Review Category : Top Stories

John Kirby Stepping Down As Pentagon Press Secretary

DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz(WASHINGTON) — Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby announced during his briefing on Wednesday that he will be stepping down in a few weeks.

At his just-concluded Pentagon briefing, Kirby acknowledged that he would be leaving the post of press secretary in a few weeks. The news had broken in the New York Times just moments before the briefing began.

When asked on Wednesday if it was his last briefing, Kirby said he did not know. “It could be. I don’t know. It’s going to just depend on the — you know, the weekly scheduling,” he said.

Kirby said on Wednesday that Ash Carter hasn’t made a decision yet as to who will succeed him.

It wasn’t until the end of the briefing that Kirby was asked if Carter did not want a military officer in the role of press secretary.

“He comes to the job wanting to revisit the role of spokesman here,” said Kirby. “And one of the questions he wants to rhetorically ask and consider, is not just who the individual is but what that individual represents. And whether it’s appropriate or not to have a uniform up here.”

Kirby added those were “fair questions to ask as he comes onto the job.”

Kirby took a while when asked if he’d ever found himself in the uncomfortable position of having to defend an administration policy as a uniformed officer.

He finally answered that incidents like that had been far and few, which he attributed to Pentagon reporting being less political than other parts of town.

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How Astronauts Prepare for a Space Walk at the International Space Station

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — American astronauts Barry Wilmore and Terry Virts are preparing for their first space walk of Expedition 42 when the duo step outside the International Space Station on Friday.

How does an astronaut prepare for a space walk? Practice.

Terry Virts, who will be taking the first space walk of his career on Friday, tweeted a photo of himself trying out the suit he’ll use when he and Wilmore embark on their six-and-a-half hour space walk. It will be Wilmore’s second space walk.

The duo will be working on new docking ports for future spacecraft that will arrive at the station. Friday’s space walk is one of three that are scheduled to complete assembly work outside of the station.

NASA said Wednesday that the duo had inspected their rescue jet packs, which would be used in the unlikely event that either astronaut became untethered from the space station.

Virts, who is one of the most active tweeters at the International Space Station, also shared a snap of himself hooked up to various health monitors doing a routine health check-in before his big day.

Periodic Fitness Evaluation- riding the bike with a heart rate monitor, EKG, and blood pressure machine hooked up pic.twitter.com/m1EV8zGzlr

— Terry W. Virts (@AstroTerry) February 17, 2015

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Jeb Bush in First Foreign Policy Address: ‘I Am My Own Man’

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(CHICAGO) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday gave his first foreign policy address since indicating he is exploring a 2016 run for the White House, and aimed to distinguish himself from his brother and father — both former presidents.

Bush told attendees at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that he is “fortunate to have a father and a brother who both have shaped America’s foreign policy from the Oval Office.”

“I recognize that as a result, my views will often be held up in comparison to theirs,” he said. “In fact, this is a great fascinating thing in the political world for some reason, sometimes in contrast to theirs. Look, just for the record, one more time, I love my brother, I love my dad, actually I love my mother as well, I hope that’s OK and I admire their service to the nation and the difficult decisions they had to make. But I am my own man and my views are shaped by my own thinking and my own experiences. Each president learns from those who came before — their principles, their adjustments. One thing we know is this: Every president inherits a changing world and changing circumstances.”

Bush continued, noting in 1991 during the “Gulf War time frame” when his father was in office, that “hardly anyone knew the Internet existed or who al Qaeda was,” and in 2003, when his brother was in the White House “at the beginning of the liberation of Iraq, neither Twitter nor ISIS existed.”

“New circumstances require new approaches,” he said.

Despite that distinction, he did acknowledge that he “grew up politically I guess in the ‘80s, where I got to watch Ronald Reagan and my dad with incredible people serving by their side…and the slogan that I think drove the foreign policy of the ‘80s was peace through strength.”

Bush spent most of his speech criticizing President Obama and his foreign policy, but he did note mistakes of “past presidents” without mentioning other names. He said U.S. presidents often mistake elections for democracy, mentioning Venezuela, Hamas and Hezbollah as examples.

Bush also noted “mistakes” were made in Iraq but said that his brother showed a “heroic act of courage” by implementing the 2007 troop surge, adding that the “void” filled by ISIS could have been prevented by Obama.

