Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi making first visit to White House

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is making an in-person appeal to President Obama on Tuesday for more help defeating the Islamic State militants, hoping recent gains in the fight will encourage more investment from a war-weary United States. Seven months after al-Abadi’s election raised hope in Washington for Iraq’s future, he’s making his first visit to the Oval Office. Al-Abadi told reporters Monday that the increase in U.S. airstrikes, weapons deliveries and training has helped roll back Islamic State forces, but he needs greater support from the international coalition to “finish” them. “We want to see more,” he said. The White House signaled that more aid could be coming. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden touted momentum in the fight against the Islamic State, and White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, “If there are specific ideas that Prime Minister Abadi has for stepped-up assistance, then we’ll obviously consider them seriously.” “This is a partnership that the United States is obviously invested in,” Earnest told reporters Monday. “And our success in working with an inclusive Iraqi government has been important to some of the security gains that Iraq has realized against ISIL in the last few months.” Earlier this month, Iraqi forces and allied Shiite militias, backed by U.S. airstrikes, were able to recapture the city of Tikrit from the Sunni militants in what was the government’s first major victory in Iraq’s Sunni heartland. “More efforts to organize, arm and integrate the Sunnis willing to fight ISIL are going to be needed in the months ahead to liberate Anbar and Mosul,” the Islamic State’s stronghold, Biden said in a speech Thursday at National Defense University previewing al-Abadi’s visit. Biden joked that he’s spent more time on the phone with the prime minister talking over the issues than Continue Reading

Arkansas woman sends sheriff’s deputies to save cats after house fire — and they find meth instead

Being a cat lady was the least of this Arkansas woman’s issues. Alice Mildred Barron was arrested after she begged sheriff's deputies to save her cats after her home burned – and they found a stash of drugs instead. Officers arrived at Barron's house in Greene County on Saturday to find her "in the front yard rocking, uncontrollably screaming to save her babies," KAIT reported. They managed to calm her down, and she explained her "babies" were three cats she feared had died in the blaze. Greene County Sheriff’s Office deputies were able to put out the flames, and then searched the property for the cats. Instead, they allegedly discovered meth, prescription pills and drug paraphernalia in Barron's bedroom. The cats survived the fire, BuzzFeed reported. The extent of the damage caused wasn't clear. During questioning, Barron told deputies she didn't know why she'd started using meth again because she'd been clean for more than a decade. She was arrested on two felony drug charges. Follow on Twitter @lee_moran Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

California girl, 13, bravely fights off man who followed her from school, attacked her inside house: cops

A suspected pervert who followed a 13-year-old girl home from school and then tried to sexually assault her inside her own house has been arrested, police in California said. Mohammad Khaliqi, 31, was collared Friday morning in the sinister San Jose attack Tuesday, which police say followed another similar attack in a grocery store's restroom last month. In that sexual assault a 28-year-old woman said she was ambushed by the same man before he managed to escape. The slimy suspect's capture came after video showed him appearing to follow a girl home and then force his way inside after her. In the video the brave teen is able to withstand his physical advance while seen briefly pinned in a corner. Audio from the video further captured the suspect’s phone clicking as if he’s taking pictures, and the girl told KNTV he recorded the incident and said sexual things as he forced himself on her. "I had to fight this guy and I'm thinking, 'Help me, help me please.' That was actually the only thing that was going through my mind," the courageous eighth-grade student told the NBC affiliate. The girl was able to separate herself from the thinly built attacker, who looked around the front foyer briefly before walking out the door. The victim rushed to shut and lock the door before “running to the best hiding spot I could find” and texting her father, she told the station. "Daddy come home now. Some guy tried to rape me," she texted her dad from a closet, the girl told Bay City News. “I just really hope we can catch him,” the traumatized teen said. The attacker stank strongly of cologne or booze, she told cops.  Khaliqi was booked into the Santa Clara County jail for multiple counts of burglary, attempted sexual assault and false imprisonment. ON A MOBILE DEVICE?  WATCH VIDEO HERE. Continue Reading

Housing regulation is an immigrant issue, advocates say

His landlord recently gut-renovated apartments on the second floor, installing stainless steel appliances. But Brooklyn carpenter Israel Barrionuevo’s rent-stabilized home has bugs, leaky sinks and a moldy bathroom ceiling. “The conditions are really ugly, but we don’t have anywhere to go,” said Barrionuevo, 55, who has five kids. He believes repairs are being neglected so that his family, paying $1,420 a month for a two-bedroom on the first floor, will leave the building on Greene Ave. in Bushwick. A renovated apartment on the second floor of his building was listed for $2,000 in February. “They want us to leave the apartment,” he said. Barrionuevo’s landlord did not return a request for comment. As Albany takes up housing legislation that’s set to expire, Barrionuevo and other immigrant members of the advocacy group Make the Road New York are coming forward to cast strengthening rent laws as an immigrant issue. The group will release a report on the issue this week and plans a march over the Brooklyn Bridge on Thursday, calling for reforms and an end to rules allowing landlords of rent-regulated buildings to bump rent up more than 20% once a tenant leaves. Landlord groups, including the Rent Stabilization Association, say rules allowing them to raise rents are vital to help pay for repairs and maintenance. Immigrants are more likely than native-born New Yorkers to live in rent-regulated housing, according to the report. “This is the only vehicle that they have to be able to stay in the city and keep it relatively affordable,” said Make the Road co-executive director Javier Valdes. “The experience of our members is that you get two paychecks a month — one goes straight to rent,” he said. “It’s really something that is affecting the immigrant community deeply.” Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

