30-day sentence for rape of 14-year-old sparks protests

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Protesters planned a Thursday afternoon rally outside a Montana courthouse to call for the resignation of a judge who said a 14-year-old rape victim was "older than her chronological age."
 
District Judge G. Todd Baugh has said he "deserved to be chastised" for his comments about the victim, who he also said had as much control of the situation as the Billings Senior High School teacher who was in a sexual relationship with her.
 
The judge issued an apology Wednesday, but protest organizer Sheena Rice said she didn't believe he was sincere.
 
"It really points to a larger problem of victim-blaming in rape cases across the country," she said. "To see it happen in Billings, it's time we as a community take a stand against victim-blaming."
 
The judge has defended the 30-day sentence given to former teacher Stacey Rambold as appropriate because he was considered a low risk to re-offend. Yet a Montana prosecutor said Thursday that he believes Baugh erred in the sentencing.
 
Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said that a legal review of the case by his office suggests Rambold should have received at least two years in prison. Twito said he's working with the appellate division of the state Attorney General's Office on whether to appeal.
 
A final decision has not been made.
 
Prosecutors originally sought a 20-year sentence with ten years suspended.
 
Baugh said the sentence was based on Rambold's violation of an earlier deal he made with prosecutors, rather than the original crime. He plans to file a further explanation for the sentence with the court.
 
"The public doesn't exactly understand how that came about," Baugh said, adding that it's not unusual in his experience for people to disagree with criminal sentences.
 
Baugh was first elected to the bench in 1984 and has been re-elected every six years since then without an opponent. He said he has not decided whether to run again in 2014 but has no intention of resigning.
 
Rice said protesters will seek to defeat Baugh if he runs again.
 
Joining in the backlash against the judge was Montana's Democratic governor, Steve Bullock, who said Baugh's comments "made me angry." But Bullock added that he has no authority over the judge and any complaints against him would be handled by the state Judicial Standards Commission.
 
Baugh, 71, first apologized Wednesday in a letter to the editor to The Billings Gazette. He later told reporters that what he said was wrong, irrelevant to the case, demeaning of women and not reflective of his beliefs.
 
Rambold was charged in October 2008 with three counts of sexual intercourse without consent after authorities alleged he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Cherice Moralez, starting the previous year when she was 14. Moralez killed herself in 2010 at age 16 while the case was pending.
 
Yellowstone County officials agreed to defer Rambold's prosecution for three years and dismiss the charges if he completed a sexual offender treatment program.
 
The case was revived in December after prosecutors learned Rambold, 54, was kicked out of the program for having unsupervised visits with minors who were family members and not telling counselors he was having a sexual relationship with a woman.

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IRS: Married gay couples can file joint tax returns

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WASHINGTON — Married same-sex couples will be treated the same as opposite-sex couples for tax purposes, the Obama administration announced Thursday, regardless of where they live now.
 
The Treasury Department, following up on the Supreme Court's ruling in June striking down a key section of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, announced that gay and lesbian married couples can file joint federal tax returns.
 
Importantly, the government said those couples can do so even if they have moved to states that do not permit same-sex marriages — although they may have to file their state tax returns as if they were not married, depending on state laws. The same is not true for Social Security, which will only recognize couples living in states that allow same-sex marriages.
 
Thirteen states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex couples to marry. The states are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
 
Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said the new rules, which take effect Sept. 16, will provide "clear, coherent tax-filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide."
 
Not all same-sex couples will benefit from the decision; some may pay higher income taxes as a result of the "marriage penalty." All will have the opportunity to amend their tax returns from 2010-12 — but only if they choose.
 
The high court ruling came in a case filed by Edie Windsor, an octogenarian from New York who was forced to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes after the death of her lesbian spouse, Thea Spyer. The court upheld lower courts in justifying her claim against the law passed by Congress during the Clinton administration.
 
The new Treasury-Internal Revenue Service guidelines will apply to all federal taxes, including income, gift and estate taxes. They affect personal and dependent exemptions and deductions, employee benefits, IRA contributions and tax credits.
 
