Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:
1. US STEPPING UP COMBAT ROLE IN SYRIA
The American military has begun armed drone flights in defense of coalition-backed rebels, with manned missions planned.
2. WHAT OBAMA’S DELEGATING TO HIS SUCCESSOR
Most of the president’s new rules intended to cut power plant emissions would have to be implemented by whoever’s elected in 2016.
3. SENATE BLOCKS GOP DRIVE TO HALT PLANNED PARENTHOOD FUNDING
The derailed legislation follows secretly recorded videos showing Planned Parenthood officials dispassionately discussing how they sometimes provide researchers with tissue from aborted fetuses.
4. HOW DELTA IS RESPONDING TO DEBATE OVER KILLING OF LION
The Atlanta-based airline says it will no longer ship hunting “trophies” — lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros or buffalo.
5. REPUBLICAN HOPEFULS SQUARE OFF IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
All but three of the party’s 17 major candidates for president take part in a warmup for Thursday’s nationally televised debate.
6. WHO’S LAUNCHING POLITICAL COMEBACK
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s bid to return to office in Iran could pose a challenge to moderates behind the country’s nuclear deal.
7. BOBBI KRISTINA BROWN LAID TO REST
The only child of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown is buried in a New Jersey cemetery next to her famous mother.
8. SEVERE STORM TOPPLES CIRCUS TENT
The accident at a fairgrounds in northern New Hampshire kills two people and injures numerous others.
9. MORE AMERICANS BUYING CARS THAT SAY ‘LOOK AT ME’
Acuras, Audis and Lincolns drove off dealer lots at a furious pace in July.
10. GWEN STEFANI, HUSBAND SPLITTING UP
The judge on NBC’s “The Voice” and Gavin Rossdale have filed for divorce after almost 13 years of marriage.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal judge ruled Monday that Idaho’s law banning secret filming of animal abuse at agricultural facilities is unconstitutional, giving animal rights activists across the country hope that the decision will pave the way to overturn similar laws in other states.
U.S. Judge Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill found that the law violates the First Amendment.
“Audio and visual evidence is a uniquely persuasive means of conveying a message, and it can vindicate an undercover investigator or whistleblower who is otherwise disbelieved or ignored,” Winmill wrote in his 29-page ruling. “Prohibiting undercover investigators or whistleblowers from recording an agricultural facility’s operations inevitably suppresses a key type of speech because it limits the information that might later be published or broadcast.”
A coalition of animal activists, civil rights groups and media organizations sued the state more than a year ago, opposing the so-called “ag gag” law. The coalition said the law curtailed freedom of speech and made gathering proof of animal abuse a crime with a harsher punishment than the penalty for animal cruelty.
According to the law, people caught surreptitiously filming agricultural operations face up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. By comparison, a first animal cruelty offense in Idaho is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. A second offense within 10 years of the first conviction carries a penalty of up to nine months in jail and a fine up to $7,000.
The ruling is the first in the country to deem an anti-dairy spying law unconstitutional, said Mathew Liebman of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the lead attorneys on the Idaho case.
The only other similar lawsuit is in Utah, but more are likely to come after Monday’s decision, he said. Currently, eight other states have passed some sort of law against such surreptitious filming, even though many more have been introduced in state legislatures.
“This decision vindicates the public’s rights to know how animals are treated before they become meat,” Liebman said.
Idaho lawmakers approved the law in 2014 after the state’s $2.5 billion dairy industry complained that videos of cows being abused at a southern Idaho dairy filmed in 2012 unfairly hurt their business.
The Los Angeles-based animal rights group Mercy For Animals released the videos, which showed workers at Bettencourt Dairy beating, stomping and otherwise abusing cows in 2012.
“Idaho’s lawmakers should be ashamed of wasting precious time and valuable resources enacting unconstitutional laws that threaten animal welfare, food safety, workers’ rights, and the environment,” Nathan Runkle, president of Mercy For Animals, the animal rights group that released the 2012 footage, said in a statement.
Many lawmakers argued the law was needed to protect private property owners’ rights. However, Winmill countered that there are already state and federal laws on the books that protect private property against theft, fraud and trespass.
State Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, who first introduced the legislation, argued back in 2014 that “This is the way you combat your enemies.” During a legislative hearing, he compared undercover investigators to terrorists and called them “marauding” invaders who use ruthless tactics to submit their foes into submission.
Patrick told The Associated Press on Monday that he was disappointed in the ruling and was still considering options on how to best move forward.
Attorney General Lawrence Wasden’s office declined comment. Spokesman Todd Dvorak said the office was reviewing the ruling.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico City’s mayor said Monday that no expense will be spared and no line of investigation ignored in the hunt for the killers of four women and a photojournalist, who had fled the state where he worked fearing for his safety.