New Jersey fire chief used station house computers to view and trade more than 1,000 child porn videos and pics: prosecutor

A southern New Jersey fire chief used a fire house computer to look at and share more than one thousand images and videos of child pornography with other perverts, the state’s attorney general said. John Terruso, 44, was busted at the Audubon Park Volunteer Fire Company station Wednesday night after a lengthy investigation into the Marlton man’s use of a peer-to-peer file-sharing network to traffic in the disturbing images. “We charge that Terruso sordidly abused the trust placed in him as fire chief by viewing and sharing child pornography at the fire station,” Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said in a statement. “In doing so, he allegedly linked himself to the depraved network of offenders who, by sharing child pornography, perpetually re-victimize the children involved and directly motivate those who sexually exploit and torture children to create these vile materials.” An agent working for the ICE Homeland Security Investigations team in Newark first tracked Terruso’s electronic trail after he was able to download a video from the chief’s shared computer folder of a man raping a prepubescent girl, according to the statement. Other images and videos showed minor boys having sex with each other and men raping boys, the statement says. Terruso’s Marlton home, about 15 miles east of Philadelphia, sits right next to an elementary school, sickening neighbors, according to WPVI-TV. “It’s scary and shocking. Did he purposely buy this house because it’s right next to a school?” one neighbor said. “That’s really disgusting.” Investigators seized four laptops, two external hard drives, a tablet, thumb drives and cell phones during the fire house search. Terruso had porn videos, in plain sight, jammed between the front seats of his work van, which was parked outside the Audubon Park fire station, Continue Reading

John Boehner to announce House investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email at State Department: report

House Speaker John Boehner will announce this week an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of personal email during her tenure as secretary of state, according to a new bombshell report. According to ABC News, which cited top House Republicans as its sources, the investigation is expected to focus on Clinton’s decision to delete more than 30,000 of those emails — which she deemed private — without telling anyone from the State Department or Obama administration. Clinton last week, in her first public statement on the growing controversy of her use of personal email during her stint as the nation’s top diplomat, revealed that the server she used for her account contained more than 30,000 personal, non-work related emails and that she had deleted them because they were private in nature. As examples, Clinton said some of the deleted emails were related to planning the wedding of her daughter Chelsea, funeral arrangements for her mother and her yoga routines and preferences. ABC News said it had been briefed by top Republicans on the coming investigation but had no additional details. Clinton, who is expected to announce a 2016 presidential bid as early as next month, has found herself embroiled in another potential scandal, as questions remain over why she used only a personal email account — based on a computer server run out of her house in Chappaqua, N.Y. — for all official correspondence at the State Department. Last week, she claimed that she simply “saw it as a matter of convenience” to use one account and that she “fully complied with every rule” she was governed by that pertained to disclosure and security compliance. Clinton has said she wants the public to have access to all of her remaining emails and has asked the State Department to release them, but she also told reporters she would not turn over her private server for examination by congressional Continue Reading

Non-profit housing homeless, ex-cons denied temporary restraining order to stop city from adding sex offenders

A non-profit that houses the homeless and ex-cons while providing them jobs and assistance was denied a temporary restraining order Thursday to stop the city from “swapping” their residents with sex offenders. The Doe Fund Inc., which houses the needy in the Porter Shelter, was shocked to learn that the Department of Homeless Services is planning to transfer 36 sex offenders — violating their $157 million contract, according to a petition filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Wednesday. “After the rape in Kips Bay and the horrendous murder of Ana Charle in the Bronx, the city is trying to put off these sex offenders on us and we don’t have the services or security for them,” said Alexander Horwitz, Director of External Affairs for the Doe Fund. On April 11, Rodney Stover, a homeless sex-offender ex-con was charged with raping a woman inside of the Turnmill Bar on E. 27th St. That same month, West Spruill, an ex-con, was arrested for the attempted raped and murder of Charle, who managed the shelter where he used to live. The Doe Fund entered into a 17-year contract with the city in 2012 to operate the Williamsburg location where 400 beds — 138 reserved for homeless veterans — are provided and has residents that participate in the Ready, Willing & Able (RWA) work and training program. “DHS thinks that since we have a contract with them that they can just swap our people with sex offenders, but we won’t serve them, because our mission doesn't serve them,” said Horwitz. According to the Doe Fund's website, their mission is to develop and implement cost-effective programs that meet the needs of a diverse population working to break the cycles of homelessness, addiction and crime. In light of the Stover case, the city is not only moving all registered sex offenders to compliant shelters, they plan on increasing the budget for security by $10 Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: NYPD will be able to track fugitives who drive past license plate readers across the U.S.

