'Could have been me:' Obama identifies with Trayvon Martin, calls for American soul searching
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a rare and public reflection on race, President Barack Obama called on the nation Friday to do some soul searching over the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his shooter, saying the slain black teenager "could have been me 35 years ago." Empathizing with the pain of many black Americans, Obama said the case conjured up a hard history of racial injustice "that doesn't go away."
Obama's personal comments, in a surprise appearance in the White House press room, marked his most extensive discussion of race as president. For Obama, who has written about his own struggles with racial identity but often has shied away from the subject in office, the speech signaled an unusual embrace of his standing as the nation's first black president and the longing of many African-Americans for him to give voice to their experiences.
"When you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away," Obama said during his 20-minute remarks.
A Florida jury last week acquitted George Zimmerman of all charges in the February 2012 shooting of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old. The verdict was cheered by those who agreed that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense, while others protested the outcome, believing Zimmerman had targeted Martin because he was black.
Despite his emotional comments on the case, the president appeared to signal that the Justice Department was unlikely to file federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman. Traditionally, he said, "these are issues of state and local government," and he warned that the public should have "clear expectations."
Authorities: Teenager survived Asiana Airlines crash but was killed when struck by vehicle
SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) — As the wreckage of Asiana Flight 214 burned, Ye Meng Yuan was lying on the ground just 30 feet away, buried by the firefighting foam rescue workers were spraying to douse the flames.
No one knows exactly how the 16-year-old Chinese student got to that spot, but officials say one thing is clear now: She somehow survived the crash.
And in the chaotic moments that followed — flames devouring the fuselage, those aboard escaping by emergency slides, flight attendants frantically cutting away seat belts to free passengers — a fire truck ran over Yuan, killing her.
The new details — released Friday by the coroner's office — compounded the tragedy for her family and confirmed the growing suspicions that emergency workers have had since soon after the July 6 crash: One of the three who died did so by rescuers' actions.
"There's not a lot of words to describe how badly we feel, how sorry we feel," said San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.
Kerry says Israel, Palestinians to meet to work out final details for relaunching peace talks
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — 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.
The statement, which came in a press conference after a day in which Kerry shuttled between the Jordanian capital and the West Bank, reflected how painstakingly incremental movement in the process is. 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.
Up to the last minute, the Palestinians had been reluctant to sign on to Kerry's formula for returning to the table with the Israelis, five years after talks broke down.
Late Thursday, the Palestinian leadership said it was sticking by its demand that any negotiations on final borders between Israel and a Palestinian state be based on the cease-fire line that held from 1949 until the 1967 war, when Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. Israel rejects preconditions on the talks.
Kerry held extended talks Friday morning with top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Amman, then spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Kerry then flew by helicopter to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Ramallah, although his departure was delayed by nearly three hours.
New photos of Boston Marathon bomb suspect offer glimpse into end of chaotic week, manhunt
BOSTON (AP) — After a week of chaos, the suspect in the deadly Boston Marathon bombings emerged from his hiding spot bloodied and seemingly exhausted — the red dot of a sniper's rifle lighting his forehead. Photos of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev released by a state police officer give a long-awaited glimpse into the end of an episode that kept the city and its suburbs on edge.
The images, the first of Tsarnaev from that night in April, were released to Boston Magazine on Thursday by a state police photographer angry about a Rolling Stone cover shot of Tsarnaev and hoping to counter what he said was the music magazine's glamorization of the terror suspect.
The release was unauthorized, and Sgt. Sean Murphy faces an internal investigation and possible suspension.
Murphy's 14 photos show the 19-year-old Tsarnaev emerging from his hiding spot in a drydocked boat in Watertown, just west of Boston, his right hand up in surrender in one, his head buried in his arms in another. In every picture of Tsarnaev, the red dot of a sniper's rifle sight is trained on his head.
To Watertown resident Anna Lanzo, the photos show a teen, as weary as he appears, still capable of standing, running and doing the damage she worried he'd do when she was trapped in her house three months ago while her neighborhood was on lockdown.
FAA warns the public against firing guns at drones, says shooters could be prosecuted
WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.
A drone "hit by gunfire could crash, causing damage to persons or property on the ground, or it could collide with other objects in the air," the statement said. "Shooting at an unmanned aircraft could result in criminal or civil liability, just as would firing at a manned airplane."
Under the proposed ordinance, Deer Trail would grant hunting permits to shoot drones. The permits would cost $25 each. The town would also encourage drone hunting by awarding $100 to anyone who presents a valid hunting license and identifiable pieces of a drone that has been shot down.
Deer Trail resident Phillip Steel, 48, author of the proposal, said in an interview that he has 28 signatures on a petition — roughly 10 percent of the town's registered voters. Under Colorado law, that requires local officials to formally consider the proposal at a meeting next month, he said. Town officials would then have the option of adopting the ordinance or putting it on the ballot in an election this fall, he said.