The biggest financial bonanza for some couples will be the tax exclusion for employer-paid health insurance, which many same-sex spouses previously bought on an after-tax basis. That could be worth more than $1,000 per couple.
 
"This is uniformly good for everybody," said Todd Solomon, a lawyer who specializes in pension plans and benefits. "Their health benefits just went from taxable to non-taxable."
 
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-rights group, said same-sex families "finally have access to crucial tax benefits and protections previously denied to them under the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act."
 
The new guidelines will not affect couples who are in civil unions or domestic partnerships rather than legal marriages.
 
Follow @richardjwolf on Twitter

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Alabama legislator calls for ban of Toni Morrison novel

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An Alabama state senator is pushing to ban the first novel of Nobel and Pulitzer winner Toni Morrison on the grounds that its content and language are "objectionable."
 
State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, a Republican, wants The Bluest Eye pulled from high school reading lists, and says he also would support pulling it from high school libraries, according to the Alabama Media Group.
 
"The book is just completely objectionable, from language to the content," Holtzclaw said of the book, which includes mention of incest and child molestation.
 
The novel is based in Lorain, Ohio, Morrison's hometown, and details the story of Pecola Breedlove, a black girl who wishes for blue eyes so she can be praised and admired. The book was featured in Oprah's Book Club, Oprah Winfrey's effort to get more of America reading. Morrison, author of 10 novels, is professor emerita at Princeton University and serves on the editorial board of The Nation magazine.
 
Morrison wrote The Bluest Eye in 1970, while she was teaching at Howard University and, as a divorcee, raising her two sons on her own.
 
Holtzclaw made the comments as he was announcing his reelection campaign. The Alabama Media Group reports that the Madison County, Ala., Republican Executive Committee was preparing a now-aborted censure against Holtzclaw for not publicly opposing Common Core, the federal Department of Education's effort to make schools more competitive and to push critical thinking.
 

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Facebook addicts ARE needy: Brains of those who use site the most are found to respond strongest to positive feedback

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Read Time:2 Minute, 45 Second

 

Reward circuits in the brain predict how likely a person is to use Facebook

People whose nucleus accumbens structure in the brain respond most strongly to positive feedback use the social networking site most intently

It isn't known if positive social feedback drives people to interact on social media, or if use of social media changes the way positive social feedback is processed by the brain

It's always nice to get a 'like' when you post a status or photograph on Facebook, but research has revealed that the brains of those who use the social networking site the most are more affected by the feedback they receive than less regular users.

Scientists have discovered that reward circuits in the brain linked to food, money, sex and reputation can predict how likely a person is to use Facebook.

Researchers found that those whose nucleus accumbens in the brain responded most strongly to positive feedback were the same people who used the social networking site most intently.
Reward circuits in the brain linked to food, money, sex and reputation can predict how likely a person is to use Facebook, according to a new study

Reward circuits in the brain linked to food, money, sex and reputation can predict how likely a person is to use Facebook, according to a new study

The nucleus accumbens is a ‘small but critical’ part of the brain which processes rewards.

Dr Dar Meshi, of Germany’s Freie University, looked at the activity in this part of the brain in 31 people and compared the results to the people’s Facebook usage.

Dr Meshi said: ‘As human beings, we evolved to care about our reputation. In today’s world, one way we’re able to manage our reputation is by using social media websites like Facebook.’

Facebook was chosen for the study because interactions on the website are carried out in view of the user’s friends, and the public, and can affect their reputation. 

‘Liking’ someone is positive social feedback, and can be considered related to their reputation.

Participants completed a questionnaire to show how many friends they had and how many minutes they spent on Facebook.

They also participated in a video interview, and were then told whether people thought highly of them.

Researchers recorded functional neuroimaging (fMRI) of the participants’ brains during these procedures.

Results showed that participants who received positive feedback about themselves produced stronger activation of the nucleus accumbens than when they saw the positive feedback that another person received.

The strength of this difference corresponded to participants’ reported intensity of Facebook use.

Dr Meshi said: ‘Our study reveals that the processing of social gains in reputation in the left nucleus accumbens predicts the intensity of Facebook use across individuals.

