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Japan's PM "speechless" over hostage video...Ukraine fighting heats up... Winds hit SoCal hard

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TOKYO (AP) — Japan's prime minister says he's "speechless" after an online video purported to show that one of two Japanese men held by the extremist Islamic State group has been killed and he's promising to save the other. Shinzo Abe (shin-zoh ah-bay) tells NHK TV the video is likely authentic and offered condolences to the family and friends of 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa.

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Both sides are ratcheting up the violence in Ukraine. The government in Kiev is beefing up military positions and sending in more forces to defend the strategically important port city of Mariupol (mah-ROO'-pahl). The move follows a rebel rocket attack Saturday that killed at least 30 people. Ukraine's top separatist leader describes it as the beginning of an offensive.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Crews are cleaning up a mess in parts of Southern California. A brief but powerful round of Santa Ana winds with gusts topping 60 mph toppled trees and power lines over the past 24 hours. There are reports of damage and power outages in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles and in Riverside County east of Los Angeles.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The winner of Iowa's 2012 Republican presidential caucuses says his party needs to do a better job convincing working Americans that the GOP is on their side. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum returned to the state today to warn social conservatives that the GOP doesn't win the presidency because -- quote-- "too many people think we don't care about them."

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An international team is trying to break two major ballooning records: A distance record of 5,208 miles and the flight-duration record set in 1978 After experiencing delays earlier this month, pilots Troy Bradley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a Russian (Leonid Tiukhtyaev) have taken off from Japan in a helium-filled balloon. They're heading to North America.

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