Wednesday, March 4
KILLINGS BY POLICE-FERGUSON
UPDATE: US clears officer in Ferguson case, criticizes police force
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says it won't prosecute former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of an unarmed black 18-year-old that led to weeks of protests.
Federal officials concluded there was no evidence to disprove Wilson's testimony that he feared for his safety, nor was there reliable evidence that Michael Brown had his hands up when he was shot.
The decision in the August 9 shooting had been expected, in part because of the high legal standard needed for a federal civil rights prosecution. Wilson, who has said Brown struck him in the face and reached for his gun during a tussle, also had been cleared by a Missouri grand jury in November and later resigned from the department.
BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING
UPDATE: Jurors see video of marathon blast
BOSTON (AP) — Jurors in the trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR' tsahr-NEYE'-ehv) have been shown a video of the first explosion.
The video shows a huge blast of smoke, then police officers running toward the blast. Runners looked over their shoulders and spectators turned their heads toward the sound of the bombing.
The jury watched the video intently, many looking somber.
Twenty-nine-year-old Krystal Campbell was killed by the first bomb. She was among the three killed and 260 injured after twin bombs exploded near the marathon finish line.
BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING: DEFENSE
Defense lawyer admits: It was him
BOSTON (AP) — A lawyer for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR' tsahr-NEYE'-ehv) has begun her opening statement by admitting her client participated in the attacks.
Judy Clarke says: "It was him."
She says the only thing the defense disagrees with prosecutors about is "why."
Clarke calls the bombings a "series of senseless, horribly misguided acts carried out by two brothers."
But she portrayed brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev as the ringleader, saying he planned it and "enlisted his brother into these series of horrific acts." Tamerlan died in a shootout with police.
Clarke says: "The evidence will not establish and we will not argue that Tamerlan put a gun to Dzhokhar's head or that he forced him to join in the plan, but you will hear evidence about the kind of influence that this older brother had."
SUPREME COURT-HEALTH OVERHAUL-SUBSIDIES
Justices sharply divided over health care law subsidies
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is sharply divided over the tax subsidies that make insurance affordable for millions of Americans under President Barack Obama's health overhaul.
The justices on Wednesday aggressively questioned the lawyers on both sides of the latest politically charged fight over the Affordable Care Act.
Chief Justice John Roberts said almost nothing in nearly 90 minutes of back-and-forth, and Justice Anthony Kennedy's questions did not suggest how he will come out. Roberts was the decisive vote to uphold the law in 2012.
The same liberal-conservative divide that characterized that case otherwise was evident Wednesday.
Opponents of the law say that only residents of states that set up their own insurance markets can get federal subsidies to help pay their premiums.
Top Senate Republican tells states: ignore EPA carbon rules
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate's top Republican is telling states to ignore a central part of President Barack Obama's plans to curb the pollution blamed for global warming.
In an op-ed published Tuesday in the Lexington Herald-Leader, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says states should hold off on submitting plans to cut carbon dioxide from power plants, as the rule would require.
McConnell says "refusing to go along" will give the courts time to figure out if it's legal, and would give Congress more time to fight back.
The rule is expected to be final this summer. McConnell has long vowed to try to block the rules because of their toll on the coal industry.
Meanwhile, the EPA has requested $3.5 million in its budget to hire more lawyers to defend them.
NEW: Reid wants Congress to delay Iran legislation
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says Congress should hold off on Iran legislation until negotiations on a nuclear deal play out.
Reid says action now by Congress could complicate efforts to reach an agreement constraining Tehran's nuclear program.
His comments in an Associated Press interview suggest trouble for Republican efforts to quickly pass legislation allowing congressional oversight on any Iran nuclear agreement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took procedural steps Tuesday evening to bring the bill to the floor.
That came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH'-hoo) spoke to Congress. Netanyahu harshly criticized the emerging nuclear deal and said it would leave Iran just a step away from making atomic arms.
US official: Obama still weighing sending arms to Ukraine
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee are stepping up their pressure on the Obama administration to support Ukraine with weapons to defend against attacks from anti-government insurgents backed by Russia.
Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland testified Wednesday that President Barack Obama has not yet made a decision on the issue.
Nuland said the U.S. deplores Russia's activities in neighboring Ukraine in a conflict that has claimed more than 6,000 lives. She says Obama has received recommendations and advice from cabinet agencies, but that he has not yet decided on the issue of sending arms to Kiev.
