It is now official; American Aid Worker Kayla Mueller who has been held hostage by ISIS has been killed. The acknowledgement was made a couple of days after ISIS said that US Hostage Kayla Mueller has been killed in a Jordanian Air Strike.
President Obama said in a statement released by the White House, “It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller. On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I convey our deepest condolences to Kayla’s family – her parents, Marsha and Carl, and her brother Eric and his family – and all of those who loved Kayla dearly. At this time of unimaginable suffering, the country shares in their grief.”
ISIS had claimed in a statement on Friday that Mueller had been killed in a Jordanian Air Strike. However it did not present with any evidence leading to doubts about its claims.
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan said that during the course of the week the Mueller family “received a private message from Kayla’s ISIS captors containing additional information. Once this information was authenticated by the intelligence community, they concluded that Kayla was deceased”
It is still not clear when or how Mueller was killed. Mueller was kidnapped in August 2013 in Syria.
Mueller’s parents, Carl and Marsha, released a statement shortly after the White House confirmation of Mueller’s death, “We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life. Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need from freedom, justice and peace… Our hearts are breaking for our only daughter, but we will continue in peace, dignity and love for her.”
Mueller, from Prescott, Ariz., was kidnapped on Aug. 4, 2013 after leaving Spanish ‘Doctors without Borders’ hospital in Aleppo, Syria, according to information provided by a family spokesperson.
Ex Florida Governor Jeb Bush is all set to release thousands of e-mails and also what would be the first chapter of his e-book which seeks to focus on what he calls considerate leadership style and deep traditionalist credentials.
“One of things that came out of this was a sense there is a story to be told here,” Bush said, describing “a style of leadership that tried to help people” and an ideological consistency “where I think we stayed true to conservative perspective.”
Jeb Bush declared his singular focus on a potential White House bid.
Bush was talking about his accomplishment during his tenure as a Governor for eight years.
Bush said, “I’m really proud of the conservative record we had in cutting taxes. Even, for the nerdy guys and gals on the phone, even achieving a triple-A bond rating. It still warms my heart. Creating 1.4 million net new jobs by building a better business climate. Reforming the things that were broken, particularly our schools. All of that story we can begin to tell people and I’m really excited about it.”
Standard & Poor’s had raised Florida’s bond rating to AAA in 2005 by, while Bush was governor. Bush said that he would release the rest of the book later this year.
The diehard Republican interacting with his political allies during a Monday morning conference call said that he will release the material on Tuesday on a new website. Numerous news outlets had earlier obtained the e-mails from Bush’s stint as a Governor. Bush felt that his dealing with constituents and staff would help shape his message in a prospective presidential campaign.
Bush has not announced his political intentions but is coming out strongly as one of the most aggressive GOP presidential prospects in recent times. Bush is hobnobbing with top political donors across the country, and also expanding his political machine which has remained idle for 8 years since he left the Florida governor’s mansion.
The weather continues to take its toll and this has been the story of the winter of 2015. Boston happens to be once again in the cross hairs but with a difference – large sections of the North East will be facing the brunt of the storm including Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
The National Weather Service forecasts 8 to 14 inches of snow for upstate New York while it is 12 to 16 inches of snow by the time the storm ends Tuesday for the North East. Schools in parts of the Northeast, including Boston, will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
Expecting worse weather Boston Mayor Marty Walsh issued another snow emergency and parking ban Sunday. The Mayor has urged the residents of Boston to remain indoors until the worst is over.
The snow storm is affecting the air traffic also. More than 1,500 flights in and out of US have been cancelled and this adds to another 700 flights which has been cancelled on Sunday. Though Boston Logan International Airport remained open, most of the flights were cancelled. The major issue is not the current snowfall but the accumulation of snow over the past two weeks which has been unprecedented. The past two weeks has seen 70 to 80 inches of snow.
Two other storms have ravaged the Northeast in the last fortnight creating mountains of snow, cancelled classes and closed airports. The weather has also delayed the big Massachusetts trials which included murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez and the jury selection of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Alabama has commenced issuing marriage licenses to same couples from Monday. This follows a Supreme Court ruling which refused to extend a stay on a federal judge’s earlier ruling.
Alabama became the 37th state were same sex can legally wed when Judge Alan King of Jefferson County Probate Court in Birmingham issued the first license to two women. Judge King went on to issue several more licenses.
Dee Bush, who has been with her partner Laura Bush for seven years, became a couple legally. They have five children between them and after receiving the license walked outside to a cheering crowd where a minister was conducting the wedding ceremonies.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had asked the state’s probate judges Sunday not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. In a candid six page letter the social conservative Chief Justice opined that the federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was not obligatory on the state courts. Moreover it has caused confusion in the states.
The latest action by Chief Justice Moore is sure to lead to acrimony between the state’s chief justice and the federal courts, Justice Moore’s actions have also been condemned by the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender rights groups.
