In our news wrap Friday, Thailand’s ousted prime minister was detained and 150 political leaders were barred from leaving the country. In response, the U.S. suspended $3.5 million in military aid to Thailand. Also, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told CBS News it would be premature to fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki over allegations of delayed care.
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The embattled secretary of veterans affairs, Eric Shinseki, won support today from a fellow Cabinet member amid a growing scandal. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said it is premature to talk of firing Shinseki over allegations of delayed care at VA hospitals.
He told CBS News the focus should be on how to fix the problem. There have been growing demands from both Republicans and Democrats for Shinseki to resign. Secretary Hagel also urged the newest crop of Navy and Marine officers today to lead the fight against sexual abuse in the military. He addressed the U.S. Naval Academy commencement and noted three Navy football players had been accused, at one point, of assaulting a female classmate, who graduated today.
CHUCK HAGEL, Defense Secretary:
You have seen what these crimes do to the survivors, their families, institutions, and communities. You know how they tear people and units apart. We’re all accountable, from new recruits to four-star admirals and generals, from second lieutenants to the secretary of defense. We all have to step up and take action when we see something that hurts our people and our values.
Hagel also told the graduates they will need to lead people suffering from mental health problems from the Iran and Afghan wars. He said those veterans should be embraced, not stigmatized.
Thailand’s military tightened its grip on the country today. Ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was summoned by the military chief, and then detained. And more than 150 political leaders were barred from leaving the country. Later, soldiers moved in and broke up a large crowd that gathered in the center of Bangkok to protest the coup. The army seized power yesterday after months of political unrest. In response today, the United States suspended $3.5 million in military aid to Thailand.
China warned Japan today to stay out of a growing row in the South China Sea. The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, had criticized China for moving a giant oil rig into waters that Vietnam claims. Beijing rejected Abe’s statement, saying it neglects reality and confuses the facts.
In Syria, government TV reported 39 people died and 200 were hurt when a mortar shell hit an election rally for President Bashar al-Assad. It happened overnight in the Southern city of Daraa. Assad wasn’t there, but scores of people were wounded. Meanwhile, opposition activists released this video allegedly showing a chlorine gas attack yesterday at a village north of Damascus. The Assad regime denies using chemical weapons.
President Obama announced a new shuffle in his Cabinet today. He nominated Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan to head the White House Office of Management and Budget. And he tapped three-term San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro as Donovan’s successor at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:
I am absolutely confident that these two individuals are going to do a great job, because they have done a great job in everything that they have done in the past. They are proven leaders. They’re proven managers. They’re going to be effective and, most importantly, they have got huge heart. They’re involved in public service for the right reasons.
The two nominations are subject to Senate confirmation.
The most senior black lawmaker in Congress, John Conyers, is back on the ballot in Michigan. A federal judge ordered today that the veteran Democrat’s name will appear for the August primary. State elections officials had ruled Conyers ineligible because of problems with his nominating petitions. He’s been in the House since 1965.
Wall Street had a relatively quiet day, going into the Memorial Day weekend. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 63 points to close at 16,606. The Nasdaq rose 31 points to close well over 4,185. And the S&P 500 added eight to finish above 1,900 for the first time. For the week, the Dow gained just over half-a-percent. The Nasdaq rose more than 2 percent. And the S&P was up 1 percent.