Confederate flags left near Martin Luther King's church
ATLANTA — Police worked Thursday to identify two white males who were caught on surveillance video laying Confederate battle flags neatly on the ground near the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s church.
Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said his agency was working with federal authorities. They have not determined what charges might be levied.
The Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, called placing the flags on church grounds a "terroristic threat." —AP
Indiana clears Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's Department of Health on Thursday cleared Planned Parenthood facilities that perform abortions in the state of any wrongdoing in the handling of fetal tissue.
Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, on July 16 ordered an investigation of Planned Parenthood facilities to see if organs from aborted fetuses were being sold. His order came after an anti-abortion group circulated a video it made secretly showing some of its national officials discussing how they obtain organs from aborted fetuses for research. —AP
Governor to close state-run jail in Baltimore
BALTIMORE — Maryland's governor announced plans Thursday to immediately shut down part of Baltimore's state-run jail, where inmates and guards ran a criminal conspiracy inside vermin-infested, 19th-century walls and thwarted decades of attempted reforms.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan said the state would save $10 million to $15 million a year by closing the Baltimore City Detention Center, which houses hundreds of inmates awaiting trial or serving short sentences.
Parts of the complex, which also has wings housing women and juveniles, date to 1859. Only the men's detention center, which has between 700 and 750 inmates, is being closed. —AP
Judge dismisses suit seeking personhood for 2 chimps
NEW YORK — A judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to free two chimpanzees from a New York state university by arguing the animals deserved "personhood" status.
While the Nonhuman Rights Project had standing to bring the lawsuit on behalf of 8-year-old chimpanzees Hercules and Leo, a higher court decision last year that found a chimpanzee named Tommy was property, not a person, necessitated that the lawsuit be tossed, State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe wrote in her decision.
The group wanted to remove the chimpanzees from Stony Brook University, where they are used in locomotion studies, and place them in a Florida sanctuary.
At a hearing in May, an attorney for the group likened the chimps' confinement to slavery and the involuntary detention of people with mental illnesses. —AP
Four more Democrats give backing to Iran nuke deal
WASHINGTON — Four Democrats said Thursday that they would support the Iran nuclear deal in a major boost for President Barack Obama.
"It's very clear to me that the agreement is the best path forward," said two-term Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee and a Senate candidate, said he would support the agreement, as did New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and Rep. David Price of North Carolina. —AP
Icebreaker leaves Portland for oil-drilling operation
PORTLAND, Ore. — A Royal Dutch Shell icebreaker that was the target of environmental protesters is leaving Portland, Oregon, bound for an Arctic drilling operation.
The Fennica headed out Thursday after authorities forced protesters in kayaks from a river and removed others dangling from a bridge.
The icebreaker is a key part of Shell's exploration and spillresponse plan off Alaska's northwest coast. It protects Shell's fleet from ice and carries equipment that can stop gushing oil. —AP
Rolling Stone is sued over campus rape story
RICHMOND, Va. — Three University of Virginia graduates and members of a fraternity who were portrayed in a debunked account of a gang rape in a retracted Rolling Stone magazine story filed a lawsuit against the publication and the article's author, court records show.
The three men are also suing Rolling Stone's publisher, Wenner Media.
Separately, Wenner Media said in a press release that Will Dana, Rolling Stone's managing editor, will be leaving the magazine next month. —AP
California says water use decreased 27 percent in June
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Water use in California fell by 27 percent in June, passing the conservation target set by Gov. Jerry Brown during the drought, regulators said Thursday.
Data released by the State Water Resources Control Board showed that 265 out of 411 local agencies hit or nearly hit savings targets.