Car pulled from Florida canal linked to 1978 missing persons case

Law enforcement officials say that a car pulled from a South Florida canal late Thursday is linked to a 1978 missing persons case.

Broward County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright told the Sun-Sentinel  that the orange 1969 Dodge Coronet was found by a South Florida Water Management District employee. When Sunrise police ran the vehicle identification number on the car’s windshield, they found that it had belonged to 19-year-old Harry Wade Atchison.

Atchison and his 15-year-old girlfriend, Dana Null, were last seen on the night of Oct. 7, 1978. They had attended a Journey concert earlier in the evening and had gotten into an argument. They were last seen driving away from a mobile home where Atchison lived.

Officials said that no bodies were in the car, which was almost unrecognizable after spending so long in the canal. Dive team members were searching the canal for remains late Thursday, but so far had been unsuccessful. Coleman-Wright told reports that the back portion of the car was buried too deep at the bottom of the canal to be pulled out.

“I try to get to that scene because I need to know so we can give some closure to some of those family members,” Dinorah Perry of Missing Children International Ministries, which helps search for missing people, told reporters. “It means the world.”

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz dies

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died, royal officials have announced, weeks after he was admitted to hospital.

Abdullah, who had ruled since 2005 and was said to be aged about 90, had been suffering from a lung infection.

His 79-year-old half-brother, Salman, has been confirmed as the new king.

Within hours of his accession to the throne of the oil-rich kingdom, King Salman vowed to maintain the same policies as his predecessors.

“We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in a speech broadcast on state television.

Abdullah had suffered frequent bouts of ill health in recent years, and King Salman had recently taken on the ailing monarch’s responsibilities.

Prior to announcing Abdullah’s death, Saudi television cut to Koranic verses, which often signifies the passing of a senior royal.


Japan ‘exploring all ways’ to free Islamic State hostages

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference in Jerusalem, 20 January 2015

Japan says it is exploring every avenue to save two hostages who Islamic State (IS) militants say they are holding.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government was trying to contact the hostage-takers.

A video purportedly from IS and released on Tuesday demanded a ransom of $200m (£130m) within 72 hours.

Tokyo, which lacks strong diplomatic ties in the area, believes the deadline expires at 14:50 (05:50 GMT) on Friday.

“We haven’t been able to confirm the safety [of the two],” Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted Mr Suga as saying.

“Start Quote

We wish not to fight against the world of Islam, we want to help the more than 10 million refugees in the region”

Yoshihide SugaJapan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary

“We are exploring every possibility available to save their lives,” he told a press conference, adding that the government had not heard directly from the group.  The threat to kill the men was contained in a video, shot in an unidentified desert, and which has not been independently verified.  The video named the two men as Kenji Goto, a well-known freelance journalist, and Haruna Yukawa, who reportedly went to Syria to set up a private military contracting company.

The ransom demanded by the militants is the same amount of money as that pledged in non-military aid for countries fighting IS by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a tour of the Middle East on Saturday.

Officials said that much of the $200m fund would be focused on helping refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria and in Iraq.

Cabinet Secretary Suga said on Thursday that the militants misunderstood Japan’s position.

“We wish not to fight against the world of Islam, we want to help the more than 10 million refugees in the region. This is humanitarian and non-military support. We want them to understand this, and free the hostages immediately,” he said.


Death of Saudi King Abdullah brings uncertain new era for US in Middle East


A former U.S. diplomat close to the Saudi royal family told Fox News Thursday that the death of the 90-year-old King, along with this week’s collapse of the U.S.-supported government in Yemen, was a “worst-case scenario” because it removed another obstacle to Iran expanding its reach in the region. The former diplomat said that Tehran’s influence could now be seen in four Middle Eastern capitals — Sana’a in Yemen, as well as Baghdad, Damascus, and to a lesser extent, Beirut. With the death of Abdullah, decision-making in Riyadh is likely to be more cautious on issues like Iran and Syria, former U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross told the Wall Street Journal.

Citing Saudi officials, the paper reports that King Abdullah became less fond of the U.S. in the final years of his reign. The king repeatedly pushed Obama to lend stronger backing to the rebels against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, against whom he bore a personal animus, and was reportedly furious when airstrikes threatened against Damascus by Obama in the summer of 2013 did not come to pass.

The officials also said that the late king took a dim view of ongoing talks between the U.S. and Iran over the latter nation’s nascent nuclear program, seeing it as a sign that Washington was more than willing to work behind its ally’s back.

King Abdullah’s death may also open up a bigger power vacuum in Riyadh than first believed. His successor, 79-year-old half-brother Prince Salman, had recently taken on some of the ailing Abdullah’s responsibilities.

Among the other decisions facing Salman is whether he will continue the country’s ongoing strategy of increased levels of oil production. The country produced 9.6 million barrels a day in January, according to Platts, the energy information division of McGraw Hill. That’s enough to satisfy 11 percent of global demand, despite a global price drop of nearly 60 percent since June.

The price of U.S. crude was up 88 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $47.19 a barrel in after-hours trading Thursday.

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