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In case of slain journalist, negotiations, silence, then a chilling warning

Sign outside a shop remembers James Foley in his hometown of Rochester By Warren Strobel and John Irish WASHINGTON/PARIS (Reuters) - After months of silence from the captors of American journalist James Foley, on the night of Aug. 13, his family received a chilling message: Foley would be executed in retaliation for U.S. The FBI, which handles cases involving kidnapped American citizens, helped craft a response, pleading for mercy, said Phil Balboni, chief executive of GlobalPost, the Boston-based online news publication that employed Foley. It was a statement that Jim was an innocent journalist" who respected the people of Syria, where he was held, Balboni said in a telephone interview. On Tuesday, Islamic State militants stunned America with a gruesome video posted on YouTube showing the beheading of Foley, 40, by a masked, black-clad man who also threatened to kill a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff.


Malaysia prepares to receive bodies from M17 crash

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia is preparing to receive the bodies and ashes of 20 of its citizens killed when Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine in July.

Injured Isner withdraws from Winston-Salem Open

John Isner returns a shot against Mikhail Kukushkin, of Kazakhstan, during their match at the Winston-Salem Open tennis tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — John Isner's preparations for the U.S. Open hit a setback Thursday when a sprained ankle forced him to withdraw from the Winston-Salem Open hours before his quarterfinal.


Undercover police officers will not face abuse charges

Four undercover police officers who were accused of deceptively forming relationships with women they were spying on have been told they will not face charges for their actions Four undercover police officers who were accused of deceptively forming relationships with women they were spying on were told they will not face charges for their actions. The officers from the now-defunct Special Demonstration Squad infiltrated environmental campaign groups under fake identities. The four were investigated for crimes including rape and sexual assault after several women accused them of forming relationships with them on false pretences between 1987 and 2007, even fathering children. "Having carefully considered all the available evidence, provided at the end of a thorough investigation, we have determined that there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction for any offences against any of the officers," the CPS said in a statement.


Top Asian News at 1:30 a.m. GMT

BANGKOK (AP) — Three months after overthrowing an elected government, Thailand's junta leader is stepping out of his army uniform to take up the post of prime minister in a move critics say will prolong his rule and bolster the military's grip on power. Thailand's legislature voted overwhelmingly Thursday to name Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to the new job. There was little doubt over the outcome since Prayuth was the only candidate and the assembly — hand-picked by the junta — is dominated by active and retired duty officers.

New N. Korean rocket launch site near completion: think-tank

Undated photo released by KCNA on December 15, 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visiting the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province North Korea will be able to test longer-range rockets at its new launch site before the end of this year, a US think-tank has said. Satellite images taken this month indicate that several significant construction projects there are nearing completion despite heavy rain this summer, the US-Korea institute at Johns Hopkins University said in a post dated Thursday. "The effort under way since late last year -- to upgrade the gantry tower and launch pad -- that will enable the North Koreans to test space launch vehicles with greater ranges and carry larger payloads than the Unha rocket fired in 2012 should be finished by fall," it said. There is little doubt that North Korea has an active ballistic missile development programme, but it remains unclear how much progress it has made.


New N. Korean rocket launch site near completion: think-tank

Undated photo released by KCNA on December 15, 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visiting the Sohae Space Center in Cholsan County, North Phyongan Province North Korea will be able to test longer-range rockets at its new launch site before the end of this year, a US think-tank has said. Satellite images taken this month indicate that several significant construction projects there are nearing completion despite heavy rain this summer, the US-Korea institute at Johns Hopkins University said in a post dated Thursday. "The effort under way since late last year -- to upgrade the gantry tower and launch pad -- that will enable the North Koreans to test space launch vehicles with greater ranges and carry larger payloads than the Unha rocket fired in 2012 should be finished by fall," it said. There is little doubt that North Korea has an active ballistic missile development programme, but it remains unclear how much progress it has made.


