The Daily Astorian | The Daily Astorian Wed, 28 Jan 2015 22:10:04 -0500 en The Daily Astorian | Naomi Campbell steals show at couture as Bruni is mobbed Wed, 28 Jan 2015 22:02:39 -0500 PARIS (AP) — Singer Carla Bruni, actress Catherine Deneuve and burlesque performer Dita Von Teese were among regulars attending the spectacular displays at Paris' haute couture week Wednesday.

Sophie Hunter, the fiancιe of Oscar-nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, meanwhile, caused much fracas when she attended Valentino hiding her baby bump.

But it was surely Naomi Campbell who stole the show, strutting out panther-like at Jean Paul Gaultier despite being dressed as a bouquet of flowers. It's good to know that high fashion still retains its humor.

Here are the tidbits and highlights of the 2015 spring-summer collections.


Unaccompanied Bruni was mobbed by intrusive cameramen upon entering the Jean Paul Gaultier collection.

As she arrived at the top of the venue's marble steps the scrum grew, she panicked, calling out: "Where do I go? Where is the show?"

The 47-year-old former French first lady then physically forced one of the lenses away from her face.

Once in her front row seat, the mood changed — and she was seen to be enjoying herself. There were even cheers when her 2002 hit "Quelqu'un m'a dit" was played in the show soundtrack.

"It's completely understandable I love her songs and it was perfect," said Gaultier, unaware of the scuffle.


Jean Paul Gaultier chose to explore marriage in white — and divorce, in black — for his first couture show after the end of his ready-to-wear line.

The obvious symbolism was renewal, or change — after bidding an emotional goodbye last season to his over-three-decade long "pret-a-porter" career.

But there was no soul searching whatsoever in this infectious and imaginative show.

Burlesque star Von Teese and Eurovision Song contest winner Conchita Wurst were among celebrity guests escorted to sections named after wedding anniversaries: amethyst for 6 years, jade for 12 years, emerald for 20 years — and the unromantic-sounding granite, for the near-impossible 90-year-celebration.

Gaultier, ever the optimist, said that the end of the ready-to-wear had given him more time to "perfect the techniques and the work of the atelier, which was unbelievable" — such as a trompe l'oeil dress resembling python skins, which was, in reality, embroidered silk knots.

Whatever this aging enfant terrible does, one thing is a constant: Fun.


The show, almost exclusively in black and white, was a tale of two silhouettes — with many dresses split down the middle.

The best look was a figure-hugging black crepe number with another gown, in trompe l'oeil 3-D hourglass tulle, placed creatively on the front.

The 62-year-old designer said show celebrated "all forms of marriage, and for all ages, and as many times as you want... And, yes divorce."

This mantra was resoundingly clear: in his signature menswear tuxedos (representing gay marriage) and in the inclusion of models up to their 60s; a common theme.

The divorce element appeared as a comic homage to the infamous seven weddings of actress Liz Taylor — with a blue python dress and feathered hair piece, modelled theatrically.

The couturier said, in an aside, that divorce and multiple marriages may indeed help boost couture dress sales.

Silhouettes were often graphic, with more than an echo of his Eighties heyday.

It might have benefited more if Monsieur Gaultier had used this fresh chapter in his career to do something completely different — but in all, it was a joyful collection.


It was a strong couture collection from Valentino's Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli that moved gracefully from the dense, geometric embroideries of Hungarian styles to the bright colors and cosmic dreaming of Russian artist Marc Chagall.

But the high point of the show was surely the final flourish of diaphanous powder-colored gowns with chic embroidered writing. They were aptly called "tulle clouds" and felt at once both couture and highly contemporary.

Valentino Garavani looked on approvingly from the front row, as some 47 looks filed by inside the chic Hotel de Rothschild.

The designers did not do away with their signature Empire lines and continued their ongoing musings in the traditional flowing silks and silhouettes of the Renaissance.

But the muse of Chagall served well as a spring board to liberate the occasionally-stiff designs.

Here the duo explored bolder colors such a vibrant "Chagall blue," cut with primary yellow. Elsewhere, hand painted prints such as a sun, sky and stars — beautifully evoked the naturalized-French artist's famed stained glass windows.


Elie Saab moved in a welcome direction in Wednesday's delicately feminine display — inspired, apparently, by the nostalgia of his mother's Seventies heyday.

In a fleshed out program book, the Lebanese designer touchingly went back in time through text and photos, tracing the fashions throughout the eras of his birth city, Beirut — once graced by such stars as singer Dalida, actor Omar Sharif and French icon Brigitte Bardot.

It particular, Saab described the impact of the last golden years of glamor before the protracted Civil war in 1975, through the prism of a tulip print silk dress his mother would often wear.

Flesh pink, beige, black and blue-grays abounded in floaty, nostalgic silhouettes that touched on these moments.

"These memories still inspire my colors and my scents... The 70's, women in ankle length dresses, trapeze dresses, high waist skirts, embroidered and sheer tops wading through downtown," said Saab.

Fastidiously embroidered ruffles on full skirts and diaphanous feathers gave this 55-piece show a more textural quality than normal.

And embroidered, shimmering flared pants made it securely on-trend.


Thomas Adamson can be followed at

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Islamic State releases new audio message by Japanese hostage Wed, 28 Jan 2015 22:00:52 -0500 BEIRUT (AP) — The Islamic State group released a message late Wednesday purportedly extending the deadline for Jordan's release of an Iraqi would-be hotel bomber linked to al-Qaida.

The message, read by a voice claiming to be Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, was released online after Jordan offered a precedent-setting prisoner swap to the Islamic State group, desperately seeking to save a Jordanian air force pilot the militants purportedly threatened to kill, along with Goto.

The recording, in English, says the Jordanians must present Sajida al-Rishawi at the Turkish border by sunset Thursday, or Jordanian pilot Mu'as al-Kasaseabeh will be killed.

The Associated Press could not independently verify the contents of the recording which was distributed on Twitter by IS-affiliated accounts.

In Tokyo on Thursday, Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the government was analyzing the latest message. He said Japan was doing its utmost for the release of Goto, working with nations in the region, including Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

"We are trying to confirm (the message), but we think there is a high probability that this is Mr. Goto's voice," he said.

Suga refused comment on the specifics of the talks with Jordan, saying the situation was developing. The Cabinet was meeting to assess the latest developments.

In comments in Parliament, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his condemnation of the IS hostage-taking. "This heinous terrorist act is totally unforgivable," he said.

Releasing the would-be hotel bomber linked to al-Qaida would breach Jordan's usual hard-line approach to the extremists, setting a precedent for negotiating with them.

The Islamic State group has not publicly demanded prisoner releases before and Jordan's main ally, the United States, opposes negotiations with extremists.

But King Abdullah II faces growing domestic pressure to bring the pilot home. The pilot's father said he met on Wednesday with Jordan's king who he said assured him that "everything will be fine."

Efforts to free al-Kaseasbeh and Goto gained urgency after a purported online ultimatum claimed Tuesday that the Islamic State group would kill both hostages within 24 hours if Jordan did not free al-Rishawi.

The scope of a possible swap and of the Islamic State group's demands remained unclear.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said Jordan is ready to trade the prisoner, an Iraqi woman convicted of involvement in deadly Amman hotel bombings in 2005, for the pilot. Al-Momani made no mention of Goto.

