• Soviet threat to Santa? No way, said JFK in 1961

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    BOSTON (AP) — The Kennedy Presidential Library wants to remind the world that not even the threat of thermonuclear conflict can stop Santa Claus from making his rounds. The library has republished the text of a 1961 letter from President John F. Kennedy reassuring a little girl who was worried about possible Soviet nuclear tests at the North Pole. Kennedy's letter to 8-year-old Michelle Rochon says he shares her concerns, not just for the fate of Santa but all people. The president added that he had talked to Santa just a day earlier and all is well. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum reissued the letter Friday as a holiday greeting on YouTube. ___ John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and

  • Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

    Updated: 7 hr ago

    Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business. Over at newswire Kyodo News, just after the FBI formally blamed North Korea for the cyberattack, mega pop group AKB48 topped headlines online instead. While American journalists have extensively covered the fallout from the unprecedented Sony hacking attack, it hasn't exactly been massive news in Japan. Stories certainly surfaced after President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue at his year-end press conference Friday. But overall it has received relatively modest attention, mostly in short stories on the inside pages of Japan's major newspapers

  • NC officially bans gas for euthanizing shelter animals

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's ban on the use of gas to euthanize animals becomes official early next year, although it appears most shelters have given up the practice, officials say. Patricia Norris, director of animal welfare in the state Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, sent a memo in early December advising shelters that they must stop using gas chambers for euthanasia as of Feb. 15, 2015. Most, if not all, shelters have moved entirely to lethal injection, Norris said. The changes began in 2013 when the American Veterinary Medical Association removed its approval of carbon monoxide for routine euthanasia of dogs and cats, Norris said.

  • Texas ranchers seeking alternative incomes

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    GAIL, Texas (AP) — Ranchers across Texas have gotten creative with their land after drought conditions decimated cattle numbers in the nation's leading production state. Many ranchers in Texas are opening up their pastures to hunters, while others are selling water to oil companies or desert plants and mistletoe to nurseries. 2011 was the state's driest year on record, causing ranchers to heavily cull their herds. The reduced numbers have contributed to record high beef prices. West Texas rancher John R. Anderson said he's keeping an open mind on ways to recoup profits he lost when he moved his cattle to other states. North Texas rancher Mandy Dauses has taken a full-time job to cope with thinner profit margins.

  • Immigrants build document trails to remain in US

    Updated: 8 hr ago

    SAN DIEGO (AP) — The search for documents is on for immigrants who may qualify for a work permit and reprieve from deportation under measures President Barack Obama announced last month. Applicants must prove they were in the country continuously since January 2010 — a tall order for many accustomed to avoiding trails. For critics, conditions are ripe for fraud. The administration has not said which documents it will accept, but advocates are taking guidance from a 2012 reprieve for immigrants who came to the country as young children. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program allows vehicle registrations, baptism records, mortgages, postmarked letters — and those are just some suggestions from the agency.

  • Air Force admits nuke flaws, but will fixes work?

    Updated: 9 hr ago

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Faced with one of its biggest challenges in years — repairing a troubled nuclear missile corps — the Air Force has taken an important first step by admitting, after years of denial, that its problems run deep and wide. Less certain is whether it will find all the right fixes, apply them fully and convince a doubting force of launch officers, security guards and other nuclear workers that their small and narrow career field is not a dead end. The stakes are huge. The nation's strategy for deterring nuclear war rests in part on the 450 Minuteman 3 missiles that stand ready, 24/7, to launch at a moment's notice from underground silos in five states.

  • Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

    Updated: 10 hr ago

    MIAMI (AP) — One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba's northwest coast, and the thaw in relations with the United States is giving rise to hopes that Cuba can now get in on the action. It's a prospect welcomed by Cubans desperate for economic growth yet deeply concerning for environmentalists and the tourism industry in the region. But a Cuban oil boom is unlikely anytime soon even if restrictions on U.S. businesses are relaxed because of low oil prices and far better drilling opportunities elsewhere. "(Cuba) is not going to be the place where operators come rolling in," says Bob Fryklund, chief strategist for oil and gas exploration and production at the analysis firm IHS.

