Founder of California wild animal park says worker killed by lion was female intern-volunteer
DUNLAP, Calif. (AP) -- A female intern-volunteer was killed Wednesday by a lion at a private wild animal park in Central California, the founder of the facility said.
Cat Haven founder and executive director Dale Anderson was crying as he read a one-sentence statement about the fatal mauling at the exotic animal zoo he has operated since 1993.
The intern was attacked and killed when she entered the lion's enclosure, he said.
He refused to take questions from reporters, but extended thoughts and prayers to the victim's friends and relatives.
The male African lion, a 4-year-old male named Couscous, had been raised at Cat Haven since it was a cub, said Tanya Osegueda, a spokeswoman for Project Survival, the nonprofit that operates Cat Haven.
In grim milestone, UN says number of Syrian refugees tops 1 million
BEIRUT (AP) -- Syria's accelerating humanitarian crisis hit a grim milestone Wednesday: The number of U.N.-registered refugees topped 1 million -- half of them children -- described by an aid worker as a "human river" of thousands spilling out of the war-ravaged country every day.
Nearly 4 million of Syria's 22 million people have been driven from their homes by the civil war. Of the displaced, 2 million have sought cover in camps and makeshift shelters across Syria, 1 million have registered as refugees in neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt, and several hundred thousand more fled the country but haven't signed up with the U.N. refugee agency.
The West has refrained from military intervention in the two-year-old battle to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, a conflict that has claimed more than 70,000 lives, and many Syrians hold the international community responsible for their misery.
"The refugee numbers swelled because the world community is sitting idly, watching the tyrant Assad killing innocent people," said Mohammed Ammari, a 32-year-old refugee in the Zaatari camp straddling Jordan's border with Syria. "Shame, shame, shame. The world should be ashamed."
Despite an overall deadlock on the battlefield, the rebels have made recent gains, especially in northern Syria. On Wednesday, they completed their capture of Raqqa, the first major city to fall completely into rebel hands, activists said.
GOP previews 10-year plan to eliminate deficits; House votes to prevent government shutdown
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republicans pushed legislation through the House on Wednesday to prevent a government shutdown this month while easing the short-term impact of $85 billion in spending cuts -- at the same time previewing a longer-term plan to erase federal deficits without raising taxes.
President Barack Obama pursued a different path as the GOP asserted its budget priorities. He arranged to have dinner with several Republican senators at a hotel near the White House in search of bipartisan support for a deficit-cutting approach that includes the higher taxes he seeks as well as savings from Medicare and other benefit programs that they stress.
Any such compromise talks are unlikely to yield fruit for months, if then, although Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the author of the House Republican budget plan, expressed hope that some progress across party lines might be possible later in the year.
"I think this whole thing will come to a crescendo this summer, and we're going to have to talk to each other to get an agreement about how to delay a debt crisis, how to save this country from a fiscal train wreck that's coming," said Ryan, who was the Republicans' vice presidential candidate last year. He added that he had spoken with Obama in recent days, but he declined to provide details.
For now, the divided government's immediate objectives are to prevent a shutdown of federal agencies on March 27, at the same time lawmakers and the White House look for ways to ease the impact of across-the-board spending cuts that kicked in less than a week ago.
Republicans mount lengthy debate and block vote on Obama's nominee to lead CIA
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Republican critic of the Obama administration's drone policy mounted a self-described filibuster Wednesday to block Senate confirmation of John Brennan to take over as director of the CIA.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., took the floor shortly before noon. With intermittent support from other conservatives holding similar views, plus Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Paul spoke almost continuously for five hours before Majority Leader Harry Reid tried but failed to move to a vote on Brennan.
Paul resumed his oration, snacking on some candy at the dinner hour while continuing to speak. At one point, Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill, who walks haltingly with a cane because of a stroke, delivered a canister of hot tea and an apple to Paul's desk, but a doorkeeper removed them.
The Kentucky senator, who is the son of former Texas Rep. and libertarian leader Ron Paul, offered to cease if President Barack Obama or Attoney General Eric Holder issued a statement assuring that drones would not be used in the United States to kill terrorism suspects who are U.S. citizens.
Later in the evening Paul offered to allow a vote on Brennan if the Senate would vote on his resolution stating that the use of the unmanned, armed aircraft on U.S. soil against American citizens violates the Constitution. Democrats rejected the offer.
NYPD: Suspect arrested in hit-and-run accident that killed pregnant woman, husband in Brooklyn
NEW YORK (AP) -- A man suspected of fleeing the scene of a grisly crash in New York City that killed a pregnant woman and her husband was arrested at a convenience store in northeastern Pennsylvania on Wednesday after a friend arranged his surrender with New York authorities.
Julio Acevedo, 44, walked to officers waiting in cars in the parking lot in Bethlehem, Pa., and was arrested on charges of leaving the scene of an accident, said Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department. Acevedo, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, said nothing to officers who took him into custody, Browne said.
The surrender, which occurred shortly after 5 p.m., was brokered by a friend who had been in touch with police earlier in the day. The friend met officers at New York's Grand Central Station, then led them to Acevedo in Bethlehem, about 80 miles away, police said.