Former Vatican City governor Szoka dies at age 86

FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2009 file photo, Cardinal Edmund Szoka poses for a photo, in Detroit. Szoka, the former governor of Vatican City and the head of the Detroit archdiocese, died of natural causes Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, at Providence Park Hospital in Novi, Mich., according to the Archdiocese of Detroit. He was 86. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) DETROIT (AP) — Edmund Szoka, an American cardinal who served as governor and financial administrator of the Vatican and was a confidant of St. John Paul II, has died at age 86.


Slain journalist's employer publishes email to family from Islamic State

Sign outside a shop remembers James Foley in his hometown of Rochester The online news publication that employed slain U.S. Boston-based GlobalPost said on Thursday the Foley family had agreed to release the email that it received from Islamic State a week before the video of his execution was released on Tuesday. We believe the text offers insight into the motivations and tactics of the Islamic State." Foley was beheaded by the group in an act shown in a video released in which Islamic State called for the United States to end its airstrikes in Iraq.


US judge rules against Florida gay marriage ban

People for and against gay marriage gather in front of the Miami-Dade Courthouse as LGBTQ couples inside ask the state of Florida to recognize their marriages on July 2, 2014 A US federal judge struck down a Florida ban on gay marriage Thursday, but stayed the ruling pending further appeals. US District Judge Robert Hinkle, in the Florida state capital of Tallahassee, said that the ban against same-sex marriages approved in a 2008 referendum was unconstitutional. "When observers look back 50 years from now, the arguments supporting Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, though just as sincerely held, will again seem an obvious pretext for discrimination," he wrote. The ruling came in response to a case involving some 20 people, among them gay couples who wanted to marry in Florida and others who legally married out of state and wanted Florida to recognize their unions.


U.S. federal prosecutors questioning GM lawyers on vehicle recalls: source

File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit General Motors had issued a report in June which detailed how for 11 years it turned a blind eye to an ignition-switch problem linked to at least 13 deaths but largely pinned the blame on what the report described as incompetent lower-level employees, leaving top brass untouched.


Mexico increases number of missing to 22,322

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Mexican government has recalculated the number of people who have disappeared since the start of the country's drug war in 2006, now saying a total of 22,322 are missing. It had said in May that 8,000 people were missing.

Alabama band teacher accused of bondage-style sex with students

By Verna Gates BIRMINGHAM Ala. (Reuters) - A popular former Alabama high school band teacher suspected of forcing at least eight underage female students into bondage-style sex over a three-year period was arrested in Georgia, authorities said Thursday. Jeffery Lance Gainous, 32, is suspected of gagging and tying up several of his then-students and using other bondage devices on them both in the band room at T. R. Miller High School in Brewton, Alabama, and at his home, police said. “I know what kids said about him,” said Brewton Police Chief Monte McGougin said. They say he was great, but this is terrible."  Gainous, who taught at the school in southern Alabama for six years, was arrested on Wednesday in Thomas, Georgia, where he had recently moved to work at a local high school, McGougin said.

US diplomats banned from Ice Bucket Challenge

Tumblr executives accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during the ringing of the opening bell at the NASDAQ MarketSite on August 21, 2014 in New York City It is the charity stunt that has got everyone from billionaires to pop stars and even former US presidents drenched by buckets of freezing water. The State Department has issued an internal telegram forbidding US ambassadors and other high-profile foreign service officers from participating in the forfeit, in which people either pledge $100 to ALS research or record themselves getting soaked by frigid water, then post it online and challenge others to do the same. Federal government ethics rules prevent us from using our public offices, such as -- high public offices such as ambassadors -- for private gain, no matter how worthy the cause is," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Thursday. "For that reason, high-ranking State Department officials are unfortunately unable to participate in the ice bucket challenge."


A-League's Newcastle Jets to be sold

SYDNEY (AP) — Australian A-League side the Newcastle Jets are being sold by the group owned by financially-troubled mining magnate Nathan Tinkler.

