Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Published:

Cease-fire begins between Israel and Palestinian militants, ending fiercest fighting in years

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- A cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers took effect Wednesday night, bringing an end to eight days of the fiercest fighting in years and possibly signaling a new era of relations between the bitter enemies.

The Egyptian-sponsored deal delivered key achievements for all involved. It promised to halt years of Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel and ease border closings that have stifled Gaza's economy, and it affirmed the emergence of Egypt's new Islamist government as a key player in a changing region. But vague language in the agreement and deep hostility between the combatants made it far from certain that the bloodshed would end.

News of the truce, announced in Cairo and reached after furious diplomacy that drew in U.S., U.N., European and regional diplomats, set off ecstatic celebrations in Gaza, where thousands poured into the streets, firing guns into the air, honking horns and waving Palestinian, Hamas and Egyptian flags.

In Israel, small demonstrations were held in communities that were struck by rockets. Protesters said the military should have hit Hamas harder and some held signs demanding security and denouncing "agreements with terrorists."

Leaders on both sides used tough language as they prepared to engage in indirect negotiations on a future border arrangement through Egyptian mediators.

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With Gaza deal, new role for Egypt's Islamist leader: guarantor of quiet between Hamas, Israel

CAIRO (AP) -- The Gaza cease-fire deal reached Thursday marks a startling trajectory for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi: an Islamist leader who refuses to talk to Israelis or even say the country's name mediated for it and finally turned himself into Israel's de facto protector.

The accord inserts Egypt to an unprecedented degree into the conflict between Israel and Hamas, establishing it as the arbiter ensuring that militant rocket fire into Israel stops and that Israel allows the opening of the long-blockaded Gaza Strip and stops its own attacks against Hamas.

In return, Morsi emerged as a major regional player. He won the trust of the United States and Israel, which once worried over the rise of an Islamist leader in Egypt but throughout the week-long Gaza crisis saw him as the figure most able to deliver a deal with Gaza's Hamas rulers.

"I want to thank President Morsi for his personal leadership to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and end the violence," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who met Morsi Thursday, said at a Cairo press conference with Egypt's foreign minister announcing the accord.

"This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt's new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace," she said.

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Long road out of recession makes for tough Thanksgiving journeys; travelers hit by high prices

CHICAGO (AP) -- Millions of Americans piled their families into cars, hopped on buses and waited out delays at airports Wednesday as they set off on Thanksgiving treks that many said required financial sacrifice, help from relatives to come up with airfare and hours searching online for deals.

Accepting that the road out of the recession will be long, many said they've become savvier or at least hardier travelers -- resilient enough to brave a day-long drive with the kids or a long haul by bus instead of flying. Others adjusted their travel schedules to try to save money, flying on less popular days or to airports that were a bit farther from their destination.

The weather, along with the economy, handed setbacks to some. Heavy fog shrouded Chicago, causing more than 1,600 delays or cancellations in and out of its two airports and sending ripples around the nation.

And at New York City's Penn Station, a power failure in a switching system halted all trains for more than an hour at the height of the evening commute. It caused delays of 90 minutes or more on Amtrak and two of the nation's busiest commuter railroads.

The effects of Superstorm Sandy added to the hassle for travelers on the East Coast.

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Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. resigns, citing mental health problems, acknowledges federal probe

CHICAGO (AP) -- Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. quietly resigned Wednesday, effectively ending a once-promising political career months after the civil rights icon's son went on a mysterious medical leave while facing separate federal investigations.

Just two weeks after voters re-elected him to a ninth full term, Jackson sent his resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner, citing his ongoing treatment for bipolar disorder and admitting "my share of mistakes."

The House Ethics Committee is investigating his dealings with imprisoned ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and for the first time Jackson publicly acknowledged reports of a new federal probe believed to be looking into his possible misuse of campaign money.

"I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes," he wrote, adding "they are my mistakes and mine alone."

Jackson, 47, disappeared in June, and it was later revealed that he was being treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues. He returned to his Washington home in September but went back to the clinic the next month, with his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, saying his son had not yet "regained his balance."

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M23 rebels vow to take all of Congo, as army troops and police defect in Goma

GOMA, Congo (AP) -- Pressing ahead with their seizure of cities in mineral-rich eastern Congo, the M23 rebels said Wednesday they are fighting to control all of this sprawling country and to topple President Joseph Kabila's government.

Following their capture of the strategic city of Goma a day earlier, the rebels took the nearby town of Sake on Wednesday as they moved toward the provincial capital of Bukavu.

"Kabila has to go. We want our country back," said M23 Col. Vianney Kazarama to cheers from thousands gathered at the Goma stadium. "We are now going to Kinshasa. No one will divide this country."

Nearly 3,000 Congolese army soldiers and police defected to the rebels in Goma on Wednesday and turned in their weapons at the stadium rally.

