In our news wrap Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that they found insufficient evidence to charge George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin in a civil rights case. Also, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald apologized for falsely claiming he had served in the special forces.
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There will be no federal civil rights charges in the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin. The Justice Department said they found insufficient evidence against George Zimmerman, who shot Martin, an unarmed black teenager in Sanford, Florida.
But, in a statement, Attorney General Eric Holder said:
“Martin’s premature death necessitates that we be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface.”
Zimmerman, who pleaded self-defense, was acquitted of second-degree murder the next year. Civil rights investigations continue into two other racially-charged cases, the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
The secretary of Veterans Affairs apologized again today for falsely saying he served in the U.S. Special Forces. Robert McDonald made the claim last month in Los Angeles, telling a homeless veteran that, like him, he, too, had been in Special Forces. McDonald apologized for the misstatement today.
ROBERT MCDONALD, Secretary of Veterans Affairs:
In an attempt to connect with that veteran, to make him feel comfortable, I incorrectly stated that I, too, had been in Special Forces. That was wrong. And I have no excuse.
McDonald did serve as a paratrooper and qualified to be an Army Ranger, but he was never part of elite special forces units. The White House said it takes McDonald at his word, and doesn’t expect the incident to harm his work on veterans’ issues.
A commuter train outside Los Angeles smashed into an abandoned truck early today and derailed. At least 28 people were taken to hospitals, some with critical injuries. The fiery wreck happened about 65 miles northwest of the city. Three of the Metrolink cars landed on their sides. The truck was scorched and cut in two. The truck driver turned up later. Police said he got tuck on the tracks and could not move the truck in time.
The head of the Federal Reserve has signaled again there’s no immediate plan to raise interest rates. Instead, Janet Yellen told a Senate hearing today that the Central Bank will be patient. She said policy-makers on the Federal Open Market Committee are monitoring inflation and the job market.
JANET YELLEN, Chair, Federal Reserve:
The FOMC’s assessment that it can be patient in beginning to normalize policy means that the committee considers it unlikely that economic conditions will warrant an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate for at least the next couple of FOMC meetings.
Also today, Greece staved off bankruptcy, as European creditors agreed to extend its bailout by four months. That came after the new Greek government pledged to fight corruption and guaranteed new social spending will not bust its budget.
Bombers struck with deadly effect today in two widely separated countries. In Iraq, at least 40 people died in car bombings and other attacks in and near Baghdad. Islamic State militants were suspected. And suicide bombers in Nigeria killed at least 26 people. Authorities blamed Boko Haram.
Also in Nigeria, an American missionary, Reverend Phyllis Sortor, was kidnapped last night. The Free Methodist church said she was taken from a school compound in Kogi state, possibly for ransom.
And Islamic State forces have abducted at least 70 Christians in Northeastern Syria. The captives are part of an Assyrian minority that goes back to ancient times.
The Obama administration today defended its nuclear negotiations with Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry told a Senate hearing that U.S. policy remains the same. Iran, he said, will not get a nuclear weapon. He spoke amid reports of a potential deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear activities for 10 years, then slowly ease the curbs.
JOHN KERRY, Secretary of State:
Anybody running around right now jumping in to say, well, we don’t like the deal or this or that doesn’t know what the deal is. And there is no deal yet. And I caution people to wait and see what these negotiations produce.
The White House also dismissed reports that it’s negotiating a 10-year deal with Tehran.
The percentage of Americans who lack health insurance has dipped to its lowest point in seven years. The drop last year, shown in a new Gallup-Healthways survey, came as President Obama’s health care overhaul took full effect. More than half of those who are still uninsured said they plan to get coverage, rather than pay penalties.
On Wall Street today, the news on interest rates and Greece helped push stocks higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 90 points to close above 18200. The Nasdaq rose seven points on the day. And the S&P 500 added nearly six.