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Hagel: U.S. ground troops could be needed in Iraq

U.S. President Barack Obama hugs outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia,Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says all options must be considered in Iraq.



Newtown debate: Was Adam Lanza's mom a victim?

A sign is pictured in the Sandy Hook area of Newtown, ConnecticutHARTFORD, 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

In this Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. Closing in on a decision about whether to again run for president, Mitt Romney is finding that several past major fundraisers and donors in key states have defected to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The donors, in interviews with The Associated Press, said they see in Bush what they liked about Romney in 2012, namely what they believe it takes to serve successfully as president, but also something he could not muster in his two previous campaigns: what it takes, both in personality as a candidate and in a supporting staff, to win the White House for the GOP. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)The 2012 GOP nominee announced he won't make a third bid for the presidency.



Hezbollah: we don't want war with Israel but do not fear it

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses supporters at an Ashoura ceremony in BeirutHezbollah says it has the right to respond to Israeli attacks any time, anywhere.



Defense in Etan Patz murder trial in New York attacks confession

Julie Patz, mother of Etan Patz, walks from her family home in New YorkBy 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

The Dalai Lama speaks to the media after meeting with U.S. President Obama and Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, outside his hotel in WashingtonBy 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

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies and investigators stand near the scene where a pedestrian was killed in a hit-and-run crash reportedly involving rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight, in Compton, CaliforniaBy 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

A pro-Russian separatist stands in front of a tank at a checkpoint in Enakieve, 25 kilometers from the eastern Ukrainian city of Debaltseve, on January 29, 2015Pro-Russian separatists say they will push their latest offensive in eastern Ukraine further.



Qaeda group launches assault on Western-backed Syria rebels

Jihadists with the Al-Nusra Front take part in a 2013 rally at the Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood of AleppoAl-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

George Zimmerman listens to judge during a first-appearance hearing in Sanford, FloridaBy 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

'Suge' Knight faces murder charges



Jordan awaits proof hostage is alive after swap deadline

Japanese hostage Kenji Goto holds a photograph allegedly showing Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, who was captured by Islamic State in Syria, in a video uploaded on YouTube on January 27, 2015Families of a Japanese journalist and Jordanian military pilot remained in limbo.



Is Mitt Romney running for president?

In this Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. Closing in on a decision about whether to again run for president, Mitt Romney is finding that several past major fundraisers and donors in key states have defected to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The donors, in interviews with The Associated Press, said they see in Bush what they liked about Romney in 2012, namely what they believe it takes to serve successfully as president, but also something he could not muster in his two previous campaigns: what it takes, both in personality as a candidate and in a supporting staff, to win the White House for the GOP. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)Romney will update supporters today about his plans for 2016.



Obama calls for spending surge, buoyed by rising economy

President Barack Obama waves during his arrival on Air Force One at Philadelphia International Airport, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, in Philadelphia. Obama traveled to Philadelphia and speak at the House Democratic Issues Conference. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)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

In this Oct. 30, 2014 file photo, rap music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight appears in court on a traffic warrant, in Las Vegas following his arrest as a fugitive in a California robbery case. A lawyer for Knight says the Death Row Records founder was at the wheel of a car that struck two men, killing one, in a Los Angeles suburb. The accident in Compton occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)LOS ANGELES (AP) — Marion "Suge" Knight, the impresario of gangster rap, has long been a perpetrator and victim of the violent life he promoted in song.



Keystone XL bill passes in Senate, faces Obama veto

Senators Schumer and Stabenow respond to Republicans at a Democrat response news conference after vote on amendments on the Keystone XL pipeline bill in WashingtonThe 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 applauds during the closing session of the III CELAC Summit 2015 in the Pedregal building, northwest of San Jose, on January 29, 2015Cuban 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

The Texas and Israeli flags are waved by protesters who gathered to disrupt and heckle a group gathered for a Texas Muslim Capitol Day rally, Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Hundreds of Muslims gathered for the rally as part of their biennial Texas Capitol lobbying day. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)A newly-elected Texas state lawmaker is under fire for a divisive Facebook post asking Muslim visitors to an event at the state capitol in Austin to pledge allegiance to the United States.



