The Daily Astorian | The Daily Astorian Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:48:58 -0500 en The Daily Astorian | Iraqi premier gives ultimatum ahead of hinted Tikrit attack Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:00:59 -0500 BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's prime minister called on Sunni tribal fighters to abandon the Islamic State group Sunday, ahead of a promised offensive to retake Saddam Hussein's hometown from the extremists.

Haider al-Abadi offered no timeline for an attack on Tikrit, the hometown of the late Iraqi dictator some 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad that fell into the hands of the Islamic State group last summer. However, Shiite militias and Iraqi security forces have stationed themselves around Tikrit as state-run media has warned that the city "will soon return to its people."

But sending Shiite militias into the Sunni city of Tikrit, the capital of Iraq's Salahuddin province, could reprise the bloody, street-by-street insurgent battles that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. On Saturday, two suicide car bombers killed 16 nearby Shiite militiamen and wounded 31.

Al-Abadi offered what he called "the last chance" for Sunni tribal fighters, promising them a pardon during a news conference in Samarra, 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad. His office said he arrived in Samarra to "supervise the operation to liberate Tikrit from the terrorist gangs."

"I call upon those who have been misled or committed a mistake to lay down arms and join their people and security forces in order to liberate their cities," al-Abadi said.

Al-Abadi said the operation will see troops come from several directions, but he declined to give an exact time for the operation's start. However, his presence in Samarra suggests it could come soon.

The Iraqi military previously launched an operation in late June to try to wrest back control of Tikrit, but that quickly stalled after making little headway. Other planned offensives by Iraq's military, which collapsed under the initial Islamic State group blitz, also have failed to make up ground, though soldiers have taken back the nearby refinery town of Beiji.

Tikrit, which occasionally saw attacks on U.S. forces during the American occupation of the country, is one of the biggest cities held by the Islamic State group. It also sits on the road to Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, which is also held by the extremists. Any operation to take Mosul likely would require Iraq to seize Tikrit first.

Al-Abadi's comments appear to be targeting former members of Iraq's outlawed Baath party, loyalists to Saddam Hussein, who joined the Islamic State group during its offensive, as well as other Sunnis who were dissatisfied with Baghdad's Shiite-led government. The premier likely hopes to peel away some support from the Islamic State group, especially as Iraqis grow increasingly horrified by the extremists' mass killings and other atrocities.

In February alone, violence across Iraq killed at least 1,100 Iraqis, including more than 600 civilians, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq said Sunday.

U.N. envoy Nickolay Mladenov blamed the deaths on the extremist group, government forces and pro-government Shiite militias.

"Daily terrorist attacks perpetrated by ISIL continue to deliberately target all Iraqis," Mladenov said, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State group. "There are also concerning reports of a number of revenge killings by armed groups in areas recently liberated from ISIL."

Last year was the deadliest in Iraq since its 2006-2007 sectarian bloodshed, with a total of 12,282 people killed and 23,126 wounded, according to the U.N.


Associated Press writer Sinan Salaheddin contributed to this report.

AP Top International News At 3 p.m. EST Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:00:30 -0500 AP Essay: 'Jihadi John' won't have the same impact unmaskedEmails suggest 'Jihadi John' had suicidal thoughtsIraqi premier gives ultimatum ahead of hinted Tikrit attackActivists say Islamic State releases 19 Syrian ChristiansPalestinian activist: boycott of Israeli products beginsNew plane tracking to be tested after Malaysia jet mysteryGaza fears isolation as Egypt calls Hamas 'terrorist' groupSierra Leone's vice president in quarantine for Ebola]]> Newmont settling suit in 2011 death at Nevada gold mine Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:00:22 -0500 RENO, Nev. (AP) — A lawyer for the Utah family of a contract worker killed in an accident at a Nevada gold mine in 2011 says they've settled a wrongful death suit with Newmont USA subject to a judge's final approval.

Newmont had claimed a tire repair contractor held any civil liability for its 21-year-old employee overcome by toxic fumes while fixing a giant tractor tire at the South Area mine near Carlin, about 275 miles east of Reno.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration earlier fined Joe Ashdown's employer, Purcell Tire & Rubber Co. of Missouri, $168,000, and Newmont $112,000 for violations related to his death.

A Salt Lake City lawyer representing Ashdown's estate, told The Associated Press the two sides have reached an agreement.

But Randall Edwards says he can't discuss terms of the "confidential settlement."

Winning numbers drawn in '10 Spot Midday' game Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:00:23 -0500 HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The winning numbers in Sunday afternoon's drawing of the Montana Lottery's "10 Spot Midday" game were:


(eleven, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-four, twenty-five, thirty-eight, forty-one, forty-four, forty-eight, fifty-three, fifty-seven, sixty, sixty-three, sixty-eight, sixty-nine, seventy-two, seventy-three, eighty)

Top Prize of $25,000 by matching ten of the twenty numbers drawn.