The United Nations High Commission on Human Rights condemned the killings, saying that the bodies had signs of torture and sexual violence and that the climate of impunity “is one of the obstacles to practicing freedom of expression in Mexico.”
“We are all outraged by this crime,” Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said at a news conference. “There will be no impunity in this matter. No line of investigation will be discarded.”
Journalist protection groups have expressed fears that authorities won’t consider the killing of Ruben Espinosa, 31, as being related to his work, even though colleagues say he had fled his work in Veracruz state out of fear.
The office of the capital’s chief prosecutor said late Monday in a statement that investigators had found a red Ford Mustang linked to one of the victims abandoned in a neighborhood to the south. They believe it belonged to a 29-year-old woman who they think is Colombian but have not identified yet.
The statement also said the building’s security camera was damaged and did not contain video of the scene.
Prosecutor Rodolfo Rios Garza said Sunday that authorities were following protocols for crimes against journalists and crimes against women as well as looking at robbery as a possible motive in the case.
But when dealing with slayings of journalists, authorities in Mexico historically have been quick to discard their work as a motive, though the country is the most dangerous in Latin America for reporters. Some 90 percent of journalist murders in Mexico since 1992 have gone unpunished, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“What’s particularly pernicious is that violence against the press is violence against society,” said Dario Ramirez, director of the Article 19 free press advocacy group. “There are many places in the country where silence paves the road so that organized crime, corruption, everything that destroys a society can continue in a manner without … setbacks or obstacles.”
Espinosa was buried Monday after a private memorial service.
The city prosecutor’s office said it was waiting on tests to confirm reports that the victims were tortured and that some of the women may have been sexually assaulted.
An official from the prosecutor’s office said three of the female victims had been identified, but a fourth, presumed to be Colombian, had not.
Rios gave their women’s ages as 18, 29, 32 and 40. All were shot in the head with a 9 mm weapon. Espinosa sustained severe injuries to his face before he was killed, Ramirez said.
Rios also said the apartment was ransacked and robbed. Three of the women lived there and a fourth was the housekeeper. One woman was a friend of Espinosa’s from Veracruz, where he had worked for eight years.
The bodies were found late Friday in a middle-class neighborhood. The building was in range of several security cameras on the street and Rios said officials have video evidence in the crime. The attackers would have had to go through two doors to get inside and neither had signs of damage or a break-in.
Friends said Espinosa had fled Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz, to Mexico City in June after saying that unknown people were following him, taking his photograph and harassing him outside his home.
The Gulf coast state has been a dangerous place for reporters, with 11 journalists killed since Gov. Javier Duarte took office in 2010. Two more, including Espinosa, have been killed outside the state and three have gone missing.
Duarte’s office issued a statement Monday saying he had called Mexico City’s mayor to offer his support in the investigation and instructed Veracruz’s top prosecutor to collaborate with his Mexico City counterpart. A day earlier, he had called the killings “aberrant.”
Fears that Espinosa’s death could end unpunished were fueled by Sunday’s news conference, when Rios never acknowledged that Espinosa had sought in Mexico’s capital, saying he came to the city for “professional opportunities.” The comment led to shouts and protests from reporters.
Espinosa worked for the investigative newsmagazine Proceso and other media outlets
In June, Duarte accused some reporters of being involved in organized crime.
“We all know who is involved in the underworld,” Duarte said. “There’s no reason to confuse freedom of expression with representing the expression of criminals via the media.”
Article 19, the advocacy group, said Espinosa’s death was a milestone in violence against the press because he was the first journalist to be killed in exile in the capital. The agency said in the last five years it has helped about 70 journalists under threat find refuge in the capital.
Associated Press writer E. Eduardo Castillo contributed to this report.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — The state’s top prosecutor said Monday that he will investigate the jail cell death of a mother of eight who waited two days for arraignment on a shoplifting arrest.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said his office will take over the investigation into what happened to 42-year-old Raynette Turner, who died July 27 in the Mount Vernon Police Department’s cellblock.
Schneiderman is acting for the first time under an order issued last month by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo giving the attorney general authority in cases in which people die in encounters with police. Cuomo said he hoped to do away with perceived conflicts of interest between local district attorneys and police.
Among those who asked Cuomo to empower the attorney general was the mother of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died after a videotaped police chokehold. No officers were indicted in his death.
The death of a jailed woman in Texas last month, after a confrontation with a police officer during a traffic stop, has drawn national attention. Sandra Bland was found dead in her jail cell in Hempstead on July 13. Officials say she used a plastic bag to hang herself, a finding her family has questioned.
