AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EST

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Associated Press

Posted on December 24, 2013 at 6:02 AM

Last-minute health insurance shoppers are given 1-day extension in case of technical problems

CHICAGO (AP) — Anticipating heavy traffic on the government's health care website, the Obama administration extended Monday's deadline for signing up for insurance by a day, giving Americans in 36 states more time to select a plan.

It was the latest in a series of pushed-back deadlines and delays that have marked the rollout of the health care law.

But federal officials urged buyers not to procrastinate.

"You should not wait until tomorrow. If you are aiming to get coverage Jan. 1, you should try to sign up today," said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the federal agency in charge of the overhaul.

Bataille said the grace period — which runs through Tuesday — was being offered to accommodate people from different time zones and to allow for any technical problems that might result from a last-minute rush of applicants.

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Obama enrolls for health coverage, but didn't sign up for it himself and won't use it

HONOLULU (AP) — He won't use it, and he didn't actually sign up for it himself, but President Barack Obama has enrolled for health coverage through the new insurance exchanges.

Announcing his enrollment Monday, the White House called it a symbolic show of Obama's support for the fledgling exchanges where millions of Americans must buy insurance or face a penalty. Ironically, it also served as a reminder of just how complex and sometimes daunting the process can be.

Obama, like so many other Americans, couldn't use the website.

"The complicated nature of the president's case required an in-person sign-up," the White House said.

White House officials noted that for security reasons, the president's personal information is not readily available in government databases that the exchanges use to verify identities and check eligibility for tax subsidies.

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10 Things to Know for Tuesday

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

1. AMERICANS GET EXTRA DAY TO SIGN UP FOR HEALTH CARE

The extension is offered as a cushion against any technical problems that could result in a last-minute rush to enroll.

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Powerful bomb hits police station in north Egypt, killing 12; government blames Islamist group

MANSOURA, Egypt (AP) — A powerful explosion believed to be caused by a car bomb ripped through a police headquarters in a Nile Delta city north of Cairo early on Tuesday, killing 12 people and wounding more than 100, leaving scores buried under the rubble.

The country's interim government accused the Muslim Brotherhood of orchestrating the attack, branding it a "terrorist organization." But the Islamist group condemned the bombing, describing it in a statement as a "direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people" and demanding that the perpetrators be found and brought to justice.

It was the first major bombing in the Nile Delta, spreading the carnage that has marked Egypt's turmoil over the past months to a new area and bringing it closer to Cairo. Previous deadly violence has mostly taken place in the volatile Sinai Peninsula and in Suez Canal-area cities east of the Egyptian capital.

The 1:10 a.m. blast struck at the security headquarters in the city of Mansoura, 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of Cairo in the Nile Delta province of Daqahliya, collapsing an entire section and side wall of the five-floor building, incinerating dozens of cars outside and damaging several nearby buildings.

The state news agency MENA said 12 people were killed, including eight police officers, and that 134 were wounded, among them the city's security chief and his assistant. Most of the victims were policemen, many of whom were buried beneath the debris.

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Pussy Riot members reunited after release from prison, discuss joint human rights project

KRASNOYARSK, Russia (AP) — Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were reunited on Tuesday after spending nearly two years in prison for their protest at Moscow's main cathedral, and said they want to set up a human rights organization.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina were granted amnesty on Monday, two months short of their scheduled release, in what was seen as the Kremlin's attempt to soothe criticism of Russia's human rights record ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

Alekhina flew into the eastern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk early Tuesday to meet Tolokonnikova. They have said the amnesty and their release was a publicity stunt by the Kremlin ahead of the Olympics. Tolokonnikova has also called for a boycott of the Olympics.

Alekhina, still dressed in a dark green prison jacket, hugged Tolokonnikova and then shook hands.

Both women reiterated their Monday statement that they would like to focus their future work on helping prisoners, and that they will discuss setting up a human rights organization.

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After storm, cold stays put, hindering some travel and challenging utilities to restore power

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Roads remained slick and utility crews were busy trying to turn the lights back on from the Midwest to the Northeast on one of the busiest travel days of the year after a messy storm rolled across the country.

At least 11 people have been killed in the storm that started Saturday and lingered into late Monday, ice building up on tree branches and power lines and causing travel headaches in several states.