Al-Rishawi's release would be a coup for the extremists, who have already overrun large parts of neighboring Syria and Iraq. Jordan is part of a U.S.-led military alliance that has carried out airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq in recent months.

The pilot's capture has hardened popular opposition to the campaign in Jordan, analysts said

"Public opinion in Jordan is putting huge pressure on the government to negotiate with the Islamic State group," said Marwan Shehadeh, a scholar with ties to ultra-conservative Islamic groups in Jordan. "If the government doesn't make a serious effort to release him, the morale of the entire military will deteriorate and the public will lose trust in the political regime."

The pilot's family has criticized the government, and several dozen protesters including his father gathered Wednesday outside King Abdullah's palace in Amman.

"Listen, Abdullah, the son of Jordan (the pilot) must be returned home," the protesters chanted.

The pilot's father, Safi al-Kasaesbeh, was allowed into the palace, along with his wife, to meet Abdullah.

"The king told me that Muath is like my son and God willing everything will be fine," al-Kasaesbeh said afterward.

Jordan reportedly is holding indirect talks with the militants through religious and tribal leaders in Iraq to secure the release of the hostages.

In his brief statement, al-Momani only said Jordan is willing to swap al-Rishawi for the pilot. He did not say if such an exchange is being arranged. Al-Rishawi was sentenced to death for her involvement in the al-Qaida attack on hotels in Amman that killed 60 people.

In Tokyo, Goto's mother, Junko Ishido has been appealing to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to keep trying to save Goto.

"Kenji has only a little time left,"

Earlier in response to a ruling party lawmaker's question in Parliament, Abe reiterated his condemnation of the IS hostage-taking.

"The heinous terrorist act is totally unforgivable," he said.

The militants reportedly have killed a Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, and the crisis has stunned Japan.

The 26-year-old pilot, al-Kasaseabeh, was seized after his Jordanian F-16 crashed in December near the Islamic State group's de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. He is the first foreign military pilot the militants have captured since the coalition began its airstrikes in August.

Previous captives may have been freed in exchange for ransom, although the governments involved have refused to confirm any payments were made.

Goto, a freelance journalist, was captured in October in Syria, apparently while trying to rescue Yukawa, 42, who was taken hostage last summer.

The Islamic State group broke with al-Qaida's central leadership in 2013 and has clashed with its Syrian branch, but it reveres the global terror network's former Iraqi affiliate, which battled U.S. forces and claimed the 2005 Amman attack.


Daraghmeh reported from Ramallah, West Bank; Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan, and Elaine Kurtenbach, Kaori Hitomi, Emily Wang, Koji Ueda, Mari Yamaguchi and Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.


Follow Karin Laub on Twitter at Follow Elaine Kurtenbach at

AP Top Sports News At 11 p.m. EST Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:02:46 -0500 NFL players who started young show more thinking problemsHead of NCAA enforcement: Academic misconduct on riseKobe Bryant has surgery, expected to be out for 9 monthsGrant sparks No. 8 Notre Dame to 77-73 victory over DukeWoods returns to Phoenix with plenty of memories76ers snap 6-game skid, beat Pistons 89-69Knicks overcome Westbrook's 40, beat Durant-less ThunderGroup's ad featuring 911 call grabs attention at Super Bowl]]> Boston bounces back from 2 feet of snow after blizzard Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:01:47 -0500 BOSTON (AP) — Boston bounced back quickly Wednesday from the Blizzard of 2015, with subways, buses and trains up and running again the morning after the storm buried a swath of New England in 2 to 3 feet of snow.

Many businesses reopened, as did Logan Airport, and homeowners, motorists and storekeepers dug out with grudging praise for the forecasters, who missed the mark in New York but got it right in New England.

A Boston bartender, Chris Laudani, became an instant symbol of the city's resilience for shoveling snow off the yellow and blue Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street, where the 2013 terrorist bombing killed three people and wounded more than 260.

"For someone to brave the blizzard to clear our finish line for us is yet another statement as to what our event means not only to runners but also to Americans," said Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, which oversees the marathon.

Meteorologists had warned that Boston would get more than 2 feet of snow by Tuesday night, and the National Weather Service said the city ended up with 24.4 inches, the sixth-highest total on record. Other areas received around 2 to 3 feet, pretty much as predicted.

"They actually got it right," James Hansen said as he cleared a Boston sidewalk.

There was no gloating among the forecasters, who just seemed relieved they were on the money.

Pointing up the guesswork factor, the weather team at Boston's WHDH-TV tweeted a photo of the office snow pool, with pre-storm predictions ranging from 22 to 25.5 inches.

As the storm gathered earlier in the week, forecasters had warned that Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey could get 1 to 2 feet of snow. But in the end, they didn't even see a foot.

With snow removal in Boston well underway, commuters high-stepped their way through a warren of snowy paths and towering snowbanks that gave the capital an almost alpine feel.

Still, bitter cold threatened to complicate efforts to clear clogged streets and restore power. Forecasters warned that it won't get above freezing in Boston for a week, and several more inches of snow are expected Friday and again over the weekend.

Boston is accustomed to big snowstorms, and with ample warning that a blizzard was coming officials mobilized thousands of snowplows and called up the National Guard.

Early on, Gov. Charlie Baker, who has been in office just three weeks, made a key decision, ordering a driving ban to give crews a chance to clear the mounting snow off roadways. Baker said he wrestled with that but it "worked pretty much as we hoped."

"We've come out of this in relatively good shape," he said Wednesday before visiting the hard-hit South Shore area, where the storm breached a seawall and caused flooding.

In Marshfield, officials said at least four homes likely will be condemned and at least a dozen more sustained substantial damage after two 80-foot sections of seawall were smashed.

Local fisherman Tim Mannix was trying to move furniture to secure a sliding door at his home when the ocean struck.

"A wave hit at that moment, and bang! Like lightning it hit me right in the face," he said, his nose showing the damage from the encounter: six fractures, which required numerous stiches. "It was so fast I couldn't believe it, and down I went."

He said the water came in from the back of his house, knocked down his back deck, washed through the house and destroyed his front deck.

"The house is wrecked," he said, "75 percent wrecked."

Baker also took a helicopter to Nantucket, where islanders accounted for about half the 7,200 people in Massachusetts still without electricity. Nantucket was lashed with winds gusting to 76 mph.

Around Massachusetts, Worcester got 33.5 inches, the highest amount recorded since 1905, and Auburn and Lunenburg each reported 36 inches.

Parts of the New Hampshire coastline got 31 inches. Providence, Rhode Island, received around 19 inches. Thirty-one inches piled up in Sanford, Maine, and 33.5 inches in Thompson, Connecticut. Orient, on the eastern end of New York's Long Island, got about 30 inches.

"Our snowblower broke down a couple of times because it couldn't handle all the snow," said Jodi McKim, struggling to free her car in Whitman, south of Boston.

A man shoveling snow in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on Tuesday night collapsed and died. Two other deaths, both on Long Island, were blamed on the storm.

In Providence, a man and his two small children were hospitalized with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning after drifting snow covered a boiler vent on their home.

In rural Maine, Leo Moody hoped to dig his ice fishing shack out of the snow. With the blase tone of a genuine Downeaster, he brushed it all off as "just a snowstorm."

"Back in the '70s and '80s, this was a typical winter," Moody said. "Now you get a couple feet of snow and everybody freaks out."

Scientists caution against linking any one weather event, like this blizzard, to man-made global warming without lengthy and intricate analysis.

