3:42 AM AKDT, May 11, 2012
Biden pushes Obama to declare gay marriage support, then offers his apologies
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sorry, Mr. President.
After nearly single-handedly pushing gay marriage to the forefront of the presidential campaign and inadvertently pressuring President Barack Obama to declare his support for same-sex unions, there was only one thing left for Vice President Joe Biden to do: apologize.
Biden’s mea culpa came Wednesday in the Oval Office, shortly before the president sat for a hastily arranged interview in which he told the American people that he now supported gay marriage.
The vice president expressed remorse and regret for declaring his support for same-sex unions ahead of Obama, said a person familiar with the exchange, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation. Obama accepted the apology, saying he knew Biden had only been speaking from the heart.
Biden’s apology followed days of frustration in the West Wing after the vice president went off script, something he had done plenty of times. Without White House approval, Biden declared on a Sunday talk show that he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex married couples having the same rights as heterosexual married couples.
Obama heads for hard-hit Nevada in wake of Clooney fundraiser and gay marriage buzz
LOS ANGELES (AP) — President Barack Obama is turning his attention back to the economy after a day spent raising millions of dollars for his campaign and riding a media wave on his newly declared support for same-sex marriage.
Obama was to promote housing policies to help homeowners avoid foreclosure in a quick visit Friday to struggling Nevada, which ranks second in the nation in foreclosed homes and has the highest unemployment in the country.
Obama won in Nevada in his 2008 presidential election. But the economy presents new challenges as well as an opportunity for his Republican rival, Mitt Romney.
Four years ago, Nevada was economically reeling from the recession and Obama and union allies seized on the anxiety to mobilize voters and win the state. Today, the Nevada is still in dire straits and the economy belongs to the president.
Obama was stopping in Reno, looking to shore up his support and draw attention to housing proposals that he says Congress must pass to help homeowners struggling with their mortgages.
JPMorgan Chase acknowledges $2 billion trading loss and ’many errors’
JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States, said Thursday that it lost $2 billion in the past six weeks in a trading portfolio designed to hedge against risks the company takes with its own money.
The company’s stock plunged almost 7 percent in after-hours trading after the loss was announced. Other bank stocks, including Citigroup and Bank of America, suffered heavy losses as well.
“The portfolio has proved to be riskier, more volatile and less effective as an economic hedge than we thought,” CEO Jamie Dimon told reporters. “There were many errors, sloppiness and bad judgment.”
The trading loss is an embarrassment for a bank that came through the 2008 financial crisis in much better health than its peers. It kept clear of risky investments that hurt many other banks.
The loss came in a portfolio of the complex financial instruments known as derivatives, and in a division of JPMorgan designed to help control its exposure to risk in the financial markets and invest excess money in its corporate treasury.
Syrian opposition chief blames car bombings that killed 55 on al-Qaida in Iraq
TOKYO (AP) — The head of Syria’s main opposition group said Friday the twin suicide car bombings that killed 55 people in Damascus appeared to be the work of al-Qaida forces he said were linked to the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Paris-based Burhan Ghalioun, chief of the opposition Syrian National Council, said the cease-fire brokered by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan was “in crisis” because it lacks teeth.
Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo, Ghalioun said there would be “no peaceful solution” to the violence in Syria “unless a threat of force against those who don’t implement the plan.”
In Damascus, workers were paving over two massive craters caused by the bombs that struck a Syrian military compound Thursday. The attack, which also wounded more than 370 people, was the deadliest against a regime target since the Syrian uprising began 14 months ago.
Security forces armed with Kalashnikov rifles were guarding the compound Friday.
West Bank village fears Israeli barrier will destroy ancient farming landscape
BATTIR, West Bank (AP) — One of the last Palestinian farming villages that still uses irrigation systems from Roman times says its ancient way of life is in danger as Israel prepares to lay down its West Bank separation barrier.
With construction possibly beginning in the coming weeks, the people of Battir hope a legal battle, backed by recent U.N. recognition of the village’s agricultural practices, will help change Israel’s mind.
Battir’s 6,000 inhabitants live in limestone-faced houses built into a hillside southwest of Jerusalem. On the lands around the homes, stone retaining walls have transformed scrubby hills into orderly terraces of olive trees and vegetable gardens.
Terraces are a common Palestinian farming technique in the hilly West Bank terrain. But in Battir, they are unique for their extent — stretching uninterrupted over nearly 2,000 hectares (800 acres) — and for the centuries-old network of irrigation canals that direct springwater over the stepped hills.
This combination prompted the U.N.’s cultural agency, UNESCO, to award the village last year with a $15,000 prize for “Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes.”
