Wednesday, August 24
UPDATE: At least 1 dead in American University attack in Kabul
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Officials in the Afghan capital say militants killed at least one person and wounded another 18 in an attack today on the American University of Afghanistan. They say security forces are still combing the campus in search of attackers.
An official with the Ministry of Public Health says a guard employed by the university was killed and that the wounded included a foreign teacher.
An AP photographer was in a classroom with 15 other students when he heard an explosion. Massoud Hossaini says when he went to the window to see what was happening, a man shot at him and shattered the window. The students then barricaded themselves inside the classroom. The photographer says at least two grenades were thrown into the classroom, wounding several of his classmates.
A hospital official says 18 people who were wounded in the attack, including five women, were admitted. He said three were "seriously" wounded, probably from automatic gunfire.
A police spokesman said security forces were conducting a clearing operation to track down the "terrorists." He said it was still not clear if there were one or two attackers.
UPDATE: Military identifies American soldier killed in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military has identified the soldier who was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, issued a statement Wednesday identifying the soldier as Army Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson.
The Defense Department said Thompson was 28 and from Irvine, California.
Votel extended condolences to the soldier's family and friends.
Thompson was killed by an improvised explosive device in the southern province of Helmand.
At least 120 dead in quake
AMATRICE, Italy (AP) — Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says the death toll from the quake that hit central Italy has risen to 120.
Renzi spoke Wednesday evening in the provincial capital of Rieti after visiting rescue crews and survivors in the hard-hit town of Amatrice and flying over other demolished towns in nearby Le Marche region.
Italy's health minister says many children were among the victims. Minister Beatrice Lorenzin spoke to the AP Wednesday as she left the quake-hit Amatrice on foot, but didn't specify how many children were among those killed or injured.
She said that while there's no immediate blood emergency in the quake-hit zone, residents will have other health needs down the line, especially psychological.
The area hardest hit by the quake is a popular vacation spot for Italians enjoying the final days of summer. For Romans, the medieval hamlets 90 minutes' drive from the capital are popular spots for country houses.
Lorenzin said the rescue operation functioned well.
"Sadly we are used to this phenomenon," she said.
8-year-old pulled out alive from quake rubble
AMATRICE, Italy (AP) — An 8-year-old girl has been pulled alive from the rubble in Pescara del Tronto, one of the three towns most severely demolished by the earthquake in central Italy.
After nightfall Wednesday, two women ran up the street yelling "She's alive!"
Chief firefighter Danilo Dionesei confirmed the girl was pulled out alive and was taken to a nearby hospital.
He didn't immediately give any further details about her condition.
Erdogan says Syrian rebels take back border town
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Syrian opposition forces aided by Ankara have taken back the border town of Jarablus from the Islamic State group.
During a press statement with visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday, Erdogan also reiterated his opposition to a future role for Syrian President Bashar Assad, saying the country could never "reach democracy" under his leadership.
Erdogan said the Syrian rebels, "together with those who are from Jarablus, have now taken it back." He says the rebels have taken over "government and official residences," and IS "has been forced to leave Jarablus."
Biden meanwhile said Washington supported the Turkish-led operation in Jarablus and that the United States provided air cover.
Biden said: "We strongly support what the Turkish military has done, we have been flying air cover for them," adding that "we believe very strongly that the Turkish border should be controlled by Turkey."
NEW: Volatile mix in Syria war puts new strain on US strategy
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military picture in Syria is getting more chaotic and complicated by the day.
That is straining the Obama administration's strategy of partnering with a hodgepodge of local fighters against the Islamic State group without getting pulled deeper into Syria's civil war. The U.S. also wants to avoid rupturing relations with Turkey, which is an important NATO ally.
The Turkish piece of the Syria puzzle took a new turn Tuesday when Turkish forces allied with Syrian Arab rebels and backed by U.S. air power pushed into Syria to retake a border town held by Islamic State militants.
The U.S. faces many other complications, including Russia's military involvement and recent Syrian air force bombing in an area where U.S. special operations forces are working with Kurdish-dominated anti-IS fighters.
Biden calls on Turkey to be patient in Gulen case
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden is urging Turkey to be patient with the U.S. legal system.
Turkish authorities are trying to get the United States to extradite a cleric who's accused of masterminding last month's failed military coup.
Biden met today with Turkish officials in Ankara. He said afterward that the extradition process will take time. But he reaffirmed the U.S. willingness to cooperate in the case of the U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen.
The cleric, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, has denied any involvement in last month's coup attempt that left more than 270 people dead.
Biden says he understands the "intense feeling" that the people of Turkey and their government have about Gulen.
He says U.S. legal experts are working with Turkish officials to gather and evaluate the evidence that would have to be supplied to U.S. courts in order to win the extradition of Gulen to Turkey.
Biden adds that the U.S. has "no interest whatsoever in protecting anyone who has done harm to an ally."
He also warned that President Barack Obama won't intervene in the extradition process.
Mississippi Islamic State recruit gets 8 years in prison
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi man who tried to travel to Syria with his fiancee to join the Islamic State group has been sentenced to eight years in prison on federal terrorism charges.
Muhammad Dakhlalla was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock. Dakhlalla pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
Dakhlalla, of Starkville, faced up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 in fines and lifetime probation.
Jaelyn Young, his fiancee, was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Aug. 11. Young converted to Islam while studying at Mississippi State University. Prosecutors have said she talked Dakhlalla into the plan, and that she considered disguising their journey as a honeymoon.
