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AP News In Brief

GOP mocks Obama's 2012 budget for ignoring deficit as House debates even deeper cuts for 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) - Republicans on Tuesday disparaged President Barack Obama's proposed $3.7 trillion budget for next year for taking a pass on tackling long-term deficits by not calling for structural changes in big-ticket entitlement programs for the elderly.

"In our nation's most pressing fiscal challenges, the president has abdicated his leadership role," said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "When his own commission put forward a set of fundamental entitlement and tax reforms ... he ignored them."

Obama told a news conference that the budget he sent Congress will help meet his goal of cutting the deficit in half by the end of his first term. He said he looked forward to negotiations with Republicans in coming months on how to fix Social Security and Medicare.

"This is not a matter of, 'you go first, I go first,' " he said. "It's a matter of everybody having a serious conversation about where we want to go and then ultimately getting in that boat at the same time so it doesn't tip over."

House Republicans, meanwhile were eager to launch a weeklong debate on their own package of deep cuts in domestic spending for the current fiscal year.


Bahrain protesters occupy square in Egyptian-style bid for change in the Gulf

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Thousands of protesters took over a main square in Bahrain's capital Tuesday - carting in tents and raising banners - in a bold attempt to copy Egypt's uprising and force high-level changes in one of Washington's key allies in the Gulf.

The move by demonstrators capped two days of clashes across the tiny island kingdom that left at least two people dead, parliament in limbo by an opposition boycott and the king making a rare address on national television to offer condolences for the bloodshed.

Security forces - apparently under orders to hold back - watched from the sidelines as protesters chanted slogans mocking the nation's ruling sheiks and called for sweeping political reforms and an end to monarchy's grip on key decisions and government posts.

The unrest in Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, adds another layer to Washington's worries in the region. In Yemen, police and government supporters battled nearly 3,000 marchers calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in a fifth straight day of violence.

Yemen is seen as a critical partner in the U.S. fight against a network inspired by al-Qaida. The Pentagon plans to boost its training of Yemen's counterterrorism forces to expand the push against the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula faction, which has been linked to attacks including the attempted airliner bombing in December 2009 and the failed mail bomb plot involving cargo planes last summer.


AP IMPACT: In Ivory Coast, mass killings are hidden in plain sight - in refrigerated morgues

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) - The entrance to the morgue is like a mouth through which comes an awful smell. It hits you as far back as the parking lot and makes your eyes water. From a dozen yards away, it's strong enough to make you throw up.

What lies inside is proof of mass killings in this once-tranquil country of 21 million, where the sitting president is refusing to give way to his successor. Nearly every day since Laurent Gbagbo was declared the loser of the Nov. 28 election, the bodies of people who voted for his opponent have been showing up on the sides of highways.

Their distraught families have gone from police station to police station looking for them, but the bodies are hidden in plain sight in morgues turned into mass graves. Records obtained by The Associated Press from four of the city's nine morgues show that at least 113 bullet-ridden bodies have been brought in since the election. The number is likely much higher because the AP was refused access to the five other morgues, including one where the United Nations believes as many as 80 bodies were taken.

The bodies are being held hostage and not released to families. Morgue workers say government minders are stationed outside to monitor what goes in or out.

A list of the dead that the AP was allowed to see on the laptop of a company that manages three downtown morgues shows the bodies began arriving Dec. 1, the night the country's electoral commission was due to announce that opposition leader Alassane Ouattara had won. The AP also saw legal documents from authorities instructing funeral homes to pick up bodies found on public roads, and the paperwork handed to families.


German company will acquire Big Board, but exchange is already mostly symbolic

NEW YORK (AP) - Why would anyone want to sell a centerpiece of capitalism like the New York Stock Exchange? Because despite its fame and its fabled floor, it's a lousy way to make money.

A German company will acquire the Big Board in a deal that creates the world's largest exchange operator but does not stop the decades-long evolution of stock trading from shouting floor brokers to the cold, quiet hum of computers.

The deal announced Tuesday values the New York exchange's old parent company, NYSE Euronext, at $10 billion. The NYSE and Euronext, which owns exchanges in several European capitals, merged in 2007.

There was no immediate word on what changes might come to the corner of Wall and Broad streets, the Corinthian-columned building synonymous with global finance, including what the new company would be named.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called for NYSE to be first in the exchange's new name. The German company, Deutsche Boerse, will control 60 percent of the new company's board of directors.


US to back cyber dissent in repressive states, warns Internet curbs can't last

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States stands with cyber dissidents and democracy activists from the Middle East to China and beyond, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday.

She pledged to expand the Obama administration's efforts to foil Internet repression in autocratic states.

In an impassioned speech on Internet freedom, Clinton said the administration would spend $25 million this year on initiatives designed to protect bloggers and help them get around curbs like the Great Firewall of China, the gagging of social media sites in Iran, Cuba, Syria, Vietnam and Myanmar as well as Egypt's recent unsuccessful attempt to thwart anti-government protests by simply pulling the plug on online communication.