Authorities: Mississippi kidnap-slaying suspect shoots, kills himself; 2 missing girls rescued
GUNTOWN, Miss. (AP) — Authorities who tracked down a fugitive accused of kidnapping two girls and killing their mother and older sister said they repeatedly ordered him to surrender, but he instead pulled out a pistol and shot himself in the head.
Adam Mayes, 35, was later pronounced dead and the two sisters, Alexandria Bain, 12, and Kyliyah Bain, 8, were rescued Thursday, ending a nearly two-week search that began when Jo Ann Bain and her three daughters disappeared from their Tennessee home April 27.
After getting a tip, law enforcement officers were sent to search a densely wooded area west of Mayes’ home in Guntown, Miss., said Aaron T. Ford, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Memphis, Tenn., office.
At 6:50 p.m. Thursday, an officer saw Alexandria Bain in an area about 100 yards behind a church, Ford said. Officers shouted commands for Mayes to show his hands, Ford said. But Mayes pulled a semiautomatic pistol from his waistband and shot himself in the head, Ford said.
Law enforcement officers moved in to rescue the two girls, who were lying on the ground nearby. Ford said they looked like they had been in the woods for two or three days and were suffering from exposure, dehydration and poison ivy, but were otherwise safe.
FDA advisers back approval for first pill shown to protect healthy people from AIDS virus
SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — The first drug shown to prevent HIV infection won the endorsement of a panel of federal advisers Thursday, clearing the way for a landmark approval in the 30-year fight against the virus that causes AIDS.
In a series of votes, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended approval of the daily pill Truvada for healthy people who are at high risk of contracting HIV, including gay and bisexual men and heterosexual couples with one HIV-positive partner.
The FDA is not required to follow the panel’s advice, though it usually does. A final decision is expected by June 15.
Gilead Sciences Inc., based in Foster City, Calif., has marketed Truvada since 2004 as a treatment for people who are infected with the virus. The medication is a combination of two older HIV drugs, Emtriva and Viread. Doctors usually prescribe it as part of a drug cocktail to repress the virus.
While panelists ultimately backed Truvada for prevention, Thursday’s 12-hour meeting highlighted a number of concerns created by the first drug to prevent HIV. In particular, the panel debated whether Truvada might lead to reduced use of condoms, the most reliable defense against HIV. The experts also questioned the drug’s effectiveness in women, who have shown much lower rates of protection in studies.
New Navy study says use of sonar, explosives may hurt more marine mammals than once thought
HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. Navy may hurt more dolphins and whales by using sonar and explosives in Hawaii and California under a more thorough analysis that reflects new research and covers naval activities in a wider area than previous studies.
The Navy estimates its use of explosives and sonar may unintentionally cause more than 1,600 instances of hearing loss or other injury to marine mammals each year, according to a draft environmental impact statement that covers training and testing planned from 2014 to 2019. The Navy calculates the explosives could potentially kill more than 200 marine mammals a year.
A notice about the study is due to appear Friday in the Federal Register.
The old Navy analysis — covering 2009-2013 — estimated the service might unintentionally cause injury or death to about 100 marine mammals in Hawaii and California, although no deaths have been reported.
The larger numbers are partially the result of the Navy’s use of new research on marine mammal behavior and updated computer models that predict how sonar affects animals.
Kid Rock plans to raise roof — and maybe $1 million — for orchestra in his hometown Detroit
DETROIT (AP) — This time last year, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra was about a month removed from a contentious musicians’ strike that worsened its already strained finances. Now, the rebounding organization aims to raise the roof — and hopefully $1 million — with help from a hometown musician known more for rock, rap and country than classical.
The orchestra will collaborate with Kid Rock on Saturday in a benefit concert at the Fox Theatre, down the street from the ensemble’s Orchestra Hall home. Tickets start at $100, though VIP tickets fetch as much as $1,500 and include an afterparty with the genre-jumping artist who still lives in suburban Detroit.
Rock, who was born Robert Ritchie and grew up in Macomb County, Mich., is volunteering his services. So are Detroit Symphony Music Director Leonard Slatkin and orchestra members. Proceeds will help pay symphony musicians for community outreach and education efforts.
“As a musician, and of course a Detroiter, I am proud to be supporting this longstanding cultural institution,” Rock has said of his show with the orchestra.
One night — even one that rocks and rolls in big money — doesn’t erase bigger, long-term woes for the internationally recognized orchestra. Musicians agreed to major concessions during the six-month strike that ended in April of last year, but that’s only slowed the orchestra’s $2.5 million-to-$3 million annual drain of a roughly $14 million endowment that it draws from to survive. And officials have been mired in a so-far unsuccessful effort to restructure a $54 million bank loan on a real estate deal for the Max M. Fisher Music Center.
Copyright © 2013, Petoskey News