Nouri al-Maliki

10 things you need to know today: June 24, 2014

Kerry arrives in Kurdistan.

Kerry arrives in Kurdistan. (AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool)

The Week

Kerry says Iraq will form a new government, 168 children are freed after a sex-trafficking crackdown, and more

1. Kerry says Maliki will form a new Iraqi government
Secretary of State John Kerry said after meeting with Iraqi leaders on Monday that embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had pledged to form a new government. Maliki is under pressure to make his Shiite-led government more inclusive as al Qaeda-linked Sunni extremists seize more territory and press toward Baghdad. Kerry went to Iraqi Kurdistan on Tuesday to urge leaders there to be part of the new government, instead of breaking away. [Fox NewsReuters]

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2. Authorities free 168 children in sex-trafficking crackdown
State, local, and federal law enforcement officials arrested 281 alleged pimps in 106 cities and recovered 168 children in a week-long nationwide crackdown on sex traffickers, federal officials announced Monday. Law enforcement targeted casinos, escort-service websites, and truck stops. “Child sex traffickers create a living nightmare for their adolescent victims,” said Leslie R. Caldwell, an assistant attorney general. [Los Angeles Times]

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3. Legal memo justifying drone strike against U.S. citizen released
A federal court on Monday released a long-secret government memo spelling out the legal justification for killing al Qaeda suspect Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, with a 2011 drone strike in Yemen. The document claims Awlawki posed an ongoing imminent threat to the U.S., and that his ties to al Qaeda “brings him within the scope” of Congress’ 2001 authorization of the use of military force. [The Washington Post]

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4. High court lets the EPA continue limiting greenhouse gas emissions
The Supreme Court left the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to curb greenhouse emissions at power plants and refineries largely intact in a Monday ruling. The justices rejected an argument backed by the industry saying that most facilities should not be covered under the EPA pollution control program. The high court did, however, issue the EPA what observers called a “tongue-lashing” for over-reaching, suggesting possible limits on its authority down the road. [Reuters]

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5. Tsunami warning goes out after Alaska earthquake
A tsunami warning was issued for the sparsely populated Aleutian Islands in Alaska on Monday after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck 13 miles southeast of Little Sitkin Island. Residents were urged to move to higher ground, although there were no immediate reports of damage. The quake was recorded at a depth of only 60 miles, shallower than normal for the island chain. Shallow earthquakes are more likely to be felt. [The Associated Press]

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6. Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to hang for apostasy released
A Christian woman in Sudan who was sentenced to death for renouncing Islam was set free on Monday after an appellate court overturned her conviction. Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, 27, was jailed in February along with her first child after a relative reported her for marrying a non-Muslim — American Christian Daniel Wani of South Sudan. Ibrahim, who gave birth to her second child in prison, insisted she was raised Christian. [Sydney Morning Herald]

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7. Prominent Mormon women’s rights advocate excommunicated for apostasy
The Mormon church has excommunicated Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women group pushing to let women serve in the Mormon priesthood, for advocating positions running counter to church teachings, Kelly’s organization announced Monday. Another activist — gay rights advocate John Dehlin — also faces possible excommunication. The proceedings are the highest profile excommunication proceedings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1993. [USA Today]

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8. Dov Charney vows to fight American Apparel firing
American Apparel founder Dov Charney filed formal notice on Monday that he would challenge his ouster by the company’s board. Charney was fired last week as the clothing maker’s chairman after facing years of accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Charney’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said he believed his termination was “without merit and intends to contest it vigorously.” [The New York Times]

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9. Report says rising seas could swallow a million U.S. homes this century
More than a million U.S. coastal homes and businesses could be flooded repeatedly and ultimately destroyed, with rising sea levels covering more than $370 billion worth of property in Florida and Louisiana alone by 2100, according to an report on global warming impacts released Tuesday by a bipartisan coalition of business and political leaders. A monthly federal climate report said that last month was the hottest May on record. [The New York TimesThe Huffington Post]

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10. U.S. coach accuses FIFA of giving Germany a World Cup edge
U.S. World Cup soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann is accusing the sport’s international governing body, FIFA, of favoring Germany by giving its players an extra day of rest before Thursday’s U.S.-Germany match. The game’s result will help determine whether the U.S. advances to the next round of the World Cup. Klinsmann noted that the U.S. also has to travel farther for the match. “Everything was done for the big favorites to move on,” he said. [New York Daily News]

10 things you need to know today: June 23, 2014

So close. 

