Posts Categorized: News

Reported sex assaults spike at military academies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Reported sexual assaults at the nation’s three military academies jumped by 23 percent overall this year, but the data signaled a continued reluctance by victims to seek criminal investigations.

One by one, shattered Newtown buries its dead

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A mourner carries a program as she leaves the funeral service of Victoria Soto at Lordship Community Church, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in Stratford, Conn. Soto was killed when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — One by one by one by one, each with fresh heartbreak, hearses crisscrossed two New England towns on Wednesday, bearing three tiny victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre and a heroic teacher in a seemingly never-ending series of funeral processions.


Reported sex assaults spike at military academies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A document obtained by The Associated Press shows that reported sexual assaults at the U.S. military’s three academies jumped by 23 percent this year, but the data signaled a continued reluctance by victims to seek criminal investigations.

Google to sell part of Motorola for $2.35 billion

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is selling Motorola Mobility’s TV set-top business for $2.35 billion, lightening the load that the Internet search leader took on earlier this year when it completed the biggest acquisition in its history.

Google to sell part of Motorola for $2.35 billion

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is selling Motorola Mobility’s TV set-top business for $2.35 billion, lightening the load that the Internet search leader took on earlier this year when it completed the biggest acquisition in its history.

US, China economies ‘inseparable’: China official

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The economies of China and the U.S. have become “interdependent and inseparable,” a top Chinese official said Wednesday after high-level trade talks which were being watched for signs of how the two powers will cooperate after their respective political transitions.

Funerals become a routine in shattered Newtown

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A child peers through firefighters standing as the procession heads to the cemetery outside the funeral for school shooting victim Daniel Gerard Barden at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, Conn., Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. According to firefighters, Daniel wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up and they honored him at the service. Barden, 7, was killed when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — One by one by one by one, each with fresh heartbreak, hearses crisscrossed two New England towns on Wednesday, bearing three tiny victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre and a heroic teacher in a seemingly never-ending series of funeral processions.

SKorea’s 1st woman leader vows new NKorea effort

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South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye of the ruling Saenuri Party burns incense during her visit to the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012. Park, daughter of a divisive military strongman from South Korea's authoritarian era, was elected the country's first female president Wednesday, a landmark win that could mean a new drive to start talks with rival North Korea. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, Pool)SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Park Geun-hye, daughter of a divisive military strongman from South Korea’s authoritarian era, has been elected the country’s first female president, a landmark win that could mean a new drive to start talks with rival North Korea.

Women square off in Vegas for Miss Universe crown

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Women from around the world squared off Wednesday night for the right to be called Miss Universe, as celebrity judges descended on the red carpet and brought some extra sparkle to the Las Vegas Strip.

State Dept security chief resigns after Benghazi

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File of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protestWASHINGTON (AP) — Four State Department officials resigned under pressure Wednesday, less than a day after a damning report blamed management failures for a lack of security at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, where militants killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans on Sept. 11.

U.S. soldier could face death penalty for Afghan killings

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SEATTLE (Reuters) – A decorated U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in two forays from his remote military camp was ordered to face a court martial before a military panel that could impose the death penalty if he is found guilty, the m…

U.S. diplomatic security chief resigns after Benghazi report

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department said on Wednesday that its head of diplomatic security had resigned and three other officials were relieved of their duties following a scathing official inquiry into the September 11 attack on the U.S. …

Officials: 31 people fired in Army daycare scandal

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WASHINGTON (AP) — At least 31 people were fired from two Army day care centers at Fort Myer, Va., last week after officials scrutinized their backgrounds and found criminal convictions ranging from fourth-degree sexual assault and drug use to other assaults, a defense official said Wednesday.

Armored backpacks and a rush on guns after Conn.

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The reaction to the Connecticut school shooting can be seen in gun stores and self-defense retailers across the nation: Anxious parents are fueling sales of armored backpacks for children while firearms enthusiasts are stocking up on assault rifles in …

Obama, Boehner clash as cliff edge approaches

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President Barack Obama pauses as he talks about the fiscal cliff negotiations during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 in Washington. Obama also announced that Vice President Joe Biden will lead an administration-wide effort to curb gun violence in response to the Connecticut school shooting. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)WASHINGTON (AP) — Fiscal cliff talks at a partisan standoff, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner swapped barbed political charges on Wednesday yet carefully left room for further negotiations on an elusive deal to head off year-end tax increases and spending cuts that threaten the national economy.

