Sunday, February 10, 2013

Published:

Sen. Graham threatens to delay Obama's nominees for defense, CIA because of Libya attack

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A leading Republican senator said Sunday he would hold up Senate confirmation of President Barack Obama's nominees to head the Pentagon and the CIA until the White House provided more answers about the Sept. 11 attack against a U.S. installation in Benghazi, Libya.

The White House took aim at South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a persistent critic of Obama's response to the terrorist assault, by urging quick approval of the president's second-term national security team and scolding any lawmakers trying to "play politics" with critical nominations.

Graham accused the White House of "stonewalling" requests to release more information about the attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. "We're going to get to the bottom of Benghazi," he told CBS' "Face the Nation."

A Democratic colleague branded Graham's threat to stall the nominations of former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., to be defense secretary and John Brennan, Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, to be CIA director as "unprecedented and unwarranted." Senators should have the chance to vote on the fate of those nominees, said Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

The White House did not address Graham's demand for more information, but did note that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified Thursday before Congress about the chaotic day of the Sept. 11 attack.

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Grammys start out fun for song of year winner fun.; The Black Keys are early leaders with 4

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Talk about having fun at the Grammy Awards.

Fun. won two major awards midway through the Sunday night's telecast, winning song of the year for the transcendent anthem "We Are Young," featuring Janelle Monae, and best new artist in something of an upset over Frank Ocean.

"I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote the chorus to this song," lead singer Nate Ruess, 30, joked. "This is in HD, everyone can see our faces, and we are not very young."

Fun.'s run -- and a surprising victory by Gotye for record of the year -- took some of the luster off Ocean's evening, but there's no question all eyes were on him as he won two awards and blew up Twitter. Only Chris Brown, with whom Ocean scuffled last month, remained seated as the 25-year-old R&B winner walked to the stage during a standing ovation. Ocean beat Brown, who attended with girlfriend Rihanna, for the urban contemporary album award that both were nominated for.

Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys appeared headed to an overall win on music's biggest night with four wins, including producer of the year.

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10 Things to Know for Monday

1. ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS MENACE NORTHERN MALI AGAIN

Armed with automatic rifles, they launch surprise attack on Gao two weeks after French and Malian troops ousted jihadists.

2. THE CRITICAL TRANSITION FOR NEW US COMMANDER IN AFGHANISTAN

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AP Photos: Warning or no, Grammy Awards red carpet features plenty of skin

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A warning not to show too much skin didn't seem to deter the stars out Sunday for the Grammy Awards.

Jennifer Lopez was among those showing off thigh-high -- or higher -- openings in their dresses. Katy Perry showed down-to-there cleavage in a seafoam gown.

CBS put out a memo earlier in the week asking that "buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered" for the televised award show. The memo sent out Wednesday also warned against "see-through clothing," exposure of "the genital region" and said that "thong type costumes are problematic."

"As you can see, I read the memo," Lopez joked as she took the stage.

Miranda Lambert revealed some leg on the red carpet and laughed about the guidelines.

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Officials: Storms do significant damage in Hattiesburg, Miss. after passing along main road

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) -- A tornado tore through Hattiesburg on Sunday as part of a wave of severe storms that downed trees, damaged buildings and injured more than a dozen people.

The twister traveled down one of Hattiesburg's main streets and mangled homes, commercial buildings and structures on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. Emergency officials said at least 10 people were injured in surrounding Forrest County and three were hurt to the west in Marion County, but they weren't aware of any deaths.

Mississippi Emergency Management Agency spokesman Greg Flynn said it appears that a single tornado caused the damage in those two counties and Lamar County. Hundreds of homes are damaged in Forrest County, along with a couple dozen in the other two.

Flynn said the sheer scope of the damage was slowing the assessment of damage.

"The problem is, it was so strong that there's so much debris that there's a lot of areas they haven't been able to get to yet," he said.

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Search for fugitive ex-police officer sets region on edge; authorities offer $1 million reward

IRVINE, Calif. (AP) -- Police blocked off a street and stood guard in front of a home in a typically quiet Southern California suburb Sunday, protecting a man they believe has been targeted by a fugitive ex-police officer suspected of killing three people and setting the region on edge by eluding authorities in a sprawling manhunt that has lasted days.