But the waters off the Northeast were about 2 degrees warmer than normal, and last year the world regularly broke ocean temperature records, according to Jeff Masters at Weather Underground.

He and other experts say that as the world warms, it can expect stronger storms because warmer water supplies them with more energy and warmer air allows them to hold and dump more snow or rain.


Associated Press writers Steve LeBlanc, Rodrique Ngowi, Mark Pratt and Philip Marcelo in Boston; Michelle R. Smith in Providence, Rhode Island; Seth Borenstein in Washington; Denise Lavoie in Whitman, Massachusetts; and Alanna Durkin in Augusta, Maine, contributed to this report.

Winning numbers drawn in '10 Spot Evening' game Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:00:16 -0500 HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The winning numbers in Wednesday evening's drawing of the Montana Lottery's "10 Spot Evening" game were:


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10 Things to Know for Thursday Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:01:33 -0500 Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:


The Islamic State group releases a new audio recording purportedly made by a Japanese hostage, again demanding the release of an Iraqi would-be bomber.


Republican senators at Loretta Lynch's confirmation hearing repeatedly seek assurances that she would do things differently than the current occupant of the job, Eric Holder.


The salvo of missiles in a disputed border kills two soldiers and a U.N. peacekeeper.


The Cuban president says normal relations depend on a series of American concessions — including the return of the U.S. base at Guantanamo — that appear highly unlikely anytime soon.


Among the bright spots: Ad revenue jumped 53 percent to $3.59 billion in the fourth quarter.


A judge tosses the convictions of the nine men who integrated a whites-only lunch counter in Rock Hill, S.C., in 1961.


The devices have been plagued by design and manufacturing flaws for years.


Authorities are complaining that the tech giant's popular Waze traffic app — which allows drivers to share information on things like speed traps — is making it harder to nab offenders.


Charles Townes shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics for the work he did while on the faculty at Columbia University.


New England will down Seattle 27-24 in overtime, predicts Barry Wilner, the AP's pro football writer.

Attorney General nominee defends Obama immigration changes Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:01:30 -0500 WASHINGTON (AP) — Confronting skeptical Republicans, attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch pledged a new start with Congress and independence from President Barack Obama Wednesday, even as she defended the president's unilateral protections for millions of immigrants in the country illegally.

"If confirmed as attorney general, I would be myself. I would be Loretta Lynch," the nominee told her Senate confirmation hearing as Republicans showered criticism on the current occupant of the job, Eric Holder. They said Holder was contemptuous of Congress and too politically close to Obama, and repeatedly demanded assurances that Lynch would do things differently.

"You're not Eric Holder, are you?" Texas Republican John Cornyn, one of the current attorney general's most persistent critics, asked at one point.

"No, I'm not, sir," Lynch responded with a smile.

It was a moment that summed up a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that was often more about Obama and Holder than about Lynch, who is now the top federal prosecutor for parts of New York City and Long Island. If confirmed, she would become the nation's first black female attorney general.

Holder, Cornyn contended, "operated as a politician using the awesome power conferred by our laws on the attorney general."

Lynch asked the senator to take note of "the independence that I've always brought to every particular matter," and she said that when merited she would say no to Obama.

On immigration, Lynch faced numerous questions from Republicans critical of the administration's new policy granting work permits and temporary deportation relief to some 4 million people who are in the country illegally. The committee chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley of Iowa, called the effort "a dangerous abuse of executive authority."

Lynch said she had no involvement in drafting the measures but called them "a reasonable way to marshal limited resources to deal with the problem" of illegal immigration. She said the Homeland Security Department was focusing on removals of "the most dangerous of the undocumented immigrants among us."

Pressed by Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a leading immigration hard-liner, she said citizenship was not a right for people in the country illegally but rather a privilege that must be earned. However, when Sessions asked whether individuals in the country legally or those who are here unlawfully have more of a right to a job, Lynch replied, "The right and the obligation to work is one that's shared by everyone in this country regardless of how they came here."

Sessions quickly issued a news release to highlight that response. Under later questioning by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, Lynch clarified it, stating there is no right to work for an immigrant who has no lawful status.

The hearing was the first such proceeding since Republicans retook control of the Senate in January. Although comments from Sessions and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as the session neared its conclusion suggested her stance on immigration and presidential authority would cost some Republican support, Lynch is expected to win confirmation with little difficulty, in part because Republicans are so eager to be rid of Holder. He has been a lightning rod for conservatives over the past six years, clashing continually with lawmakers and becoming the first sitting attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress.

Lynch found occasions to differentiate herself from Holder without contradicting him.

She stated without hesitation under questioning from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, that she considers the death penalty an effective punishment and has sought it in her district. That was a rhetorical shift from Holder, who has expressed personal reservations about capital punishment, particularly in light of recent botched executions, but has also periodically authorized it.

On another controversial topic, Lynch said current National Security Agency intelligence-gathering programs are "constitutional and effective." She said she hopes Congress will renew three expiring provisions in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the FBI to obtain search warrants and communications intercepts in intelligence cases.

Questioned by Graham and other senators who are concerned that the use of civilian courts to try terrorists would give them too many rights, she said both military tribunals and civilian trials should be available for such prosecutions.

She also was asked whether she would support efforts to legalize marijuana. She said emphatically that she wouldn't, and refused to endorse a viewpoint offered by Obama in a New Yorker article last year that marijuana was not more dangerous than alcohol.

"I certainly think that the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion, neither of which I'm able to share," Lynch said.

Beyond his clashes with Congress, Holder has faced accusations from critics that he has aligned himself more with protesters alleging police violence than with members of law enforcement, a contention he and the Justice Department have strongly denied.

It's an area Lynch is familiar with. She helped prosecute New York City police officers who beat and sexually assaulted Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in 1997, and her office in New York is currently leading a civil rights investigation into the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in Staten Island last summer. Lynch has been U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York since 2010, a role she also held from 1999 to 2001.

Lynch told senators that one of the most important issues facing the country is "the need to resolve the tensions ... between law enforcement and the communities that we serve." She said the best way to deal with the problem is to get all parties to meet and talk, "helping them see that, in fact, we are all in this together."

Lynch was accompanied at the hearing by about 30 family members and friends. Her mother was unable to make the trip, but her father, a retired minister, sat behind her throughout the hearing along with her husband, her brother and several members of her college sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, wearing their trademark bright red.

Desert stars: Celebs converge on Phoenix for Super Bowl 49 Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:02:15 -0500 PHOENIX (AP) — The desert is great for stargazing, and that will certainly be the case as the Super Bowl takes over Phoenix and its suburbs.

Comedians Joel McHale and Kevin Hart will crack jokes for partygoers, newcomer Charli XCX will perform for troops and then revelers at ESPN's party, and Jamie Foxx and Drake will hold court at a pair of lounges at a swanky Scottsdale hotel.

The events range from private, invite-only festivities to fan-friendly events that are open to anyone who buys a ticket.

Here's a look at some of the places where stars from the sports and entertainment worlds will mix and mingle:



Participants in this year's Madden Bowl better bring their A game — or expect to be the brunt of jokes from Kevin Hart. "The Wedding Ringer" star will host and zero in on the action on the digital gridiron.

Electronic Arts is taking over a block of downtown Scottsdale for a party that will include performances by Nelly and Florida Georgia Line, and Hart hosting Madden matches between NFL players. Last year's winner, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, will return to defend his title.