Police: Couple used dog to lure 2 Amish girls

Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies escort Nicole Vaisey to her preliminary hearing Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, at town court in Fowler, N.Y. Vaisey and her boyfriend are accused of abducting and sexually abusing a pair of young Amish sisters on Wednesday, Aug. 13, before releasing them the following day. (AP Photo/Mike Virtanen) FOWLER, N.Y. (AP) — A northern New York couple used a dog to lure two Amish sisters from their family farm stand with a plan to turn them into slaves, an investigator said Thursday.


Venezuela to fight food smugglers with fingerprint scans

Customers walk past empty shelves in a supermarket in Caracas on June 17, 2014 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced plans to introduce fingerprint scanners at supermarkets in a bid to stop food smugglers he blames for the crippling shortages gripping the country. Price controls in Venezuela keep food and other basic goods up to 10 times cheaper than in neighboring countries, and Maduro blames the shortages on smugglers who buy cheap products and sell them for large profits across the border, particularly in Colombia. Under the new system, the scanners would be used to prevent people from making repeat trips to the supermarket and buying abnormally large amounts of food. "The order has been given to the superintendency of prices to establish a biometric system in all supermarkets and commercial and distribution chain networks of the republic," Maduro said in announcing the measure.


Venezuela to fight food smugglers with fingerprint scans

Customers walk past empty shelves in a supermarket in Caracas on June 17, 2014 Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has announced plans to introduce fingerprint scanners at supermarkets in a bid to stop food smugglers he blames for the crippling shortages gripping the country. Price controls in Venezuela keep food and other basic goods up to 10 times cheaper than in neighboring countries, and Maduro blames the shortages on smugglers who buy cheap products and sell them for large profits across the border, particularly in Colombia. Under the new system, the scanners would be used to prevent people from making repeat trips to the supermarket and buying abnormally large amounts of food. "The order has been given to the superintendency of prices to establish a biometric system in all supermarkets and commercial and distribution chain networks of the republic," Maduro said in announcing the measure.


Top Asian News at 1:00 a.m. GMT

BANGKOK (AP) — Three months after overthrowing an elected government, Thailand's junta leader is stepping out of his army uniform to take up the post of prime minister in a move critics say will prolong his rule and bolster the military's grip on power. Thailand's legislature voted overwhelmingly Thursday to name Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to the new job. There was little doubt over the outcome since Prayuth was the only candidate and the assembly — hand-picked by the junta — is dominated by active and retired duty officers.

10 Things to Know for Friday

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, joined by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, after the Democratic majority voted to weaken filibusters and make it harder for Republicans to block confirmation of the president's nominees for judges and other top posts. McConnell said Democrats are using a power play to distract voters from the president's troubled health care law. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:


Ryu sets course record at Canadian Women's Open

So Yeon Ryu, of South Korea, watches her tee shot on the 14th hole at the Canadian Pacific Women's Open golf tournament in London, Ontario, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Dave Chidley) LONDON, Ontario (AP) — On the eve of the Canadian Pacific Women's Open, So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi and Inbee Park got together for dinner with some fellow South Korean golfers.


Oregon teenager pleads guilty, sentenced in swastika attack

By Teresa Carson PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - An Oregon teenager pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Thursday for taking part in an attack on a friend who was beaten, forced to eat cat feces and had a swastika carved into his forehead, prosecutors said. Blue Kalmbach, 16, the last of four teenage defendants to plead guilty in the case, entered guilty pleas to first-degree kidnapping, robbery and second-degree assault, Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Ramras said. Ramras said Kalmbach was responsible "for the most, sort of, hands on physical abuse," Ramras said, and thus received the longest sentence of the four. Kalmbach apologized in court before he was sentenced.

