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Hagel: U.S. ground troops could be needed in Iraq
Newtown debate: Was Adam Lanza's mom a victim?
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut panel developing a report on the Newtown massacre debated Friday whether the victims counted in the dedication should include the shooter's mother, a woman who has been faulted for contributing to the tragedy by fostering her son's fascination with guns.
Mitt Romney says he will not make 2016 White House bid
Hezbollah: we don't want war with Israel but do not fear it
Defense in Etan Patz murder trial in New York attacks confession
By Natasja Sheriff NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mental illness sparked a false confession by the accused killer of Etan Patz and the real suspect in the 1979 disappearance of the boy in New York City is another man - a convicted child molester - a defense attorney told the jury on Friday. In his opening statement at the murder trial of Pedro Hernandez, the attorney said investigations both immediately after the boy vanished on May 25, 1979 and later in 2012 turned up nothing to connect the former delicatessen worker to the crime, except his own words in a 2012 confession to police. "He cannot distinguish between what is real and what is not," defense attorney Harvey Fishbein told the jury in a state court in Manhattan. Massive publicity surrounded the 6-year-old boy's disappearance while walking alone to a school bus stop for the first time in New York's Soho neighborhood, sparking a national movement to find missing children.
Obama, Dalai Lama due to attend U.S. prayer event February 5
By David Brunnstrom WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama are scheduled to attend the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast in Washington next week, but it was unclear if they will have a private meeting like one last year that angered Beijing. The White House said Obama would deliver remarks at the Feb. 5 event about the importance of upholding religious freedom, and that the organizers had also invited the Dalai Lama. Asked if there was any plan for a private meeting with the Dalai Lama, White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said: "As he has done in the past, the President will see many religious leaders at the event, but we don't have any specific meeting with the Dalai Lama to announce." White House deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell said the president had "a great relationship with the Dalai Lama." "They have met three times, including just last February.
Rap mogul Suge Knight arrested in fatal hit-and-run in Los Angeles
By Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight was arrested on suspicion of murder on Friday after police said he ran over two people with a pickup truck at a fast food restaurant in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, killing one and injuring the other before fleeing. Knight, the 49-year-old co-founder of Death Row Records, was booked at about 3 a.m. (1100 GMT) and was being held in lieu of $2 million bail, the department said. The Thursday afternoon incident took place after Knight drove up to a burger shop in Compton, south of downtown Los Angeles, and began arguing with two people outside, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lieutenant John Corina said.
Ukraine rebels vow to push offensive if talks fail
Qaeda group launches assault on Western-backed Syria rebels
Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria battled Western-backed rebels Friday as the jihadists pressed their bid to seize control of northern areas, a monitoring group and rebels said. The fighting comes nearly three months after Al-Nusra Front expelled another group of Western-backed opposition fighters from Idlib province. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jihadists launched their offensive against the Western-armed Hazem movement on Thursday in Aleppo province. "The jihadists expelled the rebels from Regiment 111, once a regime army base that Hazem had taken over," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Dartmouth College bans hard liquor
On Thursday, school President Philip Hanlon announced that starting March 30, all students, regardless of age, will be prohibited from possessing hard alcohol on campus. The school’s Greek societies have also been warned that they need to improve their behavior or risk being banned. The White House says the behavior has led to an “epidemic” of sexual assault on school campuses. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries and 97,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
Florida prosecutor drops case against Zimmerman
By Barbara Liston ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida prosecutor announced on Friday he will not pursue an aggravated assault charge against former neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman stemming from a domestic incident earlier this month after the alleged victim recanted. Zimmerman, who was acquitted in 2013 in a fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, has had several brushes with the law since his trial. His latest arrest on Jan. 9 in central Florida was in connection with a domestic disturbance involving his then-girlfriend who had accused him of throwing a wine bottle at her and smashing her cell phone during an argument. Zimmerman claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, 17, in February 2012, when he was patrolling as a neighborhood watch volunteer.
