• AP sources: Cuba releases U.S. prisoner Alan Gross

    By JULIE PACE and MATTHEW LEE, AP | Updated: Wed, Dec 17, 2014

    WASHINGTON — American Alan Gross was released from a Cuban prison after five years Wednesday, a surprise move that could pave the way for a major shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island nation, senior Obama administration officials said. Gross, 65, was on an American government plane bound for the U.S. Wednesday morning after being released on humanitarian grounds by the Cuban government at the request of the Obama administration. As part of the secret negotiations to secure his release, the U.S. was releasing three Cuban jailed in Florida for spying. Obama administration officials have considered Gross’ imprisonment an impediment to improving relations with Cuba.

  • Police end Sydney hostage siege after 16 hours

    By KRISTEN GELINEAU, AP | Published: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    SYDNEY — A swarm of heavily armed police stormed a cafe in the heart of downtown Sydney early Tuesday, ending a siege where a gunman had been holding an unknown number of people hostage for more than 16 hours. A police spokesman confirmed “the operation is over,” but would not release any further details about the fate of the gunman or his remaining captives. After a flurry of loud bangs, police swooped into the Lindt Chocolat Cafe shortly after five or six hostages were seen running from the building. After the police moved in, one weeping woman was helped out by the officers and at least two other people were wheeled out on stretchers.

  • Senate to take up $1.1T bill to keep govt running

    By ANDREW TAYLOR, AP | Published: Fri, Dec 12, 2014

    WASHINGTON — It’s now up to the Senate to pass a huge $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep the government running, but not before a battle between old school veterans and new breed freshmen such as tea partier Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren, a liberal with a national following. The smart money’s on old school types such as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The measure passed the House on Thursday after a day of drama but by a relatively comfortable 219-206 vote.

  • Egypt militant group says it killed U.S. oil worker

    By MAAMOUN YOUSSEF, AP | Published: Mon, Dec 1, 2014

    CAIRO — An Egyptian militant organization allied with the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the killing of an American oil worker. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which now refers to itself as the Sinai Province, said on its official Twitter account late Sunday that it killed William Henderson. It published pictures of his passport and two identification cards. It did not say when or how it killed him. The passport said he was a 58-year-old from Texas and his identification cards said he worked for Texas-based energy company Apache Corp. and Qarun Petroleum Co., a joint venture with Egypt. Apache said in August that one of its supervisors had been killed in an apparent carjacking in Egypt’s Western Desert.

  • Austin police: More than 100 rounds fired

    JIM VERTUNO, Associated Press | Updated: Fri, Nov 28, 2014

    AUSTIN, Texas — Authorities shot and killed a man who they say opened fire on Austin police headquarters early Friday morning, and a bomb squad was called in to search his vehicle. The man also targeted a U.S. courthouse and the Mexican Consulate, Assistant Poice Chief Raul Munguia said at a news conference. Officers were searching the suspect’s Austin-area residents for possible explosives. Police did not immediately confirm whether the man, whose name was not immediately released, had explosives. The gunfire was reported at 2:22 a.m. Friday, Munguia said, and some bullets hit police headquarters. Munguia did not immediately say whether the consulate and the courthouse were damaged. Both were closed at the time

  • Plunging crude prices hammer energy companies

    BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Published: Fri, Nov 28, 2014

    NEW YORK — A decision by OPEC this week to maintain current levels of oil production is hammering major energy companies in the U.S. and abroad. Many energy experts had expected the group of oil producing countries, which met in Vienna this week, to act to halt a free fall in the price of crude oil since this summer. A barrel of benchmark U.S. crude, which cost well above $100 as recently as June, had fallen to about $73 as of this week. OPEC announced Thursday that it would not cut production in hopes of hurting producers in the U.S. and elsewhere that have been flooding the market with crude and natural gas. The effect was immediate.

