AP News in Brief at 10:58 p.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on May 2, 2013 at 11:00 PM

Funeral home claims remains of Boston Marathon bombing suspect who died after police gunbattle

BOSTON (AP) — The body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was the subject of a massive manhunt and died after a gunbattle with police, was claimed on Thursday.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Terrel Harris said a funeral home retained by Tsarnaev's family picked up the 26-year-old's remains. He had no more information.

The medical examiner determined Tsarnaev's cause of death on Monday, but officials said it wouldn't become public until his remains were released and a death certificate was filed. It was unclear on Thursday evening whether the death certificate had been filed.

Tsarnaev's widow, Katherine Russell, who has been living with her parents in North Kingstown, R.I., learned this week that the medical examiner was ready to release his body and wanted it released to his side of the family, her attorney Amato DeLuca said days ago.

Tsarnaev's uncle Ruslan Tsarni, of Maryland, said Tuesday night the family would take the body.

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Hagel: Obama administration is rethinking its reluctance to provide weapons to Syrian rebels

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is rethinking its opposition to arming the rebels who have been locked in a civil war with the Syrian regime for more than two years, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday, becoming the first top U.S. official to publicly acknowledge the reassessment.

During a Pentagon news conference with British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, Hagel said arming the rebels was one option that the administration was considering in consultation with its allies. But he said he personally had not decided whether it would be a wise or appropriate move.

"Arming the rebels — that's an option," he said. "You look at and rethink all options. It doesn't mean you do or you will. ... It doesn't mean that the president has decided on anything."

Hammond said his country was still bound by a European Union arms embargo on Syria, but he said Britain would look at the issue again in a few weeks when the ban expires and make a decision based on the evolving situation on the ground.

Hagel's comments affirmed what had been a quiet but emerging dialogue within the Obama administration: That arming the rebels might be preferable amid growing indications that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its own people, an action President Barack Obama characterized as a "game-changer" that would have "enormous consequences."

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10 Things to Know for Friday

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

1. US RETHINKING POSITION ON ARMING SYRIA'S REBELS

Hagel says it's among the options under consideration, but that "doesn't mean you do or you will."

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Obama, Pena Nieto talk border security, economy, immigration on US president's visit to Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — President Barack Obama sought on Thursday to tamp down a potential rift with Mexico over a dramatic shift in the cross-border fight against drug trafficking and organized crime, acceding that Mexicans had the right to determine how best to tackle the violence that has plagued their country.

Since taking office in December, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has moved to end the widespread access that U.S. security agencies have had in Mexico to tackle the violence that affects both sides of the border. It's a departure from the strategy employed by his predecessor, Felipe Calderon, which was praised by the U.S. but reviled by many Mexicans.

Obama said the shifting security relationship would not hurt cooperation between the neighboring nations.

"I agreed to continue our close cooperation on security, even as the nature of that cooperation will evolve," Obama said during a joint news conference at Mexico's grand National Palace. "It is obviously up to the Mexican people to determine their security structures and how it engages with the other nations — including the United States."

Pena Nieto as well downplayed the notion that the new, more centralized arrangement would damage its security partnership with the United States. He said Obama agreed during their private meeting earlier in the day to "cooperate on the basis of mutual respect" to promote an efficient and effective strategy.

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Daughter of woman who surfaced decade after disappearing: I wish I had never cried about her

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The teenage daughter of a woman who just revealed she abandoned her family 11 years ago said Thursday the disclosure has angered her and she is not eager to restart their relationship.

Morgan Heist, who learned last week that Brenda Heist had surfaced in the Florida Keys, said the news has made her recall with bitterness the years of mourning she endured when she assumed her mother was dead and feared she'd been killed.

"I ached every birthday, every Christmas," said 19-year-old Morgan Heist, a freshman at a community college outside Philadelphia. "My heart just ached. I wasn't mad at her. I wanted her to be there because I thought something had happened to her. I wish I had never cried."

Brenda Heist's mother, Jean Copenhaver, said Thursday that her daughter "had a real traumatic time" but was doing OK.

Brenda Heist was released from police custody on Wednesday and is staying with a brother in northern Florida for now, Copenhaver said.

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FDA wrapping up safety review of chemical in antibacterial soap after 40 years of delays

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's a chemical that's been in U.S. households for more than 40 years, from the body wash in your bathroom shower to the knives on your kitchen counter to the bedding in your baby's basinet.

