At least 1 more rocket fired toward Tel Aviv, Israel widens strikes in Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli strikes hit two media centers in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, as Israel warned it was widening its range of targets to go after military commanders of the territory's Hamas rulers. Palestinian militants meanwhile fired at least one more long-range rocket at Tel Aviv, the fourth day in a row which the Israeli heartland has come under fire.
The Israeli strikes, apparently missiles, hit two high-rise buildings. They damaged the top floor offices of the Hamas TV station, Al Aqsa, and a Lebanese-based broadcaster, Al Quds TV, seen as sympathetic to the Islamists.
A Gaza press association said six Palestinian journalists were wounded. Foreign broadcasters, including German and Italian TV outlets, also had offices in the high-rises.
The Israeli military said it was aiming at a communications antenna on the roof of one of the buildings. It had no immediate comment on the other strike.
The military also said another long-range rocket was launched at Tel Aviv, but that it was intercepted by the "Iron Dome" missile defense system. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that two rockets were fired. It was impossible to immediately reconcile the two reports.
On Asia trip, Obama first pays visit to Thailand, a long-standing ally
BANGKOK (AP) — President Barack Obama on Sunday launched a three-day Southeast Asia tour, hailing alliances with countries such as Thailand as cornerstones of the administration's deeper commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.
While in Asia, however, Obama will be dividing his attention by monitoring the escalating conflict between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. Obama has been in regular contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as with Egyptian and Turkish leaders who might hold sway with the Hamas leadership.
Obama landed in Bangkok Sunday afternoon, greeted by 40 saluting military guards who flanked both sides of a red carpet.
His schedule is packed with sightseeing, a royal audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej, a private meeting with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, a joint press conference and an official dinner.
On a steamy day, Obama began with a visit to the Wat Pho Royal Monastery, a cultural must-see in Bangkok. In stocking feet, the president and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walked around a golden statue of a sitting Buddha. The complex is a sprawling display of buildings with colorful spires, gardens and waterfalls.
Obama to speak amid the ruined buildings of Yangon University, a site of political protest
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — The soldiers began to shoot students at Rangoon University at 6:30pm. Hla Shwe watched, cowering in a nearby building, as his friends died. "I heard the shouting," he recalled. "They shot whoever they saw."
It was July 7, 1962, the day rage at the military's recent coup boiled over and a date now seared into the memory of Hla Shwe, who is 75 years old.
"I got the idea that if they used the gun against students, why shouldn't we use guns to fight them?" he said.
When President Barack Obama speaks at Hla Shwe's alma mater Monday, he will be treading on ground heavy with political and historical significance.
Since colonial times, the fight for change in Myanmar has begun on this leafy campus. It was a center of the struggle for independence against Britain and served as a launching point for pro-democracy protests in 1962, 1974, 1988 and 1996. Myanmar's former military junta shut the dormitories in the 1990s fearing further unrest and forced most students to attend classes on satellite campuses on the outskirts of town.
AP PHOTOS: Myanmar ready for historic Obama visit
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — President Barack Obama's historic visit to Myanmar on Monday is meant to show America's support for the country's transition to democracy.
The White House has cautioned that Obama's trip to the former pariah state should not be viewed as a "victory celebration" but as an opportunity to press for urgent action still needed in Myanmar. Notably, freeing political prisoners and ending ethnic tension in remote areas.
Myanmar was under military rule for a half-century until last year when a nominally civilian government took office and stunned the world with a rapid rush toward reforms.
One of its early moves was to release famed Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, and allow her to campaign for parliament. She now leads a small minority in a chamber filled with former military men.
Suu Kyi's enormous popularity stems in part from her father, independence hero Gen. Aung San, who was assassinated in 1948.
Company that owns burned Gulf rig vows to continue search for missing worker
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The company that owns an oil platform that caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico has vowed to continue searching for a second missing worker after a body was recovered in the waters near the site.
The remains of the unidentified person were found Saturday night by divers hired by Houston-based Black Elk Energy, Coast Guard spokesman Carlos Vega said. Vega said the Coast Guard would be turning over the remains to local authorities. The Coast Guard has suspended its own search.
John Hoffman, the president and CEO of Black Elk Energy, wrote in an email late Saturday that the body is apparently one of two crew members missing since an explosion and fire on the oil platform Friday morning. Hoffman said the body was found by a contract dive vessel.
"Divers will continue to search for the second missing worker," Hoffman wrote in an email. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families."
Hoffman said the body was found close to the leg of the platform, near where the explosion occurred, in about 30 feet of water. He said the missing men were employees of oilfield contractor Grand Isle Shipyard.