Calif. bill would pay for lawyers for unaccompanied minor immigrants

California Governor Jerry Brown adjusts his earpiece during a news conference at Memoria y Tolerancia museum in Mexico City California would spend $3 million on lawyers for unaccompanied minors arriving in California from Central America under a proposal announced Thursday by top California Democrats. Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, along with Attorney General Kamala Harris and the leaders of both houses of the legislature, said they planned to submit legislation authorizing the expenditure to help children who have been streaming over borders in Southwest states since last fall. “It is critical that these children, many of whom are fleeing extreme violence in Central America, have access to due process and adequate legal representation.‎” Central American children began flooding the border at crossing points in Texas earlier this year, overwhelming local officials and leading the federal government to send thousands to other states for processing. By the end of June, about 3,000 of the children had been sent to California, and more have come since.


Alabama man charged in killing over DVDs cites 'stand your ground' law

Kenny Dewayne Adams, 36, is charged with one count of murder in the Dec. 31, 2012, death of Yancy Metz Foster, 34, his cousin and neighbor, and is due to stand trial in state court on Monday in Athens, 20 miles west of Huntsville. The incident stemmed from Adams loaning Foster the DVD box set, which consisted of the first two installments in the movie franchise, said Limestone County District Attorney Brian Jones, who characterized it as Adams' "most prized possession." When Adams went to retrieve the DVDs, the two began fighting, with Adams fatally stabbing Foster, Jones said.

British Muslims blame jihadi subculture after beheading video

Still image from undated video of a masked Islamic State militant holding a knife speaking next to man purported to be James Foley at an unknown location By Kate Holton and Raheem Salman LONDON/BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A British Muslim leader called for action on Thursday to tackle a jihadi sub-culture after an Islamic State video showed a suspected Briton beheading U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the threat from Islamic State was "beyond anything we've seen" and the U.S. Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into the death of Foley on the video, which featured a masked man speaking English with a British accent. As Western officials tried to identify the man, the Muslim Council of Britain denounced Foley's "abhorrent murder" and one of its advisers urged anyone who knows the killer's identity to contact the police.


California to appeal ruling tossing death penalty

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's attorney general said Thursday she will appeal a federal court ruling that called the state's death penalty unconstitutional.

Mexican mining firm complains about probe of spill

Mexican mining firm complains about probe of spill MEXICO CITY (AP) — A mining conglomerate charged Thursday that it is being subjected to "punitive" legal actions by Mexican officials because one of its mines spilled acid-laced copper sulfate and heavy metals into two rivers.


Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen dies at 75

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Convicted Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen, who abducted women and hunted them down in the Alaska wilderness in the 1970s as Anchorage boomed with construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, died Thursday. He was 75.

California plans aid to immigrant minors

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers will approve legislation supported by Gov. Jerry Brown to spend $3 million in state money to provide legal help for unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America, Democratic leaders announced Thursday.

California plans aid to immigrant minors

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers will approve legislation supported by Gov. Jerry Brown to spend $3 million in state money to provide legal help for unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America, Democratic leaders announced Thursday.

National Guard to withdraw from riot-torn Ferguson, Missouri

A member of the National Guard cordons off a staging area inside a shopping center parking lot in Ferguson, Missouri By Carey Gillam and Scott Malone FERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - Missouri's governor ordered the withdrawal of National Guard troops from the strife-torn town of Ferguson on Thursday as tensions appeared to ease after nearly two weeks of racially charged protests over the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown. Demonstrations after dark on Wednesday marked one of the calmest nights of street gatherings in the St. Louis suburb since the unarmed 18-year-old youth was gunned down by a white police officer on Aug. 9 under disputed circumstances. The Brown shooting has sparked nightly rallies punctuated in most instances by looting, vandalism and clashes between demonstrators and heavily armed riot police, often ending in volleys of tear gas and dozens of arrests. Although Ferguson is predominantly African American, its political leadership, police department and public school administration are dominated by whites.


