Same-sex marriage cases get Supreme Court review
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is taking a potentially historic look at same-sex marriage by agreeing to hear two cases that challenge governments’ different treatment of gay Americans. The focus in one case is California’s constitutional amendment that forbids same-sex marriage. The other case deals with a federal law that denies to those who can marry legally the right to obtain federal benefits that are available to heterosexual married couples.
Obama request for Sandy aid could face hurdles
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s proposal for $60.4 billion in federal aid for states hit by Superstorm Sandy adds a huge new item to an end-of-year congressional agenda already packed with controversy. The president’s request to Congress on Friday followed weeks of discussions with lawmakers and officials from New York, New Jersey and other affected states who requested significantly more money, but generally praised the president’s request as they urged Congress to adopt it without delay.
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.
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 that he’s switching to the Democratic Party. The announcement Friday night fanned speculation that Crist would seek to regain his old job from Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014.
Man in Ariz. claims half of Powerball jackpot
PHOENIX (AP) — Fallout from the looming fiscal cliff has drifted into the Powerball arena. A man who lottery officials announced Friday has claimed his half of the $587.5 million Powerball jackpot, decided to collect the winnings now and not next year because of the financial uncertainty posed by the nation’s ongoing financial impasse.
FBI says Alaska man killed people for fun
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Confessed serial killer Israel Keyes admitted he enjoyed killing people, but couldn’t or wouldn’t give investigators a more meaningful answer when quizzed why he did it. ‘‘There were just times, a couple of times, where we would try to get a why,’’ said Anchorage Police officer Jeff Bell, who helped interrogate Keyes for hours.
China's Xi leads campaign to cut pomp
BEIJING (AP) — New communist leader Xi Jinping is on a mission to soften the image of Chinese officialdom, winning kudos for his breezy personal style and ordering leaders to take a knife to the pomp, formality and waste that have alienated many among the public. With his silky baritone, glamorous wife and daughter at Harvard, Xi cuts a very different figure from the staid, hyper-private leaders of the past. Even his posture, more like that of a slouchy college professor than a stiff party cadre, has won him plaudits.
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.
Brotherhood leader: Egyptians must disown violence
CAIRO (AP) — The spiritual leader of Egypt’s fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood is urging Egyptians to disown violence, saying that working through the ballot box is the best way to lift the country out of its current political crisis. Egypt has been engulfed in turmoil linked to a contentious draft constitution backed by President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood, and his Islamist allies.
Viral rapper PSY apologizes for anti-US protests
South Korean rapper and Internet sensation PSY is apologizing to Americans for participating in anti-U.S. protests several years ago. Park Jae-sang, who performs as PSY, issued a statement Friday after reports surfaced that he had participated in concerts protesting the U.S. military presence in South Korea during the early stages of the Iraq war.