- Niger court drops politically charged baby-trafficking case
A court in Niger threw out charges on Friday against members of the political and social elite accused of trafficking newborn babies -- a case dismissed by the opposition as a plot to discredit its members. Police started arresting 20 people, including the wives of several senior politicians, in June and said they wanted to question Hama Amadou, the main challenger to President Mahamadou Issoufou. Political tensions have risen in Niger since 2013 when Hama, once part of Issoufou's coalition, fell out with the president. According to the prosecution, around 30 children were born to women in neighbouring Nigeria for the sole purpose of being sold to wealthy couples in Niger.
- Mitt Romney bows out of 2016 race after a 3-week test run
WASHINGTON (AP) — He insists he could win, but Mitt Romney has stepped out of the 2016 presidential contest in favor of the "next generation of Republican leaders" following a three-week fact-finding effort that revealed significant resistance to a third campaign.
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- Dueling narratives surround 'Suge' Knight in deadly run-in
LOS ANGELES (AP) — As Marion "Suge" Knight sat jailed on suspicion of murder, dueling narratives cast him as attacker and victim in the hip-hop music mogul's latest and most serious run-in with the law.
- Tennessee man charged in failed Gambia coup attempt
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - The United States has charged a third man in connection with a failed Dec. 30 attempt to overthrow the government of Gambia, the U.S. Attorney for Minnesota said on Friday. Alagie Barrow, 41, a dual citizen of Gambia and the United States and a former member of the Tennessee Army National Guard, was charged with conspiring against a nation friendly to the United States and conspiring to possess a firearmn to further a violent crime, prosecutors said.
- Japan says hostage negotiations 'deadlocked': report
Japan's deputy foreign minister has said negotiations with the Islamic State group threatening to execute a Jordanian pilot and a Japanese journalist have become "deadlocked," local media reported Saturday. Yasuhide Nakayama, who is leading Tokyo's emergency response team in Amman, told reporters in the Jordanian capital late Friday that there had been no progress in trying to secure the release of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh.
- Japan says efforts to free Islamic State hostage deadlocked
- Laird leads by two at Phoenix Open
Martin Laird posted his second straight six-under 66 to take the lead at the Phoenix Open which will be without both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson after they missed the cut. It was also his first bogey of the event at the rain-soaked TPC Scottsdale course. Daniel Berger, who is playing on a sponsor exemption, posted a two-under 69 and he stands alone in second place at eight under. Justin Thomas carded a three-under 68 to move into third place at seven-under-par 135.
- Attorney wants mistrial declared in Vanderbilt rape case
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An attorney for one of the ex-Vanderbilt University football players convicted of raping an unconscious fellow student says he will ask that a mistrial be declared after learning that a jury member was a rape victim.
- Deadly clash in Philippines a setback to peace with Muslim rebels
By Trinna Leong KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A deadly clash between Philippines police and Muslim rebels in the south of the country has dealt a temporary setback to peace talks, Manila's chief peace negotiator said on Saturday, appealing for renewed efforts to keep the process on track. The government has described last Sunday's clash, which shattered a three-year ceasefire, as a "misencounter" during a bid by police to arrest two wanted militants who had taken refuge with Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters. "We have been temporarily set back by the Mamasapano incident," Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, the government's chief peace negotiator, told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur. "The other alternative is simple unthinkable ... I don’t think we want to go back to the 1970s." Government and rebel peace panels met in Malaysia on Friday to sign protocols for the surrender of weapons by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in a bid to underscore their commitment to the peace process, brokered by Kuala Lumpur.
- Anger, mourning in Pakistan after mosque bombing kills 59
- NYC to pay $5M to kin of man killed in 'Mafia cops' case
NEW YORK (AP) — Nicholas Guido was showing off his new car outside his mother's home on Christmas Day 1986 when he was gunned down because he'd been mistaken for a mobster with the same name. The bad information, prosecutors said, came from two decorated police detectives who would later be convicted of moonlighting as hit men for the mob.
