helping to send the same message to the
Iraqi government that we’re sending. That Iraq only holds together if it’s inclusive. If
Iran is coming in solely as an armed force on behalf of the Shia…then that probably
worsens the situation.”
The US will lead diplomatic efforts to support political stability involving all the
stakeholders in Iraq. Iraqi leaders have been urged to come together around a political
plan that gives everyone confidence in the political process rather than violence.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Moscow is surprised by allegations of a buildup of Russian
troops near Ukraine, saying it is only taking measures backed by European leaders to
better protect its border, a Kremlin spokesman said Friday.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Russia had to
tighten security at the Ukrainian border “because it is being increasingly violated,
including by military vehicles.”
“We are surprised by statements of alleged deployment of Russian troops along the
border with Ukraine. In this case, there is no military buildup, there are only measures
to strengthen the border security of the Russian Federation, measures taken on
direct instructions from Russian president,” Peskov said.
“[The instructions] were given several weeks ago, and they were made public and
received a positive response from European leaders,” the spokesman added.
“As for the troop numbers, this is defined by the need to ensure the due level of
border security,” Peskov said.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday the alliance has seen
a few thousand Russian troops at Ukraine’s border, but cannot determine what
mission the troops have. Ukraine’s Border Service said Russian troops have been
gathering in the border area with Ukraine.
On May 19, President Putin ordered the return of all troops involved in drills in the
Rostov, Belgorod and Bryansk regions on the border with Ukraine to their permanent
bases to continue military training. NATO later confirmed the withdrawal.
In late May, General Valery Gerasimov, the Russian military’s chief of the general
staff, said troops near the border with Ukraine would return to their bases in around
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media AUSTIN—Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe
Straus have directed the Texas Dept. of Public Safety (DPS) to immediately begin law
enforcement surge operations on the Texas-Mexico border to combat the flood of
illegal immigration into the state in the absence of adequate federal resources to
secure the border. State leaders have authorized DPS to fund border security
operations at approximately $1.3 million per week.
“Texas can’t afford to wait for Washington to act on this crisis and we will not sit idly
by while the safety and security of our citizens are threatened,” Gov. Perry said.
“Until the federal government recognizes the danger it’s putting our citizens in by its
inaction to secure the border, Texas law enforcement must do everything they can to
keep our citizens and communities safe.” CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media BAGHDAD—The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with
local and international partners in Iraq to meet the urgent health needs of populations
affected by the ongoing crisis.
More than 500,000 residents have fled Mosul and the surrounding areas, seeking
shelter in schools and mosques, many with no access to drinking- water, as the main
water station for the area was destroyed by bombing, and food shortages are being
reported. As the fighting continues, hundreds of thousands more are stranded at
checkpoints with no belongings or money for housing, food, water or medical care.
Immediate and critical health risks of concern to WHO include the spread of measles,
which is endemic in Mosul and could potentially lead to outbreaks, especially in
overcrowded areas where internally-displaced persons are located. The spread of
polio is also a high risk as new cases were reported in the country earlier this year as
a result of the Syria crisis.
“The impact of the unfolding armed conflict in Mosul and neighboring districts on the
health of affected population cannot be underestimated. These developments are
expected to result in critical health consequences,” said WHO Representative in Iraq
Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain. “The response to the health needs of those affected by the
crisis requires concerted actions from all partners.”
WHO’s response to the crisis will focus on: coordination among health actors,
including local health authorities, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society and
nongovernmental organizations; trauma care (including mental health); outbreak
control, protection of hospitals and health personnel; ensuring the continuation of the
supply chain for medicines and medical supplies; gap-filling in water, sanitation and
hygiene activities, maternal and child health activities and key public health functions.
Newscast Media BEIJING—While China and the US trade accusations of
cyber-espionage, Beijing is seeking to rid itself of US-made IT products which
dominate the market. But developing competitive alternatives is easier said than
The “cyber war” between China and the US escalated in the beginning of May when
the US Justice Department announced it was pressing charges of economic espionage
against five members of a unit allegedly in charge of electronic warfare within China’s
People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The officers had reportedly been involved in the
hacking of US companies. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
by Michael Gryboski
Newscast Media DURHAM, North Carolina—Americans are increasingly giving more to
charity, but less of that money is going to the church, according to a newly-released
report. An annual research report released Tuesday by the Giving USA Foundation and
the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that Americans are
increasing their donations to charities.
For the year 2013, Americans gave approximately $335 billion to charity, which
represented an increase of 3 percent when adjusted for inflation.
However, the percentage of giving to churches declined by 0.2 percent, or 1.6
percent when adjusted for inflation. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media NAIROBI—At least 15 people have been killed in a fresh attack
carried out along Kenya’s coast. While Somalia’s al-Shabab group claimed
responsibility, Kenya’s president says the attacks were home-grown.
Kenyan security forces on Tuesday confirmed that at least 15 people have been killed
in Pormoko village, not far from Mpeketoni town along the Kenyan coast. The attacks
happened just a day after gunmen entered Mpeketoni on Sunday night and killed at
least 49 of its residents. 50 more people are still missing. FULL ARTICLE >>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United Nations’ human rights chief, Navi Pillay,
says fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have almost
certainly committed war crimes in northern Iraq in recent days by executing hundreds
of non-combatant men.
In a statement, Pillay said corroborated reports show that soldiers, military
conscripts, police, and others who surrendered or were captured by the Al-Qaeda
splinter group have been summarily executed during the past five days.
Pillay said: “Although the numbers cannot be verified yet,” the killings appeared to be
a “systematic series of cold-blooded executions, mostly conducted in various
locations in the Tikrit area.”
She said the Islamic militants also had executed 13 imams in Mosul for refusing to
pledge allegiance to ISIL.
ISIL has claimed that it killed some 1,700 Shi’ite military recruits in Tikrit, posting
photos online that show what appeared to be dozens of execution victims.
Washington says the Sunni-led militants are trying to stoke sectarian tensions in Iraq.
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media DAMASCUS—Syria’s army foiled a plot by al-Nusra Front in
cooperation with the Turkish Intelligence, to launch a chemical attack using Sarin gas
against Damascus during Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s oath ceremony,
according to Al Manar.
The Syrian army launched rocket attacks against one of the farms in the Damascus
southern countryside where a concluding meeting was held by 11 Nusra leaders
before attempting to launch chemical (Sarin gas) attacks upon the capital.
Security sources reported that the Syrian army carried out a swift attack against the
11 militant leaders and employed warplanes to destroy the whole building where the
meeting was held.
According to Al Manar, assisted by Turkish intelligence, Nusra Front was able to
obtain 16 Sarin gas pipes from Bulgaria and conducted exercises on the use of
Syrian security sources noted that frustrating the chemical attack is part of an
operation of foiling a number of terrorist attacks against Damascus during the
presidential elections, asserting that the Syrian security services have started to
employ sophisticated equipment, that has enabled them to frustrate many plots
Source: Al Manar
Newscast Media HOUSTON—Forty-seven years ago, Coventry Development
Corporation purchased 1,800 acres of land and waited for the right job creator.
ExxonMobil came along a few years ago, and purchased 386 acres that will house a
new community called Springwoods Village. It is scheduled for completion in 2015.
The community is more like a small city near Interstate-45 and the Hardy Toll Road.
“There will be more than 12,000 people working in Springwoods Village,” Coventry
Executive Vice President Keith Simon said. “There will be a lot of activity in that area
in the next 12-18 months. That’s a big priority for us to get that going and get those
amenities for the people who live and work there.” CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>