"This year typifies the peak of what Madden Bowl has been," said Randy Chase, EA's senior director of North American marketing.

Not all the games are for people — Animal Planet will also open its Puppy Bowl Cafe, which features puppies taking the field and canines available for adoptions.



Grammy-nominated singer Charli XCX is one of Super Bowl week's most sought-after acts, with at least three performances scheduled.

The pop singer is singing for troops Friday night at Luke Air Force base and performing a set at ESPN's bash later that night. On Saturday, she'll perform for partygoers at Rolling Stone's bash.

The ESPN party on Friday will be a hub for some of the weekend's biggest names in pro sports and entertainment. Also scheduled to make appearances at the show are "Frozen" star Idina Menzel, who will sing the national anthem at Sunday's game and John Legend, who will sing "America the Beautiful" before kickoff.



Not all of the pre-game parties are simply for fun and games.

McHale will host a roast of NFL great Terry Bradshaw, a charity event that will benefit a program that brings entertainment to wounded veterans.

The Friars Club roast of Bradshaw is one of several charity events planned for this week, including the Big Game Big Give charity event. The gala is being hosted by actor Mark Wahlberg, director Michael Bay and Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams. The beneficiaries will be three charities, including Wahlberg's foundation for inner city youth.

Gladys Knight headlines the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, which donates some of its proceeds to charity.

The evening, one of a handful of NFL-sanctioned events, will be hosted by actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, retired NFL player Rodney Peete. The event will feature tributes to gospel performer Andrae Crouch and broadcaster Stuart Scott, who died earlier this month.



Performances by top artists aren't just for invitees of a gala or party — several paid concerts are scheduled for the days before the game.

DirecTV hosts a three-day music festival that culminates with a Friday night show featuring Snoop Dogg and Imagine Dragons. Performers on other days include the Zac Brown Band, Calvin Harris and Jason Derulo.

Twelve blocks of downtown Phoenix are being transformed into the Verizon Super Bowl Central, a free area with NFL-themed attractions and nightly fireworks shows. Pepsi has set up its "Hyped for Halftime Stage" which will feature performances by The Roots, Walk the Moon and other acts daily.


For many Super Bowl parties, you've got to know someone to get inside.

Rihanna headlines one of the weekend's biggest private concerts, DirecTV's Super Saturday Night, which has previously featured performances by Jay-Z and Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and this year's halftime performer, Katy Perry.

Rolling Stone, Maxim and Playboy magazines are among the invite-only parties this week.

Some celebrities and athletes will also get to indulge their inner-child at Neon Carnival, a star-friendly event that features rides, games and dance music — and a stringent guest list.

Head of NCAA enforcement: Academic misconduct on rise Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:03:08 -0500 The head of NCAA enforcement says academic misconduct is on the rise in college athletics and his department is currently handling 20 open investigations.

Vice president of enforcement Jon Duncan said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press the cases involve both prospective and incoming athletes trying to become eligible for college competition, and enrolled athletes receiving impermissible assistance from university and athletic department personnel.

Eighteen of the cases involve Division I schools, though NCAA policy precludes Duncan from revealing which programs are under investigation.

North Carolina has been the focus of the NCAA's most high-profile infractions case involving academics. Last year an independent investigator found that hundreds of Tar Heels athletes over nearly two decades were steered toward sham classes that gave out high grades for little work. In the last four months, Weber State football and Georgia swimming have been sanctioned by the NCAA for academic misconduct violations.

Duncan said reasons for the uptick are difficult to pinpoint, but he speculated potential contributors are raised academic standards for athletes and recent reforms that tie academic performance to a team's postseason eligibility.

More digital and online course work "creates opportunities for mischievous behavior," Duncan said. Though electronic fingerprints and digital trails can also aide in investigations.

Also, cheating seems to be more common campus-wide, not just in the athletic department, Duncan said.

"None of what's happened here has surprised us," said Duncan, who took over enforcement in 2013. "In fact, it's why we created the academic integrity unit in 2013, because we saw this on the horizon and we wanted to be in a position to deal with it proactive rather than reacting to it. Whatever the drivers were."

Academic misconduct investigations can be challenging because not all cheating by a student-athlete breaks NCAA rules.

Notre Dame had four football players suspended all of last season because of academic misconduct. The school needed to report the incident to the NCAA, though ultimately it was a violation of the university's honor code that cost the players the season.

For academic impropriety to become an NCAA violation at least one of three factors must be involved:

— Involvement by members of an institution or athletic department staff.

— An athlete is treated differently than the general student population.

— Academic misconduct led to an award of credit that allowed an athlete to compete when he or she would have otherwise been ineligible.

"It's easy to talk about those different buckets and categories in sort of scholarly, academic conversation, but they don't come to us packaged and labeled as falling into and out of those categories," Duncan said. "We have to spend a lot of time, dedicate a lot of resources, look at a lot of paper and perhaps conduct a number of interviews to determine whether we're in one of those categories or not."

West Virginia University director of compliance Keli Cunningham said the challenge for those on campus comes in the tracking.

"It's not like monitoring areas such as a prospect's visit to campus where you can see an expense statement and know if someone received a meal and shouldn't have or monitoring phone calls where you can see a coach's phone bill and know if he/she made too many phone calls," Cunningham said in an email. "If a staff member works closely with a student-athlete and that student-athlete receives a high grade for the course, that doesn't mean that the staff member acted unethically and triggered academic misconduct."

Kathy Sulentic, who leads the NCAA's academic integrity unit, said they are seeing two themes in the academic cases being investigated.

"What we're seeing are people who have an association with the program, by people it could be anybody from a professor, a campus adviser, a registrar, a teaching assistant, who has a relationship with the athletic department or a particular sports program and they use that relationship in an effort to — and I'm using air quotes here — to help a student-athlete engage in misconduct," she said.

The second scenario stems from coaches delivering directives to coaching and support staff members about an athlete's academics.

"And the coach will say, 'We need to get this student athlete eligible.' Not telling them exactly what to do but saying we need this young man or young women and some sort of academic misconduct occurs," Sulentic said.

Enforcement staff does not make NCAA bylaws though it can help guide membership to where it wants to go with legislation.

The NCAA has been going through a stage of deregulation as it tries to simplify its bylaws, but that's not necessarily the case when it comes to academics.

"The conversations that we have been in and that we have heard have not been deregulatory in nature," Duncan said. "They're just trying to find a way to distinguish between what is an NCAA matter and what is not."


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Penn State president: Freeh acted like prosecutor in review Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:00:27 -0500 STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Penn State's president on Wednesday dismissed the university-commissioned review of how top administrators handled child molestation complaints about former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky as "not useful to make decisions."

Eric Barron told The Associated Press that the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh took a prosecutorial approach and created an "absurd" and "unwarranted" picture of students, faculty and others associated with the university.

"I have to say, I'm not a fan of the report," Barron said during a half-hour interview in his office in Old Main, the school's administrative headquarters. "There's no doubt in my mind, Freeh steered everything as if he were a prosecutor trying to convince a court to take the case."

The Freeh report concluded that former administrators Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Gary Schultz, and former football coach Joe Paterno intentionally concealed key facts about Sandusky's child sex abuse to avoid bad publicity after receiving complaints in 1998 and 2001. It also recommended more than 100 changes to school policies and procedures and said Penn State was permeated by a culture of reverence for the football program.

