Iraqi libraries ransacked by Islamic State group in Mosul BAGHDAD (AP) - When Islamic State group militants invaded the Central Library of Mosul earlier this month, they were on a mission to destroy a familiar enemy: other people's ideas. Residents say the extremists smashed the locks that had protected the biggest repository of learning in the northern Iraq town, and loaded around 2,000 books - including children's stories, poetry, philosophy and tomes on sports, health, culture and science - into six pickup trucks. They left only Islamic texts.
Pilots in helium-filled balloon land safely in Mexico ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Two pilots in a helium-filled balloon landed safely off the coast of Mexico on Saturday after a nearly 7,000-mile long trip across the Pacific Ocean. The pilots landed off Baja California about 300 miles north of Cabo San Lucas, greeted by a team of balloon enthusiasts who assisted with the landing. The pilots came in low and dropped thick trailing ropes into the ocean to help slow the balloon before setting down in a controlled water landing.
Japan self-censors images, words linked to hostage crisis TOKYO (AP) - Images or mentions of knives, ransom or blood - or anything else that can be seen alluding to the hostage crisis involving two Japanese in Syria - have been omitted. Some anime and other entertainment programs are altering, canceling or postponing episodes violating those sensitivities - typical of the kind of self-restraint shown here to avoid controversy. The fates of a Japanese journalist and Jordanian military pilot were still unknown Saturday after the latest purported deadline for a possible prisoner swap lapsed with no further messages from the Islamic State group holding them captive. Another Japanese hostage has purportedly been killed.
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Romney's exit unleashes race for donors among 2016 hopefuls DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Mitt Romney's exit from the presidential campaign has unleashed a frenzy of fresh fundraising and set off a new race for the backing of donors who had remained loyal to the 2012 Republican nominee. Big dollars were said to flow immediately on Friday to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who already had won over several of Romney's past donors. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie claimed the support of others who were waiting on Romney to make a decision about whether to seek the White House a third time.
Civilians flee east Ukraine town as fighting intensifies DEBALTSEVE, Ukraine (AP) - Outgoing heavy-caliber fire boomed incessantly, shaking the ground and rattling windows around the besieged town. Residents of Debaltseve, seemingly inured to the racket, listened impassively as they mustered at the town hall on Saturday to be evacuated with as many belongings as they could carry. The government-held town has been without power, water and gas for at least 10 days, prompting many to flee from an intense artillery duel between government and Russian-backed separatist forces. Almost every one of the largely deserted streets in the center showed signs of having been struck by projectiles.
NYC to pay $5M to kin of man killed in 'Mafia cops' case NEW YORK (AP) - Nicholas Guido was showing off his new car outside his mother's home on Christmas Day 1986 when he was gunned down because he'd been mistaken for a mobster with the same name. The bad information, prosecutors said, came from two decorated police detectives who would later be convicted of moonlighting as hit men for the mob. Twenty-nine years later, the city has reached a $5 million settlement with Guido's family in part of the fallout from one of the most stunning police corruption cases in New York history.
Dueling narratives surround 'Suge' Knight in deadly run-in LOS ANGELES (AP) - As Marion "Suge" Knight sat jailed on suspicion of murder, dueling narratives cast him as attacker and victim in the hip-hop music mogul's latest and most serious run-in with the law. Sheriff's deputies said he hit and killed a man with his pickup truck, injured another and then fled. His lawyer said he was an innocent victim who accidentally ran over his friend and the other man as he tried to escape an attack.
Vatican hits sour note with women, but progress may come VATICAN CITY (AP) - A new Vatican outreach initiative to listen to women hit a sour note before it even got off the ground: The sexy blonde on its Internet promo video came under such ridicule that it was quickly taken down. But the program is going ahead, and an inaugural meeting this week will study women's issues in ways that are utterly new for the Holy See.
Is he dead? Philippines awaits answer of costly terror raid MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The cellphone message of the Filipino police commandos to their base was triumphant: "Mike 1 bingo," a code meaning they have killed one of Southeast Asia's most-wanted terror suspects, Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan. But the euphoria among police generals monitoring the Jan. 25 dawn assault in a southern swampland was brief.
Pats backup QB Garoppolo helps defense prepare for Wilson PHOENIX (AP) - A rookie who probably won't play in the Super Bowl could help the New England Patriots win it. By the time the game starts Sunday night, Jimmy Garoppolo will have done his primary job of preparing the team's defense by imitating speedy Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in practice.