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Updated: 1 hour 37 min ago

Pope: Church must be 'oasis of mercy,' not severe fortress

Sat, 04/11/2015 - 09:21

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Saturday proclaimed a special year of worldwide efforts by the Catholic Church to stress mercy, not severity, saying the institution's credibility was at stake.

US, Cuban presidents expected to meet Saturday in Panama

Sat, 04/11/2015 - 05:29

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Not since the height of the Cold War have the presidents of the United States and Cuba met face to face.

New Yorkers get direct say on funding of neighborhood projects

Sat, 04/11/2015 - 04:05
By Sebastien Malo NEW YORK (Reuters) - Thousands of New Yorkers found an enticing pitch in their in-boxes this month: "Decide How to Spend $1 Million." The email was an invitation to voters to get involved in the latest example of "participatory budgeting," an exercise in grass-roots democracy that seems to be catching on in some big American cities. In New York City, some members of the city council have invited constituents in their districts to vote this month on which local projects they want to be funded with a total of more than $25 million in public money. "It's a great way to get the pulse of the community on what everyone believes city dollars and resources should be spent," said Paul Vallone, a councilman from Queens, one of the five New York City boroughs. In recent years, more than a dozen municipalities including Chicago, Boston and San Francisco have embraced some form of participatory budgeting, says the Participatory Budgeting Project, a non-profit that assists cities in the process.

Funeral to be held for man killed by South Carolina police officer

Sat, 04/11/2015 - 03:05

By Harriet McLeod SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (Reuters) - A memorial service will be held Saturday for Walter Scott, the South Carolina father of four whose death has become the latest flashpoint in the debate over U.S. police tactics after he was shot in the back while running from a white patrolman last week. Scott's family is expected to be escorted to the funeral by police from North Charleston, the city that fired Officer Michael Slager after he was charged with murder when a cell phone video emerged showing him shooting at Scott's back eight times on April 4. The city wants to give Scott's family "the utmost respect and the respect that the gentleman who is deceased deserves," North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said at a press conference a few days before the funeral. The service will be held at 11 a.m. EDT at W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center in Summerville, Scott's family said.

Californian sheriff suspends 10 officers over beating of horseman

Sat, 04/11/2015 - 01:40
By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Californian sheriff has suspended 10 officers involved in the videotaped beating of a suspect who appeared to have surrendered and was lying on the ground after making a failed getaway attempt on horseback. John McMahon, sheriff of San Bernardino County, said at a news conference on Friday he was "disturbed and troubled" by what he saw in the footage, shot from a KNBC-TV news helipcopter on Thursday near the town of Apple Valley, east of Los Angeles. "It appears to be excessive to me based on what I saw in the video," he said of the force used in restraining the suspect, Francis Pusok, 30, after the man had already been shot by a Taser stun gun and was splayed face down on the ground. Ten officers involved in the beating of Pusok have been placed on paid administrative leave pending a special investigation of the incident, the sheriff said.

Funeral set for black driver fatally shot by white officer

Sat, 04/11/2015 - 01:30
SUMMERVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Mourners are expected to gather Saturday in Summerville, South Carolina to remember Walter Scott, the 50-year-old black driver who was fatally shot by a white police officer after fleeing a traffic stop in North Charleston.

Obama, Castro shake hands at historic summit

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 19:30

US President Barack Obama and Cuba's Raul Castro shook hands and sat near each other at a historic Summit of the Americas, a new milestone in efforts to shed decades of animosity. Obama and Castro greeted each other as UN chief Ban Ki-moon looked on, before taking their seats with other regional leaders at a Panama City convention center. The sight of Obama and Castro in the same room instantly became a potent symbol of their bid to renew diplomatic ties that were severed in 1961. It was the first time that a Cuban leader attended the summit in its 21-year history.

Prosecutor: 2nd man charged in Kansas bombing plot

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 18:12

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A man charged Friday with plotting a suicide bomb attack on a Kansas military base to help the Islamic State group is mentally ill and was acting strangely only days before his arrest, according to a Muslim cleric who said he was counseling him at the request of the FBI.

South Carolina officer's lawyer embraces infamous cases

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 14:50

When a South Carolina policeman was acquitted of manslaughter after beating a suspect to death in 1987 in a station house, his lawyer was Andy Savage, who has built his reputation on taking cases many others would avoid at all costs. Savage's latest client is another South Carolina officer, the patrolman charged with murder after being caught on a bystander's cell phone video firing eight rounds at the back of an apparently unarmed black man, Walter Scott, in North Charleston last Saturday. No stranger to cameras or controversy, the 67-year-old silver-haired Savage surprised few familiar with his career when he agreed to represent officer Michael Slager in a shooting that added fuel to the national outcry over police conduct in encounters with black men.

