BC-AP News Digest 6:10 pm

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Associated Press

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 6:00 PM

The world at 6:10 p.m. All times EST.

At the Nerve Center, news producers Amir Bibawy, Suzanne Boyle McCrory, Stephanie Siek and Mike Stewart can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, James Nieves (ext. 1900). For graphics and interactives, ext. 7636. Expanded AP content can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact customersupport(at)ap.org or call 877-836-9477.

A selection of top photos can be found at: http://bit.ly/APTopPhotos

NEW & DEVELOPING

— Adds FEDERAL RESERVE.

— SANDY CONCERT — Televised concert begins at 7:15 p.m.

Has moved:

— US-SYRIA-SCUD MISSILES — Official: Syria fires Scud missiles at insurgents in the north.

— CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR-CANCER — Office says California Gov. Jerry Brown is being treated for prostate cancer.

— VENEZUELA-CHAVEZ — Venezuela information minister says Chavez may not return in time for Jan. 10 inauguration.

— GUATEMALA-MCAFEE — Software company founder John McAfee released in Guatemala, leaves on flight to Florida.

— TRACK PALIN-DIVORCE — Track Palin, oldest child of former Alaska Gov Sarah Palin, and wife file for divorce.

— TV-QUIETER COMMERCIALS — Shhhh! A new law, the CALM Act, is taking effect to keep TV commercials from blasting viewers.

TOP STORIES

NKOREA-ROCKET LAUNCH

PYONGYANG, North Korea — In Pyongyang, people clink beer mugs and dance in the streets to celebrate North Korea's first satellite in space. In Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, leaders push for consequences for the successful rocket launch, widely seen as a test that takes the country a step closer to being capable of lobbing nuclear bombs over the Pacific. The U.N. Security Council, which has punished North Korea repeatedly for its nuclear program, condemns the launch and says it will urgently consider "an appropriate response."

AP photos, video, interactive.

— NKOREA-ROCKET LAUNCH-WHY NOW? — AP News Analysis: Rocket serves as gift to late North Korean leaders and warning to the world.

— NKOREA-ROCKET LAUNCH-MISSILES — A look at North Korea's missile arsenal.

— US-NORTH KOREA — The Obama administration isn't drawing a 'red line' for North Korea over its rocket test, apparently to avoid drawing too much world attention to the repressive regime.

EGYPT

CAIRO — Egypt's opposition calls on supporters to vote "No" in the critical weekend referendum on a disputed constitution drafted by Islamist supporters of President Mohammed Morsi. But the decision to forego a boycott looks unlikely to defuse the crisis, which has blossomed into a crippling divide over whether Egypt might move toward theocracy or retain its secular traditions. The opposition plans more protests, judges remain on strike, the military is inching back into politics and there are concerns of further economic decline. By Hamza Hendawi.

AP photos, video, interactive.

— EGYPT-ECONOMY — Egypt's political crisis threatens to plunge its ailing economy even deeper into distress after the government delays a request for a $4.8 billion IMF loan that would have eased a ballooning budget deficit.

— EGYPT-CONSTITUTION-GLANCE — Highlights from the draft constitution.

FEDERAL RESERVE

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve sends its clearest signal to date that it will keep interest rates super-low to support the U.S. economy even after the job market has improved significantly. The Fed says it plans to keep its key short-term rate near zero until the unemployment rate reaches 6.5 percent or less — as long as inflation remains tame. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger.

AP photo.

— FEDERAL RESERVE-Q&A.

FISCAL CLIFF-NEWS GUIDE

WASHINGTON — The "fiscal cliff" crisis pulls together Washington's toughest decisions — those that lawmakers have dodged for years — and says settle them all, at once. Yet bedrock differences between Democrats and Republicans stand in the way. A look at the cliff and why it's so hard for Congress and President Barack Obama to find a safe way down. By Connie Cass.

AP photos, interactive.

— FISCAL CLIFF — No apparent budging: Fiscal cliff talks appear stalled less than three weeks before deadline. AP photos.