Legal Director Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign called Moore’s letter “a pathetic last-ditch attempt at judicial fiat. Absent further action by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal ruling striking down Alabama’s marriage ban ought to be fully enforced, and couples that have been waiting decades to access equal marriage under the law should not have to wait a single day longer.”
Moore’s letter was released just hours before same sex marriage became legal in Alabama. The letter read
“No probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975.”
The section which Justice Moore is referring to is the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the 1998 law doing so.
Both the state’s law and the constitutional amendment was struck down by U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade in two decisions Jan. 23 and Jan. 26, saying that it violated same-sex couples’ equal protection and due process rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Six persons of Bosnian origin who had sought refugee status and immigrated to the US are facing charges of providing material support and resources to Islamic State terrorists. The six persons include three St. Louisans.
Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis County, Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, N.Y., Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34 of Schiller Park, Ill., and Jasminka Ramic, 42 of Rockford, Ill. has been named in the indictment
As per information provided by the United States Attorney’s Office, all the six suspects are believed to be natives of Bosnia who had immigrated to the US as naturalized citizens or have refugees or legal resident status.
Federal agents had been tracking the suspects from 2013 to 2014. The Federal agents learnt that Ramiz and Sedina Hodzic were the point people for funneling money, guns and military equipment to Islamic State fighters in the Middle East. The husband /wife appeared for their initial appearance in the Federal Court on Friday evening.
According to Federal Investigators, Ramiz set up an account in St. Louis to collect close to $8,000. This included his personal money, cash from other suspects and third parties. Ramiz bought military equipment worth $2,400 from St Louis businesses. The wares included military uniforms, combat boots, tactical gear and firearms accessories then shipped them through the U.S. Postal Service to Turkey.
Ramiz had also transferred $7,700 cash between 2013 and 2014 through Western Union to Islamic State fighters, funneling it through Turkey, Bosnia and Saudi Arabia.
Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Nihad Rosic are both charged with conspiring to kill and maim persons in a foreign country.
The United Bosnian Association sent a statement saying: We as a community are in shock and condemn any acts of terrorism as well as supporting any of it. As with any group of people there are some that do harmful things to society, unfortunately we have those as well. As with any other criminals the law and the system will bring them to justice.
A petition by lawyers for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to suspend jury selection and order the trial to be moved outside Massachusetts has been hotly contested by prosecutors who have asked the Federal appeals court to reject the bid.
Prosecutors contended that Judge George O’Toole Jr. has thoroughly examined prospective jurors and made sure that they do not have any bias or strong opinion on Tsarnaev’s guilt.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers have asked the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to order O’Toole to move the trial or suspend jury selection. Tsarnaev’s lawyers have based their observation after a review of more than 1,300 juror questionnaires showed that 68 percent believe Tsarnaev is guilty.
The defense has filed three motions for change of venue. Two have been rejected so far.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev aged 21, faces a plethora of charges which carry the possibility of death sentence. Dzhokhar faces 17 charges with the possibility of capital punishment for allegedly setting off the bombs at the finish line on April 15, 2013.
The Federal judge on Friday afternoon declined to consider a third motion for a change of venue by Tsarnaev.
A federal judge Friday afternoon denied a third motion for a change of venue by alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar
US District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. said the reasons for refusing the bid to change venue included the success of the voir dire process for finding suitable jurors.
“Contrary to the defendant’s assertions, the voir dire process is successfully identifying potential jurors who are capable of serving as fair and impartial jurors in this case,” O’Toole said in a decision filed in US District Court in Boston.
The Judge had twice earlier ruled that any change of venue was not deemed necessary and he could pick a fair jury. The trial could last for months and it will not be an easy task for the Judge to find jurors who do not have any connection with the marathon bombing and are willing to hand out the death penalty if they feel it is necessary.
ISIS has claimed on Friday that an American hostage had been killed in an air strike in Syria by US led coalition.
ISIS in a statement which was posted on the Jihadist websites said that the woman was buried under the rubble after a raid by Jordanian Warplanes in Raqa. Raqa is the capital of the self proclaimed caliphate of ISIS.
“The plane from the crusader coalition bombed a position outside the city of Raqa after Friday prayers. No fighter was wounded but we can confirm that an American hostage was killed in the strikes.”
The statement was not accompanied with any pictures and there was no independent confirmation of the reported death.
US officials have not commented on the incident.
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “I cannot confirm those reports in any way. I’m not going into specifics of Americans held overseas.”
ISIS jihadists now control large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria. ISIS rules and interprets a particularly brutal version of Islamic Law. The group has gained notoriety by its brutal methods of executing its prisoners which includes beheading and the latest –burning alive in a cage. The group has killed two US journalists, an American Aid Worker, two British aid workers, two Japanese hostages, and a Jordanian Pilot.
Jordan , which is one of the many Arab countries which are supporting the US led air strikes has vowed a befitting response after ISIS released a particularly horrid video this week showing the burning alive of pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh.