Police officials in Mount Vernon, a city of about 68,000 residents that borders New York City, said Turner was arrested July 25, a Saturday, on a charge of stealing a package of crab legs from a wholesale food store, and she was being held for a Monday arraignment. They said she reported not feeling well July 26, a Sunday, and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where she was treated for high blood pressure, then returned to her cell a few hours later.
Turner was seen alive at midday July 27, the Monday, they said, but was found dead at 2 p.m.
An autopsy was inconclusive pending drug and other tests.
Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis issued a statement saying the city and Schneiderman “have agreed to work together to make sure the investigation is comprehensive and thorough.”
“We will continue to make every effort to keep the dialogue open surrounding Mrs. Turner’s death,” he said.
Turner’s husband, Herman Turner, believes the attorney general’s intervention “is an opportunity for a fair and objective analysis,” said his lawyer, Osvaldo Gonzalez. Turner believes the relationship between county prosecutors and police “is too involved,” the lawyer said.
Police have not addressed the question of why Turner was held over a weekend on a minor charge rather than given a court summons and released. City officials did not immediately respond to that question Monday.
A spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration, David Bookstaver, said Monday that Turner could not be arraigned July 27 because the court had received no written complaint.
“She was brought upstairs to a holding cell for arraignment and got sick and was taken back downstairs,” he said. “There was no paperwork. There was no complaint.”
The city did not immediately respond Monday to questions about the paperwork.
Cuomo lamented the woman’s death.
“Mrs. Turner’s death is a tragedy for her loved ones, and it raises questions not just from her family but from her neighbors, elected officials, community members and the media — questions that deserve answers,” he said.
Virtanen reported from Albany.
BAGHDAD (AP) — U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria have likely killed at least 459 civilians over the past year, a report by an independent monitoring group said Monday.
The report by Airwars, a project aimed at tracking the international airstrikes targeting the extremists, said it believed 57 specific strikes killed civilians and caused 48 suspected “friendly fire” deaths. It said the strikes have killed more than 15,000 Islamic State militants.
While Airwars noted the difficulty of verifying information in territory held by the IS group, which has kidnapped and killed journalists and activists, other groups have reported similar casualties from the U.S.-led airstrikes.
“Almost all claims of noncombatant deaths from alleged coalition strikes emerge within 24 hours — with graphic images of reported victims often widely disseminated,” the report said.
“In this context, the present coalition policy of downplaying or denying all claims of noncombatant fatalities makes little sense, and risks handing (the) Islamic State (group) and other forces a powerful propaganda tool.”
The U.S. launched airstrikes in Iraq on Aug. 8 and in Syria on Sept. 23 to target the Islamic State group. A coalition of countries later joined to help allied ground forces combat the extremists. To date, the coalition has launched more than 5,800 airstrikes in both countries.
The U.S. has only acknowledged killing two civilians in its strikes: two children who were likely slain during an American airstrike targeting al-Qaida-linked militants in Syria last year. That same strike also wounded two adults, according to an investigation released in May by the U.S. military.
That strike is the subject of one of at least four ongoing U.S. military investigations into allegations of civilian casualties resulting from the airstrikes. Another probe into an airstrike in Syria and two investigations into airstrikes in Iraq are still pending.
U.S. Army Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the coalition, did not address the report directly, but said “there is no other military in the world that works as hard as we do to be precise.”
“When an allegation of civilian casualties caused by Coalition forces is determined to be credible, we investigate it fully and strive to learn from it so as to avoid recurrence,” he said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the department has seen the press reports on the additional civilian casualties but said the Pentagon will have nothing to say until the reports are reviewed.
U.S. Central Command has finished four investigations into alleged civilian casualties, concluding that three were unfounded and that two innocent civilians were killed and two other people wounded in the fourth case.
There are six other investigations still ongoing.
Airwars said it identified the 57 strikes through reporting from “two or more generally credible sources, often with biographical, photographic or video evidence.” The incidents also corresponded to confirmed coalition strikes conducted in the area at that time, it said.
The group is staffed by journalists and describes itself as a “collaborative, not-for-profit transparency project.” It does not offer policy prescriptions.
“The coalition’s war against ISIL has inevitably caused civilian casualties, certainly far more than the two deaths Centcom presently admits to,” the group says on its website.
“Yet it’s also clear that in this same period, many more civilians have been killed by Syrian and Iraqi government forces, by Islamic State and by various rebel and militia groups operating on both sides of the border.”
In Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition includes France, Britain, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Denmark and Canada. Jordan has also carried out airstrikes in Iraq as well as in Syria, although it has released no further information about the dates or locations of its attacks.
