In drought-stricken California, Obama says US must rethink water use amid climate change
LOS BANOS, Calif. (AP) -- Warning that weather-related disasters will only get worse, President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. must rethink the way it uses water as he announced new federal aid to help drought-stricken California.
Obama drew a clear connection between California's troubles and climate change as he toured part of a farm that will go unsown this year as the state faces its worst drought in more than 100 years. Even if the U.S. takes action now to curb pollution, the planet will keep getting warmer "for a long time to come" thanks to greenhouse gases that have already built up, Obama said.
"We're going to have to stop looking at these disasters as something to wait for. We're going to have to start looking at these disasters as something to prepare for," Obama said.
After arriving in California on Friday afternoon, Obama met with community leaders at a rural water facility before announcing more than $160 million in federal financial aid, including $100 million in the farm bill he signed into law last week for programs that cover the loss of livestock.
The overall package includes smaller amounts to aid in the most extreme drought areas and to help food banks that serve families affected by the water shortage. Obama also called on federal facilities in California to limit water consumption immediately.
Uganda's president to sign bill that would allow life sentences for some homosexual acts
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni plans to sign a bill into law that prescribes life imprisonment for some homosexual acts, officials said Friday, alarming rights activists who have condemned the bill as draconian in a country where homosexuality already has been criminalized.
Museveni announced his decision to governing party lawmakers, said government spokesman Ofwono Opondo. In Twitter posts on Friday, Opondo said the legislators, who are holding a retreat chaired by Museveni, "welcomed the development as a measure to protect Ugandans from social deviants."
Museveni's decision was based on a report by "medical experts" presented at the retreat, saying that "homosexuality is not genetic but a social behavior," said Opondo.
Evelyn Anite, a spokeswoman for the governing party, said the report, which had been requested by the president, was prepared by more than a dozen scientists from Uganda's Health Ministry.
Opondo and Anite both said the president did not indicate when he will sign the legislation into law.
Jury finds Utah man guilty of child abuse homicide in 2011 death of 16-year-old baby sitter
OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- A jury Friday found a Utah man guilty of child abuse homicide in the death of a teenage baby sitter who prosecutors say died after the man gave her a lethal dose of drugs during a night of drugs and sex that also included the man's wife.
The eight jurors reached their verdict about two hours after they were given the case. Eric Millerberg, 38, was also found guilty of unlawful sexual contact with a minor, obstruction of justice and desecration of a dead body in the 2011 death of Alexis Rasmussen, 16.
Sentencing was set for March 18.
During a three-day trial, prosecutors brought detectives, medical examiners, prisoners and Millerberg's wife, Dea Millerberg, to the stand to show that he recklessly injected Rasmussen with lethal doses of heroin and methamphetamine during a night of drugs and sex that also included his wife. Prosecutors told jurors that Eric Millerberg and his wife then dumped her body in the woods of northern Utah while lying to police as the girl's mother desperately searched for her for more than a month.
Dea Millerberg, 40, is awaiting her own criminal trial in April on charges of desecration of a body. She testified against her husband during the trial.
Princes William, Harry help set sandbags in River Thames village hit by Britain's floods
LONDON (AP) -- Prince William and Prince Harry helped flood-hit British villagers protect their homes Friday, unloading sandbags alongside soldiers in a River Thames village.
The princes, who have both served in the armed forces, joined a work crew In Datchet, west of London, from about 6 a.m. on what aides said was a private visit.
The princes were not the only royals helping out. Their grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, has sent feed and bedding from the royal farms at Windsor to farmers whose land has been inundated.
England, which has been lashed by wind and rain since December, had its wettest January since records began in 1766, and the rain has continued this month. Storms this week have brought wind gusts of more than 100 mph (160 kph).
Floods have drenched the southwestern coast of England, the low-lying Somerset Levels and the Thames Valley west of London, where hundreds of properties have been swamped after the river burst its banks.
Investigation ordered by NFL says 3 players engaged in a pattern of harassment against Martin
An investigation into the racially charged Miami Dolphins bullying scandal detailed widespread harassment in the team's locker room that extended beyond the two players at the center of the probe.
The NFL-ordered report stated there was a "pattern of harassment" committed by at least three players and extended to two lineman and an assistant trainer, all targets of vicious taunts and racist insults.
Lawyer Ted Wells released the report Friday, saying guard John Jerry and center Mike Pouncey followed Richie Incognito's lead in harassing Jonathan Martin, who left the team in October. They threatened to rape his sister, called him a long list of slurs and bullied him for not being "black enough."
In a statement emailed by a league spokesman, the NFL did not make any mention of possible punishment stemming from the case. The league only confirmed it had received the report and said it appreciated the Dolphins' cooperation with the investigation. Wells said he does not intend to comment further.
Martin is biracial, Incognito is white, and Jerry and Pouncey are black.
Federal government says banks may do business with legal marijuana sellers
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration on Friday gave banks a road map for conducting transactions with legal marijuana sellers so these new businesses can stash away savings, make payroll and pay taxes like any other enterprise. It's not clear banks will get on board.
