“Bob’s Final Commentary”



“As U.S. exits Afghanistan, American soldiers still making ultimate sacrifice”


(CBS News) KILLEEN, TexasThe war in Afghanistan is winding down, but Americans are still fighting and dying there. Four were killed on the very day last month that the U.S. handed control of the country’s security to the Afghan army and police. Among them: Ember Alt.

Charles Alt was in Afghanistan working as a civilian contractor when he got the call about his daughter, 21-year-old Army Spc. Ember Alt. She was stationed in Afghanistan, too, just a couple of hours away from him.

“They took me to the mortuary, and I viewed the body, and I didn’t want to believe what I saw,” he remembers. “They told me she was killed from a rocket attack. … They told me she didn’t suffer at all, which was a big relief.”

Spc. Alt had worked as a mechanic at Bagram Air Base.

“She told me a couple of times that it is scary out there, but she also said she knew what her job was,” Charles Alt says. “And she had to do her job to the best of her ability.”

There was a special tribute to Alt by her fellow soldiers at Bagram before her father accompanied her home.

“Felt like the longest flight of my life,” he says. “But I am thankful that I was over there to be able to escort her home. To bring my little girl home.”


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“Julian Castro to McConnell: Get serious”


By Major Garrett


San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, a star at the Democratic National Conventionand leading advocate of immigration reform, criticized Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell‘s call for significant changes to the bipartisan bill now before the Senate.

“What we need now are folks who are seriously working to pass it come together and make the compromises, make the small changes that are needed,” Castro told CBS News after a White House event with business and labor leaders united behind comprehensive reform. “It has a strong framework and it’s going to take serious legislators who actually want to get things done.”

McConnell took the Senate floor and predicted the bill as drafted by the so-called Gang of 8 (four Republicans and four Democrats) would fail as written. Even so, McConnell voted to begin debate on the legislation, helping it clear one important procedural hurdle.

“At the risk of stating the obvious, this bill has serious flaws,” McConnell said. “In the days ahead there will need to be major changes to this bill if it’s going to become law. These include, but are not limited to, the areas of border security,government benefits and taxes.”

On the issue of border security, Castro echoed the White House contention that improvements in border security ought to pave the way for comprehensive reform. The chief goal of that reform is creating a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants already here. Under the legislation, most undocumented workers would be immediately protected from deportation but have to wait up to 13 years to obtain citizenship.

Castro also said it would be impossible to create absolute border security, implying any attempt to tie legalization of undocumented workers to that standard would gut the 1,077-page bill.


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“Chinese mock U.S. hacking claims ahead of Calif. summit”


(CBS News) BEIJING – President Obama will try to press the “reset” button on cyber relations this week when he sits down with China’s new president in California.

The so-called “shirt sleeve summit” is already generating plenty of attention.

Hu Xijin is the editor-in-chief of Beijing‘s “Global Times,” which has more than five million readers. Published by the “People’s Daily,” it is the mouthpiece of China’s ruling Communist Party. On social media, the editor has referred to U.S. foreign policy as “hooliganism” and “meddling.”

One headline says, for example, “Before U.S. Visit, The U.S. Is Hyping The Hacking Story Again.”

China, U.S. schedule meetings over cyberwarfare
Hagel issues stern warning to China
China cyber spies access major U.S. weapons systems, report says

Take U.S. charges of cyber-spying — that China has stolen details about weapons systems and other sensitive information.

Hu said he doesn’t think that’s a true story.

Hacking will likely be on the summit agenda ahead of high level talks on cyber-security in July.


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“Schieffer: White House must rethink how it communicates”


President Barack Obama arrives at a press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on April 30, 2013. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama arrives at a press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on April 30, 2013. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

(CBS News) People often ask me, “Of all the administrations you’ve covered, which was the most secretive and manipulative?”

The Nixon Administration retired the trophy, of course. Since then, my answer is, “Whichever administration is currently in power.”

Information management has become so sophisticated, every administration learns from the previous one. Each finds new ways to control the flow of information.

It’s reached the point that if I want to interview anyone in the administration on camera, from the lowest-level worker to a top White House official, I have to go through the White House press office.

