Obama: Global oil supply OK to move on sanctions on Iran; pressure on US allies to respond
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Friday he was plowing ahead with potential sanctions against countries that keep buying oil from Iran, including allies of the United States, in a deepening campaign to starve Iran of money for its disputed nuclear program.
The world oil market is tight but deep enough to keep the squeeze on Iran, Obama ruled.
The sanctions aim to further isolate Iran's central bank, which processes nearly all of the Iran's oil purchases, from the global economy. Obama's move clears the way for the U.S. to penalize foreign financial institutions that do oil business with Iran by barring them from having a U.S.-based affiliate or doing business here.
Obama's goal is to tighten the pressure on Iran, not allies, and already the administration exempted 10 European Union countries and Japan from the threat of sanctions because they cut their oil purchases from Iran. Other nations have about three months to significantly reduce such imports before sanctions would kick in.
Still, administration officials said that Obama is ready to slap sanctions on U.S. partners and that his action on Friday was another signal.
$1 at a time, Americans wager nearly $1.5 billion on longest of shots to become a millionaire
CHICAGO (AP) — Across the country, Americans plunked down an estimated $1.5 billion on the longest of long shots: an infinitesimally small chance to win what could end up being the single biggest lottery payout the world has ever seen.
But forget about how the $640 million Mega Millions jackpot could change the life of the winner. It's a collective wager that could fund a presidential campaign several times over, make a dent in struggling state budgets or take away the gas worries and grocery bills for thousands of middle-class citizens.
And it's a cheap investment for the chance of a big reward, no matter how long the odds — 1 in 176 million.
"Twenty to thirty dollars won't hurt," said Elvira Bakken of Las Vegas. "I think it just gives us a chance of maybe winning our dream."
So what exactly would happen if the country spent that $1.5 billion on something other than a distant dream?
New documents show Air Force officers argued for sea burial of 9/11 fragments of remains
WASHINGTON (AP) — Newly released Pentagon documents show that Air Force officers debated briefly about burial at sea before concluding that 1,321 unidentifiable fragments of remains from the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon should be treated as medical waste and incinerated.
A string of emails running from Aug. 5-7, 2002, reveal that an unidentified Air Force colonel suggested scattering the already cremated remains at sea. A second official — a civilian and — said it may be appropriate to also have witnesses and a chaplain present.
Their arguments that the 9/11 remains weren't just normal waste were rejected by others who concluded the material was medical waste and should not be treated like human remains.
The emails were among nearly 2,000 pages of documents released by the Pentagon on Friday detailing operations at the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, investigations into problems and mishandling of war dead and other remains there and records about the disposal of body fragments.
The disclosure came hours after senior Pentagon officials met with the families of some of the victims of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon to provide greater details about the incineration and dumping of small amounts of residual remains — potentially of their loved ones — in a landfill.
Old photos may be deceptive in Fla. shooting case; experts warn against rush to judgment
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — When he was shot, Trayvon Martin was not the baby-faced boy in the photo that has been on front pages across the country. And George Zimmerman wasn't the beefy-looking figure in the widely published mugshot.
Both photos are a few years old and no longer entirely accurate. Yet they may have helped shape initial public perceptions of the deadly shooting.
"When you have such a lopsided visual comparison, it just stands to reason that people would rush to judgment," said Kenny Irby, who teaches visual journalism at the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The most widely seen picture of Martin, released by his family, was evidently taken a few years ago and shows a smiling, round-cheeked youngster in a red T-shirt. But at his death, Martin was 17 years old, around 6 feet tall and, according to his family's attorney, about 140 pounds.
Zimmerman, 28, is best known from a 7-year-old booking photo of an apparently heavyset figure with an imposing stare, pierced ear and facial hair, the orange collar of his jail uniform visible. The picture, released by police following the deadly shooting, was taken after Zimmerman's 2005 arrest on an assault-on-an-officer charge that was eventually dropped.
Romney defends personal wealth as Democrats intensify criticism, portray him as out of touch
APPLETON, Wis. (AP) — Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney on Friday defended his personal wealth amid intensifying criticism from his main GOP rival and President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, unlikely allies working to portray the former businessman as out of touch with most Americans.
Romney, who is worth up to $250 million, would be among the nation's richest presidents if elected. His Democratic and Republican opponents have thrust Romney's success to the forefront of the presidential contest as he tightens his grasp on the GOP nomination.
"If we become one of those societies that attacks success, one outcome is certain — there will be a lot less success," Romney said during a speech thick with general election undertones at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis. "You're going to hear a deafening cacophony of charges and counter-charges and my prediction is that by Nov. 6 most of you are going to be afraid to turn on your TV."