Senators write Sony, criticize ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The movie “Zero Dark Thirty” is misleading and “grossly inaccurate” in its suggestion that torture produced the tip that led the U.S. military to find terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, three senators said Wednesday in a letter to the head of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Strike looms at East and Gulf Coast ports

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In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, a truck driver watches as a freight container, right, is lowered onto a tractor trailer truck by a container crane at the Port of Boston, in Boston. The crane and a reach stacker, left, are operated by longshoremen at the port. The longshoremen's union may strike if they are unable to reach an agreement on their contract that expires Dec. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)BOSTON (AP) — Weeks after a critical West Coast port complex was crippled by a few hundred striking workers, the East Coast is bracing for a possible walkout numbering thousands that could close 15 ports from Massachusetts to Texas.

Report: SU athletics staffer under investigation

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — The media director for Syracuse University’s athletic department is no longer employed by the school and, according to a newspaper report, is being investigated by police.

YPF, Chevron sign Argentina shale pact

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s cash-strapped state energy company signed a partnership deal Wednesday with Chevron Corp. for a “massive development” of the South American country’s vast nonconventional oil and gas resources.

FBI: Escaped inmates took cab near Chicago jail

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This undated photo provided by the FBI shows , Kenneth Conley, left and Jose Banks two inmates who escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. Chicago Police Sgt. Michael Lazarro says their disappearance was discovered at about 8:45 Tuesday morning. Lazarro says the pair used a rope or bed sheets to climb from the building. (AP Photo/FBI,HOPD)CHICAGO (AP) — Two convicted bank robbers who pulled off a daring overnight escape from a high-rise Chicago jail had changed from their prison garb by the time they hopped into a cab near the lock-up, investigators said Wednesday as they expanded their manhunt for the men.

Fear keeps Egypt’s Christians away from polls

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In this Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 photo, towers of churches are silhouetted against the sun in the village of El-Aziyah near the city of Assiut, southern Egypt. After a campaign of intimidation by Islamists, most Christians in this southern Egyptian province were too afraid to participate in last week’s referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution they desperately oppose, residents say. Some of the few who dared try to reach polls were pelted by stones. The disenfranchising hikes Christians’ worries over their future under Egypt’s empowered Islamists, but some young members of the community are starting to push back.(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)ASSIUT, Egypt (AP) — A campaign of intimidation by Islamists left most Christians in this southern Egyptian province too afraid to participate in last week’s referendum on an Islamist-drafted constitution they deeply oppose, residents say. The disenfranchisement is hiking Christians’ worries over their future under empowered Muslim conservatives.

Venezuela VP hopes Chavez can be sworn in Jan. 10

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Street vendors work in front of a mural that reads "Chavez" regarding to Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. Chavez is recovering in Cuba from a surgery, his fourth operation related to his pelvic cancer since June 2011. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s vice president said on Wednesday that the government is still aiming for President Hugo Chavez to be sworn in for a new term as scheduled next month, saying his condition has been improving after his cancer surgery in Cuba.

Venezuela VP hopes Chavez can be sworn in Jan. 10

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Street vendors work in front of a mural that reads "Chavez" regarding to Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. Chavez is recovering in Cuba from a surgery, his fourth operation related to his pelvic cancer since June 2011. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s vice president said on Wednesday that the government is still aiming for President Hugo Chavez to be sworn in for a new term as scheduled next month, saying his condition has been improving after his cancer surgery in Cuba.

Watchdog: Fannie, Freddie may have lost over $3B

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal watchdog has found that government-controlled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may have lost more than $3 billion from big banks’ alleged rigging of a key interest rate.

U.S. “fiscal cliff” talks turn sour, Obama threatens veto

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the fiscal cliff to members of the media in the White House Briefing RoomWASHINGTON (Reuters) – Talks to avoid a U.S. fiscal crisis stalled on Wednesday as President Barack Obama accused opponents of holding a personal grudge against him while the top Republican negotiator called the president “irrational.” As a year-end deadline nears, Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner are locked in intense bargaining over a possible deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff of harsh tax hikes and automatic spending cuts that could badly damage an already weak economy. …

Shattered Newtown tries to make sense of tragedy

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NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — One by one by one by one, each with fresh heartbreak, hearses crisscrossed two New England towns on Wednesday, bearing three tiny victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre and a heroic teacher in a seemingly never-ending series of funeral processions.

