Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Published:

AP source: Charred body found in rubble of burned cabin in Southern California mountains

BIG BEAR, Calif. (AP) -- The extraordinary manhunt for the former Los Angeles police officer suspected of three murders converged Tuesday on a mountain cabin where authorities believe he barricaded himself inside, engaged in a shootout that killed a deputy and then never emerged as the home went up in flames.

A single gunshot was heard from within, and a charred body was found inside.

If the man inside proves to be Christopher Dorner, as authorities suspect, the search for the most wanted man in America over the last week would have ended the way he had expected -- death, with the police pursuing him.

Thousands of officers had been on the hunt for the former Navy reservist since police said he launched a campaign to exact revenge against the Los Angeles Police Department for his firing. They say he threatened to bring "warfare" to officers and their families, spreading fear and setting off a search for him across the Southwest and Mexico.

"Enough is enough. It's time for you to turn yourself in. It's time to stop the bloodshed," LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said at a news conference held outside police headquarters in Los Angeles, a starkly different atmosphere than last week when officials briefed the news media under tight security with Dorner on the loose.

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Claiming nation grows stronger, Obama presses GOP to back his plans in State of Union address

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Uncompromising and politically emboldened, President Barack Obama urged a deeply divided Congress Tuesday night to embrace his plans to use government money to create jobs and strengthen the nation's middle class. He declared Republican ideas for reducing the deficit "even worse" than the unpalatable deals Washington had to stomach during his first term.

In his first State of the Union address since winning re-election, Obama conceded economic revival is an "unfinished task," but he claimed clear progress and said he prepared to build on it as he embarks on four more years in office.

"We have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is strong," Obama said in an hour-long address to a joint session of Congress and a television audience of millions.

Yet with unemployment persistently high and consumer confidence falling, the economy remains a vulnerability for Obama and could disrupt his plans for pursuing a broader agenda, including immigration overhaul, stricter gun laws and climate change legislation.

Obama also announced new steps to reduce the U.S. military footprint abroad, with 34,000 American troops withdrawing from Afghanistan within a year. And he had a sharp rebuke for North Korea, which launched a nuclear test just hours before his remarks, saying, "Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further."

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FACT CHECK: An incomplete picture on jobs, immigration, global warming, in Obama's speech

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama did some cherry-picking Tuesday night in defense of his record on jobs and laid out a conditional path to citizenship for illegal immigrants that may be less onerous than he made it sound.

A look at some of the claims in his State of the Union speech, a glance at the Republican counterargument and how they fit with the facts:

OBAMA: "After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over 6 million new jobs."

THE FACTS: That's in the ballpark, as far as it goes. But Obama starts his count not when he took office, but from the point in his first term when job losses were the highest. In doing so, he ignores the 5 million or so jobs that were lost on his watch, up to that point.

Private sector jobs have grown by 6.1 million since February 2010. But since he became president, the gain is a more modest 1.9 million.

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday

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

1. HOW CALIF. MANHUNT FOR EX-COP PLAYED OUT

A single gunshot was heard from a mountain cabin before it went up in flames -- and a charred body was found inside.

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Obama announces 34K US troops to be home from Afghanistan in 1 year

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama said Tuesday he will bring home within a year about half of the 66,000 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan, shrinking the force to the size he found it when he entered the White House vowing to reinvigorate a stalemated war.

More will leave the battlefield in 2014, he said, but he did not spell out what U.S. military presence would remain after 2014, when the U.S.-led combat mission is scheduled to end. The stated goal is to prepare Afghanistan's army and police to handle the Taliban insurgency largely on their own by then.

Obama said that his war goals could be achieved by bringing 34,000 U.S. troops home by this time next year, leaving somewhere between 32,000 and 34,000 to support and train Afghan forces. That is about the number in Afghanistan when he took office in January 2009; in a series of moves designed to reverse the Taliban's battlefield momentum, he tripled the total American force before starting to scale it back in the summer of 2011.

Obama's new move, announced in his State of the Union speech, coincides with a major shake-up in his war command. Gen. Joseph Dunford took over Sunday for Gen. John Allen as the commander of all allied forces in Afghanistan, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is planning to retire as soon as his replacement is confirmed. Obama has nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel to take the Pentagon post, and the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 14-11 Tuesday to advance the nomination to the full Senate for a vote possibly later this week.

Without going into specifics, Obama said the phase-out of American combat troops in Afghanistan will continue in 2014.

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Divided Senate panel approves Obama nomination of Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A bitterly divided Senate panel on Tuesday approved President Barack Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the nation's defense secretary in a rancorous session at which Republican questioned the former GOP senator's truthfulness and challenged his patriotism.