Senate panel approves Iran sanctions bill

In this Jan. 27, 2015 file photo, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. A bill that would levy tough new sanctions on Iran if it fails to sign an agreement to curb its nuclear program cleared a Senate committee on Thursday. But lawmakers are holding off on a full Senate vote to see whether diplomatic negotiations yield a deal. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)The measure would levy a tougher penalty on Tehran if it fails to curb its nuclear program.



Lindsey Graham to test 2016 Republican presidential waters

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., questions Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on Lynch's nomination. If confirmed, Lynch would replace Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation in September after leading the Justice Department for six years. The 55-year-old federal prosecutor would be the nation’s first black female attorney general. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)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

147176659JM00031_MEXICANS_AAt least three people are dead and dozens are injured.



Boy Scouts settle California suit over abuse

Boy Scouts Ready For Move To Allow Gay Scouts From 2014The case involved a man who was molested by a Scout volunteer in 2007.



Islamic State purportedly sets new deadline for hostage swap

This still image taken from a video posted on YouTube by jihadists on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, purports to show a still photo of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto holding what appears to be a photo of Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh. Both are being held hostage by the Islamic State militant group. The still image was overdubbed with audio which condemns Jordan for not releasing Sajida al-Rishawi, saying that unless she is freed within 24 hours both will be killed. The Arabic subtitle reads "I only have 24 hours left to live." The Associated Press could not independently verify the video. (AP Photo)A voice claiming to be a Japanese hostage relays the group's latest threat.



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 reportsNew 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

The WHO logo is pictured at the entrance of its headquarters in GenevaBy 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

Jeb Bush and Sister SouljahContrary to what people say, there’s really no such thing as a “Sister Souljah moment” unless a political candidate has spent a good bit of time making the argument that underlies it first.



Malaysia declares MH370 an 'accident', airline to proceed with compensation

The wife of a passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, holds a picture of her husband walking with Malaysia's Prime Minister Razak, at a news conference in PutrajayaMalaysia 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 tail of AirAsia QZ8501 passenger plane is seen on the deck of the rescue ship Crest Onyx after it was lifted from the sea bed, south of Pangkalan Bun, Central KalimantanThe 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

(Photo compostite by Yahoo News, photos by Bo Rader/Witchita Eagle/AP Photo, J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo)Only one issue in Washington right now could bring together the Koch brothers’ top lawyer, an environmental activist, the former head of the NRA and Sen. Al Franken. Criminal justice reform.



State Dept. officials meet with House Benghazi panel

The House Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., left, confers with Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, at the start of the panel's third public hearing to investigate the 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where a violent mob killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Cummings complained that the committee's investigation was moving at a "glacial" pace and that there were "major problems" with the committee's work, adding that he and other Democrats "have grave concerns about the partisan path this committee has taken over the past year." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)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

In this Jan. 16, 2008, file photo, a note is posted on a door at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., indicating state offices will close in observance of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and Confederate General Robert E. Lee's birthdays. Lee’s birthday would no longer be celebrated on the same day as King under a bill introduced Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, by Arkansas Republican Rep. Nate Bell. Arkansas is one of three states, along with Alabama and Mississippi, that jointly celebrate King and Lee. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)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

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, center, speaks to participants of consultations between representatives of the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Lavrov said the meeting should pave the way for further talks on conditions for a political settlement. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)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

REUTERS NEWS PICTURES SERVICE - PICTURES OF THE YEAR 2013The former secretary of state has agreed to testify before the House select committee investigating the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack, the panel's Democratic ranking member says.



Islamic State releases new audio message by Japanese hostage

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters after a meeting on the hostage crisis, at his official residence in Tokyo Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. Japanese officials were tightlipped Wednesday as secret talks in Jordan sought to secure the freedom of a Japanese journalist and a Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State extremists and purportedly threatened with death within 24 hours. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDITBEIRUT (AP) — The Islamic State group released a message late Wednesday purportedly extending the deadline for Jordan's release of an Iraqi would-be hotel bomber linked to al-Qaida.



Dozen killed in suicide attack against Mali rebels

French helicopters are stationed at a base in Goa, Mali on January 2, 2015An 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

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.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

Israeli soldiers secure the Israel-Lebanon border, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. The Lebanese Hezbollah group is claiming responsibility for today’s attack on an Israeli military convoy. Hezbollah claims the attack destroyed a number of Israeli vehicles and caused casualties among "enemy ranks." Israel later fired at least 35 artillery shells into Lebanon. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)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

Loretta Lynch testifies on Capitol Hill in WashingtonBy 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.