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Tue Sep 23 05:36:48 PDT 2014
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US and World Headlines: Ambush Suspect Search Narrows; Calif. Wildfire; ISIS, Syria, Kurds, Lebanon Update
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POLICE BARRACKS SHOOTING CANADENSIS, Pa. (AP) --The suspect in the deadly ambush at a state police barracks in a remote part of northeastern Pennsylvania remains at large but police appear to have narrowed their search. Authorities have largely shutdown the heavily wooded community in the Pocono Mountains where he lived with his parents. On Saturday, law enforcement officers wearing bulletproof vests and armed with rifles continued their hunt for 31-year-old Eric Frein (freen), now on the FBI's Most Wanted list. A state police spokeswoman says troopers are exercising extreme caution and are determined to find Frein and bring him to justice. Authorities have lifted a shelter in place order but are urging residents returning home to use caution and to stay out of the dense, boggy woodlands where the search is underway. Authorities say Frein used a high-powered rifle to open fire from the woods near a state police barracks on Sept. 12, killing one trooper and wounding another. Frein is described by authorities as a self-taught survivalist with a grudge against police. CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES POLLOCK PINES, Calif. (AP) -- Officials say assessment teams are checking to see how many structures have been destroyed or damaged from a massive wildfire that is threatening thousands of homes in Northern California. Nearly 5,000 firefighters from as far away as Florida and Alaska are helping California crews battle the King Fire that's not only consuming grass and brush but stretches of tall timber as well. The fire has spread to the Tahoe National Forest northwest of Lake Tahoe. It's also threatening a key University of California, Berkeley research station that is home to scores of experiments on trees, plants and other wildlife. The fire has consumed about 128 square miles and is only 10 percent contained. The blaze drove 2,800 people from their homes although about 100 evacuees have been allowed to return. A 37-year-old man accused of setting the blaze has pleaded not guilty to arson charges. He's being held on $10 million bail. MISSING UVA STUDENT CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Nearly 1,000 volunteers, some driven by worry for the safety of their own families, are searching for a University of Virginia sophomore who disappeared a week ago. Volunteers met at the university's basketball arena Saturday morning before fanning out in search teams throughout Charlottesville. City police continue to investigate the disappearance of Hannah Graham, an 18-year-old from northern Virginia. Police said yesterday that they have spoken with a man they believe was with her in a bar on the night she went missing, but did not have enough information to arrest or detain him after searching his car and apartment. WHITE HOUSE INTRUDER WASHINGTON (AP) -- A man is in custody for trying to unlawfully enter the White House today, less than 24 hours after a fence-jumper made it all the way into the building. The Secret Service says the man showed up at one of the White House gates on foot, then showed up in his car at another gate and pulled into the vehicle screening area. He refused to leave and was arrested for unlawful entry. The White House was not locked down. The arrest comes a day after another man, identified as 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez of Copperas Cove (kahp-ruhs KOHV'), Texas, scaled the fence and managed to get through the North Portico doors before agents were able to apprehend him. The president and first family were not at home for either incident. They're at Camp David. WHITE HOUSE INTRUDER-SECRET SERVICE WASHINGTON (AP) -- The head of the U.S. Secret Service has ordered stepped-up security outside the White House after a man with a knife jumped the fence and made it all the way inside the presidential residence before being apprehended. The Secret Service says Director Julia Pierson has ordered enhanced officer patrols and surveillance along the North Fence of the White House. The measures took effect Friday evening after the incident. Pierson has also ordered a comprehensive review of the incident. The Secret Service says it's unacceptable that the suspect made it so far before being arrested. White House spokesman Frank Benenati says President Barack Obama has full confidence in the Secret Service. He says the White House expects the review to be performed with the professionalism and commitment Americans expect from the Secret Service. ESCAPED INMATES MADERA, Calif. (AP) -- Authorities in Central California are on the hunt for five inmates who have escaped a correctional facility. Madera County Sheriff's spokeswoman Erica Stuart says the inmates broke out of the Madera County jail late Friday night. Authorities are looking for 33-year-old Juan Lopez, 26-year-old Jorge Lopez-Diaz, 25-year-old Abel Ramos, 19-year-old Ricardo Cendejas, all of Madera; and 29-year-old Roel Soliz of Chowchilla. The men were being held in custody on various charges including attempted murder and armed robbery. Stuart says it is unclear how the men, who are believed to be gang members, escaped from the jail. She says the men were last seen wearing either orange jumpsuits or white T- shirts with blue shorts and jail-issued sandals. Authorities say all five men should be considered armed and dangerous. SPRINT CAR-DRIVER KILLED BEAVER DAM, Wis. (AP) -- Sprint car driver Scott Semmelmann was killed in a wreck during practice for a race Saturday night at Beaver Dam Raceway. Beaver Dam Raceway general manager Carolyn Mueller and Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Car Series President Steve Sinclair confirmed the