AP Top Entertainment News At 2:39 p.m. EST Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:02:00 -0500 15 artworks stolen from Chinese museum south of ParisDress that 'greatly resembles' stolen Nyong'o gown foundSpock's ears: A pointy trademark for Leonard NimoyBill Cosby asks judge to dismiss 3 accusers' defamation suitOsbourne exiting 'Fashion Police' after Zendaya hair flapCops: 2 shot at T.I., Young Jeezy party in N. Carolina clubBryan Cranston becomes a producer of 'Finding Neverland'Biopic of martial arts legend Bruce Lee springs into action]]> Will Smith's 'Focus' tops box office with $19.1 million Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:02:06 -0500 NEW YORK (AP) — Will Smith's con-man caper "Focus" disrobed "Fifty Shades of Grey" at the box office, but the film's modest $19.1 million opening still left questions about the drawing power of the once unstoppable star.

According to studio estimates Sunday, Warner Bros.' "Focus" easily topped all competitors on a weekend with little competition at North American multiplexes. In second place was the Colin Firth spy thriller "Kingsman: The Secret Service," which made $11.8 million in its third week of release.

After two weeks atop the box office, "Fifty Shades of Grey" continued its steep slide, landing in fourth with an estimated $10.9 million for Universal Pictures. "Fifty Shades," which has made $486.2 million globally, fell just behind Paramount's "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," which earned $11.2 million in its fourth week.

The weekend's only other new wide release, Relativity's horror film "The Lazarus Effect," opened in fifth place with $10.6 million.

But the weekend was largely seen, fairly or not, as a referendum on Smith's star power. "Focus," written and directed by the "Crazy, Stupid, Love" duo Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, is Smith's first film since 2013's "After Earth," the sci-fi flop in which he co-starred with his son, Jaden.

Smith has been frank about the sting of that film's box-office performance. "I can't allow the box-office success, or lack thereof, to determine my self-image," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

But "Focus," made for about $50 million and co-starring Margot Robbie of "The Wolf of Wall Street," was never intended to be a summer-sized blockbuster. It had been predicted to make around $21 million.

"This is a mid-budgeted film with a result that matches," said Jeff Goldstein, head of distribution for Warner Bros., who added that winter storms accounted for a drop of $1-2 million. "There's no question we got hammered because of inclement weather in the South and the Midwest."

The R-rated "Focus," overwhelmingly appealed to adults, with 88 percent of its audience older than 25 — not a good sign for Smith's appeal to a new generation of moviegoers who weren't around for his triumphs in "Independence Day."

Nevertheless, there aren't many stars who could do better with a drama in late February. And "Focus" should play well internationally, where Smith's popularity remains strong.

"This still goes on his balance sheet as a number one debut," said Paul Degarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office data firm Rentrak. "He can still draw an audience, particularly with a film that's R-rated and not aimed at the young crowd."

Some of last Sunday's Oscar winners saw slight bumps at the box office.

Best-picture winner "Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" added some 800 screens to bring in $2 million over the weekend, pushing its total past $40 million. "Still Alice," for which Julianne Moore won best actress, added 553 screens and earned $2.7 million. It's now made $12 million for Sony Pictures Classics.

"American Sniper," far and away the biggest box-office hit of the best-picture nominees, was also easily the top post-Oscars draw. It added another $7.7 million, to bring its cumulative domestic gross to $331.1 million.

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1. "Focus," $19.1 million ($12.2 million international).

2. "Kingsman: The Secret Service," $11.8 million ($25.8 million international).

3. "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," $11.2 million ($14.2 million international).

4. "Fifty Shades of Grey," $10.9 million ($36 million international).

5. "The Lazarus Effect," $10.6 million.

6. "McFarland, USA," $7.8 million.

7. "American Sniper," $7.7 million ($19.5 million international).

8. "The DUFF," $7.2 million.

9. "Still Alice," $2.7 million.

10. "Hot Tub Time Machine 2," $2.4 million.


Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak:

1. "Fifty Shades of Grey," $36 million.

2. "Kingsman: The Secret Service," $25.8 million

3. "From Vegas to Macau II," $22 million.

4. "Big Hero 6," $21.6 million.

5. "American Sniper," $19.5 million.

6. "Wolf Totem," $17 million.

7. "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water," $14.2 million.

8. "Dragon Blade," $12.5 million.

9. "Focus," $12.2 million.

10. "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," $9.4 million.


Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.


Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at:

Washington congressman, tribe upset about delayed dredging Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:00:24 -0500 LA PUSH, Wash. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer and the Quileute Indian tribe are upset about delays in a dredging project at La Push, on the Olympic Peninsula coast, and they want the Oregon-based contractor held responsible.

The Peninsula Daily News reports ( ) that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is overseeing the $1.5 million project to dredge Quillayute Harbor, designed to maintain the tribe's fishing fleet and the Coast Guard's search and rescue station.

Kilmer sent a letter to the Army last week alleging poor performance by the contractor, Marine Industrial Construction of Wilsonville, Oregon, which has been paid $400,000 so far.

The company says the dredging was delayed because of bad weather, high river flows, log jams and undisclosed debris, including sunken vessels.

The contract's work period has now expired, and the company's equipment is due to be removed this week. The project is expected to be put back out to bid.