OREGON MALL KILLINGS

PORTLAND, Ore. — Panic quickly spread across a busy Portland mall as a masked gunman opened fire on holiday shoppers in a food court, killing two people before killing himself. Amid the gunfire, employees quickly ushered patrons into the parking lot. Police arrived within minutes, forming teams and heading into the chaos, rather than waiting for SWAT officers. In this year of deadly mass shootings, police say they are training to respond to such outbreaks of violence as if they are not rare, but routine. By Rachel LaCorte and Jonathan J. Cooper.

AP photos, video, graphic.

RIGHT-TO-WORK-MICHIGAN

LANSING, Mich. — Now that Michigan has a right-to-work law, thousands of workers will soon have the option to stop paying fees to unions that represent them at the bargaining table. So organized labor must devise a new strategy to ensure union members stay on board and to convince non-members to keep paying the fees, which are crucial for negotiating pay raises and working conditions. Activists who protested the law plan to continue supporting their unions, but they worry that many co-workers could abandon them. By John Flesher.

AP graphic.

SANDY CONCERT

NEW YORK — This time it's personal. Artists including Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Paul McCartney and Alicia Keys — all of whom have ties to the New York City area — help raise money for Superstorm Sandy victims in a concert expected to be seen by more than a billion people worldwide. By Entertainment Writer David Bauder.

AP photos, video.

— SUPERSTORM AID — Senate Democrats quickly put together $60.4 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package.

MORE ON FISCAL CLIFF

FISCAL CLIFF-HEATING ASSISTANCE

PORTLAND, Maine — Poor and elderly Americans who rely on aid from the federal government to heat their homes stand to get less help this year if Congress and the White House fail to figure out a way to avoid the combination of tax cuts and spending increases known as the fiscal cliff. By Clarke Canfield.

INTERNATIONAL

SYRIA-DIPLOMACY

MARRAKECH, Morocco — The U.S. and the head of the new Syrian opposition coalition being feted at a conference in Morocco publicly disagree over designating a rebel group as terrorist, highlighting a key dilemma in overthrowing President Bashar Assad's regime. By Paul Schemm.

AP photos.

SOUTH AFRICA-MANDELA

JOHANNESBURG — The hospitalization of Nelson Mandela is making many South Africans uneasy. They say the country's moral compass is fading at a time when the ruling African National Congress party is grounded by corruption allegations. By Jon Gambrell.

AP photos, video.

— VATICAN-POPE TWEETS — The pope hits 1 million followers as he sends his first tweet from his new account.

— FIRST CHEESE EVIDENCE — Aged cheesy find: Scientists find proof of cheese-making from 7,500 years ago in Poland.

WASHINGTON

AP EXCLUSIVE: SENATE INTERN ARRESTED

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez employed as an unpaid intern in his Senate office an illegal immigrant who is a registered sex offender, now under arrest by immigration authorities, The Associated Press has learned. The Homeland Security Department instructed federal agents not to arrest him until after Election Day, a U.S. official involved in the case tells the AP. By Alicia Caldwell.

AP photos.

WHITE MINORITY

WASHINGTON — White people will no longer make up a majority of Americans by 2043, according to new census projections. That's part of a historic shift that already is reshaping the nation's schools, workforce and electorate, and is redefining long-held notions of race. By Hope Yen.

AP interactive.

— CONGRESS-SCREENING BAGS — Congress votes to end second bag checks on some international flights.

— FOREIGN AID — Foreign aid system called so 1960s; Democrat proposes new system to dole out dollars.

NATIONAL

ADOPTION-INTERNET, HFR

NEW YORK — In the emotion-charged realm of adoption, the Internet has been a transformative force, often for good, sometimes for ill. It can help bring neglected orphans into loving homes and provides crucial advice for adoptive families. Yet, as a new report underscores, it's also an effective tool for scammers and hucksters seeking to exploit those eager to adopt. By National Writer David Crary. For release at 12:01 a.m.