- Iraqi libraries ransacked by Islamic State group in Mosul
- Is he dead? Philippines awaits answer of costly terror raid
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The cellphone message of the Filipino police commandos to their base was triumphant: "Mike 1 bingo," a code meaning they have killed one of Southeast Asia's most-wanted terror suspects, Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan.
- Kiev hopes for stalled truce talks despite separatist vow
Kiev's pro-Western leaders hope to hold truce talks on Saturday with pro-Russian separatists despite the rebels' vow to push their latest offensive in eastern Ukraine if the negotiations should fail. The urgent new round of negotiations in Minsk that had been agreed for Friday under pressure from European envoys was postponed due to disagreements over who should represent the rebel camp. Kiev said it expected to send its envoy, former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, to Minsk on Saturday for the talks -- formally backed by the Kremlin -- aimed at reinforcing a tattered September truce. Plans for the negotiations in the Belarussian capital Minsk were announced on Thursday, raising hopes of dialogue after the collapse of a September truce in the nine-month war that has killed more than 5,100 people, according to the United Nations.
- Beijing Winter Olympics bid highlights skiing, hockey growth
CHONGLI, China (AP) — Clad in neon-green from head to toe, Chinese snowboarder He Qiang is part of a growing cohort of middle-class enthusiasts in a country with little tradition of winter sports but that is now seeking to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
- Michael Jackson's mother loses appeal against US promoter
The concert promoter AEG was in no way responsible for Michael Jackson's death, a California court ruled as it rejected an appeal brought by the singer's mother. Katherine Jackson had initially sued AEG for negligence in 2013, principally for having hired Conrad Murray, the doctor who looked after the pop star as he prepared for his "This Is It" series of comeback shows that were to have been held in London. Katherine Jackson had contended that AEG was liable for between $900 million and $1.6 billion in damages and lost earnings. "The evidence fails to establish a triable issue that AEG had the right to control the manner and means of Dr Murray's treatment of Michael," the court wrote.
- San Francisco police detain man in human remains case
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco police said they detained a man shown in photos released earlier in the day in the case of human remains found inside a suitcase.
- Japan self-censors images, words linked to hostage crisis
TOKYO (AP) — Images or mentions of knives, ransom or blood — or anything else that can be seen alluding to the hostage crisis involving two Japanese in Syria — have been cut out. Some anime and other entertainment programs are altering, canceling or postponing episodes violating those sensitivities — typical of the kind of self-restraint shown here to avoid controversy.
- Snoop Dogg keeping focus on youth football before Super Bowl
- Artillery fire kills at least 12 civilians in Donetsk
DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Artillery fire killed at least 12 civilians in the main rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Friday amid fierce fighting between pro-Russia separatists and government troops as hopes for a break in hostilities were dashed when an attempt to call a new round of peace talks failed.
- Bill Cosby's show in Ohio draws a few protesters
SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — Bill Cosby's stand-up tour has stopped in northern Ohio, where it drew several protesters before the show. The comedian himself received standing ovations before and after his performance.
- Hayward, Utah Jazz upset Golden State Warriors 110-100
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Golden State Warriors stepped off the plane in Salt Lake City with a bad taste in their mouths from a two-point overtime loss against the Chicago Bulls earlier in the week. Things got even worse against the Jazz on Friday night.
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- Today in History
Today is Saturday, Jan. 31, the 31st day of 2015. There are 334 days left in the year.
- Aircraft set for minute-by-minute tracking
All commercial flights worldwide could soon send out an automated signal every minute in times of distress to help rescuers find downed aircraft more easily. The new measures are in response to last year's disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in what remains one of history's great aviation mysteries. The new tracking rules, prepared by an industry working group, would be phased in by the end of this year, said the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency. The initiative will now be presented to delegates from all 191 ICAO member states at a meeting in Montreal from Monday to Thursday, and "a final proposal" will be submitted to the ICAO Council within six months for ratification.