Friday, February 1, 2013

Published:

Suicide bombing kills Turkish guard at US Embassy in what Washington calls a terrorist attack

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- In the second deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in five months, a suicide bomber struck the American Embassy in Ankara on Friday, killing a Turkish security guard in what the White House described as a terrorist attack.

Washington immediately warned Americans to stay away from all U.S. diplomatic facilities in Turkey and to be wary in large crowds.

Turkish officials said the bombing was linked to leftist domestic militants.

The attack drew condemnation from Turkey, the U.S., Britain and other nations and officials from both Turkey and the U.S. pledged to work together to fight terrorism.

"We strongly condemn what was a suicide attack against our embassy in Ankara, which took place at the embassy's outer security perimeter," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

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Jobs report pushes stocks higher, with Dow closing above 14,000 mark

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Dow closed above 14,000 on Friday for the first time in more than five years.

It was just a number on a board, but it was enough to raise the hopes of some investors and cause others concern about an overheated market. And it brought reminders of a different era, back before the financial crisis rocked the world economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average, a stock market index that is traditionally considered a benchmark for how the entire market is faring, had been rising fairly steadily for about a month. On Friday, strong auto sales and optimism about U.S. job growth pushed it over the mark. The Dow is now just 155 points away from its record close.

"There's a newfound enthusiasm for the equity market," said Jim Russell, regional investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

But market watchers were divided over what the Dow milestone -- or even what a potential new all-time high -- really means. To some, it's an important booster to hearts and minds, making investors feel optimistic and thus more willing to bet on the market.

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Birth-control coverage: Obama administration offers faith groups new accommodation on mandate

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Facing a wave of lawsuits over what government can tell religious groups to do, the Obama administration on Friday proposed a compromise for faith-based nonprofits that object to covering birth control in their employee health plans.

Some of the lawsuits appear headed for the Supreme Court, threatening another divisive legal battle over President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law, which requires most employers to cover birth control free of charge to female workers as a preventive service. The law exempted churches and other houses of worship, but religious charities, universities, hospitals and even some for-profit businesses have objected.

The government's new offer, in a proposed regulation, has two parts.

Administration officials said it would more simply define the religious organizations that are exempt from the requirement altogether. For example, a mosque whose food pantry serves the whole community would not have to comply.

For other religious employers, the proposal attempts to create a buffer between them and contraception coverage. Female employees would still have free access through insurers or a third party, but the employer would not have to arrange for the coverage or pay for it. Insurers would be reimbursed for any costs by a credit against fees owed the government.

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Mayhem outside Morsi's palace as Egypt protesters clash with police, 1 person killed

CAIRO (AP) -- Protesters denouncing Egypt's Islamist president hurled stones and firebombs through the gates of his palace gates on Friday, clashing with security forces who fired tear gas and water cannons, as more than a week of political violence came to Mohammed Morsi's symbolic doorstep for the first time.

The streets outside the presidential palace were a scene of mayhem for hours into the night.

Security forces pumped volley after volley of tear gas, set fire to protester tents and at one point dragged a protester to the ground, stripped him and beat him. Protesters burned tires and hurled stones and fireworks. A 23-year-old died when he was shot in the chest and forehead, the Health Ministry said.

The march on the palace, where Morsi was not present, was part of a wave of demonstrations in cities around the country called by opposition politicians, trying to wrest concessions from Morsi after around 60 people were killed in protests, clashes and riots.

But many of the protesters go further, saying he must be removed from office, accusing his Muslim Brotherhood of monopolizing power and failing to deal with the country's mounting woes. Many have been further angered by Morsi's praise of the security forces after the high death toll, which is widely blamed on excessive use of force by the police.

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SUPER BOWL WATCH: Katrina, $100M coin flip, Cruz on Lewis' squirrel dance, fans on Goodell

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Around the Super Bowl and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of everything surrounding the game:

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MODELL HOF DEBATE

One of the liveliest debates this weekend in New Orleans could be not about the Super Bowl itself, but on whether late Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell should be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of fame.

In Cleveland, many fans haven't forgiven Modell for deciding to relocate his Browns franchise to Baltimore 17 years ago. But his supporters contend he helped create America's most popular sport.

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Clinton's last day: Resignation, farewell to staff, disappointment at critics; Kerry sworn in

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hillary Rodham Clinton formally resigned Friday as America's secretary of state, capping a four-year tenure that saw her shatter records for the number of countries visited. John Kerry was sworn in to replace her.

