Posted: Jun 8, 2012 4:00 PM
Updated: Jun 9, 2012 4:01 AM
2 US attorneys to probe classified leaks; Obama calls claims of deliberate leaks 'offensive'
WASHINGTON (AP) Two U.S. attorneys are taking over separate FBI investigations into leaks of national security information that critics have accused the White House of orchestrating to improve President Barack Obama's re-election chances, a claim Obama calls "offensive" and "wrong."
Recent news articles contained details of U.S. involvement in a partially successful computer virus attack on Iran's nuclear program and on the selection of targets for counterterrorism assassination plots. The leaked information generally painted Obama as a decisive and hands-on commander in chief.
"The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive. It's wrong," Obama told reporters at a news conference Friday. "And people I think need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office."
Obama promised investigations into the source of leaks about U.S. involvement in cyberattacks on Iran and drone strikes on suspected terrorists.
"We're dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people, our families or our military personnel or our allies, and so we don't play with that," he said.
Even from within their own parties, Obama and Romney face challenges on economy
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Separated at rival conferences by 1,000 miles and a world of political ideology, liberal and conservative activists are finding themselves united by a deep disappointment with the nation's economy.
Some of the most passionate voters from both parties suggest that neither presidential candidate has sufficiently sharpened his economic message or clearly outlined a plan to get the nation back on track. Democrats criticize President Barack Obama's willingness to fight for liberal priorities, while conservatives wonder aloud about presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's conviction to act aggressively on their behalf.
It's a reminder five months before Election Day that Obama and Romney have work to do on the most fundamental issue in the presidential contest.
"Right now I'd like to see more from both candidates," said Zack Zarr, a banker from suburban Chicago who was among several hundred gathered Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Chicago.
Democrats at NetRoots Nation in Providence said the economy hasn't recovered quickly enough under Obama, an opinion shared by the Republicans in Chicago.
Activists: Syrian troops heavily shell southern city of Daraa killing at least 15
BEIRUT (AP) Syrian troops shelled the southern city of Daraaa early on Saturday, killing at least 15 people, activists said. And in Damascus, residents spoke about a night of shooting and explosions in the worst violence Syria's capital has seen since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began 15 months ago.
The latest escalations in different parts of Syria are another blow to international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan, which aims to end the country's bloodletting. Annan brokered a cease-fire that went into effect on April 12 but has since been violated hundreds of times and never properly took hold.
The U.N. said several weeks ago that at least 9,000 people have been killed since the crisis began in March last year while Syrian activists say the violence has claimed the lives of more than 13,000 people.
Damascus resident and activist Maath al-Shami said clashes between rebels and troops in the city's neighborhoods of Qaboun and Barzeh lasted until about 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
On Friday, government troops clashed with rebels from the Free Syrian Army in Damascus' Kfar Souseh district in some of the worst fighting yet in the capital. The clashes were a clear sign that the ragtag group has succeeded in taking its fight to the regime's base of power.
Israel to decide on university in West Bank settlement, threatening backlash
JERUSALEM (AP) In the fraught atmosphere of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, an approaching decision on whether to award coveted university status to a college has taken on powerful political overtones.
For critics of Israel's policy of settling Jews in the West Bank, the upgrade of the "Ariel University Center of Samaria" into a permanent university would be a strong signal of what they say is creeping annexation of the hilly territory.
For its supporters, upgrading the institution will be a crowning jewel of the government's commitment to holding the West Bank, the heartland of biblical Judaism, captured by Israel along with east Jerusalem in the 1967 war.
"Most dramatically, this has a symbolic significance that no settlement has," said political scientist Yaron Ezrahi of Hebrew University. "It's an attempt to legitimize the occupation."
Of Israel's more than 120 Jewish settlements, Ariel holds special significance.
Federal appeals court sides with AP, news groups in Idaho execution access case
BOISE, Idaho (AP) Prison officials say they'll work to carry out an execution next week as scheduled, after an appeals court sided with The Associated Press and other news organizations in ruling that witnesses should have full viewing access to a convicted killer's lethal injection.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the decision Friday, a day after hearing arguments in a lawsuit from the 17 news organizations seeking to change Idaho's protocol, saying it's unconstitutionally restrictive.
The case aimed to strike down a portion of Idaho's regulations that prevent witnesses including reporters acting as representatives of the public from watching executions until after catheters have been inserted into the veins of death row inmates.
"Nearly a decade ago, we held in the clearest possible terms that 'the public enjoys a First Amendment right to view executions from the moment the condemned is escorted into the execution chamber," the judges said in their ruling Friday. "The State of Idaho has had ample opportunity for the past decade to adopt an execution procedure that reflects this settled law."
It's unclear how the ruling will affect the scheduled execution next week of Idaho death row inmate Richard Leavitt, who was convicted of the 1984 murder of a Blackfoot woman.
Private lunch with investor Warren Buffett sells for $3.5 million in charity auction
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) The cost to dine with investor Warren Buffett has apparently spiked in value, with one deep-pocketed bidder forking over nearly $3.5 million during a charity auction.