On a party-line vote of 14-11, the Armed Services Committee voted to send the nomination to the full Senate, where Republicans have threatened to delay a vote on the president's choice to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Democrats have the votes to confirm Hagel, a twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran and former two-term Nebraska senator, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would press ahead with a vote on the most divisive nominee of Obama's second-term national security team.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said after the hearing that he was hopeful the Senate could confirm Hagel by week's end.

Hagel has faced fierce opposition from Republicans who have challenged his past statements and votes on Israel, Iran, Iraq and nuclear weapons, but the two-hour-plus session took an uncomfortable turn for some members of the traditionally bipartisan panel.

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North Korea conducts third underground nuclear test, saying it is aimed at US 'hostility'

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) -- Defying U.N. warnings, North Korea on Tuesday conducted its third nuclear test in the remote, snowy northeast, taking a crucial step toward its goal of building a bomb small enough to be fitted on a missile capable of striking the United States.

North Korea said the atomic test was merely its "first response" to what it called U.S. threats, and said it will continue with unspecified "second and third measures of greater intensity" if Washington maintains its hostility.

The underground test, which set off powerful seismic waves, drew immediate condemnation from Washington, the U.N. and others. Even its only major ally, China, summoned the North's ambassador for a dressing-down.

President Barack Obama, who was scheduled to give a State of the Union address later Tuesday, said nuclear tests "do not make North Korea more secure." Instead, North Korea has "increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," he said in a statement.

But the Obama administration's options for a response are limited, and a U.S. military strike is highly unlikely.

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Conclave campaign gets under way with public platitudes and private maneuvering over espresso

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- It's a political campaign like no other, with no declared candidates or front-runners and a strict taboo against openly gunning for the job. But the maneuvering is already under way, with one African contender declaring Tuesday it was time for a pope from the developing world -- and he was free if God wanted him.

A day after Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world and announced he would retire on Feb. 28, Berlin's archbishop urged mercy for the victor, given the terrible weight of the office. Mexico City Cardinal Norberto Rivera asked for prayers so that the best man might win.

It's all part of the ritual of picking a pope, the mysterious process that takes place behind closed doors at the Sistine Chapel, where the "princes" of the church, the 117 or so cardinals under age 80, vote in next month's conclave.

Once sequestered, they cast secret ballots until they reach a two-thirds majority and elect a new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, sending up smoke signals from the chapel's chimney to tell the world if they have failed (black) or succeeded (white).

In the run-up to the conclave, cardinals engage in a delicate dance, speaking in general terms about the qualities of a future pope and the particular issues facing the church. It's rare for anyone to name names, much less tout himself as a candidate.

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Comcast to buy General Electric's stake in NBCUniversal for $16.7 billion, years early

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Comcast is buying the rest of NBCUniversal from General Electric several years ahead of schedule to take advantage of low interest rates and what its CEO calls a "very attractive price" of $16.7 billion.

The nation's leading cable TV company is also paying $1.4 billion for NBCUniversal's headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York -- the home of the fictional "30 Rock" TV show -- and for CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Investors thought the move was good for both companies -- GE because it got cash for its stake earlier than expected and Comcast because it will benefit more from the rising price of sports rights and other TV programs. With the NBCUniversal businesses, Comcast avoids solely being in the uncomfortable position of passing those costs onto consumers. That was one reason Comcast bought a majority stake in NBCUniversal two years ago.

Comcast Corp. also raised its annual dividend 20 percent to 78 cents per share and vowed to buy back another $2 billion in shares this year. Following Tuesday's announcement, Comcast's stock jumped 7 percent in after-hours trading. GE's stock rose almost 4 percent.

Comcast's business as a cable TV, Internet and phone provider generates nearly two-thirds of the company's revenue. The NBCUniversal business makes up the rest and includes the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, pay TV channels such as USA, CNBC, Bravo and SyFy, the Universal Pictures movie studio and theme parks in Florida and California.

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Westminster set to pick best in show: American foxhound, affenpinscher among early favorites

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sound asleep in her crate, a red rabbit stuffed toy at her paws, Fifi looked like the most docile dog in the world. Not exactly how many people see a Doberman pinscher.

"They can be intimidating," Jocelyn Mullins said.

That's why thousands of the Fifinator's Facebook fans and Mullins -- her owner, breeder and handler -- hoped she could win the 137th Westminster dog show.

"It would humanize the breed," Westminster Kennel Club President Sean McCarthy said. "A win for the Doberman would be an acceptance of that breed."

No luck, though. Fifi was beaten out in the working group by a Portuguese water dog. Judge Michael Dougherty was set to pick best in show shortly before 11 p.m. Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.