‘These findings expand upon our present knowledge of nucleus accumbens function as it relates to complex human behaviour.’

Dr Meshi said it was not known if the results showed that positive social feedback drives people to interact on social media, or if sustained use of social media changes the way positive social feedback is processed by the brain.

The report was published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Exotic weapons aim to destroy chemical weapons

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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has spent more than a decade trying to develop weapons to neutralize chemical weapons, the threat that has the United States poised to launch a missile strike on Syria, according to military planning documents and officials.
 
The weapons, which would be attached to a bomb dropped from an aircraft, are supposed to neutralize chemical weapons where they are produced or stored. U.S. and western officials accuse Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government of unleashing chemical weapons on civilians. Hundreds of Syrians died Aug. 21 in a suspected chemical attack, and the Obama administration has said Assad's government is responsible for it.
 
What to attack — and how — are key questions for military planners. Four Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean carry cruise missiles that can hit targets in Syria. The U.S. Air Force has used its stealthy B-2 bomber to hit high-priority targets in Iraq and Libya and would seem capable of carrying such a weapon.
 

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Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Obama prepares for possible action against Syria

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WASHINGTON — President Obama prepared Thursday for the possibility of launching a U.S. military action against Syria within days, even as Britain opted out in a vote by Parliament.
 
Advisers said the president would be willing to retaliate against Syria alone.
 
"The president of the United States is elected with the duty to protect the national security interests in the United States of America," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
 
Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokeswoman, said the United States would continue to consult with Britain but Obama would make decisions based on "the best interests of the United States."
 
"As we've said, President Obama's decision making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States," Hayden said. "He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States. He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable."
 
U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said after a White House teleconference with some Congress members Thursday, "The main thing was that they have no doubt that (Syrian President Bashar) Assad's forces used chemical weapons."
 
He said administration officials did not provide new evidence but revealed the government has intercepted "some discussions and some indications from a high-level official" in Syria regarding use of gas.
 
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would support "surgical, proportional military strikes" given the evidence of continued use of chemical warfare.
 
"Whatever limited action is taken should not further commit the U.S. in Syria beyond the current strategy to strengthen the vetted, moderate opposition," he said. "While the administration has engaged in congressional consultation, they should continue to be forthcoming with information and would be far better off if they seek authorization based upon our national interests, which would provide the kind of public debate and legitimacy that can only come from Congress."
 
A White House statement released after the 90-minute teleconference said the call included, among others, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and 26 lawmakers — the chairs and ranking members of national security committees within Congress.
 
"The views of Congress are important to the President's decision-making process, and we will continue to engage with Members as the President reaches a decision on the appropriate U.S. response to the Syrian government's violation of international norms against the use of chemical weapons," the White House statement read.
 
Earlier, the White House stepped up efforts to consult with Congress in advance of any U.S. military intervention in Syria, including private communications between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and a conference call for congressional leaders with senior administration officials.
 
"That conference call is just the latest in a series of robust congressional consultations that everybody from the president on down in the administration have been engaged in over the last few days," Earnest said of the Thursday evening briefing.
 
More than one quarter of the 435-member House has signed a letter authored by Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., calling on the president to seek a formal vote for congressional authorization for action in Syria. Boehner has stopped short of calling for a vote, but has publicly chided the president for not making a strong enough case to either Congress or the public.
 
Following a private call with the president on Thursday, Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner said "it is clear that further dialogue and consultation with Congress, as well as communication with the American public, will be needed."
 
The White House is unlikely to seek formal congressional approval, but Earnest said the White House is making an effort to consult closely with Congress.

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A tale of two politicians: Harper and Trudeau wade into controversial Quebec issue

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The prime minister dipped a tentative toe in the rocky waters of Quebec identity politics. And an opposition leader who wants to replace him dove right in.

It was a tale of two reactions, featuring Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau, as the leaders each made headline-grabbing remarks about the controversial Charter of Quebec Values on Thursday.

And they could hardly have been more different.

Harper treaded warily.

He promised to keep an eye on the eventual policy, to ensure minority rights were protected. But in the meantime, he cited two reasons for withholding comment.

