Ratcheting up rhetoric, NKorean army warns military cleared to wage nuclear attack on US
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Ratcheting up the rhetoric, North Korea warned early Thursday that its military has been cleared to wage an attack on the U.S. using "smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear" weapons.
The Pentagon, meanwhile, said in Washington that it will deploy a missile defense system to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam to strengthen regional protection against a possible attack from North Korea. The defense secretary said the U.S. was seeking to defuse the situation.
Despite the rhetoric, analysts say they do not expect a nuclear attack by North Korea, which knows the move could trigger a destructive, suicidal war that no one in the region wants.
The strident warning from Pyongyang is latest in a series of escalating threats from North Korea, which has railed for weeks against joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises taking place in South Korea and has expressed anger over tightened sanctions for a February nuclear test.
Following through on one threat Wednesday, North Korean border authorities refused to allow entry to South Koreans who manage jointly run factories in the North Korean city of Kaesong.
US missile defense shield going to Guam to help counter threat of possible North Korean attack
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon said Wednesday it was deploying a missile defense shield to Guam to protect the U.S. and its allies in the region in response to increasingly hostile rhetoric from North Korea. The North renewed its threat to launch a nuclear attack on the United States.
The threat issued by the General Staff of the Korean People's Army capped a week of psychological warfare and military muscle moves by both sides that have rattled the region.
On Wednesday, the Pentagon announced it will deploy a land-based, high-altitude missile defense system to Guam to strengthen the Asia-Pacific region's protections against a possible attack.
Pyongyang, for its part, said that America's ever-escalating hostile policy toward North Korea "will be smashed" by the North's nuclear strike and the "merciless operation" of its armed forces.
"The U.S. had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation," said the translated statement, which was issued before the Pentagon announced plans to send a missile defense shield to Guam.
Obama to return 5 percent of his salary — sharing pain of budget cuts with furloughed workers
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sharing a bit of budget pain, President Barack Obama will return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury in a show of solidarity with federal workers smarting from government-wide spending cuts.
Obama's decision grew out of a desire to share in the sacrifice that government employees are making, a White House official said Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of workers could be forced to take unpaid leave — known as furloughs — if Congress does not reach an agreement soon to undo the cuts.
The president is demonstrating that he will be paying a price, too, as the White House warns of dire economic consequences from the $85 billion in cuts that started to hit federal programs last month after Congress failed to stop them. In the weeks since, the administration has faced repeated questions about how the White House itself will be affected. The cancellation of White House tours in particular has drawn mixed reactions.
A 5 percent cut from the president's salary of $400,000 per year amounts to $20,000.
Obama will return a full $20,000 to the Treasury even though only a few months remain in the fiscal year, which ends in September. He will cut his first check this month, said the White House official, who was not authorized to discuss the decision publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Crippled cruise ship secured to Ala. terminal after breaking loose; shipyard worker missing
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Carnival Cruise Lines says a crippled cruise ship that tore loose from the Alabama dock where it's being repaired is secure and has been moved to a terminal.
Spokesman Vance Gulliksen says tug boats moved the drifting ship and tied it up to a pier.
He says about 800 crew and contractors who were onboard are safe.
Wind gusts near hurricane strength shoved the 900-foot Carnival Triumph free from its mooring. The ship was brought to Moblile after a five-day ordeal that began when an engine fire stranded it off of Mexico in February.
The violent weather Wednesday also blew a nearby guard shack into the water. A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman says one shipyard worker was rescued and crews were searching for another in the water.
Rutgers fires men's basketball coach Mike Rice after release of video showing abusive behavior
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Once the video went viral, Mike Rice's coaching days at Rutgers were over.
Now the question is whether anyone else will lose their jobs — including the athletic director who in December suspended and fined Rice for the abusive behavior, and the university president who signed off on it.
Rice was fired Wednesday, one day after a video surfaced of him hitting, shoving and berating his players with anti-gay slurs. The taunts were especially troubling behavior at Rutgers, where freshman student Tyler Clementi killed himself in 2010 after his roommate used a webcam to spy on him kissing another man in his dorm.
It also came at an especially embarrassing time for the NCAA, with the country focused on the Final Four basketball tournament this weekend.
Rice, in his third season with the Scarlet Knights, apologized outside his home in Little Silver, N.J.
Conn. Senate OKs gun control, other measures addressing Newtown massacre; bill sent to House
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The state Senate on Wednesday approved wide-ranging legislation in response to last year's deadly school shooting in Newtown, including gun control measures that ban the sales of large-capacity ammunition magazines and more than 100 weapons that previously had been legal.
Following a respectful and at times somber debate, the Senate voted 26-10 in favor of a bill crafted by leaders from both major parties in the Democratic-controlled legislature. The vote was bipartisan, with two Democrats voting with Republicans against the bill and six Republicans joining the Democrats in supporting it.
