The South Carolina House voted in the wee hours of Thursday morning to approve a bill removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds following a contentious debate that lasted more than 13 hours. But it was a fiery 4-minute speech by Rep. Jenny Horne, a Republican state representative and descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, that is being credited with moving her fellow lawmakers to agree to take it down.
Japanese automaker Honda on Thursday said it was recalling another 4.5 million vehicles globally, as a scare over a deadly defect in Takata-made airbags widens. The most recent confirmed victim was a woman in Los Angeles who died last year after the defective inflator in a 2001 Honda Civic ruptured, firing metal shards at her. "Like other carmakers, we are investigating vehicles on the market in connection with this issue, and we found that some inflators have uneven gas density, which we worry could do some harm," a Honda spokesman said.
By Harriet McLeod CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - The campaign to remove the Confederate battle flag from South Carolina's capitol grounds dragged on into the night in a marathon session on Wednesday as the House of Representatives debated the banner symbolizing slavery and racism for many and Southern heritage for others. Tempers began to fray as the debate moved into its 12th hour as Republicans launched dozens of amendments seeking to soften the impact of a proposed law to take down the flag and move it to a museum. The state Senate first took up the bill on Monday less than three weeks after nine black worshippers were gunned down on June 17 during a Bible study at a historically black church in Charleston.
By David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawmakers on Wednesday sharply criticized long-announced U.S. Army plans to cut nearly 60,000 soldiers and civilian personnel due to tight budgets, warning it was risky and short-sighted at a time of Middle East conflict and rising tensions with Russia. Senator John McCain, the Republican head of the Armed Services Committee, called the decision to cut 40,000 soldiers and 17,000 civilian personnel "another dangerous consequence of budget-driven strategy" pursued by President Barack Obama. Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush told veterans in Hudson, New Hampshire, that the United States "can't lead without a strong military" and pursuit of the planned cuts would leave the country with "the smallest Army that we've had since the start of World War Two." The cuts would reduce the active-duty Army from about 490,000 soldiers to about 450,000.
The Obama administration was criticized by lawmakers on Wednesday over U.S. Army plans to cut nearly 60,000 soldiers and civilian personnel, warning the reductions were risky for U.S. forces at a time of conflict in the Middle East and rising tensions with Russia. Senator John McCain, the Republican head of the Armed Services Committee, called the plan to cut 40,000 soldiers and 17,000 civilian personnel "another dangerous consequence of budget-driven strategy" pursued by President Barack Obama. The cuts would reduce the active-duty Army from about 490,000 soldiers to about 450,000, its smallest number since before the United States entered World War Two.
By Alana Wise NEW YORK (Reuters) - Almost two-thirds of Republicans oppose the Supreme Court’s backing of gay marriage, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, which gives hope for conservative presidential candidates who have come out strongly against marriage equality. Republicans would struggle to make opposition to same-sex marriage a winning issue in next November’s general election because more than half of Americans support it, according to the online survey.
By Donna Owens BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Embattled Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts was fired on Wednesday following criticism of his handling of rioting triggered by the death of a black man from injuries suffered in police custody and a subsequent surge in homicides. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a brief statement that she was replacing Batts as head of the 2,500-officer department. Batts, who came to the Baltimore force from California in September 2012, received sharp criticism for his handling of rioting that followed the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray on April 27.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said technical problems reported on Wednesday by United Airlines and the New York Stock Exchange were apparently not related to "nefarious" activity. "I have spoken to the CEO of United, Jeff Smisek, myself. It appears from what we know at this stage that the malfunctions at United and the stock exchange were not the result of any nefarious actor," Johnson said during a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.