Ruling party-backed candidate wins Tokyo governor race, defeating anti-nuclear challengers
TOKYO (AP) — Yoichi Masuzoe, a former health minister backed by Japan's ruling party, easily won Tokyo's gubernatorial election Sunday, defeating two candidates who had promised to end nuclear power.
The ballot was widely seen as a test for Japan's public opinion on atomic power in a nation shaken by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Masuzoe, 65, was backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants to restart Japan's 50 nuclear reactors.
Masuzoe received 2.1 million votes, more than the combined total of the two anti-nuclear candidates, who finished second and third. With the city cleaning up from a rare snowstorm, turnout was a low 46.1 percent, down from 62.6 in the previous vote.
The anti-nuclear candidates, human rights lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya and former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, advocated an immediate end to nuclear power.
"The Fukushima disaster has left me without words, but reducing our dependence on nuclear power needs to be done gradually," Masuzoe said after his victory.
AP Investigation: US military sex-crime cases in Japan show commanders' chaotic justice record
TOKYO (AP) — After a night of heavy drinking at the Globe and Anchor, a watering hole for enlisted Marines in Okinawa, Japan, a female service member awoke in her barracks room as a man was raping her, she reported. She tried repeatedly to push him off. But wavering in and out of consciousness, she couldn't fight back.
A rape investigation, backed up by DNA evidence, ended with the accused pleading guilty to a lesser charge, wrongfully engaging in sexual activity in the barracks. He was reduced in rank and confined to his base for 30 days, but received no prison time.
Fast forward a year. An intoxicated service member was helped into bed by a male Marine with whom he had spent the day. The Marine then performed oral sex on the victim "for approximately 20 minutes against his will," records show. The accused insisted the sex was consensual, but he was court-martialed, sentenced to six years in prison, busted to E-1, the military's lowest rank, and dishonorably discharged.
The two cases, both adjudicated by the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, are among more than 1,000 reports of sex crimes involving U.S. military personnel based in Japan between 2005 and early 2013. Obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the records open a rare window into the world of military justice and show a pattern of random and inconsistent judgments.
The Associated Press originally sought the records for U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan after attacks against Japanese women raised political tensions there. They might now give weight to members of Congress who want to strip senior officers of their authority to decide whether serious crimes, including sexual assault cases, go to trial.
Trends seen in Defense Department documents detailing US military sex crimes in Japan
Hundreds of records detailing sex-crime investigations involving U.S. military personnel stationed in Japan show most offenders were not incarcerated, suspects received light punishments after being accused of serious violations, and victims increasingly were wary of cooperating with investigators.
According to the Department of Defense documents:
NAVY USE OF NONJUDICIAL PUNISHMENT ON RISE
Data from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which handles the Navy and Marine Corps, show that Navy commanders in Japan increasingly are resolving sexual assault cases through nonjudicial punishment rather than courts-martial. From 2006 to 2009, they favored courts-martial, but from 2010 to 2012 they were three times more likely to choose nonjudicial punishment. In 2012, just one Navy sex-abuse case went to a court-martial, while 13 were handled through nonjudicial punishment.
MOST DON'T GET PRISON TIME
10 Things to Know for Monday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:
1. RANDOM JUSTICE IN MILITARY SEX ABUSE CASES
An AP analysis of more than 1,000 sex crimes reports at military bases in Japan finds that most of the accused didn't serve jail time.
Matthias Mayer's magic mountain: Austrian jolts Olympics in downhill; Miller, Svindal falter
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Matthias Mayer shut his eyes for a moment, his day's work over.
If he had trouble believing what had just happened as he stood before the crowd it was with good reason. The Austrian struck a big upset Sunday in one of the Olympics' marquee events, capturing the men's downhill and upending the elite of his sport.
"It's amazing to be an Olympic champion," he said.
Mayer has never finished better than fifth in a World Cup downhill. That proved no obstacle in dismissing the preordained favorites — Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway finished fourth and Bode Miller of the U.S. eighth.
Among the eight gold medalists on Day 3 were: snowboarder Jamie Anderson, the American slopestyle queen who triumphed in her sport's Olympic debut; Irene Wust, who showed why speedskating is Dutch territory; and Russia in team figure skating, likewise an Olympic newcomer, for its first gold in Sochi.
The US economy may be stuck in the slow lane for years to come
WASHINGTON (AP) — In the 4½ years since the Great Recession ended, millions of Americans who have gone without jobs or raises have found themselves wondering something about the economic recovery:
Is this as good as it gets?
