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French hostage reported killed...Strikes hit Islamic State targets...Drug warning is weakened

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PARIS (AP) — There's word that Algerian extremists have killed a French hostage. According to a U.S. terrorism watchdog, the SITE Intelligence Group, the extremists allied with the Islamic State militants have killed Herve Gourdel. The group said after abducting him Sunday that he would be killed within 24 hours unless France ended its airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq. The French government has insisted it won't back down.

WASHINGTON (AP) — According to U.S. Central command, the latest U.S. strikes against the Islamic State group -- by bombers and fighter jets -- damaged eight vehicles in Syria near the Iraqi border. The statement also says two Islamic State armed vehicles west of Baghdad were hit, along with two militant fighting positions in northern Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman says the strikes in eastern Syria hit a staging area used by the militants to move equipment across the border into Iraq.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee says an al Qaida-linked group was close to being capable of assembling an explosive device that could go undetected through airport security. Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan described the imminent threat posed by the Khorasan group that was the target of U.S. airstrikes in Syria. Levin says he's not aware of whether the airstrikes took out any of the leaders of the group.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fire at on old wooden wharf at the Port of Los Angeles has been extinguished and normal operations are resuming. The port was idled yesterday by smoke from the blaze. It was sparked Monday evening by a welding accident. The Port of LA and the adjacent Port of Long Beach together handle 40 percent of America's import trade.

WASHINGTON (AP) — New government-approved labeling on Pfizer's drug Chantix suggests that the anti-smoking medication may not carry the risks of suicidal behavior that first earned it the government's strongest warning more than five years ago. The FDA has updated the drug's label to include data from a number of recent studies that found little to no evidence of psychiatric problems or suicidal tendencies in patients taking the tablet. The new labeling represents a victory for Pfizer, which requested the update from regulators.

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