Information from: Peninsula Daily News,

AP Essay: 'Jihadi John' won't have the same impact unmasked Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:00:54 -0500 LONDON (AP) — As "Jihadi John," he was a terrifying figure, his identity concealed by a black mask, his threatening tone backed up by his oversize, serrated knife and his willingness to use it in the name of Islamic State and its self-declared caliphate.

His professional-looking videos began with a political rant and ended with his victims lying dead at his feet, severed heads cupped in the sands of Syria. He seemed both judge and executioner, savoring each fresh kill.

After the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., many believed that terrorists would turn to crude weapons of mass destructions to attack cities. Few predicted that a man with a knife and a video production team could have such an impact using a medieval technique.

Now that he has been exposed as Mohammed Emwazi, the tall man with the British accent and mocking tone is no longer a mystery. He is revealed as one more furious young Londoner, in this case a well-educated, middle-class jihadi in his mid-20s who turned against his adopted country after he moved to Britain from Kuwait as a boy.

His unmasking may well have reduced his usefulness to the cause.

For one thing, with his identity known, and the global distribution of pictures of him looking slightly goofy in an ill-fitting Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap, Emwazi may become less sinister to viewers, less able to send chills up the spines of people who abhor Islamic State's claim to be killing civilians in the name of Islam.

If he kills again on camera, the element of surprise will be gone and the reaction may well be, "Oh, him again."

Also, now that authorities know who he is, there is little doubt he will become the target of a drone attack if the U.S. or Britain can learn his precise whereabouts. The pressure on him could make him less valuable to Islamic State militants — perhaps even a liability.

Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism specialist with the Swedish National Defense College, said Emwazi can be expected to play a reduced role in the organization because every time he speaks on a mobile phone he risks having his location pinpointed, sparking drone fire that could kill him and others. Ranstorp said the identification of Emwazi also gives the public hope that he will be brought to justice.

"It's quite important for families of the victims," he said. "They know where to focus. They know there is one particular person who has been named who authorities will focus on and who will live for the rest of his life knowing that every day he will face a possible drone attack. Now that he is known, he may not be as menacing as he once was."

Now that details about his personal trajectory have begun to emerge, Emwazi becomes the stuff of parliamentary inquiries: How was he radicalized? Why didn't the security services determine he was a mortal threat and do something to keep him from getting to Syria?

Emwazi is perhaps the most chilling exemplar of the radicalization trend that is gaining pace not just in Britain but also in France, Belgium, Denmark and other countries in western Europe.

He went to Syria early, in 2013, in the vanguard of the British jihadi movement, before the Islamic State militants seized territory and issued a call for other likeminded people — including girls and young women — to join its ranks in Syria and Iraq.

There is circumstantial evidence suggesting Emwazi tried earlier to link up with al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia but was thwarted in part by a British spy who tried unsuccessfully to recruit him into the secret service.

Since then, the call to jihad has intensified, galvanized in part by easy access to Internet sites that depict the Islamic State's territory as a religious utopia governed by Shariah law.

Britons watched helplessly this week as three teenage schoolgirls who had run away from their homes in London were reported by police to be in Syria, apparently linked up with Islamic State extremists as potential "jihadi brides."

Now al-Shabaab is making threats of its own, warning that the two big shopping malls in London — as well as the famous department stores on Oxford Street — are considered targets for terrorist attacks along with the Mall of America in the U.S.

Nearly half of British Muslims surveyed in a BBC poll published this past week say the British public is becoming less tolerant of Muslims. At the same time, the UKIP political party is making gains by taking a stand against increased immigration.

This increased polarization was clearly one of the goals of the Islamic Stage campaign that used Emwazi's familiar London accent as a potent reminder to Britons that the enemy was in their midst: not some far-off person speaking Arabic, but a homeboy from their streets.

"The fact that he appears like a relatively ordinary young British resident is disquieting," said John Gearson, professor of national security studies at King's College London. But "the de-mystification of this individual reduces the propaganda effect for Islamic State. He's just a murderer now."

Still, if Emwazi's moment has passed, Islamic State militants — with their strong grasp of how to use social networking and video to spread fear — are likely to come up with other ways to shock the public.

AP PHOTOS: Migrants flock to EU door at Hungary's border Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:00:32 -0500 ALONG THE SERBIA-HUNGARY BORDER (AP) — Exhausted, hungry and cold, they have been walking for miles. What little they have is carried in plastic bags. They camp in abandoned homes, followed by stray dogs hoping to snag a morsel.

Tens of thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Kosovo have been flooding in a torrent this year to Serbia's border with Hungary, hoping to cross illegally into the European Union nation and flee west to a better life. Many have been on the road for months.

The 180-kilometer-long (111-mile-long) border between Serbia and Hungary is flat farmland. Sometimes the migrants camp in the border area for days, hiding amid the crops, playing hide and seek with border patrols. Graffiti in Arabic, torn transit papers, ragged shirts and garbage litter the fields.

Serbian and Hungarian border teams carry night-vision equipment as they patrol the border night and day. The situation has become so bad so quickly that German police have recently come to help. Hungary is part of the European Union's Schengen passport-free travel zone but many migrants are seeking to reach Germany and wealthier EU nations.

