Cease-fire falters in embattled Syrian city, halts aid, evacuations
BEIRUT (AP) -- Two trucks carrying food and medical supplies into rebel-held neighborhoods in the central Syrian city of Homs turned back under heavy fire Saturday, leaving four paramedics wounded as a cease-fire faltered, Syrian officials said.
Talal Barrazi, the governor of Homs province, told the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV that the attack occurred late in the afternoon and that the trucks were targeted by two roadside bombs and a mortar shell from the rebel side.
Homs activist Ahmad al-Qusair however denied there had been roadside bombs and said the convoy was attacked by mortar shells fired by government forces.
Barrazi later told Syrian state TV that two trucks were able to reach opposition-held neighborhoods earlier in the day. Al-Mayadeen also reported that two trucks, carrying 250 food parcels, were able to cross into rebel-held areas Saturday.
The state TV said four members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were wounded by rebel fire in the area, but gave no further details.
The word from Olympians: No gay rights, please, we're competing -- but ask us later
SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- Olympic competition first, gay rights maybe later.
Plenty of athletes made clear before traveling to Sochi how unhappy they were about gay rights being curtailed in Russia, particularly with its law banning gay "propaganda."
But now in Sochi, there has not been a squeak of public protest from the 2,870 Olympians -- either at venues or at Friday's opening ceremony.
Outside the Olympic bubble, the plight of Russia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community continues to dog the games.
Gay rights activists who waved rainbow flags on Friday on Moscow's Red Square and protested in St. Petersburg were quickly arrested. Three sponsors of the U.S. Olympic Committee, led by telecommunications giant AT&T, have spoken explicitly against the Russian law. Google Inc. hinted its opposition by putting winter athletes and rainbow colors on its search-page logo.
AP PHOTOS: Sochi kicks off with big wins
The first day of medal competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics kicked off with some record-breaking wins. Sven Kramer of the Netherlands led a clean sweep by the Dutch in the men's 5,000-meter speed skating. In slopestyle's Olympic debut, U.S. snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg won the first gold medal of the games.
Here's a look at the first day of medal competition in Sochi.
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C. African Republic Muslims hit by mob violence; more peacekeepers needed, says rights worker
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- The mob violence wracking Central African Republic imperils the future of the country's Muslims, with tens of thousands fleeing the daily violence and untold numbers killed.
Bangui, the capital, is engulfed in an orgy of bloodshed and looting despite the presence of thousands of French and African peacekeepers.
"We are in a moment where immediate action is needed to stop the killings," Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch told The Associated Press, calling for a full-fledged U.N. peacekeeping mission. "Otherwise the future of the Muslim community of this country will be gone."
Muslims make up about 15 percent of Central African Republic's 4.6 million people. More than 800,000 people have fled their homes --about half of those from the capital, according to the United Nations.
"There are some who don't want Muslims in this country," Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke said on local radio Saturday. "But when the Muslims have left the country, what happens next? The Protestants will throw out the Catholics, and then the Baptists against the Evangelists, and finally the animists? It is time we regain control and stop ourselves from plunging into an abyss."
After back-and-forth op-eds, next step uncertain in Woody Allen allegations
NEW YORK (AP) -- A week bracketed by op-ed letters of accusation and denial of child molestation left little clarity and scant hope for resolution in a bitter saga that has haunted Woody Allen and the Farrow family for more than two decades.
The back-and-forth between Allen and his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, breathed new fire into a long dormant scandal, but what happens next is uncertain, with the possibility of legal recourse and continued scrutiny in the weeks and months ahead.
Farrow, in her most detailed account yet, alleged in an open letter published Feb. 1 by The New York Times that Allen "sexually assaulted" her when she was 7 years old at the Farrows' Connecticut home, renewing a charge against the movie director that was first leveled in 1992.
Allen responded in a letter posted online Friday night by the Times that insisted "of course I did not molest Dylan." He instead claimed the young Dylan had been coerced and misled by her mother, Mia Farrow. The two acrimoniously separated after Farrow discovered Allen was having an affair with her adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn, who was 19 or 21 at the time. (Her date of birth is uncertain.)
"I loved (Dylan) and hope one day she will grasp how she has been cheated out of having a loving father and exploited by a mother more interested in her own festering anger than her daughter's well-being," said Allen, who married Previn in 1997 and has two adopted daughters with her.
The heroin mill next door: In NYC, nation's smack capital, dealers succeed by blending in
NEW YORK (AP) -- In a major drug bust that drew little attention just a week before Philip Seymour Hoffman's death, authorities found a sophisticated heroin packaging and distribution operation in an apartment in the Bronx.
