News Wrap: Somali Militants Execute French Hostage After Failed Rescue Attempt
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Al-Shabab militant group in Somalia announced today it executed a French hostage. He was identified as intelligence agent Denis Allex, who'd been held since mid-2009. The militants, who are linked to al-Qaida, said they killed him last night. French officials say they believe Allex was killed last weekend when French commandos tried and failed to rescue him.
In Iraq, another round of bomb attacks killed at least 26 people. Most of the victims were Shiite pilgrims. The worst of the attacks killed 11 people and wounded more than 60 near Dujail, north of Baghdad. Two car bombs exploded near pilgrims who were headed to a shrine. The bombings extended a wave of violence that's killed nearly 60 Iraqis since yesterday.
A U.S. military judge has ordered a sanity review for a soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians last March. The ruling came after Staff Sergeant Robert Bales declined to enter a plea. He was arraigned today at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Seattle. Outside court, defense lawyers said Bales has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Questions swirled today around Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o. It came out Wednesday that the story of his online girlfriend, who supposedly died of leukemia, was all a hoax, and that she never existed.
The website Deadspin.com broke the story, and said Te'o may have been complicit in the ruse. The university said its investigation showed the middle linebacker was duped.
Athletic director Jack Swarbrick spoke last night.
JACK SWARBRICK, University of Notre Dame: I want to stress, as someone who has probably been engaged in this as anyone in the past couple of weeks, that nothing about what I have learned has shaken my faith in Manti Te'o one iota.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In his own statement, Te'o said he was the victim of a sick joke. Notre Dame officials said the motive for the scam remains unclear.
The International Olympic Committee stripped Lance Armstrong today of the bronze cycling medal he won in the 2000 Summer Games. The announcement came amid reports that Armstrong confessed to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. The interview airs in two parts, starting tonight, on her TV channel. The IOC said the timing of its decision was unrelated to the interview.
Nearly all the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners in service have now been grounded worldwide. The jets sat idle on tarmacs today as Europe, India and others grounded their 787s in the jurisdictions. Two major Japanese airlines and the U.S. federal aviation authority did so yesterday. Boeing has delivered 50 of the cutting-edge planes so far. But at least two battery leaks, just 10 days apart, have triggered safety reviews.
Wall Street rode some upbeat economic reports to higher ground today. First-time claims for jobless benefits hit a five-year low last week, and housing starts in December were the best since the summer of 2008. In response, the Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 84 points to close at 13,596. The Nasdaq rose 18 points to close at 3,136.
Those are some of the day's major stories.