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Washington's Top News -- Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday - 8/20/2014, 6:55am  ET

Here's a look at some of the day's top stories from WTOP:

Floods force dramatic rescues in Phoenix area

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer says Tuesday's floods in her state ``looked absolutely devastating.''

The Phoenix area was battered by torrential rain storms Tuesday that caused severe flooding across the desert region. Rescuers across the state rushed to save people trapped in cars and homes.

One helicopter crew rescued two women and three dogs from a home surrounded by swift-moving waters in a town about 30 miles north of Phoenix.

U.S. officials: Beheading video authentic

A grisly video released Tuesday shows Islamic State militants beheading American journalist James Foley, U.S. officials said, in what the extremists called retribution for recent U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. The militants threatened to kill another captive they also identified as an American journalist. Separately, Foley's family confirmed his death in a statement posted on a Facebook page that was created to rally support for his release, saying they "have never been prouder of him."

Hostage standoff in south Chicago

Two adults and two children are still being held in a home in suburban Illinois by two men who are armed. The men had been holding four other children, but they released them Tuesday.

The hostage situation began when the two men, suspected of breaking into a home Tuesday afternoon, fled from police following an exchange of gunfire, and then ran into another house in Harvey, Illinois. The gunfire left two officers wounded.

US changing no-fly list rules

The Obama administration is promising to change the way travelers can ask to be removed from its no-fly list of suspected terrorists banned from air travel.

The decision comes after a federal judge's ruling that there was no meaningful way to challenge the designation, a situation deemed unconstitutional. In response, the Justice Department said the U.S. will change the process during the next six months. As of late last summer, about 48,000 people were on the no-fly list.

The no-fly list is one of the government's most controversial post-9/11 counterterrorism programs because of its lack of due process, long criticized because people cannot know why they were placed on the list and lack an effective way to fight the decision.

Holder gets ready to visit Ferguson

Attorney General Eric Holder is promising a thorough investigation into the fatal police shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Holder travels to the St. Louis suburb Wednesday to meet with FBI and other officials carrying out an independent federal investigation. Meanwhile, Tuesday brought another night of protests in Ferguson.

Planting the seeds of baseball -- and more -- in D.C.

The Taney Dragons, from Philadelphia, and their tear through the Little League World Series led by female pitcher Mo'Ne Davis is the best sports story of the summer, WTOP's Noah Frank writes -- not least because it's an inner-city team succeeding in a sport that's more and more dominated by kids who can afford travel leagues and special coaching.

In D.C., youth baseball is fading, but an academy sponsored by the Washington Nationals is looking not only to teach the game but give the kids the opportunities and connections that can help them succeed in the classroom as well. On WTOP's Sports page, find out how the program works and which Nationals star is most involved, and learn their definition of success.

The best of the rest of D.C. Beer Week

We've still got a few days left to enjoy the frenzy of tap takeovers, tastings, dinners and panels that is D.C.'s annual Beer Week, and there are still so many events that you could never make it to all of them. On WTOP's Living page, beer contributor Rob Fink lays out the events not to miss before Beer Week ends on Sunday.

The most stolen cars in the region

This is a top-10 list you don't want your car to be on: The National Insurance Crime Bureau has released its annual Hot Wheels report, detailing the region's most stolen vehicles in 2013. On WTOP's Tech page, we've broken the data down to show the cars that crooks targeted most in the District, Maryland and Virginia, with photos of the most commonly stolen vehicles in each area.

Take your pick: The fall's new TV shows

As August winds down, the new season's TV shows are gearing up, and this year's crop features everything from crime fighting feds to virginal moms-to-be. On WTOP's Entertainment page, have a look at descriptions of the networks' new offerings.

111-year-old from Japan recognized as oldest man

A 111-year-old retired educator from Japan who enjoys poetry has been recognized as the world's oldest living man.

Sakari Momoi received a certificate from Guinness World Records today. He succeeds Alexander Imich of New York, who died in April at the age of 111 years, 164 days. The world's oldest living person is also Japanese: Misao Okawa, a 116-year-old woman from Osaka.

Momoi was born Feb. 5, 1903, and worked as a teacher and a high school principal. He says he enjoys reading books, especially Chinese poetry. He has five children and now lives at a nursing home in Tokyo.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

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