Police: 4 men found captive in Houston garage in 'deplorable conditions,' 1 in custody
HOUSTON (AP) — Four men found living in "deplorable conditions" in a Houston garage on Friday told police that they were being held captive after being lured by promises of food and cigarettes so that their captor could cash their public-assistance checks, authorities said.
Three of the men were malnourished and taken to a hospital after being discovered by officers responding to a 911 call about the home, Houston police spokeswoman Jodi Silva said. Sgt. Steven Murdock described the living conditions as like a "dungeon."
Investigators were still trying to determine how long the men lived there, but they said it may have been weeks.
Silva said the men told investigators they were forced to live in the garage — which included just one chair, no bed and a possibly malfunctioning air conditioner — so their captor could cash their assistance checks. She said the men were "given scraps to eat."
"They clearly stated to us they were being kept against their will," Silva said.
Illinois man sentenced to life in prison for beating 5 members of ex-wife's family to death
LINCOLN, Ill. (AP) — A man convicted of beating five members of his ex-wife's family to death in their small-town Illinois home was sentenced Friday to five consecutive life terms.
Christopher Harris, 34, was convicted in May after a monthlong trial. Harris admitted killing Dillen Constant, but claimed he did so in self-defense after discovering the 14-year-old boy slaughtering his own family. Harris reiterated his innocence on Friday when making a brief statement before being sentenced.
"I made a lot of stupid, stupid decisions that night but I did not commit this crime, and that's all I have to say," he said, according to the Peoria Journal Star, which reported that Harris spoke for about one minute.
But Judge Scott Drazewski, who before the sentencing denied Harris' motion for a new trial, not only imposed the five consecutive life sentences, but added a total of 80 years in prison for first-degree murder, armed robbery and home invasion.
Because of the charges, the only sentence that the judge could have imposed was life in prison. But there was drama in the sweltering courtroom.
FAA wants Dreamliner transmitters inspected after UK investigators link devices to 787 fire
WASHINGTON (AP) — Airlines should inspect the emergency locator transmitters of all Boeing 787 "Dreamliners," the Federal Aviation Administration urged Friday following a fire earlier in the week aboard one of the airliners while parked at London's Heathrow Airport.
British aviation authorities, who are investigating the fire on an Ethiopian Airlines 787, have said the transmitters should be disabled after finding that one of the squat orange boxes was the only thing with enough power to start a fire in the plane's tail section, which was scorched.
The FAA made no mention Friday of disabling the transmitters in a brief statement provided to the media. Instead, the agency said that after reviewing the British investigators' recommendations, U.S. officials have begun working with Boeing to develop instructions for how airlines should conduct the inspections.
The inspections would ask airlines to examine transmitters for proper wire routing and damaged or pinched wires, the statement said. The transmitter's lithium battery compartment would be inspected for heat or moisture.
An order making the inspections mandatory for U.S. operators is expected in the coming days, the FAA said.
Authorities: DNA test of remains confirms link between Boston Strangler suspect, last victim
BOSTON (AP) — DNA tests confirm that the man who once claimed to be the Boston Strangler did kill the woman believed to be the serial killer's last victim and was likely responsible for the deaths of the other victims, authorities said Friday.
Albert DeSalvo admitted to killing Mary Sullivan and 10 other women in the Boston area between 1962 and 1964 but later recanted. He was later killed in prison.
The DNA finding "leaves no doubt that Albert DeSalvo was responsible for the brutal murder of Mary Sullivan" and it was "most likely" that he also was the Boston Strangler, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said.
Eleven Boston-area women between the ages of 19 and 85 were sexually assaulted and killed between 1962 and 1964, crimes that terrorized the region and grabbed national headlines.
Authorities said recently that new technology allowed them to test semen left at the crime scene of Sullivan's death using DNA from a living relative of DeSalvo's. That produced a match with DeSalvo that excluded 99.9 percent of suspects, and was the first forensic evidence tying DeSalvo to the nearly 50-year-old case.
Norwegian woman wages public fight against Dubai jail sentence after reporting alleged rape
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Norwegian woman sentenced to 16 months in jail in Dubai for having sex outside marriage after she reported an alleged rape said Friday she decided to speak out in hopes of drawing attention to the risks of outsiders misunderstanding the Islamic-influenced legal codes in this cosmopolitan city.
The case has drawn outrage from rights groups and others in the West since the 24-year-old interior designer was sentenced Wednesday. It also highlights the increasingly frequent tensions between the United Arab Emirates' international atmosphere and its legal system, which is strongly influenced by Islamic traditions in a nation where foreign workers and visitors greatly outnumber locals.
"I have to spread the word. ... After my sentence we thought, 'How can it get worse?'" Marte Deborah Dalelv told The Associated Press in an interview at a Norwegian aid compound in Dubai where she is preparing her appeal scheduled for early September.
Dalelv, who worked for an interior design firm in Qatar since 2011, claims she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker in March while she was attending a business meeting in Dubai.
She said she fled to the hotel lobby and asked for the police to be called. The hotel staff asked if she was sure she wanted to involve the police, Dalelv said.