death. Semmelmann's car made contact with another car during the second practice session, flipped three times and hit the outside wall. Semmelmann is from Brookfield. His age wasn't immediately available. The race was canceled. Beaver Dam Raceway is a 0.33-mile clay oval about 75 minutes northwest of Milwaukee. Last month, Kevin Ward Jr. was killed in a sprint car race at a dirt track in upstate New York when he left his car and was struck by a car driven by NASCAR star Tony Stewart. GENERAL MOTORS-RECALL DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors is recalling 221,558 Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala sedans because the brake pads can stay partially engaged even when they're not needed, increasing the risk of a fire. The recall involves Cadillacs from the 2013-2015 model years and Impalas from the 2014 and 2015 model years. There are 205,309 vehicles affected in the U.S.; the rest of the vehicles are in Canada and elsewhere. GM says the electronic parking brake arm that applies pressure to the back of the brake pads may not fully retract after use. If the brake pads stay partially engaged with the rotor, excessive brake heat may result in a fire. GM says it knows of no accidents or injuries related to the defect. GM will notify owners and repair the vehicles for free. SYRIA BEIRUT (AP) -- Activists say hundreds of Kurdish fighters are crossing into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area under attack by Islamic State militants. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and local Kurdish officials say hundreds of fighters have been streaming into the Kobani area in northern Syria. Islamic State insurgents have barreled through the area over the past week, seizing villages and forcing thousands of Syrian Kurds to flee. Syrian Kurdish fighters had been successfully fighting off the militants for the past two years. They even clashed with the Islamic State group's fighters in northern Iraq, carving a safe passage for thousands of embattled Iraqis of the Yazidi minority. But the tide changed this month, as Islamic State fighters used weapons and armor seized from Iraqi soldiers to advance into the Kobani area. Kurdish officials are appealing for international assistance. LEBANON BEIRUT (AP) -- Lebanon's state media says that three people were killed in a suicide car bombing at a checkpoint manned by the Shiite Hezbollah militia. The NNA news agency said the bomber detonated his explosives-rigged vehicle on Saturday at the checkpoint about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) from the Syria border. It wasn't immediately clear if the casualties were bystanders or Hezbollah fighters. It was the first such bombing since February. The attack was likely linked to the war in neighboring Syria. Sunni militants, including the Islamic State group, are trying to punish the Iranian-backed Hezbollah because its fighters are battling alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. The neighboring Syrian conflict has taken on sectarian overtones, with mostly Sunni rebels fighting to overthrow Assad. Sunni militants claimed responsibility for previous bombings in Lebanon. TURKEY-HOSTAGES FREED ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish authorities say they freed 49 hostages from one of the world's most ruthless militant groups without firing a shot, paying a ransom or offering a quid pro quo. The hostages were seized at the Turkish Consulate when the militants overran Mosul, Iraq, in its surge to seize large swaths of Iraq and Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (AH'-meht dah-voot-OH'-loo) says the release was the result of intense efforts by the country's intelligence agency and not a special forces operations. But as the well-dressed men and women captured by the Islamic State group more than three months ago clasped their families Saturday on the tarmac of the Turkish capital's airport, experts had doubts about the government's story. Former Turkish diplomat Sinan Ulgen says the official explanation "sounds a bit too good to be true." Aaron Stein, an associate fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute who has studied Turkey's security policy says "I think it's fair to say that we haven't been told the full story." CHINA-FUGITIVES ABROAD BEIJING (AP) -- China's police ministry says 88 fugitives wanted for graft, fraud and other economic offenses have been extradited or returned on their own from the United States, Canada and other countries. The ministry said Sunday that one fugitive had spent 14 years in Canada and was accused of embezzling 60 million yuan ($10 million). A ministry statement said another was arrested in Thailand and others "were persuaded" to return from the United States, Belgium and other countries. The government of President Xi Jinping is in the midst of the latest in a series of crackdowns dating back two decades against chronic and pervasive official corruption. In July, authorities launched a campaign dubbed Fox Hunt 2014 to track down official corruption suspects who have fled abroad. DECATUR, Ala. (AP) -- Police are investigating after a toddler was found dead in the baptistery of a Decatur church. Local media reports say 22-month-old Brayden King was unresponsive when paramedics arrived at the Pentecostal House of Prayer around 7:45 p.m Friday. His family was attending a prayer service. Police say church members were doing CPR on the boy, who was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. A statement from Decatur police says it seems the boy got into the church baptistery, which was full of water, and appears to have drowned. An autopsy is set for Monday at a state forensics lab in Huntsville. Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn said an autopsy is standard for this kind of death and that investigators have no reason to suspect foul play.


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