The Lookout
  • Pittsburgh man latest to have home accidentally demolished

    AP110105023367

    The American dream of home ownership didn't exactly exit the last decade on a high note, with the mortgage sector on still-shaky ground, the housing market stagnating and foreclosures at historic highs. So it was gratuitously devastating for Andre Hall of Pittsburgh -- who was in the process of reclaiming a foreclosed property, no less -- to return from the holidays to discover that the city had accidentally demolished his property.

    "My dream is done now," Hall told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review after the foreclosed home he bought in November was accidentally flattened. "Someone needs to man up and take responsibility for this."

    Read More »from Pittsburgh man latest to have home accidentally demolished
  • AP101019018304State lawmakers from Arizona, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Oklahoma, and South Carolina announced today their plan to pass laws to deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants born in their states.

    The legislators introduced two model bills as part of the new coordinated effort. One measure (pdf) says a person cannot be a citizen of the state unless he or she has at least one parent in the country legally; the other asks other states and Congress to agree to that definition of U.S. citizenship, the National Journal reports.

    The second bill, called a compact, would not take effect unless Congress passes it, which seems unlikely right now.

    But if Congress were to pass the states' compacts, U.S. citizenship could be defined differently in different states. "State citizenship" laws would likely have no effect on people, since the question of defining U.S. citizenship is up to the federal government, not the states.

    If it seems confusing, that's because the lawmakers admit they are mainly using the proposed bills as a kind of leverage -- hoping to provoke lawsuits so that the Supreme Court will be forced to hear their arguments that citizenship should be defined more narrowly. Specifically, the lawmakers say they're looking to get the Supreme Court to review the issue of whether the 14th Amendment grants citizenship to all children born on U.S. soil. (You can read more about that debate here.)

    Read More »from Lawmakers announce anti-birthright-citizenship push
  • Picture 10On a trip to the grocery store last month with his wife, Columbus Dispatch videographer Doral Chenoweth III ran across a bouffant-haired homeless man in a camouflage jacket holding a cardboard sign at an interstate offramp in Columbus, Ohio.

    "I have a God-given gift of voice," the handwritten sign read. "I'm an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be greatfully appreciated."

    Chenoweth conducted an impromptu interview with the man, Ted Williams, through the driver's window. Williams displayed his pipes -- honed by professional voice classes when he was younger, he said -- and copped to having battled drug and alcohol addictions throughout his life, though he said he's been clean for two years.

    When Chenoweth returned to work Monday, he uploaded the video to the paper's website. Barely 48 hours later, the homeless man with the golden voice has gone from an anonymous panhandler, ignored by perhaps thousands of passers-by, to one of the most in-demand talents in the broadcast industry. The video has been viewed on YouTube millions of times, and job offers are rolling in from the NFL, the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, and various TV and radio stations.

    Watch the video that caused the stir below:

    Read More »from Homeless man with golden voice becomes 2011′s first viral superstar

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  • Iran airs TV footage of purported Israeli drone
    Iran airs TV footage of purported Israeli drone

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A crash scene aired on Iranian state television Monday purported to show the wreckage of an Israeli drone shot down near an Iranian nuclear site, prompting questions about how a plane with limited range could have penetrated so deeply and whether it is indeed what Tehran says it is.

  • China’s falling real-estate prices trigger protests, clashes

    The sharp drop in China’s housing prices has reportedly led to an outburst of anger among property owners, leading to violent clashes in some cases.

  • US hostage held by Islamic State is female aid worker
    US hostage held by Islamic State is female aid worker

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Islamic State militant group is holding hostage a young American woman who was doing humanitarian aid work in Syria, a family representative said. The 26-year-old woman is the third American known to have been kidnapped by the radical group.

  • New York risks 'return to bad old days'
    New York risks 'return to bad old days'

    New York is hurtling back to "the bad old days of high crime" under current Mayor Bill de Blasio, a major police union has warned, drawing a sharp rebuke from the Democrat. "The degradation of our streets is on the rise," said Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, urging the Democratic Party to choose another city to hold its 2016 convention. In a full-page open letter in The New York Times, Mullins said that the city was "lurching backwards to the bad old days of high crime, danger-infested public spaces, and families that walk our streets worried for their safety." He accused de Blasio of making "dangerous choices" and said that the New York Police Department (NYPD) was "understaffed, overworked and underpaid."

  • Islamic State shifts war plan, US at 'tipping point'
    Islamic State shifts war plan, US at 'tipping point'

    Signs the United States may strike Islamic State militants in their Syrian stronghold reveal a shift in the politics of foreign war in Washington, after the trauma of the post-Iraq era. A year ago, President Barack Obama was set to bomb Syria -- but balked at the last minute after sizing up beckoning political isolation in his war-weary nation. The execution of captive US journalist James Foley and the fear an IS caliphate could become a terror haven have challenged an administration foreign policy built on the conceit that the "tide of war is receding."

  • Exclusive: In Ukraine, an armored column appears out of nowhere
    Exclusive: In Ukraine, an armored column appears out of nowhere

    By Christian Lowe and Maria Tsvetkova MOSCOW/ NOVOAZOVSK Ukraine (Reuters) - On Monday, a resident of Novoazovsk in south-eastern Ukraine said she saw a column of armored vehicles approach the town and start shooting. "Right now I can hear rumbling, explosions ... the residents are hiding." In Kiev later that morning, Ukrainian officials said the column was an incursion by Russian troops which it alleges are fighting alongside pro-Moscow separatists, a claim Russia quickly dismissed as disinformation. On Tuesday, in a continuation of the pattern, Kiev said it had captured a group of Russian soldiers who had entered Ukraine on a "special mission", while Moscow said they were there by mistake.

  • Gaza truce holding but Israel's Netanyahu under fire at home

    By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An open-ended ceasefire in the Gaza war held on Wednesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced strong criticism in Israel over a costly conflict with Palestinian militants in which no clear victor emerged. In Israel, sirens warning of incoming rocket fire from the Gaza Strip fell silent. "After 50 days of warfare in which a terror organization killed dozens of soldiers and civilians, destroyed the daily routine (and) placed the country in a state of economic distress ... we could have expected much more than an announcement of a ceasefire," analyst Shimon Shiffer wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's biggest-selling newspaper. "We could have expected the prime minister to go to the president’s residence and inform him of his decision to resign his post." Netanyahu, who has faced constant sniping in his cabinet from right-wing ministers demanding military action to topple Hamas, scheduled a news conference for Wednesday evening, expected to be his first public remarks since the Egyptian-mediated truce deal took effect on Tuesday evening.

  • Islamic State executes soldiers, takes hostages at Syria base: social media

    By Sylvia Westall BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamic State militants have executed Syrian army soldiers and are holding a group hostage after capturing an air base in northeast Syria at the weekend, pictures posted on social media by supporters showed on Wednesday. Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda, stormed Tabqa air base near Raqqa city on Sunday after days of fighting with the army that cost more than 500 lives, according to monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Tabqa was the army's last foothold in an area otherwise controlled by the militants, who have seized large areas of Syria and Iraq. The United States has carried out air strikes on the group in Iraq and is considering its options in Syria.

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