At NATO summit, Obama and Cameron seek partners for going after militants
NEWPORT, Wales (AP) -- President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron pressed fellow NATO leaders Thursday to confront the "brutal and poisonous" Islamic State militant group that is wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria -- and urged regional partners like Jordan and Turkey to join the effort as well.
As leaders of the Western alliance gathered for a two-day summit, Obama and Cameron worked to begin forming a coalition of nations that could combat the extremists through military power, diplomatic pressure and economic penalties.
"Those who want to adopt an isolationist approach misunderstand the nature of security in the 21st century," they wrote in a joint editorial published as the meetings began. "Developments in other parts of the world, particularly in Iraq and Syria, threaten our security at home."
While some NATO leaders talked tough about the threat posed by the Islamic State group, the alliance made no specific pledges of action. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he believed the broader international community "has an obligation to stop the Islamic State from advancing further" and would seriously consider requests for assistance, particularly from the Iraqi government.
The Islamic State group moved up the list of international priorities as the militants pressed through Iraq with lighting speed earlier this year.
Ukraine’s president, at NATO summit, voices ‘careful optimism’ on peace talks with rebels
NEWPORT, Wales (AP) -- Ukraine’s president expressed "careful optimism" Thursday that a peace deal could be reached with Russian-backed separatists at their upcoming talks, even as he and NATO leaders agreed that Moscow should be punished for its role in the insurgency.
President Petro Poroshenko said he was ready to order a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine if a deal is signed at scheduled talks Friday in Minsk, Belarus. The rebels said they were ready to declare a truce if agreement can be reached on a political settlement for the mostly Russian-speaking region.
"Look, Ukraine is fighting for peace," Poroshenko told a news conference, speaking in English. "It’s Ukraine which pays the highest price every single day, losing lives of soldiers, innocent civilians."
As head of state, Poroshenko said he is "ready to do my best to stop the war," and he voiced "careful optimism" about the meeting.
Before flying to Wales for the meetings with NATO leaders, Poroshenko discussed the outlines of a peace deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who also expressed optimism about the chances of reaching agreement.
Judge says BP ‘grossly negligent’ in Gulf spill; $18 billion in fines possible
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- BP could be looking at close to $18 billion in additional fines over the nation’s worst offshore oil spill after a federal judge ruled Thursday that the company acted with "gross negligence" in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier concluded that the London-based oil giant showed a "conscious disregard of known risks" during the drilling operation and bears most of the responsibility for the blowout that killed 11 rig workers and spewed millions of gallons of oil over three months.
In the next stage of the case, set to begin in January, the judge will decide precisely how much BP must pay.
Under the federal Clean Water Act, a polluter can be forced to pay a maximum of $1,100 in civil fines per barrel of spilled oil, or up to $4,300 per barrel if the company is found grossly negligent. Barbier’s finding exposes BP to the much higher amount.
Even as the oil giant vowed to appeal, BP stock fell $2.82, or nearly 6 percent, to $44.89, reducing the company’s market value by almost $9 billion.
Ex-Va. Gov. McDonnell and wife convicted of corruption, fraud, bribery charges
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife were convicted Thursday of taking bribes to promote a dietary supplement in a corruption case that derailed the career of the onetime rising Republican star and laid bare the couple’s broken marriage.
A federal jury in Richmond convicted Bob McDonnell of 11 of the 13 counts he faced; Maureen McDonnell was convicted of nine of the 13 counts she faced. Both bowed their heads and wept as the court clerk read a chorus of "guilty" verdicts.
Widely considered a possible running mate for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential campaign, McDonnell was reduced to living with the family’s priest in a church rectory during the trial. Now he and his wife face up to 30 years in prison on most counts, including conspiracy, fraud and bribery. Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 6.
The couple’s defense strategy depended in large part on persuading jurors that their marriage itself was a fraud and that they were unable to speak to each other, let alone conspire to accept bribes. They left the courtroom separately.
U.S. appeals court rules gay marriage bans in Wisconsin, Indiana are unconstitutional
CHICAGO (AP) -- A U.S. appeals court ruled Thursday that same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana violate the U.S. Constitution, in another in a series of courtroom wins for gay-marriage advocates.
