In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

[Content Note: War; terrorism] "President Barack Obama announced on Monday the biggest expansion of U.S. ground troops in Syria since the civil war there began, saying he would dispatch 250 special forces soldiers to help local militia to build on successes against Islamic State. The new deployment increases U.S. forces in Syria six-fold to about 300. While the total U.S. ground force is still small by comparison to other American deployments, defense experts said it could help shift the momentum in Syria by giving more Syrian fighters on the ground access to U.S. close air support. Obama said the move followed victories that clawed back territory from Islamic State. 'Given the success, I've approved the deployment of up to 250 additional U.S. personnel in Syria, including special forces, to keep up this momentum,' Obama said in a speech in the German city of Hanover, the last stop on a foreign tour that has taken him to Saudi Arabia and Britain. 'They're not going to be leading the fight on the ground, but they will be essential in providing the training and assisting local forces as they continue to drive ISIL back,' he added, using an acronym for Islamic State, also known as ISIS or Daesh."

[CN: Police misconduct; misogynoir; drowning] "Police in Florida's Pinellas County faced tremendous criticism and allegations of racist inaction this week after releasing video that seemingly showed officers standing by as three Black teenage girls drowned after driving a car into a pond. ...According to the Miami Herald, the three girls allegedly stole a car from a Walmart parking lot the night of March 30. Deputies from the sheriff's office chased the girls, despite what the Herald described as 'county sheriff's rules [that] forbid deputies from chasing stolen vehicles.' Ashaunti Butler, 15, Dominique Battle, 16, and Laniya Miller, 15, accidentally drove into a 15-foot-deep pond and ultimately drowned. The sheriff's office released several hours of dashboard camera footage to news outlets on Monday (April 18). It immediately provoked criticism. ...Today (April 22), the sheriff's department released more dashcam footage that it says is proof of officers' rescue attempt. ...'We are posting this clip with the hope that the false narrative being spread about this incident stops,' reads their statement." *side-eye*

[CN: War on agency] In good news (for now): "The Florida Supreme Court suspended the state law that forces people to wait 24 hours before terminating a pregnancy until the court decides whether to hear a lawsuit claiming the measure is unconstitutional, reported the Associated Press. The court's 5-2 decision Friday was made two months after a state appeals court's ruling allowed the Republican-backed law to go into effect. ...The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida filed a lawsuit to overturn the law on behalf of a Gainesville clinic. The group claims the waiting period is causing unnecessary hardship for people seeking abortion care and that the Florida Constitution protects private medical decisions. Nancy Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida, said in a statement that the organization is pleased that the court agreed that pregnant people should not be subjected to the law while there is an ongoing legal challenge. 'Forcing women seeking an abortion to make multiple visits that are medically unnecessary especially burdens poor and working women, and is potentially dangerous,' Abudu said."

I've got a couple of new pieces up today at BNR about stuff in the news today: 1. A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll has found that Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead (61%!) among millennial voters moving into the general election. 2. [CN: Misogyny] The Economist is the latest publication to write (and promote) a sexist piece of dreck about Clinton.

Good luck with that: "Senator Ted Cruz and Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio have agreed to coordinate in future primary contests in a last-ditch effort to deny Donald J. Trump the Republican presidential nomination, with each candidate standing aside in certain states amid growing concerns that Mr. Trump cannot otherwise be stopped." I really don't GAF about this, because as much as I dislike Trump, I dislike those two just as much.

[CN: Homophobia] Speaking of Trump being terrible: "Donald Trump Thinks Choosing Anti-LGBT Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin as Running Mate Is 'Great Advice'." Of course he does. "Yes, the Mary Fallin who blasted the Supreme Court's ruling allowing gay couples to marry in her state, and in 2013 denied spousal benefits for National Guardsmen and women, regardless of whether they are in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships, so as to avoid having to comply with Hagel's order to provide benefits to same-sex couples. In 2004 she voted to amend Oklahoma's constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. Fallin also signed a bill into law saying 'no licensed, ordained, or authorized official of a religious organization can be required to solemnize or recognize a marriage that violates that official's conscience or religious belief.'"

[CN: Racism] Jim Webb continues to be the fucking worst: "One would think we could celebrate the recognition that Harriet Tubman will be given on future $20 bills without demeaning former president Andrew Jackson as a 'monster,' as a recent Huffington Post headline did. And summarizing his legendary tenure as being 'known primarily for a brutal genocidal campaign against native Americans,' as reported in The Post, offers an indication of how far political correctness has invaded our educational system and skewed our national consciousness. This dismissive characterization of one of our great presidents is not occurring in a vacuum. Any white person whose ancestral relations trace to the American South now risks being characterized as having roots based on bigotry and undeserved privilege." IS THIS GUY EVEN SERIOUS?!

This is so lovely and so moving: Harris Wofford, a former US senator from Pennsylvania, special assistant for civil rights to President John F. Kennedy, and adviser to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has penned a piece about finding love for the second time in his life. After being married for 48 years to his wife Clare, who died in 1996, he is now about to wed his partner of 15 years, Matthew. "We were both about to turn 70 when she died. I assumed that I was too old to seek or expect another romance. But five years later, standing on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., I sensed a creative hour and did not want to miss it. ...For a long time, I did not suspect that idea and fate might meet in my lifetime to produce same-sex marriage equality. ...At age 90, I am lucky to be in an era where the Supreme Court has strengthened what President Obama calls 'the dignity of marriage' by recognizing that matrimony is not based on anyone's sexual nature, choices or dreams. It is based on love. All this is on my mind as Matthew and I prepare for our marriage ceremony."

And finally! "Last Wednesday, a couple of local surfers on a beach in Costa Rica were about to catch waves when they saw an odd-looking lump in the water in the mouth of a small river nearby. Mauricio Camareno and his friends approached the object and saw that it was a stranded baby pilot whale crying for help. ...They stayed with her for more than 6 hours keeping her afloat so she could breathe, pouring water on the whale to protect her from heat. When she got her strength back, the men guided her into deeper waters and she swam off on her own, presumably to look for her lost family." ♥

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