Democrats adopt 2016 presidential primary calendar

KEN THOMAS Associated Press Published:

ATLANTA -- Leaders of the Democratic Party adopted their 2016 presidential nominating calendar on Saturday, setting the stage for a successor to President Barack Obama.

The Democratic National Committee, or DNC, approved rules for its 2016 convention along with a primary schedule that will begin with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, 2016, followed by voting later that month in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The 2016 framework is in line with plans pushed by Republicans and gives states incentives to hold their primary contests between March and June, aiming to avoid a front-loaded calendar that encroaches on the Christmas holidays.

The plans were approved unanimously without any discussion.

A year-and-a-half before the start of presidential primary voting, Hillary Rodham Clinton remains the favorite among Democrats if she decides to run for president again while Vice President Joe Biden, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and others could potentially mount a campaign to succeed Obama.

Republicans pick Calley: Lt. Gov. Brian Calley was overwhelmingly backed by Michigan Republicans on Saturday in Novi, Mich., beating out a Tea Party advocate for the party's nomination, as activists sought to unify behind a slate of candidates in hopes of retaining control of all three branches of state government in November. Gov. Rick Snyder's running mate easily fended off a challenge from Wes Nakagiri, who had been critical of Snyder for expanding Medicaid and supporting Common Core education standards.

Ferris wheel accident: Authorities say a teen's crutches might have caused a Ferris wheel cab to tip and two children to fall about 15 feet at a Michigan fair in Chelsea. The Ann Arbor News reported Saturday that a 16-year-old girl boarded the ride with crutches Thursday night at the Chelsea Community Fair. Investigators say they could have slid out and lodged in a way that caused the cab to tip. The girl was with her 8-year-old brother, who has been released from the hospital. The girl has not. Chelsea Police Chief Ed Toth says officers will speak with the girl before determining the cause.

Apartment building bombed: Israel bombed an apartment tower in downtown Gaza City on Saturday, collapsing the 12-story building in an unprecedented strike, while Hamas kept up heavy rocket fire that sent more Israelis fleeing border areas close to Gaza. In the Gaza City strike, a huge fireball followed by a black column of smoke rose into the sky after two Israeli missiles toppled the Zafer Tower, one in a group of several high-rises in the upscale Tel al-Hawa neighborhood. The Israeli military said the missiles targeted a Hamas operations room in the building, but did not explain why the entire tower with 44 apartments was brought down. A total of 22 people were wounded, including 11 children and five women, according to Gaza hospital officials.

Distrust police: Residents of a neighborhood where an Oklahoma City officer is accused of sexually assaulting women say the allegations make them distrust police. Investigators say 27-year-old Daniel Ken Holtzclaw raped one woman and either fondled others or forced them to expose themselves. Police say the women were all black and between the ages of 34 and 58, but it's not clear if race played a role in the alleged crimes. Resident Tammy Bell said Saturday the officer was "taking advantage of his shield."

Want Chrysler investigated: An auto safety advocacy group has asked the U.S. government to investigate power system failures in Chrysler vehicles that could cause them to stall while being driven. The Center for Auto Safety, a nonprofit group founded by Ralph Nader, filed a petition Friday asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the probe. The center contends that an electrical power control module used by Chrysler in millions of vehicles since 2007 can go haywire, causing them to stall in traffic and cut off devices powered by electricity. The allegation covers Ram pickup trucks, Chrysler and Dodge minivans, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and Dodge Journey SUVs, the Jeep Wrangler, and other models. Chrysler said in a statement that it launched its own investigation.

Laid to rest: An Air Force veteran whose body lay lost in the snow of an Alaskan glacier for six decades has been buried with military honors in Whittier, Calif. The remains of Engolf Welton Hagen were laid to rest on Friday near his parents' grave at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, the Orange County Register reported. His youngest sister, 84-year-old Eleanor Yeager of Corona del Mar, attended the burial. She gingerly touched the box carrying his cremated rib, forearm and hand -- all that could be recovered from the crash site. The remains were identified through DNA supplied by Hagen's oldest female relative -- Eleanor's sister Violet Wacker -- who has since died. Hagen, then a 28-year-old technical sergeant, died when a C-124 Globemaster carrying 52 passengers smashed into the Knik Glacier east of Anchorage during cloudy weather and exploded on Nov. 22, 1952.

Volcano erupts in Iceland: Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano burst forth with a small eruption Saturday under the ice of Europe's largest glacier, scientists said, prompting the country to close airspace over the area.Thousands of small earthquakes have rattled the volcano, located deep beneath the Vatnajokull glacier, in the last week. Icelandic Meteorological Office vulcanologist Melissa Pfeffer said Saturday that seismic data indicated that an eruption had begun, with magma from the volcano melting ice within the glacier's Dyngjujokull icecap. The remote area, 200 miles east of the capital of Reykjavik, is uninhabited. The Civil Protection Department said scientists flew over the ice cap Saturday afternoon but saw no visible signs of the eruption on the surface. Late Saturday the Met Office said there were "no signs of ongoing volcanic activity."

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