Posted: Apr 13, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Apr 14, 2012 4:01 AM
Around the world, prayer, music and flowers remember sinking of the Titanic, 100 years on
LONDON (AP) From a Belfast cathedral to a ship in the cold North Atlantic, thousands are gathering to remember RMS Titanic, 100 years after the sinking of the luxury liner.
The ship, on its maiden voyage, struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, and sank less than three hours later. More than 1,500 of the 2,208 passengers and crew died.
In Belfast, where Titanic was built, thousands will attend a concert at the city's Waterfront Hall or a requiem mass at St. Anne's Cathedral on Saturday.
Aboard the cruise ship MS Balmoral, which is retracing the Titanic's route passengers and crew will hold ceremonies at the site of the disaster, 400 miles (640 kilometers) off the coast of Newfoundland.
Another cruise ship, Journey, will join Balmoral at the site.
Several states under warning for potential 'life-threatening' storms; Pre-dawn sirens in Okla.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Tornado sirens sounded across Oklahoma City hours before dawn Saturday as the nation's midsection braced for what forecasters cautioned could be a day of "life-threatening" storms, with the most dangerous weather expected to develop during the afternoon.
While officials warned a large area spanning from Minnesota to Texas could be at risk during the weekend, emergency workers focused their attention overnight on central Oklahoma, where they said funnel clouds had been spotted though none had been reported touching down. The area includes the small town of Piedmont, where a twister last May killed several people, including two young boys, authorities said.
"They're probably feeling like they're going through that all over again," Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain said Saturday.
The worst conditions were projected for late Saturday afternoon between Oklahoma City and Salina, Kan., but other areas also could see severe storms with baseball-sized hail and winds of up to 70 mph, forecasters said. The warning issued Friday covers parts of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
On Friday, Norman, Okla., home to the University of Oklahoma campus, got a preview of the potential destruction when a twister whizzed by the nation's tornado forecasting headquarters but caused little damage. Norman Regional Hospital and an affiliate treated 19 people for mainly "bumps and bruises," and one patient remained hospitalized in fair condition late Friday, hospital spokeswoman Kelly Wells said.
Obama works to convince US, Latin Americans that he's serious about trade
CARTAGENA, Colombia (AP) President Barack Obama's challenge as he rubs shoulders with CEOs and political leaders from the Americas this weekend is convincing U.S. business that he's serious about expanding trade while persuading Latin American leaders to once again look northward.
It's not an easy task. Obama faces trade competition from China, resistance from U.S. labor, a passel of thorny regional issues that could dilute any focus on trade, and now the distraction of Secret Service agents in Cartagena relieved of duty on allegations of misconduct.
Obama will set the tone Saturday when he meets with top CEOs from the hemisphere who are holding their own parallel high level meeting during the Summit of the Americas. Among those expected are executives from Wal-Mart Stores Inc., PepsiCo, Yahoo and Caterpillar.
While exports in dollar amounts have increased in the Americas, the U.S. share of the market has declined over the past decade. China, in particular, is surpassing the U.S in trade with Brazil, Chile, and Peru.
In the United States, labor is already restive over a trade deal with Colombia that is awaiting final certification. The Colombian government has worked to meet the requirements of a labor rights agreement that was a condition of passage in Congress last year. The question bubbling in Cartagena was whether Obama, over the objections of U.S. union leaders, would certify that Colombia has successfully met the terms.
Misconduct allegations against Secret Service threaten to overshadow Obama agenda in Colombia
CARTAGENA, Colombia (AP) President Barack Obama's diplomatic mission to Latin America this weekend threatened to be overshadowed by alleged misconduct by a dozen Secret Service agents sent to provide security for him in Colombia.
On Friday night, a caller who said he had knowledge of the situation, told The Associated Press the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, site of the Summit of the Americas. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute that.
The White House had no comment, but also did not dispute the allegations.
A U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity, put the number of agents at 12. The agency was not releasing the number of personnel involved.
The alleged activities took place before Obama arrived Friday in this Colombian port city for meetings with 33 other regional leaders. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said the agents involved were relieved from duty and replaced with other agency personnel.
In wake of rocket launch, NKorea's new leader underlines commitment to 'military first' policy
PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) Hours after a failed rocket launch criticized abroad as a covert test of missile technology, North Korea's new leader underlined the country's "military first" policy with a budget that allocates a sizable chunk of funding to defense spending.
North Korea's legislature also formalized Kim Jong Un's leadership of the country and promoted a host of younger military officials to the powerful National Defense Commission, state-run media reported Saturday, in a strong indication that the "military first" rule of the late Kim Jong Il will continue under his young son.