There, workers with coffee grinders, scoops and scales toiled around the clock to break down bricks of the drug into thousands of tiny, hit-size baggies, bearing such stamped brands as "Government Shutdown" and, in a nod to the Super Bowl, "NFL."
The seizure of $8 million worth of heroin was the result of the latest raid on heroin mills located behind the doors of New York homes, which authorities say are a sign of a well-oiled distribution network that caters to more mainstream, middle- and upper-class customers like the Oscar-winning Hoffman.
Heroin dealers want to find customers with ready cash "who are going to be with them until they die," said city Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan. "That's the attitude."
Tests are continuing to try to pinpoint how Hoffman died, but his body was found with a syringe in his arm and dozens of packets of heroin nearby. Where he got his drugs remains uncertain, but the arrests of drug suspects identified during the investigation suggest he might have visited a lower Manhattan apartment building where a supplier lived.
Fla. detective: 9 bullet holes found in SUV in which teen was killed after loud music argument
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Nine bullet holes were found in an SUV after an argument over loud music at a Florida convenience store that left a teen dead, an investigator testified Saturday at the trial of the man charged with opening fire.
Also Saturday, the defendant's fiancee, who was with him the night of the shooting, broke down several times while testifying.
A bullet fired into the rear door killed Jordan Davis, 17, of Marietta, Ga., in November 2012. Michael Dunn, 47, of Brevard County, is on trial in Jacksonville, charged with first-degree murder, three counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of shooting or throwing a deadly missile.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Detective Andrew Kipple's testimony about the location of the bullet holes also showed that the Durango's driver and his front-seat passenger barely escaped being shot.
Authorities say Davis was parked in the Durango with three friends outside the store. Dunn and his fiancée had just left a wedding reception and were heading home when they stopped at the store and pulled up next to the SUV.
Attorney General Eric Holder says same-sex marriage ruling is being applied to Justice Dept
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In an assertion of same-sex marriage rights, Attorney General Eric Holder is applying a landmark Supreme Court ruling to the Justice Department, announcing Saturday that same-sex spouses cannot be compelled to testify against each other, should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and are entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages.
The Justice Department runs a number of benefits programs, and Holder says same-sex couples will qualify for them. They include the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and benefits to surviving spouses of public safety officers who suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in the line of duty.
"In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law," Holder said in prepared remarks to the Human Rights Campaign in New York. The advocacy group works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equal rights.
Just as in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, the stakes in the current generation over same-sex marriage rights "could not be higher," said Holder.
"The Justice Department's role in confronting discrimination must be as aggressive today as it was in Robert Kennedy's time," Holder said of the attorney general who played a leadership role in advancing civil rights.
From the main course to dessert, 5 ways the farm bill impacts what you're eating for dinner
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Look no further than your dinner plate to understand how the new farm bill affects you.
About 15 percent of the money in the legislation signed into law Friday by President Barack Obama will go to farmers to help them grow the food you eat. Most of the rest of the money in the almost $100 billion-a-year law will go to food stamps that help people buy groceries.
Five ways the farm law affects what is on your plate:
WHERE YOU SHOP: The law includes incentives for farmers markets and makes it easier for food stamp recipients to shop there. A new program would award grants to some farmers markets and grocery stores that match food stamp dollars if recipients buy fruits and vegetables. It has a bit of money to help finance the building of grocery stores in low-income areas that don't have many retail outlets.
THE MAIN COURSE: Most of the subsidy money benefits producers of the main row crops -- corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton and rice. Most corn and soybeans in the U.S. are grown for animal feed, so those subsidies keep costs down for the farmers and the livestock producers who buy feed for their beef cattle, hogs and chickens. Corn is an ingredient in hundreds if not thousands of processed foods you buy in the grocery store.
News organizations revealing NSA secrets sometimes accidentally expose more than intended
LONDON (AP) -- News organizations publishing leaked National Security Agency documents have inadvertently disclosed the names of at least six intelligence workers and other government secrets they never intended to give away, an Associated Press review has found.
The accidental disclosures illustrate the risks of even well-intentioned, public-interest reporting on highly secret U.S. programs.
In some cases, prominent newspapers including The New York Times quickly pulled down government records they published online and recensored them to hide information they accidentally exposed. On one occasion, the Guardian newspaper published an NSA document that appeared to identify an American intelligence target living abroad. Before the newspaper could fix its mistake, a curious software engineer, Ron Garret of Emerald Hills, Calif., tried to contact the man at his office.
"I figured someone ought to give him the heads up," Garret told The Associated Press.
The inadvertent disclosures, which include technical details and other information, are another complication in the ethically and technically challenging coverage of the NSA's surveillance programs. Journalists who have seen the unfiltered secrets leaked by former intelligence worker Edward Snowden agree that some things are off-limits for publication. But media organizations sometimes have struggled to keep them that way.