Top Stories for Saturday, November 29, 2014

Officer Wilson Resigns From Ferguson PD

From AP, “FERGUSON OFFICER WHO SHOT MICHAEL BROWN RESIGNS”: “The Ferguson police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown has resigned, his attorney said Saturday, nearly four months after the confrontation between the white officer and unarmed black 18-year-old that ignited protests in the St. Louis suburb and across the nation.

Darren Wilson resigned effective immediately, said his attorney, Neil Bruntrager. He declined further immediate comment. Wilson had been on administrative leave since the Aug. 9 shooting, which promoted several days of tense and at times violent protests.

The Brown family attorney, Benjamin Crump, didn’t immediately return phone and email messages from The Associated Press.

Wilson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was stepping down out of his “own free will” after the police department told him it had received threats of violence if he remained an employee.

“I’m not willing to let someone else get hurt because of me,” said Wilson, who had been with the department for less than three years.”

CEOs Threaten Backlash Against Obamacare

From Reuters, “Exclusive: U.S. CEOs threaten to pull tacit Obamacare support over ‘wellness’ spat”: “Major U.S. corporations have broadly supported President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform despite concerns over several of its elements, largely because it included provisions encouraging the wellness programs.

The programs aim to control healthcare costs by reducing smoking, obesity, hypertension and other risk factors that can lead to expensive illnesses. A bipartisan provision in the 2010 healthcare reform law allows employers to reward workers who participate and penalize those who don’t.

But recent lawsuits filed by the administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), challenging the programs at Honeywell International and two smaller companies, have thrown the future of that part of Obamacare into doubt.

The lawsuits infuriated some large employers so much that they are considering aligning themselves with Obama’s opponents, according to people familiar with the executives’ thinking.

“The fact that the EEOC sued is shocking to our members,” said Maria Ghazal, vice-president and counsel at the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives of more than 200 large U.S. corporations. “They don’t understand why a plan in compliance with the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is the target of a lawsuit,” she said. “This is a major issue to our members.””

Oil Stocks Plummet

From Yahoo, “Billions wiped off energy shares as investors rush for exit”: “A fresh slide in the price of crude wiped tens of billions of dollars off oil companies’ market value on Friday and signalled an end to the sector’s safe-haven status, as fears mounted over future profits and dividend payouts.

Fund managers described the last 24 hours of trading as “capitulation” – the point at which a sell-off becomes widespread and panic-driven – as investors reassessed whether the sector could keep gushing cash after OPEC’s decision not to cut oil production to fight a supply glut.

“Oil stocks are currently in the final phase of capitulation,” said UniCredit strategist Christian Stocker.”

From The Washington Post, Afghanistan on edge as stepped-up Taliban attacks kill at least 6″: “Taliban insurgents struck targets across Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least six people and wounding scores more, extending a string of attacks in recent weeks that have put Afghans on edge, two months into the term of the new U.S.-backed government.

The most brazen assault began Thursday night, when five Taliban suicide bombers and a group of fighters tried to infiltrate Camp Bastion, an air base in the volatile southern province of Helmand, triggering an intense gun battle that lasted into Friday morning, said Omer Zowak, a spokesman for the provincial governor’s office. Afghan soldiers repelled the attack, killing at least five Taliban fighters. Two soldiers died and six were wounded in the battle.

The attack was the latest by the Islamist Taliban insurgency targeting figures and centers of authority and influence in recent weeks. British and American forces this year pulled out of Camp Bastion, a British base, and transferred it to the Afghan army. The assault exemplified how the Taliban is trying to seize advantage of a military landscape in which most American and international forces have stopped combat operations and are preparing to withdraw by the end of the year.

The attack also underscored why Afghan commanders have welcomed President Obama’s decision to expand the U.S. military role next year — from providing advice and training to allowing combat operations against the Taliban if a threat is perceived and also to provide air support to Afghan forces.”