“There were mistakes made in Iraq for sure — using the intelligence capability that everyone embraced about weapons of mass destruction turned out not to be accurate, not creating an environment of security after the successful taking out of Hussein was a mistake because Iraqis wanted security more than anything else,” Bush said. “But my brother’s administration through the surge, which was one of the most heroic acts of courage politically that any president has done, because there was no support for it and it was hugely successful and it created a stability that when the new president came in he could have built on to create…a more stable situation that would not have allowed for the void to be filled, the void has been filled because we created the void.”

He warned that it is a “mistake to think that ISIS is not what it is, it’s violent extreme Islamic terrorism,” adding that to defeat them it’s necessary to “tighten the noose and take them out.”

“And the more we try to ignore that reality, the less likely it is that we are going to develop the appropriate strategy to garner the support of the Muslim world to do that,” he said.

An aide to Bush’s Right to Rise political action committee confirmed a group of 21 veteran foreign policy experts advising Bush, many of whom worked in the administrations of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

The group includes former secretaries of state James Baker, who served under George H.W. Bush, and George Shultz, who served under Ronald Reagan; two former secretaries of homeland security who served under George W. Bush: Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff; and two former CIA directors who also served under the later Bush presidency: Michael Hayden and Porter Goss.

Stephen Hadley, George W. Bush’s national security advisor, is on the list, as well as former Works Bank presidents Paul Wolfowitz and Robert Zoellick. John Negroponte, the first director of national intelligence has also been advising Jeb Bush, as has John Hannah, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former national security advisor, amongst others.

The former Florida governor’s aide describes the list as a “preliminary group of foreign policy experts” Bush will be “in touch with in coming months” to discuss “some of the challenges and opportunities on the foreign policy front.”

In his speech, Bush said “we definitely no longer inspire fear in our enemies,” saying the president’s administration “draw(s) red lines and then erase them, with grandiosity they announce resets and then disengage, hashtag campaigns replace actual diplomacy and engagement.”

“Weakness invites war, strength encourages peace,” Bush said.

Bush stuck to his previous stance on Cuba, but said the Obama administration “lobbed insults” at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As for Netanyahu’s speech to Congress next month, Bush said he is “for one really eager to hear what he has to say.”

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Westminster Dog Show’s Miss P Taking Applications for ‘Suitable Mates’

Andrew Toth/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — After Westminster Kennel Club winner Miss P enjoyed a steak on a silver platter, she’ll follow the route of her grand-uncle and 2008 “Best in Show” winner Uno: retirement.

Uno was the first beagle to win “Best in Show” in 2008. After hitting the top, Uno is living “happily in retirement,” Westminster director of communications David Frei said.

“He’s the king of a 200-acre ranch in Austin, Texas,” Frei said, adding that he last saw the nine-year old beagle and his owner in October.

“He’s living with a bunch of dogs, pygmy goats and longhorn cattle,” he said.

Uno had four owners in 2008, but now he is cared for by Caroline Dowell, who could not be reached for comment.

Uno’s grand-niece, Miss P, has already had a photo shoot on top of the Empire State building. She then headed to Sardi’s for the traditional winner’s meal in Manhattan. She will leave New York Thursday.

At 4 years old, Miss P is of average age in the dog show world, Frei said of the 20-time competition winner.

“After you win at Westminster, there’s nothing more for you to win. She retires from the dog show world, will have a litter or two and contribute to the health and well-being of the breed,” he said.

The last time a “Best in Show” dog returned for another win was the 1970s, which was unsuccessfully attempted again in 1993.

Frei said he didn’t know whether Uno sired puppies, the typical path of winners.

“That’s what dog shows are all about: identify breeding stocks and find us the next generation of healthy, happy dogs. I think we’ve well identified her [Miss P] as a superior breeding stock,” he said. “We’ll hopefully bring some great puppies in the world not only for the show world but someone’s couch at home.”

Frei said Miss P’s handler and owner will take applications for “suitable mates” for Miss P, based on bloodlines and pedigrees. But for now, Miss P fell asleep Wednesday on the way to Sardi’s.

“I’ve had her since 6:30 and she’s crashed on her way to the press conference,” Frei said. “She’s pacing herself.”

On Wednsday night, she will have a walk-on role in the musical Kinky Boots.

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Samsung Galaxy S6: You May Be Able to Charge It Anywhere

Samsung(NEW YORK) — Samsung is showing off its advances in wireless charging, weeks before the company is set to reveal “what’s next” at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The electronics company hasn’t revealed what is on the agenda, but the invitation included a shadowy profile shot of what appeared to be a curvy device — sparking the possibility that Samsung could unveil its Galaxy S6 smartphone with a design change on March 1.

