Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams arrested over IRA’s 1972 abduction, killing of Belfast woman
DUBLIN (AP) -- Police in Northern Ireland arrested Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams on Wednesday over his alleged involvement in the Irish Republican Army’s 1972 abduction, killing and secret burial of a Belfast widow.
Adams, 65, confirmed his own arrest in a prepared statement and described it as a voluntary, prearranged interview.
Police long had been expected to question Adams about the killing of Jean McConville, a 38-year-old mother of 10 whom the IRA killed with a single gunshot to the head as an alleged spy.
According to all authoritative histories of the Sinn Fein-IRA movement, Adams served as an IRA commander for decades, but he has always denied holding any position in the outlawed group.
"I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family," Adams said. "Well publicized, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these. While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs. McConville."
China’s state broadcaster says
3 dead in train station attack
in restive Xinjiang region
BEIJING (AP) -- An explosion rocked a railway station in China’s restive far-western region of Xinjiang, and the state broadcaster said three people were killed and 79 people were injured.
CCTV said assailants attacked crowds with knives and set off explosions at the same time at the Urumqi South Station. The station called in a terrorist act.
It was unclear whether Xi was still in the region at the time of the blast, which occurred at the rail station in the regional capital of Urumqi.
Train service was suspended for about two hours before it reopened under the watch of armed police, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
A woman working at a convenience store near the train station said she heard a loud explosion shortly after 7 p.m.
Botched Oklahoma execution offers new evidence to death penalty opponents, defense attorneys
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A bungled execution in Oklahoma provides death penalty opponents with a fresh, startling example of how lethal injections can go wrong. But the odds of successfully challenging the nation’s main execution method will probably hinge on exactly what caused the apparent agony of inmate Clayton Lockett.
If the four-time convicted felon suffered because of a collapsed vein or improperly inserted IV, the legal landscape might not change much. If the drugs or the secrecy surrounding them played a role, defense attorneys for other prisoners could have powerful new evidence to press the Supreme Court to get involved, legal experts say.
A day after the execution went awry, some attorneys for death-row inmates began planning new appeals or updating existing cases based on events in Oklahoma. Many called for moratoriums and independent investigations.
"Every prison is saying, ‘We have it under control, trust us,"’ said Texas attorney Maurie Levin, who spent Wednesday preparing new briefs questioning that state’s execution practices. "This just underscores in bold that we can’t trust them, and prisons have to be accountable to the public and transparent in the method by which they carry out executions."
The 38-year-old Lockett, convicted of shooting a woman and watching as two accomplices buried her alive, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of three drugs was administered Tuesday. Three minutes later, he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow. Authorities halted the execution, but Lockett died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes after the process began.
Hundreds rescued from floodwaters in Florida Panhandle, Alabama in latest blow from storms
PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- People were plucked off rooftops or climbed into their attics to get away from fast-rising waters when nearly 2 feet of rain fell on the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast in the span of about 24 hours, the latest bout of severe weather that began with tornadoes in the Midwest.
In the Panhandle on Wednesday, roads were chewed up into pieces or wiped out entirely. A car and truck plummeted 25 feet when portions of a scenic highway collapsed. Cars were overturned and neighborhoods were inundated, making rescues difficult for hundreds of people who called for help when they were caught off guard by the single rainiest day ever recorded in Pensacola.
Boats and Humvees zigzagged through the flooded streets to help stranded residents. At the height of the storm, about 30,000 people were without power. One Florida woman died when she drove her car into high water, officials said.
Near the Alabama-Florida line, water started creeping into Brandi McCoon’s mobile home, so her fiance, Jonathan Brown, wrapped up her nearly 2-year-old son Noah in a blanket and they swam in neck-deep water to their car about 50 feet away.
Then, the car was flooded.
A storm system that spawned tornadoes and sparked widespread flooding across states has been socking the U.S. for four days. Here are some quick facts and anecdotes on the system:
-- TORNADOES: At least 65 tornadoes hit the U.S., according to rough estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
-- DEATHS: In all, 37 deaths in eight states have been blamed on the storms.
-- DOUBLE WHAMMY: In one of the few times in history, America had back-to-back days with tornado deaths in the double digits, on Sunday and Monday.
