WASHINGTON (AP) — The Air Force is launching an ambitious campaign to repair flaws in its nuclear missile corps, after recent training failures, security missteps, leadership lapses, morale problems and stunning breakdowns in discipline prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to demand action to restore public confidence in the nuclear force.
Colombia's government and the country's second largest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army, announced Tuesday they have opened peace talks, with presidential elections just days away. The government already is in the midst of peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, Colombia's largest rebel group, which were begun in November 2012. So far, the government and the National Liberation Army, or ELN, have agreed to hold talks about the victims of the conflict and the rebel group's "participation in society." The surprise announcement comes as President Juan Manuel Santos, who is seeking a second term, finds himself in a close run-off election on Sunday.
Jihadists who have seized Iraq's second city of Mosul pose a threat to the entire region, the United States warned Tuesday, voicing deep concern about the "extremely serious" situation. Condemning militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) "in the strongest possible terms," White House spokesman Josh Earnest called on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other leaders to do more to address "unresolved issues" to ensure they are governing "with the interests of all Iraqis in mind." "It should be clear that ISIL is not only a threat to the stability of Iraq, but a threat to the entire region," said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, in a statement. She stressed that Washington backed "a strong coordinated response to push back against this aggression."
Mosul (Iraq) (AFP) - Jihadists overran Iraq's second city of Mosul, the surrounding Nineveh province and parts of Kirkuk on Tuesday, in a major blow to a government apparently incapable of stopping militant advances. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki responded by asking parliament to declare a state of emergency and announcing the government would arm citizens to fight the militants. "All of Nineveh province fell into the hands of militants," parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi told journalists in Baghdad, adding the gunmen were heading south towards neighbouring Salaheddin province. An army brigadier general told AFP hundreds of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a major assault on the security forces late on Monday.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on Tuesday unveiled a $20 million package of proposals to tackle what he described as a crisis of addiction to opioid drugs in the state, and called for a summit of all six New England governors to address a broader regional response. A commission appointed by the governor, who in March declared addiction to opiate drugs a public health emergency, called for steps including a expanding treatment for drug addicts in state prisons and to create new live-in centers to treat addicts as young as 13 years old. "These actions will help enhance our network for treatment and recovery services to help communities and families struggling with addiction," Patrick said at a Boston high school that provides treatment services for addicted teens. In Massachusetts alone, some 668 people died from opioid drug overdoses in 2012, almost double the level in 2000, according to the state report.
Kirkuk (Iraq) (AFP) - Jihadists seized several areas in Iraq's Kirkuk province on Tuesday, a police officer said, after the militants took control of a whole province to its west. The militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) overran the Hawijah, Zab, Riyadh and Abbasi areas west of the city of Kirkuk, and Rashad and Yankaja to its south, Colonel Ahmed Taha said.
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed grave concern Tuesday about the jihadist takeover of Iraq's second city of Mosul, calling on political leaders to unite in the face of threats. His spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban was "gravely concerned by the serious deteriorating of the security situation in Mosul, where thousands of civilians have been displaced." The UN chief "strongly condemns the terrorist attacks" across Iraq that have killed and wounded scores of civilians over the past several days and extends his condolences, he added. "The secretary general urges all political leaders to show national unity against the threats facing Iraq, which can only be addressed on the basis of the constitution and within the democratic political process," he said.
The U.S. Senate will hold procedural votes on Tuesday on three Federal Reserve nominees, including Stanley Fischer to be vice chairman, with an aim to hold final votes later in the week. The Senate confirmed Fischer, the former head of the Bank of Israel, for a seat on the Fed's board on May 21 but it has yet to act on his nomination to be the No. 2. It will also consider the nomination of former U.S. Treasury official Lael Brainard for a board seat and the renomination of Fed Governor Jerome Powell for a fresh board term.
A NATO air strike in Afghanistan killed five US soldiers in an apparent "friendly fire" accident during clashes with insurgents, officials said Tuesday, as troops try to ensure security for the presidential election. Local police and the Afghan army said that the US troops, as well as one Afghan soldier, were killed in the restive province of Zabul when air support was unleashed to try to beat back Taliban fighters. Friendly fire incidents have been rare in Afghanistan in recent years, though five Afghan soldiers were killed in a NATO air strike in the eastern province of Logar in March.
Donetsk (Ukraine) (AFP) - From international observers and journalists to pro-Ukrainian activists, priests and ordinary citizens, cases of arbitrary detention and abductions are on the rise in the areas of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian rebels. "Kidnappings began from the very beginning of the insurgency and today we estimate the number of those being detained illegally at 200," Maria Oliynik, an activist with Ukrainian rights watchdog Prosvita, told AFP. Those held hostage are usually kept in basements and safe houses guarded by gunmen from the rebel "authorities" of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine -- and the United Nations says they can face beatings, torture and even execution. For close to a fortnight now two groups of observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) -- totalling eight international monitors and a Ukrainian interpreter -- have been held captive and incommunicado after separatists picked them up, three days apart, in late May.
Hillary Clinton launched her much-anticipated book tour Tuesday and tried to smooth over a flap over her earlier remark that she and her husband Bill were "dead broke" when they left the White House. Hundreds of fans of the former secretary of state, many wearing shirts that said "Hillary Rocks," lined up as early as 5:00 am in New York, where Clinton was due to make her first public signings of her memoir, "Hard Choices." But first the Democrat took to the airwaves, in a one-hour special Monday night on ABC in which she said the Clintons left the White House "not only dead broke, but in debt."
A video of a woman being sexually assaulted at inaugural celebrations for Egypt's new president has spotlighted a national epidemic, but activists believe that stopping such attacks will be difficult. Graphic footage, apparently filmed on Sunday using a mobile phone, shows a mob of men surrounding the young woman, who was stripped of her clothes and badly bruised in the assault in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square. "Sexual assaults and rapes by mobs are now part of reality. This is sexual terrorism," said Zeinab Sabet, a prominent activist with "Dignity Without Borders", a group battling sexual violence.
Five US soldiers killed in Afghanistan were likely victims of "friendly fire," the Pentagon said Tuesday, adding that the incident was under investigation. "Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause," said Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman. Friendly fire incidents have been rare in Afghanistan in recent years, although five Afghan soldiers were killed in a NATO air strike in the eastern province of Logar in March.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Fifteen CIA employees were found to have committed sexual, racial or other types of harassment last year, including a supervisor who was removed from the job after engaging in "bullying, hostile behavior," and an operative who was sent home from an overseas post for inappropriately touching female colleagues, according to an internal CIA document obtained by The Associated Press.