The coalition conducting airstrikes in Syria include the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Canada began its own strikes in April, while Britain carries out routine reconnaissance-only drone missions above Syria, and British pilots have carried out airstrikes while embedded with U.S. forces.
Airwars called for greater transparency and accountability from coalition members, since each is individually liable for any civilian deaths or injuries it causes.
“Only one of twelve coalition partners – Canada – has consistently stated in a timely fashion both where and when it carries out airstrikes,” the report said.
Other groups also have reported on major casualties suspected of being caused by the U.S.-led airstrikes. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of on-the-ground activists, said 173 Syrian civilians have been killed since airstrikes began, including 53 children under the age of 18. Most of the civilians were killed in airstrikes near oil refineries and oil fields in the northern provinces of Hassakeh, Raqqa, Aleppo and Deir el-Zour.
The Observatory said the deadliest incident was on May 4, when a U.S.-led airstrike on the northern Islamic State-controlled village of Bir Mahli killed 64 people, including 31 children. A Pentagon spokesman at the time said there was no information to indicate there were civilians in the village. The death toll was confirmed by other opposition groups in Syria.
Two videos and several photos released by a media arm of the IS group purport to show the aftermath of the strikes in the mixed Arab and Kurdish village showed children allegedly wounded in the airstrikes.
In another incident on June 8, an airstrike likely conducted by the U.S.-led coalition on the Islamic State-held village of Dali Hassan, also in northern Syria, killed a family of seven, the Observatory said.
Turkey, which recently began carrying out its own airstrikes against the IS group in Syria and Kurdish militants in northern Iraq, said it would investigate accusations by the Iraqi Kurdish regional government and activists with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, that its airstrikes caused civilian casualties in the northern Iraqi town of Zargel.
The United Nations said Monday that it is concerned about reports that 40 civilians may have been killed and over 30 wounded in an airstrike west of Ramadi in Iraq’s Anbar province, and called on the Iraqi government to investigate the incident.
Also on Monday, the leader of Iraq’s Kurdish region, President Massoud Barzani, said Iraqi Kurds must maintain control of areas in northwestern Iraq, including the city of Sinjar, after they are recaptured from IS militants.
His speech marked the anniversary of the fall of Sinjar to the Islamic State group, which forced tens of thousands of people from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority to flee into the mountains, prompting the U.S. to begin the airstrikes targeting the militant group.
Other Kurdish groups, including the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units, claim Sinjar as part of their territory. All three groups are battling to retake Sinjar.
Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writer Salar Salim in Irbil, Iraq and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow Vivian Salama on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vmsalama . Follow Zeina Karam on Twitter at www.twitter.com/zkaram .
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — U.S. Rep Chaka Fattah is vowing to run for re-election next year despite a federal racketeering indictment and says he expects to resume his leadership position on a powerful congressional committee by year’s end.
The 11-term Democrat said Monday he is “innocent of any and all of these allegations,” telling reporters he hasn’t been involved in the misappropriation of funds as an elected official.
Fattah, 58, was indicted last week, accused of engaging in bribery, fraud, money laundering and other crimes involving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Two of the four schemes alleged by prosecutors involve efforts to erase debts from Fattah’s failed 2007 mayoral bid. Despite that, he said he had “no regrets” about the mayoral run.
Fattah referred to other members of Congress accused of wrongdoing who were later exonerated and criticized prosecutors for what he called “efforts to attack” his family. Fattah’s wife, TV news anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah, hasn’t been charged but was accused by prosecutors of involvement in a sham transaction involving a Porsche that she maintains was “a legitimate sale.”
He also took issue with the accusation that a higher-education conference for which a former staff member obtained $50,000 in federal grants never took place.
“There was a conference. … It took place. It’s on video,” he said.
Fattah has stepped down from his leadership post on the House Appropriations Committee but emphasized that he remains on the panel with seniority that will allow him to make a “tremendous impact” on the process.
“I believe by the end of the year we’ll get some more clarity on this and I’ll be able to resume my leadership position again,” he said.
He is scheduled for an initial court appearance on Aug. 18, defense lawyer Luther Weaver III said Monday.
Also Monday, the House Ethics Committee announced that it voted unanimously last week to investigate the matter. House rules generally require the ethics panel to launch an official investigation when a lawmaker is indicted, and the bipartisan panel assigned several lawmakers to a special subcommittee. The committee, however, traditionally steers clear of actively pursuing cases while criminal probes are ongoing.
The Ethics Committee has the power to recommend Fattah be expelled, but it would take a vote of the full House to do so.