Even as the M23 rebels consolidated their gains, the presidents of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda called on them to give up the territory they now control.

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Sandy victims gather with friends, strangers for subdued Thanksgiving

NEW YORK (AP) -- The things that Marge Gatti once cherished are lying on what's left of her deck, spattered in mud, like a yard sale gone awry.

The white fur coat she bought for $80 at an auction. Family videos. A peach-colored glass creamer from England. Books she never got a chance to read.

The stuff is ruined, just like her sodden Staten Island home, which was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy's floodwaters and will be demolished in the coming weeks. Of all things material, Gatti has nothing.

And yet, on Thanksgiving Day, she will be counting her blessings.

"My sons are alive. They were trapped here," said Gatti, 67, who lived in the beige home down the block from the Atlantic Ocean for 32 years. "I'm thankful that I have all my family. And that my friends are still here, you know? We're all friends now. There's no strangers in life anymore."

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Mammograms lead to overtreatment, do little to curb late-stage breast cancers, study concludes

Mammograms have done surprisingly little to catch deadly breast cancers before they spread, a big U.S. study finds. At the same time, more than a million women have been treated for cancers that never would have threatened their lives, researchers estimate.

Up to one-third of breast cancers, or 50,000 to 70,000 cases a year, don't need treatment, the study suggests.

It's the most detailed look yet at overtreatment of breast cancer, and it adds fresh evidence that screening is not as helpful as many women believe. Mammograms are still worthwhile, because they do catch some deadly cancers and save lives, doctors stress. And some of them disagree with conclusions the new study reached.

But it spotlights a reality that is tough for many Americans to accept: Some abnormalities that doctors call "cancer" are not a health threat or truly malignant. There is no good way to tell which ones are, so many women wind up getting treatments like surgery and chemotherapy that they don't really need.

Men have heard a similar message about PSA tests to screen for slow-growing prostate cancer, but it's relatively new to the debate over breast cancer screening.

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Seeking finicky holiday customers, stores offer incentives to make shopping cheap and easy

NEW YORK (AP) -- This holiday season, Burger King won't be the only place where you can have it your way.

It used to be enough for stores to promise discounts up to 70 percent to lure shoppers during the busy holiday period. But the ease of ordering online and the sluggish economy changed that. Americans are no longer impressed by discounts alone. Now they want their shopping just like their fast food: not only cheap, but convenient too.

That means they're no longer afraid to walk away from the cashmere sweater with the perfect fit if the store is crowded. They're unwilling to buy those suede pumps in just the right shade of blue if shipping costs extra. And they cringe at the prospect of carrying around paper coupons; they'd rather pull them up electronically on smartphones.

Retailers from Wal-Mart to Macy's are doing everything they can to make it easier for more finicky shoppers to spend during the holidays. Several are opening on Thanksgiving Day. Some are offering free layaway and shipping. Many are matching in-store prices with cheaper online deals. Others are allowing shoppers to buy online and pick up their merchandise in stores.

It's the latest effort by stores to court shoppers like Patty Edwards of Bellevue, Wash. Four years ago, Edwards made all of her holiday purchases online through Amazon because she thought it was the easiest way to shop. But this year, she plans to go elsewhere because stores are offering more shipping options.

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Letters found in former Denver pharmacy show glimpse into life at WWII internment camps

DENVER (AP) -- Some letters arriving from Japanese-American internment camps during World War II were very specific, asking for a certain brand of bath powder, cold cream or cough drops -- but only the red ones. Others were just desperate for anything from the outside world.

"Please don't send back my check. Send me anything," one letter said from a California camp on April 19, 1943.

The letters, discovered recently during renovations at a former Denver pharmacy owned by Japanese-Americans, provide a glimpse into life in some of the 10 camps where 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, including U.S. citizens, from the West Coast were forced to live during the war.

They were written in English and in Japanese, expressing the kinds of mundane needs and wants of everyday life, such as medicine as well as condoms, cosmetics and candy.

About 250 letters and postcards, along with war-time advertisements and catalogs, came tumbling out of the wall at a historic brick building on the outskirts of downtown. The reason they were in the wall and how they got there are a mystery, particularly because other documents were out in the open.

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Jack Taylor, 'Sir Jack' to King James, toast of basketball after scoring 138 to set NCAA mark

How did Grinnell's Jack Taylor wind up with 138 points in a game?

Well, he did miss 56 shots, more than he made. And he didn't play for four minutes.

Otherwise he would have scored even more.

As it was, Taylor shattered the NCAA scoring record by 25 points Tuesday night in the Pioneers' 179-104 victory over Faith Baptist Bible in Grinnell, Iowa.

Taylor hoisted a mind-boggling 108 shots, one every 20 seconds. Layups, fadeaways and 3-pointers (27 of those) were all working in a display that had the NBA's basketball royalty buzzing a day later, from Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant to Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.