The timing of a blog from Seho Park, Samsung’s principal engineer, has led to speculation that the new Galaxy S6 could include multiple wireless charging standards, allowing users to juice up their devices almost anywhere.

“Samsung will accelerate to democratize this wireless charging technology with compelling smartphones. With our upcoming Galaxy smartphones, users will be able to enter a new wireless world like never before,” Park wrote.

Given the release of a new chip last year to support multiple charging standards, Park said he expects 2015 will be a game-changing year for wireless smartphone charging.

“Two or three years ago, wireless charging was only twenty to thirty percent as fast as wired charging. But since then, we have been able to double the charging speed,” he wrote.

While Samsung hasn’t commented on whether the technology may be in the mystery product they’re set to unveil next month, the company’s Twitter dropped a big hint that consumers can expect something faster:

I discover more when I make fewer stops. I am #TheNextGalaxy. pic.twitter.com/6MjAnX8czj

— SamsungMobile (@SamsungMobile) February 17, 2015

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Samsung Galaxy S6: You May Be Able to Charge It Anywhere

Samsung(NEW YORK) — Samsung is showing off its advances in wireless charging, weeks before the company is set to reveal “what’s next” at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The electronics company hasn’t revealed what is on the agenda, but the invitation included a shadowy profile shot of what appeared to be a curvy device — sparking the possibility that Samsung could unveil its Galaxy S6 smartphone with a design change on March 1.

The timing of a blog from Seho Park, Samsung’s principal engineer, has led to speculation that the new Galaxy S6 could include multiple wireless charging standards, allowing users to juice up their devices almost anywhere.

“Samsung will accelerate to democratize this wireless charging technology with compelling smartphones. With our upcoming Galaxy smartphones, users will be able to enter a new wireless world like never before,” Park wrote.

Given the release of a new chip last year to support multiple charging standards, Park said he expects 2015 will be a game-changing year for wireless smartphone charging.

“Two or three years ago, wireless charging was only twenty to thirty percent as fast as wired charging. But since then, we have been able to double the charging speed,” he wrote.

While Samsung hasn’t commented on whether the technology may be in the mystery product they’re set to unveil next month, the company’s Twitter dropped a big hint that consumers can expect something faster:

I discover more when I make fewer stops. I am #TheNextGalaxy. pic.twitter.com/6MjAnX8czj

— SamsungMobile (@SamsungMobile) February 17, 2015

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Ukraine Village Pummeled, with Drone Photos as Evidence

iStock/Thinkstock(DEBALTSEVE, Ukraine) — After weeks of assault from the air, Debaltseve looks like a burned-out shell of a town.

Impact craters from heavy shelling pock the Ukrainian land. Several homes appear to lie in ruin, their roofs and walls collapsed or full of holes.

On Wednesday, Ukraine pulled its troops out of the strategic village in the rebel-held east, home to important railway infrastructure, after they were surrounded for days by Russian-backed rebel forces.

Despite a ceasefire agreed to last week, rebel forces continued to pound the village. Rebel leaders insisted that gains made before the ceasefire went into effect at midnight Sunday meant the village should be part of their territory because it was cut off from the rest of Ukraine.

At least 40 Ukrainian troops were killed and another 170 injured, according to the manager of the morgue in the nearby town of Artemivsk and a doctor at the hospital there.

Reporters who attempted to reach Debaltseve over the past week were turned back at checkpoints.

Now, thanks to drone footage uploaded to YouTube Wednesday, the world is getting its first glimpse of the damage from the air.

The village appears nearly abandoned, with only a couple cars visible along the roads.

The continued fighting there threatened to undermine the fragile peace deal.

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has painted the decision to cede Debaltseve as a strategic retreat, but leaders from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, the main rebel body in the region, declared victory.

The move comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin, long accused by the West and Ukraine’s government of arming and backing the rebels, urged President Poroshenko to pull out of Debaltseve.

“I hope that the responsible figures in the Ukrainian leadership will not hinder soldiers in the Ukrainian army from putting down their weapons,” Putin told reporters.

He suggested the rebels would allow that Ukrainian soldiers who turn themselves in to return to their families.

Putin also took something of a victory lap, gloating over the negotiated stalemate that many believe favors the rebels.

“To lose is always painful. It’s a hardship especially when you lose to yesterday’s miners and tractor drivers. But life is life,” he reportedly said.