Acevedo was being held by Pennsylvania State Police and was awaiting extradition to New York. Browne said it wasn't clear when he would be returned.
It also wasn't clear if Acevedo had an attorney. The friend had told police that Acevedo would surrender after consulting a lawyer, but none was with him when he turned himself in, Browne said.
Snowstorm strikes Mid-Atlantic, but largely bypasses DC; about 250K without power
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A winter storm marched into the Mid-Atlantic region Wednesday, dumping nearly two feet of snow in some places and knocking out power to about 250,000 homes and businesses. It largely spared the nation's capital, which was expecting much worse and had all but shut down.
Officials in Washington didn't want a repeat of 2011, when a rush-hour snowstorm stranded commuters for hours, so they told people to stay off the roads and gave workers the day off. Dubbed the "snowquester," the storm closed government offices, just as the automatic budget cuts known as the sequester were expected to do.
The storm pummeled the nation's midsection on Tuesday, killing at least four people in weather-related traffic accidents. It was forecast to head to the northeast on Thursday, bringing strong winds, more snow and the possibility of coastal flooding to New England.
In Washington, where as much as 10 inches had been forecast, the storm did little but drop harmless snowflakes that rapidly melted amid warmer-than-expected temperatures.
"They just say that it might snow and the whole city shuts down," said Sheri Sable, who was out walking her two dogs in light rain and marveled at how even the dog park she frequents failed to open at 7 a.m.
European competition watchdog fines Microsoft $733M for backsliding on browser promise
AMSTERDAM (AP) -- The European Union has fined Microsoft €561 million ($733 million) for breaking a pledge to offer personal computer users a choice of Internet browsers when they install the company's flagship Windows operating system.
The penalty imposed by the EU's executive arm, the Commission, is a first for Brussels: no company has ever failed to keep its end of a bargain with EU authorities before.
In 2009, Microsoft Corp. struck a broad settlement with the Commission to resolve disputes over the company's abuse of the dominance of Windows, which had spanned more than a decade.
Back then, the company agreed to pay €860 million and promised to give Windows users the option of choosing another browser rather than having Microsoft's Internet Explorer automatically installed on their machines.
But Microsoft failed to stick to the deal for some 15 million installations of Windows 7 software in Europe from May 2011 until July 2012. The company admitted the failure last year, adding that it was a mistake.
LGBT themes, faces in mainstream advertising multiply as more companies come out of the closet
NEW YORK (AP) -- A new TV commercial features a good-looking young woman on a beach vacation lounging next to a good-looking young man. He bemoans the glare on his iPad and she fills him in on the Kindle Paperwhite's sun-friendly screen.
He clicks to buy one himself and suggests they celebrate with a drink.
"My husband's bringing me a drink right now," chirps she.
"So is mine," smiles he as they turn and wave at their male loved ones sitting together at a tiki bar.
Welcome to the latest in gay imagery in mainstream advertising, where LGBT people have been waiting for a larger helping of fairness, or at least something other than punchlines and cliches.
Love of dog mushing, not wealth, draws competitors to 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- No one who races sled dogs is going to get filthy rich any time soon, even if they win Alaska's 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
The prize for winning the sport's premier race is only $50,400 and a new 2013 Dodge Ram pickup truck. That doesn't even cover the annual dog food bill for many competitive mushers, who keep dozens of dogs in professional kennels geared to breed the sturdiest, fastest runners.
Many mushers rely on sponsors, part-time work and prizes from smaller races. Others work in seasonal jobs in tourism, construction and commercial fishing. They skimp on luxuries -- one couple even hunts moose to keep food on the table.
It's all to maintain a passion that is being played out this week in the Iditarod, which kicked off with a ceremonial start in Anchorage on Saturday. The competitive portion of the race started Sunday in Willow 50 miles to the north.
"I've got a hundred sled dogs. Each dog eats well over $1,000 worth of food every year," said defending champion Dallas Seavey, of Willow, who was in 11th place Wednesday. "The $50,000 cash prize covers half my food bill for the year, and that's when you win the biggest race in the sport."
DC region faces unique challenges from budget cuts due to concentration of federal workers
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) -- To get a sense of just how much federal government spending influences the Washington metropolitan area, all you have to do is listen to the ads on an all-news radio station there.
Instead of promoting happy hours and nightclubs, WTOP's commercials are replete with buzzwords about cloud computing and fulfilling mission statements -- pitches by IT consultants and contractors trying to land business with federal agencies.
And the storm that hit the Mid-Atlantic region on Tuesday? It's been dubbed "snowquester," a play on the D.C. wonk jargon that is used to describe the $85 billion that must be cut from federal budgets over the next six months after President Barack Obama and lawmakers failed to reach a deal that would reduce the national deficit.
Communities on the Capital Beltway have disproportionately benefited from the federal government's growth for decades -- and there is no doubt they will now take a disproportionate hit from the budget cuts.
The federal government is the region's largest single employer and an economic engine. Thousands of federal government workers for agencies as varied as the CIA and the Patent and Trademark Office make their home in the area -- about 15 percent of the total federal workforce, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Office of Personnel Management.