-- STATES AFFECTED: At least 16 states were hit by the storm system in some way, most in the South and the nation’s midsection.
Kiev leader: Security forces unable to restore order in east, some have links to insurgents
HORLIVKA, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine’s acting president conceded Wednesday that his police and security forces were "helpless" to stifle unrest in the country’s east, where pro-Russia gunmen seized more buildings, walking into the police station and mayor’s office in this mining hub without resistance.
Insurgents also took control of the customs service building in Donetsk, the region’s main city, and city hall in Alchevsk, an industrial center of about 110,000, adding to the scores of buildings taken by the separatists over the past month in the east, where a dozen cities are now in the hands of the separatists.
Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has twice proclaimed "anti-terrorist" operations to regain control of the east, but to little effect. In a meeting with officials from other Ukrainian regions, he acknowledged the failure and indicated the government would back off even trying to bring the most restive parts of the east to heel, focusing instead on trying to keep the unrest from spreading to other parts of the nation of 46 million.
"I will be frank: Today, security forces are unable to quickly take the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under control," Turchynov said. "The security bodies ... are unable to carry out their duties of protecting citizens. They are helpless in those matters."
"Moreover, some of those units are either helping or cooperating with terrorist organizations," he said.
Iraq votes for new parliament in an election without foreign troops
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraq voted Wednesday in its first nationwide election since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011, with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki confident of victory and even offering an olive branch to his critics by inviting them to join him in a governing coalition.
But his optimism will do little to conceal the turmoil and violence that still stalk Iraq in the eight years he has held office, with the looming threat of the country sliding deeper into sectarian bloodshed and risking a breakup.
"Our victory is certain, but we are talking about how big is that certain success," he said after voting in Baghdad.
"Here we are today, successfully holding the ... election while no foreign troops exist on Iraqi soil. I call upon all the other groups to leave the past behind and start a new phase of good brotherly relations," said al-Maliki, who faces growing criticism over government corruption and persistent bloodshed as sectarian tensions threaten to push Iraq back toward the brink of civil war.
The election was held amid a massive security operation, with hundreds of thousands of troops and police deployed across the country to protect polling centers and voters. The streets of Baghdad, a city of 7 million, looked deserted. Police and soldiers manned checkpoints roughly 500 meters (yards) apart and pickup trucks mounted with machine guns roamed the streets that were otherwise devoid of the usual traffic jams.
Reports: Abducted girls forced to marry Nigerian extremists; demands for action
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- Scores of girls and young women kidnapped from a school in Nigeria are being forced to marry their Islamic extremist abductors, a civic organization reported Wednesday.
At the same time, the Boko Haram terrorist network is negotiating over the students’ fate and is demanding an unspecified ransom for their release, a Borno state community leader told The Associated Press.
He said the Wednesday night message from the abductors also claimed that two of the girls have died from snake bites.
The message was sent to a member of a presidential committee mandated last year to mediate a ceasefire with the Islamic extremists, said the civic leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about the talks.
The news of negotiations comes as parents say the girls are being sold into marriage to Boko Haram militants. The students are being paid 2,000 naira ($12) to marry the fighters, Halite Aliyu of the Borno-Yobe People’s Forum told The Associated Press. She said the parents’ information about mass weddings is coming from villagers in the Sambisa Forest, on Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, where Boko Haram is known to have hideouts.
’Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ actor Bob Hoskins dies at 71 after battle with pneumonia
LONDON (AP) -- Bob Hoskins never lost his Cockney accent, even as he became a global star who charmed and alarmed audiences in a vast range of roles.
Short and bald, with a face he once compared to "a squashed cabbage," Hoskins was a remarkably versatile performer. As a London gangster in "The Long Good Friday," he moved from bravura bluster to tragic understatement. In "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," he cavorted with a cast of animated characters, making technological trickery seem seamless and natural.
A family statement released Wednesday said Hoskins had died in a hospital the night before after a bout of pneumonia. He was 71 and had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012.
Helen Mirren, who starred alongside Hoskins in "The Long Good Friday," called him "a great actor and an even greater man. Funny, loyal, instinctive, hard-working, with that inimitable energy that seemed like a spectacular firework rocket just as it takes off."
"I personally will miss him very much, London will miss one of her best and most loving sons, and Britain will miss a man to be proud of," Mirren said.