Irvine residents, meanwhile, were left to adjust to life in the midst of a heavy police presence and wonder when things might return to normal.

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.

"We will not tolerate this reign of terror," said LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

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Travel improves in Northeast after powerful blizzard, but many remain without power

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) -- Travel eased and life slowly returned to normal for most New Englanders after a massive blizzard, but many remained without power in cold and darkened homes and a forecast of rain brought a new worry: Weight piling up dangerously on roofs already burdened by heavy 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.

"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.

Dinsmore, who has emphysema, was first brought by ambulance to a hospital after the medical equipment he relies on failed when the power went out and he had difficulty breathing.

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Islamic extremists stage surprise attack on key Malian city, combat gov't troops

GAO, Mali (AP) -- Black-robed Islamic extremists armed with AK-47 automatic rifles invaded Gao in wooden boats Sunday to launch a surprise attack on the most populous city in northern Mali, two weeks after French and Malian troops ousted the jihadists.

Gunfire echoed for hours across the city of mud-walled buildings. The combat started at about 2 p.m. in downtown Gao and the fighting was continuing as night fell. Later the sound of gunfire was replaced by the clattering of French military helicopters overhead.

The attack in Gao shows the Islamic fighters, many of them well-armed and with combat experience, are determined and daring and it foreshadows a protracted campaign by France and other nations to restore government control in this vast Saharan nation in northwest Africa.

The Islamic radicals fought against the Malian army throughout the afternoon and were seen roaming the narrow streets blanketed in sand and on rooftops in the center of Gao, which had a population of 90,000 before the conflict caused thousands to flee.

Families hid in their homes. One family handed plastic cups of water through the locked iron gate to others hiding on their patio. Piles of onions lay unattended where market women fled when the Islamists arrived. There were no signs of civilian casualties.

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Hospital treats and releases 3 of 4 wounded in Bourbon Street shooting

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Gunshots erupted in a crowd of bead-wearing, drink-carrying late-night revelers on Bourbon Street during the countdown to Mardi Gras, wounding four people and sending bystanders running and screaming. Hours later on Sunday, though, the same stretch was packed with partiers who said they weren't letting the violence dampen their fun.

In a video taken by a witness Saturday night and released the next day, the shootings are preceded by footage of people standing shoulder to shoulder in New Orleans' famed tourist district, with some holding green plastic cups and wearing gaudy hats or masks. A section of the frame highlighted by police shows people jostling and speaking with angry expressions.

Police said in an email that the video depicts an argument involving one of the shooting victims and the suspects. Two men are seen leaving the argument and returning with a third, then approaching the victim as at least one of the suspects begins shooting, according to police. Four shots are heard in rapid succession, followed by screams as some in the crowd stagger into one another and a nearby wall. A man whom police identified as one of the suspects is shown walking through the crowd with his arm extended as the gunshots are heard, though it's difficult to make out a weapon.

Police said Sunday that they were seeking the three men and that they've identified one suspect, but won't release the name.

The shootings wounded two men and two women, three of whom were treated and released Sunday. One man hit in the abdomen, thigh and pelvis was in stable condition Sunday after surgery the previous night, New Orleans Police spokesman Hilal Williams said.

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Record-setting LeBron: James scores 32, Wade adds 30 and Heat top Lakers 107-97

MIAMI (AP) -- LeBron James ran a few steps behind the play, knowing exactly what was coming. The lob from Norris Cole arrived, and the NBA's reigning MVP rose for a catch and dunk.

He made it look easy.

He's making everything look easy right now.

James scored 32 points on 12-for-18 shooting in a record-setting show, Dwyane Wade scored 30 and the Miami Heat beat the Los Angeles Lakers 107-97 on Sunday for their fifth straight win.

It was James' fifth straight game with at least 30 points, a franchise record. He also joined Adrian Dantley (1979) and Moses Malone (1982) as the only NBA players to score at least 30 and shoot at least 60 percent in five straight outings, the team said.