AP News in Brief

AP News
Posted: Nov 28, 2009 6:13 AM

White House dinner crashers met Obama; Secret Service says officers didn't check guest list

WASHINGTON (AP) _ This time, the picture is the story.

After the Secret Service insisted that President Barack Obama was never endangered by a security breach that allowed a couple to crash his first state dinner, the White House has released a photo showing that not only did the pair get close to Obama, they actually shook hands and talked to him.

As the White House was disclosing that the Virginia couple, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, met Obama in the receiving line, a "deeply concerned and embarrassed" Secret Service on Friday acknowledged that its officers never checked whether the two were on the guest list before letting them onto the White House grounds.

The White House released a photo showing the Salahis in the receiving line in the Blue Room with Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in whose honor the dinner was held. Obama and reality TV hopeful Michaele Salahi are smiling as she grasps his right hand with both of hers and her husband looks on. Singh is standing to Obama's left.

The Secret Service earlier this week had said the president was not in danger because the couple _ like others at the dinner _ had gone through magnetometers. But in light of their close proximity to the president, no such claim was made Friday.


An SUV accident sends PGA Tour star Tiger Woods to hospital, and police looking for answers

By The Associated Press

There are plenty of vivid details from the car crash that sent Tiger Woods to the hospital: His SUV hit a fire hydrant and a tree; his lips were cut and he had blood in his mouth; his wife smashed a rear window with a golf club to get him out; he briefly lost consciousness.

There are also plenty of questions, among them:

Where was he going at 2:25 a.m. Friday? Why was there no word from the Woods' camp for nearly 13 hours after the accident?

Police hope Woods can answer some of them Saturday.

Two troopers tried to talk to the world's No. 1 golfer Friday evening, but his wife said he was sleeping and they agreed to come back Saturday, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes said.

According to the patrol, Woods had just left his Florida mansion when he lost control of his 2009 Cadillac and hit a fire hydrant, then a tree on his neighbor's property. The report said alcohol was not a factor.

The patrol reported the accident occurred at 2:25 a.m. Friday morning and classified the injuries as serious. The first word from Woods' camp _ some 13 hours after the crash _ was that it was a "minor accident," and he was in good condition after being treated and released.


Train derailment that killed at least 26 in Russia investigated as possible terrorism act

UGLOVKA, Russia (AP) _ Investigators on Saturday were considering whether the train derailment that killed at least 26 people was caused by a bomb on the tracks _ which would make it Russia's deadliest terrorist strike outside the volatile North Caucasus in years.

The Nevsky Express was carrying hundreds of passengers from Moscow to the northern city of St. Petersburg when it went off rail Friday night. Some officials said Saturday at least 26 people were killed and nearly 100 were injured and hospitalized, though the Prosecutor General's office said the death toll had risen to 30 while 60 people remained in hospital.

Health Minister Tatyana Golikova said another 18 people were still missing from the disaster, which authorities are investigating as an act of terrorism.

President Dmitry Medvedev called for calm, saying in televised comments Saturday that "we need there to be no chaos, because the situation is tense as it is."

The 14-carriage luxury train, popular with business executives and government officials, had been carrying 633 passengers and 20 railway personnel when the last three cars left the tracks in a rural area near the border of the Novgorod and Tver provinces, about 250 miles (402 kilometers) northwest of Moscow and 150 miles (250 kilometers) southeast of St. Petersburg.


Crowded ferry capsizes as passengers disembark in Bangladesh; 30 dead, scores missing

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) _ A ferry packed with people going home for an Islamic festival capsized as they disembarked in southern Bangladesh, leaving at least 30 dead and scores missing, authorities said Saturday.

Police and fire brigade divers pulled 30 bodies from the sunken part of the ferry, local police officials Saiful Islam and Showkat Hossain said. Many of the dead were women and children.

The officials said some of the missing were feared trapped inside the ferry.

It was unclear how many people were on board when the boat capsized.

Dhaka's private ETV television station said the ferry was carrying more than 1,500 people, adding many had already disembarked when the accident occurred.


Body of trapped 26-year-old who died in Utah cave won't be recovered, cave to be closed

SPANISH FORK, Utah (AP) _ A Utah cave's narrow crevice that trapped and eventually killed a medical student will become his final resting place, and the dangerous cavern will be permanently sealed.

State and county officials said Friday that any effort to recover the body of 26-year-old John Jones from the cramped passage would be too dangerous.

Jones, of Stansbury Park, died just before midnight Wednesday _ about 28 hours after getting wedged in a tight, unmapped passage with his head at an angle below his feet. Workers had tried feverishly to free him from the shaft about 100 feet below the surface and about 400 feet from the cave's entrance.

