Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Published:

FBI: Ala. man waged 'firefight' with officers who stormed underground bunker to rescue boy

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) -- The Alabama man who held a 5-year-old boy captive for nearly a week engaged in a firefight with SWAT agents storming his underground bunker before he was killed during the rescue operation, the FBI said Tuesday night. Also, bomb technicians scouring his rural property found two explosive devices, one in the bunker, one in a plastic pipe that negotiators used to communicate with the man.

Officers killed 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes Monday, said an official in Midland City, speaking on condition of anonymity. The bunker raid came six days after Dykes boarded a school bus, fatally shot the driver and abducted the boy, who by all accounts was unharmed.

Dykes "reinforced the bunker against any attempted entry by law enforcement," FBI Special Agent Jason Pack said in an email. The devices found were "disrupted," Pack said, though he did not say whether that meant they were detonated or disarmed. Officers will continue Wednesday to sweep the 100-acre property and, when they finish, investigators can more thoroughly investigate, Pack said.

For days, officers passed food, medicine, toys and other items into the bunker, which was similar to a tornado shelter and apparently had running water, heat and cable television.

On Monday, authorities said, Dykes had a gun and appeared increasingly agitated, though it's unclear exactly how his behavior changed. Negotiations -- the details of which have not been made public -- were deteriorating. The Midland City official said law enforcement agents had been viewing Dykes with some sort of camera, which is how they saw that he had a gun.

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Obama urges a short-term budget deal to avoid deep cuts as deficits slightly shrink, for now

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Eager to buy time and avoid economic pain, President Barack Obama urged Congress on Tuesday to pass targeted short-term spending cuts and higher taxes as a way to put off sweeping, automatic cuts that would slice deeply into military and domestic programs starting March 1.

Obama's appeal came as Congress' budget office projected a yearly federal deficit under $1 trillion for the first time in his presidency and as Republicans applied political pressure on the president to submit balanced budgets, pushing fiscal issues back to the forefront in Washington after weeks devoted to immigration and guns.

A short-term deficit-trimming measure would once again delay the broad and onerous spending cuts that are unpopular with both political parties, underscoring the government's difficulty adopting long-term budget policies. Obama conceded the problem, even though he has previously scoffed at temporary budget reprieves.

"Let's keep on chipping away at this problem together, as Democrats and Republicans, to give our workers and our businesses the support that they need to thrive in the weeks and months ahead," Obama said in a short statement in the White House briefing room.

Illustrating the challenge for the government, the Congressional Budget Office said the government will run a $845 billion deficit this year. That's down from last year's $1.1 trillion but still high enough to require the government to borrow 24 cents of every dollar it spends. The report predicted the deficit would decline to $430 billion by 2015, the lowest since President George W. Bush's last year in office.

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. UNLIKELY ALLIES ZERO IN ON IMMIGRATION

Business, union leaders are hoping to create a guest-worker program to ensure future immigrants come to the U.S. legally.

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Congress eyes limits on drones as memo details broad grounds for strikes against al-Qaida

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Uncomfortable with the Obama administration's use of deadly drones, a growing number in Congress is looking to limit America's authority to kill suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens. The Democratic-led outcry was emboldened by the revelation in a newly surfaced Justice Department memo that shows drones can strike against a wider range of threats, with less evidence, than previously believed.

The drone program, which has been used from Pakistan across the Middle East and into North Africa to find and kill an unknown number of suspected terrorists, is expected to be a top topic of debate when the Senate Intelligence Committee grills John Brennan, the White House's pick for CIA chief, at a hearing Thursday.

The White House on Tuesday defended its lethal drone program by citing the very laws that some in Congress once believed were appropriate in the years immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks but now think may be too broad.

"It has to be in the agenda of this Congress to reconsider the scope of action of drones and use of deadly force by the United States around the world because the original authorization of use of force, I think, is being strained to its limits," Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said in a recent interview.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said Tuesday that "it deserves a serious look at how we make the decisions in government to take out, kill, eliminate, whatever word you want to use, not just American citizens but other citizens as well."

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Congressman: Spielberg's film on Lincoln falsely puts Conn. on wrong side of slavery debate

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- As Rep. Joe Courtney watched the Oscar-nominated "Lincoln" over the weekend, something didn't seem right to him.

He said Tuesday he was shocked that the film, about President Abraham Lincoln's political struggle to abolish slavery, includes a scene in which two Connecticut congressmen vote against the 13th amendment to the Constitution, outlawing slavery.