In a letter sent to President Barack Obama shortly before she left the State Department for the last time in her official capacity, Clinton thanked her former opponent for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination for the opportunity to serve in his administration. Clinton said it had been an honor to be part of his Cabinet.

"I am more convinced than ever in the strength and staying power of America's global leadership and our capacity to be a force for good in the world," she said in the letter.

Her resignation became effective at 4 p.m. EST, when Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan swore in John Kerry as the top U.S. diplomat. The former Massachusetts senator and 2004 presidential candidate is the 68th secretary of state.

"I'm just very, very honored to be sworn in and I'm very anxious to get to work," Kerry told reporters after the private ceremony at the Capitol. "I'll be reporting Monday morning at 9 o'clock to do my part," he said, but he refused to say what global hotspot he would visit first.

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Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan to retire after nearly 30 years with agency

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan announced his retirement Friday, bringing to a close a turbulent period for the law enforcement agency that included a South American prostitution scandal and a pair of White House gate-crashers.

In nearly seven years as director, Sullivan had to answer serious questions from lawmakers on two occasions about his employees' actions on the job and off.

Last May, in testimony before Congress, Sullivan apologized for the conduct of Secret Service employees caught in a prostitution scandal in Colombia. Thirteen agents and officers were implicated after an agent argued with a prostitute over payment in a hotel hallway in Cartagena, Colombia.

The employees were in the Caribbean resort city in advance of President Barack Obama's arrival for a South American summit in April. After a night of heavy partying in some of Cartagena's bars and clubs, the employees brought women, including prostitutes, back to their hotel. Eight of those Secret Service employees were forced out of the agency, three were cleared of serious misconduct and at least two were fighting to get their jobs back.

The incident prompted Sullivan to issue a new code of conduct that barred employees from drinking within 10 hours of the start of a shift and from bringing foreigners to their hotel rooms

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Twitter says hackers gain access to 250,000 user accounts in latest cyber security breach

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- In the latest online attack, Twitter said Friday that hackers may have gained access to information on a quarter of a million of its more than 200 million active users.

The social media giant said in a blog posting that earlier this week it detected attempts to gain access to its user data. It shut down one attack moments after it was detected.

But it discovered that the attackers may have gained access to usernames, email addresses and encrypted passwords belonging to 250,000 users. Twitter has reset the pilfered passwords and sent emails advising users that they'll have to create a new one.

"This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident. The attackers were extremely sophisticated, and we believe other companies and organizations have also been recently similarly attacked," the blog said. "For that reason we felt that it was important to publicize this attack while we still gather information, and we are helping government and federal law enforcement in their effort to find and prosecute these attackers to make the Internet safer for all users."

The hack is the latest high-profile cyber-attack on U.S. media and technology companies recently. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported this week that their computer systems had been infiltrated by China-based hackers.

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Barney, President George W. Bush's Scottish terrier who starred in 'Barney-cam' videos, dies

DALLAS (AP) -- Thanks to a tiny video camera on his collar, Barney offered a dog-level holiday tour of the White House in 2002 while shuffling from room to room and menacing the Christmas tree.

The video starring President George W. Bush's black Scottish terrier was a hit, drawing 24 million online tourists the first day. It also helped reopen the White House after it was closed to tourists the previous holiday season following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Bush and his wife, Laura, released a statement Friday saying their famous 12-year-old pooch had died after suffering from lymphatic cancer.

"Barney was by my side during our eight years in the White House," Bush said. "He never discussed politics and was always a faithful friend. Laura and I will miss our pal."

With public access to the White House more restricted in the aftermath of 9/11, first lady Laura Bush sent Barney out to prowl the building with the camera. Barney Cam's 4.5-minute video tour of the mansion decorations was such a hit that his movies became an annual feature for the rest of Bush's presidency.

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Now on opposite sidelines in the Super Bowl, Harbaugh brothers wouldn't mind working together

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Working separately, John and Jim Harbaugh each guided their team to the Super Bowl. They will be on opposite sidelines Sunday, John as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens and Jim with the San Francisco 49ers.

Imagine how effective they could be if working together.

At their joint news conference Friday, someone asked the brothers if they would consider teaming up if either should be forced out of his current post.

"No question about it," John said. "We've had that conversation in the past. It just never really worked out timing-wise. I'd love to work for Jim. It would be the greatest thing in the world."

Jim, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, said, "Definitely, I would work for him."