The prime minister said he wanted to wait because the Parti Quebecois government had not even made its plan public yet and isn’t expected to do so for two weeks.

He also expressed concern about getting sucked into a political undercurrent.

“We know that the separatist government in Quebec would love to pick fights with Ottawa,” Harper told a Toronto news conference.

“But that’s not our business. Our business is the economy. Our business is job-creation for Canadians — all Canadians, including Quebecers.”

In the next breath, though, he added that the federal government also has a responsibility to minorities and he intends to live up to it.

He is the last major federal leader to comment on the issue, which has raged in recent days. Trudeau and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair have each criticized the PQ idea more than once.

A leaked copy of the plan suggests the PQ wants to restrict public employees from wearing religious symbols such as turbans, kippas, hijabs and visible crosses.

Trudeau, apparently, has heard enough.

In his latest remarks attacking the plan, the Liberal leader used the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech to lambaste the proposed Charter of Quebec Values.

He appeared to draw parallels between the PQ policy and segregation.

And thus began the latest chapter in the long, acrimonious history between the Parti Quebecois and federal Liberal leaders named Trudeau.

“Oh, my God,” said Bernard Drainville, the minister responsible for the charter, when asked for a reaction Thursday.

“I think he should make a little bit of an effort to elevate the debate — instead of lowering it. I don’t think it is helpful to get into this line of argument. I think we should try to have this debate in a respectful manner — even if we disagree sometimes.

“There’s a little bit of contempt in that and I don’t think it helps the debate.”

Premier Pauline Marois echoed the sentiment: “I don’t want to judge him by his comments, but it’s evident that his comments are not an invitation to calm, (they) don’t invite serenity, but rather throw oil on the fire.”

At a partisan rally the previous night, Trudeau said that 50 years after King fought against the notion of second-class citizens, there are still people in Quebec who would reduce others’ rights.

Trudeau said: “These days, when you reflect on the 50th anniversary of that magnificent speech by Dr. King, who was fighting segregation, who was fighting discrimination, who was rejecting the notion that there are second-class citizens, you see that unfortunately even today, when we’re talking, for instance, about this idea of a charter of Quebec values, that there are still people who believe you must choose between your religion and Quebecois identity, that there are people forced by the state in Quebec to make irresponsible and inconceivable choices.”

Pequistes fumed at the accusation of intolerance.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Alexandre Cloutier described King as an inspiration to the PQ, as well. Trudeau, on the other hand, appeared only to inspire his frustration.

“I don’t think Mr. Trudeau has any lessons to give to Quebecers,” Cloutier said.

Polls suggest the charter idea is popular in Quebec — although it’s unclear how high of a priority it is for voters there.

Quebecers have also told pollsters they’re interested in many other issues, such as economic ones, above the charter idea.

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2 years later, Vermont still recovering from Irene

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Read Time:5 Minute, 43 Second
NORTHFIELD, Vt. — A week ago, Bonnie Pemberton's new ranch house arrived in two pieces at a 1.5-acre lot on a hillside in Williamstown, Vt.
 
This week, plumbers and electricians are busy in the home, she said. Pemberton and her husband are anxious to move in — although that won't happen right away as they still have to buy new furniture and appliances and build the garage.
 
The family lost a lifetime of possessions when Tropical Storm Irene turned the Dog River into an angry torrent that drove them from their home on Aug. 28, 2011. Like so many Vermonters pummeled by that freak storm, Pemberton said, "There is a lot of loss. Everyone has a story."
 
The Pembertons' tale includes moving twice in the past 24 months. They stayed first for five weeks with her husband's father. Then a client of the family's mowing business offered to rent them his second home in Northfield, Vt.
 
"We are packed in there like sardines," Pemberton said, noting that her daughter and new baby have joined the couple while the daughter's husband is overseas.
 
In May, the Pembertons' home became the first in Northfield to be purchased under the federally funded buyout program — which allows willing sellers to relocate rather than stay in flood-prone locations where the cost of reconstructing a flood-resistant residence would be prohibitive.
 
Northfield officials have submitted 15 buyout applications — all but one from Pemberton's neighborhood. Most are still pending, leaving residents in limbo all these months after they were sucker-punched by the worst natural disaster to strike Vermont since the Flood of 1927.
 