But federal health regulators are just now deciding whether triclosan — the germ-killing ingredient found in an estimated 75 percent of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes sold in the U.S. — is ineffective, or worse, harmful.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is planning to deliver a review this year of whether triclosan is safe. The ruling, which will determine whether triclosan continues to be used in household cleaners, could have implications for a $1 billion industry that includes hundreds of antibacterial products from toothpaste to toys.

The agency's review comes amid growing pressure from lawmakers, consumer advocates and others who are concerned about the safety of triclosan. Recent studies of triclosan in animals have led scientists to worry that it could increase the risk of infertility, early puberty and other hormone-related problems in humans.

"To me it looks like the risks outweigh any benefit associated with these products right now," said Allison Aiello, professor at the University of Michigan's School of Public Health. "At this point, it's just looking like a superfluous chemical."

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Suicide rate for middle-aged Americans is up 28 percent over decade, 40 percent among whites

NEW YORK (AP) — The suicide rate among middle-aged Americans climbed a startling 28 percent in a decade, a period that included the recession and the mortgage crisis, the government reported Thursday.

The trend was most pronounced among white men and women in that age group. Their suicide rate jumped 40 percent between 1999 and 2010.

But the rates in younger and older people held steady. And there was little change among middle-aged blacks, Hispanics and most other racial and ethnic groups, the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.

Why did so many middle-aged whites — that is, those who are 35 to 64 years old — take their own lives?

One theory suggests the recession caused more emotional trauma in whites, who tend not to have the same kind of church support and extended families that blacks and Hispanics do.

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UN report wants to terminate killer robots, opposes life-or-death powers over humans

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Killer robots that can attack targets without any human input "should not have the power of life and death over human beings," a new draft U.N. report says.

The report for the U.N. Human Rights Commission posted online this week deals with legal and philosophical issues involved in giving robots lethal powers over humans, echoing countless science-fiction novels and films. The debate dates to author Isaac Asimov's first rule for robots in the 1942 story "Runaround:" ''A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm."

Report author Christof Heyns, a South African professor of human rights law, calls for a worldwide moratorium on the "testing, production, assembly, transfer, acquisition, deployment and use" of killer robots until an international conference can develop rules for their use.

His findings are due to be debated at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on May 29.

According to the report, the United States, Britain, Israel, South Korea and Japan have developed various types of fully or semi-autonomous weapons.

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Witherspoon sorry for saying 'crazy things' during arrest, including that she was pregnant

ATLANTA (AP) — Actress Reese Witherspoon recalled that she panicked, said some "crazy things" and even claimed to be pregnant the night she was arrested in Atlanta on a disorderly conduct charge.

During an interview Thursday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Witherspoon repeatedly apologized for her behavior during the April 19 traffic stop. A police report states that Witherspoon asked a Georgia state trooper, "Do you know my name?" and added, "You're about to find out who I am."

In her first sit-down interview about the arrest, the Oscar-winning actress told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that she had "one too many" glasses of wine, and panicked after she and her husband were pulled over.

"I have no idea what I was saying that night," she said. "I literally panicked. I said all kinds of crazy things. I told them I was pregnant. I'm not pregnant."

Witherspoon, 37, was arrested after the trooper said she wouldn't stay in the car while her husband, Hollywood agent Jim Toth, was being given a field sobriety test.

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US economic reports hold out hope for stronger job growth in coming months

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans are losing their jobs. Employers are struggling to squeeze more work from their staffs. The U.S. is producing so much oil that imports are plunging, narrowing the trade deficit.

A string of data Thursday raised hopes for stronger hiring and U.S. growth in coming months. More jobs would spur spending and help energize the economy, which has yet to regain full health nearly four years after the Great Recession officially ended.

And an interest rate cut Thursday by the European Central Bank, if it helps bolster the European economy, could also contribute to U.S. growth.

The U.S. economic reports came one day before the government will report how many jobs employers added in April. Economists think the gain will exceed the 88,000 jobs added in March, the fewest in nine months.

The government said Thursday that the number of Americans applying for unemployment aid fell last week to a seasonally adjusted 324,000 — the fewest since January 2008. Unemployment applications reflect the pace of layoffs: A steady drop means companies are shedding fewer workers. Eventually, they'll need to hire to meet customer demand or to replace workers who quit.

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