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N.Y. trial opens for mother accused of killing autistic boy

Socialite Gigi Jordan murdered her autistic son to avoid dealing with his developmental disorder, prosecutors said at the start of her trial on Wednesday, but the defense said it was a mercy killing to protect the boy from being raped by his father. "She wanted to ease his suffering," Allan Brenner, lead defense attorney for Jordan, a self-made millionaire pharmaceutical executive, told a jury at the state's Supreme Court in Manhattan.  Jordan, 54, is accused of overdosing her 8-year-old son, Jude Mirra, with prescription pills in a ritzy Manhattan hotel room in 2010.

Malaysia calls for new MH17 search for victims' remains

Malaysia's defense minister on Wednesday called for experts to carry out a final search at the crash site of downed flight MH17 in east Ukraine to recover any remains left behind before winter hits. "It is important for us before the onset of winter in Ukraine to make one final sweep to comb the areas for any remaining passengers who have not been found," Hishammuddin Hussein said after meeting top Russian officials in Moscow. All 298 people on board the Malaysia Airlines flight died in the July 17 disaster.

Six arrested in ivory poaching ring

Wildlife campaigners in Mozambique say police have cracked an ivory poaching ring believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least 39 elephants. The Wildlife Conservation Society said six suspects were arrested in Niassa National Reserve at the weekend, in what is seen as a major breakthrough in the anti-poaching fight. The head of the group, which manages the park, Cristian Samper hailed "strengthened security and intelligence" for the arrests, in a country experiencing an ivory poaching crisis. The park is "on the front line of the crisis in ivory," Samper said.

Syrian rebels name new chiefs after blast kills nearly 50

Syria's Islamist Ahrar al-Sham rebel brigade named new chiefs on Wednesday after a devastating blast killed nearly 50 members of its leadership in a northwestern province largely under rebel control. The blast in Idlib province on Tuesday evening killed the key rebel group's leader Hassan Abboud, known by the name Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi, along with 46 other top members. On Wednesday morning, in a video posted on YouTube, Ahrar al-Sham announced that Hashem al-Sheikh, known as Abu Jaber, would replace Abboud as head of the group, with Abu Saleh Tahhan as military commander. Ahrar al-Sham is a key component in the Islamic Front rebel coalition, which has been battling both President Bashar al-Assad's regime and jihadists of the Islamic State group.

U.S. groups leery of fast-track trade deals demand transparency

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, the organizations said that Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, was outdated and undercuts congressional and public oversight. The groups, led by the Sierra Club, AFL-CIO, the Communications Workers of America, the Citizens Trade Campaign, and Public Citizen, said TPA should be replaced with a new system that gives both Congress and the public a louder voice in trade negotiations.

Californian voters support water bond two-to-one, poll finds

(Reuters) - A two-to-one majority of California voters support the state's $7.5 billion water bond that is slated for November's ballot, according to a new poll. The bond measure, which has been contentiously debated by the legislature and Governor Jerry Brown for the past few years, would improve the water quality, supply and infrastructure in drought-stricken California, if passed by voters. The poll, conducted by the independent and non-partisan Field Research Corp, found that citizen awareness of the water bond was low. Those who were aware of the water bond showed greater support.

US to bid adios to hacked security clearance contractor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal Office of Personnel Management plans to terminate its massive contracts with USIS, the major security clearance contractor targeted last month by a cyberattack, agency, congressional and company officials say. The computer network intrusion compromised the personal files of as many as 25,000 government workers.

Lonely sentinels keep watch over ill-fated 9/11 trial

On a May morning more than two years ago, Rita Lasar and Debra Burlingame waited in silence as the lights dimmed in a movie theater on an Army base deep in Brooklyn. The hundreds of seats in the Fort Hamilton theater are, on other occasions, filled with soldiers and their families watching blockbusters. But today, the nearly empty theater has been repurposed to show close family members of 9/11 victims the opening day of the long-awaited trial of the five men accused of masterminding the attacks that killed their loved ones.

Missouri executes man after appeal based on lethal drug row fails

(Reuters) - Missouri executed a convicted murderer on Wednesday after a court turned down his attorney's appeal based on a report that officials had lied over the drugs used in lethal injections. Earl Ringo Jr. - who killed two people at a restaurant in 1998 - was pronounced dead at 12:31 a.m. Central Time (0531 GMT) at a prison in Bonne Terre, state corrections department spokesman Mike O’Connell said. Ringo's attorney, Kay Parish, sought a stay of execution, citing a St. Louis Public Radio report that said state officials administered the drug midazolam on every inmate executed since November, in addition to pentobarbital. The use of midazolam is under scrutiny nationwide after inmates in a series of botched executions in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona were given the drug and took longer than is typical to die, showing signs of distress.

Missouri executes man for killing 2 in robbery

BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri inmate was put to death Wednesday for killing two people during a restaurant robbery in 1998, the eighth execution in the state this year and the 10th since November.