Thursday, February 6, 2014

Published:

Hopes for immigration dim as House speaker says it will be difficult to pass this year

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Speaker John Boehner on Thursday all but ruled out passage of immigration legislation before this fall's elections, saying it would be difficult for the Republican-led House to act on the issue that President Barack Obama has made a top domestic priority.

In his most pessimistic comments, Boehner blamed the stalemate on widespread skepticism that Obama would properly enforce any immigration reforms that Congress approved. The GOP leader didn't mention that his own members have balked at acting on the contentious issue, which could enrage core conservative voters in the midterm election year.

"The American people, including many of our members, don't trust that the reform we're talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be," Boehner told reporters at his weekly news conference. "The president seems to change the health care law on a whim, whenever he likes. Now, he is running around the country telling everyone he's going to keep acting on his own."

Just last week, Boehner and other House Republican leaders had unveiled broad principles for immigration changes, including legal status for the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally, tougher border security and a shot at citizenship for children brought to the country illegally.

National Republicans see the failure to act on immigration as a political drag on the party after 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney captured just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, and they are pressing for action to moderate the party's image. The principles endorsed last week were seen as a congressional jump-start for an issue that had been stalled since Senate passage of a comprehensive, bipartisan bill last June.

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Martin Luther King's children battle over Nobel medal, Bible; civil rights veterans take sides

ATLANTA (AP) -- A generation after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, his children are fighting among themselves again, this time over two of their father's most cherished possessions: his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize medal and the Bible he carried.

The civil rights leader's daughter Bernice King has both items, and her brothers, Dexter King and Martin Luther King III, asked a judge last week to order her to turn them over. She said her brothers want to sell them.

In a blistering statement this week, Bernice said their father "MUST be turning in his grave" over the idea. She said that while she loves her brothers dearly, she was "appalled and utterly ashamed" of the plan, and added: "It reveals a desperation beyond comprehension."

Then on Thursday, at a news conference from the pulpit of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where her father and grandfather preached, she portrayed herself as the true protector of King's legacy.

"When the record books are written, let it be said that there was at least one heir who tried to further the legacy," she said.

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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. WHAT PUTIN HOPES OLYMPICS TELL THE WORLD -- AND HIS COUNTRYMEN

The celebration at Sochi is designed to spread the message: "Russia is back."

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US suspects Russian involvement in bugging of diplomat's Ukraine phone call

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Two senior American diplomats, thinking their conversation about the Ukraine was secure and private, were caught disparaging the European Union in a phone call that was apparently bugged, and U.S. officials say they strongly suspect Russia of leaking the conversation.

The suspicions were aired Thursday after audio of the call was posted to the Internet and amid continuing criticism of the United States in Europe and elsewhere over NSA spying on foreign leaders and U.S. They also came as the Russia-hosted Winter Olympics opened under tight security to prevent possible terrorist attacks and highlighted distrust between Washington and Moscow that has thrived despite the Obama administration's attempt to "reset" relations with the Kremlin.

The White House and State Department stopped just short of directly accusing Russia of surreptitiously recording the call between the top US diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. But both took pains to point out that a Russian government official was the first or among the first to call attention to the audio of the conversation that was posted on YouTube. The State Department said the incident marked a "new low in Russian tradecraft."

White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed to the Russian official's tweet and Russia's clear interest in what has become a struggle between pro-Moscow and pro-Western camps in the former Soviet Republic.

"I would say that since the video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government, I think it says something about Russia's role," Carney told reporters. He would not comment on the substance of the conversation, in which the Nuland and Pyatt voices also discuss their opinion of various Ukrainian opposition figures.

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New heart group guidelines aim at preventing stroke in women, pregnancy is one focus

Just as heart attack symptoms may differ between men and women, so do stroke risks.

Now, the American Heart Association has issued its first guidelines for preventing strokes in women. They focus on birth control, pregnancy, depression and other risk factors that women face uniquely or more frequently than men do.

The advice applies to patients like Denise Miller, who suffered a stroke last year that fooled doctors at two northeast Ohio hospitals before it was finally diagnosed at the Cleveland Clinic. She was 36 and had no traditional risk factors.

"There was nothing to indicate I was going to have a stroke," other than frequent migraines with aura -- dizziness or altered senses such as tingling, ringing ears or sensitivity to light, Miller said.