Music, roses at singer Jenni Rivera’s memorial

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Fans mourn Jenni Rivera at a memorial televised a on giant television in Universal City in Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. The 43-year-old Rivera and six others died Dec. 9 in a crash that remained under investigation. Rivera sold more than 15 million copies of her 12 major-label albums. Her soulful singing style and honesty about her tumultuous personal life won her fans on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. She was also an actress and reality-TV star. (AP Photo/Damian DovarganesUNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. (AP) — Jenni Rivera’s “celestial graduation” was marked by festive music, heartfelt speeches in Spanish and English and passionate chants of “Jen-ni! Jen-ni!”

US Army seeks death penalty in 16 Afghan killings

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FILE - In this Aug. 23, 2011 file photo provided by Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 1st platoon sergeant, Blackhorse Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, participates in an exercise at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. The Army says it will seek the death penalty against Bales, accused of massacring 16 Afghan villagers during pre-dawn raids in March. The announcement Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 followed a pretrial hearing last month for Bales, who faces premeditated murder and other charges in the attack on two villages in southern Afghanistan. (AP Photo/DVIDS, Spc. Ryan Hallock, File)SEATTLE (AP) — The U.S. Army said Wednesday it will seek the death penalty against the soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a predawn rampage in March, a decision his lawyer called “totally irresponsible.”

Possible Hagel pick raises concerns in Senate GOP

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FILE - This Nov. 1, 2012, file photo shows former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel speaking in Omaha, Neb. President Barack Obama's possible pick of Republican Chuck Hagel to run the Pentagon raises serious concerns among some of his former Senate colleagues, who question his pronouncements on Iraq, Israel and the Middle East. The reservations publicly expressed by a few Republicans and even a Democrat hardly rival the unyielding GOP objections to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who withdrew from consideration last week for secretary of state in the face of relentless attacks mostly over her public statements about the Sept. 11 assault on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)President Barack Obama’s possible pick of Republican Chuck Hagel to run the Pentagon raises serious concerns among some of his former Senate colleagues, who question his pronouncements on Iraq, Israel and the Middle East.

UBS traders charged, bank fined $1.5 billion in Libor scandal

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ZURICH/NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors charged two former UBS traders on Wednesday with taking part in a multi-year scheme to manipulate Libor and other benchmark interest rates, making them the first individuals to be criminally accused in the i…

Mikulski becoming 1st woman to head Appropriations

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FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2012, file photo Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., left, with Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., speaks to a witness during a hearing, to examine Hurricane Sandy, focusing on response and recovery and progress and challenges on Capitol Hill in Washington. Mikulski is set to take over as the first woman to chair the prestigious Senate Appropriations Committee, a position left open this week by the death of Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye. The Maryland Democrat was first elected to the Senate in 1986 after serving 10 years in the House and last year became the longest-serving woman in Senate history. With her ascendancy to the chairmanship of Appropriations, she enters a male-dominated realm that in the past has had sweeping power in deciding how the federal dollar will be dispersed around the country. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski is set to become the first woman to chair the prestigious Senate Appropriations Committee, a position left open this week by the death of Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye.

Obama to send Congress gun proposals in January

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Vice President Joe Biden, left, listens as President Barack Obama announces that Biden will lead an administration-wide effort to curb gun violence in response to the Connecticut school shooting, during a news conference in the briefing room of the White House on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)WASHINGTON (AP) — Declaring the time for action overdue, President Barack Obama promised on Wednesday to send Congress broad proposals in January for tightening gun laws and curbing violence after last week’s schoolhouse massacre in Connecticut.

GOP proposes smaller, $24B Sandy aid package

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans on Wednesday proposed a $24 billion emergency aid package for Superstorm Sandy victims, less than half of what Democrats hope to pass by Christmas.

Changes in law aim to protect kids’ online data

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Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., left, and Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz, right, confer at the start of a meeting on the new Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, COPPA, which regulates Internet websites that collect information from children under the age of thirteen, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)WASHINGTON (AP) — Aiming to prevent companies from exploiting online information about children under 13, the Obama administration on Wednesday imposed sweeping changes in regulations designed to protect a young generation with easy access to the Internet.

New school to re-create the old for Newtown pupils

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A school bus rolls towards a memorial for victims of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. Classes resume Tuesday for Newtown schools except those at Sandy Hook. Buses ferrying students to schools were festooned with large green and white ribbons on the front grills, the colors of Sandy Hook. At Newtown High School, students in sweatshirts and jackets, many wearing headphones, betrayed mixed emotions. Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)MONROE, Conn. (AP) — When the children who survived a shooting that killed 20 of their classmates return to school in a different building, they’ll find things just as they left them Friday, down to the water bottles and boxes of crayons sitting on their desks.