  • After turbulent year, Obama aims for quiet Hawaii getaway

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    KAILUA, Hawaii (AP) — A tumultuous year all but behind him, President Barack Obama set off for his annual winter getaway in Hawaii hoping for one thing: Quiet. Air Force One touched down late in the evening at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, with the president, first lady Michelle Obama, their daughters and two dogs on board. On Saturday, the family was to begin their roughly two-week retreat from the hubbub in Washington on the lush island of Oahu. Vacationing in Hawaii, where the president was born and spent much of his childhood, has been a tradition every year that Obama has been in the White House. This year, the trip comes as Obama closes out a chaotic sixth year in office on something of a high note.

  • Tick-tock: Tips for last-minute shoppers

    Updated: 11 hr ago

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The clock is ticking, and your holiday shopping list isn't complete. Don't fret — you aren't alone. The National Retail Federation found that only about half of shoppers had finished shopping as of Dec. 10. That means tens of millions will be ticking those final items off their lists in the coming days. But procrastination doesn't have to mean desperation. Here are a few tips to help survive last-minute shopping: —SEIZE THE DAY: Retailers know the rush is coming, and they are doing everything they can to attract last-minute shoppers. This includes extended shopping hours, expedited shipping and exclusive promotions.

  • Ruble crisis threatens Kontinental Hockey League

    Updated: 12 hr ago

    MOSCOW (AP) — The Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League saw itself as the oil-rich rival to the NHL, offering a tempting, if less prestigious, alternative to playing in North America. As the league planned to expand as far as Britain, the money on offer even attracted Russian stars like Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov, who walked out on lucrative NHL deals to return home. Then came the crash of the ruble this week. The financial crisis has threatened the plans of players like former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Curtis Sanford, who came to Russia to save for his retirement. "It's just really happened all of a sudden," the 35-year-old Sanford told The Associated Press. "These are some things that you don't e

  • Lawyer: Woman did not intend to hit pedestrians

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    TORRANCE, Calif. (AP) — The attorney for a 56-year-old woman accused in the deaths of four people, including a 6-year-old boy, said it was an accident when she ran her car into nearly a dozen pedestrians outside a California church, describing her as someone who "does not live her life recklessly." "Two days ago, three days ago, people that knew her couldn't believe that she'd be in this situation," said Jeffrey Gray, attorney for Margo Bronstein. Gray pleaded not guilty on Bronstein's behalf Friday 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 a gurney. She was propped up with pillows and spoke only to her lawy

  • Protesters in contempt of court for anti-whaling campaign

    Updated: 15 hr ago

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers were found in contempt of court for continuing their relentless campaign to disrupt the annual whale hunt off the waters of Antarctica. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday ordered a commissioner to determine how much Paul Watson and members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society he founded owe Japanese whalers for lawyer fees, damage to their ships and for violating the court order to stop their dangerous protests. The Japanese whalers are demanding $2 million in addition to their attorney fees and damage and cost to their ships for warding off the protests.

  • A look at large coal ash spills in the US

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    The Obama administration on Friday set the first national standards for waste generated from coal burned for electricity, called coal ash, treating it more like household garbage rather than a hazardous material. The Obama announcement ended a six-year effort that began after a massive spill of the ash that contains toxins at a Tennessee power plant in 2008. Since then, the EPA has documented coal ash waste sites tainting hundreds of waterways and underground aquifers in numerous states with heavy metals and other toxic contaminants. Here is a look at three of the largest coal ash spills in the U.S. DEC.

