- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

Key Mideast allies commit to “do their share” to oppose Islamic State militants

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Key Arab allies promised Thursday to “do their share” to fight Islamic State militants, but NATO member Turkey refused to join in, signaling the struggle the U.S. faces in trying to get front-line nations to put aside their regional animosities and work together to defeat a common enemy.

The Arab states’ endorsement of a broad strategy to stop the flow of fighters and funding to the insurgents, and possibly to join military action, came as the CIA doubled its assessment of how many fighters the extremist group can muster.

Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress lined up Thursday behind President Barack Obama’s call to combat the militants, a day after he laid out a long-term campaign that would include expanding airstrikes against the fighters in Iraq, launching strikes against them in Syria for the first time and bolstering the Iraqi military and moderate Syrian rebels to allow them to reclaim territory from the militants.

The 10 Mideast allies announced their backing for a strategy to “destroy” the group “wherever it is, including in both Iraq and Syria,” following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the Red Sea coastal city of Jiddah.

Kerry’s visit, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, was aimed at pinning down how much support regional allies are willing to give to the U.S. plan to beat back the Islamic State group, which has seized large chunks of Iraq and Syria. Nearly 40 nations have agreed to contribute to what Kerry said would be a worldwide fight to defeat the militants.

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Police: Convicted killer of 3 Ohio high school students escapes from prison; search underway

LIMA, Ohio (AP) - The convicted killer of three Ohio students at a high school cafeteria escaped from a prison Thursday night and a search was underway in northwest Ohio, police said.

Nineteen-year-old T.J. Lane escaped along with two other inmates from a prison in Lima, about 80 miles south of Toledo, and one of the inmates was captured, Lima police Sgt. Andy Green said.

A search was underway in woods and a residential area near the prison, Green said, and the two escapees are considered dangerous.

Authorities said they do not believe the two men were armed, however. They had no further information on how the inmates escaped from prison. Green said the police were notified about 8 p.m. Thursday evening.

Lane, then 18, pleaded guilty last year to shooting three students in February 2012 at Chardon High School, east of Cleveland. He said he didn’t know why he did. He was given three life sentences.

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10 Things to Know for Friday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:

1. WHO’S RALLYING AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE MILITANTS

Nearly 40 nations have agreed to contribute to what U.S. Secretary of State Kerry says will be a worldwide fight to defeat the group.

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Nation’s latest military campaign against terror casts a shadow over 9/11 ceremonies

NEW YORK (AP) - The nation’s gathering war against a new upsurge in Islamic terror hung heavy over the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks Thursday, stirring both anxiety and determination among those who came to ground zero to remember their loved ones.

The familiar silence to mark the attacks and the solemn roll call of the nearly 3,000 dead came just hours after President Barack Obama told the country he is authorizing stepped-up airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Islamic State extremists.

“It’s an ongoing war against terrorists. Old ones die out and new ones pop up,” Vasile Poptean said as he left the ceremony, where he had gone to remember his brother, Joshua Poptean. “If we don’t engage them now, there’s a possibility there will be another 9/11 down the road.”

Victims’ relatives and dignitaries gathered in the plaza where the twin towers once stood, an area of shimmering new skyscrapers, including the soon-to-open 1,776-foot One World Trade Center.

The attacks were also commemorated in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where former House Speaker Dennis Hastert gave the flag that flew atop the U.S. Capitol on 9/11 to the Flight 93 National Memorial.

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‘Everyone should just drop it’: Ravens fans wear No 27 to show support for Rice

BALTIMORE (AP) - Music blared from the purple bus, and Baltimore Ravens fan Racquel Bailey stood with drink in hand amid her usual tailgate buddies while making a bold fashion statement: a black, rhinestone-decorated jersey with the white No. 27.

A Ray Rice jersey.

“There’s two sides to every story,” said the 23-year-old waitress from Baltimore. “I saw the video. That’s their personal business, and it shouldn’t have affected his career. I don’t agree with domestic violence, but she’s still with him, so obviously it wasn’t that big of a deal. Everyone should just drop it.”

Ravens fans male and female, young and old, arrived for Thursday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers debating the events that have affected their team over the last few days. Their once beloved running back has been kicked off the team and banned by the NFL after a video surfaced that showed him punching his then-fiancee - and now wife - inside an Atlantic City hotel elevator.

All condemned Rice’s actions, but there was little consensus as to what his punishment should be. The NFL did the right thing by suspending him, some said, but the Ravens shouldn’t have terminated his contract as well. Or maybe the suspension should have remained at two games, where it stood before the punch video became public.

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Pistorius trial: Judge says athlete not guilty of murder but still faces lesser charge

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) - During his trial, Oscar Pistorius sometimes retched and sobbed. The double-amputee Olympian sobbed again on Thursday, this time in apparent relief as a judge said the evidence did not support a murder conviction for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

The judge could still convict Pistorius of a negligent killing - a crime that can carry a lengthy jail term or just a suspended sentence and fine - when she likely finishes reading her lengthy conclusions in court on Friday. Some legal analysts were surprised, saying the runner could at least have been convicted of a lesser murder charge, rather than the premeditated murder charge leveled by the state.

