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Briefs

House votes to end ‘Left Behind’

– House Republicans voted Friday to dismantle the troubled No Child Left Behind law for evaluating America’s students and schools, saying states and local school districts rather than Washington should be setting rules for ensuring that kids are getting good educations.

The legislation would eliminate federally required testing of students, which has been controversial from the start. But the measure passed with no Democratic support and drew a veto threat from the Obama administration, which said it would be a “step backward” in efforts to better prepare children for colleges and careers and to bring improvements to low-performing schools.

Democrats in the Senate, where they hold the majority, are working on their own bill. It would also give states greater flexibility in designing school improvement standards. But it would maintain the authority of the federal education secretary to approve those plans.

Nation

Bin Laden son-in-law alleges torture

Lawyers for Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law claimed in court papers Friday that he was tortured by the U.S. and asked a judge to dismiss the terrorism case against him.

Sulaiman Abu Ghaith’s attorneys said in papers in Manhattan federal court that their client is charged in a flawed document that fails to adequately explain how he was part of a conspiracy to kill Americans. They also said he was interrogated at length during a 14-hour flight to the United States earlier this year during which “he was subjected to a variety of deprivation techniques and harsh treatment which constitute torture.”

Abu Ghaith, 47, has been held without bail since he was brought to the U.S. in March to face charges that he conspired against Americans in his role as al-Qaida’s spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Marine freed after murder rap tossed

The U.S. Marine Corps released a sergeant Friday whose murder conviction was overturned in a major blow to the military’s prosecution of Iraq war crimes.

Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III, of Plymouth, Mass., led an eight-man squad accused of kidnapping an Iraqi man from his home in April 2006, marching him to a ditch and shooting him to death in the village of Hamdania. Hutchins has said he thought the man – who turned out to be a retired policeman – was an insurgent leader.

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces overturned Hutchins’ conviction last month, supporting his claims that his rights were violated when he was held in solitary confinement without access to a lawyer for seven days during his 2006 interrogation in Iraq.

Billionaire slapped with civil charges

The Securities and Exchange Commission leveled its most direct shot against billionaire hedge-fund manager Steven A. Cohen on Friday by filing civil charges that accuse him of failing to prevent insider trading.

The SEC alleged that Cohen, who founded and runs SAC Capital Advisors, failed to prevent two of his portfolio managers from illegally reaping profits and avoiding losses of more than $275 million.

Cohen, 57, could be fined and barred from managing investor funds.

FAA warns against shooting at drones

People who fire guns at drones are endangering the public and property and could be prosecuted or fined, the Federal Aviation Administration warned Friday.

The FAA released a statement in response to questions about an ordinance under consideration in the tiny farming community of Deer Trail, Colo., that would encourage hunters to shoot down drones. The administration reminded the public that it regulates the nation’s airspace, including the airspace over cities and towns.

150 forced to stay on hot Phoenix plane

More than 150 passengers were forced to sweat it out at a Phoenix airport for 2 1/2 hours after a maintenance issue left the aircraft without air conditioning.

KTVK-TV reports passengers had already boarded the Allegiant Airlines plane at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport on Wednesday when the issue was discovered. The station says passengers were required to stay in their seats in triple-digit temperatures even though the plane was still at the gate.

World

Air conditioner bomb kills 26 in Iraq

A bomb hidden in an air conditioner that ripped through a Sunni mosque during midday prayers and other attacks killed at least 26 in Iraq on Friday, extending a wave of violence targeting worshippers during the holy month of Ramadan.

Suicide attacks, car bombings and other violence have killed more than 200 people since the Islamic holy month of daytime fasting and charity began last week, according to an Associated Press count.

Protests continue in volatile Egypt

With the military beefing up security, tens of thousands took to the streets Friday in a determined push for the return to power of Egypt’s ousted Islamist leader, while Mohammed Morsi’s opponents staged rival rallies, raising fears of a fresh round of clashes.

Publicizing their protests for days, Morsi’s supporters vowed Friday would be decisive in their campaign to try to reverse the military coup that removed the country’s first democratically elected president after a year in office, following massive protests against him.

Kerry lauds Israel, Palestinian talks

After a rush of last-minute talks with Palestinian officials, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sealed a step toward relaunching the long-halted Mideast peace process, announcing Friday that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed on a basis for returning to negotiations.

While it appeared deep differences over the groundwork of talks had been bridged, the two sides are to meet – likely in the coming week – to work out final details on actually resuming their negotiations on the toughest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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