The annual auction for a private lunch with the Nebraska billionaire closed following a flurry of activity in the final hours Friday night. In the end, the highest bid was a record-breaking $3,456,789.
The auction benefits the Glide Foundation, which helps the homeless in San Francisco. Buffett has raised more than $11.5 million for the group in 13 past auctions. The event provides a significant portion of Glide's roughly $17 million annual budget that pays for social services to the poor and homeless.
"We just had a most amazing, shocking experience occur in our great city," Glide's founder, the Rev. Cecil Williams, said in a statement Friday night. "We are shouting, dancing, rejoicing and celebrating."
The organization said Friday's winner bidder wished to remain anonymous. Williams said 10 people actively engaged in bidding.
Atlanta area megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar arrested on battery charge after family dispute
ATLANTA (AP) Megachurch pastor and televangelist Creflo Dollar who has drawn scrutiny for his flashy lifestyle and preaching that prosperity is good was arrested early Friday after authorities say he slightly hurt his 15-year-old daughter in a fight at his metro Atlanta home.
Fayette County Sheriff's deputies responded to a call of domestic violence at the home in unincorporated Fayette County around 1 a.m., said investigator Brent Rowan. The pastor and his daughter were arguing over whether she could go to a party when Dollar "got physical" with her, leaving her with "superficial injuries," Rowan said.
The 15-year-old was the one who called authorities, and her 19-year-old sister corroborated the story, Rowan said.
Dollar faces misdemeanor charges of simple battery and cruelty to children. He bonded out of Fayette County jail Friday morning.
"As a father I love my children and I always have their best interest at heart at all times, and I would never use my hand to ever cause bodily harm to my children," Dollar said in a statement released by his lawyer Nikki Bonner. "The facts in this case will be handled privately to further protect my children. My family thanks you for your prayers and continued support."
Lindsay Lohan OK after wreck on coastal highway; police say no signs of impairment
LOS ANGELES (AP) Lindsay Lohan emerged uninjured from a collision with a dump truck on a coastal highway near Los Angeles on Friday, returning to the set of her new movie hours after the accident left her sports car crumpled.
Santa Monica Police Sgt. Richard Lewis said there was no sign Lohan was impaired at the time of the accident and said his agency would continue to investigate who was at fault in the wreck. The truck's driver was uninjured and that driver also showed no signs of driving under the influence, Lewis said.
Police are seeking witnesses to the crash, writing in a news release that detectives were trying to determine who was driving. Lohan was traveling with a male assistant to the set of her new film; the assistant was also uninjured.
"We're treating this as a regular accident," Lewis said. The agency is accepting anonymous tips about the wreck, and offering a $1,000 reward if it leads to an arrest.
The accident at around 11:40 a.m. Friday on the Pacific Coast Highway occurred while Lohan was on her way to film scenes for the Lifetime movie "Liz and Dick," which chronicles the love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Lohan's publicist Steve Honig said the actress was released about two hours after the accident and was returned to the set to continue filming.
Belmont bummer: I'll Have Another won't run for Triple Crown after being retired with injury
NEW YORK (AP) Things began unraveling for Triple Crown hopeful I'll Have Another a day after the colt's thrilling win in the Preakness three weeks ago.
A series of minor setbacks for the horse and his handlers culminated with the biggest shocker of all: I'll Have Another's sudden retirement on the eve of the Belmont Stakes with an injury to his left front tendon.
Friday's news dealt further blows to a racing industry already battered by declining interest and yet another near-miss in the Triple Crown. The colt became the 12th horse whose Triple try was derailed since Affirmed swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1978, and it occurred without I'll Have Another ever reaching the starting gate.
"I've been hoping and praying he would stay injury-free, and it didn't happen," his trainer Doug O'Neill said.
I'll Have Another won the Derby on May 5 and the Preakness two weeks later both with stirring stretch drives to set up the highly anticipated Belmont Stakes and a Triple try. Only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown and the wait for another now stretches to 35 years the longest drought ever.
Seattle's 6-pack of pitchers, led by Kevin Millwood, tosses no-hitter against Dodgers
SEATTLE (AP) Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan popped his head into the clubhouse interview room and insisted his normally stoic manager enjoyed the history that just took place.
"It's OK to smile skip, we just got a no-no," Ryan shouted to Seattle manager Eric Wedge, bringing a smile and chuckle to Wedge's face.
There were plenty of smiles to go around the Seattle clubhouse late Friday night, mostly because so many had a hand in the third no-hitter in Seattle's history.
Kevin Millwood pitched six no-hit innings before leaving with a groin injury, and a of Seattle relievers continued to hold the Dodgers in check until Tom Wilhelmsen closed out a 1-0 win over Los Angeles for his third save.
Seattle's six-pack of arms joined the Mets' Johan Santana, the Angels' Jered Weaver and White Sox right-hander Philip Humber on the no-hit list of 2012. It was the second no-hitter at Safeco Field this season after Humber's perfect game against the Mariners in April the first two in the park's 13-year history.