Sunday, February 12, 2012

Published:

Adele emerges top winner at Grammys with 6; ties Beyonce for most wins by a woman

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Adele, who captured the world's heart with an album about a broken romance, emerged as the top winner at Sunday's Grammy Awards, winning six trophies including the prestigious trifecta of record, song and album of the year.

The singer, who also made a triumphant comeback from vocal cord surgery on the Grammy stage, sobbed as she won the night's final award, album of the year, for "21." It was last year's top-selling album with more than six million copies sold and remains lodged at the No. 1 spot on this year's charts.

Her victories tied her with Beyonce as the most wins by a woman in one evening.

"Mom, gold is good!" Adele shouted as she took the album of the year trophy.

The celebration of Adele, a big-voiced, soulful singer, came on a night where the Grammys marked the loss of one of music's great female voices -- and one of its most prized talents overall. Whitney Houston died the night before the Grammys, casting a shadow over music's biggest night.

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Investigators seek answers to death of Whitney Houston as music industry gathers for Grammys

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Investigators worked Sunday to piece together what killed Whitney Houston as the music industry's biggest names gathered for a Grammy Awards show that at times felt as much like a memorial as a celebration.

Coroner's officials say they will not release any information on an autopsy performed Sunday at the request of police detectives investigating the singer's death. The singer was found in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, but Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter declined to say anything more about the room's condition or any evidence investigators recovered.

He said there were no obvious signs of trauma on Houston's body, but that officials were not ruling out any causes of death until they have toxicology results, which will take weeks to obtain.

Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mark Rosen said that his agency may release more details Monday about Houston's death, but it will depend on whether detectives feel comfortable releasing any information.

A member of Houston's entourage found the 48-year-old singer unresponsive in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, just hours before she was supposed to appear at a pre-Grammy gala.

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Greece's parliament passes new austerity deal amid riots that engulf central Athens

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greek lawmakers on Monday approved harsh new austerity measures demanded by bailout creditors to save the debt-crippled nation from bankruptcy, after riots in Athens and other cities left stores looted and burned and more than 120 people hurt.

The historic vote paves the way for Greece's European partners and the International Monetary Fund to release $170 billion (€130 billion) in new rescue loans, without which Greece would default on its mountain of debt next month and likely leave the eurozone -- a scenario that would further roil global markets.

Lawmakers voted 199-74 in favor of the cutbacks, despite strong dissent among the two main coalition members.

In response, the Socialists and conservatives expelled 22 and 21 lawmakers, respectively, reducing their majority in the 300-seat parliament from 236 to 193.

Violence was also reported in six other cities, the worst in central Volos where the town hall and a tax office were damaged by fire, police said.

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Al-Qaida leader backs Syrian revolt; move likely to complicate int'l efforts against Assad

BEIRUT (AP) -- Al-Qaida's leader has called for the ouster of Syria's "pernicious, cancerous regime," raising fears that Islamic extremists will try to exploit an uprising against President Bashar Assad that began with peaceful calls for democratic change but is morphing into a bloody, armed insurgency.

The regime has long blamed terrorists for the 11-month-old revolt, and al-Qaida's endorsement creates new difficulties for the U.S., its Western allies and Arab states trying to figure out a way to help force Assad from power. On Sunday, the 22-nation Arab League called for the U.N. Security Council to create a joint peacekeeping force for Syria, but Damascus rejected it immediately.

In an eight-minute video message released late Saturday, al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri called on Muslims to support Syrian rebels.

"Wounded Syria is still bleeding day after day, and the butcher (Bashar Assad) isn't deterred and doesn't stop," said al-Zawahri, who took over al-Qaida after Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces last May. "However, the resistance of our people in Syria is escalating and growing despite all the pains, sacrifices and blood."

The United Nations estimates more than 5,400 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March. But that figure is from January, when the U.N. stopped counting because the chaos in the country has made it all but impossible to check the figures.

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Top Republican calls for legislation exempting any organization from birth control mandate

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Conservatives said Sunday the flap surrounding President Barack Obama's birth control mandate was far from over, with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell saying he'll push to overturn the requirement because it was another example of government meddling.

While a senior White House official shrugged off such remarks, declaring the issue resolved and new legislation unlikely, the heated rhetoric from Republicans suggested the GOP would try to keep the debate alive in an election year to rally conservatives and seize upon voter frustration with big government.

"It's riddled with constitutional problems," McConnell said of Obama's broader health-care plan. "And this is what happens when the government tries to take over health care and tries to interfere with your religious beliefs."

Last week, Obama backed down on a mandate that religious-affiliated employers such as Catholic hospitals and colleges cover birth control in their health insurance plans. In a tweak of the rule, those employees would be offered free coverage directly from their health insurer. But employers would not provide or pay for it.