The Pretoria courtroom was packed for the ruling in the case against 27-year-old Pistorius, once a globally admired celebrity who competed against able-bodied athletes at the 2012 Olympics in London. His brother, Carl, was there in a wheelchair because of injuries suffered in a recent car crash. So were Steenkamp’s parents, June and Barry.

Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, had been seeing the star athlete for only a few months before he killed her by shooting four times through a closed toilet door in his home in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day last year. Pistorius said he thought an intruder was in the toilet and about to attack him; the prosecution said he intentionally killed her after an argument.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, wearing a red robe, unveiled her analysis of the case after saying little throughout the sensational six-month trial as lawyers argued and witnesses testified about the shocking killing. South Africa does not have a jury system, and judges customarily issue verdicts only after explaining their reasoning.

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Yahoo says gov’t threatened fine of $250,000 a day if it failed to turn over surveillance data

WASHINGTON (AP) - Yahoo said Thursday the government threatened to fine the company $250,000 a day if it did not comply with demands to go along with an expansion of U.S. surveillance by surrendering online information, a step the company regarded as unconstitutional.

The outlines of Yahoo’s secret and ultimately unsuccessful court fight against government surveillance emerged when a federal judge ordered the unsealing of some material about Yahoo’s court challenge.

In a statement, Yahoo said the government amended a law to demand user information from online services, prompting a challenge in 2007 during the George W. Bush administration.

“Our challenge, and a later appeal in the case, did not succeed,” Yahoo general counsel Ron Bell said in a statement.

The new material about the case underscores “how we had to fight every step of the way to challenge the U.S. government’s surveillance efforts,” Bell added. “At one point, the U.S. government threatened the imposition of $250,000 in fines per day if we refused to comply.”

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American receives blood from fellow Ebola survivor; doctors say aggressive treatment working

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - An American aid worker infected with Ebola has been given blood from a fellow doctor who battled the disease, and Nebraska doctors say the man has responded well to aggressive treatment in the past week.

Dr. Rick Sacra received two blood transfusions from Dr. Kent Brantly last weekend after arriving at the Nebraska Medical Center, Dr. Phil Smith said Thursday. Sacra also has been given an experimental drug that doctors refuse to identify, and he has received supportive care including IV fluids.

Sacra is close friends with Brantly, one of the first two Americans treated for Ebola in Atlanta last month, from their missionary work.

“It really meant a lot to us that he was willing to give that donation so quickly after his own recovery,” Sacra’s wife, Debbie, said.

Sacra, 51, and Brantly, 33, both arrived at the hospital in Omaha last Friday. Brantly tried to visit with Sacra over a video conference after he donated his blood to the hospital’s blood bank for testing, but Debbie Sacra said Thursday her husband doesn’t remember that encounter. The blood was reduced to plasma before the first transfusion.

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AP EXCLUSIVE: Obama administration to slow deportations? It’s already doing so - and sharply

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is on pace this year to deport the fewest number of immigrants since at least 2007, even as he has postponed until after Election Day his promised unilateral action that could shield millions more from deportation.

According to an analysis of Homeland Security Department figures by The Associated Press, the federal agency responsible for deportations sent home 258,608 immigrants between the start of the budget year last October and July 28 this summer. During the same period a year earlier, it removed 320,167 people - meaning a decrease this year of nearly 20 percent.

Over the same period ending in July 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported 344,624 people, some 25 percent more than this year, according to the federal figures obtained by the AP.

The figures, contained in weekly internal reports marked “Official Use Only,” reflect the marked decline in deportations even as Obama has delayed announcing what changes he will make to U.S. immigration policies. Immigration advocates widely expect Obama to reduce the number of people who are deported, and that’s a particularly sensitive issue in many states, leading to his postponement of any action until after the November elections.

Obama sent his chief of staff to the Capitol on Thursday to reassure unhappy Latino lawmakers that he still plans to act by the end of the year. Lawmakers say that some vented their anger during the meeting with Denis McDonough, who heard them out and pledged action.

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Water-living 50-foot dinosaur unveiled; Discoverer: ‘It’s like working on an extraterrestrial’

WASHINGTON (AP) - Picture the fearsome creatures of “Jurassic Park” crossed with the shark from “Jaws.” Then super-size to the biggest predator ever to roam Earth. Now add a crocodile snout as big as a person and feet like a duck’s.

The result gives you some idea of a bizarre dinosaur scientists unveiled Thursday.

This patchwork of critters, a 50-foot predator, is the only known dinosaur to live much of its life in the water.

The beast, called Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, was already known to scientists from a long-ago fossil discovery, but most of those bones were destroyed in Germany during World War II. Now, 70 years later, a new skeleton found in Morocco reveals that the beast was far more aquatic than originally thought.

Spinosaurus had a long neck, strong clawed forearms, powerful jaws and the dense bones of a penguin. It propelled itself in water with flat feet that were probably webbed, according to a study released Thursday by the journal Science. The beast sported a spiny sail on its back that was 7 feet tall when it lived 95 million years ago.

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