Over 75 injured as ceiling of London theater partially collapses on packed audience
LONDON (AP) -- Hunks of plaster and dust rained down on a packed audience when the ceiling of a London theater partially collapsed Thursday night. More than 75 people were injured -- seven seriously, authorities said.
The collapse at the Apollo Theatre took place around 8:15 p.m. during a performance of "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time" at the height of the Christmas holiday season. Plaster and masonry from a section of the ceiling tumbled down, bringing parts of the theater's balconies down with it onto the audience, police said.
More than 700 people were in the theater at the time, according to the London Fire Brigade.
Officials said most of the injured were "walking wounded" with upper-body injuries, and that all are conscious and breathing.
Police and fire officials said it was too soon to say what had caused the partial collapse of the ceiling, but that a full investigation is being carried out.
In sharp shift, NSA surveillance debate is turning in favor of those seeking further limits
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a sharp and unexpected shift, the national debate over U.S. government surveillance seems to be turning in favor of reining in the National Security Agency's expansive spying powers at home and abroad.
It's happened suddenly, over a span of just three days. First, a federal judge ruled that the NSA's bulk collection of telephone records was unconstitutional, and then a presidential advisory panel recommended sweeping changes to the agency. Together, the developments are ratcheting up the pressure on President Barack Obama to scale back the controversial surveillance programs.
Even Russian President Vladimir Putin chimed in on Thursday. He said U.S. surveillance efforts are necessary to fight terrorism and "not a cause for repentance," but he, too, said they should be limited by clear rules.
Obama is in no way obligated to make substantial changes. And, countering the public criticism he faces, he hears internal appeals from intelligence officials who insist the collection of phone and Internet data is necessary to protect the U.S. from terror attacks.
But even that argument has been undermined in the course of an extraordinary week. Federal Judge Richard Leon said in a ruling on Monday -- its effect stayed, pending appeal -- that even if the phone data collection is constitutional, there is little evidence that it has prevented terror attacks. The intelligence advisory panel, which had access to significant amounts of classified information and counted as a member a former acting director of the CIA, came to the same conclusion in its 300-page report.
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. SCORES INJURED IN LONDON THEATER COLLAPSE
The ceiling of the city's Apollo Theatre gives way, showering a packed audience with plaster, wood and dirt. At least seven people are seriously hurt.
Up to 40M shoppers may have had credit and debit cards compromised in Target security breach
Target's data-security nightmare threatens to drive off holiday shoppers during the company's busiest time of year.
The nation's second-largest discounter acknowledged Thursday that data connected to about 40 million credit and debit card accounts was stolen as part of a breach that began over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The theft marks the second-largest credit card breach in U.S. history, exceeded only by a scam that began in 2005 involving retailer TJX Cos. and affected at least 45.7 million card users.
Target's disclosure came a day after reports that the company was investigating a breach.
Customers who made purchases by swiping their cards at its U.S. stores between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15 may have had their accounts exposed. The stolen data included customer names, credit and debit card numbers, card expiration dates and the embedded code on the magnetic strip on back of the card, Target said.
Fired US nuke general allegedly engaged in alcohol-fueled 'inappropriate behavior' in Russia
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Air Force general who was fired from command of U.S. land-based nuclear missile forces had engaged in "inappropriate behavior" while on official business in Russia last summer, including heavy drinking, rudeness to his hosts and associating with "suspect" women, according to an investigation report released Thursday.
The events that led to the dismissal took place while Maj. Gen. Michael Carey was in Russia in July as head of a U.S. government delegation to a nuclear security training exercise. At the time, he was commander of the 20th Air Force, responsible for all 450 of the Air Force's Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles stationed in five U.S. states.
When Carey was relieved of command in October, the Air Force said he had engaged in unspecified misbehavior while on a business trip, but it did not say the episode was in Russia, nor did it indicate the specific allegations against him.
Carey's firing was one of several setbacks for the nuclear force this year. The Associated Press has documented serious security lapses and complaints of low morale and "rot" within the force, as well as an independent assessment of "burnout" among a sampling of nuclear missile launch officers and security forces.
After the Russia trip, a member of the delegation lodged a complaint about Carey's behavior. That person, described as a female staff member in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, asserted to investigators that on the delegation's first night in Moscow, July 15, Carey was drinking and speaking loudly in a hotel lounge about how he is "saving the world" and that his forces suffer from low morale.