'Suge' Knight arrested for murder
Jordan awaits proof hostage is alive after swap deadline
Is Mitt Romney running for president?
Obama calls for spending surge, buoyed by rising economy
WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring an end to "mindless austerity," President Barack Obama called for a surge in government spending Thursday, and asked Congress to throw out the sweeping budget cuts both parties agreed to four years ago when deficits were spiraling out of control.
Suge Knight arrested on murder charge
Keystone XL bill passes in Senate, faces Obama veto
The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Thursday to approve the long-pending Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite the White House saying earlier in the day that President Barack Obama would veto the measure. The Republican-led Senate passed the bill that would approve TransCanada Corp's project to carry 800,000 barrels per day of heavy Canadian crude to Nebraska on the way to Gulf Coast refineries and ports. The House has passed its own pipeline bill and will work with the Senate to send the bill to the Obama's desk. After the potential veto, Obama is expected to make his own decision on the pipeline after the State Department finishes a review in coming weeks.
'Peace between us,' Raul Castro says of U.S. ties
Cuban President Raul Castro gave an endorsement to peace between the United States and his communist country, with the two nations in talks to restore ties after decades of animosity. Asked by a journalist at a summit of Latin American and Caribbean states what he would most like to see after the US economic embargo of Cuba is lifted, Castro barked: "Peace, peace between us, peace between the United States and us. Castro first said he would have to consider the question because the end of the economic embargo may be a long way away. US and Cuban diplomats met last week in Havana in landmark talks aimed at renewing ties that broke off in 1961.
Texas lawmaker under fire for divisive Facebook post
Senate panel approves Iran sanctions bill
Lindsey Graham to test 2016 Republican presidential waters
By Steve Holland and Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) - South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Thursday formed a political organization to explore a potential run for his party's presidential nomination, the latest high-profile politician to test the 2016 waters. Graham would attempt to use his South Carolina home base to his advantage for any potential run, since the Southern state is typically the third to hold a nominating contest in presidential election years, after Iowa and New Hampshire. "What I'm looking at is, is there a pathway forward on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire for a guy like me?
Gas blast at Mexico City children's hospital
Boy Scouts settle California suit over abuse
Islamic State purportedly sets new deadline for hostage swap
U.S. jobless claims plunge 14%
New claims for US unemployment insurance benefits plunged to the lowest level in nearly 15 years last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. Initial jobless claims, a sign of the pace of layoffs, dropped to a seasonally adjusted 265,000 in the week ending January 24, a hefty decline of 43,000 from the prior week's slightly upwardly revised level of 308,000. It was the lowest level for initial claims since mid-April 2000. The Labor Department said there was no particular factor influencing the week's claims data, which is often volatile.
Weekly Ebola cases below 100, WHO says endgame begins
By Tom Miles and Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - The number of new confirmed Ebola cases totaled 99 in the week to Jan. 25, the lowest tally since June 2014, the World Health Organization said on Thursday, signaling the tide might have turned against the epidemic. "The response to the EVD (Ebola virus disease) epidemic has now moved to a second phase, as the focus shifts from slowing transmission to ending the epidemic," the WHO said. "To achieve this goal as quickly as possible, efforts have moved from rapidly building infrastructure to ensuring that capacity for case finding, case management, safe burials, and community engagement is used as effectively as possible." The outbreak has killed 8,810 people out of 22,092 known cases, almost all of them in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Cases and deaths have fallen rapidly in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the past few weeks, with just 20 deaths recorded in Liberia in the 21 days to Jan. 25.
Jeb and the myth of the Sister Souljah moment
Malaysia declares MH370 an 'accident', airline to proceed with compensation
Malaysia declared on Thursday the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 an accident, clearing the way for the airline to pay compensation to victims' relatives while the search for the plane goes on. "We officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident ... and that all 239 of the passengers and crew onboard MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives," Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement. The announcement is in accordance with standards of annexes 12 and 13 in the International Civil Aviation, said Azharuddin. It will allow families of the passengers to obtain assistance through compensation, he said.
