• Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

    Updated: 14 min ago

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine police have arrested eight suspected members of an online syndicate accused of blackmailing more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents after luring them into exposing themselves in front of webcam, an official said Friday. The raid on the syndicate's locations in northern Bulacan province on Thursday was a follow-up to an operation backed by Interpol in April in which 58 Filipinos were arrested, and another 100 linked to the extortion in a subsequent investigation in May. The victims came from all over the world, including a Scottish teenager who committed suicide after being blackmailed.

  • Public meeting on fracking to be held in Sanford

    Updated: 1 hr ago

    SANFORD, N.C. (AP) — Residents in Sanford will get a chance to voice their opinions on hydraulic fracturing drilling at a public meeting that is the second of four such gatherings planned by the state Mining and Energy Commission. The hearing will be held Friday evening. It follows one held Wednesday in Raleigh that nearly 400 people attended. Fracking opponents will hold a news conference before the hearing begins Friday in Sanford in Lee County, one of the places where scientists believe pockets of natural gas exist in layers of shale. Gov.

  • Dems reframe election-year debate on health care

    Updated: 2 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — One of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats is standing by his vote for President Barack Obama's health care law. That's a fresh sign the law may be losing some of its political punch heading into the midterm elections. In an ad this week, two-term Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor says he voted for a law that prevents insurers from canceling policies if someone gets sick as he did 18 years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer. That prohibition on ending policies is one of the more popular elements of the 4-year-old law. The law, dubbed "Obamacare," remains divisive, vilified by Republicans as big government run amok.

  • Vincennes U. gets nearly $200,000 to train miners

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    VINCENNES, Ind. (AP) — Vincennes University has received more than $191,000 to provide safety training to miners. The grant is part of a total of $8.3 million awarded to 47 states and the Navajo Nation for the 2014 fiscal year. The grants were awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration. Grant recipients will use the money to provide federally mandated training to workers in surface and underground coal mines and other types of mines. The grants are administered by state mine inspectors' offices, state departments of labor, and state-supported colleges and universities. Training is tailored to the needs of area miners, including hazards they may encounter on the job.

  • Coal gas boom in China holds climate change risks

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    HEXIGTEN, China (AP) — Deep in the hilly grasslands of remote Inner Mongolia, twin smoke stacks rise more than 200 feet into the sky, their steam and sulfur billowing over herds of sheep and cattle. Both day and night, the rumble of this power plant echoes across the ancient steppe, and its acrid stench travels dozens of miles away. This is the first of more than 60 coal-to-gas plants China wants to build, mostly in remote parts of the country where ethnic minorities have farmed and herded for centuries. Fired up in December, the multibillion-dollar plant bombards millions of tons of coal with water and heat to produce methane, which is piped to Beijing to generate electricity.

  • Alaska serial killer dies, decades after murders

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Convicted Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen, who gained the nickname of "the Butcher Baker" for abducting and hunting down women in the wilderness during the state's oil pipeline construction boom in the 1970s, has died at age 75. Hansen died Thursday at Alaska Regional Hospital after being in declining health for the past year, Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle said. Hansen had a "do not resuscitate" order on file with the agency, according to Alaska State Troopers. Hansen was convicted in 1984 after confessing to killing 17 women, mostly dancers and prostitutes, during a 12-year span. Hansen was convicted of just four of the murders in a deal that spared him having to go

  • Woman who drank lye-tainted tea suffers nightmares

    Updated: 3 hr ago

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A woman who was in critical condition after unknowingly sipping sweetened iced tea laced with a chemical found in drain cleaner has been steadily improving, but her husband says she's having nightmares about the moment that nearly killed her. Jim Harding says his wife, Jan Harding, woke up frightened in the middle of the night this week in the burn unit of a Salt Lake City hospital after dreaming about going to a restaurant and ordering the drink that made her say, "I think I drank acid." "Her memory is taking that sip, and her mouth and throat being on fire and spitting and gagging and doing everything she could to get that out of her mouth," Jim Harding said at a news conference Thursday. "I'm concer

  • Yellen speech awaited for any hint on rate timing

    Updated: 4 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Two days after the Federal Reserve revealed an intensifying internal debate over interest rates, Chair Janet Yellen will address the annual Fed conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with investors seeking any clear hints of when it will start raising rates. The subject of Yellen's remarks Friday will be labor markets, which is the theme of this year's gathering of central bankers. Minutes of the Fed's July 29-30 meeting released Wednesday showed that officials engaged in a sharp debate over whether to raise rates sooner than expected if the economy keeps strengthening.

