AP News in Brief at 4:58 a.m. EST

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Associated Press

Posted on February 11, 2013 at 7:01 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 11 at 7:02 AM

Anxiety abounds amid LA-area search for fugitive ex-police officer; $1 million reward offered

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — The search for a fugitive ex-police officer wanted in the slayings of three people took police to a San Fernando Valley home improvement store and to the home of a possible target in a quiet Southern California suburb.

Also, authorities have set a $1 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Christopher Dorner and small towns remained on edge from the din of police helicopters and cruisers staking out schools.

Authorities have been working to protect dozens of families in the area considered targets based on Christopher Dorner's Facebook rant against those he held responsible for ending his career with the Los Angeles Police Department five years ago.

Among those the 33-year-old Dorner is suspected of killing is a Riverside police officer, and on the fourth day of the manhunt, authorities put up a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture.

"Our dedication to catch this killer remains steadfast. Our confidence remains unshaken," Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said at a news conference alongside police chiefs and mayors from Irvine and Riverside. "We will not tolerate this reign of terror."

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After digging out, Northeast residents look to work, school but face closings, travel limits

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — As electricity returns and highways reopen, Northeast residents are getting back to their weekday routines following the massive snowstorm that had millions digging out from New York to Maine.

But the routine for some New Englanders will be disrupted by school and workplace closings, while residents of New York's Long Island anticipate the reopening of a major roadway. For some there's also a new worry: the danger of roof collapses as rain and warmer weather melts snow.

The storm that slammed into the region with up to 3 feet of snow was blamed for at least 15 deaths in the Northeast and Canada, and brought some of the highest accumulations ever recorded. Still, coastal areas were largely spared catastrophic damage despite being lashed by strong waves and hurricane-force wind gusts at the height of the storm.

Hundreds of people, their homes without heat or electricity, were forced to take refuge in emergency shelters set up in schools or other places. But by early Monday, outages had dropped to 149,970 — more than 126,000 of them in Massachusetts.

"For all the complaining everyone does, people really came through," said Rich Dinsmore, 65, of Newport, R.I., who was staying at a Red Cross shelter set up in a middle school in Middletown after the power went out in his home on Friday.

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Former Pentagon chief says lawmakers should have oversight of drone strikes against al-Qaida

WASHINGTON (AP) — Robert Gates, a former defense secretary and spymaster, is backing lawmakers' proposal to form a special court to review President Barack Obama's deadly drone strikes against Americans linked to al-Qaida.

Gates, who led the Pentagon for Presidents George W. Bush and Obama and previously served as the Central Intelligence Agency's director, said Obama's use of the unmanned drones follows tight rules. But he shares lawmakers' wariness over using the unmanned aircraft to target al-Qaida operatives and allies.

"I think that the rules and the practices that the Obama administration has followed are quite stringent and are not being abused. But who is to say about a future president?" Gates said in an interview broadcast Sunday.

The use of remote-controlled drones — Obama's weapon of choice to strike al-Qaida with lethal missiles in places such as Pakistan and Yemen — earned headlines last week as lawmakers contemplated just how much leeway an American president should have in going after the nation's enemies, including its own citizens.

"We are in a different kind of war. We're not sending troops. We're not sending manned bombers. We're dealing with the enemy where we find them to keep America safe. We have to strike a new constitutional balance with the challenges we face today," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

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Mumford & Sons, Gotye, fun. and Black Keys win big at divergent Grammy Awards

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Grammys spread the love.

Fun., who anthemic and semi-dark jam dominated the charts in 2012, was named song of the year. Gotye's massive and oddball pop hit, "Somebody I Used to Know," picked up record of the year. And folk-rockers Mumford & Sons won album of the year for their platinum-selling "Babel."

Fun. also won best new artist, besting Frank Ocean in an upset.

The recording academy had a clear message at its 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night: There are a lot of top acts today with both mainstream appeal and an edge to their music, and the academy was happy to reward them all.

"One after the other, it was like, 'And the Black Keys...,' so I think we just sort of resigned ourselves to like, last year was Adele's year and this year would be the Black Keys," said lead singer Marcus Mumford, who thought his band would lose album of the year to the Black Keys.

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China's patience wearing thin as North Korea plans another nuclear test

DANDONG, China (AP) — China's patience with North Korea is wearing thin, and a widely-expected nuclear test by the latter could bring that frustration to a head.

Beijing signaled its growing unhappiness by agreeing to tightened U.N. sanctions after North Korea launched a rocket in December, surprising China watchers with its unusually tough line, which prompted harsh criticism from Pyongyang.

And while China isn't expected to abandon its communist neighbor, it appears to be reassessing ties a year after new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took office. The question is for how long China, itself under new leader Xi Jinping, will continue to back North Korea's nettlesome policies.

