BC-AP-Americas Digest

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Associated Press

Posted on March 19, 2013 at 4:30 AM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 19 at 4:30 AM

TOP STORIES:

REPUBLICANS

WASHINGTON — A plan that was supposed to move the Republican Party forward after big election defeats instead highlighted its disunity as leading Republicans distanced themselves from it. By Steve Peoples. AP Photos.

OBAMA-MIDEAST

WASHINGTON — On his second trip to the Middle East as U.S. commander in chief, President Barack Obama will confront a political and strategic landscape this week nearly unrecognizable from the one he encountered on his first trip to the region shortly after assuming office in 2009. By Matthew Lee.

OBAMA-IRELAND

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is marking his fifth St. Patrick's Day as president with a full schedule of Irish-themed events.

HILLARY CLINTON-GAY MARRIAGE

WASHINGTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton's embrace of gay marriage signals she may be seriously weighing a 2016 presidential run and trying to avoid the type of late-to-the-party caution that hurt her first bid. By Charles Babington. AP Photos.

BUDGET BATTLE

WASHINGTON — The Senate clears up unfinished budget business for 2013 with a bipartisan government-wide funding bill, even as the House and Senate gear up for votes this week on largely symbolic measures outlining stark differences between Democrats and Republicans over the nation's long-term budget deficit woes. By Andrew Taylor.

CANADA-PRISON ESCAPE

MONTREAL — Two inmates made a daring daylight escape from a prison northwest of Montreal in a hijacked helicopter, then led police in a car chase and exchanged gunfire at a rural cabin before they were finally recaptured, authorities say. By Benjamin Shingler. AP Photos.

OBAMA-LABOR SECRETARY

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama nominates Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez to be the next secretary of labor, choosing a Hispanic lawyer with experience in civil rights and workplace issues to his second-term Cabinet. Obama calls Perez a consensus builder whose story "reminds us of this country's promise." By Sam Hananel and Jim Kuhnhenn. AP Photos.

US-KOREAS

WASHINGTON — The United States is flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers on training missions over South Korea to highlight Washington's commitment to defend an ally amid rising tensions with North Korea, Pentagon officials said Monday. By AP National Security Writer Robert Burns.

MEXICO-POLITICS

MEXICO CIYT — New President Enrique Pena Nieto has been fast out of the blocks in attacking some of Mexico's toughest issues in a country often stymied by monopolies and corruption. He arrested the most powerful woman in Mexico, leader of the largest union in Latin America, on allegations of corruption that previous presidents saw but were too compromised to tackle. He is taking on the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, and pledges to bring diversity to a television industry dominated by the head of the largest network in Latin America. By Michael Weissenstein.

UN-ARMS TRADE TREATY

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urges the world's nations to agree on a strong U.N. treaty to regulate the multibillion-dollar global arms trade in the next two weeks, saying it will save lives and make it more difficult for warlords, organized criminals and terrorists to obtain weapons. By Edith M. Lederer.

GUN CONTROL-COLORADO

DENVER — Colorado's governor will sign legislation Wednesday that sets limits on ammunition magazines and expands background checks for firearms, marking a Democratic victory in a state where a debate over gun rights has played out in the wake of two mass shootings. By Ivan Moreno and Kristen Wyatt.

EXPLOSIVE DEVICE-COLLEGE

ORLANDO, Florida — A college student with two guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a backpack filled with explosives pulled a dorm fire alarm Monday in an apparent attempt to force other students out into the open so that he could slaughter them, authorities said. But he instead put a bullet in his head as police closed in. By Kyle Hightower.

FOOTBALL PLAYERS(equals)RAPE CHARGES

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The head football coach at Steubenville High School and the owners of a house where an infamous 12-minute video was filmed could be investigated as Ohio prosecutors look into how adults responded to allegations of rape last year. By Andrew Welsh-Huggins. AP Legal Affairs Writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins. AP Photos. AP Video.

GUATEMALA-RIOS MONTT

GUATEMALA CITY — There is no smoking gun in the case files, no direct order from Guatemala's then military dictator to carry out the slaughter of civilians during one of the bloodiest phases of the country's long civil war. In its absence, with trial set to start Tuesday, prosecutors hope to painstakingly prove through a detailed recreation of the military chain of command that Gen. Efrain Rios Montt must have had knowledge of the massacres of Mayan Indians and others in the Guatemalan highlands. By Sonia Perez-Diaz. AP Photos.

ALZHEIMER'S

WASHINGTON — A staggering 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, says a new report that highlights the impact the mind-destroying disease is having on the rapidly aging population. By AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard.

SUPREME COURT-VOTER CITIZENSHIP PROOF

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court argued Monday over whether states fighting voter fraud and illegal immigration can make people document their U.S. citizenship before allowing them to use a federal voter registration system that was designed to make it easier to vote.

GUANTANAMO-HUNGER STRIKE

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay prison has grown and now involves at least 21 men, a U.S. military official said while denying reports trickling out from prisoners through lawyers that there is a more widespread protest and lives are in danger. By Ben Fox.

ANTI-SMOKING-NYC

NEW YORK — Cigarettes would have to be kept out of sight in New York City stores under a first-in-the-nation plan unveiled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, igniting complaints from tobacco companies and smokers who said they've had enough with the city's crackdowns. By Meghan Barr and Jennifer Peltz. AP Photos.