Groups of five or six migrants, all in hoods, walk slowly along the highway or the rail tracks in Serbia, patiently waiting for the best time to try to cross.

If they are caught, they are either sent back to Macedonia or they seek asylum in Serbia, which buys them more time. Others make it across only to run into Hungarian authorities — some 25,000 migrants have been detained in Hungary so far this year alone, compared to nearly 45,000 last year.

This week, a van packed with more than 40 migrants swerved off the road in southern Serbia, injuring half of them, some seriously. The driver ran away.

Sierra Leone's vice president in quarantine for Ebola Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:01:10 -0500 FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Sierra Leone's vice president has put himself in quarantine following the death from Ebola of one of his security guards.

Vice President Samuel Sam-Sumana is set to become acting president later Sunday when President Ernest Bai Koroma leaves Sierra Leone to attend a European Union conference on Ebola in Belgium. Sam-Sumana will carry out his presidential duties from his home.

He is the highest ranking African official to be in quarantine in this Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which is fast approaching a death toll of 10,000. The news highlights the rise of new cases in Sierra Leone, which has experienced a setback in curbing the spread of Ebola.

Sam-Sumana voluntarily decided to quarantine himself for 21 days following the death from Ebola last Tuesday of one of his security personnel.

"This virus has affected thousands of our people and has nearly brought our country to its knees," said Sam-Sumana in a statement on Sunday. "We all have a collective responsibility to break the chains of transmission by isolating the sick and reporting all known contacts, by not touching the dead ... We cannot be complacent. We must work together as a nation to end Ebola now."

Sam-Sumana's dramatic quarantine comes as President Ernest Bai Koroma reinstated restrictions on public movement on Saturday, in response the rise in new cases.

Sierra Leone recorded 18 new cases of Ebola in the week ending Saturday, up from 16 new cases last week. This breaks the trend of declining cases in the country.

Many of the new clusters are related to the capital's fishing industry. In one case a fisherman died at sea in early February and the boat returned his body to shore in Freetown, the capital. Some of the fishermen on the boat then returned to their homes in the shantytown surrounding the fishing wharf, causing new infections.

President Koroma had recently lifted travel restrictions in order to stimulate economic activity, a relaxation criticized as too early by some officials. In response to the rise in new cases, Koroma on Saturday re-imposed restrictions including a nighttime ban on all boats launching from shore and on commercial vehicles off-loading goods in western market areas. Naval vessels will enforce the measures by patrolling the wharves and coastline.

In addition there will be restrictions on ferries and health checkpoints by the police will be strengthened. Public transportation restrictions will be reinstated which limit the numbers of passengers in taxis to two in cars and four at the back of large taxi vans to reduce physical contact between passengers.

The death toll for the current Ebola outbreak has risen to more than 9,600 from more than 23,800 infections mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to World Health Organization figures released Friday.

Liberia, which has had the highest number of deaths, has succeeded in bringing its number of confirmed cases to just a handful and has reopened schools.

Ebola is currently spreading fastest in Sierra Leone. In addition to battling Ebola, Sierra Leone's government last week launched an investigation after an audit showed that nearly one-third of the money it received to fight Ebola, about $5.7 million, was used without necessary receipts.

Emails suggest 'Jihadi John' had suicidal thoughts Sun, 1 Mar 2015 12:00:56 -0500 LONDON (AP) — Newly published emails suggest the man who became known as "Jihadi John" had suicidal thoughts before leaving Britain for Syria.

In an email exchange with the Mail on Sunday five years ago, he talked of taking too many sleeping pills and sleeping forever as a way to get away from British security service scrutiny. Mohammed Emwazi told a journalist at the newspaper in an email that he felt like a "dead man walking."

Emwazi was revealed this week to be the Islamic State militant known as "Jihadi John," who appears in beheading videos brandishing a large knife.

He was a computer science graduate who lived in west London before leaving for Syria in 2013. He was interrogated by security services while in Britain but was never arrested or charged.

In Sunday's edition of the Mail on Sunday, journalist Robert Verkaik described meeting Emwazi in 2010 when he was using the name Mohammed al-Zuhary.

"He seemed to have a persecution complex and desperately wanted his story to be told," Verkaik wrote of his encounter with the young man.

At the time, Emwazi was pursuing a complaint against police for alleged mistreatment.

"His concerns seemed to border on paranoia," Verkaik wrote. He described Emwazi as someone who was polite and understood how journalists worked.

AP Top Oregon Headlines At 11 a.m. PST Sun, 1 Mar 2015 11:00:41 -0500 Pigs rescued from Oregon barn fireMcMinnville sets March 31 deadline for homeless camp2 Bend-La Pine schools subject of disabilities-act complaint]]> Lawsuit filed against 82-year-old Oregon man who shot boat Sun, 1 Mar 2015 11:00:26 -0500 EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Two fishermen confronted last summer by a shotgun-blasting senior citizen have filed a $200,000 civil lawsuit against the man, alleging his aggression has caused them "fear and apprehension."

