Back-to-back victories in hand, Romney looks ahead while Gingrich regroups
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Now it's on to Colorado, Minnesota and Maine.
With back-to-back victories fueling him, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is looking toward the next states that hold GOP nominating contests as main rival Newt Gingrich brushes aside any talk of abandoning his White House bid -- all but ensuring the battle will stretch into the spring if not beyond.
Shortly after losing big to Romney here, the former House speaker emphatically renewed his vow to campaign into the party convention in Tampa this summer. His goal, he said, was to "find a series of victories which by the end of the Texas primary will leave us at parity" with Romney by early April.
Next up to vote are Colorado and Minnesota, which both hold caucuses Tuesday. Maine follows on Saturday during a month that promises to be as plodding as January was rapid-fire in the presidential race.
Romney will look to maintain his position of strength, if not build upon it, as his rivals continue working to derail him even as their options for doing so narrow with each victory he notches.
Analysis: Romney's big Nevada win narrows options for his rivals
LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Mitt Romney's decisive victory in Nevada was never much in doubt. He won the state's caucuses four years ago, kept his organization active and he could count on support from Mormons who made up a quarter of caucus goers this year.
But the former Massachusetts governor's win here, coupled with his enormous Florida victory just days ago, proved Republicans have begun to coalesce around his candidacy in earnest. He swept nearly every voting group in Nevada including those that have been slow to come aboard, such as tea party activists and voters who describe themselves as extremely conservative.
And that spells trouble for his remaining rivals who now face a stark question: How do they stop him?
It's becoming increasingly difficult for Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum to break through. All trail Romney in money, momentum and organization in upcoming states. And with a calendar of primaries and caucuses favorable to Romney just ahead, no one else has a clear path to the nomination.
"February is really the death march for second and third tier candidates," Republican strategist Rich Galen said. "If Romney sweeps February, the arc of his effort will be so strong, for most Republicans it will be over."
Russia, China draw criticism from Arabs, Turkey; Tunisia urges cutting Syria ties
MUNICH (AP) -- The Russian and Chinese veto of a U.N. resolution aimed at ending Syria's bloodshed drew stinging criticism from Arab and Turkish officials on Sunday, and Tunisia's prime minister said that cutting ties with the Syrian regime is the "least that we can do."
Moscow and Beijing used their veto in the U.N. Security Council on Saturday, amid international outrage over a devastating bombardment of the city of Homs by President Bashar Assad's forces.
Their vote came shortly after Tunisia, the country whose uprising launched the past year's upheaval in the Arab world, decided to expel Syria's ambassador.
At a gathering of security officials in Germany, Qatar's minister for international cooperation said Arab nations had addressed Russia's fears.
"We say there will not be a military intervention, there will not be removal of the regime, and the economic embargo (is) optional to the Arab states," Khaled al-Attiyah said at the Munich Security Conference.
Car bomb explodes in middle of southern Afghan city of Kandahar, killing 7
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) -- A car bomb exploded just outside the police headquarters of a southern Afghanistan city on Sunday, killing at least seven people, officials said.
The blast went off at a parking lot outside the police building in Kandahar, said Faisal Ahmad, a spokesman for the provincial government. Five police officers and two civilians were killed, and least 21 people were wounded, he added.
The blast was large enough that it shattered windows in nearby buildings. It appeared the bomb was in a parked vehicle and was remotely detonated, said Zalmai Ayubi, another government spokesman.
NATO forces helped secure the area as Afghan police carried the wounded to ambulances and loaded the bodies of the dead into the back of a pickup truck. The street outside the building was spattered with blood. A hawker's sheet of cardboard loaded with sunglasses lay abandoned in the road surrounded by charred debris.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Venice in rebellion against cruise ship intrusions following Costa Concordia disaster
VENICE, Italy (AP) -- It's a matter of perspective. From aboard a 12-deck cruise liner, the sight of St. Mark's Square, the Doge's Palace and Bridge of Sighs gliding past from a cabin balcony is a breathtaking thrill.
But against the backdrop of Venice's storied canals and Byzantine architecture, these floating condominiums present a jarring sight, out of scale and sync with the surroundings.
The fatal grounding of the Costa Concordia off the Tuscan coast has sharpened the focus on the largely unchecked boom of these ever-larger luxury liners, and nowhere more so than in Venice, a fragile city already struggling against mass tourism and the steady deterioration of its underwater foundations.
