Kenyan security forces battle al-Qaida-linked terrorists in final push to free hostages
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Kenyan security forces battled al-Qaida-linked terrorists in an upscale mall for a third day Monday in what they said was a final push to rescue the last few hostages in a siege that has left at least 62 people dead.
While the government announced Sunday that "most" hostages had been released, a security expert with contacts inside the mall said at least 10 were still being held by a band of attackers described as "a multinational collection from all over the world."
Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed said "two or three Americans" and "one Brit" were among those who attacked the mall. She said in an interview with the PBS "NewsHour" program that the Americans were 18 to 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin and lived "in Minnesota and one other place" in the U.S.
U.S. officials said they were looking into whether any Americans were involved. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that the department had "no definitive evidence of the nationalities or the identities" of the attackers.
The security expert, who insisted on anonymity to talk freely about the situation, said many hostages had been freed or escaped in the previous 24-36 hours, including some who were in hiding.
A look at the victims of the Kenya shopping mall attack
LONDON (AP) -- The attack on the upscale Westgate Mall in Kenya's capital has killed dozens of people, from Africa, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and the Americas. Here are details about some of the victims.
Ross Langdon was an architect who worked in Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania, creating eco-lodges and socially sustainable tourism in ecologically sensitive locations.
He was born in Tasmania, he said at a conference in Krakow last year, and his experiences living off the land as a child persuaded him it was better to try to adapt to one's environment than to attempt to change it -- to express sensitivity and respect for the tradition of the communities in which he was working.
10 Things to Know for Tuesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:
1. WHY TERROR GROUP CLAIMS IT ATTACKED NAIROBI MALL
Al-Shabab, whose name means "The Youth" in Arabic, said the assault was in retribution for Kenyan forces' 2011 push into neighboring Somalia.
Assad says Syria committed to destroy chemical weapons; rebel infighting grows
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- President Bashar Assad pledged in an interview broadcast Monday to honor an agreement to surrender Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons, but he said that rebels might try to block international arms inspectors from doing their work.
As battles continued across Syria, new Associated Press video of an attack Sunday night showed the regime's helicopters dropping barrel bombs on opposition-held areas, creating chaotic scenes of destruction.
In a sign of worsening infighting among the rebels, a top al-Qaida commander in Syria was killed in an ambush by rival, Western-backed group -- an assassination sure to raise tensions among factions seeking to topple the regime.
Assad's comments came as world leaders gathered in New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly, where the use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war was high on the agenda.
The Syrian leader told Chinese state TV that Damascus is dedicated to implementing the agreement reached between Russia and the U.S. to surrender its chemical weapons to international control. Syria's stockpile, he said, is "in safe areas and locations and under the full control of the Syrian Arab Army."
Va. man who 2 networks briefly misidentified as Washington Navy Yard shooter knew 1 victim
McLEAN, Va. (AP) -- A week ago, Rollie Chance was working the phones, worried that some of his friends at the Washington Navy Yard may have been killed in a mass shooting there.
In the middle of that, he received a call that he thought was a prank: a news organization telling him that he had been identified as the shooter.
Chance's name was reported Sept. 16 by two network news organizations as the shooter in an apparent mix-up involving his long-discarded Navy Yard identification badge. NBC reporters tweeted Chance's name as the shooter, while CBS used Chance's name in tweets and in a radio broadcast. Both networks retracted their reports within minutes of misidentifying him as the shooter.
Chance, a Stafford, Va., resident, has reluctantly spoken with reporters in recent days because he hopes getting stories out about the mix-up will crowd out archived versions of stories on the Internet that misidentify him as the Navy Yard shooter. He also says he wants to ensure that others don't go through what he did.
"It was a very emotionally draining week," Chance said Monday in a phone interview.
Chicago police arrest 2 men in last week's shooting that injured 13, including 3-year-old boy
CHICAGO (AP) -- Authorities on Monday night charged two men in connection with a shooting last week at a Chicago park that injured 13 people, including a 3-year-old boy.
Officials said 21-year-old Bryon Champ and 20-year-old Kewane Gatewood were charged in the shooting at Cornell Square Park, which is located in Chicago's southwest side.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said that while the two played significant roles in the shooting, neither is believed to have pulled the trigger.
McCarthy said detectives are continuing the investigation.
Authorities say as many as three people opened fire Thursday on a basketball court in the Back of the Yards neighborhood. Among those injured were 3-year-old Deonta Howard, who is recovering from surgery after being shot near an ear, along with two teenagers.