The Freeh team's report, he said, "very clearly paints a picture about every student, every faculty member, every staff member and every alum. And it's absurd. It's unwarranted. So from my viewpoint, the Freeh report is not useful to make decisions."

Weeks after the Freeh report was issued in 2012, Penn State and the NCAA entered into a consent decree that imposed a four-year ban on postseason play, temporarily cut scholarships, required a $60 million fine and invalidated 112 football team wins from Paterno's later years. Although the legality of that deal has been questioned, Barron said he has no doubt that his predecessor, Rodney Erickson, had the authority to do it.

The NCAA last year restored the bowl rights and scholarships, and agreed two weeks ago to restore the wins.

"I think it adds more clarity and it reflects circumstances better," Barron said. The recent decision amounted to "removal of penalties that, in my mind, don't quite match NCAA obligations, and so I think the consent decree dissolution is a very positive thing for the university."

Despite Barron's criticisms of the NCAA's process, his office stressed that the school was still committed to procedural changes and its commitment to funding child abuse prevention efforts.

He said the NCAA's main role should be making sure teams don't get an unwarranted advantage on the playing field, and he argued any Sandusky cover-up did not result in the type of advantage teams get from illegal recruiting. The matter should have gone through the NCAA's infractions committee, he said.

"I think it's increasingly clear that none of the things that transpired had any impact on the field," Barron said. "And therefore I think almost universally, people say, well, those teams win those games. I think it's equally clear that in almost every instance we pay a penalty if we don't follow a process. And the NCAA stepped out of their process."

Barron said he has not finished a formal review of the Freeh report that he is conducting for university trustees.

Sandusky, a retired assistant coach, was accused of sexually abusing boys, some of them on campus. He is serving 30 to 60 years in prison after being convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, though he has consistently maintained his innocence.

The case of Spanier, Schultz and Curley for an alleged criminal cover-up is pending before a county judge in Harrisburg, 90 miles from the Penn State campus. Barron said that proceeding may bring to light new facts.

"Unfortunately, there are a lot of shoes that have to drop. You could argue that public opinion has found us guilty before the criminal trials," Barron said. "There's no doubt in my mind what was completely and totally wrong was the notion that this entire alumni base, our students, our faculty, our staff, got the blame for what occurred."

Student applications to Penn State have continued to rise, external funding of research is strong and donations have poured in, but the impact of the Sandusky scandal remains acute, Barron said.

"The price that's being paid is the fact that it's really torn our alumni base apart," he said. "They're constantly reading about it, they're constantly talking about who is standing up for the university, how they're standing up for the university, who did something wrong."

Barron said conflict among the trustees that pits those elected by alumni against the others comes down to different ideas about "a path forward."

"Of course I'm concerned about antagonism," he said. "And I'm concerned particularly because if you go to the foundations of all those individuals, they all love Penn State, they're all giving an enormous amount of time to Penn State, and for no other reason than they believe in the institution."

Penn State is developing a proposal to the Big Ten Conference to revise an athletics integrity agreement that currently applies to the university. Barron said a discussion about returning Penn State's share of the conference's bowl revenues from recent years "will be a face-to-face discussion."

Idaho lawmakers finish gay protections testimony Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:00:10 -0500 BOISE, Idaho (AP) — After finishing three days of testimony, Idaho lawmakers will vote Thursday on legislation that would create protections for gay and lesbian people in the state.

The House State Affairs Committee listened to nearly 20 hours of testimony from supporters of religious freedom and hundreds of gay rights activists.

The bill has been denied a public hearing for nine consecutive years by the Republican-controlled Statehouse. While getting a full hearing is the most progress the bill has made in the Statehouse, the legislation is not expected to survive the largely conservative committee.

The committee will convene Thursday at 8 a.m. for closing statements, where they will then debate and vote on the bill.

Mom wants independent autopsy after police killed daughter Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:01:14 -0500 DENVER (AP) — The mother of a 17-year-old girl who was shot and killed by Denver police said Wednesday that she wants a second, independent autopsy because she doesn't trust the official investigation into the death of her daughter.

The demand by Laura Sonya Rosales Hernandez came as the Denver Police Department and an independent city official who monitors the agency disclosed that separate investigations were underway into policies regarding officers shooting at moving vehicles.

The Monday shooting of Jessica Hernandez was the fourth time in seven months that a Denver officer fired at a vehicle after perceiving it as a threat.

Police have said two officers fired after Hernandez drove a stolen car into one of them. A passenger in the car disputed that account, saying police opened fire before the vehicle struck the officer. Police said none of the five people in the car was armed.

"I want another autopsy on my daughter so we can know how much damage they did," Hernandez said, speaking in Spanish inside the trailer home where her daughter lived with five siblings. "I want to know, how did this happen? I want to know everything."

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that officers may not use deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect unless the person is believed to pose significant physical harm. Still, policies vary among agencies, and some departments have banned or discouraged the practice.

The Albuquerque Police Department, for example, ordered officers in June to stop shooting at moving vehicles after a Justice Department report found a pattern of excessive force.

The Cleveland Police Department changed its policy before federal investigators concluded its officers too often used unnecessary force.

In Denver, the Police Department and Independent Monitor Nicholas Mitchell are both looking at how national standards compare to Denver's policy, which allows officers to fire at moving cars if they have no other reasonable way to prevent death or serious injury.

Denver's policy urges officers to try to move out of the way rather than fire. "An officer threatened by an oncoming vehicle shall, if feasible, move out of the way rather than discharging a firearm," it says.

The reviews will look at several cases in which Denver officers fired at cars they considered to be deadly weapons. Those cases include the fatal shooting of Ryan Ronquillo, 21, who officers said tried to hit them with his car outside a funeral home in July.

Prosecutors have declined to file charges in that case.

Experts say shooting and disabling a driver can send a car out of control.

"If you were to shoot at the driver you would have an unguided missile, basically," said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, which suggests departments forbid officers from shooting at moving vehicles unless there's another deadly threat involved, such as a weapon.

Police officials identified the officers in the shooting of Hernandez as Daniel Greene, a 16-year-veteran, and Gabriel Jordan, a 9-year-veteran.

Jordan suffered a fractured leg, department spokesman Sonny Jackson said, declining to comment further about details of the case.

Hernandez's mother said her daughter made a mistake by "grabbing" a car that did not belong to her but didn't deserve to pay with her life.

"How much do they need to investigate?" she asked. "It's all done. They did it. They killed her. All I want is justice."

A passenger in the car, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of safety concerns, said Hernandez lost control of the vehicle because she was unconscious after being shot.

Prosecutors promised a thorough probe of the shooting as a small group of angry protesters demanded swift answers and called for a special prosecutor to investigate the death.

The shooting occurred amid a national debate about police use of force fueled by racially charged episodes in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.

Investigators in the Denver case will be relying on witnesses and police accounts because the department has only just started to buy body cameras for its officers, and those involved were not yet outfitted. Denver doesn't use in-car dashboard cameras, either, which experts consider a best practice for accountability but can be costly for larger departments.

The shooting happened after police determined a suspicious vehicle in an alley had been stolen, Chief Robert White said. The two officers opened fire after Hernandez drove into one of them as they approached the car on foot, police said.

The passenger said officers came up to the car from behind and fired four times into the driver's side window as they stood on the side of the car, narrowly missing others inside.

Witnesses said officers with their guns drawn then pulled people out of the car, including Hernandez, who they handcuffed and searched. Her mother criticized the way police handled her after she was shot.

