Mother of US reporter in Syria begs for his life BEIRUT (AP) - The mother of a hostage American journalist pleaded for his release Wednesday in a video directed at the Islamic State group, while new images emerged of mass killings, including masked militants shooting kneeling men after the capture of a strategic air base in Syria. Shirley Sotloff's plea came as a U.N. commission accused the group, which dominates a broad swath of territory spanning the Syria-Iraq border, of committing crimes against humanity and President Barack Obama weighs options for targeting the extremists' stronghold in Syria.
AP ANALYSIS: A grim stalemate at war's end in Gaza TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) - The third Gaza War in six years appears to have ended in another sort of tie, with both Israel and Hamas claiming the upper hand. Their questionable achievements have come at a big price, especially to long-suffering Palestinians in Gaza. In a sense, Israel got what it wanted: Hamas stopped firing rockets in exchange for mostly vague promises and future talks. But the cost to Israel was huge: Beyond the 70 people killed - all but six of them soldiers - the economy has been set back, the tourism season destroyed, its people rattled for 50 days and its global standing pummeled by images of devastation in Gaza.
US to consider spousal abuse in immigration claims WASHINGTON (AP) - A government immigration board has determined for the first time that domestic violence victims may be able to qualify for asylum in the United States. The ruling comes in the case of a Guatemalan woman who crossed into the U.S. illegally in 2005 after fleeing her husband. She said she called local police in Guatemala to report the abuse but was repeatedly told that the authorities would not interfere in her marriage. She argued that the abuse and the lack of police response should make her eligible for asylum.
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Shooting by 9-year-old girl stirs debate over guns PHOENIX (AP) - The accidental shooting death of a firing-range instructor by a 9-year-old girl with an Uzi has set off a powerful debate over youngsters and guns, with many people wondering what sort of parents would let a child handle a submachine gun. Instructor Charles Vacca, 39, was standing next to the girl Monday at the Last Stop range in White Hills, Arizona, about 60 miles south of Las Vegas, when she squeezed the trigger. The recoil wrenched the Uzi upward, and Vacca was shot in the head.
Battle for Ukraine's southeast coast heats up NOVOAZOVSK, Ukraine (AP) - Pushing west in a new offensive along Ukraine's strategic coastline, heavily armed Russian-backed separatist forces captured new territory Wednesday far from their previous battles with government troops. The bold offensive along a new southeastern front raised the prospect that the separatists are seeking to create a land link between Russia and Crimea, which also would give them control over the entire Azov Sea.
Obama crafts legal rationale for immigration steps WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is crafting a blame-it-on-Congress legal justification to back up President Barack Obama's impending executive actions on immigration. Facing an expected onslaught of opposition, the administration plans to argue that Congress failed to provide enough resources to fully enforce U.S. laws, thereby ceding wide latitude to White House to prioritize deportations of the 11.5 million people who are in the country illegally, administration officials and legal experts said. But Republicans, too, are exploring their legal options for stopping Obama from what they've deemed egregious presidential overreaching.
Q-and-A on Westerners who join the fight in Syria MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Douglas McAuthur McCain, an American killed in Syria while fighting with the Islamic State group, was part of a growing number of Americans and other foreigners recruited by terror groups to help them wage war in the Mideast. White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed Wednesday that McCain was fighting for ISIL in Syria in a conflict that now includes thousands of combatants from around 50 countries.
Cowabunga! Storm sends big waves to California NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Thundering surf spawned by a Pacific hurricane pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town while drawing daredevil surfers and body-boarders into churning, 20-foot waves as crowds of spectators lined the shore. Despite the danger, surfers, body-boarders and body-surfers flocked to favorite spots such as the notorious Wedge at Newport Beach, where the interaction of swells and a jetty produced huge waves, and cars were backed up for miles along the only road to the narrow peninsula.
USC's Shaw admits to lying about injuries, rescue LOS ANGELES (AP) - Southern California cornerback Josh Shaw confessed that he lied to school officials about how he sprained his ankles last weekend, retracting his story about jumping off a balcony to save his drowning nephew. The school swiftly suspended him Wednesday from all team activities and acknowledged his heroic tale was "a complete fabrication."
AP PHOTOS: Storm-roiled waves hit beach towns SEAL BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Massive waves turned into floodwaters Wednesday along the Southern California shore as Hurricane Marie stirred up the surf from afar. Beachfront properties were inundated with saltwater, and the storm-roiled Pacific knocked out pilings at Malibu Pier. The sea breached oceanfront walls to flood streets and homes.