Obama’s call for action against gun violence

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President Barack Obama stands with Vice President Joe Biden as he makes a statement Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, about policies he will pursue following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. Obama is tasking Vice President Joe Biden, a longtime gun control advocate, with spearheading the effort. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., obligates the nation to finally act to reduce gun violence. He’s outlined only a broad plan so far, leaving specific proposals until next month.

White House readies gun-control plan as more children laid to rest

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Mike Garbowski begins to erect a fence he built that will bear the names of all of those killed in the December 14 shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Sandy Hook village in NewtownNEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) – President Barack Obama assigned Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday to find ways to curtail gun violence in America to try to avoid tragedies like the elementary school massacre in Connecticut, where the town buried one of its heroes on Wednesday. With Newtown still in mourning from last Friday’s shooting, when a 20-year-old gunman shot dead 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School and then himself, Biden took the assignment to produce recommendations and to report back to Obama in time for the president’s State of the Union address in late January. …

Comparison of ‘fiscal cliff’ plans

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There are several competing plans to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” a one-two combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts. The GOP-controlled House is scheduled to vote Thursday on House Speaker John Boehner’s scaled-back “plan B” tax proposal …

Obama promises gun control action early next year

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama vowed to press for tighter gun laws early next year, as he sought to turn national outrage over the Connecticut school massacre into action to ban assault weapons and ensure better background checks on gun …

Texas governor asks cancer agency to halt grants

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A $3 billion cancer-fighting effort that’s already under criminal investigation received yet more humiliation Wednesday when Texas Gov. Rick Perry called for a moratorium on new grants until confidence is restored in a once-celebrated agency that has plunged into turmoil in just three years.

Capsule reviews of new movie releases

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This publicity film image released by Universal Pictures shows, from left, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann in a scene from the film, "This is 40." (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Suzanne Hanover)“Amour” — Michael Haneke takes a subject you don’t often see in movies and probably don’t even want to see — the slow, steady deterioration of an elderly woman — and handles it with great grace. The Austrian writer-director, who’s achieved a reputation for a certain mercilessness over the years through films like “Cache” and “Funny Games,” displays a surprising and consistent humanity here, and draws unadorned but lovely performances from his veteran stars, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. Haneke focuses on the intimate moments of their changing lives as the longtime married couple remains holed up in their comfortable Paris apartment, coping day to day, waiting for eventual death. It will surely strike a chord with anyone who’s watched a loved one slip away in this manner, whether it’s a parent or a spouse. But Haneke’s aesthetic can feel too stripped-down, too one-note in its dignified monotony. He will hold a shot, as we know, and once again he avoids the use of a score, so all that’s left to focus on is the insular, dreary stillness of quiet descent. Certainly minimalism is preferable to melodrama in telling this kind of story, but Haneke takes this approach to such an extreme that it’s often hard to maintain emotional engagement. PG-13 for mature thematic material including a disturbing act, and for brief language. In French with English subtitles. 125 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

IRS: 100M taxpayers face delays without AMT fix

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Up to 100 million taxpayers — about two-thirds of all filers — won’t be able to file their 2012 tax returns until late March if Congress doesn’t adjust the alternative minimum tax by the end of the year, the Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday.

After Newtown, a president unleashed

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U.S. President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, speaks to members of the media in the White House Briefing RoomWASHINGTON (Reuters) – Barack Obama came across like a president unleashed on Wednesday as he invoked the Connecticut shooting tragedy not only to address gun violence, but to tell Republicans to “peel off the partisan war paint,” accept that he won the election and get on with the job of averting a fiscal calamity. After Newtown, he suggested, the world looks different to him. Why not to everyone else? “Goodness,” he said, “if this past week has done anything, it should just give us some perspective. …

Latin Americans rank as happiest people on planet

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FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2012 file photo, children play in the water in Asuncion Bay, Paraguay. A poll released Wednesday of nearly 150,000 people around the world says seven of the world's 10 countries with the most upbeat attitudes are in Latin America. Gallup Inc. asked about 1,000 people in each of 148 countries last year if they were well-rested, had been treated with respect, smiled or laughed a lot, learned or did something interesting and felt feelings of enjoyment. In Panama and Paraguay, 85 percent of those polled said yes to all five, putting those countries at the top of the list. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz, File)MEXICO CITY (AP) — The world’s happiest people aren’t in Qatar, the richest country by most measures. They aren’t in Japan, the nation with the highest life expectancy. Canada, with its chart-topping percentage of college graduates, doesn’t make the top 10.