AP Interview: Vatican sex crimes prosecutor on sin, bishop accountability and his new job
VATICAN CITY (AP) — When Pope Benedict XVI announced last month he was transferring his respected sex crimes prosecutor to Malta to become a bishop, Vatican watchers immediately questioned whether the Holy See's tough line on clerical abuse was going soft — and if another outspoken cleric was being punished for doing his job too well.
After all, several senior Vatican officials who ran afoul of the Vatican's entrenched ways have recently been transferred in face-saving "promote and remove" moves as the Vatican deals with the fallout from a high-profile criminal trial over leaked papal documents, a mixed report card on its financial transparency and its controversial crackdown on American nuns.
But in an interview on the eve of his departure, Bishop-elect Charles Scicluna insisted he wasn't the latest casualty in the Vatican's turf battles and Machiavellian personnel intrigues. Rather, he said, his promotion to auxiliary bishop in his native Malta was simply that — "a very good" promotion — and more critically, that his hardline stance against sex abuse would remain because it's Benedict's stance as well.
"This is policy," he told The Associated Press. "It's not Scicluna. It's the pope. And this will remain."
Besides, he said laughing over tea at a cafe on Rome's posh Piazza Farnese, "If you want to silence someone, you don't make him a bishop."
Investigators say railroad signals were activated before Texas veterans' float crossed track
MIDLAND, Texas (AP) — A parade float filled with wounded veterans that was struck by a freight train had crossed onto the railroad tracks after warning signals were going off, investigators said Saturday.
Four veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were killed and 16 more people were injured when the train crashed into the flatbed truck in West Texas.
It was the second of two floats carrying veterans in Thursday's parade in Midland. The first was exiting the tracks when the warning bells and signals were activated, 20 seconds before the accident, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The second float didn't enter the tracks until several seconds after the warning system went off, the NTSB said. By that time, the guardrail was lowering.
"Once the crossing becomes active, people should stop," lead investigator Robert Accetta with the NTSB said at a news conference Saturday afternoon.
The timeline was pieced together by combining information from a video camera mounted on the front of the train, another one on a sheriff's car and a data recorder that acts like an airplane's black box, activating when the train blared the horn, NTSB member Mark Rosekind said.
Democrats taking tougher stance against trimming Medicare, Social Security programs
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's re-election has stiffened Democrats' spine against cutting popular benefit programs such as Medicare and Social Security. Their new resolve could become as big a hurdle to a deal that would skirt crippling tax increases and spending cuts in January as Republicans' resistance to raising tax rates on the wealthy.
Just last year, Obama and top Democrats were willing during budget negotiations with Republicans to take politically risky steps such as reducing the annual inflation adjustment to Social Security and raising the eligibility age for Medicare.
Now, with new leverage from Obama's big election victory and a playing field for negotiations that is more favorable in other ways, too, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats are taking a harder line.
"I've made it very clear. I've told anyone that will listen, including everyone in the White House, including the president, that I am not going to be part of having Social Security as part of these talks relating to this deficit," Reid, D-Nev., told reporters.
Reid's edict would appear to take a key proposal off the table as an ingredient for a deal on avoiding the "fiscal cliff," the year-end combination of expiring President George W. Bush-era tax cuts and harsh across-the-board spending cuts.
Monkey dies from blow to head after break-in at Zoo Boise; police looking for 2 male suspects
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A break-in at Zoo Boise early Saturday left a Patas monkey dead from blunt force trauma to the head and neck and police were analyzing blood found at the scene to determine if it came from the monkey or one of two human intruders.
Two males wearing dark clothing were spotted by a security guard at 4:30 a.m. outside the fence near the primate exhibit, police said. Both fled, one of them heading into the interior of the zoo. Boise police used a thermal imager in searching the 11-acre zoo grounds but didn't find the person.
Police said late Saturday that a grey baseball cap with a distinctive skull design found near the site was probably left behind by one of the intruders and it might help in tracking them down.
"I've been here for 15 years and we haven't had anything like this happen," Zoo Boise Director Steve Burns said. "It's unfortunate that we have to let kids know that something like this happens. Monkeys are always among the most favorite animals here."
Patas monkeys, often called the military monkey, have reddish-brown fur with grey chin whiskers and distinctive white moustaches. They are widely distributed across central Africa south of the Sahara Desert and can live more than 20 years in captivity.
Notre Dame and Alabama rise after a night of BCS chaos
Coming into Saturday, Oregon and Kansas State had the inside track to college football's national championship and the Southeastern Conference's run of six straight BCS titles was in jeopardy.
Then No. 2 K-State got thumped 52-24 by unranked Baylor and top-ranked Oregon fell in overtime to No. 14 Stanford, 17-14.
Now the SEC is alive and well.
And how's this for a possible national title game: Alabama vs. Notre Dame.
A week after Alabama lost to Texas A&M, more upsets re-opened door for the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide, which shut out lower-division Western Carolina 49-0 on Saturday.