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Memorial in Kayla Mueller's hometown honors her life, work

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 19:38

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Candles lit up the plaza of a central Arizona courthouse Wednesday as hundreds gathered to honor the American woman pictured before them who was taken hostage by Islamic State militants.

U.S. preparing to sue Ferguson police over charges of racial bias: CNN

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 17:25

The U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to sue the Ferguson, Missouri, police department over allegations of racially discriminatory practices unless the police force agrees to make changes, CNN reported on Wednesday. The network, citing sources, said the Justice Department would not charge the white Ferguson police officer involved in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown last August but was expected to outline allegations of discriminatory Ferguson police tactics. The department would file suit if Ferguson police did not agree to review and change those tactics, CNN reported. The shooting of Brown last August by officer Darren Wilson led to months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson and galvanized critics of the treatment by police and the U.S. criminal justice system of blacks and other minority groups.

California confirms 119 cases of measles in state

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:54

By Dan Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Public health officials said on Wednesday that six more cases of measles had been confirmed in California, bringing to 119 the total number of people infected by a strain of the virus that has also been linked to a large outbreak in the Philippines. More than 150 people across the United States have been diagnosed with measles, many of them linked to the wave of illness that authorities believe began when an infected person from out of the country visited Disneyland in late December. California Department of Public Health researchers, in a report to federal officials released on Friday, said that specimens from 30 of the state's measles patients had been genotyped and that all were of the same strain that has caused an outbreak in the Philippines.

Obama: 'We are not at war with Islam'

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:17

Katie Couric and experts analyze the president's message about the threat of extremism.

Oklahoma House panel OKs bill to punish licensing of gay marriage

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:11
By By Heide Brandes OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - An Oklahoma bill to punish any local or state employee who issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples will be heading to a vote in the state House of Representatives after a committee approved the legislation this week. The bill is one of several in the Republican-dominated statehouse to impose restrictions on same-sex marriages that have been proposed after a U.S. federal judge last year ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. ...

Blast at Exxon refinery in California could hike gasoline prices

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:06

By Nichola Groom TORRANCE, Calif. (Reuters) - An explosion and fire ripped through a gasoline processing unit at an Exxon Mobil Corp refinery near Los Angeles on Wednesday, leaving California with the threat of higher gasoline prices. Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the blast in Torrance, California, which occurred shortly before 9 a.m. PST (12 p.m. ET). Four contract workers were injured and sent to Long Beach Medical Center for evaluation. Exxon said late on Wednesday that three of the workers had been released. ...

U.S. says Saudi was bin Laden's 'man in London'

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 13:27

By David Ingram NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. prosecutor asked a jury on Wednesday to find a Saudi man guilty of conspiring with al Qaeda in the 1990s when he allegedly managed a training camp in Afghanistan and then served as Osama bin Laden's agent in London. Near the end of a month-long trial of Khalid al-Fawwaz, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Buckley told jurors in a closing argument that they had seen enough evidence to convict al-Fawwaz of four terrorism counts. "Khalid al-Fawwaz did everything that al Qaeda asked of him," Buckley said in Manhattan federal court.

Oklahoma House panel OKs bill to punish licensing of gay marriage

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 12:20
By By Heide Brandes OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - An Oklahoma bill to punish any local or state employee who issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples will be heading to a vote in the state House of Representatives after a committee approved the legislation this week. It also says that those who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples can be subject to removal from office. The bill's author, Representative Sally Kern, a Republican, said the measure is a response to U.S. courts overstepping their authority by forcing Oklahoma to recognize gay marriage. Representative Emily Virgin, a Democrat who voted against the measure in committee on Tuesday, said: "No other state in the union has seen more anti-LGBT legislation introduced during this legislative session.

Jeb Bush tiptoes into critique of his brother’s Iraq legacy

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 11:21

The former Florida governor says "there were mistakes made in Iraq for sure."

Ex-NFL star Hernandez's attorneys question handling of evidence

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:58

By Elizabeth Barber BOSTON (Reuters) - Attorneys for former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez questioned on Wednesday whether police followed their own rules when they gathered evidence being presented at the first of two murder trials he will face this year. Defense questioning focused on a wad of chewed bubble gum and a .45-caliber shell recovered from a rental car the former tight end had returned the day that semiprofessional football player Odin Lloyd's bullet-riddled body was found in an industrial park in June 2013. Hernandez, 25, is on trial in Massachusetts Superior Court in Fall River on charges of fatally shooting Lloyd in an industrial park near the former NFL star's North Attleborough, Massachusetts, home. North Attleborough Police Detective Michael Elliott testified that he and other officers found items including the chewed piece of gum and the shell in a dumpster after employees at a rental car agency cleaned out a car Hernandez returned on the day Lloyd's body was found.