  • Ferguson businesses torched in overnight protests

    By JIM SALTER and DAVID A. LIEB, AP | Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    FERGUSON, Mo. — Smoke billowed from burned-out buildings and sidewalks were strewn with broken glass Tuesday morning after Ferguson erupted over a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the killing of unarmed black 18-year-old Michael Brown.

  • Protesters of Ferguson decision flood U.S. streets

    By SADIE GURMAN, AP | Updated: Tue, Nov 25, 2014

    Thousands of people rallied late Monday in U.S. cities including Los Angeles and New York to passionately but peacefully protest a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer who killed a black 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri. They led marches, waved signs and shouted chants of “hands up, don’t shoot,” the refrain that has become a rallying cry in protests over police killings across the country. The most disruptive demonstrations were in St. Louis and Oakland, California, where protesters flooded the lanes of freeways, milling about stopped cars with their hands raised in the air.

  • Grand jury won't indict Ferguson cop in shooting

    BY JIM SALTER and DAVID A. LIEB, ASSOCIATED PRESS | Updated: Mon, Nov 24, 2014

    FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — A grand jury has decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, the unarmed, black 18-year-old whose fatal shooting sparked weeks of sometimes-violent protests. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch announced the decision Monday evening. A grand jury of nine whites and three blacks had been meeting weekly since Aug. 20 to consider evidence. At least nine votes would have been required to indict Wilson. The Justice Department is conducting an investigation into possible civil rights violations that could result in federal charges. Brown's Aug. 9 death sparked more than a week of unrest that included angry clashes between police

  • Senate Democrats reject bill to build oil pipeline

    BY DINA CAPPIELLO, Associated Press | Published: Tue, Nov 18, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democrat-controlled Senate has defeated a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Senate's 59-41 vote Tuesday night was a nail-biter to the end. The bill needed 60 votes to reach the White House. The House passed it overwhelmingly last week. President Barack Obama did not support the bill, but the White House has been mum on whether or not he will veto it. Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu pushed for the vote in an effort to save her seat in a Dec. 6 runoff election in Louisiana. She faces an uphill battle against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, who authored the House bill. All Republicans said publicly they supported the Senate bill, as did several moderate Democrats.

  • Report details Oklahoma children living in poverty

    BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Published: Wed, Nov 12, 2014

    Nearly a quarter of a million children in Oklahoma were living in poverty in 2012, and close to one-third of the state's kids were living with parents who didn't have steady employment.

  • ’Big Bang Theory’ actress Carol Ann Susi dies

    BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Published: Wed, Nov 12, 2014

    LOS ANGELES — The actress best known for voicing the unseen Mrs. Wolowitz on “The Big Bang Theory” has died. Carol Ann Susi’s agent, Pam Ellis-Evenas, says the actress died Tuesday in Los Angeles after a brief battle with cancer. She was 62. The veteran character actress has made numerous guest appearances on TV shows since the 1970s. On the “The Big Bang Theory,” she wasn’t seen on camera as the mother of Simon Helberg’s character, Howard, but her character’s loud voice with a Brooklyn accent was instantly recognizable. The executive producers of the CBS sitcom say Susi was a beloved member of the “Big Bang Theory” family, and they praised her “immense talent and comedic timing.

  • Oklahoma elections: Mary Fallin cruises to second term as Oklahoma governor

    By Rick M. Green, Capitol Bureau | Updated: Tue, Nov 4, 2014

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin easily defeats Joe Dorman in the governor’s race. “Serving as Oklahoma’s governor has been the greatest honor of my life,” Fallin said. “I am incredibly humbled and thankful to be given the opportunity for a second term.”

  • Officials: 2nd person tests positive for Ebola

    EMILY SCHMALL and NOMAAN MERCHANT, AP | Updated: Wed, Oct 15, 2014

    DALLAS — A second Dallas hospital worker who provided care for the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. has tested positive for the disease, pointing to lapses beyond how one individual may have donned and removed personal protective garb.

