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.



IS hostage drama shows change in propaganda technique

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 file photo, a passerby is silhouetted against a large TV screen broadcasting a news program in Tokyo reporting on a video posted on YouTube by jihadists on Tuesday, Jan. 27, that purports to show a still photo of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto holding what appears to be a photo of Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh. Far from the high-tech, slickly edited videos involving beheaded Western hostages through which the group impressed supporters and terrorized opponents, recent messages purporting to be from Japanese hostage Kenji Goto have been through digitized, audio dispatches featuring either still photos or text. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)BEIRUT (AP) — The latest Islamic State hostage drama involving a veteran Japanese war correspondent and a young Jordanian pilot marks the first time the group has publicly demanded prisoner releases. It also signals a change in the extremist group's propaganda technique.



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.



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.



Parents of teen girl killed by Denver police demand federal probe
By Keith Coffman DENVER (Reuters) - The parents of a 17-year-old girl shot dead this week by Denver police while she was driving a stolen car have called for a U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation into her death. The teen's parents, Jose Hernandez and Laura Rosales, said in a letter sent to U.S. Attorney John Walsh that Denver police have a history of conducting lengthy investigations that "serve only to exonerate its officers." "We believe that a federal investigation is the only way to uncover the truth because we have little confidence in the Denver Police Department's ability to conduct a fair and timely investigation," the letter said. Jessica Hernandez died on Monday when Denver police officers Daniel Greene and Gabriel Jordan fired multiple rounds into the vehicle, killing her.

California truckers win $2 million in wage theft suit
By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Seven Los Angeles-area truckers have won a $2 million claim against an international shipping company accused of stealing their wages by improperly classifying them as independent contractors and charging them to lease its trucks to drive. In a decision with implications for hundreds of companies and thousands of truckers in Southern California alone, a San Diego County Superior Court judge held that the seven plaintiffs should have been defined as employees of Pacer Cartage under California's labor law, not as independent owner-operators. Judge Jay Bloom ruled the seven drivers, who were Hispanic and spoke little English, were entitled to reimbursement for the money California-based Pacer deducted from their wages for the truck leases, insurance, vehicle maintenance, fuel and other out-of-pocket expenses.

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.



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.



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