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Updated: 1 hour 37 min ago

At least 40 migrants 'suffocated' in hold of boat off Italy

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 03:28

More than 40 migrants have died in the Mediterranean Saturday, the Italian navy said, after apparently suffocating below deck on the boat taking them to Europe. "Operation underway... many migrants saved. At least 40 dead," the navy said on Twitter, while the Corriere della Sera newspaper said those who died were found in the hold of the vessel.

Wind change at China blast site raises fears of toxic spread

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 00:54

By Megha Rajagopalan TIANJIN, China (Reuters) - China warned residents near the site of two huge explosions who had taken refuge in a school to evacuate on Saturday after a change in wind direction stoked fears that toxic particles could be blown inland. The evacuation came as a fire broke out again at the site of Wednesday's deadly blast in the northeastern port city of Tianjin, a warehouse specially designed to store dangerous chemicals, the official Xinhua news agency said. Evacuees were advised to wear long trousers and face masks, according to a post on the official microblog of the Tianjin branch of the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China.

U.S. female hostage raped by Islamic State leader before death: U.S. officials

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:58

Kayla Mueller, the U.S. aid worker killed this year while being held hostage by Islamic State militants, was raped repeatedly by the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, while in captivity in Syria, U.S. officials said on Friday. Mueller was 26 at the time of her death and would have turned 27 on Friday.

Western wildfires: Wind, heat, dry land fueling large blazes

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:52

Winds in the West are helping stoke wildfires sweeping across the Northern Rocky Mountains, Pacific Northwest and elsewhere, posing problems for firefighters trying to contain the flames fed by drought.

Japan marks 70th anniversary of WWII surrender

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:02

TOKYO (AP) — Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on Saturday, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stayed away from a contentious Yasukuni shrine that honors war criminals among other war dead.

Battle over same-sex status on birth certificates in Texas and Arkansas

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 15:43

AUSTIN, Texas/LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - Two states that had blocked gay marriage are in legal battles over granting parenthood status to same-sex couples: Arkansas is trying to throw out a suit from couples seeking the status and Texas is saying it does not have forms ready. The cases come as states that had barred same-sex marriage grapple with changes brought by the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that made gay marriage legal in the United States. Three Arkansas same-sex couples have sued the state Health Department for refusing to record both partners as parents on birth certificates of the children they are raising.

U.S. flag raising in Havana reveals old wounds run deep

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 15:12

It may have been 54 years since the American flag was last seen waving above the U.S. embassy in Havana, but mixed reactions to Friday’s flag-raising ceremony revealed that the scars of Cuba’s brutal past run deep — and won’t heal overnight.

U.S. woman hostage raped by Islamic State leader before death: U.S. officials

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 14:26

Kayla Mueller, the U.S. aid worker who died earlier this year while being held hostage by Islamic State militants, was raped repeatedly by the group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while in captivity in Syria, U.S. officials said on Friday. The officials confirmed a report by ABC News, which said Mueller's family had been told by U.S. government officials that their daughter, who was 26 at the time of her death, had been sexually assaulted by al-Baghdadi. The White House declined to comment.

Exclusive: Scandal-tainted U.S. Secret Service to hire 1,100 staff - sources

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 14:18

By Julia Edwards and Jason Szep WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Facing accusations that it cannot adequately protect the White House, the U.S. Secret Service plans to hire 1,100 more officers and agents for an agency besieged by embarrassing scandals and security lapses, two law enforcement sources with direct knowledge of the plans said. The addition of 700 uniformed division officers and 400 agents over five years would expand its staff of 6,647 by nearly 17 percent, the biggest hiring increase in more than a decade at the 150-year-old agency whose job it is to protect the president, his family, and senior officials, along with fighting financial crime. The Secret Service is trying to rebound from a leadership crisis and mend a culture of covering up mistakes that some trace back 12 years to when it was pulled out of the Treasury Department and absorbed into the sprawling new Department of Homeland Security, where it had to compete for turf and money.

Islamic State leader raped American hostage, US finds

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 12:48

American hostage Kayla Mueller was repeatedly forced to have sex with Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group, according to accounts provided to U.S. intelligence officials.

