• Obama says North Korea hacked Sony, vows response

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama declared Friday that Sony "made a mistake" in shelving a satirical film about a plot to assassinate North Korea's leader, and he pledged the U.S. would respond "in a place and manner and time that we choose" to the hacking attack on Sony that led to the withdrawal. The FBI blamed the hack on the communist government. Speaking of executives at Sony Pictures Entertainment, Obama said at a year-end news conference, "I wish they had spoken to me first. ... We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship." Obama said he imagined situations in which dictators "start seeing a documentary that they don't like or news reports that they don't like.

  • Actor Stephen Collins denies he's a pedophile in interview

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Former "7th Heaven" star Stephen Collins declares he's not a pedophile, and insists he has molested a minor on just one occasion and engaged in sexual misconduct with only three girls in all. In an interview with Yahoo's Katie Couric released Friday, the embattled actor described himself instead as someone suffering from "exhibitionist urges," ''big boundary issues" and "poor impulse control." Those issues prompted a physical encounter with an underage girl in 1973. He was 25, she was 10. According to Collins, the girl had come to visit and stay with him and his first wife. After his wife had gone to sleep, he and the girl were watching TV together.

  • FDA OKs Cubist antibiotic for serious infections

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medicine to fight complex infections in the abdomen and urinary tract, the fourth antibiotic the agency has approved since May. Zerbaxa treats serious and resistant bacteria, such as E.coli, that can cause life-threatening infections. The approval of Zerbaxa on Friday is the second antibiotic approval this year for Cubist Pharmaceuticals, a drugmaker focused on antibiotics. It is being acquired for $8.4 billion by Merck & Co. of Kenilworth, New Jersey. New antibiotic approvals are important for public health because the threat of antibiotic resistance has been growing since the early 1990s.

  • Obama says Sony Pictures ‘made a mistake’ in pulling ‘The Interview’

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Friday said Sony Pictures “made a mistake” in canceling the release of the satirical film “The Interview” after threats from anonymous hackers, offering an unusual public rebuke by a president of a corporate decision along with a strong defense of free expression. Obama said he was “sympathetic” to Sony executives, whose computer systems came under attack from hackers who the FBI says were directed by the North Korean government. “The Interview” depicts a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and officials of that government have denounced the film but have denied involvement in the attack.

  • New York mayor caught between protests, police

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio was elected last year after making promises to keep crime low while improving relations between police and the community. As the tensions between those promises continue to mount, Friday showed just how tricky threading that needle has been. In the morning, de Blasio met with leaders of the protests that have swept through New York City in the weeks after a grand jury declined to indict the police officer who placed Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold while trying to arrest him. In the afternoon, he ventured to New York Police Department headquarters to heap praise on the force, a week after an angry police union circulated a petition to bar him from any NYPD funerals.

  • Driver pleads not guilty in pedestrian deaths

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) — A woman accused of killing four people, including a 6-year-old boy, while running her car into pedestrians outside a California church appeared in court Friday cuffed to a gurney and pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter charges. An attorney for Margo Bronstein, 56, entered the plea on her behalf to four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter and one count of driving under the influence of a drug causing injury. Bronstein was wheeled into court on the gurney by two attendants from an ambulance company. She was propped up with pillows and spoke only to her lawyer. A judge ordered her held on $500,000 bail, the amount requested by prosecutors.

  • Oklahoma official says state has execution drugs

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's prison system chief says the state has the drugs it needs to execute four inmates early next year and plans to administer the same three drugs used in a botched execution this spring, but with an increased dose. Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton told a federal judge Friday the agency plans to use the exact formula used successfully in 11 executions in Florida, one that he believes is "humane." The judge plans to rule Monday in a case in which lawyers for 21 death row inmates say one of the three drugs, the sedative midazolam, presents a risk of cruel and unusual punishment.

  • AP WAS THERE: US breaks relations with Cuba

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    EDITOR'S NOTE — When the United States severed its diplomatic relationship with Cuba on Jan. 3, 1961, it kicked off a year in which CIA-funded counterrevolutionaries would try to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, and after that, the withdrawal or ouster of almost all American and European media from the island, including The Associated Press' American staff. Isaac M. Flores was the first American AP reporter allowed back into Cuba, in 1965. He said the lack of diplomatic ties and tense relationship between the U.S. and Cuba in those days made reporting all the more difficult. He had to contend with officials who would summon him to their offices after he wrote something they didn't agree with and threaten to revoke his visa. But in

  • UN asks Israel to pay Lebanon $850 M for oil spill

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution Friday asking Israel to pay Lebanon over $850 million in damages for an oil spill caused by an Israeli air force attack on oil storage tanks during its war with Hezbollah in July 2006. The assembly voted 170-6 in favor of the resolution, with three abstentions. Israel, the United States, Canada, Australia, Micronesia and Marshall Islands voted "no." General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion. The resolution says "the environmental disaster" caused by the destruction of the tanks resulted in an oil slick that covered the entire Lebanese coastline and extended to the Syrian coastline, causing

  • Ashanti 'shocked' by prospect of stalker retrial

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Ashanti is appalled by the prospect of facing her accused stalker again in court, but the Grammy-winning R&B singer said Friday she's determined to see the case through after a mistrial. "I'm shocked and horrified at the thought of going through this ordeal again, but I will do whatever it takes to make sure my family is safe and that justice is served," she said in a statement to The Associated Press. A juror's illness prompted a mistrial during deliberations Thursday in Devar Hurd's case, which marks the second time in five years he's been tried on charges of harassing the singer or her relatives. Ashanti told jurors Tuesday she was "disgusted ...