Oklahoma lawmakers aim to halt Advanced Placement history course

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:22
By Heide Brandes and Jon Herskovitz OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Oklahoma lawmakers are trying to block funding for Advanced Placement U.S. history courses, saying the curriculum is not patriotic enough, as they aim to join others in halting a program designed to prepare top students for college. Cultural conservatives blast the changes they see as questioning American exceptionalism, while supporters say the course offers students a balanced way to analyze how American history has unfolded. This week, a bill to cut funding for Advanced Placement U.S. History courses in the state passed an Oklahoma House committee along party lines, with 11 Republican voting for the measure and 4 Democrats opposed. Opponents say the revised guidelines for the history course cast the United States in a harsh light by giving undue emphasis to topics such as slavery and the treatment of Native Americans, while distorting events such as the U.S. involvement in World War Two.

Refinery blast at Exxon refinery in Torrance, California injures three

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:08

A fire is raging at Exxon Mobil Corp's Torrance, California, refinery after an explosion.

Defense to present first full day of ' Sniper' trial testimony

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 09:47

STEPHENVILLE, Texas (AP) — The sister of the former Marine accused of fatally shooting "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle and another man testified Wednesday that when her brother came to her home on the day of the killings, he seemed "almost in a daze."

CSX oil train still on fire after West Virginia derailment

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 08:40

By Edward McAllister NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tank cars from a derailed oil train were still on fire in West Virginia on Wednesday, two days after an explosive accident in which 25 cars went off the rails, a CSX Corp spokeswoman said. "We still have some fires on and near tank cars," CSX railroad spokeswoman Melanie Cost said, without giving an exact number. The burning cars were being left to burn out, and some cars were still leaking oil. Booms were deployed in the nearby Kanawha River to collect any leaking oil but none was detected in water tests carried out by local water provider West Virginia American Water.

UMass reverses decision to ban Iranian students from some science courses

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 08:26

The University of Massachusetts Amherst claimed federal law forced it to prohibit Iranian nationals from taking classes that focus on nuclear energy.

The Fight Against Extremism: Social Media, Security & Terror at Home

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 07:54

Following remarks by President Obama at the White House Summit on "Countering Violent Extremism," Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric will lead a compelling discussion with experts and members of the Yahoo News team that will provide perspective and analysis on Obama's strategy, the use of social media by extremists to gain new recruits, and the threat that these terrorist groups pose to the United States.

Texas judge's immigration rebuke may be hard to challenge

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 07:06

By David Ingram and Mica Rosenberg NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's administration faces a difficult and possibly lengthy legal battle to overturn a Texas court ruling that blocked his landmark immigration overhaul, since the judge based his decision on an obscure and unsettled area of administrative law, lawyers said. In his ruling on Monday that upended plans to shield millions of people from deportation, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen avoided diving into sweeping constitutional questions or tackling presidential powers head-on. The failure to do so, Hanen wrote, was a violation of the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act, which requires notice in a publication called the Federal Register as well as an opportunity for people to submit views in writing.

Scott Walker dismisses 'elitist' criticism that he dropped out of college

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 06:15

The Republican governor is dismissing "elitist" critics who say his lack of a college degree could work against him should he run for president.

Tennessee man charged with fraud for fake Newtown charity

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 06:00
By Richard Weizel MILFORD, Conn. (Reuters) - A Tennessee man who U.S. prosecutors contend set up a fraudulent charity tied to the 2012 massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school will face wire-fraud charges, federal officials said. Robert Bruce, a 34-year-old personal trainer from Nashville, will be indicted in U.S. District Court in Hartford, Connecticut, on six counts of wire fraud on Monday for what prosecutors contend was a scheme in which he collected an unspecified amount of donations intended for victims' families and school safety that he spent on himself. Adam Lanza, 20, killed 26 children and educators in the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown before turning a gun on himself.

Philadelphia could get first new charter schools in seven years

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 03:04
By Daniel Kelley PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Philadelphia's financially distressed school district, one of the country's biggest battlegrounds over the expansion of charter schools, will learn on Wednesday whether new charter schools will be approved for the first time in seven years. The Philadelphia School Reform Commission, formed in 2001 as part of a state takeover of the city's education system due to financial problems and low test scores, is slated to vote on applications for 39 charter schools. The district already has 86 charter institutions, public schools that operate independently and offer an alternative to schools run by the local school district. Proponents say charters can help get students out of low-performing schools, while critics blame them for worsening the district's finances. The American Federation of Teachers has fought against the nation's expansion of mostly non-unionized charter schools, including in Philadelphia.