Ex-LA cop who led deadly rampage ultimately done in by series of mistakes and miscalculations
LOS ANGELES (AP) — He styled himself as a Rambo-like guerrilla, someone trained to outwit and outshoot the police at every turn, and while Christopher Dorner left no doubt he could be unforgivingly violent, when it came to keeping ahead of the law during his deadly rampage, he made one gaffe after another.
The last one — letting one of two people he tied up get loose and call police as he made off in their purple car — tipped authorities he was coming.
The angry ex-cop, who authorities say boasted that police agencies had no chance of capturing him except on his terms, appears to have been killed Tuesday in a fierce gun battle after he wrecked two getaway cars and had to make a last stand in a mountain cabin 80 miles east of Los Angeles.
The cabin went up in flames after authorities launched pyrotechnic tear-gas canisters into it, and authorities were all but certain the charred body found inside afterward was Dorner's. They are waiting for forensic tests to confirm that, but in the meantime San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said Wednesday that authorities consider the hunt over.
Personal effects, including Dorner's driver's license, were found with the body, an official briefed on the search told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
Police: Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius in custody after woman shot dead in his home
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius was taken into custody and was expected to appear in court Thursday after a 30-year-old woman who was believed to be his girlfriend was shot dead at his home in South Africa's capital, Pretoria.
Police Lt. Col. Katlego Mogale told The Associated Press that officers received a call in the early hours of the morning that there had been a shooting at the double-amputee runner's home in a gated housing complex.
Mogale said when police arrived they found paramedics trying to revive the woman, who had been shot an unspecified number of times. Mogale, who was speaking to the AP from the scene, said the woman died at the house.
Officers found a 9 mm pistol at Pistorius' house and Mogale said the 26-year-old Pistorius is expected to appear in court later on Thursday.
Police have not released the name of the woman, but the publicist for Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius' girlfriend, told Sky News that Steenkamp had died. Tributes to Steenkamp, a model, poured onto social media sites.
AP Sources: American Airlines and US Airways agree to merge and create world's biggest airline
DALLAS (AP) — The merger of American Airlines and US Airways, to be formally announced Thursday, caps a turbulent half-decade of bankruptcies and consolidation for the U.S. airline industry and leaves travelers four big carriers to choose from.
The boards of American parent AMR Corp. and US Airways approved the deal late Wednesday, according to four people close to the situation.
The merged carrier will be the world's biggest and will keep the American Airlines name, but it will be run by US Airways CEO Doug Parker. American's CEO, Tom Horton, will serve as chairman of the new company until mid-2014, these people said. They requested anonymity because the merger negotiations were private.
The deal has been in the works since August, when creditors pushed for merger talks so they could decide which earned them a better return: a merger or Horton's plan for an independent airline. American has been restructuring under bankruptcy protection since late 2011. AMR creditors and possibly its shareholders will own 72 percent of the stock, and US Airways Group Inc. shareholders will get the rest, three of the people said.
A formal announcement is expected Thursday morning.
Scarred from political skirmishes, Boehner content to let Democratic proposals come to him
WASHINGTON (AP) — John Boehner is pulling back. After two stressful years as Washington's most powerful Republican and a pair of failed, high-profile rounds of budget talks with President Barack Obama — and disappointment over Obama's re-election — the battle-scarred House speaker has adopted a you-first approach to the Democrat in the White House, his allies who control the Senate and anyone else who wants to work with them.
Upcoming across-the-board spending cuts set to slam the economy in two weeks? Boehner says a solution is up to Obama and Senate Democrats.
New ideas to prevent gun violence? Let's see what the Senate can pass, Boehner says, then we'll take a look.
Immigration reform? Boehner says it's best left to bipartisan working groups in both the House and Senate.
And the litany of new initiatives unveiled by Obama in Tuesday's State of the Union address?
Republicans linking Hagel's nomination to demand for information from White House on Benghazi
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans have questioned Chuck Hagel's truthfulness and they've challenged his patriotism.
Now they're threatening to stonewall his nomination to be President Barack Obama's defense secretary unless the White House gives them more information about what Obama was doing on the night of the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has set the stage for a full Senate vote on Hagel, a former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska and twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran. Reid filed a motion Wednesday to limit debate and force a vote, which is expected to be held Friday. While Democrats hold a 55-45 edge in the Senate and have the numbers to confirm Hagel on a majority vote, they need the support of five Republicans to clear the way for an up-or-down vote on him.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he'll vote against ending debate on Hagel's nomination and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., may join him if the White House doesn't tell them whether Obama spoke to any Libyan government official during the assault and requested assistance for the American personnel at the mission. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the raid last September at the compound in Benghazi.
"There seems to not be much interest to hold this president accountable for a national security breakdown that led to the first ambassador being killed in the line of duty in over 30 years," Graham said. "No, the debate on Chuck Hagel is not over. It has not been serious. We don't have the information we need. And I'm going to fight the idea of jamming somebody through until we get answers about what the president did personally when it came to the Benghazi debacle."