"Perhaps Kim Jong Un thinks Xi Jinping will indulge him. Perhaps he's in for a surprise," said Richard Bush, Director of the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C.

China is feeling spurned by Kim. Although China welcomed his ascension after his father died in December 2011 and maintained flows of aid and investment, Kim has ignored China's interests in a stable neighborhood with his two rocket launches and nuclear test plan. North Korea announced last month it would conduct a test to protest the toughened U.N. sanctions.

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Governance by presidential directive is on the move, no Congress required, in Obama's 2nd term

WASHINGTON (AP) — This is what "Forward" looks like. Fast forward, even.

President Barack Obama's campaign slogan is springing to life in a surge of executive directives and agency rule-making that touch many of the affairs of government. They are shaping the cost and quality of health plans, the contents of the school cafeteria, the front lines of future combat, the price of coal. They are the leading edge of Obama's ambition to take on climate change in ways that may be unachievable in legislation.

Altogether, it's a kinetic switch from what could have been the watchword of the Obama administration in the closing, politically hypersensitive months of his first term: pause.

Whatever the merits of any particular commandment from the president or his agencies, the perception of a government expanding its reach and hitting business with job-killing mandates was sure to set off fireworks before November.

Since Obama's re-election, regulations giving force and detail to his health care law have gushed out by the hundreds of pages. To some extent this was inevitable: The law is far-reaching and its most consequential deadlines are fast approaching.

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Rewards, risks for gun victims' relatives advocating for stricter gun control laws

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bill Sherlach just said "no."

Washington officials fighting over gun control invited him to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night in the House chamber.

Sherlach, whose wife, Mary, was killed in the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, declined.

He said that rather than be the nationally televised face of tragedy, he prefers working within a group that wants the gun issue addressed as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce violence. He wants to work with Sandy Hook Promise, a group that deals with more than just gun control. Mary Sherlach was the Sandy Hook Elementary School psychologist.

Sherlach, who said he had other obligations the day of the speech, explained he also didn't want to be part of the heated rift over gun control that politics and dueling news conferences seem to inflame.

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HEALTHBEAT: Medicare crackdown spurs innovative fixes to slow hospital readmissions epidemic

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michael Lee knew he was still in bad shape when he left the hospital five days after emergency heart surgery. But he was so eager to escape the constant prodding and the roommate's loud TV that he tuned out the nurses' care instructions.

"I was really tired of Jerry Springer," the New York man says ruefully. "I was so anxious to get out that it sort of overrode everything else that was going on around me."

He's far from alone: Missing out on critical information about what to do at home to get better is one of the main risks for preventable rehospitalizations.

"There couldn't be a worse time, a less receptive time, to offer people information than the 11 minutes before they leave the building," said readmissions expert Dr. Eric Coleman of the University of Colorado in Denver.

Hospital readmissions are miserable for patients, and a huge cost — more than $17 billion a year in avoidable Medicare bills alone — for a nation struggling with the price of health care.

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Sharing hashtags, photos: Getting snowed in, in the age of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) — The East Coast woke up under a blanket of snow this weekend and collectively documented the experience on the myriad social and mobile inventions of the past decade. Facebook, Twitter and other technologies make it increasingly difficult to stay isolated —even if you're stuck home alone.

"The funny thing is that I actually checked my Instagram feed before I even looked out my own window," says Eric Witz, who lives in Medford, Mass.

On Saturday, Witz posted a photo of his car stuck under a "6-foot-high snow drift". "I always have my phone on me. So checking these things is something I do instinctively when I wake up," he says. "That probably makes me a sad social media cliché, but it's the truth."

As Northeasterners posted photo after photo of kids sledding in Central Park and suburbanites conquering Mt. Snowmore with their shovels, West Coast wags teased with tweets of sunshine and snapshots of palm trees.

Call it what you will: The Hashtag Snowstorm, the latest Snowpocalypse or Snowtorious B.I.G. The weekend whiteout was a lifetime away from the blizzard of 1978, a world not just without social media but one devoid of endless Weather Channel warnings and the lifeline of mobile phones. Even the last two years have upended the way we receive information. We've moved from text to photos and videos taken on smart phones and we can't let go.

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With March Madness weeks off, college basketball hit with a jolt of February Frenzy

There were eight losses for six top-10 teams. No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 all went down. A total of 14 schools in the Top 25 had at least one loss.

All in one wild week for college basketball.

"It's a crazy season, man," Illinois forward Tyler Griffey said. "It is a crazy, crazy season."

No kidding.

Six Top 25 teams lost on Saturday alone, including two of the top five. When the next Associated Press poll comes out Monday, it likely will have a new No. 1 for the sixth straight week — marking the second-longest such streak since the first rankings in 1949.

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