So close. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The Week

The U.S. misses a chance to advance in the World Cup, Kerry arrives in Iraq as insurgents gain ground, and more

1. Portugal’s last-minute goal deprives the U.S. of a World Cup win
The U.S. on Sunday missed a chance to clinch a berth in the World Cup knockout round, giving up a last-minute goal to Portugal to finish in a 2-2 draw. The goal came when Portugal’s superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo, rushed down the field and bent a perfect pass to a diving teammate, who headed the ball into the net with seconds left. The U.S. is now tied with Germany at the top of Group G. The two teams will face each other on Thursday. [Los Angeles Times]

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2. Kerry visits Iraq as ISIS grabs more turf
With al Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgents gaining ground, Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Iraq on Monday to urge Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to rise above “sectarian motivations” and make his Shiite-led government more inclusive. So far the Iraqi leader has failed to reach out to moderate Sunnis and Kurds. Kerry’s visit is also intended to show U.S. support for Iraq as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) advances toward Baghdad. [CNN]

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3. Bergdahl released from hospital
Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner, has been discharged from a Texas military hospital to begin outpatient care, the Army said Sunday. “It’s a sign of progression, showing he’s no longer a patient of a hospital,” Army spokeswoman Lieutenant Col. Carol McClelland said. The next step in recovery for Bergdahl, who was released May 31 in acontroversial prisoner swap, will include more psychological treatment tailored for former POWs. [Reuters]

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4. Search for prominent Washington hiker stopped after body found
Rescuers in Mount Rainier National Park halted the search for Karen Sykes, a well-known Washington outdoors writer and photographer, on Sunday after they recovered the body of a woman. Sykes, 70, was hiking with her boyfriend at 5,000 feet, east of Mt. Rainier’s 14,410-foot summit. They came across snow on the trail. He stopped, she went on. The local medical examiner is working on confirming the identity of the body. [The Associated Press]

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5. Successful test puts missile defense system back on track
A U.S. missile defense system hit a soaring target over the Pacific Ocean in the program’s first successful intercept test since 2008, the Pentagon said Sunday. The destruction of the simulated enemy missile marked a significant victory for the ground-based Midcourse Defense system, which is run by Boeing and provides the U.S.’s only defense against long-range ballistic missiles. [Reuters]

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6. South Korean soldier allegedly kills five comrades near North Korean border
A South Korean army sergeant accused of killing five comrades was captured alive on Monday after he shot himself during a standoff with thousands of soldiers. The suspect, identified only as Sgt. Lim, had fled after allegedly opening fire on members of his unit at an outpost on the North Korean border. The military had brought Lim’s father and brother to the scene to urge him to surrender. [Yonhap]

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7. Kerry tries to start rebuilding ties with Egypt
Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday promised Egypt’s new military-backed government that Congress would soon approve the delivery of Apache helicopters. The U.S. has suspended military aid over concerns about human rights abuses since a coup last year. The release of the helicopters, which the Egyptian military badly wants, would mark a significant step toward rebuilding ties with the key Middle East ally. [The Washington Post]

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8. Egyptian court sentences three Al Jazeera journalists to seven years
A court in Egypt on Monday convicted three Al Jazeera journalists of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to spread “false news” to destabilize the country, and sentenced them to seven years in prison. The defendants — Australian Peter Greste, Egyptian-Canadian Mohamed Fahmy, and producer Baher Mohamed — have been held since December and were put on trial with 17 others. Al Jazeera, based in Qatar, said Egypt didn’t have a “shred of evidence” to back the “false charges.” [Ahram OnlineThe New York Times]

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9. Former teen sensation Michelle Wie wins her first golf major
Michelle Wie bounced back from a double-bogey on the 70th hole to win the U.S. Women’s Open on Sunday, two strokes ahead of world No. 1 Stacy Lewis. It was Wie’s fourth LPGA tour win but her first major championship. She nearly won the tournament nine years ago when she was 15, and came close to taking three other majors when she was 16. Wie said the win meant more after a decade of ups and downs than it would have as a teen. [USA Today]

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10. Katie Couric gets married
Katie Couric, 57, married financier John Molner at her East Hampton home over the weekend. The former Today host and the 51-year-old partner in the Brown Brothers Harriman investment firm got engaged in September after dating for nearly two years. Couric, who anchored the CBS Evening News for five years, is now global anchor for Yahoo News. Her first husband, Jay Monahan, died from colon cancer in 1998. [People]

Obama: “The Tide Of War Is Receding”

You can believe that the GOP leadership will not have anything positive to say about this.  They literally hate this President…

TPMDC

President Obama announced a full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of the year, a decision he said fulfills a campaign promise to bring the war to a responsible end.

“After taking office, I announced a new strategy that would end our combat mission in Iraq and remove all of our troops by 2011. As commander-in-chief, ensuring the success of this strategy one of my highest national security priorities,” he said Friday, addressing the White House press corps.

Just hours earlier, Obama had spoken to Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki via videoconference and reported that the two are in “full agreement about how to move forward.”

Over the next two months, the approximately 46,000 troops who remain in Iraq will come home, Obama said.

“After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” he said.

“Today, I can say that our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays. This December will be a time to reflect on all that we’ve been through in this war,” he later added.

The announcement also marked a milestone in the relationship between Iraq and the United States. As of Jan. 1, each country will deal with one another as independent sovereign nations in keeping with the the U.S.-Iraqi strategic framework agreement.

“It will be a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama said.

Obama also paid tribute to the more than one million Americans who have served in Iraq, those who returned wounded, and the nearly 4,500 who lost their lives.

“The tide of war is receding,” he said. “When I took office, roughly 180,000 troops were deployed in both these wars, and by the end of this year that number will be cut in half — and make no mistake, it will continue to go down.”

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