SUPERSTORM-VULNERABLE GRID

NEW YORK — A major push is on to move New York City's electrical infrastructure to higher ground or higher floors after Superstorm Sandy sent seawater pouring into low-lying substations and skyscraper basements and plunged half of Manhattan into darkness for four days. The effort, likely to be enormously costly, will center partly on eliminating two old vulnerabilities brought into sharp relief by the surge: critical infrastructure a stone's throw from the sea, and building components located in basements vulnerable to storm surge. By David B. Caruso.

AP photos.

SPACEPORT SKEPTICISM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The deal was sold to New Mexicans in classic Richard Branson fashion. If taxpayers would build him a unique, $209 million state-of-the-art Spaceport, he would make New Mexico the launching point for his futuristic space tourism business. Now, with Spaceport nearly complete but still mostly empty, concerns are growing that Virgin Galactic may leave — all without paying a dime. By Jeri Clausing.

AP photos.

MISSING NYC BOY

NEW YORK — The defense of a man being arraigned in the killing of a 6-year-old boy in 1979 will revolve around his mental state and a false confession to the crime, but Pedro Hernandez is not pursuing an insanity defense, his attorney says. Etan Patz's disappearance helped spawn the movement to publicize cases of missing children. By Colleen Long.

AP photos.

— CHILD ABUSE — New federal data: Child abuse declines for 5th straight year; abuse deaths at 5-year low.

— ELECTRIC VEHICLES-INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis wants to be the first major city to replace its entire fleet with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

BUSINESS

INTERNET SEARCHES-2012

LOS ANGELES — The world's attention wavered between the tragic and the silly in 2012. The year's top searches, according to Google, are Whitney Houston, who died in February; Korean rapper PSY's "Gangnam Style" music video; and Superstorm Sandy. By Ryan Nakashima.

AP photos.

— 2012 INTERNET SEARCHES-PHOTO GALLERY — Here's what Google's 2012 Zeitgeist of Internet searches looks like: NYBZ401-410.

LIFESTYLES

INDIA-OBIT-SHANKAR

NEW YORK — The kids at first didn't seem to know how to respond as Ravi Shankar began his four-hour set on the final afternoon of the Monterey Pop Festival, in the fabled summer of 1967. But as the performance accelerated from isolated strains to a pace that could exhaust the speediest rock star, eyes opened, minds expanded and Shankar and his fellow musicians left to a long standing ovation. Labeled "the godfather of world music" by Beatle George Harrison, Shankar helped millions of Westerners — classical, jazz and rock lovers — discover the centuries-old traditions of Indian music. The sitar virtuoso died Tuesday at age 92. By National Writer Hillel Italie.

AP photos, video, audio.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— FAST AND FURIOUS-PROSECUTIONS — A man who purchased rifles found at the scene of the fatal shooting of a federal agent north of the Arizona-Mexico border is sentenced to nearly five years in prison.

— SEXUAL ORIENTATION-ADMISSIONS — The University of Iowa has become the nation's first public university to include optional questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on its admissions application.

— NETHERLANDS-AMSTERDAM — The mayor of Amsterdam plans to ban students from smoking marijuana at school, making the Dutch capital the first city in the Netherlands to do so.

— OLDEST GALAXY — New cosmic champion: Scientists discover an ancient galaxy is older than believed.

— SICK GIRL SOUGHT — In a TV interview, an 11-year-old leukemia patient whose mother unexpectedly took her from a Phoenix hospital last month appears to be safe and cared for.

— PENTAGRAM CARVED ON BOY — Texas man accused of carving pentagram on 6-year-old son's back on 12-12-12.

— HOBBIT HOUSE — Far from the Shire, a Hobbit house in Pa. countryside holds a beloved Tolkien collection.

— OBIT-ALLBRITTON — Joe Allbritton, magnate in DC media, banking industries, dies at 87.

— PEOPLE-LINDSAY LOHAN — A Los Angeles judge revokes Lindsay Lohan's probation, which could result in more jail time for the actress.

— YE--FASHION — Fashion's good, bad and ugly — and most buzzworthy — moments of 2012. AP photos.

___

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