The two were arrested in 2015 trying to depart the Columbus, Mississippi, airport for Istanbul.
Eyeing debates, Clinton aims to keep Trump expectations high
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton will enter her highly anticipated fall debates with Donald Trump facing the same kind of heightened expectations that often saddle an incumbent president.
Trump, as the political newcomer, will be more of a wild card on the presidential debate stage.
A month before the first faceoff, the situation presents a tricky balancing act for Clinton. She wants to keep expectations high for Trump before they meet, hoping the actual debate will undercut his standing. At the same time, she continues to paint him as unprepared and temperamentally unfit for the presidency.
NRA to advertise on Trump's behalf
WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Rifle Association is making plans to help Donald Trump.
The NRA's political victory fund has reserved about $2.7 million in TV commercials from the week of Sept. 5 through the week of Oct. 18, Kantar Media's political ad tracker shows.
Most ads are set to begin Sept. 20. Like the Republican presidential nominee's campaign, the NRA is focusing on Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The group also will advertise across the country.
The NRA has been one of Trump's key allies on television, airing commercials well before Trump's own campaign began doing so. In all, the NRA is on track to spend at least $7.6 million on presidential commercials, Kantar Media shows.
The NRA warns that Democrat Hillary Clinton would clamp down on gun rights if elected president.
Texas college students rally against gun law with sex toys
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Hundreds of University of Texas students waved sex toys at a campus rally during the first day of classes, protesting a new state law that allows concealed handguns in college classrooms, buildings and dorms.
Organizers said the sex toys were used Wednesday to mock what they consider an absurd notion that guns should be allowed in academic settings. The law took effect Aug. 1.
Students and faculty at the Austin campus fiercely opposed allowing license holders to carry their concealed handguns to class. One prominent dean left the school after the law passed in 2015. Several faculty members attended the rally.
Organizers said they distributed more than 4,500 free sex toys.
Texas has allowed concealed carry since 1995 but had kept college campuses gun-free until this year.
Minnesota officer who fatally shot Castile back on leave
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a black man during a traffic stop last month is back on administrative leave.
The city of St. Anthony released a statement Wednesday saying it decided to put Officer Jeronimo Yanez back on leave "after reviewing concerns and other feedback from the community."
Yanez returned to work for the first time last week following the July 6 death of Philando Castile.
Yanez fatally shot the 32-year-old Castile during a traffic stop in nearby Falcon Heights. Castile's girlfriend video streamed the shooting's gruesome aftermath live on Facebook.
The city says Yanez's status with the police department will be reviewed after a state investigation of the shooting is complete.
Yanez's attorney says he was unaware of his client's status change with the police department.
BOILED WATER ATTACK
UPDATE: Jury convicts man in boiled water attack on gays
ATLANTA (AP) — A jury has convicted a Georgia man accused of pouring boiled water on a gay couple as they slept.
The jury found Martin Blackwell guilty on eight counts of aggravated battery and two counts of aggravated assault in the attack that left Anthony Gooden and Marquez Tolbert with severe burns that required multiple surgeries.
Prosecutors have said Blackwell faces up to 80 years in prison.
The 48-year-old Blackwell was a long-distance trucker and stayed with his girlfriend, Kim Foster, when he was in town. Gooden was Foster's son.
Gooden and his boyfriend were sleeping in bed at an apartment in College Park when Blackwell poured boiled water on them in February.
Concert venue owner won't comment on lawsuit
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The operator of a New Jersey concert venue where a railing collapsed during a Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa concert has declined to comment on a lawsuit that says it failed to keep concertgoers safe.
Lawyers representing 17 people injured when the railing collapsed at the Aug. 5 concert say BB&T Pavilion operator Live Nation didn't take the proper precautions to prevent a partition separating a lawn from a secondary stage from collapsing shortly after the show began. People fell roughly 10 feet onto the concrete below at the Camden venue.
The collapse occurred as the rappers were gesturing to fans to move toward the small stage.
The rappers also have been named in the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in Philadelphia and seeks monetary damages. Their representatives haven't returned messages seeking comment.
Live Nation says it doesn't comment on pending litigation.
NEW: Washington Monument could close for up to 9 months
WASHINGTON (AP) — The District of Columbia's delegate to Congress says the Washington Monument elevator needs a major renovation that will likely require the monument to be closed for up to nine months.
The elevator has broken down frequently over the past two years, and the National Park Service has said the problems may trace back to an earthquake that damaged the monument five years ago. The monument needed $15 million in repairs and was closed for nearly three years, but the park service did not renovate the elevator during that time.
Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton met with park service officials on Wednesday. She says in a statement that not fixing the elevator after the earthquake was a mistake.
The monument is currently closed for an inspection of the elevator.
NEW: Sen. Manchin mum on EpiPen hikes by daughter's drug company
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — As a pharmaceutical company run by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's daughter faces scrutiny for hiking prices on life-saving allergy injection pens, Manchin is remaining mum.
The Democratic West Virginia senator's daughter, Heather Bresch, is CEO of Mylan, which manufactures EpiPens.
A two-dose package cost around $94 nine years ago. The cost averaged more than six times that in May.
Manchin spokesman Jonathan Kott said Wednesday the senator had no comment.
Several senators are demanding more information and requesting congressional hearings and investigations.
Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Mylan for possible antitrust violations.
Hillary Clinton, whom Manchin has endorsed for president, called the increase "outrageous."
A Mylan statement Tuesday cited health insurance changes with higher deductible costs for many.