US edges closer to high-level talks with Iran; an Obama meeting with Rouhani at UN is possible
NEW YORK (AP) -- The Obama administration edged close to direct, high-level talks with Iran's new government on Monday, with Secretary of State John Kerry slated to meet his Iranian counterpart this week and the White House weighing the risks and rewards of an encounter between President Barack Obama and Iran's president, Hasan Rouhani.
An Obama-Rouhani exchange on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly would mark the first meeting at that high level for the two nations in more than 30 years. Such talks could signal a turning point in U.S.-Iranian relations -- but also could be seen as a premature endorsement for a new Iranian government that has yet to answer key questions about the future of its disputed nuclear program.
Obama advisers said no meeting was scheduled. But they added that the U.S. planned to take advantage of diplomatic opportunities while in New York and indicated they were not leaving a possible encounter between Obama and Rouhani to chance.
"I don't think that anything would happen by happenstance on a relationship and an issue that is this important," Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser, told reporters traveling with the president to New York.
The election of Rouhani, a moderate cleric, has led to speculation about possible progress on Iran's nuclear impasse with the U.S. Particularly intriguing to American officials are Rouhani's assertions that his government has "complete authority" in nuclear negotiations. That would be a marked change from previous governments and their relationship with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Officials: 79-year-old woman found dead along river after Colorado flood; death toll is 8
DENVER (AP) -- A 79-year-old woman whose house was swept away by the Big Thompson River was found dead on the river bank, authorities said Monday, bringing to eight the death toll from the massive flooding in Colorado.
As the number of people unaccounted-for dwindled to six, Vice President Joe Biden viewed the devastation from a helicopter before meeting with disaster workers.
"I promise you, I promise you, there will be help," Biden said, trying to mute concerns that a possible federal government shutdown could derail relief efforts.
The latest victim was identified as Evelyn M. Starner. Larimer County authorities said she drowned and suffered blunt force trauma. Starner was previously listed as missing and presumed dead. Authorities initially said she was 80.
Starner was found Saturday. One other person was still missing and presumed dead -- a 60-year-old woman from Larimer County. A man was taken off the list after walking into the sheriff's office.
House GOP offers smaller budget cuts on debt increase measure than in 2011 battle
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans are far less ambitious this week in their demands for spending cuts to erase new debt issued to pay the government's bills than they were during a budget battle two years ago.
The list of cuts under consideration now tallies up to a fraction of the almost $1 trillion in additional borrowing that would be permitted under a GOP proposal for enabling the government to pay its bills through December of next year.
Two years ago, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, insisted on spending cuts totaling $2.1 trillion over a decade as the price to meet President Barack Obama's demand for a like-sized increase in the government's borrowing cap, also known as the debt ceiling.
Those cuts involved tighter "caps" on agency operating budgets as well as the automatic, across-the-board cuts known as sequestration triggered by the failure of a deficit "supercommittee" to reach a deal.
The problem now is that there isn't a roster of big, politically palatable cuts ready to go. Instead, Republicans have put together a grab bag of smaller savings ideas, like higher pension contributions for federal workers, higher premiums for upper-income Medicare beneficiaries, caps on medical malpractice verdicts and reduced payments to hospitals that treat more poor people than average.
Cherokee girl at center of yearslong custody dispute handed over to adoptive parents
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A South Carolina couple who vowed last month to not leave Oklahoma unless they went home with a 4-year-old Cherokee girl they have been trying to adopt since her birth were given custody of the girl Monday night after the Oklahoma Supreme Court said it didn't have jurisdiction over the child.
"She's safely in her parents' arms," said Jessica Munday, a spokeswoman for Matt and Melanie Capobianco of Charleston, S.C.
Cherokee Nation spokeswoman Amanda Clinton confirmed that Veronica was handed over to the Capobiancos hours after the Oklahoma Supreme Court dissolved a temporary court order leaving the child with her father and his family. Until the Monday night transfer, the Cherokee Nation had insisted the girl would remain with the tribe.
The Capobiancos and the girl's biological father, Dusten Brown, had fought over custody of the girl for years. The dispute has raised questions about jurisdictions, tribal sovereignty and a federal law meant to help keep Native American tribes together.
Veronica, whose biological father is a member of the Cherokee Nation and whose biological mother in not Native American, had lived with the Capobiancos from birth until she was 27 months old, when Brown was awarded custody under the Indian Child Welfare Act. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision later went against Brown, and a South Carolina court finalized the Capobiancos' adoption of her earlier this year. Brown had then turned to Oklahoma's courts.