Saturday, February 4, 2012

Published:

Two in a row for Romney: GOP front-runner cruises to easy win in Nevada presidential caucuses

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney cruised to a decisive victory in the Nevada caucuses Saturday night, notching a second straight triumph over a field of rivals suddenly struggling to keep pace.

In victory, the former Massachusetts governor unleashed a sharp attack on President Barack Obama, whose economic policies he said have "made these tough times last longer."

In a state with the worst joblessness in the country, Romney added, "This week he's been trying to take a bow for 8.3 percent unemployment. Not so fast, Mr. President. This is the 36th straight month with unemployment above the red line your own administration drew."

The former Massachusetts governor held a double-digit lead over his nearest pursuer as the totals mounted in a state where fellow Mormons accounted for roughly a quarter of all caucus-goers.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Rep. Ron Paul vied for a distant second. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum trailed the field.

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Gingrich says he's staying in the Republican presidential race, despite Nevada loss

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Newt Gingrich says he's staying in the Republican presidential nominating contest.

The former House speaker is struggling to forge a comeback after big back-to-back losses to Romney in Saturday's Nevada caucuses and Florida's primary four days earlier.

Gingrich vowed to stay in the race all the way to the party's nominating convention in Florida this summer.

Gingrich waged a limited campaign in Nevada, with just a handful of events and no TV ads.

He needs to forge a breakthrough as the race turns to a string of states friendly to Romney, including Colorado and Minnesota on Tuesday and Michigan, where Romney grew up, on Feb. 28.

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Russia, China veto at UN despite outrage over Syrian assault on restive city

BEIRUT (AP) -- Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at ending Syria's bloodshed, despite international outrage Saturday over a devastating bombardment of the city of Homs by President Bashar Assad's forces. Activists said more than 200 were killed in the bloodiest episode of the nearly 11-month uprising.

The veto and the show of support by Russia raised concerns that Assad's regime could now unleash even greater violence to crush the revolt against his rule, assured that his ally would prevent international action while continuing its weapons sales to Damascus.

It could also push an opposition despairing of other options further into an armed response, fueling a cycle of violence that threatens to tear apart the Arab nation. A movement that began with peaceful protests in March has already turned increasingly to the weapons of rebel soldiers to defend itself against Assad's crackdown.

The overnight onslaught on restive neighborhoods in Homs, Syria's third largest city, signaled a willingness by Assad's regime to bring a new level of violence to stamp out its opponents. Its timing, hours before a planned vote on the U.N. resolution, suggested Assad was confident of his ally Russia's protection on the world stage.

Activists' reports of the death toll from the assault could not be independently confirmed.

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Powerful winter storm moves across the Plains after dropping up to 6 feet of snow on Colorado

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- A powerful winter storm that covered parts of Colorado with up to 6 feet of snow crept east across the Plains Saturday, knocking out electricity to thousands in Nebraska as the blanket of heavy, wet precipitation downed power lines and made travel treacherous.

Nebraska got more than a foot of snow, and forecasters predicted the storm would drop several inches Saturday in central Iowa before gradually weakening as drier air mixes in and the front continues east.

In York, Neb., Denise Smart spent her Saturday running the register at a mostly empty gas station near I-80 because few people were out in the snow.

"It was loads of fun getting here this morning at 6:30," Smart said.

While travel was difficult throughout the path of the storm, it caused the most problems in Colorado, where Interstate 70 was closed between Denver and the Kansas border until Saturday morning. More than 600 flights were canceled Friday in Denver.

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AP Interview: Calif. women kidnapped in Egypt say captors were polite, served tea and snacks

CAIRO (AP) -- Their kidnappers gave them tea and dried fruit, and talked about religion and tribal rights. The California women were allowed to bring their Egyptian tour guide with them. One even put out his cigarette in the car when a hostage said the smoke was bothering her.

The women abducted for several hours Friday by armed Bedouin tribesmen in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula hesitated to call the men "captors," saying that the kidnappers were kind, polite and hospitable.

"All of this is an unforgettable memory," Norma Supe, a 63-year-old nurse from Union City, Calif., told The Associated Press. "Maybe God had a purpose for this. It was probably to encourage more faith in me."

Supe and Patti Ganal, of Los Gatos, Calif., were snatched Friday from a minivan on a tour of Sinai, a restive region that has seen security crumble since Egypt's popular uprising last year. There have been attacks on police stations and bombings of gas pipelines running through Sinai.

The abduction happened after Ganal, Supe, Ganal's husband and two other Americans had finished a tour of the sixth-century St. Catherine's Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Sinai where the Old Testament says Moses received the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments.

