Tuesday, March 3
Congress sends Homeland bill to Obama without conditions
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is sending President Barack Obama a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the budget year, without overturning the president's immigration policies.
The House on Tuesday voted 257-167 for the measure that Obama is expected to sign. Without action, funding for the department would have expired Friday at midnight.
The outcome was a victory for Obama and Democrats, and a defeat for the GOP strategy of trying to overturn Obama's executive actions on immigration by linking them to funding for Homeland.
Republicans were unable to overcome united opposition from Senate Democrats to their strategy. They also suffered embarrassing internal divisions that left the country within hours of a partial agency shutdown last week.
Pelosi, Democrats furious over Netanyahu 'condescension'
WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi says she was so upset she was near tears during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress about the threat posed by Iran.
The California congresswoman and other Democrats said the prime minister's speech was condescending to the Congress in the way he described the threat posed to the Jewish state. Several Democrats said he seemed to be lecturing Americans.
The relationship between the two nations traditionally has been bipartisan. Several times during the address, Pelosi threw up her hands and appeared to vent to her Democratic colleagues.
Democrats had accused House Speaker John Boehner of showing disrespect by inviting the prime minister without first notifying President Barack Obama. They said the address was inappropriate coming only a few weeks before the Israeli elections.
Obama: Netanyahu offers no viable alternative to Iran talks
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH'-hoo) didn't offer any "viable alternatives" to the nuclear negotiations with Iran during his speech to Congress.
Obama says he read a transcript of Netanyahu's speech Tuesday. He says "there was nothing new" in the speech.
Obama says Netanyahu made almost the same speech when he warned against the interim deal reached with Iran. Obama says that deal has resulted in a freeze and rolling back of Iran's nuclear program.
Obama says Netanyahu's alternative to the talks amounts to no deal at all. He says that would lead Iran to redouble efforts to build a nuclear bomb.
In his speech, Netanyahu said the deal would all but guarantee that Iran gets nuclear weapons.
Obama spoke in the Oval Office alongside Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
KILLINGS BY POLICE-FERGUSON
Official: US report finds racial bias in Ferguson police
WASHINGTON (AP) — A law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that a Justice Department investigation has found patterns of racial bias in the Ferguson, Missouri, police department and at the municipal jail and court.
The official says the investigation found that officers disproportionately used excessive force against blacks and too often charged them with petty offenses. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak on the record before the full report was released.
The official says the report will allege direct evidence of racial bias among police officers and court workers and a system that prioritizes generating revenue from fines over public safety.
The full report could be released as soon as Wednesday.
The Justice Department began the civil rights investigation following the August shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, by a white police officer.
SKID ROW POLICE SHOOTING
Official: Homeless man killed by police did time for robbery
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A law enforcement official says a homeless man killed on Skid Row by Los Angeles police had been released last May from a federal prison after serving roughly 14 years for bank robbery.
The man was identified Tuesday as Charley Saturmin Robinet by the official who had been briefed but was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Robinet was a French national who was convicted in 2000 of three federal charges for holding up a Wells Fargo branch and pistol-whipping an employee to pay for acting classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.
Federal prison records show he was released on May 12.
Robinet was killed Sunday after a confrontation with police. Police say he tried to grab a probationary officer's gun and three officers fatally shot him.
Georgia temporarily halts executions to examine drug
JACKSON, Ga. (AP) — Corrections officials in Georgia have temporarily halted all planned executions to give the state time to analyze a drug that prompted the last-minute postponement of an execution.
Kelly Renee Gissendaner was set to be executed Monday at 7 p.m. Corrections postponed it "out of an abundance of caution" because the pentobarbital meant for the execution appeared cloudy.
The Department of Corrections said in a news release Tuesday that it would postpone the execution of Gissendaner and Brian Keith Terrell, who was set to die next week.
NEW: Lawyer: Jury at impasse in Arias case; judge says keep going
PHOENIX (AP) — A lawyer for Jodi Arias says jurors at her sentencing retrial are at an impasse over whether to sentence the convicted murderer to life in prison or death for the 2008 killing of her lover.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens denied a request Tuesday by Arias' attorneys for a mistrial and instead read additional jury instructions and told the panel to resume deliberations.
Jurors have deliberated about 17 hours over four days.
Arias attorney Kirk Nurmi said in court that jurors were at an impasse, though the judge and prosecutor Juan Martinez never said in open court that jurors had reached an impasse.
Arias was convicted of first-degree murder in 2013, but jurors deadlocked on her punishment.
Islamic State group releases 4 more Christian hostages
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian activists say the Islamic State group has released four more Christian hostages from dozens who were abducted by the extremists last week.
The four hostages — a married couple, a woman and a 6-year-old girl — were released on Tuesday evening in northeastern Syria.
The Assyrian rights group Demand for Action and Edmond Gabriel, chairman of the Assyrian Charitable Association, say the reasons for the release of the four were not immediately clear.
Earlier this week, the Islamic State group released 19 Assyrian hostages after an IS Shariah court ordered them to pay an unspecified amount as a traditional tax on non-Muslims.
At least 190 Assyrian Christians remain captives of the Islamic State group, which overran several Christian villages in Syria's eastern Hassakeh province.
US commander: arming Ukraine would boost pressure on Putin
BERLIN (AP) — The commander of U.S. Army Europe says there's no expectation Ukraine could defeat Russia militarily if given American weapons, but that they would add "muscle" to diplomatic efforts.
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said Tuesday in Berlin that helping Ukraine with weapons would increase the stakes for Russian President Vladimir Putin at home. He added that "when mothers start seeing sons come home dead, when that price goes up, then that domestic support begins to shrink." He said Ukraine wants "is intelligence, counter-fire capability and something that can stop a Russian tank."
The White House still hasn't decided whether to send arms to Ukraine, and Hodges reiterated the U.S. was looking for a diplomatic solution.
Hodges estimated Russia has 29,000 troops in Crimea and 12,000 in eastern Ukraine.
Stocks fall, a day after Nasdaq hits 5,000
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes are closing slightly lower, pulling the Nasdaq composite index back below 5,000.
The decline Tuesday came a day after the Nasdaq closed above that milestone for the first time since the dot-com era 15 years ago.
The Nasdaq declined 28 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,979.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 85 points, or 0.5 percent, to 18,203. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost nine points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,107.
The Dow and S&P 500 closed at record highs the day before.
Energy stocks rose as the price of oil recovered. Utilities also rose, but the other eight S&P 500 sectors fell.
Ford lost 2.4 percent after reporting lower sales last month as dealers couldn't keep up with demand for the new F-150 pickup.
Obama announces new education effort to 'let girls learn'
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has announced a new government-wide initiative to help millions of girls around the world attend and stay school.
His wife, Michelle, will also visit Japan and Cambodia in a few weeks to promote it.
Obama says more than 60 million girls worldwide do not attend school.
He says every girl has value and that not getting an education limits their advancement opportunities and makes them more vulnerable to societal ills.
Under what's being called "Let Girls Learn," a range of existing government programs will be tied together under a single, coordinated strategy.
Separately, the Peace Corps and Mrs. Obama's office will work together on a new program to highlight community-based solutions to help girls attend and finish school.