Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment

Wednesday - 7/17/2013, 10:34am EDT


NEW: Al-Qaida branch says No. 2 leader killed in Yemen

SANAA, Yemen (AP) -- The Yemen-based branch of al-Qaida says a U.S. drone strike has killed a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who rose to become the group's No. 2 figure.

The announcement, posted on militant websites, gives no date for the death of Saudi-born Saeed al-Shihri.

In January, Yemen's official SABA news agency had reported that al-Shihri died of wounds from a drone strike three months earlier.

The monitoring group SITE said today that al-Shihri was eulogized in the video by a senior official in the terrorist group, known as Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

Al-Shihri fought in Afghanistan and spent six years in Guantanamo. He was returned to Saudi Arabia in late 2007 and later fled to Yemen to join the al-Qaida branch there.


UPDATE: Captain insists on plea deal in Italian shipwreck

ROME (AP) -- The captain of the cruise ship that capsized off the coast of Italy is trying to work out a plea deal as testimony is about to begin in his trial in Grosseto, Italy.

But Francesco Schettino's (frahn-CHEHS'-koh skeh-TEE'-nohz) attorney says he holds out little hope that the trial judge will allow a deal for Schettino to plead guilty in exchange for a three-year-five-month sentence.

Schettino risks up to 20 years if found guilty of manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing the shipwreck that claimed 32 lives.


SKorean officials: Asiana crash pilots in hospital

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Officials say the four South Korean pilots of the Asiana plane that crash-landed in San Francisco are being treated for psychological trauma and injuries caused by the incident.

The July 6 crash killed three people and injured dozens of others.

A joint American and South Korean team interviewed the pilots while they were in the U.S. Now that they're back in South Korea, South Korean officials want to interview the pilots separately.


Lawmakers likely to press Bernanke on Fed stimulus

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to face tough questions from the House Financial Services Committee today about when the Fed might start to scale back its low interest rate policies that have helped support economic growth.

Bernanke will also be pressed on the state of the economy and may even criticize Congress for federal spending cuts and tax increases that have weighed on the economy this year.


House GOP seeks delay in health care provisions

WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Republicans, politically emboldened by President Barack Obama's delay of a key requirement of his health care law, are taking another run at scrapping his signature domestic policy.

The House has scheduled votes today to delay the law's individual and employer mandates. It will be the 38th time the GOP majority has tried to eliminate, defund or scale back the program since Republicans took control of the House in January 2011.

The votes are a chance to score political points. The legislation is going nowhere in the Democratic-controlled Senate and the administration said emphatically the president would veto the measures.

Earlier this month, the administration announced a one-year delay in requiring businesses with 50 or more employees to provide health coverage for their workers or pay a penalty.


Officials say unemployment weak among G-20 nations

GENEVA (AP) -- Top international labor and development officials say almost a third of the 93 million people unemployed in the Group of 20 major economic powers have been out of work for more than a year.

The U.N.'s International Labor Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development say the rate of employment growth remains weak in most G-20 countries, which represent 80 percent of the world's economic output.

The two agencies released data today showing unemployment dropped slightly in half the G20 countries, but rose among the other half -- with unemployment highest, above 25 per cent, in South Africa and Spain.

Among the 93 million unemployed in early 2013, about 30 per cent on average were jobless over a year.


More questions from Congress on surveillance

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Key administration people from the intelligence world will appear before the House Judiciary Committee today to answer another round of questions about the government's surveillance of Americans' phone records.

Six weeks after a leaked document exposed the scope of the surveillance, many Democrats and some Republicans are still angry about it.


2nd arraignment set for Ohio kidnap suspect