"It is extremely slow. It is very frustrating," Pemberton said of the process.
 
In the beginning
 
The Dog River's raging waters ravaged the bungalows, duplexes and small businesses in the Water Street neighborhood.
 
The Pembertons had lived in one of those inundated riverside homes for 32 years. Many of the houses in their neighborhood were built by granite workers in the late 1800s, and the Pembertons' dated from the early 1900s.
 
The structures withstood a lot a rain storms over the decades, but Pemberton noted that Irene was the second storm of 2011 to produce flooding serious enough to damage her two-story house. In May of that year, high water from the river pushed in a corner wall in her basement. The family had made $6,000 in repairs when Irene struck.
 
Recalling the trauma
 
On that post-Irene Saturday two years ago, Pemberton, like her neighbors, welcomed volunteers to help with the aftermath of waters that would have been up to her neck if she had been standing in her living room when flooding reached its peak.
 
Bonfires in backyards burned debris — previously home furnishings and cherished possessions. Piles of fudge-like mud grew on the streets where volunteers dumped the buckets they were hauling from cellars. Members of the high school soccer team gave out the hot dogs they had intended to sell at the town's Labor Day celebration, which had been canceled.
 
It was a scene that played out throughout the fall of 2011 in hundreds of locations across Vermont as neighbors and strangers rallied to help storm victims. The need was great.
 
Six Vermonters had lost their lives in the storm, washouts cut off access to 13 communities and hundreds of miles of roads had disintegrated or disappeared, train tracks buckled and dozens of battered bridges had to be closed.
 
Irene was responsible for 49 deaths in its path: five in the Dominican Republic, three in Haiti and 41 in the United States. Six of the deaths in the U.S. were attributed to storm surge/waves or rip currents, 15 to wind, including falling trees, and 21 to rainfall-induced floods.
 
Even as Vermonters assessed the horrific damage, few would or could have predicted that recovery would still be occurring at the storm's second anniversary.
 
STORY: Vt. to reopen last highway destroyed by Irene
STORY: Waterbury, Vt., residents try to recover from flood
 
Gov. Peter Shumlin, touring the state Wednesday to mark the anniversary, stressed how far the state has come since the storm hit. Most roads and bridges are repaired, many folks now live in more flood-resistant housing and businesses are back in operation.
 
"We have a lot to celebrate today," he said.
 
Shumlin acknowledged, however, that dozens of families and businesses have yet to recover from Irene. "We have not forgotten you and will not stop fighting until the job is done."
 
Why it takes so long
 
Michele Braun, Northfield's zoning administrator, has coordinated the buyout program and acknowledges that it is time-consuming and complicated. She expects federal officials to approve 15 buyouts in Northfield, 14 in the Water Street neighborhood. So far, only five closings have occurred.
 
Each home considered for a buyout has to be appraised. It turned out that six in the Water Street neighborhood had been identified as historic in a 1980 survey, so they had to undergo more review. Braun had to hire an architectural historian to create a photo record for each.
 
Braun is hopeful the buyouts will be completed by the end of the year.
 
Before demolition, however, each structure has to be checked for asbestos, which would have to be removed by experts before the homes can be torn down, she said.
 
Put back together
 
The town of Northfield wasn't as hard hit as other communities in terms of road and bridge loss. A dozen towns each faced millions of dollars in damage. Bethel, Vt., for example, suffered $5.1 million in public infrastructure damage.
 
"For the town as it relates to damage, Irene has come to an end," Northfield Town Manager Rob Lewis said earlier this week. There's still one bridge project to complete, he noted, explaining it was delayed because the town tried unsuccessfully to convince FEMA to pay to realign the bridge rather than simply repair it.
 
Once the homes are demolished, there's talk of creating a park.
 
Lewis said the community would probably hold forums to solicit ideas for such a park.
 
As the trauma of Irene fades, Lewis wanted to remind Vermonters to remember those stuck in limbo.
 
"It is the residents for whom I feel bad," Lewis said, referring to the people still displaced and waiting for FEMA to decide the fate of their damaged homes.
 
Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY.

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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US hints it could act alone on Syria

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Read Time:4 Minute, 4 Second

 

WASHINGTON  (AFP) – The United States hinted Thursday it could act alone to punish Syria for a chemical

weapons attack, following hesitation by its closest ally Britain and a deadlock at the United Nations.< The Obama administration also denied that public skepticism dating to an Iraq war intelligence debacle was complicating its effort to justify possible military action against Syria.

National security heavy-hitters including the secretaries of state and defense, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, planned to brief top lawmakers on possible responses to the attack in a Damascus suburb last week that killed hundreds of people.

The intelligence community was working meanwhile on a declassified public report on the attack, which officials said will show there is no doubt that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime shattered taboos by using chemical weapons on civilians.

Obama, who came to power criticizing his predecessor George W. Bush’s go-it-alone approach on foreign policy, was confronted Thursday with a choice over whether to wait for allies or launch unilateral US action.

The White House said that while Obama prized the United Nations and closely consulted allies, his first duty was to US national security, which he sees threatened by the Syrian attack.

“The president’s chief accountability is to the American people that he was elected to protect,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

The comments came as Britain struggles for a political consensus over Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to join expected US-led military action.

The political fracas in London sparked speculation that a timetable for action, which many observers had believed could see air strikes in Syria within days, could slip.

But at the State Department, spokeswoman Marie Harf said: “We make our own decisions in our own timeline.”

The Obama administration also hinted that unlike Britain, it did not see the need to wait for a report by UN inspectors in Syria on the chemical attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21.

It reasons that since the panel’s mandate is merely to establish an attack happened, and not to apportion blame, its findings are moot.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration said it did not see any future in a British bid to secure a mandate from the UN Security Council for attacking Syria, due to Russian opposition.

Obama sees perils to US national security in the belief that Syria shattered international norms by using chemical weapons, and that US interests and regional allies could be threatened next.

The release of the document detailing the Syrian attack was expected to come Thursday, though officials said it had not yet been finalized.

Obama aides stress they envisage only “limited” punitive action in Syria and dismiss comparisons with the US invasion of Iraq, which the president built his political career on opposing.

The discrediting of what was once deemed “slam dunk” intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction is imposing a high burden of proof on the current administration.

Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Anthony Cordesman termed the coming report the “most important single document in a decade.”

But officials denied the Syria drama was in any way comparable to Iraq.

“Nobody needs an intelligence community assessment to know that chemical weapons were used here,” said Harf.

“In Iraq, we were waiting for an intelligence community assessment to determine whether they even existed. Those are two categorically different levels of assessment being done here.”

Some reports this week suggested that the US assessment would include communications intercepts and other data from inside Syria.

But sources are downplaying expectations, saying the public analysis will mirror the case already made by Washington, which they consider strong.

Signs that the US report will not be able to directly link Assad to the attack with anything other than circumstantial evidence were bolstered by a British intelligence report released on Thursday.

The study found no credible intelligence to suggest opposition forces fired the chemical arms and that there was no “plausible alternative” to the idea that the regime was to blame.

But, possibly due to the need to safeguard sensitive intelligence sources, there was no detailed evidence directly implicating Assad.

While Cameron recalled parliament for an uncomfortable debate on Syria, there were no plans for the US Congress, which is in recess, to do likewise.

The White House will likely argue that since its proposed action in Syria will be “limited,” it does not require Congress to wield its constitutionally granted power to authorize a declaration of war.

But the more time that passes before US military action, the more restive the domestic political scene becomes.

Earnest said Thursday’s consultation exercise with lawmakers would likely not be the last one.

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Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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George Zimmerman’s Wife Felt ‘Very Much Alone’ When He Didn’t Go to Court With Her

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Shellie Zimmerman, a fixture in court during the murder trial of her husband George Zimmerman, the Florida man acquitted for the death of Trayvon Martin, said in an exclusive interview with ABC News she is "going to have to think about" whether she stays married to him.