Guidance issued by the Justice and Treasury departments is the latest step by the federal government toward enabling a legalized marijuana industry to operate in states that approve it. The intent is to make banks feel more comfortable working with marijuana businesses that are licensed and regulated.
Others have a keen interest, too, in a regulated financial pipeline for an industry that is just emerging from the underground. Marijuana businesses that can't use banks may have too much cash they can't safely put away, leaving them vulnerable to criminals. And governments that allow marijuana sales want a channel to receive taxes.
But a leading financial services trade group immediately expressed misgivings and others, too, said the guidelines don't go far enough in protecting banks.
"After a series of red lights, we expected this guidance to be a yellow one," said Don Childears, president and CEO of the Colorado Bankers Association. "This isn't close to that. At best, this amounts to 'serve these customers at your own risk' and it emphasizes all of the risks. This light is red."
Car bomb explodes near mosque in rebel-held village in Syria, killing dozens
BEIRUT (AP) -- A car bomb blew up outside a mosque in a rebel-held village in southern Syria as worshippers were leaving after Friday prayers, killing dozens of people and filling clinics and hospitals with the wounded, anti-government activists said.
The explosion in Yadouda charred vehicles parked nearby and damaged the mosque, which has a white dome, according to video images posted by activists who are fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.
Yadouda is in the southern province of Daraa, the birthplace of the uprising against Assad that began with peaceful protests in March 2011 and morphed into a civil war that has killed more than 130,000 people.
The motive for Friday's blast could not immediately be determined and activists provided varying death tolls ranging from 29 to 43. State-run TV confirmed the bombing but said only 3 people were killed.
Car bombs have frequently been used by Islamic extremists both against the government and against moderate rivals in the Sunni-led opposition movement. Government forces also have been known to use explosive-packed vehicles and the two sides frequently trade blame in attacks targeting mosques.
Overturning of Virginia gay-marriage ban places issue increasingly in courts shaped by Obama
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The overturning of Virginia's gay marriage ban places the legal fight over same-sex unions increasingly in the hands of federal appeals courts shaped by President Barack Obama's two election victories.
It's no accident that Virginia has become a key testing ground for federal judges' willingness to embrace same-sex marriage after last year's strongly worded pro-gay rights ruling by the Supreme Court. Judges appointed by Democratic presidents have a 10-5 edge over Republicans on the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, formerly among the nation's most conservative appeals courts.
Nationally, three other federal appeals courts will soon take up the right of same-sex couples to marry, too, in Ohio, Colorado and California. The San Francisco-based 9th circuit is dominated by judges appointed by Democratic presidents. The Denver-based court, home of the 10th circuit, has shifted from a Republican advantage to an even split between the parties, while the 6th circuit, based in Cincinnati, remains relatively unchanged in favor of Republicans during Obama's tenure.
U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen's ruling Thursday, that same-sex couples in Virginia have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals, represented the strongest advance in the South for advocates of gay marriage. She put her own ruling on hold while it is being appealed.
Jon Davidson of the gay rights group Lambda Legal said the "very dramatic" shift in the 4th circuit under Obama was an important reason behind the decision to sue for marriage rights in Virginia, which also twice voted for Obama.
Style site Jezebel.com crunches NY Fashion Week model numbers and sees little diversity change
NEW YORK (AP) -- In the wake of a fresh diversity push among models and under the headline "New York Fashion Week: Diversity Talks But White Faces Walk," the culture and style website Jezebel has already crunched the numbers on the number of models of color who walked this time around, declaring the math shows little progress.
The site looked at 148 shows during eight days of previews concluding Thursday and found 985 looks were worn by models of color out of 4,621. That, Jezebel said on its website Friday night, means about 79 percent of those models were white.
That number is slightly smaller than last season, the site said, but has changed little from roughly 80 percent of looks worn during New York Fashion Weeks over the past six seasons.
Last September, black models Iman and Naomi Campbell, along with veteran modeling agent Bethann Hardison, launched the Balance Diversity campaign, which included open letters to organizers of fashion weeks in New York, London, Paris and Milan that called out designers whose catwalks were almost entirely white.
They have a new recruit in British model Jourdan Dunn, who told The Guardian recently it's "lazy" for fashion editors to ignore black models based on the argument that they don't sell, according to Jezebel.
Swiss heat up Olympics with 2 gold medals; Teen is first Asian man to win figure skating gold
SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- A pair of skiers from Switzerland collected gold medals at the Sochi Games on Friday, and a teenager from Japan overcame a pair of falls to become the first Asian man to win an Olympic title in men's figure skating.
With competitors seeking relief from the unusually warm weather on the mountain trails, Swiss skiers earned gold in the men's super-combined and the men's classical-style 15-kilometer cross-country race. The haul gave the Swiss five golds, only two behind Germany.
Sandro Viletta stunned the favorites to win the super-combined. Two of the favorites, defending gold medalist Bode Miller and world champion Ted Ligety, failed to win a medal.
Dario Cologna added the other gold for Switzerland and his second of the games, winning the sweat-drenched 15K race. Cologna, who had ankle surgery in November, won the 30K skiathlon on Sunday.
In figure skating, 19-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu claimed the men's title, one day after Russian great Evgeni Plushenko withdrew from the Olympics because of injury.