These headaches are more common in women and the new guidelines issued Thursday flag them as a concern. Miller recovered but has some lingering numbness and vision problems.

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Sochi's opening ceremony to showcase Russia on its own terms, as Putin says: We're back

SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- It's designed to celebrate a millennium of Russian might and this country's modern rebound, and kick off two weeks of extraordinary human endeavors and planetary sportsmanship. But the ceremony opening the Sochi Olympics on Friday, more than anything, will be about one man: Vladimir Putin.

He charmed and strong-armed his way to hosting the games at a summer beach resort that he envisioned as a winter paradise. He stared down terrorist threats and worldwide wrath at a scarcely veiled campaign against gays. He has shrugged off critiques that construction of the most costly games in Olympic history was both shoddy and corrupt.

Ballet, man-made snow and avant-garde art will make an appearance at Sochi's opening ceremonies, though as with all past opening ceremonies, the details are under wraps. They can't really compete with the cinematic splendor of the London Olympics or the pyrotechnic extravaganza of Beijing, but then again, the Winter Games are usually more low-key.

No matter. All Putin needs is an event that tells the world "Russia is back."

It's a message meant for millions around the world who will watch the show -- and meant for his countrymen, too.

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Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner dies at 91; popular player, broadcaster of 'Kiner's Korner'

NEW YORK (AP) -- Ralph Kiner was a smash as a slugger, launching so many home runs over the left-field wall at old Forbes Field that fans nicknamed it his corner.

Years later, as one of baseball's most beloved broadcasters, he became a big hit in a new "Kiner's Korner."

Kiner, the Hall of Famer whose frequent malaprops endeared him to New York Mets listeners for more than a half-century, died Thursday. He was 91.

The Hall of Fame said Kiner died at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., with his family at his side.

"He was a jewel," Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver said.

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Police: Art thief among suspects arrested in theft of Stradivarius violin in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The mystery of what happened to a multimillion-dollar Stradivarius violin stolen in a stun gun attack was answered Thursday when Milwaukee police recovered the instrument and blamed the heist at least in part on an art thief who once stole a statue from a gallery and then tried to sell it back.

The violin, which was built in 1715 by the renowned Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari, is valued at $5 million. It was found hidden in a suitcase in the attic of a man who police said was unaware the instrument was in his home.

Three people have been arrested in the case, and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said there was no evidence of other "shadowy" figures from the art world behind the theft.

"It appears we had a local criminal who had an interest in art theft and was smart enough to develop a plan for a robbery," Flynn said. "Beyond that, we don't know what his motive was."

The violin, which police said appeared to be in good condition, was stolen late last month from a concert violinist who was shocked with a stun gun. His attacker grabbed the violin and hopped into a waiting vehicle.

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After 22 years, Jay Leno says goodbye to 'Tonight' with help from Billy Crystal, Garth Brooks

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) -- Jay Leno has said goodbye to "The Tonight Show" before, but not like this. The comedian became tearful and choked up Thursday as he concluded what he called the "greatest 22 years of my life."

"I am the luckiest guy in the world. This is tricky," said the emotional Leno, stepping down for the second and presumably last time as host of TV's venerable late-night program. Jimmy Fallon takes over "Tonight" in New York on Feb. 17.

Leno shared that he'd lost his mother the first year he became "Tonight" host, his dad the second and then his brother.

"And after that I was pretty much out of family. And the folks here became my family," he said of the crew and staff of "Tonight."

It was a tender finish to a farewell show that was mostly aiming for laughs, with traditional monologue jokes, clips from old shows and a wild assortment of celebrities helping to see Leno off.

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5 memorable moments from Jay Leno's final 'Tonight Show'

BURBANK, Calif. (AP) -- Jay Leno said goodbye -- again -- to "The Tonight Show" during a taping Thursday in Burbank, Calif. Here are five memorable moments from his final show:

22 YEARS AGO

In the middle of his opening monologue, which included the usual jabs at pop culture and politics, Leno stopped to recognize changes over the past 22 years: cigarettes could be smoked anywhere; Justin Bieber wasn't born; and guys had to buy porn at newsstands. "You know the saddest part of all?" said Leno. "O.J. (Simpson) never found the real killers."

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WHAT'S NEXT FOR JAY?