"They dragged her on the floor and threw her down like a piece of garbage," she said.

Both officers involved in the shooting have been placed on routine administrative leave pending the investigation.

LeBron sitting out with sprained right wrist Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:00:19 -0500 CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers superstar LeBron James could miss several games with a sprained right wrist sustained during a hard fall against Detroit.

James, who got hurt while trying to brace himself from the tumble on Tuesday night, sat out Wednesday's game against Portland and is currently doubtful for Friday's home game against Sacramento. The Cavs play at Minnesota on Saturday.

The team announced James' injury moments before they tipped off against the Trail Blazers. The team sent out an email saying James underwent an MRI, which revealed the sprain.

During his pregame availability, first-year coach David Blatt made no mention of the injury other than to say James was sore and was a game-time decision. Blatt, who said he's "conscious" of James' minutes and doesn't want to "overplay" him, said he had no plans to rest the All-Star anytime soon.

James recently returned after missing eight games with nagging knee and back injuries. The Cavs, who entered Wednesday's game on a seven-game winning streak, have gone 1-8 without James.

Before this season, the 30-year-old had never missed more than seven games in his NBA career. Since he returned from the sprained back and knee, the Cavs have gone 7-1 and James has averaged 30.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.4 assists.

James got hurt late in the third quarter on Tuesday night when he fell after trying to block a shot by Pistons guard Jodie Meeks. James put out both hands to break his fall as he crashed to the floor. James got up and went to the bench shaking both wrists. He finished the game, scoring 32 points — 10 in the fourth quarter — as the Cavs extended their winning streak.

Afterward, James acknowledged he was scared when he fell because he broke his left wrist on a similar play during high school.

"I got taken out of the air in high school and broke my wrist," he said. "So I was waiting to either fall on my face, face down, or using my hands and my arms both of them kind of numbed up and I was kind of scared, too, for sure. I tried to just brace my fall, with my hands."

Shawn Marion started in place of James.

Treasure hunter who found a fortune in gold is captured Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:02:01 -0500 COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A treasure hunter accused of cheating his investors out of their share of one of the richest hauls in U.S. history — $50 million in gold bars and coins from a 19th-century shipwreck — was captured at an upscale Florida hotel after more than two years on the lam.

Federal marshals tracked Tommy Thompson to a Hilton in West Boca Raton and arrested him Tuesday. A warrant had been issued for him in 2012 in Columbus after he failed to show up for a hearing on a lawsuit brought by some of his backers.

The U.S. Marshals Service called him "one of the most intelligent fugitives ever sought" by the agency and said he relied on cash and employed other means to stay under the radar. Authorities gave no details on how they found him.

Thompson, 62, made history in 1988 when he discovered the sunken SS Central America, also known as the Ship of Gold.

The sidewheel steamer went down in a hurricane about 200 miles off South Carolina in 1857; 425 people drowned and tons of gold from the California Gold Rush was lost, contributing to an economic panic.

In a modern-day technological feat, Thompson and his crew brought up thousands of bars and coins, much of them later sold to a gold marketing group in 2000 for about $50 million.

The 161 investors who paid Thompson $12.7 million to find the ship never saw the proceeds. Two sued — a now-deceased investment firm president and the company that publishes The Columbus Dispatch newspaper and had invested about $1 million.

Thompson was arrested on the civil contempt warrant issued in August 2012 and a criminal contempt warrant, which was issued in spring 2013 but was only made public on Wednesday.

Columbus attorney Rick Robol, who at one time defended Thompson's company, has said there is no proof Thompson stole anything. He said Wednesday that he has been concerned about Thompson's health, calling the arrest "the best thing that can happen for everybody."

Thompson was arrested along with his longtime companion, Alison Antekeier. The pair had been paying cash for the hotel room, rented under a fake name used by Antekeier, marshals said. The hotel is in an upscale suburban area surrounded by golf courses, country clubs and gated communities.

Federal marshals said that the pair had no vehicles registered in their names and that Antekeier used buses and taxis to get around.

After the arrest warrant was issued, Thompson vanished from his Vero Beach, Florida, mansion, where a search found prepaid disposable cellphones and bank wraps for $10,000 in cash, along with a book titled "How to Live Your Life Invisible," according to court records. One marked page was titled: "Live your life on a cash-only basis."

The couple made initial court appearances Wednesday in West Palm Beach. Authorities will seek to return Thompson to Ohio.

Gil Kirk, former director of one of Thompson's companies, told The Associated Press last year that Thompson never cheated anyone. Kirk said proceeds from the sale of the gold all went to legal fees and bank loans.


Myers reported from Washington.


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Census: 1 in 5 children on food stamps Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:01:56 -0500 WASHINGTON (AP) — Sixteen million children were on food stamps as of last year, the highest number since the nation's economy tumbled in 2008.

Numbers released by the Census Bureau Wednesday as part of its annual look at children and families show that one in five children were on food stamp assistance in 2014. The survey was taken last spring.

The number of people receiving food stamps — now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP — spiked through the recession and has stayed at a higher level since. In the 2007 Census survey, 9 million children received SNAP assistance.

Participation and spending appear to be going down, though. The Congressional Budget Office said this week that the government spent $76 billion on SNAP last year, down 8 percent from the year before. That was the first time spending went down since the beginning of the recession.

Around 46.5 million people received food stamps last year, according to the Agriculture Department, which oversees the aid, up from around 26 million in 2007. Participation is expected to decrease over the next 10 years, though higher food costs could keep spending up.

Half of the children receiving food stamps in the Census survey — 8 million — were living only with their mothers. Around 5 million children receiving food stamps lived with married parents.

The spike in food stamp spending has caught the attention of Congress, and House Republicans tried to cut the program by around $4 billion a year in 2013. In an eventual compromise, Congress agreed to cuts of around $800 million a year, policy that was signed into law by President Barack Obama early last year as part of a larger farm bill. Since then, many states have found ways to get around the cuts.

The SNAP program will still be under scrutiny in the new Republican Congress. The new chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, and the new chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, are both expected to take a look at food stamp spending in the coming year.

Billy Shore, the founder and CEO of Share Our Strength, a national anti-hunger group, said childhood hunger doesn't get enough attention. His group is pushing Congress to leave the food stamp program untouched and to find new ways to end childhood poverty.

"These kids are the most vulnerable and the least responsible for the situation in which they find themselves," he said.


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Hezbollah fires missile salvo, killing 2 Israeli soldiers Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:01:31 -0500 SHEAR YASHUV, Israel (AP) — The Lebanese militant Hezbollah group fired a salvo of missiles at an Israeli military convoy in a disputed border area Wednesday, killing two soldiers and triggering deadly clashes that marked the most serious escalation since the sides' 2006 war.

The flare-up, which also left a U.N. peacekeeper dead, added to the regional chaos brought on by neighboring Syria's civil war. Hezbollah indicated the attack was in retaliation for a deadly Israeli strike on its fighters inside Syria earlier this month.

The violence sparked fears in both countries of yet another crippling war between the two foes. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israel would respond "forcefully," and the military fired artillery shell barrages that struck border villages in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah responded with rocket fire on Israeli military positions.

The Israeli military said five anti-tank missiles hit the soldiers as they were traveling near Mount Dov and Chebaa Farms, along a disputed tract of land where the borders of Israel, Lebanon and Syria meet.