STOP AND FRISK

NEW YORK — Many of the tens of thousands of New Yorkers stopped, questioned and sometimes frisked by police in the past decade were wrongly targeted because of their race, lawyers for four men who claim they were illegally stopped say. By Colleen Long. AP Photos.

ROCKEFELLER MYSTERY

LOS ANGELES — A prosecutor tells jurorshe will prove a cold-case murder allegation against a German immigrant who spent years moving through U.S. society under a series of aliases, most notoriously posing as a member of the fabled Rockefeller family. By Linda Deutsch. AP Photo.

POPE-ARGENTINA-JEWS

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The election of Pope Francis has thrilled Jewish leaders in Argentina, who predict that their friend will continue to foster warm relations and open dialogue between Catholicism and other faiths during his pontificate. By Almudena Calatrava and Damian Pachter. AP Photo.

ART HEIST MYSTERY

BOSTON The FBI says it has solved the decades-old mystery of who stole $500 million in artwork from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, but it is withholding the identities of the thieves, adding another twist to the largest property heist in U.S. history. By AP Legal Affairs Writer Denise Lavoie.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC-MENENDEZ

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic —Three women were paid to falsely claim in videotaped interviews that they had sex for money with a U.S. senator in the Dominican Republic, a spokesman for the police say. By Ezequiel Abiu Lopez.

BUSINESS:

FEDERAL RESERVE

WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy is strengthening on the fuel of more job growth, rising home prices and solid retail sales. Just don't expect the Federal Reserve to let up in its drive to keep stimulating the economy with record-low interest rates. Not yet, anyway. That's the view of economists as Fed policymakers hold a two-day meeting starting Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Fed will issue a statement and update its economic forecasts, and Chairman Ben Bernanke will hold a news conference. All of which will likely reinforce remarks Bernanke has made that the job market, in particular, has a long way to go to full health and needs the Fed's extraordinary support. By Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger.

ASTRAZENECA-RESTRUCTURING

TRENTON, New Jersey — Struggling Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC says that it will eliminate 1,600 jobs, mostly in the U.S. and United Kingdom, as its new CEO starts a major research and development reorganization. By AP Business Writer Linda A. Johnson. AP Photo.

GULF OIL SPILL-TRIAL

NEW ORLEANS — Workers on the drilling rig that exploded at the outset of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill catastrophe were "trying to get it right" as they monitored BP's well for signs of trouble before the blast, an expert witness for the company that owned the rig testifies Monday. By Michael Kunzelman.

BUILDER SENTIMENT

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders fell this month because of concerns that increased demand for new homes is exceeding supplies of ready-to-build land, building materials and workers. By AP Real Estate Writer Alex Veiga.

ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT:

LINDSAY LOHAN

LOS ANGELES — Lindsay Lohan isn't headed back to jail — but she won't be free to party for a while either. The troubled 26-year-old actress accepted a plea deal on Monday in a misdemeanor car crash case that includes 90 days in a locked-down rehabilitation facility that she won't be able to leave. By AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang.

PEOPLE-VERA FARMIGA

NEW YORK — Vera Farmiga has some advice for Norma Bates, her character in the new series "Bates Motel": "Honesty is always the best policy." Honesty — or the lack of it — is a key theme in the 10-episode prequel to the classic Hitchcock film "Psycho." The A&E show, which premieres Monday, reveals just what drove Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) over the edge. By Lauri Neff. AP Photos.

TV-BIBLE-SATAN

NEW YORK — The producers of the cable TV miniseries on the Bible say Internet chatter that their Satan character resembles President Barack Obama is "utter nonsense." By AP Television Writer David Bauder. AP Photo.

MUSIC-THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS

NEW YORK — Rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars wanted the announcement for their latest studio album to be out of this world. And that's where the album's first single debuted. "Up in the Air" was sent to the International Space Station for an exclusive listening Monday. It will be released Tuesday on Earth. By John Carucci.

YOUTUBE'S NETWORKS

NEW YORK — While the land rush to stream "premium" original content is drawing an increasing number of video professionals to the Web, YouTube's swelling multichannel networks are finding success — and enormous scale — with a more organic, bottom-up approach. By Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle.

FEATURES:

EASTER-FABERGE

HOUSTON — It began 10 years ago while on a quest for French chandeliers. Instead, Dorothy McFerrin bought what she believed to be an Easter egg created by the famed Russian artisan Peter Carl Faberge. Quickly, though, she learned she had been duped. Today, McFerrin and her husband, Artie McFerrin, own one of the largest private collections of authentic Faberge items in the United States. By Ramit Plushnick-Masti. AP Photos.

OUTSMARTING PIGS

ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — Using the cover of darkness, feral pigs have learned to outsmart even the most seasoned hunters as they set about on their nightly terrors, rooting up crops and suburban gardens, harassing native wildlife and turning watering holes into pigsties. The invasive porkers have made themselves at home across more than three quarters of the U.S. and are responsible for an estimated $1.5 billion in damages each year. Most worrisome is their ability to learn from each encounter with a frustrated human. By Susan Montoya Bryan. AP Photos.

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