The U.S. government will no longer threaten to prosecute families who try to pay ransom to win the release of American hostages held overseas, and the United States will directly negotiate with militants holding them but will not pay ransom, officials said on Tuesday. The policy, to be announced by President Barack Obama on Wednesday, changes the way the government handles cases in which Americans are taken hostage by groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda. The announcement follows a six-month review prompted by sharp criticism of the Obama administration by some victims' relatives, who said they had been threatened with prosecution if they tried to raise money to pay a ransom.
New York City's mayor and City Council have reached agreement on early adoption of a more than $78.5 billion budget that includes hiring nearly 1,300 police officers by the end of next fiscal year in July 2016, city leaders said on Tuesday. The extra police will be used to create a dedicated counter terrorism force that does not rely on officers pulled from other precincts, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, as well as a new community policing initiative that he will announce in the coming days. The hiring agreement combines a plan by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to have 300 police dedicated to counter terrorism and the City Council's desire for an extra 1,000 officers, the mayor said.