SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers Tuesday gave final approval to designating a section of the 134 Freeway as the President Barack H. Obama Highway in honor of the 44th president of the United States.

Supporters of the measure will now raise the private funds needed to place signs with Obama’s name along the section of the 134 between the 210 Freeway and the 2 Freeway, which includes parts of Glendale, Pasadena and Eagle Rock.

Obama, who left office in January, attended Occidental College in Eagle Rock in 1979 before transferring to Columbia University in 1981.

Democratic state Sen. Anthony Portantino said he decided to seek renaming the stretch of the Ventura Freeway after learning Obama lived in Pasadena as a student and used the freeway to commute to class at Occidental.

Portantino made a veiled reference in his comments on the floor to President Donald Trump’s decision that day to end a program that protects young immigrants from deportation.

“It is particularly proud to stand today to recognize (Obama’s) compassion and heart and dignity on a day when we sorely need compassion, heart and dignity expressed,” Portantino told his colleagues.

In an interview, the senator said the renaming makes sense because “President Obama has a strong and productive connection to Southern California, and particularly to this stretch of freeway.”

The Senate vote was 37-0 with most Republicans in support. In the Assembly, Republicans either voted against granting the honor, or withheld their vote.

—Los Angeles Times


Charlotte GOP mayoral candidate touts being ‘white’ as a qualification

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party Tuesday condemned a Facebook post from a Charlotte Republican mayoral candidate who listed one of her qualifications as being “white.”

“VOTE FOR ME!” mayoral candidate Kimberley Paige Barnette had posted. “REPUBLICAN & SMART, WHITE, TRADITIONAL.”

“Any suggestion that a candidate is more or less qualified for political office based on their skin color alone, is offensive to North Carolina Republicans and we condemn it,” GOP Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement. “This type of suggestion has no place in our public discourse.”

Barnette, 53, has removed the post, which quickly went viral.

Barnette could not be reached Tuesday.

She’s running in the Sept. 12 primary against city council member Kenny Smith and Gary Dunn.

In a WTVI debate last month, Barnette criticized last September’s Charlotte protesters. She called the protests “an expression of Democratic behavior.”

Asked how the city could help its lower-income residents, Barnette said, “I don’t think we should encourage more lower-income people to (come to) Charlotte. … We should attract higher-income people.”

—The Charlotte Observer


Pentagon diverts 2 warships, Marine expeditionary unit for Hurricane Irma relief

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Tuesday that it was putting two U.S. Navy ships staffed with Marines on standby to help FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis “approved the use of USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill along with the Marine Corps to support FEMA response operations for Hurricane Irma,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb.

It was, however, too early to know where the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge and the landing ship Oak Hill would go, what they would be used for or if they would be necessary. But the designation meant the two Virginia-based ships along with Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit would not be used to support relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, as previously planned.

Babb also said the Pentagon had made a list of “possible installation support bases used for prepositioning equipment and supplies,” essentially locations to put relief supplies if shipments elsewhere are required. “But these locations will depend on the track that Hurricane Irma takes.”

—Miami Herald


2 peacekeepers killed in Mali blast as UN mulls sanctions

BAMAKO, Mali — Two U.N. peacekeepers died in Mali when their vehicle hit a mine or improvised explosive device on Tuesday, the U.N. said in a statement.

Two other peacekeepers were badly injured in the blast, which occurred while they were traveling near the village of Aguelhok in the northern Kidal region.

The U.N. said it had evacuated the two injured peacekeepers from the area and condemned “terrorist acts,” which it said were intended to paralyze its mission in the West African nation.

Following a 2012 military coup in Mali, a jihadist and separatist insurgency took control of the country’s north.

The conflict prompted French military intervention in January 2013 and the deployment of a 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping operation, known as MINUSMA, several months later.

More than 70 peacekeepers have been killed since the start of the mission.

The attack took place on the same day the U.N. Security Council voted to set up a sanctions committee targeting Mali.

No names have yet been submitted for travel bans and assets freezes, but the move sets up a mechanism to take action against individuals involved in attacks against U.N. peacekeepers on the ground.

The sanctions would also target people traffickers, drugs and arms smugglers, and groups recruiting child soldiers.


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