Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress today that the U.S. would establish a special operations “targeting force” in Iraq as part of the intensified military effort to fight ISIS. The special operations force would conduct raids, could free hostages held by ISIS, gather intelligence and capture ISIS leaders in both Iraq and Syria.
It is part of the broader role for U.S. special operations forces that Carter said would occur in the wake of the raid in late October where U.S. special operations forces helped free 70 ISIS hostages in northern Iraq. That same raid resulted in the death of Master Sergeant Joshua L. Wheeler, the first American fatality from combat in Iraq since the return of U.S. forces to that country in mid-2014.
Some U.S. Special Operations forces currently operate inside Iraq in an advise-and-assist role with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, but have not engaged in unilateral raids, U.S. officials said. The American forces that participated in the October rescue raid in Hawija, Iraq, were accompanying Kurdish forces when they became involved in the fight. ABC News
Mark Zuckerberg pledges to give 99 percent of his Facebook shares to charity
In an extended letter addressed to their newborn baby daughter Max, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Pricilla Chan have announced that over the course of their lifetimes, they will give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares — currently valued at $45 billion — in an effort to “advance human potential and promote equality.”
“Max, we love you and feel a great responsibility to leave the world a better place for you and all children,” the letter concludes. “We wish you a life filled with the same love, hope, and joy you give us. We can’t wait to see what you bring to this world.” Facebook via The Week
Yahoo’s board of directors is meeting Wednesday through Friday to determine the company’s fate, and the options include halting the proposed sale of Yahoo’s lucrative stake in Chinese internet juggernaut Alibaba and selling off Yahoo’s core internet properties, sources tell The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
Yahoo Mail and Yahoo News are, taken together, the No. 3 most visited site on the internet, after Google and Facebook, but they represent a fraction of Yahoo’s $31 billion market capitalization, perhaps less than zero. Most of Yahoo’s value is from its 15 percent stake in Alibaba, worth $32 billion, and its 35 percent share of Yahoo Japan, worth $8.5 billion. Still, Yahoo’s 210 monthly visitors are worth something, and private equity and tech firms are said to be interested in buying the venerable web properties. The New York Times via The Week
Chicago’s police chief has been fired following the outcry over the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a police officer. The city’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, told reporters he had dismissed Superintendent Garry McCarthy because of an erosion in public trust. A black 17-year-old, Laquan McDonald, was shot 16 times by a white police officer in October 2014. Officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first-degree murder.
“This is not the end of the problem but it’s the beginning to the solution of the problem,” said Mr Emanuel. “It’s time for fresh eyes and new leadership to confront the challenges.”
Mr Emanuel appointed the city’s chief of detectives, John Escalante, to oversee the police department until they find a permanent replacement. There had been calls for Mr McCarthy’s resignation leading up to the mayor’s announcement.
Members of the city council’s black caucus, urging for his resignation, cited Chicago’s high crime rate and lack of transparency from the police department. BBC
Aung San Suu Kyi Holds Transition Talks With Myanmar President
Myanmar democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi held talks Wednesday with President Thein Sein to discuss a smooth and peaceful transfer of power to the country’s first democratically-elected government after nearly five decades of military-rule.
The brief meeting between the Nobel Peace laureate and the outgoing president at his residence in the capital, Naypyitaw, was part of Aung San Suu Kyi’s push for for “national reconciliation” talks, announced shortly after her National League for Democracy scored a massive victory over the ruling military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party in the November 8 election. She plans to meet with General Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar’s military chief, later Wednesday.
Under Myanmar’s current constitution, the military retains control of 25 percent of all parliamentary seats, as well as control of several key government posts, including defense, interior and border security. Many in the country fear the military will ignore the results of last month’s election and maintain its grip on power, just as it did in 1990, when it cast aside a landslide victory by the NLD and put Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for the next 20 years.
But the president and Hlaing have pledged to accept the results of the November election. VOA
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