A U.S. drone strike killed seven suspected militants in Pakistan on
Wednesday—the first attack since President Obama’s speech last week that
outlined the administration’s new policy to use drones only to prevent
an imminent attack. According to Pakistani security officials, one of the strike's victims
was Wali-ur-Rehman, the Pakistani Taliban's number two--who was slated
to eventually become the leader of the Taliban's Pakistani faction. Two
others were wounded in the attack in the village of Chasma in the
Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan. Not only was Wednesday’s strike
the first since Obama’s policy speech last week, but also the first since the May 11 election in Pakistan, where the drone strikes are incredibly unpopular.
The Boy Scouts voted Thursday to allow gay members, months after doing
an about-face on its long-held ban on permitting gay youths to
participate in Scouting. But don’t rejoice yet: openly gay adult leaders
are still banned. The ban on openly gay members dated back to 1991,
based it on the Boy Scout oath—written in 1911—which said all Scouts
must be "physically strong, mentally alert, and morally straight."
Lifting the ban had support from about 60 percent of the 1,440 volunteer
leaders who had gathered in Dallas for the vote. In a statement, the
Boy Scouts said they would not allow themselves to be "consumed by a
single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue." The ban's reversal
will go into effect January 1, 2014.
A major freeway bridge collapsed in Washington state on Thursday night,
with early reports of cars and people in the water, police said. The
Skagit River Bridge, which has I-5 running on it, is located between
Burlington and Mount Vernon, and is about 100 miles from Seattle. Trooper Mark Francis tweeted at 7:19 p.m. that “people and cars are in the water. I’m very far away. Will update.” The truck was allegedly carrying a load too tall for the bridge when it
hit an overhead girder, sending a large part of the bridge into the
water. All three of the victims sustained only minor injuries. In one of
the cars sent overboard, Dan Sligh recalls thinking “hold on as tight
as you can” before hitting the water. Sligh and his wife were en route
to a camping trip in their pickup truck.
The Oklahoma tornado that struck the city of Moore ravaged two local
elementary schools, delivered a “direct hit” on Briarwood Elementary
School, in particular, according to local officials. At nearby Plaza
Towers Elementary School, students from grade 4-6 were moved to a nearby
building before the tornado arrived and are reportedly all accounted,
but grades K-3 were still in the building. As many as 75 children may
have been in the school when the storm arrived. "Students were told to
go into the hallways and they were literally hugging the walls; teachers
laying on top of kids,” said one KFOR reporter. The station reports
that the bodies of seven children have been recovered and 20-30 more
children are believed to still be inside the building. Rescue teams
don't expect to find more survivors. So far, the AP reports that at least 51 are confirmed dead because of the tornado.
A day after the tornado that devastated Moore, Oklahoma, was classified
as an EF4, the National Weather Service upgraded its status to a
scale-topping EF5, which the tornado achieved with winds over 200 miles
per hour. The Weather Service said the storm's path was 17 miles long
and 1.3 miles wide. Of 1,000 tornadoes to hit the U.S. each year, only
about one achieves EF5 status. As the storm's power rose on the scales,
its human toll was lowered: after having reported as many as 91 dead
Monday night, officials revised the death count to 24.
According to The Washington Post, the Department of Justice
examined Fox News reporter James Rosen’s personal emails, phone records,
and visits to the State Department in order to investigate a leak of
classified information. Rosen came to the attention of the DOJ after
writing an article about CIA analysis of how North Korea might respond
to sanctions. The DOJ traced the leak back to State Department worker
Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, who now faces charges for leaking intel. Unlike the
AP investigation, however, the reporter may also face charges as a
Women and children reportedly make up three quarters of Syrian refugees,
and they face unique challenges in the camps. RH Reality Check reports
from Al Zaatari, one of the largest camps in Jordan, where many women
struggle with post-traumatic stress after having been raped in their
war-torn home country. Others must deliver babies in the underserved
camp, where it is difficult even to obtain sanitary pads. What’s more,
“Al Zaatari’s toilets are unlit so many woman are terrified to use them
at night.” Humanitarian groups hope to improve conditions with more
lanterns and better-trained midwives.
This should give hope to desperate families everywhere. Cleveland police
say they've found three missing women who disappeared as teens from the
same neighborhood around the turn of the century. Michelle Knight, now
32, disappeared in 2002; Amanda Berry, 27, was last seen in 2003; Gina
DeJesus, 23, went missing in 2004. The women were found in a house along
with several children after Berry made a frantic 911 call, saying she
had been kidnapped, "missing for ten years," and knew she had been "in
the news." The three women have since checked into a local hospital and
three brothers have been arrested. Neighbors said the house was always
dark, with boarded-up windows, and that a man always entered through the
Bringing the most salacious trial since Casey Anthony’s to a dramatic
close Wednesday afternoon, jurors found Jodi Arias guilty of
first-degree murder. The jury spent just three days in deliberation,
following a nearly four-month trial that included tales of sex, lies,
and even a bloody shower. Arias, a former waitress in California, claims
that she killed her 30-year-old ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in
self-defense. The prosecution presented Arias as a manipulative liar and
boyfriend killer. Alexander was killed five years ago after enduring
more than a dozen stab wounds, a slit to the throat, and a gunshot
wound. Arias was placed on suicide watch Wednesday after saying she preferred the death penalty to life in prison.
A Texas court ruled Wednesday that cheerleaders in a small town are
allowed to display Bible verses on banners at football games. A judge
ruled the their actions didn't violate the Constitution after
controversy began in September when the Freedom From Religion Foundation
got a complaint about the banners and the superintendent banned them.
The cheerleaders sued the school district, arguing their religious and
free-speech rights were being violated.
The U.S. Senate took a cue from retailers and states by passing a bill
that would subject online shopping to state sales tax, with 69 to 27 in
favor. States currently can only require online retailers to collect tax
if the store has a brick-and-mortar setup in the state. President Obama
has voiced support for this measure, but it is expected to be a tougher
sell in the House, where conservatives view it as a tax increase.
Wayne LaPierre returned to the spotlight with an inspiring speech at
the National Rifle Association's convention in Houston, Texas, on
Saturday. “We will never surrender our guns, never,” LaPierre told a
cheering audience. The NRA executive vice president argued that
tragedies like Newtown and Aurora are being used "to blame us, to shame
us, to compromise our freedom for their agenda." He also noted the
recent defeat of a background check bill in the Senate, saying it would
have done nothing to prevent mass shootings.
CNN reports that the U.S. now says that Israel probably conducted an
airstrike in Syria on Thursday or Friday. In this window, the U.S.
reportedly has data that shows that Israel flew warplanes over
Lebanon—but the Israeli warplanes probably did not enter the nation.
While Israel has not commented on the situation, a source “close” to the
nation’s defense said that Israel will do anything to stop the transfer
of weapons from Syria to terrorists. Officials also said they had no
reason to believe Israel was targeting a chemical weapons facility.
New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte was confronted at a town-hall
meeting in her own state on Wednesday by Erica Lafferty, the daughter
of the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal who was killed in the
school shooting. Lafferty first met with Ayotte in Washington earlier
this month, a meeting she brought up during the confrontation. “You had
mentioned that day the burden on owners of gun stores that the expanded
background checks would harm,” Lafferty said. “I am just wondering why
the burden of my mother being gunned down in halls of her elementary
school isn’t more important than that.” Ayotte is one of five senators
being targeted in anti-gun campaigns led by New York Mayor Michael
Bloomberg and former U.S. representative Gabrielle Giffords. The NRA has
also poured thousands into ads supporting Ayotte, making her the poster
face of the culture war over guns.