AirAsia co-pilot at controls when plane crashed
The French co-pilot was at the controls of an AirAsia plane before it crashed into the sea last month after flying through an area of towering clouds, killing all 162 people on board, investigators said Thursday. The announcement came as fishermen found two more bodies from the crash in waters off Sulawesi island in central Indonesia, around 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) from where the plane crashed, a search and rescue official said. On Thursday, Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee, which has been analysing the plane's black boxes, said that prior to the crash, the aircraft had climbed fast in an area packed with huge storm clouds, and the stall alarms started going off. They also revealed that the Airbus A320-200's less experienced French co-pilot, Remi Plesel, was flying the plane before it went down, rather than Captain Iriyanto, a former fighter pilot who had around 20,000 hours of flying time.
Unlikely bedfellows unite on criminal justice reform
State Dept. officials meet with House Benghazi panel
WASHINGTON (AP) — State Department officials met Wednesday with a special House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, a day after the panel's Republican chairman complained about resistance from the Obama administration and vowed to "ratchet up" his inquiry.
Arkansas panel rejects removing Lee from King holiday
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A bid to end Arkansas' practice of commemorating Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. on the same day was rejected by lawmakers Wednesday after opponents said the move would belittle Southern heritage.
After sparring with 2 Chainz, Nancy Grace debates pot with Dr. Drew
On the heels of her endlessly entertaining debate with rapper 2 Chainz over the legalization of marijuana, Nancy Grace picked up the anti-pot argument on Tuesday with fellow HLN host Dr. Drew.
Russia says Kiev's actions will escalate Ukraine fighting
By Thomas Grove MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Wednesday military action by the Ukrainian government would prompt an "inevitable further escalation of the conflict" with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and undermine any peacemaking. Russia has stepped up criticism of Kiev since violence has intensified in the conflict, where a ceasefire collapsed after rebels drove Ukrainian government forces out of Donetsk airport. The separatists say they want to drive back government forces and their artillery out of range of the cities they hold and improve their grip on strongholds. "The latest military actions provoked by Kiev will lead to the inevitable further escalation of the conflict (and) undermine efforts taken by the international community to end the bloodshed," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Hillary Clinton agrees to testify on Benghazi, panel’s ranking Dem says
Islamic State releases new audio message by Japanese hostage
Dozen killed in suicide attack against Mali rebels
An attack overnight in northern Mali by a pro-government armed group including suicide bombers killed a dozen people, security sources said Wednesday. "GATIA fighters, accompanied by suicide bombers, attacked a rebel Tuareg and anti-government Arab position in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday near the town of Tabankort. A security source in MINUSMA -- the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali -- confirmed the deaths, adding that two fighters blew themselves up while a third was killed before he was able to detonate his explosives. GATIA is the commonly-used name for the pro-government Imghad and Allies Tuareg Self-Defence Group.
Bucking Obama, senior Democrat seeks limits on war against Islamic State
Saying that Congress must do its constitutional duty, a senior House of Representatives Democrat will introduce legislation on Wednesday that authorizes President Barack Obama's war on the so-called Islamic State but forbids sending U.S. ground troops into combat.
Hezbollah carried out deadly attack on Israeli convoy: source
Lebanese Hezbollah militants killed and wounded a number of Israeli soldiers in a "big operation" on Wednesday targeting an Israeli military convoy in a frontier area, a Lebanese political source said. The attack in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area was in response to an Israeli rocket attack in Syria, the source, who is familiar with details of the operation, said.
Obama's attorney general pick aims to smooth DOJ ties with Congress
By Aruna Viswanatha and Julia Edwards WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Loretta Lynch, President Barack Obama's pick for attorney general, on Wednesday sought to make a clean break from the testy relationship her predecessor had with Congress, while supporting the legality of the administration's controversial actions on immigration. Lynch, a career prosecutor known for her diplomatic skills, struck a delicate balance during her confirmation hearing, telling the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, "I look forward to fostering a new and improved relationship." Her willingness to listen to Republican concerns was generally well received by the senators.