By Paul Courson
There has been little improvement in religious freedom worldwide but some positive changes were seen in Turkey and Vietnam, according to an annual State Department survey of nearly 200 countries.
Secretary of State John Kerry, a former U.S. senator who helped push the law mandating the original report 15 years ago, helped announce the findings on Monday in the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.
"This report is a clear-eyed, objective look at the state of religious freedom around the world. And when necessary, yes, it does directly call out some of our close friends, as well as some countries with whom we seek stronger ties."
Government repression in China, North Korea and Saudi Arabia has kept all three countries on a list the report calls "Countries of Particular Concern."
By Paul Courson
Secretary of State John Kerry tried to reassure diplomatic workers on Monday that security improvements are underway at American missions around the world where they are likely to be deployed.
The measures include plans for a rapid evacuation contingency if conditions turn deadly, as they did last September during a terror attack on the U.S. post in Benghazi, Libya.
In opening remarks at a "Security Overseas Seminar" at the Foreign Service Institute, Kerry said there's a balance between making contact with the local populations the United States is trying to serve, and protecting Americans working in hostile regions.
"Diplomacy and security needs do not have to be trade-offs," he said, declaring that "if we are going to bring light to the world, we have to go where it is dark."
An unmanned jet is catapulted from the deck of an aircraft carrier making naval history. The bat-winged X-47B flew some pre-determined maneuvers before landing at a naval air station on shore.
The next milestone will be landing the prototype back on board the carrier.
The Navy eventually plans to build armed versions of the stealth plane which will give the Navy long range strike and reconnaissance capability without risking the lives of pilots.
By Jill Dougherty
Buffeted by Republican criticism for its handling of last September's deadly terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, the Obama administration is mounting a coordinated response.
Thursday, at a Rose Garden news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Barack Obama went out of his way to challenge Republicans to fully fund security for America's diplomats.
Republicans have ripped the administration for not providing adequate security for the Benghazi mission at which four Americans, including Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, were killed.
By Paul Cruickshank
A purported new issue of an English-language al Qaeda magazine linked to the Boston terrorist attacks was posted on an al Qaeda web forum earlier this week, but its content beyond its cover page was scrambled, suggesting the possibility the forum was hacked by Western intelligence agencies.
The magazine, produced by al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate - al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which regularly includes how-to instructions for followers to carry out terrorist attacks in the West - has received significant scrutiny in recent weeks.
Investigators believe that Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev accessed Inspire magazine, and the material had instructions on bomb-making, a law enforcement official told CNN earlier this month.
According to analysts, the explosive devices the Boston bombers built had striking similarities to a bomb recipe in the first issue of the magazine - "How to build a bomb in your Mom's kitchen" - that has been downloaded by militants in multiple Islamist terrorist plots on both sides of the Atlantic.
By Barbara Starr
The U.S. military has updated plans to "capture or kill" alleged perpetrators of the deadly terror attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, CNN has learned.
The development comes amid growing pressure on the White House to show progress in the effort to catch those who killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans last September 11.
Officials emphasize that military planning has been underway since the immediate aftermath of the armed assault.
One part of the plan calls for potentially putting U.S. military personnel on the ground inside Libya, if ordered by President Barack Obama.
Two U.S. officials confirmed the details to CNN, but declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the information.
The plan was updated and discussed at the highest levels of the military as recently as last week.
By Jill Dougherty
Moscow claims an American diplomat tried to recruit a spy for the United States, calling it a "Cold War" provocation. But the timing may indicate the allegation could be linked to fallout over Russian information-sharing about a Boston Marathon bombing suspect.
Russia said Tuesday that Ryan Christopher Fogle, a political officer at the U.S. Embassy, was caught trying to recruit a Russian intelligence officer.
He was shown in videos and still photos released by the Russian security service, FSB, that got wide play in Russian media and brimmed with the stuff of spy novels.
By Todd Sperry
A Saudi man is jailed in Detroit following his arrest over the weekend by authorities who alleged he altered his passport and was not truthful about why he had a pressure cooker in his luggage.
According to a criminal complaint, Al Kwawahir Hussain reportedly could not explain to U.S. Customs officers at Detroit Metropolitan airport why pages were missing from his Saudi passport on Saturday.
He told them only his family had access to it and he kept it locked in a box, and that he was planning on visiting his nephew, according to the court filing.
During followup security screening, customs officers discovered a pressure cooker in his luggage.
By CNN's Kevin Liptak
The way the military has prosecuted sexual assaults within its ranks is deplorable, two congresswomen who have served in the armed forces said Sunday, calling for a new system for reporting those kinds of crimes.
Reps. Tammy Duckworth and Tulsi Gabbard, both Democrats, said last week's report indicating a 30% rise in the number of service members anonymously reporting sexual assaults was an indication the military's leadership has failed in its duty to protect members of the armed forces.
"I want the military to be a place where women can succeed and thrive the way I was able to. And the military leadership at this point has shown that they have not been capable of fixing this problem," said Duckworth, who represents Illinois and is an Iraq War veteran.
Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Duckworth argued that individuals in positions of power should be able to halt the problem, but have thus far failed in their attempts to stop sexual abuse.FULL STORY
By CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr
Several dozen combat-ready U.S. Marines stationed in southern Spain have been put on alert to potentially move into Libya and assist in the evacuation of American personnel if the unrest grows there in the coming days, a senior military official confirms to CNN.
The Marines have not yet moved from their base, but could be ordered to move closer to Libya so they could get there faster if a full evacuation is ordered.
A team of special operations forces also are on standby in Germany to assist, if needed.
The Marines in Spain are supposed to be ready to move within six hours of notification. By moving them closer, that time frame could be cut in half.
The Marines were sent to Spain in recent weeks as part of a new permanent contingency force capable of moving into North Africa very quickly after the deadly attack in Benghazi last year showed military forces were not close enough to assist.
The force in Spain totals about 500 Marines with six V-22 aircraft they can use to move quickly.
The United States has already withdrawn some embassy personnel, but with militants blocking some portions of the city, the military option would be used if personnel cannot get to the commercial airport, the official said.