Suspect in shooting of New York firefighter killed by police

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 11:56

The man who shot and wounded a firefighter during a six-hour standoff with authorities fled his New York home on Friday, opening fire on police, who returned it and shot him dead, law enforcement said. Garland Tyree, 38, an alleged gang member who authorities were trying to arrest for a federal parole violation, had promised to surrender but instead dashed out the back door with an assault rifle, spraying bullets at police who surrounded the multi-family home in New York's Staten Island borough, police said. An AK-47, three handguns and a smoke grenade were recovered from the scene on Destiny Court, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at a news conference.

Cost of hunt for escaped NY killers topped $1 million a day

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 11:08

Payroll records suggest the hunt for two escaped killers in northern New York cost more than $1 million a day, with overtime alone for state troopers and corrections officers $22 million higher than last year.

Kentucky clerk defying court on gay marriage licenses to file response

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 06:54
Attorneys for a Kentucky county clerk who has stopped issuing marriage licenses to avoid serving same-sex couples are expected to file a response on Friday to the court. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and her office stopped issuing all marriage licenses following the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling legalizing gay marriage, and she has continued with that stance despite an injunction on Wednesday by a federal judge ordering her office to begin issuing licenses again. Davis previously said her religious beliefs as an Apostolic Christian prevented her from issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Kerry presides over raising of flag at U.S. embassy in Cuba

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 06:51

By Daniel Trotta and Lesley Wroughton HAVANA (Reuters) - Watched over by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Marines raised the American flag at the embassy in Cuba for the first time in 54 years on Friday, symbolically ushering in an era of renewed diplomatic relations between the two Cold War-era foes. Three retired Marines who last lowered the flag in 1961 participated in the ceremony, handing a new flag to the Marine Color Guard, which raised it on the grounds outside the embassy building on the Havana seafront. Kerry, the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Cuba in 70 years, told the ceremony it was obvious that "the road of mutual isolation and estrangement that the United States and Cuba have been traveling is not the right one and that the time has come for us to move in a more promising direction." The symbolic event took place eight months after Havana and Washington agreed to restore ties and nearly four weeks after the United States and Cuba formally renewed diplomatic relations and upgraded their diplomatic missions to embassies.

Court throws out Arizona sheriff's immigration policy challenge

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 06:40
A federal appeals court on Friday threw out a lawsuit brought by an Arizona sheriff who argued that President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration were unconstitutional. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a district court judge's finding that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio lacked standing to sue, a provision in U.S. law that means he has to prove he has been directly harmed.

State of emergency ends in Ferguson, Missouri, as violence recedes

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 06:23

(Reuters) - St. Louis County on Friday ended the state of emergency it had put in effect earlier this week for Ferguson, Missouri, and surrounding areas due to violent street protests.

Japanese leader Abe stops short of apology for World War II

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 06:08

TOKYO (AP) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged Friday that Japan inflicted "immeasurable damage and suffering" on innocent people in World War II, but stopped short of offering his own apology and said future generations of Japanese should not have to make them either.

Islamic State uses theology to justify rape, enslavement of Yazidi women

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 04:37

A wrenching look by The New York Times into the Islamic State’s enslavement and rape of women from the Yazidi minority group has shed light on one of the most disturbing aspects of its rule in Syria and Iraq. The practice, according to reporter Rukmini Callimachi, was formalized a year ago, when IS announced it was bringing institutionalized slavery back. To handle them, the Islamic State has developed a detailed bureaucracy of sex slavery, including sales contracts notarized by the ISIS-run Islamic courts.

How St. Louis police added Twitter to their arsenal

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 04:33

The Saint Louis County Police Department significantly altered its approach to social media since Michael Brown’s death last year.

AP EXCLUSIVE: Top secret Clinton emails include drone talk

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 04:23
WASHINGTON (AP) — The two emails on Hillary Rodham Clinton's private server that an auditor deemed "top secret" include a discussion of a news article detailing a U.S. drone operation and a separate conversation that could point back to highly classified material in an improper manner or merely reflect information collected independently, U.S. officials who have reviewed the correspondence told The Associated Press.