Oregon State Police arrested Elden Nordahl, 82, of Florence, after the incident, and he later served time in jail. A woman who answered the phone at his home told The Register-Guard newspaper ( ) he was not available to comment on his latest legal problem.

Nordahl, according to the paper, worked for many years as a real estate agent and developer in the Florence area.

The lawsuit filed by boat owner Michael Eastman and his fishing partner, Demian Willett, states they were fishing on the Siuslaw River on Sept. 8 when their boat battery failed, leading them to make an emergency stop at a dock attached to Nordahl's property.

While they were securing the aluminum boat to its trailer, Nordahl landed his boat at the dock and retrieved a gun from his home, according to the suit.

Nordahl then fired one shot through the boat's hull, the lawsuit asserts.

Eastman and Willett ran to their vehicle after Nordahl shot the boat, and started driving away from the property. As they left, Nordahl fired a second shot that damaged the boat's motor.

State police released a similar account after Nordahl's arrest.

Nordahl was held in the Lane County Jail for 18 days following his arrest and freed after a relative posted bail.

In January, Nordahl was convicted in Lane County Circuit Court of unlawful use of a weapon and criminal mischief.

He spent another four weeks in jail before completing his sentence Feb. 6.

As part of his sentence, Nordahl was ordered to pay nearly $3,000 in restitution to Eastman and Willett.


Information from: The Register-Guard,

Flames trade Glencross to Capitals, claim Schlemko Sun, 1 Mar 2015 11:01:31 -0500 CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — The Calgary Flames have traded Curtis Glencross to the Washington Capitals.

The 32-year-old forward is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has nine goals and 19 assists in 53 games this season for Calgary, which is in the playoff race but wasn't likely to re-sign him.

The Flames also claimed defenseman David Schlemko off waivers from the Dallas Stars and placed captain Mark Giordano on the injured list with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Giordano, a front-runner for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman, was listed as out indefinitely several days ago. Giordano has 11 goals and 37 assists for 48 points. He is tied with P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens for the league lead in points among defensemen.

Russia detains Ukrainian parliament member over Odessa fire Sun, 1 Mar 2015 11:01:20 -0500 MOSCOW (AP) — Moscow police have detained a member of Ukraine's parliament as he was taking part in a march mourning a slain Russian opposition figure. Ukraine's parliament has protested the detention.

The federal Investigative Committee said Alexei Goncharenko was being questioned Sunday about his alleged involvement in a fire that broke out last year in his home city Odessa between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian demonstrators. Dozens died in the fire, including some Russian citizens.

The speaker of Ukraine's parliament, Volodymyr Groisman, said the detention was a violation of international law because Goncharenko has diplomatic immunity. The speaker urged Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin to take urgent measures to have the parliament member released.

For many Russians, the Odessa fire remains one of the more painful episodes of the Ukraine conflict.

Wolfsburg, Moenchengladbach win in the Bundesliga Sun, 1 Mar 2015 11:01:33 -0500 FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Wolfsburg scored three quick goals early in the second half to end Werder Bremen's six-match unbeaten Bundesliga run with a 5-3 victory on Sunday.

Two goals apiece from Bas Dost and Daniel Caligiuri helped Wolfsburg come from behind and stay eight points adrift of leader Bayern Munich in second place.

Earlier, Borussia Moenchengladbach strengthened its grip on third place with a 2-0 victory over Paderborn on Sunday.

In a wild match in Bremen, the goals kept happening in quick succession as Bremen took a 3-2 lead at halftime.

But Wolfsburg capitalized on mistakes by Bremen's defense early in the second half to turn the match around.

Wolfsburg scored three goals within five minutes, between the 48th and 53rd. Dost, who now has 12 Bundesliga goals in six matches, notched the first two from close range on feeds from Kevin de Bruyne.

Dost, the hottest striker in the league, then beat an offside trap to set up Caligiuri for Wolfsburg's fifth.

In a spectacular first half, Bremen went ahead in the ninth through Zlatko Junuzovic, who was set up by Levan Oztunali's square pass.

Only one minute later, Wolfsburg pulled level. Marcel Schaefer, whose slip had allowed Oztunali to pass, broke through on the left and sent in a good cross that goalkeeper Raphael Wolf could not hold. The ball fell to Caligiuri, who slammed it home.

Bremen regained the lead in the 16th, again on a cross from Oztunali that was volleyed in by Franco di Santo.

The answer again came almost immediately. De Bruyne had too much space to cross and Max Arnold scored with a diving header in the 18th.

Bremen came back in the 29th. Felix Kroos' powerful shot was turned away into a corner. Goalkeeper Diego Benaglio punched the ball away, only for Kroos to fire back at the goal. It would have gone wide but Vieirinha's attempt to kick it away ended up with the ball slipping through his legs into the net in the 29th.

The match was played amid heightened security following warnings of a possible terror attack in Bremen over the weekend.

Two deflected shots secured Moenchengladbach's victory and a four-point cushion over fourth-place Bayer Leverkusen.

Fabian Johnson's deflected shot from 20 meters (yards) in the 18th put Moenchengladbach in the lead.