The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago criticized the justifications both states gave for the bans, several times singling out the argument that marriage between a man and a woman is tradition. There are, the court noted, good and bad traditions.
"Bad traditions that are historical realities such as cannibalism, foot-binding, and suttee, and traditions that from a public-policy standpoint are neither good nor bad -- such as trick-or-treating on Halloween," it said. "Tradition per se therefore cannot be a lawful ground for discrimination-regardless of the age of the tradition."
Same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Bans that have been overturned in some other states continue to make their way through the courts. Since last year, the vast majority of federal rulings have declared same-sex marriages bans unconstitutional.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B Van Hollen said he would appeal Thursday’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
For war-zone medical training, Navy sends doctors, nurses, medics to Chicago hospital
CHICAGO (AP) -- The patient had been shot on the streets of Chicago, but when Dr. Jared Bernard stood over his open body in the operating room, he could see that the single bullet had unleashed the same kind of massive infection inflicted by roadside bombs in Afghanistan.
Although the wounded man lay in a modern American hospital, saving his life would be no different than caring for a soldier wounded by a bomb exploding under a Humvee. That’s why the Navy is sending its doctors, nurses and medics to Stroger Hospital, a Cook County facility that, in its own way, stands in the middle of a war zone.
Because the Navy doesn’t have any trauma training facilities in the U.S., military medical teams can’t get experience dealing with penetrating wounds, inserting IVs in emergencies and other techniques common to combat areas, said Bernard, a 37-year-old lieutenant commander who has been deployed to Afghanistan. He’s a trauma surgeon at the Lovell Federal Heath Care Center in North Chicago, where the Navy teams work when they aren’t at Stroger.
Launched this past spring, the program is one of two of its kind in the country. The other is at the Los Angeles County-University of South California Medical Center.
Navy doctors, nurses and medical corpsmen rotate through Stroger because its trauma unit is one of the busiest in the U.S., a result of the nearly constant gun violence in some troubled neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides.
Comedian Joan Rivers dead at 81
Joan Rivers, the raucous, acid-tongued comedian who crashed the male-dominated realm of late-night talk shows and turned Hollywood red carpets into danger zones for badly dressed celebrities, died Thursday. She was 81.
Rivers died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, surrounded by family and close friends, daughter Melissa Rivers said. She was hospitalized Aug. 28 after going into cardiac arrest in a doctor’s office following a routine procedure. The New York state health department is investigating the circumstances.
"My mother’s greatest joy in life was to make people laugh," Melissa Rivers said. "Although that is difficult to do right now, I know her final wish would be that we return to laughing soon."
Under the immobile, plastic surgery-crafted veneer that became Joan Rivers’ unapologetic trademark as she aged, her wit remained as vibrantly raw and unruly as when she first broke her way into a comedy world belonging largely to men.
In a 2010 "Late Show" interview, David Letterman broached the plastic surgery issue: "You don’t look exactly like the Joan Rivers I used to know." Rivers was unapologetic.
Oklahoma report: More training for executioners needed after flawed IV line placement
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma turned to a 15-year physician and a medical technician with 40 years’ experience to put Clayton Lockett to death, yet his execution still went awry.
Now, investigators are recommending more training for executioners, blaming Lockett’s flawed, lengthy lethal injection on April 29 on poor placement of intravenous lines and a warden’s decision that modesty was more important than monitoring Lockett for signs of trouble. The three drugs administered were not a factor, the state said.
The findings and recommendations of the governor-requested, state-handled investigation highlight the difficulty that death penalty states face in making sure the people performing a grim medical procedure are properly prepared to see it through.
"Is there some things that need to be improved? Absolutely," Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael C. Thompson said Thursday after his agency released the findings of its investigation. "We think that the IV was a big issue with the execution."
Out of modesty, no one monitored an intravenous line that had been placed in Lockett’s groin before the start of his execution, a job that is the normal duty of Oklahoma State Penitentiary Warden Anita Trammel, who decided to cover Lockett’s body -- and the IV -- with a sheet.