AP Top News at 5:15 a.m. EST

Japan stunned after video claims death of 1 of 2 IS hostages
TOKYO (AP) - From prime minister to ordinary people, Japanese responded with shock Sunday at a video purportedly showing one of two Japanese hostages of the extremist Islamic State group had been killed. With national attention focusing on efforts to save the other hostage, 47-year-old journalist Kenji Goto, some also criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's drive for a more assertive Japan as responsible for the hostage crisis.


Father of Japanese hostage reported killed still hopeful
TOKYO (AP) - The father of the Japanese hostage purportedly shown in a video as having been killed by Islamic State militants is hoping against hope his son could still be alive. "My mind went totally blank," Shoichi Yukawa told reporters Sunday, a day after news broke of the video footage. "I am hoping deep in my heart that it is not true."


Obama received warmly in India, seeks policy advances
NEW DELHI (AP) - President Barack Obama was greeted in India Sunday with an elaborate welcome at the country's sprawling presidential palace, then he solemnly laid a wreath at a memorial honoring the father of India's independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi. The president arrived in New Delhi under hazy skies Sunday morning. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was waiting for Obama at the steps of Air Force One and the two men shared a hug, underscoring the warm relationship they have formed in the short time Modi has been in office.


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Anti-bailout party the favorite as Greeks cast critical vote
ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Greece voted Sunday in an early general election that could alter the course of the country's struggle with crippling debts, with a radical left party poised to win by promising to rewrite the terms of its international bailout. The Syriza party led by Alexis Tsipras has remained firmly ahead of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy party in opinion polls throughout the election campaign, which was called two years ahead of schedule.


Blizzard-like conditions possible in Northeast's next storm
NEW YORK (AP) - A major snowstorm with blizzard-like conditions could drop a foot or more of snow across most parts of the Northeast as they gear up for the workweek right after the first real storm of the winter hit them with rain, several inches of snow and messy slush. A storm system diving out of the Midwest has the potential to slowly coat from Philadelphia up to Massachusetts and Maine with snow beginning late Sunday night into Monday and intensifying greatly well into Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.


Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Indiscriminate rocket fire slammed into a market, schools, homes and shops Saturday in Ukraine's southeastern city of Mariupol, killing at least 30 people, authorities said. The Ukrainian president called the blitz a terrorist attack and NATO and the U.S. demanded that Russia stop supporting the rebels. Ukrainian officials rushed to defend the strategically important port on the Sea of Azov, beefing up military positions with more equipment and sending in more forces.


Possible GOP candidates pitch ideas at conservative forum
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The robust Christian right in early-voting Iowa plays an outsize role in helping determine the Republican presidential nominee, a political reality not lost on the parade of would-be 2016 candidates trying to draw attention at a Saturday gathering of social conservatives. Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, former Govs. Rick Perry of Texas and Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and many others turned the Iowa Freedom Forum into the unofficial launch of the next campaign for the Iowa caucuses. More than 1,000 religious conservatives met at a refurbished theater to hear them pitch their policies and their values.


GOP presses state bills limiting gay rights before ruling
ATLANTA (AP) - A Texas lawmaker would strip the salaries from government officials who honor same-sex marriage licenses. Other states would protect government officials who opt out of performing gay nuptials.


TV talk show pioneer Franklin, who gave Pacino chance, dies
NEW YORK (AP) - Pioneering radio and TV host Joe Franklin, who gave breaks to the likes of Al Pacino and Bill Cosby on his variety show long before they became famous and who boasted he never missed a broadcast in decades, has died at age 88. He died Saturday of cancer, which he had had for a few years, longtime producer and friend Steven Garrin said.


Belichick on deflated balls: 'We try to do everything right'
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Saying his team "followed every rule to the letter," New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick described in detail how his team prepares its footballs on game day and defended his players from chatter that they made it to the Super Bowl by cheating. "At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage," Belichick said in an unscheduled availability on Saturday afternoon, eight days before the Patriots will play the Seattle Seahawks for the NFL championship.

 

 

 



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