Johnson played a role in the second goal as well, when his cross was palmed away by goalkeeper Lukas Kruse. The ball fell to substitute Patrick Herrmann, whose shot was also deflected and left Kruse wrong-footed.

Paderborn slipped down to 16th and is in the danger zone for the first time since being promoted.

Walker gets first chance to shine for Mariners Sun, 1 Mar 2015 11:00:32 -0500 PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Taijuan Walker will get the first crack at impressing the Seattle Mariners in his bid to make the team's starting rotation.

The 22-year-old with ace potential will start the team's Cactus League opener Wednesday against San Diego at the Peoria Sports Complex.

"I feel comfortable, confident, too," said Walker, who's vying for the Mariners' fifth starter spot. "I'm just going to go out there and pretty much give all I have."

Starting the first game of spring training is a big change from where Walker found himself a year ago when a shoulder injury sidelined him during the preseason.

"I wasn't able to do anything," he said. "I wasn't even able to play catch. To be able to start a game and actually have a spring training is good."

Walker is competing with Roenis Elias and long-shot Erasmo Ramirez for the fifth starter spot. The Mariners are planning to take an early look at all three. Weather permitting - rain is forecast this week in Phoenix - Elias will start Thursday against the Padres and Ramirez is scheduled to start Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Elias proved last season to be reliable, starting 29 games and posting a 10-12 record, while Ramirez struggled, starting 14 games for Seattle and 14 at Triple-A Tacoma.

Walker knows one spring start won't land him a spot on the big-league roster, but he's also aware that he's in a competition.

"I'm just going to go out there and do the best I can," he said. "So if that means I have to go full speed, then I will."

Walker is eager to put a new pitch into action. He's been working on adding a slider and the results so far have been positive.

"When I threw it in live BP, the first couple I threw were kind of shaky," he said. "After that it felt really good."

"I'll throw it quite a bit just to see how it is against hitters."

Barring injury, the first four slots in Seattle's starting rotation will go to Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and J.A. Happ. The Mariners are expected to have one of the top rotations in baseball and McClendon is excited about its potential.

"I told my guys this, 'We all know Felix is one of the best in the game, but there's no law that says you can be just as good as him on this team,'" he said. "I think our guys are ready for that challenge and we've got some quality arms. We'll see what happens."

Following Walker on the mound against San Deigo Wednesday will be Sam Gaviglio, Mike Kickham, David Rollins, Rafael Perez, Carson Smith and Dominic Leone, McClendon said.

Weather permitting, Iwakuma and Jordan Pries will start split-squad games Saturday, with Iwakuma facing Arizona and Pries against the Chicago White Sox. Happ will start Sunday against Cincinnati.

NOTES: McClendon said CF and leadoff hitter Austin Jackson will be "the key to our offense" and he doesn't plan to ask him to do too much. "If Austin Jackson hits .270 to .275 with an on-base percentage of .340, we'll be OK," he said. "I don't need him to be that guy that hits 25 home runs in the leadoff spot. I just need him to get on base." McClendon also wants to see Jackson, 28, play fewer than the 154 games he started last season. "That's too many for a center fielder with his frame," he said. . McClendon said Jesus Sucre has the inside track on landing the backup catcher role behind starter Mike Zunino. He lauded the 26-year-old's ability to handle a pitching staff, play defense and contain runners. Sucre, who played 21 games for Seattle last season, will receive his biggest competition from veteran John Baker, who signed with the team in the offseason. . Erasmo Ramirez and Jordan Pries are slated to start an intra-squad game on Monday, but weather forecasts predict rain and could cancel the game.

Young girl's story may lead Idaho to approve marijuana oil Sun, 1 Mar 2015 11:00:39 -0500 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Ten-year-old Alexis Carey has a rare but intractable form of epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome. The genetic disease causes severe and multiple seizures, which often leave parents guessing if the terror of watching their child seize up will pass or turn fatal.

Her Boise, Idaho, family learned that oil extracted from marijuana had helped other children and wanted to see if it would help Alexis too.

"Parent to parent, when you're in a small community and 10 people that you know are all having success, that's no longer anecdotal," Clare Carey, her mother, said. "That's hope."

But Idaho's stringent marijuana laws do not allow for medicinal use. The family began lobbying lawmakers to decriminalize the oil almost two years ago. Now, they've got some legislative backers and an upcoming hearing, as Idaho joins a larger movement to loosen laws to allow the use of marijuana extract oil.

Twelve states have legalized the oil while still banning medical marijuana. Virginia legalized the oil Feb. 26. In Utah, lawmakers have given initial approval to let those with chronic and debilitating diseases consume edible marijuana products, while still banning smoking.

Marijuana extract oil first received attention when a Colorado family fought and won for access for their daughter who also had Dravet Syndrome. It is similar to hemp oil, which is legal in Idaho and can be bought in grocery stores.

With no known cure for Dravet Syndrome, children are often prescribed a cocktail of medications to counter the seizures. However, the heavy drugs often come with side-effects that can permanently damage a child's developing liver, kidneys and other organs.