If their chosen spokesman turns out to have no direct connection to the story of the moment, as was the case when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was sent out to explain the Benghazi episode, then that’s what we (and you, the taxpayer) get.

And it usually isn’t much.

So I am glad the President has asked the Attorney General to review whether his investigations into leaks is having a chilling effect on journalists.

But it shouldn’t stop there. The president needs to rethink his entire communications policy, top to bottom. It is hurting his credibility and shortchanging the public.

And to head the review, how about someone other than the Attorney General, whose department is so deeply involved? That makes no sense to me. [FULL QUOTE]

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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“Syrian refugees sell daughters in bid to survive”


By Clarissa Ward

(CBS News) AMMAN, Jordan — Um Majed’s cell phone rarely stops ringing these days. She calls herself a marriage broker; in reality, she sells Syrian girls to men looking for brides at bargain prices.

“Of course she’s thin,” she tells one client. “She’s been in a camp for a month.”

For many families living in Jordan’s refugee camps, selling their daughters into marriage is the only way to survive. Across the Middle East, it is the custom for the groom to pay the bride’s family, but their desperation is being exploited. Often the marriages are a sham, just a way to have sex. Some last only weeks.

Um Majed gets a cut for every match she makes. Young virgins fetch up to $5,000.

“You want me to get a younger one?” she asks one caller. “Thirteen, fourteen?”

Asked how it feels to marry off a 13-year-old girl, she replies, “Don’t ask me, ask the families. It’s the parents who feel it like a knife to their heart. … But what can they do? We’re in a state of war.”


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“Boston suspects’ carjacking victim describes terrifying night”


(CBS News) You are about to hear, for the first time, from a man who got caught up in the terror in Boston two weeks ago and helped bring it to an end.

An immigrant from China, he was carjacked by the suspects, but escaped and tipped off the police.

This 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur, who calls himself “Danny,” had just pulled over in his new Mercedes on a Boston street to send a text message when a man jumped in.

In his first television interview, he tells his story. At his request, CBS News is concealing his identity and has altered his voice.

“I thought it was just a robbery, you know?” Danny said. “He took out his gun, pointed to me. He told me that ‘You now I am serious. Don’t be stupid.'”


CBS Logo Light
CBS Logo Light (Photo credit: watchwithkristin)

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“Cardinals’ divisions include traditionalist vs. reformer theory”

TIP:  There will be two votes – if needed – this morning and then black or white smoke. This will repeat in the afternoon. Black = no Pope and white = Pope chosen.  White smoke will be accompanied by the ringing of bells.

LIVE VIDEO: Watch for smoke from Sistine Chapel’s chimney

===  O  ===

(CBS News) VATICAN CITY – The winds of change are speeding up over the Vatican. The conclave vote will determine which way they blow.

Electing a pope is a political as well as a religious event. There are serious fault lines in the College of Cardinals.

Some are traditionalists, many of them in the entrenched Vatican establishment.

16 Photos

Papal contenders

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bin Laden’s son-in-law charged in New York


Last Updated 7:28 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON – Osama bin Laden’s spokesman and son-in-law has been captured by U.S. intelligence officials and has been brought to New York, CBS News has learned.

A law enforcement source confirmed to CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton that Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was arrested in Jordan and has been brought to New York to face terrorism-related charges.

The source told Milton that Ghaith is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on a sealed indictment in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.

The source confirmed to Milton that Ghaith was picked up in Jordan days ago, where he was apparently traveling to Kuwait from Turkey.

Abu Ghaith was charged Thursday with conspiring to kill Americans in his role as the terror network’s top propagandist who lauded the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 — and warned there would be more.


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“Obama calling GOP senators to talk sequester fix”


After weeks of stalemate with Republican leadership over a deal to replace the wide-ranging, across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, President Obama has been consulting with a new set of Republican lawmakers — the so-called “common sense caucus” — about the nation’s fiscal issues and the possibility for a deal to resolve them.

Included among the small group of Republican senators the president has consulted on the matter are Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Susan Collins, R-Maine, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., CBS News has confirmed through multiple sources. A White House official also reached out to Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a Republican Senate aide said.

“It was constructive,” Corker told CBS News, of his conversation with the president.


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