Still, Premier Choe Yong Rim told legislators the nation's top priority is to build up the economy and improve the people's standard of living, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea's Supreme People's Assembly convened Friday for a special one-day session to ratify appointments and promotions, discuss this year's budget and to make constitutional amendments to formalize Kim Jong Un's leadership of the country.
Hours earlier, in a precursor to the gathering, North Korea defied the U.S. and others by firing a long-range rocket that space officials said was mounted with an observational satellite despite warnings against pushing ahead with the provocative launch.
Iran, 6 world powers begin nuke meeting amid hopes for progress
ISTANBUL (AP) Six world powers and Iran are meeting in an attempt to find common ground over concerns that Tehran's nuclear program could be used to make weapons.
Iran insists it has no such ambitions, but the international community fears it could use its uranium enrichment program not only to make reactor fuel but also the fissile core of nuclear weapons.
After years of futile meetings, both sides have expressed optimism that enough progress could be achieved this time for a second round of talks.
The six the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany hope Iran will commit to at least discussing their concerns over its enrichment program on Saturday. That is something Tehran has refused to do during the most recent meetings.
Activists report shelling in central Syrian city of Homs
BEIRUT (AP) Syrian troops shelled Saturday two rebel-held neighborhoods in the central city of Homs in an apparent violation of an internationally brokered cease fire, activists said.
The reports came two days after the cease-fire brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan went into effect. The violence in Syria since then has been much less than the daily norm of clashes and shellings before the truce.
The regime restricts access of foreign observers, including journalists, making it difficult to verify reports of violence independently.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the shelling lasted for about an hour and there were no reports of casualties. Activist Tarek Badrakhan, who is based in the rebel-held Homs neighborhood of Khaldiyeh, and the Observatory said the shelling targeted the neighborhoods of Jouret el-Shayah and Qarabees.
The shelling in Homs came as the United Nations Security Council prepared to vote on a resolution authorizing the deployment of the first wave of U.N. military observers to monitor the cease-fire between the Syrian government and opposition fighters.
Affidavit: Wheeling Jesuit University, ex-MSHA director used NASA grants for own benefit
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) One of the world's foremost experts on mine safety from gold mines in Chile to the coal mines of southern West Virginia stands accused by a NASA fraud investigator of conspiring with the Catholic college where he now works to use millions of federal grant dollars for personal gain and the school's benefit.
The allegations are contained in an affidavit that an agent in the NASA Office of Inspector General used to obtain search warrants in an active criminal investigation of former U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration director J. Davitt McAteer, and his alma mater and current employer, Wheeling Jesuit University.
Court records show investigators believe McAteer and the school fraudulently billed expenses to federal grant programs or cooperative agreements from 2005 through 2011.
The sworn affidavit by an agent who works out of the Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt, Md., said those expenses range from McAteer's salary which surged from $130,300 in 2006 to $230,659 by 2008 to cellphones, computers, technical support and salaries for other staff, including a secretary in McAteer's Shepherdstown private law office.
McAteer is an internationally known expert on mine safety who was hand-picked by West Virginia's former governor, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, to oversee thorough, independent investigations of three coal mine disasters since 2006. The Sago Mine explosion trapped and killed 12 men in January 2006, while the Alma No. 1 mine fire weeks later killed two more. McAteer also issued the first report on the 2010 Upper Big Branch explosion, which killed 29.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's long-awaited engagement certain to fuel media frenzy
LOS ANGELES (AP) Will and Kate were just the warm up for the true wedding of the century.
After years of cohabitation, six kids and countless tabloid headlines, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie made it official: They plan to make it official.
If you thought the media circus involving the world's most glamorous couple was on overdrive before, just wait. Now that Brangelina are officially engaged, expect endless speculation about where and when they'll wed, what they'll wear, what their kids' roles will be, and who might get to attend the celebration.
"This is really a state wedding," said Stephen Galloway, executive editor of features at The Hollywood Reporter. "This is America's equivalent to Prince William and Kate Middleton."
He called the Brangelina wedding "the media event of the new century."
Eight is enough: Giroux, Couturier hat tricks pace Flyers by Penguins 8-5 for 2-0 series lead
PITTSBURGH (AP) Jaromir Jagr rubbed the stubble on his still-developing playoff beard and mulled the question.
Was Philadelphia's 8-5 comeback win over Pittsburgh in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Friday one of the wildest games he's ever seen?
"I've been playing 20 years you know," Jagr said with a laugh.
He might need to play another 20 to see the kind of fireworks produced by two of hockey's most dynamic teams.
Sidney Crosby scored 15 seconds into the game. The Penguins built an early 3-1 lead. And still it wasn't nearly enough to put away the NHL's most resilient team.