Proponents of cannabidiol oil, a non-psychotropic extract of marijuana, argue that it reduces the amount and length of seizures in children.

Over time, Carey hopes that the oil would also reduce the number of medications her daughter relies on.

"Like any parent, you never give up hope that you can get complete seizure control," she said. "Children die from Dravet by any one of the seizures. Alexis could have a seizure that may not stop, we never really know."

Alexis began having seizures when she was two months old. But even in 2003, her mom says a lack of awareness of the disease led to many doctors not automatically suspecting it could be a rare, genetic disorder.

It wasn't until Alexis lost all speech and potty control when she was 2 that doctors determined she had Dravet Syndrome, Carey said.

Since then, Alexis' parents have put her on a variety of diets and medications to help reduce the seizures but the disease is tricky to manage. Dravet Syndrome often causes a variety of different kinds of seizures but medications typically target one particular type.

Alexis' seizures usually occur at night, which means one of her parents regularly sleep with her and monitor her sleep patterns. During the day, Alexis requires constant supervision. While most 10-year-olds freely run and jump around, Alexis walks— albeit sometimes unstably and with help going up and down stairs.

Carey says working with Idaho's Republican-controlled Legislature has been easier than anticipated.

Lawmakers who resisted the idea at first blush have warmed up to the idea, she said.

This year, the bill is endorsed by Republicans Sen. Curt McKenzie and Rep. Tom Leortscher. Both are chairs of the legislature's State Affairs Committees, panels that often get tossed controversial legislation and have a high bar for clearance.

The measure unanimously passed the Senate committee during its introduction hearing, which means it now goes on to a full hearing in front of the committee.

Yet the bill must survive a Statehouse that approved a resolution in 2013 vowing never to legalize marijuana for any purpose.

Activists say Islamic State releases 19 Syrian Christians Sun, 1 Mar 2015 11:01:15 -0500 BEIRUT (AP) — The Islamic State group released at least 19 Christians on Sunday who were among the more than 220 people the militants took captive in northeastern Syria last week, activists and a local leader said.

The news provided a modicum of relief to a Christian Assyrian community that has been devastated by the abductions, which saw Islamic State fighters haul off entire families from a string of villages along the Khabur River in Hassakeh province. But fears remain over the fate of the hundreds still held captive.

Bashir Saedi, a senior official in the Assyrian Democratic Organization, said the 16 men and three women arrived safely Sunday at the Church of the Virgin Mary in the city of Hassakeh. He said the 19 — all of them from the village of Tal Ghoran — had traveled by bus from the Islamic State-held town of Shaddadeh south of Hassakeh.

The Assyrian Human Rights Network also reported the release, and published photographs on its Facebook page that it said were from Hassakeh showing a crowd dressed in winter coats greeting the returnees.

The photos appeared genuine and corresponded to Associated Press reporting.

It was not immediately clear why the Islamic State group freed these captives.

Saedi said all those released were around 50 years of age or older, which suggests age might have been a factor. The Assyrian Human Rights Network, meanwhile, said the captives had been ordered released by a Shariah court after paying an unspecified amount of money levied as a tax on non-Muslims.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said a Shariah court had ruled the captives be freed, but the reasoning behind the decision was unknown.

The fate of the more than 200 other Christian Assyrians still in the Islamic State group's hands remains unclear. Most of them are believed to have been taken by Islamic State fighters to Shaddadeh, which is located 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Hassakeh.

Assyrian leaders and Sunni tribal sheikhs have begun reaching out to the Islamic State group to try to negotiate the release of the captives, activists said.

"We're trying to contact any party that might help. We're working through our friends the tribal sheikhs," said Younan Talia, a senior official in the Assyrian Democratic Organization. "Some friends of Daesh are trying to send messages."

Talia said there has been no response yet. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

The Sweden-based director of the Assyrian Network for Human Rights in Syria, Osama Edward, also said efforts were underway to try to negotiate the captives' release.

The abductions have added to fears among religious minorities in both Syria and Iraq, who have been repeatedly targeted by the Islamic State group. During the militants' bloody campaign in both countries, where they have declared a self-styled caliphate, minorities have been repeatedly targeted and killed, driven from their homes, had their women enslaved and places of worship destroyed.


Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, and Ashraf Khalil in Beirut contributed to this report.

Egypt court declares part of election law unconstitutional Sun, 1 Mar 2015 11:01:26 -0500 CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Sunday ruled as unconstitutional a clause in the election law that draws voting districts, a verdict that is almost certain to delay parliamentary elections scheduled to start later this month.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said in a statement that he has ordered the government to adopt the "necessary legislative amendments" within a month to comply with the Supreme Constitutional Court's ruling.

Another court is likely to rule later this month on whether the election should be delayed, but a date for the new vote would be decided by the Supreme Electoral Commission, which went into an emergency meeting on Sunday following the verdict.

Egypt has not had an elected legislature since 2012, when the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the lower chamber was not constitutionally elected. Islamist supporters of then-President Mohammed Morsi besieged the court ahead of a hearing in which it was expected to issue a similar ruling against the upper chamber, preventing the judges from reaching their chambers.