Many European governments oppose any U.S. move to provide military support for Ukraine's government, fearing that might spark a wider proxy war with Russia.
At least 10 dead, more trapped after mine explosion in Ukraine
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Officials in Ukraine say at least 10 workers are dead after a methane explosion ripped through a coal mine before dawn today.
The blast took place in eastern Ukraine, which has been the scene of battles between government troops and pro-Russia separatists. But rebel authorities say the explosion wasn't caused by shelling. It took place in a city under the control of separatists.
Efforts to rescue more than 20 workers trapped by the rubble have been hampered by limited access to the mine.
There have been conflicting reports on the number of dead. The regional governor's office serving Kiev said that as of the late afternoon, 10 people had been confirmed as having been killed and that the fate of another 23 was unknown. But rebel officials insisted late into the afternoon that only one person had died.
Libya makes urgent appeal to UN to lift embargo on weapons
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Libya is making an urgent appeal to the U.N. Security Council to either lift an arms embargo completely or allow exemptions so that its army can fight the rising threat of the Islamic State group and other militant groups.
The appeal Wednesday came a day before talks between the country's rival factions resume in Morocco. A U.N. envoy says the dialogue will continue next week with meetings in Algeria and Brussels.
Libya is deeply divided between two rival governments, one that is Western-backed and another that is backed by Islamist groups.
Some council members say Libya should have a national unity government before the chaotic country gets more weapons.
Libya's ambassador says his people feel the international community has failed them and says they can't fight without arms.
SKID ROW POLICE SHOOTING
2 nations wouldn't take man later shot by LAPD
LOS ANGELES (AP) — U.S. officials say authorities were forced to release a foreigner before he was shot by police on Los Angeles' Skid Row because no country would take him.
The officials said Wednesday that France issued travel documents for a man identified as Charley Saturmin Robinet but rescinded them in 2013 after determining it was an assumed name.
The man later told authorities he was from Cameroon and gave a different name, but officials from the African country there didn't respond to attempts by U.S. immigration officials to reach them.
Under a Supreme Court ruling, U.S. immigration officials cannot hold people indefinitely.
The information is provided by two U.S. officials with knowledge of the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not been made public.
UPDATE: US stock indexes sink as market heads for a second loss
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are moving lower in midday trading as the market pulls back from record highs reached earlier this week.
The drop Wednesday was modest but broad: nine of the 10 sectors in the Standard & Poor's 500 lost ground.
Aluminum maker Alcoa sank 5 percent, the most in the S&P 500.
Abercrombie & Fitch lost 13 percent after its revenue came up short of what investors were looking for.
Oil fell 69 cents to $49.82 a barrel in New York.
EXXON CEO-LOW OIL PRICES
NEW: Exxon CEO: Get used to lower oil prices
NEW YORK (AP) — Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson expects the price of oil to remain low over the next two years because of ample global supplies and relatively weak economic growth.
Speaking at the company's annual investor meeting in New York, Tillerson cautioned that geopolitical turmoil could unexpectedly send prices higher. But he said that if tensions calm, much more oil is ready to hit the market — a market that is already flush with crude oil.
Exxon's presentation to investors outlining its business plans through 2017 assumes a price of $55 a barrel for global crude. That's $5 below where Brent crude, the most important global benchmark, traded on Wednesday. It's about half of what Brent averaged between 2011 and the middle of last year.
ADOPTIVE PARENTS-CAPTIVITY CHARGES
UPDATE: Couple plead not guilty to locking up, abusing adopted kids
ASHTABULA, Ohio (AP) — A husband and wife from northeast Ohio have pleaded not guilty to charges alleging they kept three adopted children locked in bedrooms most of the time and gave them little to eat.
Prosecutors in Ashtabula County say the pair beat their two girls and their mentally challenged adult son.
An attorney for the 58-year-old man declined to comment after their court appearance Wednesday. An attorney will be appointed for the 64-year-old woman.
They were indicted last week on charges of kidnapping, felonious assault and child endangering. The husband was indicted on sexual battery and gross sexual imposition charges.
Prosecutors say the abuse occurred between September 2011 and September 2013.
The Associated Press isn't naming the suspects to avoid identifying the girls who made the sexual assault allegations.