Internet video purports to show beheading of U.S. reporter Steven Sotloff by Islamic State group
BEIRUT (AP) -- Islamic State extremists released a video Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warning President Barack Obama that as long as U.S. airstrikes against the militant group continue, "our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people."
The footage -- depicting what the U.S. called a sickening act of brutality -- was posted two weeks after the release of video showing the killing of James Foley and just days after Sotloff’s mother pleaded for his life.
Barak Barfi, a spokesman for the family, said that the Sotloffs had seen the video but that authorities have not established its authenticity.
"The family knows of this horrific tragedy and is grieving privately. There will be no public comment from the family during this difficult time," Barfi said.
Sotloff, a 31-year-old Miami-area native who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, vanished in Syria in August 2013 and was not seen again until he appeared in a video released last month that showed Foley’s beheading. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit against an arid Syrian landscape, Sotloff was threatened in that video with death unless the U.S. stopped airstrikes on the Islamic State.
Aftermath of fierce battle shows rout of Ukrainian troops as Russia’s Putin talks tough
NOVOKATERYNIVKA, Ukraine (AP) -- The ferocity of the attack on the fleeing Ukrainian troops was clear, days after the ambush by Russian-backed separatist forces.
More than 30 military vehicles lay in charred piles Tuesday. Villagers said dozens were killed, and some remained unburied. One soldier was blown out of his armored vehicle -- apparently by a shell -- his body left dangling from power lines high above.
The rout early Sunday near the village of Novokaterynivka marked a major intensification in the rebel offensive, one that the Ukrainian government, NATO and the United States say has been sustained by Russia’s direct military support.
Moscow has stepped up its harsh rhetoric as well. A leaked report said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said President Vladimir Putin told him that Russia could take over Kiev "in two weeks" if it wished.
Following a month of setbacks in which government troops regained territory, the separatists have been successful in the last 10 days just as columns of Russian tanks and armored vehicles have been seen crossing the border. President Barack Obama and other NATO leaders will be attending a summit Thursday in Wales to create a rapid-response military team to counter the Russian threat.
U.S. airstrikes may have killed leader of Somali extremist group al-Shabab; 6 militants dead
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) -- U.S. airstrikes in Somalia may have killed the leader of the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, with a militant commander saying Tuesday that he was in a car that was struck and that six people died.
The leader, Ahmed Abdi Godane, has no heir apparent. If he has been killed, it would be a "significant blow" to al-Shabab’s organization and abilities, said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, who confirmed the strikes targeting Godane.
But Godane’s death could also lead the group to ditch its association with al-Qaida and align itself with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, analysts said. Al-Shabab gained international notoriety a year ago this month when it attacked the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 67 people.
Godane was in one of two vehicles hit by the U.S. military strikes Monday night, said Abu Mohammed, an al-Shabab commander and spokesman. He said six militants were killed, but would not say if Godane was among them. The two vehicles were heading toward the coastal town of Barawe, al-Shabab’s main base, Mohammed told The Associated Press.
The U.S. strikes hit Godane after he left a meeting of the group’s top leaders, said a senior Somali intelligence official. Intelligence indicated Godane "might have been killed along with other militants," said the Somali official, who spoke on condition of anonymity since he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Breakout at Nashville juvenile detention center: 30 teens slip under fence; 8 still at large
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Thirty teens "overwhelmed" their minders at a juvenile detention center by simultaneously breaking out of four dormitories and then crawling under a weak spot in a chain-link fence. By late Tuesday, eight were still on the run.
Police caught up with some walking along roads or coming out of the woods. Some turned themselves in. And some were swiftly returned to the detention center by their own families for their own good.
"He broke loose, he was gone, but he’s back now," said LaWanda Knowles, whose nephew joined the escape. "I just want to know that he’s here safely and he’s OK -- I don’t want the police jumping on him, nobody beating on him or nothing."
The teens -- ages 14 to 19 -- left their rooms at the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center at about 11 p.m. Monday night and gathered in common areas. With just 16 unarmed adults to keep watch over 78 youths in 12 dormitories, the staff was "overwhelmed," said Tennessee Department of Children’s Services spokesman Rob Johnson.
"Staffing was lighter during the overnight hours, so presumably they had planned for that," Johnson said.
South America’s elusive LulzSecPeru hackers embarrass politicians with dumped emails
LIMA, Peru (AP) -- The Peruvian hackers have broken into military, police, and other sensitive government networks in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, defacing websites and extracting sensitive data to strut their programming prowess and make political points.
Now the team calling itself LulzSecPeru has created a national political uproar.
Emails the hackers stole from the Peruvian Council of Ministers’ network and dumped online last month fueled accusations that top Cabinet ministers have acted more like industry lobbyists than public servants. That helped precipitate a no-confidence vote last week that the Cabinet barely survived.
The hackers, who describe themselves as two young men, are a homegrown version of the U.S. and U.K-based LulzSec ‘’black hat" hacker collective that has attacked the Church of Scientology and agitated on behalf of the WikiLeaks online secret-spillers and Occupy Wall Street.
