Military observers held by
pro-Russian forces in Ukraine speak under armed guard
SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) -- SLOVYANSK, Ukraine -- Pro-Russian militants in camouflage fatigues and black balaclavas paraded captive European military observers before the media on Sunday, hours after three Ukrainian security guards were shown on Russian TV bloodied, blindfolded and stripped of their trousers and shoes, their arms bound with packing tape.
The provocative displays came as the increasingly ruthless pro-Russian insurgency in the east turns to hostage-taking as an ominous new tactic.
Germany’s foreign minister condemned the appearance as "revolting" and a violation of the men’s dignity. Four members of the team are German.
One of the observers, a Swedish officer, was released later in the day for medical reasons.
Dozens of people are being held hostage, including journalists and pro-Ukraine activists, in makeshift jails in Slovyansk in the heart of the separatists’ territory, as the pro-Russian insurgents strengthen their control in the east in defiance of the interim government in Kiev and its Western supporters.
Key tool for crime or our new virtual home? Supreme Court confronts role of cellphone in U.S.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two Supreme Court cases about police searches of cellphones without warrants present vastly different views of the ubiquitous device.
Is it a critical tool for a criminal or is it an American’s virtual home?
How the justices answer that question could determine the outcome of the cases being argued Tuesday. A drug dealer and a gang member want the court to rule that the searches of their cellphones after their arrest violated their right to privacy in the digital age.
The Obama administration and California, defending the searches, say cellphones are no different from anything else a person may be carrying when arrested. Police may search those items without a warrant under a line of high court cases reaching back 40 years.
What’s more, said Donald Verrilli Jr., the administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer, "Cellphones are now critical tools in the commission of crimes."
New York could become 1st state to stop police from using condoms as evidence of prostitution
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York City spends more than a million dollars every year to distribute free condoms to combat unintended pregnancies and diseases such as AIDS. Yet city police are allowed to confiscate those very condoms as evidence of prostitution.
That conflict is behind the latest legislative proposal to make New York the first state to prohibit condoms -- specifically the existence of multiple condoms -- from being used as evidence in prostitution cases, a widespread practice that advocates say undermines decades of public health goals.
"There may be no actual evidence, and the condom is their only way to trying to prove it," said Hawk Kinkaid, a former male escort who now advocates on their behalf in New York City. "The fear that this will be used against you -- it prevents people from being able to protect themselves."
The practice has come under criticism across the country, with prosecutors in San Francisco, Brooklyn and Nassau County in suburban New York City announcing last year they will no longer use condoms as evidence in prostitution cases.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said she decided the benefits of condoms as evidence don’t outweigh the public health impact. Most prostitution cases don’t go to trial, and trafficking cases typically require much greater evidence.
Strong storms with hail, high winds move through Midwest; southern states at risk of tornadoes
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Strong storms swept through parts of the Midwest on Sunday, spawning damaging winds, large hail and at least one tornado.
Central Arkansas, including the Little Rock area, is at the highest risk of severe storms later Sunday, The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said.
Forecasters also asked people to be alert Sunday for possible tornadoes in a wide swath of the Midwest and south, stretching from Omaha, Neb., south to Texas and east to northern Louisiana and Mississippi.
"The greatest risk for a few intense tornadoes will exist across much of Arkansas perhaps into western and central Missouri," a weather service advisory said.
Nebraska was the first state to have reported tornado. The National Weather Service said one touched down Sunday afternoon in a rural area in central Nebraska for a short amount of time, but no damage was immediately reported.
Pope Francis declares John XXIII, John Paul II saints as Benedict looks on in day of 4 popes
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Two 20th-century popes who changed the course of the Catholic Church became saints Sunday as Pope Francis honored John XXIII and John Paul II in a delicate balancing act aimed at bringing together the conservative and progressive wings of the church.
As if to drive the message of unity home, Francis invited retired Pope Benedict XVI to join him on the altar of St. Peter’s Square, the first time a reigning and retired pope have celebrated Mass together in public in the 2,000-year history of the church.
An estimated 800,000 people -- many of them from John Paul’s native Poland -- filled St. Peter’s, the streets around it and bridges over the Tiber River, a huge turnout but only half the size of the crowd that came out for John Paul’s 2011 beatification.
John reigned from 1958-1963 and is a hero to liberal Catholics for having convened the Second Vatican Council. The meetings brought the church into the modern era by allowing Mass to be celebrated in local languages rather than Latin and encouraged greater dialogue with people of other faiths, particularly Jews.