YPF, Chevron sign Argentina petroleum pact

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s cash-strapped state energy company signed a partnership deal Wednesday with Chevron Corp. for a “massive development” of the South American country’s vast nonconventional oil and gas resources.

Michael Douglas watches NY appeals fight over son

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FILE - In this April 27, 2009 file photo, Cameron Douglas, son of Michael Douglas, arrives at the premiere of the film "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" in Los Angeles. A lawyer for the son of actor Michael Douglas will try to convince a New York appeals court Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 that he should not have to spend a decade in prison for drug crimes. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Douglas was among spectators Wednesday as an appeals court panel heard attorneys argue whether his son was treated too harshly when he was sent to prison for nearly 10 years for drug crimes.

Michael Douglas watches NY appeals fight over son

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FILE - In this April 27, 2009 file photo, Cameron Douglas, son of Michael Douglas, arrives at the premiere of the film "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" in Los Angeles. A lawyer for the son of actor Michael Douglas will try to convince a New York appeals court Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012 that he should not have to spend a decade in prison for drug crimes. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Douglas was among spectators Wednesday as an appeals court panel heard attorneys argue whether his son was treated too harshly when he was sent to prison for nearly 10 years for drug crimes.

Getco buying Knight Capital in $1.4B deal

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NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly five months after a major software malfunction at Knight Capital roiled financial markets, the trading firm has agreed to sell itself to a competitor, Getco, in a cash-and-stock deal that the companies value at $1.4 billion.

Training under way for new nuclear plant operators

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In this Tuesday Dec. 11, 2012 photo, Daniel Ramirez works through a simulated emergency from the supervisor's console in the training simulator at Plant Vogtle in Augusta, Ga. Ramirez is training to become a licensed nuclear plant operator. Utility companies are preparing a new wave of workers to run first-of-their-kind nuclear plants, a process certain to influence how workers are trained on the new technology for decades to come. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)WAYNESBORO, Ga. (AP) — Utility companies are preparing a new wave of workers to run first-of-their-kind nuclear plants, a process certain to influence how workers are trained on the new technology for decades to come.

Affleck calls for stronger US leadership in Congo

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Ben Affleck, actor and founder of the Eastern Congo Initiative, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on the evolving security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)WASHINGTON (AP) — With an atypical audience — members of Congress — actor and director Ben Affleck read from a script with a pointed message: A desperate humanitarian situation in Congo requires a stronger display of U.S. leadership, and it will get worse without one.

Shooting renews argument over video-game violence

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This undated publicity image released by Activision shows soldiers and terrorists battling in the streets of Yemen in a scene from the video game, “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.” Video-game violence has come under increased scrutiny after the killing of 26 people, including 20 children, in a Connecticut elementary school last week. (AP Photo/Activision)WASHINGTON (AP) — In the days since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., a shell-shocked nation has looked for reasons. The list of culprits cited include easy access to guns, a strained mental-health system and the “culture of violence” — the entertainment industry’s embrace of violence in movies, TV shows and, especially, video games.

Report blames chaos, not cover-up, for BBC scandal

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Author of the Pollard Report Nick Pollard, speaks during a press conference in response to The Pollard Report at New Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London Wednesday Dec. 19, 2012. Institutional chaos and confusion, but not a cover-up, were to blame for the BBC's disastrous handling of pedophilia allegations involving one of its best-known children's television personalities, an internal review found Wednesday. The review, carried out by former Sky News boss Nick Pollard, absolved BBC executives of trying to bury a potentially embarrassing story, saying that weak management and poor leadership were to blame for the fact that a planned expose about the late TV star, Jimmy Savile, never aired on the flagship "Newsnight" program. (AP Photo/Chris Radburn/Pool)LONDON (AP) — A BBC review has absolved senior executives of trying to bury an explosive story about one of its best-known children’s television stars, saying management errors were to blame for the fact that a planned expose on pedophilia allegations against the late Jimmy Savile was canceled.

Hearing on voting rights turns partisan

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Senate Democrats and Republicans sparred Wednesday over whether voter ID laws, attempts to purge voter rolls and restricted early voting were legitimate efforts to stop fraud or mainly Republican strategies to hold down Democratic votes.