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Officer struck by brick as mounted police clear Occupy DC tents from federal park; 7 arrested

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Dozens of U.S. Park Police officers in riot gear and on horseback converged before dawn Saturday on one of the nation's last remaining Occupy sites, with police clearing away tents they said were banned under park rules.

At least seven people were arrested. Officials said it was relatively peaceful but got tense late in the day when an officer was struck in the face with a brick as police pushed protesters out of the last section of the park. The officer was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Protesters held a general assembly Saturday evening and vowed to continue the movement. One of the speakers acknowledged the injured officer and urged everyone to practice nonviolence.

Police insisted they were not evicting the protesters. Those whose tents conformed to regulations were allowed to stay, and protesters can stay 24 hours a day as long as they don't camp there with blankets or other bedding. Police threatened to seize tents that broke the rules and arrest the owners.

The police used barricades to cordon off sections of McPherson Square, a park under federal jurisdiction near the White House, and checked tents for mattresses and sleeping bags and sifted through piles of garbage and other belongings. Some wore yellow biohazard suits to guard against diseases identified at the site in recent weeks. Officials also have raised concerns about a rat infestation.

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For Facebook, 'Hacker Way' is way of life, failures and all

NEW YORK (AP) -- Facebook's billionaire CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls himself a hacker.

For most people, that word means something malicious -- shady criminals who listen in on private voicemails, or anonymous villains who cripple websites and break into email accounts.

For Facebook, though, hacker means something different. It's an ideal that permeates the company's culture. It explains the push to try new ideas (even if they fail), and to promote new products quickly (even if they're imperfect). The hacker approach has made Facebook one of the world's most valuable Internet companies.

Hackers "believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete," Zuckerberg explains. "They just have to go fix it -- often in the face of people who say it's impossible or are content with the status quo."

Zuckerberg penned those words in a 479-word essay called "The Hacker Way", which he included in the document the company filed with government regulators about its plans for an initial public offering. The company is seeking $5 billion from investors in a deal that could value Facebook at as much as $100 billion.

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11 injured in massive Super Bowl Village crowd for free outdoor concert featuring band LMFAO

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Overwhelming "human gridlock" in Indianapolis' Super Bowl Village was causing police to rethink crowd control Saturday on the eve of the big game.

Eleven people were injured Friday night as an estimated 50,000 people flooded downtown streets for a free outdoor concert by the band LMFAO. Two other people were injured Friday separate from the concert-going group. Indianapolis Public Safety Director Frank Straub said none of the injuries were serious, most involving shortness of breath or scraped knees.

Officials were still tweaking their downtown plan Saturday as they prepared for more concerts and activities before kickoff, and they seemed to be pleased with the early results.

"The crowd, everything is great," Indianapolis Department of Public Safety Capt. Kevin Givens said Saturday night. "We've not having any problems with overcrowding."

The less-favorable weather conditions Saturday might have had something to do with that as mist changed to drizzling rain, with temperatures in the 30s. There was bumper-to-bumper traffic on some streets heading into downtown, but as of 10 p.m., police had not reported any injuries or arrests.

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NC Police: Stun gun used on woman who cut in line at McDonalds drive-thru, blocked customers

HOPE MILLS, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina deputies say they used a stun gun on a woman who blocked a McDonalds drive-thru for 20 minutes after employees refused to serve her because she broke in line.

Authorities say 37-year-old Evangeline Lucca bypassed the order screen and the line at the restaurant in Hope Mills, about 60 miles south of Raleigh, and pulled directly up to the pick-up window Friday afternoon.

Cumberland County deputies say employees refused to take her order and told her to go to the back of the line. She refused to move, and police were called.

Authorities say Lucca was shocked after she blocked the line for 20 minutes. Her 3-year-old daughter was taken into protective custody.

Lucca was charged with second-degree trespass. A phone listing for her couldn't be found.

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Packers QB Aaron Rodgers wins AP NFL MVP award after 15-1 season

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has won the 2011 Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award in a landslide.

Rodgers earned 48 votes to two for New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. The Packers star is the first Green Bay player honored since Brett Favre concluded a run of three straight seasons as MVP in 1997.

"It means a lot to be recognized as a consistent player and contributing on my team," Rodgers said. "I think it's an award that relies on a player having the support of his teammates, obviously, guys blocking, guys running, guys catching, guys making plays. But I'm very honored to receive the award."

Rodgers received a standing ovation after his name was announced by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, the league's only four-time MVP. The award was presented on the "NFL Honors" primetime special Saturday night on NBC.

"We're all really excited to see you back on the field next year," Rodgers told Manning.