Degrade and destroy. President Barack Obama vowed justice would be served to the ISIS militants responsible for beheading two American journalists and distributing videos of their deaths online. During a press conference in Europe today, Obama said the plan was to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic group intent on setting up a caliphate in territory that bridges Syria and Iraq. Obama faced criticism last week for saying the White House didn’t have a strategy for dealing with the militants. He now says the objective is clear: make sure ISIS is no longer a threat to Iraq, the region, or the United States. How he intends to do that is less clear. Moments later in the same press conference, he said America and her allies could shrink the terrorists’sphere of influence until the group is a “manageable problem.” U.S. lawmakers and analysts have urged the president to take a stronger stance on ISIS, insisting that unless it is destroyed it will continue to pose a threat to American interests.
Luck of the Irish? The organizers of New York City’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade announced they will allow a gay group to march behind its own banner next year. The group previously had been told its members could participate in the parade but not identify themselves with flags or banners. That policy sparked protests and claims of discrimination. Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to participate in last year’s parade, his first in office, because of the policy. In future years, other homosexual groups will be allowed to apply to participate as well, a spokesman for the parade organizers said. Despite the change, officials said the parade was “remaining loyal to church teachings.” Cardinal Timothy Dolan will serve as next year’s grand marshal.
No more wedding bells. Meanwhile, in upstate New York, farmers fined for refusing to host a same-sex wedding ceremony in their barn have decided they won’t host any more weddings. The state gave them an ultimatum: Host all weddings or host none. “Since the order essentially compelled them to do all ceremonies or none at all, they have chosen the latter in order to stay true to their religious convictions, even though it will likely hurt their business in the short run,” attorney James Trainor with Alliance Defending Freedom told The Blaze. Cynthia and Robert Gifford have not decided whether to appeal their $13,000 fine.
Sentenced. A suburban Detroit homeowner convicted of killing an unarmed teenager was sentenced to 17 years in jail today. Theodore Wafer, 55, shot 19-year-old Renisha McBride in the face with a shotgun. He told police he feared for his life. McBride, who was intoxicated, had been in a car accident and was likely looking for help when she began banging on Wafer’s front door in the middle of the night. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Dana Hathaway called the case one of the saddest she had heard, tearing up as she read the sentence. “An unjustified fear is never an excuse to take someone’s life,” she said. Wafer asked McBride’s family for forgiveness.
Free at last. Two North Carolina brothers convicted of raping and killing a woman in 1983 will walk out of prison today after the prosecutor acknowledged strong new evidence of their innocence. Henry McCollum, 50, who spent 30 years on death row, went home with his mother and father today. His half brother, Leon Brown, 46, who was serving a life sentence, is expected to go home later today. McCollum was 19 and Brown 15 when Sabrina Buie’s body was found in a soybean field. Another man’s DNA was on a cigarette butt near the scene of the crime. That evidence negated the evidence given at trial, Johnson Britt, the current Robeson County district attorney, told a judge. No physical evidence connected either McCollum or Brown to the crime.