The forthcoming election is the third and final step in a road map announced by el-Sissi when he ousted Morsi in July 2013 amid massive protests against the Islamist leader's yearlong rule.

The first two steps were the adoption of a new constitution by referendum in 2014 and a presidential election that was comfortably won later that year by el-Sissi, who has ruled by decree since coming to office in June.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood swept the first free parliamentary elections after the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The group is now officially considered a terrorist organization, and thousands of its members, including most of its top leaders, are in jail.

Britain, the top foreign investor in Egypt, called for free and constitutional elections to take place as soon as possible to complete the 2013 road map.

"An effective and representative parliament is integral to the democratic transition on which Egypt's stability and success depend," Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood said in a statement.

Barrios scores winner as Montpellier moves into 6th place Sun, 1 Mar 2015 10:00:44 -0500 PARIS (AP) — Paraguayan forward Lucas Barrios scored the winning goal as Montpellier rallied to beat Nice 2-1 on Sunday to move up to sixth place in the French league.

Midfielder Eric Bautheac's penalty put Nice ahead in the 36th minute, but midfielder Bryan Dabo equalized just before the interval and Barrios pounced midway through the second half for coach Rolland Courbis' side.

Montpellier, which is level on points with Bordeaux but is ahead on goal difference, is one point behind Monaco — which was hosting Paris Saint-Germain later Sunday.

Also Sunday, striker Yacine Bammou scored midway through the second half as Nantes beat Guingamp 1-0 to win for the first time in eight league games and move up to eigth spot.

Nantes had defender Oswaldo Vizcarrondo sent off in the last minute.

Elegant Vazquez replaces folksy Mujica as Uruguay president Sun, 1 Mar 2015 10:00:41 -0500 MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) — One leftist leader replaced another in Uruguay on Sunday, a change seemingly marked more by style than differences in policy as the elegant Tabare Vazquez took over from the famously casual Jose Mujica, who formally left office in rubber-soled brown shoes.

Vazquez, a 75-year-old oncologist who was president from 2005 to 2010, has said he will allow the government to proceed with one of Mujica's most controversial initiatives, the world's first state-run marijuana marketplace, though he said he will change it if it has negative results.

The new president urged Uruguayans to work together to improve public education, health and housing, and he decried the violence haunting the world beyond.

"Seldom in history has humanity been so shaken, so beaten, so overwhelmed as in these times. Violence, fear, terror, intolerance stalk different regions of our planet," he said in his inaugural address.

Vazquez shook up Uruguayan politics when he became president the first time, peacefully ending 170 years of two-party dominance. But he governed as a relatively cautious moderate and left office with approval ratings of about 70 percent.

Mujica, a 79-year-old flower grower and former guerrilla, held onto that popularity, leaving office with a growing economy, rising salaries and historically low unemployment.

Both represent the Broad Front coalition of parties that range from center-left Christian Democrats to Communists.

Informal to the end, the folksy Mujica wore casual brown shoes with his black suit and, as always, shunned a tie, as he slipped the presidential sash over the shoulder of a tie-wearing Vazquez.

Vazquez has said he will allow the marijuana initiative to go forward. The state has not yet chosen the companies that will cultivate the drug, which is to be sold in pharmacies. But Vazquez said he will closely watch the plan and modify it if things go wrong.

AP Top Oregon Headlines At 10 a.m. PST Sun, 1 Mar 2015 10:00:30 -0500 Pigs rescued from Oregon barn fireMcMinnville sets March 31 deadline for homeless camp2 Bend-La Pine schools subject of disabilities-act complaint]]> Man struck, killed in Oregon; Washington driver arrested Sun, 1 Mar 2015 10:00:31 -0500 HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — Police have arrested a driver from Washington state on an unrelated charge after her car struck and killed a pedestrian in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Investigators say Beatriz Rivera, of Issaquah, Washington, remained at the scene following the accident at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

Officers found a 51-year-old man lying dead in the center turn lane of Southwest Tualatin Valley Highway. His name has not been released pending notification of his family.

Police arrested the 29-year-old Rivera on an unrelated misdemeanor warrant for a probation violation and booked her into the Washington County Jail.

Investigators say the cause of the crash remains under investigation, and alcohol has not been ruled out as a factor. Witnesses reported that another vehicle swerved to avoid the pedestrian just before Rivera's car struck him.

Man struck, killed in Oregon; Washington driver arrested Sun, 1 Mar 2015 10:00:21 -0500 HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — Police have arrested a driver from Washington state on an unrelated charge after her car struck and killed a pedestrian in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Investigators say Beatriz Rivera, of Issaquah, Washington, remained at the scene following the accident at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

Officers found a 51-year-old man lying dead in the center turn lane of Southwest Tualatin Valley Highway. His name has not been released pending notification of his family.

Police arrested the 29-year-old Rivera on an unrelated misdemeanor warrant for a probation violation and booked her into the Washington County Jail.

Investigators say the cause of the crash remains under investigation, and alcohol has not been ruled out as a factor. Witnesses reported that another vehicle swerved to avoid the pedestrian just before Rivera's car struck him.