Maaz al-Kassasbeh was taken prisoner by ISIS when his F-16 crashed in Syria in an area controlled by the Sunni Extremists during the course of a bombing campaign led by the US.
The Islamic State message was published by SITE Intelligence group which tracks jihadist activity, stated that the American woman was killed when the building where she was held captive collapsed in an airstrike.
The US economy is finally looking up as the Labor Department released the employment figures pertaining to the month of January on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. The latest report portrays a robust performance and the hiring was particularly strong in November and December than it was previously estimated.
It is 5½ years since the end of the recession and the US job market is finally looking up. The indicators of a healthy recovery are there for everyone to see.
The average hourly wages increased by 12 cents last month to $24.75. This has been the steepest rise seen since 2008.Hourly pay which has been stagnant for some time has increased by 2.2 percent. This is above inflation which rose just 0.8% in 2014.
The unemployment rate increased to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent. However it was for a good reason, more than 1 million Americans were scouring for jobs and all of them were not successful in getting employment. Their numbers inflated the numbers of people counted as unemployed. The increase in the numbers of job hunters suggests that Americans have become more positive about their prospects.
Russell Price, senior economist at the financial services firm Ameriprise said, “For the average American, it’s certainly good news — 2015 is going to be the year of the American consumer. With job growth being strong, we’re going to see a pickup in wages and salaries.”
The positive job and pay gains makes it increasingly likely that the Federal Reserve will start raising the short term interest rates by the middle of 2015. Investors were not lagging behind and responded smartly to the better than expected jobs figures by selling U.S. Treasury, which send the yields up. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.93 percent from 1.81 percent shortly before the jobs report was released.
The stock prices have increased mildly and the Dow Jones industrial average gained 51 points in the late morning business. Falling gas prices has checked the inflation and also increased the average American’s spending power.
Petitioners led by The New York Civil Liberties Union have approached the court on Staten Island demanding Judge William Garnett open the records pertaining to the Eric Garner case. The move has been opposed by the Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan. Garnett will hear arguments at a hearing on Thursday morning.
The New York Civil Liberties Union in its court papers has pointed out to the outcry over the grand jury’s decision for not indicting the white NYPD Police officer who had resorted to a fatal chokehold and was watched on a video which went quickly viral over the social media. It cited it as a reason to make an exception to the long-standing practice of keeping the process secret.
NYCLU argues in the court papers, Disclosure is needed “to restore public confidence in our criminal justice system and to inform the current debate that has begun regarding the role of the grand jury as an instrument of justice or injustice.”
Meanwhile the Donovan’s office has argued that grand jury witnesses came forward and testified “with full assurances of secrecy.” Making the testimony public will inevitably lead to harassment or retaliation.
Garner was stopped on the streets of July 17 by Pantaleo and other NYPD officers who suspected that Garner was selling Untaxed Cigarettes. A video shot by an onlooker showed Garner refusing to be handcuffed. The police officer Pantaleo then resorted to a process commonly used to restrain unwilling suspects –wrapping his arms around Garner. Garner who was asthmatic was heard gasping and said he could not breathe. He later was pronounced dead at a hospital.
NYCLU has asked the court to order Danovan to make public the grand jury transcript, which includes the testimony of Pantaleo and dozens of other witnesses, detailed descriptions of evidence and other documentation.
Two students have received gun shot outside a public school in Maryland on Wednesday night during the course of a basket ball match. The shooting sent viewers scurrying for cover as distraught parents rushed to the scene to make sure there wards were safe and healthy.
Frederick Police Capt. Richard Hetherington said that the injured Frederick High School students were flown to a hospital in Baltimore with injuries which are not life threatening. He was not aware of the age of the students but warned that the shooters are still at large.
Capt. Richards said the motives of the shooters are not clear but an investigation is on to identify the shooters.
The Frederick County public schools spokesman Michael Doerrer said that two junior varsity basket ball games were going on when the shooting started.
Hetherington said that the students were being released to their parents in a parking lot of a nearby bowling alley. Meanwhile officers took 200 people at the game to a nearby school cafeteria and secured the whole building.
A few minutes before midnight, a school bus and a Police van pulled into the lot and released a dozen students. The students were received by their worried parents who were relieved to see their wards unharmed.
Frederick High School junior Sofia McCluskey said she was watching the game and heard a muffled shot. “Someone yelled, ‘Yo, they’re shooting,’” she said. “And we just ran as fast as we could.”
Sofia and her friend, Stephanie Sanchez ran to the locker room and was taken to the cafeteria, where they waited and were briefly interviewed by police. Sofia said that it was a terrifying moment and she was shaking in fear all the time.
Meanwhile Frederick County Public Schools officials tweeted that the staff and students were healthy, safe and accounted for.
Frederick High School is located on the city’s west side and has about 1,300 students. The school district informed that the school would be closed Thursday for students.