By David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army on Wednesday defended its decision to notify 87 captains deployed overseas, including 48 in Afghanistan, that they were losing their jobs, would be transferred home and had nine months to organize their departure from the service. Senior Army officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the officers were among a group of 1,188 captains notified last months that they were being separated from the service as it draws down from the current 513,800 soldiers to 510,000 by the end of the year due to budget cuts. With the Pentagon under orders to reduce projected spending by nearly $1 trillion over a decade, the cuts to the Army will not stop there. "We won't be able to achieve those numbers through natural attrition alone," one of the Army officials said, making it necessary to use other means to reduce the number of personnel.
By Laura Zuckerman SALMON Idaho (Reuters) - Federal land managers on Wednesday banned exploding targets used by shooting enthusiasts from 12 national forests in four Western U.S. states, saying the devices could spark wildfires and are a threat to public safety. The prohibition in Idaho, Nevada, Utah and western Wyoming lasts a year and comes as U.S. land managers report a rise in the number of blazes ignited by the targets, which emit a bang and a cloud of smoke when struck by a bullet. The devices are blamed for nine wildfires on federal rangelands in Idaho in 2012, and five in 2013, said Josh Renz, a range technician with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Boise who specializes in wildfires. In May the devices were banned from millions of acres of public lands in Montana, northern Idaho, North Dakota, and the northwestern corner of South Dakota that comprise the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Region.
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Despite widespread drought in the West and expectations of an above-average wildfire season, wildfires have burned less than half the 10-year average area so far this summer.
By David Jones NEWARK N.J. (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Education said on Wednesday it was investigating complaints that a plan to reorganize public schools in Newark, New Jersey, discriminates against black students. A parent-led group in New Jersey's largest city has said that school closings and conversions to charter schools under the "One Newark" plan disproportionately affect black students. "We can confirm that the Office for Civil Rights is investigating whether the Newark Public Schools’ enactment of the 'One Newark' plan at the end of the 2013-2014 school year discriminates against black students on the basis of race," an Education Department spokesman said in a statement.
DENVER (AP) — Federal judge rules Colorado gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but orders temporary stay.
FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona attorney general says death row inmate is dead, nearly 2 hours after execution started.
By Dan Whitcomb LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California police investigating the disappearance of the pregnant wife of a U.S. Marine said on Wednesday they were trying to determine whether she was a victim of foul play or left voluntarily, despite court documents showing they suspect she was murdered. Erin Corwin, 19, was reported missing on June 28 by her husband, Marine Corporal Jonathan Corwin, after she failed to return from what she told him was a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park, near their home on the military base in nearby Twentynine Palms. Her car was found two days later abandoned on a street in Twentynine Palms, a desert community 130 miles east of Los Angeles, next to footprints showing that she got into another vehicle. "In a missing person case there's always that two-pronged investigation.
NEW YORK (AP) — Some of the hottest tickets in town — to Broadway hits, Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake concerts, a New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game — were snapped up by an international ring of cyber thieves who commandeered more than 1,000 StubHub users' accounts to make big money by fraudulently buying tickets and reselling them, prosecutors said Wednesday.
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) — A Chinese national accused of trying to smuggle sensors made for the U.S. military has pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Control Act.
The town manager of Seabrook, New Hampshire, fired two police officers on Wednesday for roughing up a man at the town's police station, an incident that drew scrutiny after surveillance footage of the incident was posted online earlier this year. The town manager, William Manzi, also demoted a police lieutenant for not properly reviewing and reporting the incident. The video shows a skinny, shirtless Michael Bergeron being escorted by two police officers down a hallway. One of the officers, Mark Richardson, holds him forcefully by the arm and swings Bergeron into a concrete wall, which he hits head first.
Theodore Wafer, 55, shot Renisha McBride after she knocked on the door seeking help an early morning in November. Wafer faces a second-degree murder charge and up to life in prison.
By Jonathan Allen NEW YORK (Reuters) - Family members gathered on Wednesday evening for the funeral of Eric Garner, who died shortly after police put him in a banned chokehold as they arrested him in New York City where the death has sparked outrage and a promise to reform police training. Garner's wife, Esaw Garner, entered the Bethel Baptist Church in Brooklyn leaning heavily on two young boys and looking distressed and exhausted. Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, followed a few minutes later, her head bowed. A couple of police officers looked on as mourners quietly chatted outside the church.
FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona inmate's lawyers file emergency appeal, say he's been gasping, snorting for an hour.
COVINGTON, Ga. (AP) — Georgia authorities say a police officer shot a man who was using a large, "medieval"-style sword to swipe at traffic.
The FAA has extended the ban on US airline flights to Israel for "up to an additional 24 hours."
Larry Zelvin, the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's center for countering cyber threats, is retiring next month after a government career of nearly 30 years during which he advised U.S. businesses on fighting hostile hackers. Zelvin helped coordinate efforts to advise U.S. banks as they responded to denial of service attacks believed to have originated from Iran, which disrupted their websites in recent years. He also assisted U.S. retailers looking to prevent cyber attacks on their point of sales systems after last year's unprecedented breach at Target Corp. A spokesman said a successor has not been named to run the agency's National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) in suburban Maryland, which helps government agencies and private firms identify and respond to cyber attacks.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Twitter acknowledged that it has been hiring too many white and Asian men to fill high-paying technology jobs, just like several other major companies in Silicon Valley.
Montana Sen. John Walsh's thesis written to earn a master's degree from the U.S. Army War College contains unattributed passages taken word-for-word from previously published papers.
By Suzi Parker LITTLE ROCK Ark. (Reuters) - The Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas lifted a lockdown after 4-1/2 hours on Wednesday when reports of a suspicious individual turned out to be unfounded, the base said in a statement. "We responded with the necessary caution to secure our Airmen, their families and Air Force resources," Colonel Patrick Rhatigan, 19th Airlift Wing commander, said in the statement. During the lockdown from 11:45 a.m. to 4:10 p.m., people on base were told not to leave their buildings. During most of the lockdown, no traffic was allowed on or off the base.
By Karen Freifeld NEW YORK (Reuters) - Police have arrested seven people on charges they were tied to an international ring that defrauded eBay Inc's StubHub online ticketing service of some $1.6 million, the latest in a string of high-profile cybercrime busts in recent months. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr announced the arrests on Wednesday. They were charged with involvement in a cybercrime ring that used stolen credit card numbers to purchase thousands of tickets to events, including concerts of Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z as well as games for sports teams including the Boston Red Sox and New York Giants, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday. StubHub's head of global communications, Glenn Lehrman, told Reuters his firm has been working with law enforcement around the world for the last year on the case.