The soldiers were in two unarmored white vehicles without military insignia when they were struck from a distance of about three miles (five kilometers) away, according to Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman.

Israeli media aired footage showing the charred, smoldering vehicles after the strike, which also wounded seven Israeli soldiers.

At U.N. headquarters in New York, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. peacekeeper, a Spaniard, was killed in cross-fire after rockets were fired at Israeli positions and Israeli forces responded. He said the cause of death was under investigation.

However, Spain's ambassador to the U.N. blamed Israel for the death of the peacekeeper, identified as 36-year-old Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo. "It was because of this escalation of violence, and it came from the Israeli side," Spanish Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi told reporters at U.N. headquarters.

He did not elaborate. However, Lebanese security officials said earlier that the peacekeeper was killed by Israeli shelling that struck near a U.N. base inside Lebanon. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Security Council, meeting in an emergency session, condemned the peacekeeper's death in the strongest terms and offered its deepest sympathies. In a statement, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that he conveyed Israel's condolences for the death in a conversation with his Spanish counterpart.

The dead Israeli soldiers were identified as Capt. Yochai Kalangel, 25, and Sgt. Dor Chaim Nini, 20.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki condemned the Hezbollah attack and expressed support for Israel's "legitimate right to self-defense."

Hezbollah said the operation was carried out by a group calling itself the "Righteous Martyrs of Quneitra," suggesting it was to avenge an Israeli airstrike in the Syrian portion of the Golan Heights on Jan. 18 that killed six Hezbollah fighters, including the son of the group's slain military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, and an Iranian general.

Israel has braced for a response to that strike, beefing up its air defenses and increasing surveillance along its northern frontier.

"Whoever stands behind today's attack will pay the price in full," a statement from Netanyahu's office quoted him as saying. Netanyahu said that Iran, through Hezbollah, was working to establish a base in southern Syria from which to launch attacks against Israel. "We are working resolutely and responsibly against this attempt," he said.

He said Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Lebanese government shared the blame for attacks against Israel emanating from their territory.

Despite his strong words, the Israeli premier is unlikely to want to get mired in a messy and costly conflagration ahead of his re-election bid on March 17, with Israelis weary following a year that brought both the 50-day Gaza war and a spike in deadly attacks by Palestinians.

Rocket and artillery fire continued on both sides of the border for hours after the initial attack.

The Israeli military said mortars were fired at several Israeli positions in the border area and on Mount Hermon in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, causing no injuries. It said Israeli forces responded with fire toward Lebanese positions, and evacuated Israeli visitors from a ski resort in the area.

Lebanese officials said the Israeli shelling targeted the border villages of Majidiyeh, Abbasiyeh and Kfar Chouba near the Chebaa Farms area. By afternoon, residents along the border reported the shelling had died down but that there were still Israeli aircraft flying overhead.

Families living on the outskirts of the targeted southern Lebanese villages fled the Israeli fire, fearing they'd be hit. Celebratory gunfire echoed in Shiite-dominated areas of Beirut, while in other areas, nervous parents hurried to pick up their children from school and hunker down at home.

Sounds of gunfire were heard near the Israeli village of Shear Yashuv, and there were plumes of smoke near Mount Dov. Israeli helicopters flew overhead and Israeli police and army set up checkpoints on roads near the border, closing them briefly.

The clashes recalled the beginning of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, which was sparked by a Hezbollah attack on an Israeli military vehicle along the border, and the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers.

The ensuing monthlong conflict killed about 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis and ravaged the Shiite-dominated region of southern Lebanon as well as the country's infrastructure.

However, Hezbollah, which has an arsenal of tens of thousands of missiles and rockets, is currently preoccupied with the war in neighboring Syria, where it is aiding Assad's forces, and Israeli officials believe the Shiite militant group is not interested in opening a new front with Israel.

Still, some analysts warned that Hezbollah would not shy away from engaging Israel in what could become an expanded conflict drawing in Syria and even Iran.

"This is the beginning of what could be a major confrontation," said Kamel Wazne, founder of the Center for American Strategic Studies in Beirut. "My estimate is this is the beginning of redefining the new confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah, Syria and Iran."

However, Ayham Kamel, an analyst with Eurasia, said the latest Hezbollah attacks were structured as a limited retaliatory response to the Israeli airstrike on its fighters and would likely remain contained.

In an e-mailed note, he said the attacks were "a message from the resistance axis that the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon are effectively two open fronts for military operations against Israel."

Israel Ziv, a reserve Israeli general and a former head of the military's Operations Directorate, told reporters the situation was "flammable" and that Israel should work to "contain" the situation.

"We could find ourselves in a war that does not belong to Israel," he said.

"I do believe that Israel understands that it needs to contain it," he said, adding that Israel should not take any "steps that would pull us into the chaotic situation in Syria."

Tensions have been building for days in the disputed border zone between Israel, Lebanon and Syria. On Tuesday, two rockets fired from Syria hit the Israeli-controlled portion of the Golan Heights without causing injury. On Wednesday, Israel launched airstrikes into Syria targeting Syrian army artillery posts in response. No casualties were reported.


Karam reported from Beirut. Associated Press writers Daniel Estrin, Tia Goldenberg and Ian Deitch in Jerusalem, Diaa Hadid in Beirut, Alan Clendenning in Madrid and Bradley Klapper in Washington contributed to this report.

AP Sources: Jaguars hire Hackett to coach quarterbacks Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:00:37 -0500 The Jacksonville Jaguars are adding another former Buffalo Bills coach to their staff.

Nathaniel Hackett has been hired to become the Jaguars quarterbacks coach, two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Jaguars have not announced the move.

He replaces Frank Scelfo, who will remain on Gus Bradley's staff in another capacity

Hackett spent the past two seasons as Buffalo's offensive coordinator. He follows his former Bills boss Doug Marrone, who was hired last week as the Jaguars assistant head coach and offensive line coach.

Marrone abruptly quit the Bills on Dec. 31 by exercising an opt-out clause in his contract.

Hackett was not retained by Rex Ryan, who replaced Marrone in Buffalo. Hackett had been a candidate to replace Brian Schottenheimer as the St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator before pulling his name out of the running on Wednesday.

He is the son of Paul Hackett, who had an extensive coaching background at both the NFL and college ranks.

Nathaniel Hackett previously worked as an assistant under Marrone at Syracuse.

In Jacksonville, he will be responsible for helping develop first-round draft pick Blake Bortles, who went 3-10 as a starter in his rookie season.

Bortles finished 33rd in the NFL with a 69.5 passer rating in 11 games. He threw 11 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, tied for the third-most in the league.


AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville, Florida, contributed to this report.


AP NFL website: and

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LeBron sitting out with sprained right wrist Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:00:38 -0500 CLEVELAND (AP) — Cavaliers superstar LeBron James will sit out Wednesday night's game against Portland with a sprained right wrist sustained in a hard fall at Detroit.

James is also doubtful for Friday's game against Sacramento.

James got hurt late in the third quarter on Tuesday when he fell after trying to block a shot by Pistons guard Jodie Meeks. James put out both hands to break his fall as he crashed to the floor. James briefly went to the bench, but finished the game, scoring 32 points as the Cavs won their seventh straight.

Afterward, James acknowledged he was scared when he fell because he broke his left wrist on a similar play during high school.

The four-time MVP recently returned after missing eight games with a strained back and knee. The Cavs went 1-7 without him, but are 7-1 since he came back.