Obama calls Army secretary over day care scandal

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama called the Army secretary to express concerns over arrests and the discovery of problems with background checks at an Army day care center and to urge a speedy investigation, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

“Fiscal cliff” talks turn sour, Obama threatens veto

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the fiscal cliff to members of the media in the White House Briefing RoomWASHINGTON (Reuters) – Talks to avoid a fiscal crisis appeared to stall on Wednesday as President Barack Obama accused Republicans of digging in their heels due to a personal grudge against him, while a top Republican called the president “irrational.” As the clock ticks toward a year-end deadline, Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, are trying to reach a deal to avert harsh tax hikes and spending cuts that could trigger a recession. …

Israeli PM vows to build in Jerusalem despite criticism

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday his government would press ahead with expanding Jewish settlements around Jerusalem despite Western criticism of its plan to build 6,000 more homes in territory Palestini…

Cruz: Meeting Pinto family was “toughest by far”

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in this Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, photo, a shoe worn by New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz bears a message dedicated to 6-year-old Jack Pinto, one of the victims in last week's school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., as Cruz warms up for the Giants' NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — For much of his hour-long visit with the family of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Connecticut school shootings, Victor Cruz talked about football, life and young Jack, the child who idolized him.

U.S. soldier referred to court martial in Afghan killings

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SEATTLE (Reuters) – A decorated U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in two forays from his remote military camp has been referred to a court martial over the slayings as a capital case, the military said on Wednesday. No date has been s…

Rebels seize towns in central Syria

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Syrian refugees fleeing violence in their towns hang their laundry at their temporary home in a school at Tel AbyedBEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian rebels have captured at least six towns in the central province of Hama, activists say, in an operation aimed at putting pressure on President Bashar al-Assad from the north as insurgents close in on the capital from its southern suburbs. The rebel gains came as the United Nations on Wednesday launched what it said was its “largest short-term humanitarian appeal ever”, for $1.5 billion to help millions of Syrians suffering a “dramatically deteriorating” humanitarian situation. …

The happiest and saddest countries in the world

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Gallup Inc. asked roughly 1,000 people in each of 148 countries the following questions: Did you feel well-respected yesterday? Were you treated with respect all day yesterday? Did you laugh or smile a lot yesterday? Did you learn or do something inter…

Latin Americans most upbeat despite woes

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FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2012 file photo, children play in the water in Asuncion Bay, Paraguay. A poll released Wednesday of nearly 150,000 people around the world says seven of the world's 10 countries with the most upbeat attitudes are in Latin America. Gallup Inc. asked about 1,000 people in each of 148 countries last year if they were well-rested, had been treated with respect, smiled or laughed a lot, learned or did something interesting and felt feelings of enjoyment. In Panama and Paraguay, 85 percent of those polled said yes to all five, putting those countries at the top of the list. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz, File)MEXICO CITY (AP) — The world’s happiest people aren’t in Qatar, the richest country by most measures. They aren’t in Japan, the nation with the highest life expectancy. Canada, with its chart-topping percentage of college graduates, doesn’t make the top 10.

Stocks fall as sides snipe in ‘cliff’ talks

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Stocks dipped Wednesday, recording their first loss of the week. President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress sniped at each other, and a deadline to avoid sweeping tax increases and government spending cuts drew closer.

Final goodbye: Roll call of some who died in 2012

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FILE - In this April 20, 2002 file photo, Dick Clark, host of the American Bandstand television show, introduces entertainer Michael Jackson on stage during taping of the show's 50th anniversary special in Pasadena, Calif. Clark, the television host who helped bring rock `n' roll into the mainstream on "American Bandstand," died April 18, 2012 of a heart attack. He was 82. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)Neil Armstrong would always be taking that first step onto the moon, and Dick Clark was forever “the world’s oldest teenager.” Some of the notables who died in 2012 created images in our minds that remained unchanged over decades.

Russia gives initial OK to American adoption ban

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Police officers detain a protester near the State Duma, in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. People picket parliament's lower chamber, to protest against planned debate of an amendment that would ban Americans from adopting Russian children. The poster reads: Are orphans guilty of Magnitsky's death ? Stop putting shame on yourselves! Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who was arrested by the officials he accused of a $230 million tax fraud. He was repeatedly denied medical treatment and in 2009 died in jail. (AP Photo/Novaya Gazeta, Yevgeny Feldman)MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s parliament on Wednesday gave overwhelming preliminary approval to a measure banning Americans from adopting Russian children, a harsh retaliatory move against U.S. human rights legislation.

Giants’ Cruz calls Newtown visit a revelation

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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Reuters) – A visit with the grief-stricken family of a six-year-old victim from last week’s Connecticut elementary school massacre has left New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz looking at life through a different lens. The …