The former Massachusetts governor argued his case several days before the GOP primary Tuesday in Wisconsin, a state that has general election implications as he courts the working-class voters who make up the bulk of the electorate.
Obama won Wisconsin by 14 percentage points in November 2008.
Court documents: Blood found at Josh Powell's Utah home was from his missing wife
TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Authorities investigating the 2009 disappearance of a Utah woman found her blood in the family home and a hand-written note in which she expressed fear about her husband and her potential demise, according to documents unsealed Friday.
The files raise further questions about why Susan Powell's husband was never charged in her disappearance before he killed himself and their two young sons in a gas-fueled inferno in Washington state earlier this year. Investigators in West Valley City, Utah, never arrested Josh Powell or even publicly labeled him as a suspect in his wife's disappearance.
A prosecutor in Washington state who was getting a first look at the files Friday said if it was his case, he would have charged Josh Powell with murder.
"There is direct evidence. There is circumstantial evidence. There is motive," said Pierce County prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "There is everything but the body."
The documents, used as justification to search the home where Josh Powell was staying last year, detail a widespread case that investigators had built against him.
Fastest start for stocks since the '90s boom: Is the next stop a record high?
NEW YORK (AP) — The bulls weren't bullish enough.
The stock market just had its best first quarter in 14 years. The surge has sent Wall Street analysts, some of whose forecasts seemed too sunny three months ago, scrambling to raise their estimates for the year.
"That it's up isn't surprising. It's the magnitude," says Robert Doll, the chief equity investment manager at BlackRock, the world's biggest money manager.
Doll says stocks could rise 10 percent more before the end of the year. That would be enough to push the Dow Jones industrial average to an all-time high and the Standard & Poor's 500 close to a record.
For the first three months of the year, the Dow was up 8 percent and the S&P 12 percent, in each case the best start since the great bull market of the 1990s. The Nasdaq composite index, made up of technology stocks, has had an even more remarkable run — up 19 percent for the year, its best start since 1991.
US tightens oversight of high-stakes research amid debate over man-made bird flu experiments
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is ordering a government-wide review of scientific research that could raise biosecurity concerns in the wake of fierce controversy over some man-made strains of the deadly bird flu.
The policy released Thursday tightens oversight of high-stakes research involving dangerous germs, work that could bring a big payoff but which also could cause harm if the research ever is misused.
The new U.S. policy doesn't mean there's anything wrong with doing this kind of research, including recent experiments in Wisconsin and the Netherlands that created easier-to-spread versions of the bird flu.
"These were important experiments to perform," stressed Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, which is posting the new policy Thursday on its biosecurity website.
The policy lays out steps to help scientists and government agencies determine which projects raise particular concerns about biosecurity and how to ensure that risks from the research are carefully managed from the start.
Current TV ousts talk show host Keith Olbermann after less than a year on its schedule
NEW YORK (AP) — Current TV has dismissed Keith Olbermann from its talk-show lineup after less than a year.
The left-leaning cable network announced late Friday afternoon that "Countdown," the show Olbermann has hosted on Current since last June, would be replaced with a show hosted by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, beginning Friday night.
"Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer" will air weeknights at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Spitzer had a short-lived talk show on CNN in that same time slot, and briefly competed with Olbermann.
The sometimes volatile Olbermann came to Current last year as the centerpiece of its new prime-time initiative after a stormy eight-year stint at MSNBC — his second — followed by his abrupt departure in January 2011.
Shortly after, Current announced his hiring, as the start of an effort to transform the network's prime-time slate into progressive talk. His official title was that of chief news officer, charged with providing editorial guidance for all of the network's political news, commentary and current events programming.
Sean Payton, Saints organization, assistant coach and GM appeal NFL suspensions and fines
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints coach Sean Payton is appealing his season-long suspension from the NFL for his role in New Orleans' bounty system. And he's not the only one looking for a little relief from the penalties handed down by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
General manager Mickey Loomis, assistant coach Joe Vitt and the Saints organization each decided to appeal on Friday.
Payton will also ask Goodell for guidance on the parameters of the suspension, which runs through next year's Super Bowl, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the league and the Saints did not announce Payton's plan to appeal.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel did confirm that Loomis was appealing his eight-game suspension and, separately, the team would challenge its $500,000 fine and loss of second-round draft picks this year and in 2013.
Vitt, suspended for six games, is doing the same. David Cornwell, representing Vitt as head of the NFL Coaches Association, confirmed the decision in an email to the AP.