Jones was trapped in a vertical shaft about 18 inches wide and 10 inches high within the 1,500-foot Nutty Putty cave, located about 80 miles south of Salt Lake City.

A "Herculean effort" to free him was limited by the cramped space, leaving one rescuer chipping away rock with a ball-peen hammer just six inches to swing, said Sgt. Tom Hodgson, coordinator for Utah County's search and rescue operations.


Police search for relative suspected of killing 4 at Thanksgiving gathering in South Florida

JUPITER, Fla. (AP) _ Authorities in Florida were searching Saturday for a man police said opened fire on his family after Thanksgiving dinner and killed four people, including his pregnant sister and a 6-year-old cousin who was sleeping in her bed.

There had been "ongoing resentment" in the family, but investigators weren't sure what specifically prompted the shooting, officials said. Police were looking for Paul Michael Merhige, 35, of Miami. He was believed to be driving a royal blue 2007 Toyota Camry with a rear spoiler and Florida license plate.

Merhige is also accused of gunning down his pregnant sister's twin and his 79-year-old aunt.

"What led to this incident, we're not quite sure," said Jupiter Police Sgt. Scott Pascarella. "It did not appear there was any altercation prior to this shooting."

Pascarella said Merhige left briefly before returning to the home where 17 relatives had gathered in Jupiter, a small beach town about 90 miles north of Miami. The town is known as a home to celebrities including Michael Jordan and Burt Reynolds.


Recession has older Americans heading to soup kitchens, food pantries for first time

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Older Americans who were raised on stories of the Great Depression and acquired lifelong habits of thrift now find themselves crowding soup kitchens and food pantries in greater numbers for the first time after seeing retirement funds, second jobs and nest eggs wiped out by recession.

"What we see in line is lots of gray hair, lots of walkers," said Marti Forman, CEO of The Cooperative Feeding Program in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The help is crucial for many fixed-income seniors, who can't always keep up with rising food prices.

"It's a lifeline. It just means that you can function," said Ronald Shewchuk of Ithaca, N.Y. "Otherwise we would have to sell our house. I don't know what we would do. Go to an old age home."

The number of seniors living alone who seek help from food pantries in the U.S. increased 81 percent to 408,000 in 2008, compared to 225,000 in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Overall, 4.7 million households used American food pantries in 2008, compared to about 3.7 million in 2006.


Years of wartime has military divorces edging higher as couples cope with separation, stress

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The divorce rate in the armed forces continues to edge higher, despite efforts by the military to help struggling couples.

There were an estimated 27,312 divorces among roughly 765,000 married members of the active-duty Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30, the Pentagon reported Friday.

That's a divorce rate of about 3.6 percent, compared with 3.4 percent a year earlier, according to figures from the Defense Manpower Data Center. Marriages among reservists failed at a rate of 2.8 percent compared to 2.7 the previous year.

Air Force Maj. April Cunningham, a Defense Department spokeswoman, said the latest year-to-year change was relatively small because the services have made available programs focused on strengthening and enriching family bonds among couples.

"We believe these programs are instrumental in mitigating the stresses deployment places on marriages," said Cunningham.


Debt problems in Dubai will make investors hesitate throughout Gulf, analysts say

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) _ For years, Dubai seemed unstoppable, an oasis of excess boasting indoor ski slopes and manmade islands, the world's tallest tower and dreams that reached even higher.

Now the bills are coming due, and the emirate's debt problems are tarnishing a place built on borrowed time and money _ and threatening to spill into other Gulf Arab nations.

State-owned conglomerate Dubai World's call for a delay in repaying some of the $60 billion it owes creditors will likely make international investors view even more fiscally conservative countries through a lens of uncertainty, analysts say.

The announcement is "impacting everybody in the region _ the good and the bad," said John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Saudi-based Banque Saudi Fransi-Credit Agricole Group.

"Right now we're still seeing the impact of this, and the impact will be that everybody is being negatively perceived," Sfakianakis said.


New Jersey Nets lose 16th straight game to open season, falling 109-96 to Sacramento

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ The New Jersey Nets dropped their 16th straight game to open the season, moving within one of matching the worst start in NBA history with a 109-96 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.

Rookie Tyreke Evans had 21 points and eight rebounds, and Beno Udrih also scored 21 for Sacramento, which never trailed on its way to winning back-to-back games following a four-game losing streak.

After losing to the team that had the worst record in the NBA a season ago, the Nets need to beat the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday at Staples Center to avoid matching the record for futility held by the expansion Miami Heat (1988-89) and the Los Angeles Clippers (1999).

The potential record-setter would come at home against Dallas on Wednesday.

Brook Lopez had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Devin Harris scored 25 points on 6-for-22 shooting for the Nets, who matched the longest losing streak in franchise history with their latest loss.