She also said the State Department, which last week launched Twitter feeds in Arabic and Farsi to connect with populations throughout the Arab world and Iran, would broaden the reach of its online mini-appeals for human rights and democracy by creating accounts cater to audiences in China, Russia and India in their native languages.

Clinton challenged authoritarian leaders and regimes to embrace online freedom and the demands of cyber dissidents or risk being toppled by tides of unrest, similar to what has happened in Egypt and Tunisia to longtime presidents Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.


APNewsBreak: Vets seek changes in military's handling of rape, sexual assault cases

WASHINGTON (AP) - A group of U.S. veterans who say they were raped and abused by their comrades want to force the Pentagon to change how it handles such cases.

More than a dozen female and two male current or former service members say servicemen get away with rape and other sexual abuse and victims are too often ordered to continue to serve alongside those they say attacked them.

In a federal class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday that names Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, they want an objective third party to handle such complaints because individual commanders have too much say in how allegations are handled.

The alleged attackers in the lawsuit include an Army criminal investigator and an Army National Guard commander. The abuse alleged ranges from obscene verbal abuse to gang rape.

In one incident, an Army Reservist says two male colleagues raped her in Iraq and videotaped the attack. She complained to authorities after the men circulated the video to colleagues. Despite being bruised from her shoulders to elbows from being held down, she says charges weren't filed because the commander determined she "did not act like a rape victim" and "did not struggle enough" and authorities said they didn't want to delay the scheduled return of the alleged attackers to the United States.


Campaigns lag in Iowa; Could some GOP candidates skip the 2012 caucuses here?

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A run for the White House has long meant enduring icy days campaigning in Iowa for the contest that starts the presidential election calendar. But this winter fewer candidates have braved the Midwestern chill. And that has left some wondering if the Iowa Republican party's shift to the right is scaring off some hopefuls and making the Iowa caucuses less competitive -- and less important.

In the last few months, a handful of prospective candidates for the GOP nomination in 2012 have visited the state -- including former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But the visits have been less frequent than in the past, and other traditional campaign-building efforts have lagged.

Notably absent has been former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has led the field of GOP prospects in early polling. Also unseen has been Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who hasn't announced his intentions but who spoke last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C.

Some strategists wonder whether the more moderate of the approximately dozen contenders may now be adopting the lesson of John McCain, who largely skipped the Iowa caucuses in 2008 and still was able to lock up the Republican Party's nomination in other states.

"Other people may be making that decision," said Mark Salter, a top aide in McCain's campaign. Iowa's dominant Republicans are now "very socially conservative," he said. Although McCain had a national following, many Iowa Republicans questioned his earlier support for immigration reform and his willingness to work with Democrats.


CBS News' Lara Logan recovering after 'brutal' attack while reporting from Cairo last Friday

NEW YORK (AP) - CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was recovering in a U.S. hospital Tuesday from a sexual attack and beating she sustained while reporting on the tumultuous events in Cairo.

Logan was in the city's Tahrir Square on Friday after Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down when she, her team and their security "were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration," CBS said in a statement Tuesday.

The network described a mob of more than 200 people "whipped into a frenzy."

Separated from her crew in the crush of the violent pack, she suffered what CBS called "a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating." She was saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers, the network said. The Associated Press does not name victims of a sexual assault unless the victim agrees to it.

She reconnected with the CBS team and returned to the U.S. on Saturday.


Nephew of Dalai Lama killed along Fla. highway at start of walk for Tibetan independence

PALM COAST, Fla. (AP) - The Dalai Lama's nephew was smiling, radiating energy as he tackled the first leg of a 300-mile walk to promote Tibet's independence from China. He insisted on finishing the last two miles on his own, even as darkness fell.

"For the cause," Jigme K. Norbu said, as he had on so many similar journeys before.

Norbu was alone on a dark coastal highway Monday when was struck and killed by an SUV. He was headed south in the same direction as traffic, following a white line along the side of the road, according to the Highway Patrol. The impact crumpled the vehicle's hood and shattered the front windshield.

Authorities said it appeared to be an accident and the driver, 31-year-old Keith R. O'Dell of Palm Coast, swerved but couldn't avoid Norbu. The Highway Patrol was still investigating, but didn't expect any charges. O'Dell and his 5-year-old son were not hurt.

Norbu, 45, had completed at least 21 walks and bike rides, logging more than 7,800 miles in the U.S. and overseas to support freedom for Tibet and highlight the suffering of its people. He completed his most recent 300-mile trek in December in Taiwan.


Teaching an old dog show new tech tricks: Different sorts of bytes at Westminster Kennel Club

NEW YORK (AP) - Sitting high up in section 118, Linda Melvin kept her eyes fixed on the Gordon setters competing on the floor at Madison Square Garden. A seat away, her daughter fixated on her cell phone.

Krista Piller was busy posting on Facebook: "Wants a big dog to win the WKC dog show this year."

"I'll being putting up more, too," Piller said.

From the stands, to the green-carpeted rings to backstage, people were a-twitter Tuesday - iPads, Blackberries, Droids and then some at an event that started in 1877. Signs of social media were everywhere at the Westminster Kennel Club show.

Proving, in fact, that it is indeed possible to teach an old dog show new tech tricks.