While the rain, freezing rain and ice was expected to subside, forecasters said cold temperatures would stick around for most of the week in areas socked by the wild weekend storm. There will be snow moving into the Northern High Plains and Central Rockies on Tuesday then sliding into the Great Lakes and Midwest by Wednesday morning.

States kept emergency shelters open for people who would be without power, some through Christmas.

Rain and melting snow led to swelling creeks and streams, closed roads and flooded underpasses in Indiana, Ohio and other Great Lakes states. Some creeks were 4 to 9 feet above flood stage and expected to subside by Tuesday.

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Veterans return to streets to make inroads with chronically homeless vets

CONCORD, Mass. (AP) — Not far from where the Boston Massacre helped sow the seeds for the Revolutionary War, David Dyer points toward the underpass where he'd score crack cocaine by day and the train depot where he'd sleep some nights.

Now, he has a family, a home and a job — helping homeless veterans get off the streets, like he did.

Dyer is part of a team of veterans, some formerly homeless themselves, that the state of Massachusetts has hired to get veterans off the streets in the Boston area. Typically, they spend one day a week roaming the city's storefronts, alleys and shelters, which is what he was doing one recent morning outside Boston's South Station. "I guess you could call this my home for about a month," he reminisced.

The rest of the week is spent making sure those who have found housing are staying the course. The Veterans Affairs Department, which funds the effort, is considering doubling the size of the team in the coming year.

President Barack Obama's administration has pledged to eliminate homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015. And while the rate has been dropping, time is running short.

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Utah turns to appeals court in bid to stop gay marriage as hundreds of couples wed

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah state lawyers have again turned to a Denver-based federal appeals court in their bid to put a stop to gay couples getting married, saying the state should not be required to abide by one judge's narrow view of a "new and fundamentally different definition of marriage."

About 700 gay couples have obtained wedding licenses since U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby on Friday declared Utah's gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but lawyers for the state are trying every legal avenue to halt the practice. Shelby on Monday denied their bid to temporarily stop gay marriage while the appeals process plays out, and they quickly went to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Utah is the 18th state where gay couples can wed, and the sight of same-sex marriages occurring just a few miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church has provoked anger among the state's top leaders.

"Until the final word has been spoken by this Court or the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Utah's marriage laws, Utah should not be required to enforce Judge Shelby's view of a new and fundamentally different definition of marriage," the state said in a motion to the appeals court.

It is estimated that nearly two-thirds of Utah's 2.8 million residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Mormons dominate the state's legal and political circles. The Mormon church was also one of the leading forces behind California's short-lived ban on same-sex marriage.

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Convicted for homosexual behavior in 1951, computer pioneer Alan Turing is finally pardoned

LONDON (AP) — His code breaking prowess helped the Allies outfox the Nazis, his theories laid the foundation for the computer age, and his work on artificial intelligence still informs the debate over whether machines can think.

But Alan Turing was gay, and 1950s Britain punished the mathematician's sexuality with a criminal conviction, intrusive surveillance and hormone treatment meant to extinguish his sex drive.

Now, nearly half a century after the war hero's suicide, Queen Elizabeth II has finally granted Turing a pardon.

"Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind," Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in a prepared statement released Tuesday. Describing Turing's treatment as unjust, Grayling said the code breaker "deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science."

The pardon has been a long time coming.

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Homeless and lacking electricity, Philippine typhoon survivors find little cheer this year

TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — Christmas lights blink in a handful of restaurants in Tacloban, but at nightfall, much of this city flattened by Typhoon Haiyan slips into darkness.

A few downtown shops have reopened. Roadside vendors peddle fruits of the season: oranges and red apples. There is rebuilding, though much of it consists of residents hammering shelters out of scavenged debris.

The Nov. 8 typhoon killed more than 6,100 people in the eastern Philippines, displaced at least 4 million others and left its most gruesome mark on Tacloban, a city of 240,000 that will need years to recover.

Soon after the storm, Philippine Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla promised to restore power by Christmas Eve or resign, and indeed, electricity has returned to nearly all of the more than 300 towns that lost it. But relatively few people are able to use it. Officials say many storm-ravaged houses and shops will spend the holidays in the dark because their wiring systems are damaged.

City Hall, a seaside hilltop complex surrounded by ruins, buzzes with typhoon relief work, with dozens of staffers and foreign aid workers busy on the phone or huddled in talks.

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