N. Korea issues warning ahead of U.S., S. Korea summit
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea is threatening the U.S. and South Korea over joint naval drills taking place this week in tense Yellow Sea waters ahead of a Washington summit by the allies’ leaders.
The North’s Korean People’s Army warning Tuesday was highly conditional. It said it will hit back if any shells fall in its territory. Should the allies respond to that, Pyongyang’s military vows to strike five South Korean frontline islands.
While such language is standard, it comes at a time of tentative diplomatic maneuvering. Pyongyang had somewhat eased a tirade of threats aimed at larger-scale military drills by the allies that ended April 30.
Seoul calls its drills routine but Pyongyang calls them invasion preparation.
Both countries claim frontline Yellow Sea waters as their own. Their navies have regularly clashed.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
Obama doesn’t foresee U.S. boots on the ground in Syria
Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY3:22 p.m. EDT May 4, 2013
President Obama said on Friday he does not foresee a situation in which deploying U.S. troops to Syria would be helpful.
“As a general rule, I don’t rule things out as commander in chief, because circumstances change,” Obama told reporters during his visit to Costa Rica on Friday. “Having said that I do not foresee a scenario in which boots on the ground in Syria — American boots on the ground in Syria — would be good for America but would also be good for Syria.”
Obama’s comments come a little more than a week after the White House said it is very likely that Syrian President Bashar Assad had used chemical weapons against his people. The president had previously set use or transfer of chemical weapons by Assad as a “red line” that would elicit an unspecified response from the Obama administration.
Obama, however, has cautioned that more proof is needed before the United States escalates its involvement in Syria.
The two-year conflict in Syria has left more than 70,000 dead, according to U.N. estimates. While the U.S. has provided tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to rebel groups, the Obama administration has thus far resisted arming the resistance.
“In terms of any additional steps we take, it’s going to be based number one on the facts on the ground, number two what’s in the interest of the American people and our national security,” Obama said. “As president of the United States, I am going to make those decisions based on the best evidence and after careful consultation. Because when we rush into things, when we leap before we look, then not only do we pay a price, but we often also see unintended consequences on the ground. It’s important for us to do it right and that’s exactly what we’re doing right now.”
Late Friday, U.S. officials told the Associated Press that Israel launched an airstrike into Syria. The airstrike, first reported by CNN, came hours before Obama’s news conference in Costa Rica.
It did not appear that a chemical weapons site was targeted, and one official said the strike appeared to have hit a warehouse.
Israeli officials confirmed the airstrike on Syria hours later, according to AP, saying it targeted a shipment of advanced missiles.
“Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, specially to Hezbollah in Lebanon,” Israeli Embassy spokesman Aaron Sagui said in an e-mail to the AP late Friday.
Contributing: Associated Press
The president’s comments came Friday during his visit to Costa Rica.
Gunmen in standoff with Libyan army at Tripoli protest
By Jessica Donati and Ghaith Shennib
TRIPOLI | Fri May 3, 2013 2:34pm EDT
TRIPOLI (Reuters) – The Libyan army was deployed to Tripoli’s main square on Friday to guard a pro-government rally and became involved in an uneasy standoff with anti-government gunmen.
The pro-government protesters were rallying against groups of gunmen who have taken control of two ministries in the capital.
“We are here to support the government and ask the prime minister to deploy the police and the army. We don’t want the militias here any more,” one protester said at the rally that had been organized through social networks.
1st female Iraq war resister to be court-martialed
FORT CARSON, COLO. — A court-martial got underway Monday for the first female Army soldier to flee to Canada to avoid a second tour of duty in the Iraq war.
Army Pfc. Kimberly Rivera is charged with desertion and could face up to five years in prison and a dishonorable discharge if convicted, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.
Rivera was assigned to Fort Carson’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and served in Iraq in 2006. She has said that, while there, she became disillusioned with the U.S. mission in Iraq.
During a two-week leave in the U.S. in 2007, Rivera crossed the Canadian border after she was ordered to serve another tour in Iraq. She applied for refugee status but was denied.
Pioneering black Marines are honored in Jacksonville, decades later
Congressional Gold Medals go to Marines from the segregated era.
Growing up, Leroy Jones Jr.’s five children couldn’t ever forget their father had been a Marine. There was his strictness, his preaching about the work ethic, about staying in shape, about putting your family first.
Then there was his insistence on getting up early — really early — in the morning. “Don’t let the sun bore a hole in you,” he’d say, dragging them out of bed.
“You could always tell he was a Marine,” said his son Oscar, 56.
“Everything a Marine’s got, he’s got,” said his oldest son, Carl, 58.
On Thursday afternoon, Leroy Jones Jr. got the highest civilian honor that the country gives, as he and fellow Marine Vincent Calhoun, 87, were awarded Congressional Gold Medals in a ceremony at Jacksonville City Hall.
DoD clarifies faith-sharing policy
NASHVILLE, TENN. — Members of the military are free to share their faith as long as they don’t harass others, the Department of Defense said in a prepared statement Thursday.
A Pentagon ban on proselytizing had caused an uproar on social media this week. Conservative activists claimed that service members could face court martial for talking about Jesus.
But a Defense Department spokesman said that evangelizing is allowed, as long as it is not disruptive.
“Service members can share their faith (evangelize) but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization),” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, in an email.
“If a service member harasses another member on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, then the commander takes action based on the gravity of the occurrence. Likewise, when religious harassment complaints are reported, commanders take action based on the gravity of the occurrence on a case-by-case basis.”
Veterans unemployment rate falls dramatically in April
The jobless rate for Post-9/11 veterans fell to 7.5 percent in April, a dramatic reduction that might be statistically invalid.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday the unemployment rate for veterans of all generations dropped to 6.2 percent in April, also a significant improvement.
Overall, the employment situation report shows the economy grew 165,000 jobs in April. That was not enough to make a major change in the national unemployment rate, which was 7.5 percent in April, just 1/10of a percentage point less than in March.
For veterans, the overall jobless rate for March was 7.1 percent. For Post-9/11 veterans, the jobless rate in March was 9.2 percent, with big gender differences. It was 8.7 percent for men and 11.8 percent for women.