  • Some gray wolves to be returned to endangered list

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday threw out an Obama administration decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list — a decision that will ban further wolf hunting and trapping in three states. The order affects wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the combined population is estimated at around 3,700. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dropped federal protections from those wolves in 2012 and handed over management to the states. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., ruled Friday the removal was "arbitrary and capricious" and violated the federal Endangered Species Act.

  • Sony on shelving 'The Interview': 'We had no choice'

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Following pointed criticism from President Barack Obama for shelving "The Interview," Sony Pictures Entertainment on Friday defended its decision, claiming it had no choice but to cancel the film's Christmas Day theatrical release. Obama said during a press conference Friday that Sony "made a mistake" in dropping "The Interview." However, the studio fired back, saying the cancellation happened only because the country's top theater chains pulled out. "This was their decision," Sony said in a statement. "Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice.

  • Jailed ex-billionaire's lawyers seek his release

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Attorneys for jailed real estate mogul Tim Blixseth filed an emergency motion with a federal judge Friday seeking his release, saying the one-time billionaire was willing to provide whatever information the court wants. U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon on Thursday found Blixseth in contempt and ordered him incarcerated until he accounts for millions of dollars owed to his creditors. Blixseth attorney Michael Ferrigno asked Haddon for a five-day stay on that order. That would give his client time to obtain documents related to the 2011 sale of a Mexico resort in defiance of an earlier court order, Ferrigno wrote in his request. "Mr. Blixseth simply cannot comply with anything that the court directs

  • FDA approves AbbVie combo hepatitis C treatment

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Patients with chronic hepatitis C have a new option for treating the liver-damaging virus, with the approval of a combination treatment developed by AbbVie. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the sale of a packaged treatment called Viekira Pak made by AbbVie Inc. of North Chicago, Illinois. It includes a combination pill, which contains the antiviral drugs ombitasvir, paritaprevir and ritonavir, along with a tablet of dasabuvir. All the ingredients are new except for ritonavir, which works to increase blood levels of paritaprevir. It's among several new pill-only hepatitis C treatments that are big improvements over earlier treatments that are less effective, require injections an

  • Lawsuit shows resistance to legalization of pot

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    DENVER (AP) — Despite growing public support for legalizing marijuana, a lawsuit filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma shows that at least two segments of American society are prepared to fight the idea before the nation's highest court — social conservatives and law enforcement. The lawsuit seeks to overturn Colorado's experiment in legalized recreational pot, alleging that the two conservative states are being overrun with Colorado marijuana that is making it harder for them to enforce their own drug laws. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning framed it as a public-safety issue, though the complaint provides little data to support its claim that Colorado pot is pouring into neighboring states.

  • Grand Canyon awards temporary services contract

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The National Park Service has averted a shutdown of some of the Grand Canyon's iconic hotels and mule rides by awarding a temporary contract for services at the canyon's South Rim. The one-year contract goes to Xanterra Parks & Resorts Inc., which has been providing those services for decades. Its current contract ends Dec. 31 and reached its limit on extensions. Three companies expressed interest in the temporary contract, which will be in place while the Park Service solicits bids for a 15-year contract. Efforts to have the long-term contract in place before Xanterra's expires failed, with no one submitting a bid in three previous bidding rounds that met the Park Service's terms.

  • Jury rules for Indiana woman in firing over IVF

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — A federal jury ruled Friday that a northern Indiana Roman Catholic diocese discriminated against a former teacher in one of its schools by firing her after church officials learned she was trying to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization. The group of five women and seven men announced its decision in favor of Emily Herx late Friday afternoon after beginning deliberations about 10:30 a.m., finding she was the victim of discrimination when the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend declined to renew her contract at St. Vincent de Paul School in 2011. Her attorneys had argued that male teachers accused of violating the moral teachings of the church had been allowed to keep their jobs. The jury awarded H

  • NY pain doctor gets prison in manslaughter case

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — A pain doctor convicted of manslaughter in two patients' overdose deaths was sentenced Friday to more than a decade in prison, after patients' relatives pleaded for a tough punishment and said he put money ahead of medicine. Dr. Stan Li got a 10 2/3 -to-20-year term in a case that reflected the widening reach of criminal prosecutions of physicians accused of abetting prescription drug abuse. Believed to be New York's first manslaughter case against a doctor in an overdose death, it also invoked the specter of drug-related violence: One of Li's former patients shot four people in a pharmacy holdup. "This is a fair and just sentence, given Li's egregious criminal conduct," city Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bri

  • 2-year sentence for man in Connecticut gun scare

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    MILFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man who prompted a lockdown at the University of New Haven when he brought a semi-automatic rifle and other guns to campus was sentenced Friday to two years in prison. William Dong, a former student at the school, was arrested Dec. 3, 2013, after a bystander alerted police. He brought two loaded handguns into a class, and police found a Bushmaster rifle and ammunition in his car, officials said. Authorities also searched Dong's room at his parents' home in Fairfield and found 2,700 rounds of ammunition and newspaper clippings about the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, where 12 people were killed and 70 injured, officials said. Dong had permits for the handguns, but f

  • Google sues Mississippi attorney general

    Updated: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Google Inc. is suing Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, trying to block him from pursuing criminal charges or filing a civil lawsuit against the company after Hood issued a subpoena for information about some of Google's operations. In a federal lawsuit filed Friday in Mississippi, Google said Hood has tried to force the company to restrict access to content through its Internet search engine and advertising and on its video-sharing site, YouTube. "The Attorney General has engaged in a sustained campaign of threats against Google," the Mountain View, California-based company said in its lawsuit.