AP Top News at 4:25 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Obama seeks to avoid sequester with short-term fixWASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama is asking Congress for a short-term deficit reduction package of spending cuts and tax revenue that will delay the effective date of steeper automatic cuts now scheduled to kick in on March 1. Obama said the looming cuts would be economically damaging and must be avoided. The president reiterated his insistence on long-term deficit reduction that combines taxes and cuts, a blend that faces stiff resistance from anti-tax Republicans in Congress.
Grandmother: Ala. boy physically OK after standoffMIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) _ The grandmother of a 5-year-old held hostage for a week in an underground bunker said Tuesday the boy is OK physically, but she fears the ordeal could stay with him the rest of his life. Betty Jean Ransbottom told The Associated Press that she cried herself to sleep every night while the boy was being held hostage, and that she didn't sleep much while she awaited news.
Documents: Officials worried about Superdome powerNEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Concerned the Superdome might not be able to handle the energy needed for its first Super Bowl since Hurricane Katrina, officials spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on upgrades to decayed utility lines, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. The improvements apparently weren't enough, however, to prevent what ended up being an embarrassing and puzzling 34-minute power outage during the third quarter of the game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Two days later, officials still had not pinpointed the cause of the outage. The Superdome's management company, SMG, and the utility that supplies the stadium, Entergy New Orleans, announced Tuesday that they would hire outside experts to investigate.
Bulgaria links Hezbollah to bombing of IsraelisSOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) _ Hezbollah was behind a bus attack that killed five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year, investigators said Tuesday, describing a sophisticated bombing carried out by a terrorist cell that included Canadian and Australian citizens. The first major announcement in the investigation carried broad diplomatic implications, as countries that consider the Shiite militant group to be a terrorist organization called on Europe _ which has resisted such a move _ to crack down on the group.
US sues S&P over pre-crisis mortgage ratingsWASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. government says Standard & Poor's knowingly inflated its ratings on risky mortgage investments that helped trigger the 2008 financial crisis. The credit rating agency gave high marks to mortgage-backed securities because it wanted to earn more business from the banks that issued the investments, the Justice Department alleges in civil charges filed in federal court in Los Angeles.
Iran president visits Egypt in warming of tiesCAIRO (AP) _ Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad discussed the crisis in Syria with his Egyptian counterpart Tuesday in the first visit by an Iranian leader to Cairo in more than three decades, marking a historic departure from years of frigid ties between the regional heavyweights. Ahmadinejad's three-day visit, which is centered around an Islamic summit, is the latest sign of efforts by Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to improve relations, which have been cut since Iran's 1979 revolution.
Dell to go private in $24.4B deal led by founderSAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Slumping personal computer maker Dell is bowing out of the stock market in a $24.4 billion buyout that represents the largest deal of its kind since the Great Recession dried up the financing for such risky maneuvers. The complex agreement announced Tuesday will allow Dell Inc.'s management, including eponymous founder Michael Dell, to attempt a company turnaround away from the glare and financial pressures of Wall Street.
Memo gives basis for drone strikes vs US citizensWASHINGTON (AP) _ An unclassified Justice Department memo reveals that the Obama administration has had more lenient rules than publicly known for when drone attacks can be launched to kill U.S. citizens working abroad with terrorists. The government does not need evidence that a specific attack is imminent, the newly disclosed Justice Department white paper says, only that the targeted suspect is involved in ongoing plotting against the United States.
Lindsey Vonn tears knee ligaments, out for seasonSCHLADMING, Austria (AP) _ Lindsey Vonn will miss the rest of the ski season after tearing knee ligaments and breaking a bone in her leg in a high-speed crash Tuesday at the world championships. The U.S. team expects her to return for the next World Cup season and the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Vonn lost balance on her right leg while landing a jump in the super-G. She flipped in the air, landed on her back and smashed through a gate before coming to a halt.
Internet cat stars scratch the surface for fameNEW YORK (AP) _ They frolic in empty boxes and stick their heads under faucet streams of water. They dance on tippy toes and fly through the air with Pop-Tarts. They play piano wearing little frocks and get tickled to distraction to the delight of millions on YouTube. I speak, of course, of the cat stars of the Internet, a place filled with felines and their wacky uploading humans since the dawn of bandwidth. Now, after years of viral viewing, they're coming into their own in lucrative and altruistic ways.
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