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UPI NewsTrack TopNews

Sept. 12, 2012 at 5:00 PM   |   Comments

Obama vows justice in U.S. facility attack

BENGHAZI, Libya, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- President Obama said "justice will be done" in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three others killed in the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

U.S. Marines were dispatched to Libya to bolster security in the wake of the attack, The Washington Post reported.

Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith and two other Americans were killed when militants attacked the consulate Tuesday, angered over a 13-minute U.S.-made film clip depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a fake and womanizer.

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous attack," Obama said Wednesday in a statement. "We will work with the Libyan government to bring justice to the killers who attacked our people."

Obama said the United States and Libya were working together to secure the safety of the U.S. diplomatic staff.

Twice during his statement, Obama said, "Justice will be done."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was by the president's side as he spoke, but did not speak. When Obama finished his statement, he and Clinton walked back into the White House, ignoring questions shouted from reporters.

The Defense Department ordered two Marine anti-terrorism security teams to Libya, a senior Marine official told the Post.

The FBI said in a statement it is investigating the attack, as well, the Post said.

"The FBI will not speculate on the facts and circumstances surrounding the attacks," the FBI said in a statement.

The Imprisoned Omar Abdul Rahman Brigades, an al-Qaida-affiliated group that previously attacked the consulate, is the primary suspect in Tuesday's attack, sources tracking militant Islamist groups in eastern Libya told CNN. The sources said the attack came after al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri said the June death of a senior Libyan member of the terror group Abu Yahya al-Libi must be avenged.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said there was strong evidence the assault was premeditated.

"This was a well-armed, well-coordinated event," Rogers said in an interview on MSNBC. "It had both indirect and direct fire, and it had military maneuvers that were all part of this very organized attack."

Clinton said in an earlier statement the attack "should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world." Americans, including herself, were asking how such an attack could occur, Clinton said.

"How could this happen in a country we helped liberate in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and at times how confounding the world can be," she said. "But we must be clear-eyed even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of Libya."

"There is no justification for this violence," Obama said while noting that the United States, since its founding, has rejected "all efforts to denigrate religious beliefs of others."

A senior U.S. official said two separate events were going on at the diplomatic compound -- a grenade attack outside and a fire created by a grenade inside the compound, CNN said.

Stevens and the others who died had gone to the roof of the consulate and had become separated from the others trying to leave the building. Stevens was overcome by smoke, the official told CNN.

CNN cited sources who said militants had planned an attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility and used the protests as cover to attack the consulate. CNN said the source said the attack did not necessarily target Stevens specifically.


Republican rips into vets jobs bill

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- A senior Republican U.S. senator Wednesday dismissed a veterans jobs bill put forward by Democrats as just political posturing.

"What we're really doing is passing a bill for political reasons that's not going anywhere in the (U.S.) House so that we can say we're doing things," The Hill quoted Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., as saying on the Senate floor.

Coburn said the bill didn't go through the committee process and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hasn't investigated whether current veterans jobs programs work before proposing a new system, The Hill reported.

"Is this about veterans or is this about politicians? I suspect it's about politicians and not veterans," Coburn said.

The newspaper said the proposed Veterans Jobs Corps Act is designed to create new job-training programs to help veterans find work. The programs include training in such fields as national park conservation, historic preservation projects, police work and firefighting.

The cost of five-year bill is $1 billion, but it generates new revenue to pay for itself over 10 years, The Hill said.

The Hill said Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., are leading the effort to pass the legislation, and some suggestions by the committee's ranking member, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., were being included in the measure.


Suspect in custody after LA shootout

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Police shot and wounded a homicide suspect armed with an AK-47 during a shootout in downtown Los Angeles, authorities said.

The suspect, identified as Ian Remy Schlesinger, 24, was subdued by a police dog after a high-speed chase that began near Sunset Boulevard and Rosemont Street in Echo Park about 6 p.m. PDT Tuesday, KABC-TV, Los Angeles, reported.

Schlesinger drove through red lights, cut through gas stations, struck at least one car and nearly hit pedestrians in a crosswalk, but there were no reports of injuries to civilians or police, the TV station said.