The White House says the plan won't drive up costs because birth control, similar to other preventative care measures, is less expensive than pregnancy. But opponents say that unless drug makers stop charging for contraception, the cost is likely to get passed on to employers regardless.

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Santorum plans aggressive strategy against Romney in Michigan as GOP race takes a break

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- A day after Mitt Romney regained some momentum in the Republican presidential contest, his rival Rick Santorum went on the attack, calling the front-runner "desperate" while promising to compete aggressively to win the state where Romney grew up.

Santorum said Sunday he could do "exceptionally well" in Michigan, where Romney's father served as governor. The Midwestern state and Arizona host Republican presidential nominating contests on Feb. 28.

"We're going to spend a lot of time in Michigan and Arizona, and those are up next. And that's where we've really been focusing on," Santorum told ABC's "This Week." He suggested that a strong showing in those contests would make the presidential contest "a two-man race," dismissing current rivals Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.

Santorum shrugged off his third-place finish Saturday in caucuses in Maine, where he didn't actively compete, as well as his second-place finish in a straw poll of conservative activists.

Romney has been painting Santorum as a long-time Washington insider who pursued home-state projects. Santorum on Sunday described Romney's recent criticism as "desperate."

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Even before Obama's 2013 budget gets to Congress, Republicans say it repeats failed policies

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The new budget that President Barack Obama is sending to Congress aims to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade by restraining government spending and raising taxes on the wealthy. To help a weak economy, Obama's proposal Monday requests increases in transportation, education and other areas.

While administration officials on Sunday defended the plan as a balanced approach, Republicans belittled the effort as a repeat of failed policies that did too little to attack soaring costs in such programs as Medicare and threatened growth by raising taxes.

The debate is almost certain to go all the way to Election Day in November with gridlock keeping Congress from resolving many pressing issues on expiring tax cuts and across-the-board spending cuts until a lame-duck session at year's end.

Obama's spending blueprint for the budget year that begins Oct. 1 projects a deficit for this year of $1.33 trillion. That would mean four straight years of trillion-dollar-plus deficits.

The budget will project a decline in the deficit to $901 billion in 2013 and continued improvements shrinking the deficit to $575 billion in 2018.

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Venezuela's opposition chooses youthful governor to challenge Chavez in presidential election

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Youthful state governor Henrique Capriles won Venezuela's first-ever opposition presidential primary Sunday by a wide margin, emerging as the single candidate who will try to end President Hugo Chavez's 13 years in power.

Capriles, the 39-year-old governor of Miranda state who describes himself as a center-left progressive, faces a tough task in ousting Chavez, a charismatic campaigner with a loyal following and the full powers of the state to back his candidacy in Oct. 7 elections.

Opposition election chief Teresa Albanes announced the preliminary results, saying that Capriles won about 62 percent of the vote, beating Zulia state Gov. Pablo Perez by a margin of more than 30 percentage points.

Chavez's opponents lined up to vote in many areas, surpassing most expectations with a turnout of about 2.9 million ballots cast out of Venezuela's 18 million registered voters.

Capriles had been the front-runner in pre-election polls among five contenders, presenting a younger, energetic alternative to the 57-year-old Chavez, who has recently battled cancer.

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Texas woman has labor induced so husband dying of complications from chemo can see daughter

DALLAS (AP) -- Diane Aulger was about two weeks from her delivery date when she and her husband decided there was no time to wait: Mark Aulger had only days to live, and he wanted to see his child.

Diane Aulger had her labor induced and gave birth to their daughter Jan. 18. When tiny Savannah was placed in his arms, Mark Aulger "cried, and he just looked very sad," his wife said. He died five days later from complications related to his cancer treatment.

The 52-year-old Texas man was diagnosed with colon cancer in April. He had surgery and, as a precaution, six months of chemotherapy, Diane Aulger said. With no signs of cancer showing up in follow up tests, the treatment seemed successful.

Then in November, Mark Aulger began having trouble breathing. By Jan. 3, he was sick enough to go to the emergency room. His wife said he was told the chemotherapy had caused him to develop pulmonary fibrosis, which causes scarring and thickening in the lungs.

Initially, the Aulgers were hopeful.

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Red Wings top Flyers 4-3 and match NHL record shared by 2 teams with 20th straight win at home

DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Red Wings equaled an NHL record with their 20th straight win at home, beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 Sunday night on the strength of Johan Franzen's tiebreaking goal early in the third period.

The league mark was set by the Boston Bruins during the 1929-30 season and matched by Philadelphia in 1976. Detroit can break the record with a win Tuesday night over the Dallas Stars at Joe Louis Arena.

Philadelphia rookie Brayden Schenn had a career-high two goals, helping the Flyers take the first of two leads they couldn't keep against a team that hasn't lost at home since Nov. 3 against Calgary.

Detroit goalie Joey MacDonald overcame shaky clearing attempts that led to two goals and finished with 26 saves.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 21 shots for the Flyers.