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TOKYO (AP) — Japan's government is investigating a new message purported to be from the Islamic State fighters holding two Japanese hostages. Cabinet ministers are holding an emergency meeting about the new message, which claims one hostage has been killed and demands a prisoner exchange for the other. The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by the Islamic State. The group had threatened on Tuesday to behead the hostages within 72 hours unless it received a $200 million ransom.
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Authorities in Ukraine say indiscriminate rocket fire has slammed into a market, schools and homes in the eastern city of Mariupol (mah-ROO'-pahl), killing at least 21 people. The RIA Novosti news agency is reporting that Ukraine's top rebel leader has announced that an offensive has begun on the strategically important port. Yesterday the rebels rejected a peace deal and said they were going on a multi-prong offensive against the government in Kiev to vastly increase their territory.
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City police are searching for the gunman who killed two women and a 7-year-old girl and critically wounded a 12-year-old girl early today in Queens. Police say it appears to be a case of domestic violence. They say the suspect fled in an SUV and was believed to be carrying a .45-caliber gun.
CHICAGO (AP) — Ernie Banks is being remembered as one of baseball's greatest players never to make it to the postseason. The Chicago Cubs shortstop known as "Mr. Cub" died last night at 83. Banks was known as much for his infectious smile and love of the game as he was for his 512 home runs. The two-time MVP and 11-time All-Star was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977 and selected to baseball's All-Century team in 1999.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — To those who know and love the Grand Canyon, the names of its historic lodges are synonymous with the national park itself. But the fate of those names is unclear after a longtime Grand Canyon concessionaire applied to trademark them. Approval would mean Xanterra Parks & Resorts could charge future concessionaires to use roughly 20 names of the park's most popular properties, including Phantom Ranch, Bright Angel Lodge and El Tovar. The company also could force the lodges and other facilities to adopt a new identity.
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