US: 200 teens have been detained in Afghan war
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. military has detained more than 200 Afghan teenagers who were captured in the war for about a year at a time at a military prison next to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, the United States has told the United Nations. The U.S. State Department characterized the detainees held since 2008 as ‘‘enemy combatants’’ in a report sent every four years to the United Nations in Geneva updating U.S. compliance with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Supreme Court will hear same-sex marriage cases
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court plunged into the contentious issue of gay marriage Friday when it agreed to take up California’s ban on same-sex unions and a separate dispute about federal benefits for legally married gay couples. The court’s action gives the justices the chance to say by late June whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals. Several narrower paths also are open to the justices as they consider both California’s voter-approved Proposition 8 and the provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that denies to legally married gay Americans the favorable federal tax treatment and a range of federal health and pension benefits given to heterosexual couples.
Ex-Fla. Gov. Crist tweets he's joining Democrats
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who was elected the state’s chief executive as a Republican and then ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate as an independent, announced on Twitter on Friday night that he’s switching to the Democratic Party. The announcement fanned speculation that Crist would seek to regain his old job from Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.
Obama asks Congress for $60.4B in Sandy aid
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama asked Congress Friday for $60.4 billion in federal aid for New York, New Jersey and other states hit by Superstorm Sandy in late October. It’s a disaster whose cost is rivaled only by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the 2005 Hurricane that devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Obama’s request adds a huge new to-do item to a congressional agenda already packed with controversy on how to resolve the nation’s budget woes and avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.
Egypt delays early voting on new constitution
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt postponed early voting on a contentious draft constitution, and aides to President Mohammed Morsi floated the possibility of canceling the whole referendum in the first signs Friday that the Islamic leader is finally yielding to days of protests and deadly street clashes. Tens of thousands marched on the presidential palace after pushing past barbed wire fences installed by the army and calling for Morsi to step down. Thousands also camped out in Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Chemical weapons risk: Syrian missiles and shells
WASHINGTON (AP) — Growing fear that civil war in Syria could unleash the world’s first use of chemical weapons in nearly three decades is based on two grim scenarios — neither considered likely but both carrying risks of civilian massacre and a major escalation of violence. The first is that President Bashar Assad, in a last-ditch effort to save his regime, would order chemical attacks — either as a limited demonstration to the rebels of his willingness to use the internationally banned weapons, or in a large-scale offensive designed to turn the tide of a conflict that already has killed an estimated 40,000.
Man in 30s bought 2nd winning Powerball ticket
PHOENIX (AP) — Lottery officials announced Friday that a married man in his 30s from a wealthy Phoenix suburb has claimed his half of the $587.5 million Powerball jackpot, deciding to collect the winnings now and not next year because of the nation’s looming fiscal cliff. The man decided to remain anonymous after he bought $10 worth of tickets and kept the winning slip in the visor of his car overnight before realizing he was a multimillionaire.
IBM shifts 401(k) policy to once-a-year matches
IBM is making changes to its employee benefits that may cause other large corporations to follow suit. The technology company will begin making contributions to employees’ 401(k) accounts in lump-sum annual payments, rather than at the time of each paycheck. It’s a move that will help the company cut retirement plan expenses. Employees were notified this week that matching contributions will be made just once annually, on Dec. 31, beginning next year. ‘‘This change reflects our continuing commitment to invest in our employee 401(k) plans while maintaining business competitiveness in a challenging economic environment,’’ IBM spokesman Doug Shelton said.Continued...