Rare Sierra Nevada red fox spotted in Yosemite park Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:00:27 -0500 SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The first confirmed sighting of a rare Sierra Nevada red fox in Yosemite National Park in nearly a century has been confirmed by park officials.

Park wildlife biologists who were on a backcountry trip to the far northern part of the park documented two sightings since early December.

The Sierra Nevada red fox of California is one of the rarest mammals in North America, with likely fewer than 50 left.

The nearest verified occurrences of Sierra Nevada red foxes have been in the Sonora Pass area, north of the park, where biologists say a small population was first documented in 2010. Prior to that, the last verified sighting of a Sierra Nevada red fox in that area was two decades ago. The species hasn't been seen in the park in nearly 100 years.

Jury to decide if Toyota involved in 2006 crash had defect Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:00:25 -0500 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An attorney for a Minnesota man whose Toyota Camry rammed into another car in 2006, killing three people, said during closing arguments in federal court Wednesday that the car had a defect that caused the accelerator to stick.

The car driven by Koua Fong Lee was not defective, an attorney for Toyota Motor Corp. countered, suggesting that Lee mistook the gas pedal for the brake.

"You can't explain this accident any other way than having no brake applied and the foot at or near wide open throttle," Toyota attorney David Graves said, adding that if Lee had stepped on the brake hard, as he claimed to do, "this accident would not have happened."

Lee's Camry rear-ended an Oldsmobile at high speed on July 10, 2006, as he drove up an Interstate 94 off-ramp in St. Paul. He always insisted that he tried to stop, and that the car was at fault. He spent 2½ years in prison before publicity over sudden acceleration in some Toyotas helped free him.

Lee, his family members, and others who were hurt or lost loved ones in the crash sued Toyota in U.S. District Court in Minnesota.

Jurors got the case Wednesday after three weeks of testimony. They will have to decide whether the design of the 1996 Camry caused a defect that was unreasonably dangerous. If they find there was a defect, they must decide whether it caused the plaintiffs' injuries.

Robert Hilliard, Lee's attorney, said his client has post-traumatic stress disorder and asked the jury to consider Lee's mental anguish as it weighs damages.

"I know the damage that occurred because of the guilt he carries," Hilliard said.

Hilliard said testimony showed the Camry's auto drive assembly could stick and, when tapped or pushed while stuck, it could stick again at a higher speed. He also accused Toyota of never conducting reliability tests on nylon resin pulleys that could be damaged under heat and cause the throttle to stick.

"This is what makes the car go. This is what turns it into a torpedo, a missile, a deadly weapon," Hilliard said.

Lee testified during the trial that he is still haunted by the accident. He and his wife wept Wednesday after Hilliard's closing arguments.

Toyota insisted Lee's car was never subject to the recalls of later-model Toyotas and has alleged Lee was negligent.

Graves told jurors it was impossible for Lee's car to speed up from around 55 mph to 75 mph at impact unless he had the throttle wide open. He pointed to tests that showed applying or pumping the brakes — as Lee testified he did — would have slowed the car.

"The brakes will win," Graves said.

But Hilliard said two witnesses testified accelerators got stuck when they were driving 1996 Camrys, making it extremely hard to get their cars to stop.

U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery told jurors they must disregard anything they might have read about Lee's criminal case or his time in prison. Montgomery also told jurors to disregard information about recalls of other Toyotas.

The crash killed the driver of the Oldsmobile, Javis Trice-Adams Sr., and his 9-year-old son, Javis Adams Jr. His 6-year-old niece, Devyn Bolton, was paralyzed and died in October 2007.

Trice-Adams' daughter, Jassmine Adams, who was 12 at the time, was seriously injured, as was Trice-Adams' father, Quincy Ray Adams. Those two and Devon Bolton's mother, Bridgette Trice, are the other plaintiffs in the case.

Their attorneys said jurors should consider what was lost when assessing damages. Sniffles could be heard in the courtroom and several people, including at least one juror, wiped their eyes as Jassmine Adams' attorney talked about the girl's pain.

"It's not fair that Jassmine had her childhood taken from her," Anne Brockland said. "She only had one."

Brockland added she wasn't there to get sympathy, but rather: "I came to collect a debt." She said: "Stand with me, and tell Toyota that this isn't fair."


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Study: Insurers may using drug costs to discriminate Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:00:35 -0500 FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Insurance companies, perhaps more than previously thought, may be charging the sickest patients extra for drugs under the federal health law, in an effort to discourage them from choosing certain plans, according to a study released Wednesday.

One of the cornerstones of President Obama's signature health law forbids insurance companies from turning away people with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or cancer. Yet hundreds of patient advocacy groups say insurance companies have found a way to discriminate against these people, who are more expensive to cover because they require life-long treatments.

The companies do this by putting all of their medications in a special category where the patient is required to pay a percentage of the cost of the drug, rather than a flat co-pay. Some are as high as 50 percent, leaving people on the hook for thousands of dollars. That compares to the average $10 to $40 per medication co-pay that most pay.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine only examined HIV drugs, but noted the problem applies to mental illness, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Patient advocates have complained that prescriptions for these patients were virtually unaffordable in some plans offered on

The AIDS Institute even filed a formal complaint with Health and Human Services officials last summer about four plans in Florida. Georgia plans to file a similar complaint, but the scope of the problem has been difficult to gauge as many of the complaints have been anecdotal.

The researchers studied 48 plans in 12 states using the federal marketplace: Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, South Carolina, Utah, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

They found that one-quarter of the plans placed all of the HIV drugs into the highest-cost category and required consumers to pay at least 30 percent of the drug costs instead of a flat co-pay. Annual drug costs in these plans were more than triple compared with other plans ($4,892 to $1,615), according to the analysis. And 50 percent had to pay a separate deductible for drugs, compared to only 19 percent of consumers in other plans.

Insurers have historically placed drugs in categories with higher co-pays to encourage consumers to select generic or preferred brand-name drugs. The problem is exacerbated as more plans place all drugs, including generics, in the more expensive category.

"Our findings suggest that many insurers may be using benefit design to dissuade sicker people from choosing their plans," the study noted.

Over time, researchers predicted sicker people will enroll in plans that don't charge such high prices. That means certain plans could have a higher number of sicker, more expensive consumers than their competitors. The federal law has financial protections for those plans but some will be phased out in 2016.

The law does ban insurers from charging an individual more than $6,350 in out-of pocket costs a year and no more than $12,700 for a family policy.

Insurance companies say the main issue is increasing drug costs and they're shouldering the bulk of it. But they acknowledge the increased prices are also passed onto consumers.

For example, Atripla, the most popular HIV AIDS treatment and one of the highest-selling drugs in the U.S., costs insurers $27,026 a year. Patients only pay a portion of that, said Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for the trade association America's Health Insurance Plans.

"The exorbitant price tags drive up premiums, increase cost-sharing, and threaten access for the patients who need these medications," she said.

Advocates have asked federal health officials to intervene and nearly 300 patient groups sent a letter last month urging Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to beef up enforcement. The federal government has warned against such discrimination.

"We analyze plan information submitted by insurance companies to uncover discriminatory benefit designs, and work with outlier plans to update formularies so they do not discourage enrollment of consumers with specific medical conditions," agency spokesman Aaron Albright said in an email.

It's unclear what the penalties are for drug companies who discriminate.

Meanwhile, insurance officials in some states are stepping in. Three out of four of insurance companies restructured their plans in Florida late last year.


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