Honduran president fires national police chief once accused of running death squads
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) -- President Porfirio Lobo on Thursday fired Honduras' national police chief, who has long faced accusations he ran death squads when he was a lower-level officer and whose force has been hit with frequent abuse claims.
Lobo said he made the decision to remove Gen. Juan Carlos Bonilla in consultations with President-elect Juan Orlando Hernandez, who takes office Jan. 27.
Neither Lobo nor the incoming president explained the reasons for the firing, but the step had been expected with the change in administration as Hernandez has expressed skepticism of efforts to weed out corrupt officers and shake up the National Police, which is the only police force in Honduras. Bonilla also indicated he was interested in leaving.
"We are making these changes now, because we are in the planning phase to have a successful start on Jan. 27," Hernandez said.
As chief, Bonilla has been the U.S. government's go-to man in Honduras for the war on drug trafficking, although the past charges have dogged him and the State Department denied it worked directly with a man also known as "the Tiger."
Putin to pardon his nemesis Khodorkovsky: Who is the man who used to be Russia's richest?
MOSCOW (AP) -- It was arguably Russian President Vladimir Putin's biggest political decision of the year -- the announcement that imprisoned tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky will be pardoned. Here's a look at Khodorkovsky, the implications of his imprisonment and his impending release:
WHO IS KHODORKOVSKY?
At the time of his arrest in October 2003, when special forces stormed his private jet at a Siberian airport, Khodorkovsky was the head of Russia's largest oil producer. He was believed to be the country's richest man, with a fortune estimated at $15 billion.
He was also a constant thorn in Putin's side.
Ohio ex-doctor seeks leniency in pregnant mom's heroin death, says overdose was accidental
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Attorneys for a former Ohio doctor who pleaded guilty to killing a pregnant mother acknowledged in a court filing Thursday that he recorded himself having sex with the incapacitated woman but say she caused her own accidental overdose.
The defense also acknowledged that Ali Salim moved the woman's body but argued he should be granted leniency at sentencing Friday, though it didn't recommend a sentence.
Attorneys said Salim met 23-year-old Deanna Ballman intending only to have sex in exchange for payment, not to hurt her or her unborn child, and accepts responsibility for their deaths and trying to cover up what happened. The defense said the court also should consider Salim's previous background as a doctor in good standing with no criminal history.
Salim, 44, of New Albany, pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse. On a rape charge, he entered a type of guilty plea under which he maintains innocence but acknowledges prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him.
The contrast between those crimes and Salim's background are "illustrative of the accidental nature of the events," the defense said in the filing.
A&E suspends Robertson for anti-gay comments; 'Duck Dynasty' fans talk boycott until return
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- When the A&E network suspended "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson for disparaging gay people, it may have followed a time-honored TV tradition of quickly silencing a star who, for better or worse, speaks his mind. But in doing so it also ruffled the feathers of possibly millions of fans of its most popular show.
Fourteen hours after it was learned that Robertson had been placed on indefinite "hiatus" for telling GQ magazine, among other things, that gays are headed to hell, more than a half-million people liked an impromptu Facebook page demanding the show be boycotted until he returns.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who had her picture taken with Robertson just last month, complained that his free-speech rights were being trampled. Bobby Jindal, governor of the state of Louisiana, where the show is filmed, complained that Miley Cyrus got a pass for twerking on TV while Phil got shown the door.
T-shirts, of course, went on the market with the words "I Don't Give a Duck About A or E, Bring Back Phil."
"It's a show that is promoting clean living and good moral values, and that's something we need more of today," one of the program's many fans, Rick Peter of Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, told The Associated Press.
Kobe Bryant expected to miss 6 weeks because of fracture in left knee
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant is expected to miss about six weeks with an injured left knee, dealing the second major injury setback of the year to the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar guard.
An MRI exam on Thursday revealed Bryant has a fracture in his lateral tibial plateau -- the top of his shinbone near his knee.
Bryant made his season debut with the Lakers Dec. 8 after nearly eight months away while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. He apparently was hurt again Tuesday night in Memphis while playing his fourth game in five nights.
After playing six games in 10 days, the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history is out again until February or longer -- and the Lakers' already miserable run of injuries got even uglier.
"You hate it for Kobe," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni told reporters after practice Thursday. "He's worked so hard to get back, but he'll be back. He'll be back in six weeks. We've just got to weather the storm until he gets back."