  • A look at large coal ash spills in the US

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    The Obama administration on Friday set the first national standards for waste generated from coal burned for electricity, called coal ash, treating it more like household garbage rather than a hazardous material. The Obama announcement ended a six-year effort that began after a massive spill of the ash that contains toxins at a Tennessee power plant in 2008. Since then, the EPA has documented coal ash waste sites tainting hundreds of waterways and underground aquifers in numerous states with heavy metals and other toxic contaminants. Here is a look at three of the largest coal ash spills in the U.S. DEC.

  • EPA coal ash standards a setback for environmental groups

    Updated: 16 hr ago

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Six years ago, there was a massive spill of coal ash sludge in Tennessee. Three years later, tons of coal ash swept into Lake Michigan. Last February, there was another spill and gray sludge spewed into the Dan River in North Carolina. With each disaster, environmentalists sounded alarms and called for the byproduct of burning coal to be treated as hazardous waste. On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the first standards for the coal-burning waste, but they were hardly what environmental groups were hoping for. The EPA ruled that the ash can be treated like regular garbage, meaning regulating the stuff will be left up to states and watchful citizens.

  • APNewsBreak: Dodgers end Yanks' payroll streak, owe most tax

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers have ended the New York Yankees' 15-year streak as Major League Baseball's biggest spenders and owe more than $26.6 million in luxury tax. The Dodgers finished with a record payroll of $257,283,410, according to final calculations made by Major League Baseball on Friday and obtained by The Associated Press. That is more than $20 million above the previous high, set by the Yankees last year. For the first time since the current luxury tax began in 2003, the Yankees won't be paying the most. The luxury tax was put in place as a slowdown on spending by high-revenue teams, and teams pay based on the amount they are over the $189 million threshold. The Dodgers owe $26,621,125 based o

  • 'Is your job depressing?' Why it's a great time to be a poverty reporter

    Lane Anderson, Deseret News | Updated: Tue, Dec 16, 2014

    Take it from a jaded reporter — the world is actually getting better. Fewer people are dying. Fewer people are hungry. For lots of people in the world, things are getting measurably better.

  • San Francisco deputy charged with assault, perjury

    Updated: 17 hr ago

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco sheriff's deputy was arrested Friday for allegedly assaulting a hospital patient in an emergency room and then lying in a police report to say the man attacked him, authorities said. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said San Francisco County Deputy Michael R. Lewelling was charged with four felonies, including perjury and filing a false police report, and misdemeanor battery for the Nov. 3 incident. Court records show Lewelling, 33, filed a police report alleging that the victim attempted to assault him with a wooden cane at San Francisco General Hospital. Video evidence reviewed by prosecutors on Friday shows a different story.

  • 2004 tsunami: A crying boy with a piece of bread

    Updated: 18 hr ago

    Some 230,000 people were killed in the Indian Ocean tsunami set off by a magnitude 9.1 earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004. A dozen countries were hit, from Indonesia to India to Africa's east coast. Scores of Associated Press journalists covered the disaster, and as the 10th anniversary approached, the AP asked 10 of them to describe the images that have stuck with them the most. This is the fourth of their stories, which are being published daily through Dec. 26. ___ Wally Santana, a photographer based in Taipei, Taiwan, covered the tsunami from Palai, Sri Lanka: We had spent three days driving up from Colombo, and another three days to negotiate permission to enter the then-rebel Tamil Tiger group's northern occupied area.

  • New video shows Rice and fiancee in aftermath of punch

    Updated: 18 hr ago

    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A video released Friday shows Ray Rice's then-fiancee crying and kissing him while they are both handcuffed and being taken to jail by police officers after Rice punched her in a casino elevator. The video was obtained by ABC News through a public records request filed with the New Jersey Gaming Enforcement Division. Rice's attorney fought to keep the video from being released but lost. The video shows Janay Palmer— now married to the former Baltimore Ravens running back — crying and being comforted by officers or security officials at the Revel casino early on the morning of Feb. 15. An officer walked a handcuffed Rice toward an elevator, pulling Rice's sweatshirt hood over his head.