It increasingly looks that way.
Two straight weak job reports have raised doubts about economists' predictions of breakout growth in 2014. The global economy is showing signs of slowing — again. Manufacturing has slumped. Fewer people are signing contracts to buy homes. Global stock markets have sunk as anxiety has gripped developing nations.
Some long-term trends are equally dispiriting.
Over 600 people evacuated from blockaded Syrian city of Homs in rare cease-fire with rebels
BEIRUT (AP) — Hundreds of civilians were evacuated Sunday from the besieged Syrian city of Homs, braving gunmen spraying bullets and lobbing mortar shells to flee as part of a rare three-day truce to relieve a choking blockade. Dozens were wounded as they fled.
The cease-fire came as Syrian officials arrived in Switzerland for a new round of talks with opposition activists-in-exile to try to negotiate an end to Syria's three-year conflict.
More than 600 people were evacuated from Homs on Sunday, said Governor Talal Barrazi. The operation was part of a U.N.-mediated truce that began Friday between the government of President Bashar Assad and armed rebels to allow thousands of women, children and elderly men to leave opposition-held parts of the city, and to permit the entry of food and supplies.
Forces loyal to Assad have blockaded rebel-held parts of Homs for over a year, causing widespread hunger and suffering.
Dozens of people were wounded when they came under fire as they waited at an agreed-upon evacuation point in the rebel-held neighborhood of al-Qarabis, according to three activists based in Homs, who spoke to The Associated Press by Skype.
The end is near -- for cigarette smoking in America? A growing number of experts think so
ATLANTA (AP) — Health officials have begun to predict the end of cigarette smoking in America.
They have long wished for a cigarette-free America, but shied away from calling for smoking rates to fall to zero or near zero by any particular year. The power of tobacco companies and popularity of their products made such a goal seem like a pipe dream.
But a confluence of changes has recently prompted public health leaders to start throwing around phrases like "endgame" and "tobacco-free generation." Now, they talk about the slowly-declining adult smoking rate dropping to 10 percent in the next decade and to 5 percent or lower by 2050.
Acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris Lushniak last month released a 980-page report on smoking that pushed for stepped-up tobacco-control measures. His news conference was an unusually animated showing of anti-smoking bravado, with Lushniak nearly yelling, repeatedly, "Enough is enough!"
"I can't accept that we're just allowing these numbers to trickle down," he said, in a recent interview with the AP. "We believe we have the public health tools to get us to the zero level."
Copenhagen Zoo kills healthy, young giraffe, ignoring pleas to save it
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Saying it needed to prevent inbreeding, the Copenhagen Zoo killed a 2-year-old giraffe and fed its remains to lions as visitors watched, ignoring a petition signed by thousands and offers from other zoos and a private individual to save the animal.
Marius, a healthy male, was put down Sunday using a bolt pistol, said zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro. Visitors, including children, were invited to watch while the giraffe was then skinned and fed to the lions.
Marius' plight triggered a wave of online protests and renewed debate about the conditions of zoo animals. Before the giraffe was killed, an online petition to save it had received more than 20,000 signatures.
But the public feeding of Marius' remains to the lions was popular at Copenhagen Zoo. Stenbaek Bro said it allowed parents to decide whether their children should watch what the zoo regards as an important display of scientific knowledge about animals.
"I'm actually proud because I think we have given children a huge understanding of the anatomy of a giraffe that they wouldn't have had from watching a giraffe in a photo," Stenbaek Bro said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Beatles arrive, make American TV debut, as reported by The Associated Press in February 1964
EDITOR'S NOTE: In February 1964, the Beatles took America by storm, and rock 'n' roll was never the same.
AP reporters covering the band's Feb. 7 arrival at New York's Kennedy Airport and their appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" two days later never failed to mention John, Paul, George and Ringo's long hair, or the screaming teenage girls who followed them wherever they went.
In covering the airport arrival, AP reporter Arthur Everett goes to great lengths to use contemporary slang like "way out" and "fab." And he quotes female fans as shouting "We want beatniks!" Might it have been "We want Beatles!"? The story on the Sullivan show appearance focuses on the scene, making scant mention of the band's music. In a separate review, AP television-radio writer Cynthia Lowry allows that the boys "sing close harmony." But she is put off by their hairdos, and declares that the appeal of the Liverpudlians remains a mystery to an "elderly viewer." (Lowry was in her early 50s at the time.)
Fifty years after their original publication, the AP is making these reports available to subscribers: