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100 US troops sent to Niger to set up drone base

About 100 American troops have been deployed to the African nation of Niger, where a U.S. defense official said they would be setting up a drone base for surveillance missions.

President Obama announced the deployment Friday in a letter to Congress, saying that the forces “will provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region.”

The drone base will allow the U.S. to give France more intelligence on the militants. Over time, it could extend the reach not only of American intelligence-gathering but also that of U.S. special operations missions to strengthen Niger’s own security forces.

Pistorius released from court on bail

Oscar Pistorius walked out of court Friday – free at least for now – after a South African magistrate released him on bail, capping four days of often startling testimony that foreshadowed a dramatic trial in the Valentine’s Day slaying of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder, and even Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair expressed doubts about his story that he mistook the 29-year-old model for an intruder and fired out of fear.

Probe uncovers BBC ex-presenter scandal

The host of the British Broadcasting Corp.’s “Newsnight” program said it was well-known that former “Top of the Pops” presenter Jimmy Savile had a penchant for young girls.

It was “common gossip that Jimmy Savile liked, you know, young – it was always assumed to be girls,” Jeremy Paxman said, according to transcripts published Friday by Britain’s publicly funded broadcaster. His interview was part of a probe that examined why “Newsnight” didn’t air a report in 2011 about allegations of Savile’s sexual abuse.

Savile, known for his charity work with children, is accused of sexually abusing kids in care homes, hospitals and on BBC property.


Fight may have led to gunbattle, crash

Kenny Cherry was an aspiring rapper who had moved from the Bay Area to Las Vegas to pursue his career. His music videos online show him cruising the Strip in his Maserati.

Michael Boldon was a family man and taxi driver who hailed from Michigan and loved fast cars.

The two men’s lives – along with that of an unidentified passenger in Boldon’s cab – ended in violence normally seen only in movies: gunfire, a fiery crash and an explosion before dawn Thursday on the neon-lit Las Vegas Strip.

Investigators Friday tried to find the gunman in a black Range Rover SUV who triggered the shocking chain of events. Police think an argument at the valet area of the upscale Aria resort-casino led to the shooting, but they haven’t shared details.

Bids fall short for Iwo Jima statue

A long-forgotten World War II statue expected to sell for close to $2 million has been passed on by buyers at a New York City auction.

Bonhams Maritime Art Department sales specialist Gregg Dietrich says an original cast of the famous 1945 flag-raising at Iwo Jima went unsold Friday. Three potential buyers stopped the bidding at $950,000, below the undisclosed minimum sale price.

Peterson transferred to Illinois prison

Less than 24 hours after screaming out his innocence in court, Drew Peterson was transferred to an Illinois prison to begin serving his 38-year sentence for the murder of this third wife.

The former suburban Chicago police officer, whose case attracted widespread media attention and inspired a TV movie, entered the maximum-security Stateville prison outside Joliet early Friday. Prison officials said he could eventually be moved after an evaluation period.

A judge sentenced him Thursday for the 2004 drowning death of his fourth wife, Kathleen Savio.