The Ukrainian withdrawal from Debaltseve gave some hope that the ceasefire might hold a bit longer, but some fighting continues elsewhere.

Western journalists in Donetsk reported fresh sounds of shelling in central Donetsk, the rebel capital.

An ABC News reporter crossing from Donetsk through a Ukrainian checkpoint Wednesday witnessed artillery fire and was told it was aimed at the Donetsk airport.

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Scuba Divers Discover ‘Priceless’ Gold Coins in Israel

File photo. (robynmac/iStock/Thinkstock)(JERUSALEM) — Scuba divers off the coast of Israel have uncovered a treasure trove of solid gold coins dating back more than 1,000 years.

“The largest treasure of gold coins discovered in Israel was found in recent weeks on the seabed in the ancient harbor in Caesarea,” Israel’s Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

The authority said 2,000 gold coins were discovered by chance off the northern coastal city when members of a diving club stumbled upon them and informed the Antiquities Authority’s marine division.

“At first, they thought they had spotted a toy coin from a game,” the authority’s statement said. “It was only after they understood the coin was the real thing that they collected several coins and quickly returned to the shore in order to inform the director of the dive club about their find.”

Using metal detectors, the 2,000 coins were brought to the surface, weighing in at just more than 13 pounds. Experts believe the coins belonged to the Fatimid Caliphate, which ruled much of the Middle East and North Africa from 909 to 1171.

The earliest coin was minted in Palermo, Sicily in the second half of the 9th century.

Given the possibility of more buried coins in the area, archaeologists have launched further excavations.

“I’ve been working at the authority for 23 years and I’ve never seen a cache this size,” Antiquities Authority coin expert Robert Kool told Haaretz. “The preservation of the gold coins is excellent and although they were in the seabed for 1,000 years, they needed no cleaning or preservation in the lab. That is because gold is a noble metal, which is not impacted by water or air.”

The authority didn’t put a cash value on the coins. Instead, spokeswoman Yoli Schwartz described the record haul to AFP simply as “priceless.”

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“American Sniper” Trial: Sister Says Eddie Routh ‘Traded His Soul for a Pickup’

Kuzma/iStock/Thinkstock(STEPHENVILLE, Texas) — Accused killer Eddie Ray Routh seemed confused when he arrived at his sister’s home a few hours after allegedly shooting Chris Kyle and Chad Littlefield, Routh’s sister said Wednesday.

“He was talking about pigs sucking his soul,” Laura Blevins testified during the trial.

Routh’s sister and her husband Gaines Blevins were two of the witnesses the defense called to testify Wednesday morning in the double murder case. Kyle was a former Navy SEAL and the focus of the book and the movie American Sniper.

Laura and Gaines Blevins called 911 after Routh came to their Texas home on Feb. 2, 2013, and admitted killing the famed sniper and his friend at a gun range.

Laura Blevins said that she knew something was awry when her brother pulled up in a truck rather than his normal car, a Volkswagen Beetle that he had gotten painted to look like a ladybug.

The car he was driving on the evening of Feb. 2 was Kyle’s SUV that he allegedly stole while fleeing from the scene.

“He said he traded his soul for a pickup,” Laura Blevins said on the stand. “The person who came to my house is not who I know as my brother.”

Gaines Blevins said that Routh “said he took two souls before they could take his.” That claim is the same one Routh made again later that night to Texas Ranger Danny Briley, whose interrogation video was showed in court on Monday.

Wednesday marks the first full day of the defense’s case, and while they have never disputed that Routh killed Kyle and Littlefield, they are arguing that Routh was insane at the time of the shooting.

Under Texas law, that means that they will have to prove that Routh did not know what he was doing was wrong. He faces life in prison if found guilty.

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Kate Gosselin Dishes on Finding the Fountain of Youth

Mike Pont/NBC(NEW YORK) — Kate Gosselin’s youthful appearance has had viewers’ heads turning since the premiere of this season’s Celebrity Apprentice.

But according to E! News, the mom of eight revealed no surprising reasons behind her apparent transformation.

“I think when the world met me I was three days post having sextuplets, so the only place you can get from that point is younger,” Gosselin said on the Celebrity Apprentice finale red carpet Tuesday night.

“So It was really just eye-trickery, I think,” she continued. “You guys saw me at my worst first, and then I just kind of reversed in front of your eyes. It was nothing amazing, it was just, when you met me, who was that person?”

Gosselin currently stars in TLC’s reality show Kate Plus 8 along with her eight children.

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