Obama vows U.S. will not fight another ground war in Iraq

President Barack Obama vowed on Wednesday the United States will not fight another ground war in Iraq, seeking to reassure Americans about the level of U.S. involvement after a top general suggested some combat troops could be deployed.

Obama, who has spent much of his presidency distancing himself from the Iraq war, stressed during a speech at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa that airstrikes would be the central U.S. contribution to the fight against Islamic State, along with coordinating a coalition that he said now includes more than 40 countries.

"I want to be clear. The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission," Obama said.

His message came a day after General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, left the door slightly ajar to the possibility of some ground forces during congressional testimony that worried some Democrats.

"As your commander in chief I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq," Obama said.

Only 4 states will see cuts to food stamps

Cuts to the nation’s food stamp program enacted this year are only affecting four states, far from the sweeping overhaul that Republicans had pushed, an Associated Press review has found.

As a result, it’s unclear whether the law will realize the estimated $8.6 billion in savings over 10 years that the GOP had advertised.

A farm bill signed by President Barack Obama in February attempted to save money by scaling back what lawmakers called a loophole in the food stamp program that entitles low-income families to more food aid if they participate in a federal heating assistance program. States were giving some people as little as $1 a year in heating assistance so they could get more food aid. It’s called “heat and eat.”

Among the 16 states that allow the practice or some form of it, 12 governors have taken steps to avoid the food stamp cuts.

"Government’s role is to help people help themselves, and these steps are necessary to help our most vulnerable residents and families meet their most basic needs," Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said when he announced his state’s move earlier this year.

360 degrees views of abandoned buildings in Europe

These are the stunning 360 degree images of Europe’s abandoned buildings that will get your head in a spin. Sven Fennema, 33, captured the incredible shots, which include a forgotten villa and casino in northern Italy and abandoned churches in Poland.

The photographer, from Krefeld, near Dusseldorf, then transformed the stunning landmarks into eye-catching panoramic images. His images also include a panoramic view of a hotel ballroom belonging to an abandoned sanatorium in Germany and an old wintercircus in Belgium.

He said: “360 degree panoramas are dear to my heart because I am able to invite visitors to follow me interactively on one of my trips and to see where my works are created. “It is not possible to show these panoramic views as pictures in the classical way, because an interactive view is impossible.

Photography by Sven Fennema

Find more news related pictures on our photo galleries page.


Theater shooting victim's parents sue ammo seller

The parents of a woman killed in the Colorado theater shootings filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing four online retailers of improperly selling ammunition, tear gas, a high-capacity magazine and body armor used in the attack.

The lawsuit alleges it was illegal and negligent to sell the gear to James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and injuring 70 in the July 20, 2012, attack.

It says the companies had no safeguards to keep dangerous people from buying their goods.

"It was highly foreseeable to (the) defendants that their potential customers included persons with criminal intent, including persons such as James Holmes," the lawsuit says.

The suit was filed by Sandy and Lonnie Phillips of San Antonio, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi (GAH’-wee), was among the dead.

Feds launch policing bias study

NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts

NASA is a giant step closer to launching Americans again from U.S. soil.

On Tuesday, the space agency picked Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the International Space Station in the next few years.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden named the winners of the competition at Kennedy Space Center, next door to where the launches should occur in a few years. The wall behind him was emblazoned with the words “Launch America” and “Commercial crew transportation/The mission is in sight.”

"I want you to look behind me," Bolden said, pointing both thumbs to the big, bright logos. "I’m giddy today, I will admit."

The deal will end NASA’s expensive reliance on Russia to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. NASA has set a goal of 2017 for the first launch from Cape Canaveral, but stressed it will not sacrifice safety to meet that date.

Man accused of trying to aid Islamic State group

Biden triggers 2016 speculation with Iowa visit

In the 2016 Democratic presidential competition there is Hillary Clinton and everyone else, all powerful politicians who could make a credible run should she decide not to seek the presidency.

Vice President Joe Biden is at the top of that group, which also includes Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Biden’s visit to Iowa on Wednesday for a relatively minor event speaks volumes about his desire to keep his name relevant in the 2016 discussion.

Biden’s trip to Iowa, which will hold the first contest in the 2016 Democratic nominating campaign, comes days after Clinton made a splash there at a Democratic fund-raising event sponsored by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin.

Biden will appear at a kickoff event in Des Moines for a tour by “Nuns on the Bus,” an organization that highlights the impact of large amounts of corporate money on political campaigns.

"I think his visit is significant because it comes so quickly after Hillary Clinton’s visit," said David Yepsen, director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University. "She was sending a signal and I think Joe Biden is too."

New IS video warns US over Iraq deployment

The militant Islamic State group has released a video warning the United States that fighters await it in Iraq if President Barack Obama sends troops there, as he and his top general said may happen.

The 52-second video entitled “Flames of War” shows militants blowing up tanks, wounded U.S. soldiers and others about to killed. It then shows a clip of Obama saying that combat troops will not return to Iraq, ending with a text overlay that reads “fighting has just begun.”

The video’s timing, released Tuesday, suggests it was a response to Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee that if the current Iraq strategy doesn’t prevail, he may recommend the use of ground troops.