In a wide-ranging interview conducted by investigative freelance journalist Christi O'Connor, Zimmerman said on the evening Martin died she was staying elsewhere because the couple had got in an argument the night before. She added that the struggles of the last year and a half have further strained their relationship.

Shellie Zimmerman, who pleaded guilty to perjury Wednesday for lying about the couple's finances during her husband's bond hearing, refused to comment on whether she was pressured to do so.

But she said a part of her feels "slightly" like she was hung out to dry when he did not stand up for her when she lied to a judge about how much money they had received in donations from outsiders and that the entire ordeal has hurt their relationship.

Shellie Zimmerman declined to say whether she and her husband remain together, but did say she felt "very much alone" without him in the courtroom to support her when she pleaded guilty Wednesday.

"I can rationalize a lot of reasons for why I was misleading, but the truth is I knew that I was lying," Shellie Zimmerman said. "I wish a lot of things were different. I can't tell you how many times I have laid at night saying God, I wish these circumstances had been different."

Shellie and her husband spent a year and a half in hiding, isolated and in "terror" for their lives as they awaited the trial for the death of the unarmed teenager in 2012.

"I think we have been pretty much like gypsies…We've lived in a 20-foot trailer in the woods, scared every night that someone was going to find us and that we'd be out in the woods alone and that it would be horrific," she said.

It put a strain on their marriage.

"It's difficult to communicate with your spouse when you're under so much scrutiny from both sides and I think we both have been fighting for our own individual struggles to be heard by each other and that's been difficult," she said.

Mrs. Zimmerman refused to go into details about the argument she had with her husband the night before Martin died that ended with her going to stay with her father, and did not want to give many details about their relationship.

"Does George have a temper? How volatile did it get the evening before?" asked O'Connor.

"Not going to answer that," responded Zimmerman.

The Zimmermans have lived with bodyguards since her arrest for perjury in June 2012, but she said she is thankful that they escaped most of the anger directed at her husband.

"It got very crazy. living with bodyguards. It kind of feels like you're with a babysitter. You really can't make any choices for yourself anymore…We were in hiding. We were in the woods."

During the ordeal she said she wished she stood up for herself more and that she felt like she was directed to do a lot of things by George and relinquished a lot of control to him, but she said she did so because she did not want to stress him out.

"George has never laid a hand on me nor has he ever used any sort of force. I was concerned that we were living in something that we'd never experienced before and that there is a first time for everything….I just always had that kind of fear in the back of mind," she said.

Mrs. Zimmerman says the experience that probably sticks out most in her mind was the moments immediately following the not guilty verdict.

Shellie Zimmerman Felt Left Alone by Husband When She Went to Court

"The deputies were so afraid of people shooting into the windows of the courthouse that they were pushing us up against the wall so that we couldn't be seen by the people outside and that was really scary because at that moment it became very real. It's been real this whole time, but that was a distinct moment for me that I'll never forget, being pushed against the walls and thinking at any second, my life could be over."

Since George Zimmerman was acquitted in July, he has kept a relatively low profile except for one glaring exception — his visit to a Florida gun manufacturing plant that had manufactured the weapon he used to kill Martin.

"Do you think that was right, sensitive?" asked O'Conner.

"No" responded Zimmerman. "I just think that he's … been living in a pressure cooker and he is doing and thinking things that none of us can understand right now."

She said she believes her husband's story that he shot and killed Martin in self defense, and said the most hurtful thing she experienced was hearing that he was a "murderer or some sort of racist." But she also expressed sorrow and anguish about what the parents of Trayvon Martin have dealt with.

"If I could speak to them I would say that I'm so deeply sorry for their loss…I can't even begin to understand the grief that a parent experiences when they lose a child," she said.

Shellie Zimmerman faces 100 hours of community service and one year probation for her perjury, but because she pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor she avoided a more serious felony charge and can continue pursuing a career in nursing. She wants to do her community service in a Christian ministry and move on with her life. She says she decided to go public because she wanted to set the record straight.

"I answer to a higher power and I feel I've been given a tremendous opportunity to regain my life and because of that graciousness I want to devote the rest of my life to making sure I speak up, making sure I don't allow myself to be silenced and part of that means telling the truth."

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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