Missing New Hampshire college student killed by train in Rome
ROME (AP) -- A college student from New Hampshire who was missing for two days in Rome was hit by a train, Italian railway police said Saturday.
While police didn’t release the identity of the student whose body was found in a rail tunnel Thursday, Trinity College Rome Campus officials said Saturday the student was Bates College junior John Durkin. The 21-year-old from Rye, N.H., was in a study abroad program.
"It is with much sadness that the Durkin family informs you of the loss of John Nolen Durkin and thanks everyone for their support during the past few days," according to a statement from his family posted to a Facebook page that had been set up to help find him.
The community at Bates, where Durkin was a linebacker on the football team, and had been studying economics, also was informed of his death.
"This is obviously a heartbreaking moment for John’s family and I want to extend our own sense of deep loss and sorrow to his family and many friends," said Bates spokesman Jay Burns. "This is also deeply painful to the Bates College community."
Durkin had last been seen around 2:30 a.m. Thursday in Campo de’ Fiori, a historic square lined with pubs popular with students. Police said someone aboard a passing train spotted the body a few hours later in the tunnel running under a large park between stations near the Vatican and the Trastevere neighborhood.
States propose measures
to tackle backlog of untested rape kits
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- With possibly hundreds of thousands of rape kits untested across the country, a number of states are proposing legislation to address backlogs that in at least one case dates back nearly three decades.
In Memphis, Tenn., alone, there are more than 12,000 untested rape kits going back to the 1980s, according to the New York-based Rape Kit Action Project, which has been tracking the backlogs nationwide. In the entire state of Texas, there are about 16,000 untested kits collecting dust in police evidence rooms.
Tennessee is among at least 17 states with proposals that range from requiring law enforcement agencies to inventory their rape kits to analyzing them in a certain amount of time. Three states -- Colorado, Illinois and Texas -- have passed laws that mandate a statewide accounting of untested rape kits.
Most of the other states’ proposals favor the inventory measure that would require all law enforcement agencies that store rape kits to count the number of untested kits. Rape Project spokeswoman Natasha Alexenko estimates there are about 400,000 nationwide that fall into that category.
"Until we enact this kind of legislation where we’re counting them, we really have no idea," said Alexenko, a rape victim whose rape kit was finally tested after nearly 10 years, and her attacker arrested after a match was found.
Oil spill closes part of
Miss. River in Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The Coast Guard says a 65-mile stretch of the Mississippi River is closed until further notice while crews clean up oil from a barge that hit a towboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
The collision happened Saturday afternoon near Vacherie (VASH-uh-ree), 47 miles west of New Orleans. In nearby St. Charles Parish, officials say public drinking water intakes on the river are closed as a precaution.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough says the barge was one of two loaded with light crude being pushed by the Hannah C. Settoon. He says it hit the Lindsay Ann Erickson, which was pushing grain barges.
Colclough says nobody was hurt and all barges remained secured.
Colclough says officials don’t know how much oil spilled, but only a sheen of oil is reported on the river.
Ukrainian parliament chief takes presidential powers amid fears of split in country
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- With an ally claiming presidential powers Sunday and the whereabouts and legitimacy of the nominal president unclear, newly freed opposition icon Yulia Tymoshenko may feel her chance to take Ukraine’s leadership has come. But even among protesters who detest President Viktor Yanukovych, Tymoshenko sparks misgivings.
The former prime minister, who was convicted of abuse of office in a case widely seen as political revenge by her arch-foe Yanukovych, is a polarizing figure in a country staggering from political tensions that exploded into violence. Admired and even adored by many for her flair and fiery rhetoric, Tymoshenko is regarded by others as driven by intense ego and tainted with corruption.
Just a day after she left the hospital where she was imprisoned, demonstrators outside the Cabinet of Ministers expressed dismay that she could be Ukraine’s next president. One of them held a placard depicting Tymoshenko taking power from Yanukovych and reading, "People didn’t die for this."
Ukraine is in a delicate state of uncertainty since Yanukovych and protest leaders signed an agreement to end the conflict that left more than 80 people dead last week in Kiev. Soon after signing it, Yanukovych’s whereabouts are unclear after he left the capital for his support base in eastern Ukraine. Allies are deserting him.
New details emerge about arrest of drug lord at beachfront condo in Mexico
WASHINGTON (AP) -- New details are emerging about the arrest of one of the world’s most wanted drug lords.
A U.S.government official and a senior federal law enforcement official say cellphone intercepts and the arrests of a courier and top aide to Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman led to his arrest early Saturday.
The officials say U.S. and Mexican authorities found a cellphone belonging to the aide on Feb. 16 at a house where drugs were stored.
Another wiretap run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement led authorities to the beachfront condo where Guzman was taken into custody.
Guzman was armed with a military-style assault rifle when he was arrested.
Taliban says talks suspended to exchange captive U.S. soldier for prisoners in Guantanamo Bay
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- Afghanistan’s Taliban said Sunday they had suspended "mediation" with the United States to exchange captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five senior Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, halting -- at least temporarily -- what was considered the best chance yet of securing the 27-year-old soldier’s freedom since his capture in 2009.
In a terse Pashto language statement emailed to The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid blamed the "current complex political situation in the country" for the suspension.
A U.S. official with knowledge of the talks said the cause of the suspension was not the result of any issue between the United States and Taliban. He declined to elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.
Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, was last seen in a video released in December, footage seen as "proof of life" demanded by the U.S. Bergdahl is believed to be held in the border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mujahid said the indirect talks with the U.S. had been mediated by Qatar, where the Taliban established a political office last June. The video of Bergdahl was part of the negotiations which were to lead to the eventual transfer of the five Taliban leaders held since 2002 in Guantanamo Bay.
Samsung unveils smartwatches with
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Samsung unveiled two new computerized wristwatches on Sunday, this time including health sensors and related fitness features to give people a reason to buy one.
Samsung’s first Galaxy Gear smartwatch came out last fall amid much fanfare, but it landed with a thud in the marketplace. Samsung and its smartwatch rivals had failed to persuade many consumers that they need to be able to constantly check messages from their wrists. Wearable devices that succeeded tended to be fitness products such as the Fitbit.
The new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo will have a heart rate sensor, a pedometer and various tools to measure exercise, sleep and stress levels. The low-resolution, 2-megapixel camera on the Gear 2 is being moved to the main body; it was on the strap on the original Gear. The Gear 2 Neo has no camera and is slightly larger, but lighter. Available colors are also slightly different.
It’s unclear whether the new watches will continually display the time. In the original Gear, that was shut off to save battery, which lasted just a day. The new watches promise two or three days under normal use, putting them more in line with what rivals offer.
Samsung didn’t announce prices for the new watches, but said they would be available in April. The original cost $300.