Schlesinger, a suspect in a homicide and a series of armed robberies, was driving a car he had stolen at gunpoint, police said. The car was hit at the intersection of Bixel and Eighth streets, where Schlesinger stumbled out of the vehicle holding the assault rifle and fired several shots at police before he was taken down by gunfire and subdued by the dog.

Schlesinger was hospitalized for treatment of gunshot wounds to his lower extremities and his head, authorities said.

No police officers were injured in the incident, officials said.

Los Angeles police shot and killed Schlesinger's brother, Jack Schlesinger, a parolee, in September 2010 after he allegedly brandished an assault rifle during a traffic stop, the Los Angeles Times said.


Romney 'can't imagine' shunning Netanyahu

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney Wednesday said he "can't imagine ever saying no" to a meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Romney's comment was in response to reports President Obama refused a face-to-face meeting with Netanyahu, talking to him by phone Tuesday night about Iran's nuclear enrichment program, CNN said.

Campaigning in Jacksonville, Florida, Romney said he was dismayed the administration allegedly turned down a request by Netanyahu to meet with the president saying, "I can't imagine ever saying no [to meeting Netanyahu]. They're our friends. They're our closest allies in the Middle East."

Romney also criticized Obama for what he said was showing sympathy for the attackers who killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in an overnight attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The White Tuesday said in a statement Tuesday Netanyahu had not requested a meeting and no meeting had been refused. The Israeli leader is scheduled to visit New York later this month to address the U.N. General Assembly, CNN reported.

Obama and Netanyahu spoke Tuesday night about stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, the White House said.

The leaders also discussed their "close cooperation" in dealing with Iran's nuclear program.

The call came after Netanyahu said the Obama administration had no "moral right" to restrain Israel from taking unilateral military action against Iran if the White House refused to set clear "red lines" on Iran's nuclear progress that would prompt a U.S. military strike.

"Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel," Netanyahu told reporters in Jerusalem.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday Washington was "not setting deadlines" beyond which it would turn to military action.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland added Monday it was "not useful" to be "setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines."

Washington says it has no firm evidence Iran has decided to build a bomb. Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.


Little progress in Chicago teachers strike

CHICAGO, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Little progress was reported Wednesday on ending a strike by Chicago public school teachers, with school officials sniping at the union.

"Yesterday, our negotiations were characterized as silly," said administrator Barbara Byrd-Bennett before negotiations resumed as teachers walked picket lines for the third day.

Byrd-Bennett, the district's chief education adviser, told reporters she was dismayed that Teacher's Union President Karen Lewis had told a union rally she had to return to the bargaining table for "the silly part" of her day.

"I can share with you and the larger community, that it's all but silly," Byrd-Bennett told the Chicago Tribune. "We take these negotiations serious."

Negotiators met for 10 hours Tuesday and Lewis slipped out a back exit to address a union march and rally that snarled traffic downtown before the evening rush hour.

Byrd-Bennett said the strike was causing hardship for parents who have to find childcare and student-athletes who are missing practices and games.

Lewis said union negotiators had received and reviewed a proposed contract package from the board late Tuesday and said there had been "some movement forward."

Major sticking points in the talks include the issue of recalling teachers who might be affected by future school closings.

Chicago has the nation's third largest public school system with 350,000 students and more than 29,000 teachers.


North Korea rejects South's offer of aid

SEOUL, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- North Korea, reported to be in dire need of help from flooding following a typhoon, Wednesday rejected an offer of aid from South Korea.

Tropical Storm Bolaven killed at least 48 people and left thousands homeless when it hit the country in August, CNN reported.

Heavy rains in late July also killed at least 169 people, the state-run North Korean media agency said.

South Korea offered aid last week, and the North asked for a list of aid items that would be sent.

On Tuesday, the South Korean Unification Ministry sent the list, which it said included 10,000 tons of flour, 3 million packages of instant noodles, medical supplies and other aid.

North Korea replied "they don't need such aid," the ministry said.

Seoul offered similar aid last year of instant noodles and biscuit, but North Korea also turned that down, saying it needed rice and cement.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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