AP Interview: Outgoing Social Security commissioner says benefit cuts, tax hikes inevitable
WASHINGTON (AP) — Outgoing Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue has some parting shots for Congress, the White House and advocates for seniors. They have all "really walked away from Social Security," he says, leaving the program "fraying because of inattention to its problems."
Instead of making the hard choices to fix Social Security's financial problems, policymakers "use it as a tool of political rhetoric," Astrue said.
Astrue, 56, has headed the federal government's largest program since 2006 — he was nominated by former President George W. Bush. By law, Social Security commissioners serve six-year terms, so President Barack Obama will now have the opportunity to choose his own nominee, who must be approved by the Senate. Astrue's last day on the job was Wednesday.
The trustees who oversee Social Security say the program's trust funds will run dry in 2033, leaving Social Security with only enough revenue to pay about 75 percent of benefits. Already the program is paying out more in benefits than it collects in payroll taxes.
As commissioner, Astrue served as a trustee. He regularly urged Congress to address Social Security's long-term financial problems but refrained from publicly weighing in on various options to cut benefits or raise taxes — until now.
After days stranded at sea aboard disabled Carnival ship, bus trip awaits weary passengers
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — After days stranded in the Gulf of Mexico in conditions some have described as dismal, most passengers aboard the disabled Carnival Triumph can look forward to a two-hour bus ride Thursday after they reach dry land.
The company announced its plan for passengers late Wednesday as the Triumph was being towed to a port in Mobile, Ala., with more than 4,000 people on board, some of whom have complained to relatives that they have limited access to food and bathrooms.
"It's a nightmare," said Vivian Tilley, whose sister, Renee Shanar, is on the ship. Tilley said Shanar, of Houston, told her the cabins were hot and smelled like smoke from the engine fire, forcing passengers to stay on the deck. She also said people were getting sick.
The company has disputed the accounts of passengers who describe the ship as filthy, saying employees are doing everything to ensure people are comfortable.
Meanwhile, officials in Mobile were preparing a cruise terminal that has not been used for a year to help passengers go through customs after their ordeal. The Triumph is expected to arrive Thursday afternoon.
AP Exclusive: Documents sketch close dealings of Nixon, Clinton, on Russia, foreign affairs
YORBA LINDA, Calif. (AP) — In the final months of his life, Richard Nixon quietly advised President Bill Clinton on navigating the post-Cold War world, even offering to serve as a conduit for messages to Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other government officials, newly declassified documents show.
Memos and other records show Nixon's behind-the-scenes relations with the Clinton White House. The documents are part of an exhibit opening Friday at the Nixon Presidential Library, marking the centennial of his birth.
Clinton has talked often of his gratitude to Nixon for his advice on foreign affairs, particularly Russia. In a video that will be part of the exhibit, Clinton recalls receiving a letter from the 37th president shortly before his death on April 22, 1994, at a time when Clinton was assessing U.S. relations "in a world growing ever more interdependent and yet ungovernable."
"I sought guidance in the example of President Nixon, who came to the presidency at a time in our history when Americans were tempted to say, 'We've had enough of the world,'" Clinton says in the video. "But President Nixon knew we had to continue to reach out to old friends and to old enemies alike. He knew America could not quit the world."
The documents from late February and early March 1994 show Nixon, then 81, in his role of elder statesman. It was two decades after he left the White House in disgrace during Watergate.
From Valentine's Day to zombies, Vegas embraces in-your-face gun promotion as others pull back
LAS VEGAS (AP) — One Las Vegas shooting range is selling "take a shot at love" packages that include 50 submachine gun rounds. Another is offering wedding packages in which the bride and groom can pose with Uzis and ammunition belts. And a third invites lovebirds to renew their vows and shoot a paper cutout zombie in the face.
Never known for its understatement or good taste, Sin City is bucking the national trend of avoiding flippant gun promotions after the Newton, Conn., elementary school shooting. Instead, it is embracing tourists' newfound interest in big guns the only way it knows how: by going all in.
The newest crop of outlandish Valentine's Day offers is no exception.
Capitalizing on the state's relaxed gun laws, shooting ranges offer an armory of military-grade weapons that aren't accessible in other states. And because this is Las Vegas, they also allow customers to destroy photographs of exes, make souvenir T-shirts full of holes and shoot fully-automatic weapons in barely-there bachelor party man-kinis.
Some gun control advocates say the promotions trivialize the dangers of high-powered weapons.
Epic Records trying to pull song with Lil Wayne lyric that offended Emmett Till's family
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Epic Records is going to "great efforts" to take down a new Future remix leaked over the weekend with a vulgar Lil Wayne lyric that has offended the family of Emmett Till.
The New Orleans rapper made a sexual reference to the beating death of Till, a 14-year-old Chicago boy tortured and shot in Mississippi in 1955 for whistling at a white woman. Till's family objected and the Rev. Jesse Jackson reached out to his management, The Blueprint Group, on the family's behalf.
The label issued a statement Wednesday night apologizing for the release of the song.
"We regret the unauthorized remix version of Future's 'Karate Chop,' which was leaked online and contained hurtful lyrics," the statement said. "Out of respect for the legacy of Emmett Till and his family and the support of the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. ... we are going through great efforts to take down the unauthorized version."
Epic will release an official version of the song that "will not include such references."