"'Wow. Connecticut voted against abolishing slavery?'" Courtney recalled hearing audience members ask. "I obviously had the same reaction. It was really bugging me."

He said a cursory Internet search confirmed his suspicions that the movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, was historically inaccurate. He asked the Congressional Research Service to investigate, and it reported that all four Connecticut congressmen backed the amendment in a January 1865 vote.

A spokesman for Dreamworks Pictures, which produced "Lincoln," did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday.

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'Dude, you're getting a Dell?': Dell founder strikes a deal to turn struggling PC maker around

NEW YORK (AP) -- It's easy to forget now, but Michael Dell was the Mark Zuckerberg of his day.

Hailed as a young genius, he created the inexpensive, made-to-order personal computer in his University of Texas dorm room and sold it straight to the public. In the 1980s and '90s, his face appeared on magazine covers, and well before he turned 40, he was a college dropout-turned-billionaire CEO, ranked alongside Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

But that was a long time ago in the fast-moving world of high technology. Now the PC is getting eclipsed by smartphones and tablet computers, and Dell is struggling to save his company -- and his legacy.

Tuesday's announcement that Michael Dell and the investment firm Silver Lake have struck a $24.4 billion deal to buy publicly traded Dell Inc. and take it private may well be the founder's last chance to recapture his former glory. The agreement will allow the company to attempt a turnaround without having to worry about pleasing Wall Street with its earnings.

For Michael Dell, 47, the attempt to retool the company he built is personal, said technology analyst Patrick Moorhead, who runs Moor Insights & Strategy.

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Tsunami damages dozens of homes in Solomons, wave warning canceled elsewhere in South Pacific

SYDNEY (AP) -- Tsunami damages dozens of homes in Solomons, wave warning canceled elsewhere in South Pacific.

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Facebook, we need a break: Pew study finds 61 percent of users left site for weeks at a time

NEW YORK (AP) -- Too much drama, boredom and scads of irrelevant information are just some of the reasons Facebook users give for taking a break from the world's biggest social networking site for weeks at a time, according to a new study.

A report from the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project found that some 61 percent of Facebook users had taken a hiatus of at least several weeks for myriad reasons, whether they were weary from an onslaught of gossip, or for the more pious, the arrival of Lent.

Yet the use of Facebook, whether constant or not, is pervasive in America.

Of the American adults who use the Internet, 67 percent are on Facebook, Pew found. That compares with 20 percent who use LinkedIn and 16 percent who are on Twitter.

But users do come and go, some temporarily, and some for good. Seven percent of Internet users said they used Facebook at one point but no longer do. By its own count, Facebook Inc. has 1.06 billion users worldwide who check in at least once a month. This includes millions of duplicate and fake accounts. More than 150 million users are in the U.S.

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Stewie, world's longest cat, dies; Nev. owner says 48.5-inch feline lost battle with cancer

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Stewie the Cat, the longest domestic cat in the world at more than 4 feet long from nose to tail, has died.

Stewie was surrounded by family when he succumbed to a yearlong battle with cancer Monday evening at his Reno home, owner Robin Hendrickson said Tuesday. He was 8.

Guinness World Records declared Stewie the record-holder in August 2010, measuring 48.5 inches from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail.

Hundreds of fans flooded Stewie's Facebook site with memories and condolences Tuesday. The Maine Coon cat was a certified therapy animal that frequently visited a Reno senior center and helped promote animal welfare awareness with the Nevada Humane Society.

"Stewie was always very social and loved meeting new people," Hendrickson said. "He has touched many lives, and for that I am grateful."

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With harrowing fall and shriek, Vonn tears knee ligaments to end season but not Olympic hopes

SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) -- All it took was a moment. Lindsey Vonn landed hard and tumbled face first with a piercing shriek.

Just like that, the star American skier was on the ground with two torn ligaments in her right knee and a broken bone in her lower leg.

The cascading fall down the slope during the super-G at the world championships Tuesday knocked out the four-time World Cup champion for the rest of the season, the latest and most serious in a string of injuries for Vonn at skiing's biggest events.

The U.S. team said in a statement it expects her back for the next World Cup season and the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which start a year from this week.

The harrowing accident came after Vonn was lifted into the air off a jump in the opening race at the championships. As she hit the ground, her right leg gave way and she spun down face first, throwing an arm out to protect herself. She ended up on her back as she smashed through a gate.