There's growing clamor for an urgent rethink to the expanding cruise liner traffic through Venice's historic center. Critics point not only to a threat of accidents, but also air and water pollution, and the injection of an additional 2 million more tourists a year into a city already under constant siege.
The city wants to reroute cruise ships arriving in Venice so they stay farther from St. Mark's and other prominent monuments as a possible step toward keeping them out of the lagoon altogether. And UNESCO, the U.N. culture organization, charges that the liners cause water tides that erode building foundations and pollute waterways.
Navy officials say 8 sailors discharged for hazing aboard amphibious assault ship in San Diego
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Eight sailors have been discharged from the Navy after a hazing incident aboard a San Diego-based amphibious assault ship that was captured on video and included the choking of a fellow sailor, a Navy spokesman said Saturday.
The eight received general discharges following allegations they assaulted and choked the sailor aboard the ship, the Bonhomme Richard, as part of a rite to initiate the sailor into a new department, said Lt. Commander David McKinney.
McKinney said the assault, which took place Jan. 17 in the ship's berthing area, was videotaped, and the victim treated for injuries.
"He was choked out, evidently blacked out and had bruising," said McKinney.
The injuries were not serious, but the sailor sought treatment and reported the incident to his superiors, leading to the discharges, McKinney said.
Family of 3 mushroom pickers rescued after 6 days lost in Oregon forest
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Three mushroom pickers took refuge in a hollowed out tree after getting lost in an Oregon forest, fighting wintry chills for six days and drinking water from streams until a helicopter pilot spotted them.
Belinda and Daniel Conne, along with their 25-year-old son, Michael, managed to reach a clearing Saturday, where the searchers saw them several miles outside the community of Gold Beach, roughly 330 miles south-southwest of Portland.
"It's a miracle, really," Curry County Sheriff John Bishop said.
Until their rescue, the cold and hungry family had been unable to signal search helicopters flying low and slow overhead.
The three were airlifted to a Gold Beach hospital, where Bishop spoke with them at an emergency room. He said the Connes told him they could see search helicopters just a few hundred feet above them while they were lost but had nothing to signal them with through the thick, coastal forest vegetation.
'Tebowing' Alec Baldwin hosts NFL Honors; gets big laughs, but steers clear of politics
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Trying to do his best "Tebowing," Alec Baldwin got a bit of help on stage.
The host of "NFL Honors" on NBC was kneeling down when Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow stepped up and showed Baldwin how it's really done.
"Bless you, Tim," Baldwin responded.
That capped a nearly 10-minute monologue Saturday night on the eve of the Super Bowl as The Associated Press awards for the 2011 season were announced.
Baldwin started by walking into the glittery crowd, handing a football to Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and asking the AP NFL Most Valuable Player to sign it.
NC Police: Stun gun used on woman who cut in line at McDonalds drive-thru, blocked customers
HOPE MILLS, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina deputies say they used a stun gun on a woman who blocked a McDonalds drive-thru for 20 minutes after employees refused to serve her because she broke in line.
Authorities say 37-year-old Evangeline Lucca bypassed the order screen and the line at the restaurant in Hope Mills, about 60 miles south of Raleigh, and pulled directly up to the pick-up window Friday afternoon.
Cumberland County deputies say employees refused to take her order and told her to go to the back of the line. She refused to move, and police were called.
Authorities say Lucca was shocked after she blocked the line for 20 minutes. Her 3-year-old daughter was taken into protective custody.
Lucca was charged with second-degree trespass. A phone listing for her couldn't be found.
Curtis Martin, Cortez Kennedy, Dermontti Dawson, Doleman, Roaf make Pro Football Hall of Fame
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Curtis Martin has gone from the mean streets of Pittsburgh to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The star running back with the Patriots and Jets for 11 seasons was one of six players elected Saturday to the shrine. Martin once disliked playing the game, but used it to escape a neighborhood where his grandmother was murdered.
"When I get awarded something like the Hall of Fame, it's almost foreign to me," said Martin, the NFL's No. 4 career rusher. "This wasn't something I planned on doing. Football is something I did so I didn't end up jailed or dead.
"If you make up your mind to just do the right thing no matter what ... and you stick to it, which I did, this is how things can turn around. I feel as if my life turned around from what it used to be, and I think anyone has a chance."
Martin and four linemen were elected to the hall, along with one senior committee choice. He is joined by Chris Doleman, Cortez Kennedy, Willie Roaf, Dermontti Dawson, and senior selection Jack Butler.