  • Official says Holder resigning as attorney general

    By NEDRA PICKLER and JIM KUHNHENN, AP | Updated: Thu, Sep 25, 2014

    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder is resigning after heading the Justice Department for six years. A White House official says President Barack Obama will announce Holder’s departure later Thursday. Holder is the first black attorney general, and his tenure is the fourth longest on the job. He plans to remain at the Justice Department until his successor is in place.

  • Ex-pastor charged with possessing indecent writing

    ASSOCIATED PRESS | Updated: Wed, Sep 24, 2014

    MCALESTER, Okla. (AP) — A former McAlester pastor has been charged with a felony after police say a story about three minors engaging in sexual acts was found in his home. The McAlester News-Capital reports (http://bit.ly/1pdqfgk ) prosecutors charged 65-year-old Larry Jones on Tuesday with possessing obscene or indecent writings. Jones is the former pastor at McAlester Missionary Baptist Church. His wife, who has since left him, told police she found a story inside their home about a sexual encounter with three children who attended the church. An affidavit says Jones' wife also discovered him looking at child pornography about a year and a half ago. She says Jones has disposed of the computer since then.

  • U.S., Arab allies hit IS strongholds in Syria, Iraq

    LOLITA C. BALDOR and ROBERT BURNS, AP | Updated: Tue, Sep 23, 2014

    WASHINGTON — Combined U.S.-Arab airstrikes on the Islamic State group’s military strongholds in Syria achieved their aim of showing the extremists that their savage attacks will not go unanswered, the top American military officer said Tuesday. Separately, the U.S. launched strikes against a group said to be plotting to attack the U.S. and Western interests. The U.S. and five Arab nations attacked the Islamic State group’s headquarters in eastern Syria in nighttime raids Monday using land- and sea-based U.S. aircraft as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from two Navy ships in the Red Sea and the northern Persian Gulf.

  • Scots reject independence in historic vote

    By JILL LAWLESS and DANICA KIRKA, AP | Published: Fri, Sep 19, 2014

    EDINBURGH, Scotland — Scottish voters have resoundingly rejected independence, deciding to remain part of the United Kingdom after a historic referendum that shook the country to its core. The decision prevented a rupture of a 307-year union with England, bringing a huge sigh of relief to Britain’s economic and political establishment, including Prime Minister David Cameron, who faced calls for his resignation if Scotland had broken away. The vote on Thursday — 55 percent against independence to 45 percent in favor — saw an unprecedented turnout of just under 85 percent. “We have chosen unity over division,” Alistair Darling, head of the No campaign, said early Friday in Glasgow. “Today is a momentous

  • Lawyer: Autopsy shows unarmed teen repeatedly shot

    By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER, AP | Published: Mon, Aug 18, 2014

    FERGUSON, Mo. — A Missouri teenager fatally shot by police suffered a bullet wound to his right arm that may have occurred when he put his hands up or while his back was turned to the shooter, “but we don’t know,” a pathologist hired by the teen’s family said Monday. An independent autopsy conducted on 18-year-old Michael Brown determined that the teen was shot at least six times, including twice in the head, according to the pathologists and the family’s attorneys. Brown was shot by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, touching off a week of rancorous protests in the St. Louis suburb where police have used riot gear and tear gas. Forensic pathologist Shawn Parcells, who assisted former New York City chief

  • Governor Nixon orders National Guard to Ferguson

    By NIGEL DUARA and JIM SUHR, AP | Updated: Mon, Aug 18, 2014

    FERGUSON, Mo. — Missouri’s governor on Monday ordered the National Guard to a St. Louis suburb convulsed by protests over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen, after a night in which police used tear gas to clear protesters off the streets well ahead of a curfew. Gov. Jay Nixon said the National Guard would help “in restoring peace and order” to Ferguson, where protests over the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer entered their second week. Police said they acted in response to gunfire, looting, vandalism and protesters who hurled Molotov cocktails.