  • Jell-O can't stop slippery sales slide

    Updated: 4 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — Jell-O has lost its jiggle and nobody knows how to fix it. The dessert was invented more than a century ago and helped popularize a delicacy reserved for the rich into a quick, affordable treat. Americans of all ages are familiar with the famous "J-E-L-L-O" jingle and TV ads featuring comedian Bill Cosby. Knocking back Jell-O shots made with alcohol is a college memory for many. Yet despite its enduring place in pop culture, sales have tumbled 19 percent in the past four years, with alternatives such as Greek yogurt surging in popularity. Executives at Kraft Foods, which owns Jell-O, say they're confident they can revitalize the brand. But their efforts so far have been a disappointment.

  • Ferguson fallout: A call for police 'body cams'

    Updated: 4 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — What if Michael Brown's last moments had been recorded? The fatal police shooting of the unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri is prompting calls for more officers to wear so-called "body cameras," simple, lapel-mounted gadgets that capture video footage of law enforcement's interactions with the public. Proponents say the devices add a new level of accountability to police work. "This is a technology that has a very real potential to serve as a check and balance on police power," says Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union. The case supporters make is simple: Cops and criminal suspects alike are less likely to misbehave if they know they're being recorded. And

  • New go-to career for New England's young: Farming

    Updated: 5 hr ago

    CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) — Farming is hip in New England. Across the region, young people are choosing crops over cubicles, new farms are popping up and the local food movement is spreading. Farmers and industry experts agree New England is bucking a trend toward larger, but fewer, farms because many of its residents want to buy their food locally and its entrepreneurs want to produce it. The region's small size makes it easy for farmers and consumers to connect at farm markets and stands. Many of these new farmers are young people increasingly interested in the origins of their food and farming, who are eager to take over for the nation's aging farmers.

  • NY judge scolds Argentina, but no contempt order

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday said Argentina's plans to evade his orders by failing to make required payments to U.S. bondholders is illegal and cannot be carried out, but he stopped short of finding the South American nation in contempt of court. U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa called Argentina's actions toward U.S. bondholders "lawless." However, he rejected requests by lawyers for U.S. hedge funds to make a contempt finding, saying he wanted everyone to concentrate on an eventual settlement. "That is the path that should be taken," Griesa said. "In my judgment, it does not add anything to the scales of settlement to make a finding of contempt." At an Aug.

  • American Air will charge for solo kids up to 14

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — American Airlines says it will extend its fee for unaccompanied minors to charge $150 extra each way for children between 5 and 14. The change starts Sept. 3. Currently, American charges a fee on top of the regular fare for unaccompanied minors between 5 and 11. The airline announced the change Thursday in an employee publication. American says extending the fee to more youths will ensure the safest possible travel for them and match the policy at US Airways. The two merged in December to form American Airlines Group Inc. United Airlines charges $150 each way for minors 5 to 11; Delta charges $100 each way for those 5 to 14; at Southwest it's $50 each way for kids 5 to 11.

  • Mexican mining firm complains about probe of spill

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    MEXICO CITY (AP) — A mining conglomerate charged Thursday that it is being subjected to "punitive" legal actions by Mexican officials because one of its mines spilled acid-laced copper sulfate and heavy metals into two rivers. Environmental authorities have ordered a full inspection of Grupo Mexico's Buenavista copper mine near the U.S. border and threatened possible fines of up to $3 million. Prosecutors, meanwhile, have filed a criminal complaint over the spill, which caused water supplies to be shut off for tens of thousands of people in northern Sonora state.

  • Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen dies at 75

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Convicted Alaska serial killer Robert Hansen, who abducted women and hunted them down in the Alaska wilderness in the 1970s as Anchorage boomed with construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, died Thursday. He was 75. Hansen died at Alaska Regional Hospital after being in declining health for the past year, Alaska Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sherrie Daigle said. Hansen had a "do not resuscitate" order on file with the agency, according to Alaska State Troopers. Hansen was convicted in 1984 after confessing to killing 17 women, mostly dancers and prostitutes, during a 12-year span. Hansen was convicted of just four of the murders in a deal that spared him having to go to trial 17 times.

  • Airline group forecasts uptick in Labor Day travel

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    A trade group for the nation's big airlines predicts that air travel over the Labor Day weekend will rise 2 percent from the same holiday last year. If correct, the forecast would be more good news for the airlines. Nine big U.S. carriers earned $3.8 billion in the first half of this year, allowing them to pay down debt, reward shareholders and order new planes. Airlines for America predicted Thursday that 14 million people would fly within the U.S. in the seven days ending Sept. 2, the day after Labor Day. Separately, the auto club AAA forecasts that 34.7 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home by car or plane over a 5-day period ending on Labor Day. That would be a 1.3 percent increase over 2013.

  • Lawyer: Utah restaurant had other chemical burn

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The attorney for a woman who nearly died after unknowingly drinking tea laced with a chemical cleaning compound at a Utah restaurant said Thursday an employee at the eatery burned herself a month earlier on the same substance. Family lawyer Paxton Guymon's comments came at a news conference that also was attended by the burned woman's husband, who said she is recovering but suffering from nightmares as she relives the incident. Guymon said he learned about the previous burn during his investigation into what led to the tea incident at Dickey's Barbecue in South Jordan, a Salt Lake City suburb. He said the Dickey's employee burned her tongue July 5 after she stuck her finger in a sugar container t

  • Officer in Wal-Mart shooting involved in 2010 case

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    CINCINNATI (AP) — Authorities confirm a police officer on leave after the fatal shooting of a man at an Ohio Wal-Mart also was involved in a 2010 fatal shooting but wasn't indicted after evidence showed he acted in self-defense. Authorities haven't said which of the two responding officers in the Wal-Mart case fired the shot killing 21-year-old John Crawford III on Aug. 5 in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek. Beavercreek city attorney Stephen McHugh says Officer Sean Williams remains on administrative leave. Sgt. David Darkow is back on the job. McHugh said by email Thursday that Williams and Darkow aren't commenting. A county grand jury in 2010 didn't charge Williams in the fatal shooting of an intoxicated man authori

  • Guide on TV's 'Wild West Alaska' pleads guilty

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A hunting guide who appears on Animal Planet's "Wild West Alaska" television show has pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor hunting or guiding violations, what his attorney calls "paperwork violations." Jim West, 60, entered the pleas Wednesday in Glennallen, the closest court to his Klutina Lodge in Copper Center. West also owns a gun shop, Wild West Guns, in Anchorage. West was originally charged with 17 violations. He pleaded guilty to guiding a client who illegally killed a moose in 2009, killing a black bear while guiding in 2011, and failing to remove bear-baiting stations in 2011 and 2012. The 13 dismissed violations included allegations that West guided on federal land within Wrangell-St.

  • Man in mystery selfie comes forward in LA County

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) — The couple whose selfie was snapped with a Southern California burglary victim's phone has been identified, authorities said Thursday. The man shown in the selfie came forward and spoke with detectives, and members of the public identified the woman in the photo, Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Joshua Dubin said. Officials released the selfie Wednesday and have branded the pair persons of interest, not suspects, as the investigation into a July 30 burglary continues. A Santa Clarita woman whose home was ransacked and electronics were stolen spotted the selfie when she logged on to her cloud, or online storage, account. Investigators have not released the man's name, but Larry Beltran J