The bill was to go to the House of Representatives, which was expected to pass it. It would then be sent to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has said he'll sign it into law.
The December massacre of 26 people inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, which reignited a national debate on gun control, set the stage for changes in Connecticut that may have been impossible elsewhere: The governor, who personally informed parents that their children had been killed that day, championed the cause, and legislative leaders, keenly aware of the attention on the state, struck a bipartisan agreement they want to serve as a national model.
"The tragedy in Newtown demands a powerful response, demands a response that transcends politics," said Senate President Donald E. Williams Jr., a Democrat. "It is the strongest and most comprehensive bill in the country."
Scientific gumshoes find possible clues on dark matter but haven't cracked the case yet
GENEVA (AP) — It is one of the cosmos' most mysterious unsolved cases: dark matter. It is supposedly what holds the universe together. We can't see it, but scientists are pretty sure it's out there.
Led by a dogged, Nobel Prize-winning gumshoe who has spent 18 years on the case, scientists put a $2 billion detector aboard the International Space Station to try to track down the stuff. And after two years, the first evidence came in Wednesday: tantalizing cosmic footprints that seem to have been left by dark matter.
But the evidence isn't enough to declare the case closed. The footprints could have come from another, more conventional suspect: a pulsar, or a rotating, radiation-emitting star.
The Sam Spade in the investigation, physicist and Nobel laureate Sam Ting of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he expects a more definitive answer in a matter of months. He confidently promised: "There is no question we're going to solve this problem."
"It's a tantalizing hint," said California Institute of Technology physicist Sean Carroll, who was not part of the team. "It's a sign of something." But he can't quite say what that something is. It doesn't eliminate the other suspect, pulsars, he added.
Police: Suspect in W.Va. sheriff slaying pulled weapon on deputy who shot him; hospitalized
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) — State police say the man suspected of gunning down a West Virginia sheriff pulled a weapon on a deputy who shot him.
Authorities didn't reveal the condition of the suspect, 37-year-old Tennis Melvin Maynard. West Virginia State Police Capt. David Nelson said Maynard was taken to a local hospital, where he remained Wednesday evening.
Nelson said Maynard crashed into a bridge, held up a gun as he got out of the vehicle and was shot.
State police say Maynard is suspected of killing Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. The sheriff was gunned down Wednesday in the spot where he usually parked and ate lunch in Williamson.
Crum was elected last year and has been cracking down on the drug trade, but it's unclear whether his death was related to the new Operation Zero Tolerance.
Alzheimer's, other dementias, most costly malady in US; tops cancer, heart disease, study says
Cancer and heart disease are bigger killers, but Alzheimer's is the most expensive malady in the U.S., costing families and society $157 billion to $215 billion a year, according to a new study that looked at this in unprecedented detail.
The biggest cost of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia isn't drugs or other medical treatments, but the care that's needed just to get mentally impaired people through daily life, the nonprofit RAND Corp.'s study found.
It also gives what experts say is the most reliable estimate for how many Americans have dementia — around 4.1 million. That's less than the widely cited 5.2 million estimate from the Alzheimer's Association, which comes from a study that included people with less severe impairment.
"The bottom line here is the same: Dementia is among the most costly diseases to society, and we need to address this if we're going to come to terms with the cost to the Medicare and Medicaid system," said Matthew Baumgart, senior director of public policy at the Alzheimer's Association.
Dementia's direct costs, from medicines to nursing homes, are $109 billion a year in 2010 dollars, the new RAND report found. That compares to $102 billion for heart disease and $77 billion for cancer. Informal care by family members and others pushes dementia's total even higher, depending on how that care and lost wages are valued.
Jay Leno says he will leave NBC's 'Tonight Show' next spring, to be replaced by Jimmy Fallon
NEW YORK (AP) — NBC on Wednesday announced its long-rumored switch in late night, replacing Jay Leno at the "Tonight" show with Jimmy Fallon and moving the iconic franchise back to New York.
Fallon will take over in about a year, the switch coinciding with NBC's Winter Olympics coverage. Veteran "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels also will take over as executive producer of "Tonight."
NBC made no announcement on who would replace Fallon at the 12:35 a.m. "Late Night" slot, although Seth Meyers of "Saturday Night Live" is considered a strong candidate.
The change at "Tonight," the longest-running and most popular late-night talk show, had been widely reported but not confirmed by the network until Wednesday. NBC reportedly just wrapped up negotiations with Fallon on a contract extension.
Steve Burke, chief executive officer of NBC Universal, said the network is purposefully making the move when Leno is still at the top of the ratings, just as when Leno replaced Johnny Carson at "Tonight" in 1992.