Convicted Boston bomber's death penalty phase to begin April 21

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:49

By Scott Malone BOSTON (Reuters) - The Boston Marathon bombing trial enters a new phase on April 21 as federal prosecutors begin to mount their case for putting Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death for killing three people and injuring 264 others in the 2013 attack.

California sheriff calls videotaped beating of suspect 'disturbing'

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:47
By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The sheriff of San Bernardino County, California, has ordered an investigation sparked by "disturbing" video footage of several deputies repeatedly punching and kicking a suspect who appeared to have surrendered as he lay face down on the ground. The suspect, identified as Francis Pusok, 30, initially fled in a car from officers who showed up at his residence to serve a search warrant as part of an identity-theft investigation, the sheriff's office said in a press statement. The aerial footage shows Pusok galloping on horseback until he falls from the saddle, briefly scrambles to his feet, then throws himself on the ground, spread eagle on his stomach with his arms out in front of him as two deputies run up with Taser stun guns drawn. The two deputies are seen immediately pouncing on the suspect, taking turns punching and stomping on him while several more officers join in the fray, delivering repeated blows and kicks in a scuffle that goes on for at least two minutes.

Officials release video of Boston cop shooting

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 11:06

By Elizabeth Barber BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts officials on Friday released video footage showing the near-fatal shooting of a Boston police officer last month by a man who was subsequently shot dead by other officers. "It is in everyone’s best interest to share (this) information as soon as possible in order to tamp down speculation and rumors meant to inflame and not inform," Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said at a news conference.

The mystery moneymen behind Ted Cruz’s super-PACs

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 10:32

A Texas billionaire who moved his residence to Puerto Rico after its island government carved out a lucrative new tax haven for wealthy U.S. investors is a prime fundraiser for a network of super-PACs backing Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for president, according to sources close to Cruz’s campaign.

Kansas man accused of plotting Ft. Hood-type attack

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 10:03

A 20-year-old Kansas man allegedly joined the U.S. Army last year so he could launch an ISIS-inspired attack on American soldiers like the deadly strike on Ft. Hood, Texas, in 2009, federal authorities announced today. John T. Booker of Topeka, Kansas, was arrested after a lengthy FBI investigation and was charged with attempted use of WMD (a bomb), attempt to provide material support to ISIS, and attempt to destroy US property, officials said. It was not immediately clear if Booker had an attorney. Booker came to the FBI's attention after an unidentified citizen complained to federal authorities about messages he had posted on his Facebook page.

U.S. man arrested in car bombing plot of Kansas army base

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 09:59

By Lindsay Dunsmuir and Kevin Murphy WASHINGTON/KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - A U.S. man was arrested on Friday for an alleged plot to explode a car bomb at the Fort Riley army base in Kansas as part of a suicide mission in support of the Islamic State militant group, the Justice Department said. John T. Booker, Jr., 20, of Topeka, Kansas, was taken into custody this morning as part of a sting operation after he and two undercover FBI agents arrived at the military base to detonate what he did not realize was an inert bomb, prosecutors said.

US arrests suicide bomb suspect in Kansas: Justice Dept

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 09:17

The US Justice Department said Friday it arrested an Islamic State sympathizer who was plotting to carry out a suicide bomb attack on a US military base in Kansas. John T. Booker Jr, 20, is charged with "attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction... attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant," the Justice Department said. Booker was arrested earlier Friday near the Kansas city of Manhattan "as he made his final preparations for his planned assault" on nearby Fort Riley, the US Attorney for Kansas, Barry Grissom, told reporters in Kansas City.

After four days, no verdict in ex-NFL star Hernandez's murder trial

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 09:10

The jury in the murder trial of former National Football League star Aaron Hernandez finished its fourth day of deliberations on Friday without a verdict. Hernandez, 25, a former tight end for the New England Patriots, is accused of fatally shooting semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd in an industrial park near Hernandez's Massachusetts home in June 2013. If convicted of first-degree murder, Hernandez would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Radon levels increase in homes near Pennsylvania fracking sites: Study

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 08:53
Environmental scientists say that notably high levels of radon in Pennsylvania homes are linked to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Obama, Castro speak by phone amid bid to restore Cuba ties

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 06:08

The call sets the stage for a historic encounter between the two leaders at a summit.

Ex-Blackwater guards seek new trial just days before sentencing for Iraq deaths

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 05:58
Last October, a U.S. federal jury convicted Paul Slough, Dustin Heard, and Evan Liberty of voluntary and attempted manslaughter and Nicholas Slatten of murder in relation to the deaths of Iraqis at a Baghdad traffic circle. The heavily armed four-truck Blackwater Worldwide convoy had been trying to clear a path for U.S. diplomats.