During his globe-trotting, quarter-century papacy, John Paul II helped topple communism and invigorated a new generation of Catholics, while his defense of core church teaching on abortion, marriage and other hot-button issues heartened conservatives after the turbulent 1960s. Abbas, in rare acknowledgment, calls Holocaust ‘most heinous crime’ of modern history
JERUSALEM (AP) -- The Palestinian president on Sunday called the Holocaust "the most heinous crime" of modern history, voicing a rare acknowledgment of Jewish suffering shortly before Israel held its annual memorial for victims of the Nazi genocide.
President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement appeared to be aimed at reaching out to Israeli public opinion at a time of deep crisis in U.S.-backed peace efforts. Israelis frequently claim the Palestinians are not sincere about wanting peace.
While Israel’s national Holocaust memorial said Abbas’ comments may be a step in the right direction, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brushed them aside.
He said the Abbas’ renewed attempts to reconcile with the Islamic militant movement Hamas raised doubts about the Palestinian leader’s intentions. Hamas, a movement sworn to Israel’s destruction, has questioned the Holocaust and blocked the subject from being taught in schools in the Gaza Strip.
"President Abbas can’t have it both ways. He can’t say the Holocaust was terrible, but at the same time embrace those who deny the Holocaust and seek to perpetrate another destruction of the Jewish people," Netanyahu told CNN.
Obama presses Malaysian government on human rights, defends refusal to meet
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- President Barack Obama on Sunday pressed the Malaysian government to improve its human rights record and appealed to Southeast Asia’s teeming youth population to stand up for the rights of minorities and the rule of law.
Yet Obama skipped a golden chance to promote that human rights agenda, declining to meet with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. Instead, he directed national security adviser Susan Rice to see Anwar on Monday.
Obama said his decision was "not indicative of our lack of concern" about the former deputy prime minister who recently was convicted for the second time on sodomy charges, which the U.S. and international human rights groups contend are politically motivated.
Obama said he had raised his concerns about Malaysia’s restrictions on political freedoms during meetings with Prime Minister Najib Razak.
"Those values are at the core of who the U.S. is, but also I think are a pretty good gauge of whether a society is going to be successful in the 21st century or not," Obama said during a news conference with Najib.
Teen stowaway on flight to
Hawaii desperate to see mother, frustrated with life in the U.S.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- He was young, displaced and frustrated, and he wanted nothing more than to reunite with his mother in their native Africa.
The 15-year-old Somali boy had been arguing at home, and in the kind of impulsive move that teenagers make, he hopped a fence at San Jose International Airport last Sunday and clambered into a wheel well of a Hawaii-bound jetliner.
He survived the trip, and he has not spoken publicly about the ordeal.
But his desperation and frustration -- borne from a life in a new country and new culture, all of it without his mother -- is becoming apparent through interviews with friends, family and law enforcement agents.
His father, Abdulahi Yusuf, said in a statement issued through a family spokesman Sunday that his son is "struggling adjusting to life in this country."
Unique floating lab decodes gene blueprint of ‘aliens of the sea,’ seeks clues on regeneration
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- Researcher Leonid Moroz emerges from a dive off the Florida Keys and gleefully displays a plastic bag holding a creature that shimmers like an opal in the seawater.
This translucent animal and its similarly strange cousins are food for science. They regrow with amazing speed if they get chopped up. Some even regenerate a rudimentary brain.
"Meet the aliens of the sea," the neurobiologist at the University of Florida says with a huge grin.
They’re headed for his unique floating laboratory.
Moroz is on a quest to decode the genomic blueprints of fragile marine life, like these mysterious comb jellies, in real time -- on board the ship where they were caught -- so he can learn which genes switch on and off as the animals perform such tasks as regeneration.
Clippers stage silent protest to owner Donald Sterling as NBA reacts to purported comments
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Clippers chose not to speak publicly about owner Donald Sterling. Instead, they made a silent protest.
In response to Sterling’s purported comments urging a woman to not bring black people to his team’s games, the Clippers on Sunday let their uniforms become a show of solidarity.
They ran out of the tunnel for Game 4 of their first-round playoff at Golden State wearing their warmups. Then they huddled at center court and tossed their warmups to the ground, going through their pregame routine with their red Clippers’ shirts inside out to hide the team’s logo.
Players also wore black wristbands or armbands. They all wore black socks with their normal jerseys.
"It’s just us, only us. We’re all we got," Clippers star guard Chris Paul could be heard shouting to teammates before they ran out.