A lot of ‘’hacktivism" out of the United States and western Europe has waned or been driven underground by police pressure and arrests, said Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada, who has studied the phenomenon.
Anger at 30,000 feet: Airline passengers on cramped jets are fighting one another for legroom
NEW YORK (AP) -- Squeezed into tighter and tighter spaces, airline passengers appear to be rebelling, taking their frustrations out on other fliers.
Three U.S. flights made unscheduled landings in the past eight days after passengers got into fights over the ability to recline their seats. Disputes over a tiny bit of personal space might seem petty, but for passengers whose knees are already banging into tray tables, every inch counts.
"Seats are getting closer together," says Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 60,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines. "We have to de-escalate conflict all the time."
There are fights over overhead bin space, legroom and where to put winter coats.
"We haven’t hit the end of it," Nelson says. "The conditions continue to march in a direction that will lead to more and more conflict."
Christie heads to Mexico for a trade mission -- and for foreign policy experience ahead of 2016
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is heading to Mexico on Wednesday, officially on a trade mission for his state. But the trip also serves as schooling for Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate with a lot of swagger but little foreign policy experience.
So with his state exporting $2 billion worth of goods to Mexico, and tens of thousands of New Jersey jobs relying on the relationship, Christie becomes the latest potential presidential contender to cross the border on official business -- and in pursuit of international expertise and credibility.
"If you’re a national leader of the party and you go abroad and you meet other foreign leaders, you learn," Christie, who also is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, told reporters. "And that’ll make you a better leader whether you run for anything else or whether you just continue to try to be an influential governor in our country regarding the national debates that come up."
Christie is just one of the Republicans trying to beef up his foreign policy credentials for a possible general election matchup against Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former secretary of state. The nation’s role in international affairs is likely to be a key issue in the 2016 contest regardless of the candidates. After consecutive elections focused largely on the American economy, foreign affairs has returned to the forefront with the rise of the Islamic State militant group in Syria and Iraq and the Russian-backed rebellion in Ukraine.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul recently returned from Guatemala, where he performed eye surgeries with news cameras in tow. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum just came back from Israel; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is there now. Two days after Christie returns from Mexico, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to head to China and Japan.
Girl who accidentally shot instructor with Uzi said gun
was too much for her
PHOENIX (AP) -- A 9-year-old girl who accidentally killed an instructor with an Uzi at an Arizona shooting range said immediately after the shooting that she felt the gun was too much for her and had hurt her shoulder, according to police reports released Tuesday.
Her family members were focused on the girl because they thought she was injured by the gun’s recoil and didn’t immediately realize instructor Charles Vacca had been shot until one of his colleagues ran over to him.
The family, whose hometown hasn’t been revealed by investigators, had taken a shuttle on Aug. 25 from Las Vegas about 60 miles south to the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona.
The report did not say why the family had gone to the range or why they let the girl handle the Uzi.
After arriving, the girl, her parents, sister and brother took a monster truck ride before heading out to the shooting range.
Apple confirms some celebrities’ accounts hacked sites remove nude images of Lawrence, others
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- As federal investigators worked Tuesday to determine who stole and posted nude photos of several female celebrities online, the images continued to be removed from various sites.
Copyright complaints apparently prompted the removal of the image from sharing site Imgur.com and rendered links on the social networking site Reddit inoperable in what experts call an online version of "whack-a-mole" that will never fully scrub the intimate photos of Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence and other stars from the Internet.
Apple said Tuesday that its engineers have determined that hackers breached individual accounts, but didn’t obtain general access to a pair of its services, iCloud and Find my iPhone. While the tech giant released the results after it said it conducted 40 hours of investigation, law enforcement inquiries likely will take days or weeks to complete.
The FBI offered no details Tuesday on its efforts to identify the people responsible for stealing the images and posting them, but said on Monday that the agency was aware of the breach and was "addressing the matter." Previous investigations have involved the use of search warrants and digital forensics to determine how hackers obtained everything from Paris Hilton’s contact list to nude photos of actresses Scarlett Johansson and Mila Kunis.
Lawrence, a three-time Oscar nominee who won for her role in "Silver Linings Playbook," contacted authorities after the images began appearing Sunday. By Tuesday, a Reddit thread that had been compiling links to images of nude photos of Lawrence and other celebrities had been disabled "due to a copyright claim." Users reported difficulty finding working links to the images on other sites, although they remained active on sites that specialize in online piracy.
Penn State student gains
reputation as squirrel whisperer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- A Penn State student is gaining an Internet reputation as a "squirrel whisperer" for befriending, feeding and dressing up a furry little friend she has named "Sneezy."
Junior Mary Krupa tells WJAC-TV (http://bit.ly/1B9IvPf ) that she’s able to dress up the squirrel in party hats, or get Sneezy to hold doll-sized props, simply by feeding the animal.
Krupa and Sneezy’s exploits are chronicled in a Facebook page titled "Sneezy the Penn State Squirrel."
So far, the squirrel is proving quite popular. Its Facebook page has more "likes" than a page dedicated to the school’s official mascot, the Nittany Lion.