The NYPD will soon be able to find out, within minutes, if a fugitive in scores of cities across the country drives past a license plate reader, the Daily News has learned. Detectives could “virtually stake out a location,” tech company Vigilant Solutions said, if a three-year, $442,500 contract is approved by the city in the coming weeks. If the license plate passes one of Vigilant’s readers, the NYPD detectives assigned to the case will get a real-time alert and can then contact their counterparts in that city. In a report prepared for the NYPD, Vigilant says it has thus far logged 2.2 billion license plate detections from cities nationwide, and that it can provide investigators a sense of where the suspect might be, based on locations and times when the vehicle passed its plate readers. Livermore, Calif.-based Vigilant also has software to help investigators create what it calls an “associate analysis” — the plates “from vehicles commonly seen in close proximity to the known suspect.” “These could be possible associates of the suspect or, conversely, could be used to establish premeditation or stalking of a victim,” the report says. What are believed to be license plate readers are seen on the Brooklyn Bridge (left) and Manhattan Bridge (right). The NYPD has been accumulating license plate information since 2007 with the assistance of Elsag North America, which is based upstate and is in the middle of its second $6 million contract with the city, said Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis, the department’s top spokesman. The readers were first installed in 2007 as part of the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, a counterterror effort to secure downtown streets. Other readers are affixed to patrol cars. But the NYPD won't say how many plate readers it has or how many plates have been scanned into its database, though a 2013 report Continue Reading

WATCH: HBO’s John Oliver blasts South Carolina for flying Confederate flag at the state house

Add John Oliver to the growing list of critics calling on South Carolina to stop flying the Confederate flag at the state house. The comedian and host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight" blasted the state for allowing the symbol, viewed by many as racist,to fly at the building in Columbia — particularly in the afternath of the murder ofnine black worshippersinside Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston last week. Accused gunman Dylann Roof was reportedly motivated to commit the crime by the white supremacist beliefs heexpressed in a hate-filled manifesto discovered after the crime, including his contention that he "had no choice" but to kill the black churchgoers. OBAMA: PUT THE CONFEDERATE FLAG IN A MUSEUM Oliver began his show by pointing out little has been done to address gun control laws despite a number of high profile mass killings, but he quickly shifted his analysis, focusing on a "symbol" that he said represents the racist attitudes in the South that could have contributed to this tragedy. Oliver said that South Carolina and other states that fly the flag immediately take it down. He also suggested where they could put it. Fold it, or don't bother, put it in a box, label it bad flag and put it somewhere no one can see it. "Fold it, or don't bother, put it in a box, label it 'bad flag' and put it somewhere no one can see it," he said as his audience cheered. "Just a thought. It's just a simple, good thought." The host said now would be a good time, "out of respect not just for the events of this week, but for the events of the past several centuries," he said. "The Confederate flag is one of those symbols that should really only be seen on T-shirts, belt buckles and bumper stickers to help the rest of us identify the worst people in the world," he said. He also disputed the notion that the flag is merely a symbol of history. "I believe the first time the Confederate flag was used in a racist way was the Continue Reading

Transgender woman accused of burning ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ house pleads not guilty

A transgender woman accused of setting fire to her plastic surgeon’s home — the San Francisco house featured in “Mrs. Doubtfire” — believes she won’t receive a fair trial because of her gender identity. Tyqwon Eugene Welch is charged with setting fire to the famous house on Jan. 5. She has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, burning an inhabited dwelling, trespassing and related charges, according to the Bay Area Reporter. The famous house belongs to Douglas Ousterhout, a 79-year-old surgeon who specializes in facial feminization. He performed the $45,000 procedure on Welch last year and claimed she torched his home because she was unhappy with the outcome. Welch denied all charges against her and said she feels “pre-judged” because of her gender identity. “Who are they going to believe?" she asked during a jailhouse interview with the newspaper: a transgender 26-year-old or a revered doctor. She continued: “I'm a good person. I didn't do any of that stuff.” Welch said she first met Ousterhout last year last June when she went to him for surgery. He talked her into more extensive procedures than what she originally wanted, she said, but “nothing we discussed came out right.” She said her hairline — which was supposed to look more feminine — looked more harsh and masculine. There is also a gap in her jaw where Ousterhout took out too much bone, she said. Ousterhout said Welch soon asked him for a refund, but the doctor denied the request. Then, just after noon on Jan. 5, Ousterhout spotted Welch outside his house, he testified earlier this month. She was holding his mail and then she asked for his checkbook. Ousterhout eventually got his former patient to leave, he said. Later that night, the doctor said he was home alone when he smelled gasoline. He opened the front door and found his Continue Reading