National Guard to withdraw from riot-torn Ferguson, Missouri

A member of the National Guard cordons off a staging area inside a shopping center parking lot in Ferguson, Missouri By Carey Gillam and Scott Malone FERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - Missouri's governor ordered the withdrawal of National Guard troops from the strife-torn town of Ferguson on Thursday as tensions appeared to ease after nearly two weeks of racially charged protests over the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown. Demonstrations after dark on Wednesday marked one of the calmest nights of street gatherings in the St. Louis suburb since the unarmed 18-year-old youth was gunned down by a white police officer on Aug. 9 under disputed circumstances. The Brown shooting has sparked nightly rallies punctuated in most instances by looting, vandalism and clashes between demonstrators and heavily armed riot police, often ending in volleys of tear gas and dozens of arrests. Although Ferguson is predominantly African American, its political leadership, police department and public school administration are dominated by whites.


Vettori to play at Champions Trophy

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori will play for Northern Districts province at next month's Champions League Twenty20 cricket tournament in India.

University of Colorado fights turning over records in theater massacre case

James Holmes sits in court for an advisement hearing at the Arapahoe County Justice Center in Centennial By Keith Coffman DENVER (Reuters) - The University of Colorado is fighting attempts by lawyers defending accused cinema gunman James Holmes to turn over records that public defenders say the school was trying to hide about its former student, court documents show.


GPS devices find huge water loss in western US

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A new study finds that 63 trillion gallons of water have been lost to drought in the western United States, enough to blanket the region with 5 inches of water.

U.S. court denies Allergan bid to speed insider trading suit

Allergan CEO Pyott speaks during an interview in New York (Reuters) - A federal judge in California on Thursday denied a request by Allergan Inc to expedite its civil suit claiming that Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc and Pershing Square Capital Management engaged in insider trading ahead of their bid to buy Allergan. Judge David Carter said the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California "would be reluctant to create a precedent that allows corporations to demand at will the immediate attention and input of the federal courts in order to resolve intra-corporate disputes that might be better left to the dynamic free market or to the state court." Valeant and Pershing Square made an offer for Botox maker Allergan in April, which the company has rejected. Allergan has fought the takeover attempt and on Aug. 1 filed a civil insider trading lawsuit against the companies, saying that the unusual partnership between them violated securities regulations.


Top Asian News at 12:30 a.m. GMT

BANGKOK (AP) — Three months after overthrowing an elected government, Thailand's junta leader is stepping out of his army uniform to take up the post of prime minister in a move critics say will prolong his rule and bolster the military's grip on power. Thailand's legislature voted overwhelmingly Thursday to name Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha to the new job. There was little doubt over the outcome since Prayuth was the only candidate and the assembly — hand-picked by the junta — is dominated by active and retired duty officers.

Foley captors sent taunting letter to family: employer

US freelance reporter James Foley at the airport of Sirte, Libya on September 29, 2011 Journalist James Foley's jihadist captors sent his family a taunting and rambling email threatening to kill him, just a week before making public a video of his execution, the American reporter's employer said. GlobalPost said on Thursday it released the full text of the email from Islamic State (IS) militants "in the interest of transparency and to fully tell Jim's story." "We believe the text offers insight into the motivations and tactics of the Islamic State," it added.


Mexico nabs suspects with 10,000 sea turtle eggs

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Environmental prosecutors in Mexico say three suspects have been detained in the southern Pacific coast state of Oaxaca with more than 10,000 illegally harvested eggs from protected sea turtles.

Oklahoma Catholic bishop drops suit over planned 'black mass'

By Heide Brandes OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma on Thursday dropped a lawsuit filed a day earlier against a Satanic church after it turned over to a Catholic priest a consecrated host, or communion wafer, Satanists planned to use in a "black mass." "I am relieved that we have been able to secure the return of the sacred Host and that we have prevented its desecration as part of a planned Satanic worship invites into our community and the spiritual danger that this poses to all who are involved in it, directly or indirectly," he said. A lawyer for the Angra Mainyu Satanic group named in the suit turned over the communion wafer on Thursday. The Catholic Archdiocese claimed the communion wafer was obtained "by illicit means." Adam Daniels, leader of Angra Mainyu, said the wafer was sent to him from a priest in Turkey who is also a Satanist.
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