Obama signs order to begin spending cuts
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has signed an order authorizing the government to begin cutting $85 billion from federal accounts, officially enacting across-the-board reductions that he opposed but failed to avert.
Obama acted Friday, the deadline for the president and Congress to avoid the steep, one-year cuts.
Obama has insisted on replacing the cuts, known as a "sequester" in government budget language, with tax increases and cuts spread out over time. Republicans have rejected any plan that included tax revenue.
The government says the reductions will soon result in furlough notices to government employees and will trim government spending on defense contracts and in domestic government programs. Active military personnel and anti-poverty and low-income assistance programs are largely protected from the cuts.
Obama issues pardons to 17 people
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is pardoning 17 people, largely for minor offenses.
The White House announced the president's pardons Friday afternoon. Among the crimes committed by those receiving pardons were falsely altering a money order and unauthorized acquisition of food stamps.
The pardons are the first of Obama's second term. He granted his first pardons in December 2010, to nine people convicted of drug possession, counterfeiting and mutilating coins.
He also issued two separate batches of pardons in 2011, including eight people in May for relatively minor offenses and five people that November.
Obama, Putin discuss Syria, Iran, set June meeting
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin, welcoming Russian cooperation on international efforts to confront Iran's nuclear ambitions. The White House says the two men also discussed the ongoing violence in Syria, a topic that still divides Washington and Moscow.
The White House says Putin and Obama agreed to hold their own meeting in June on the sidelines of the upcoming meeting of leading industrial nations in Northern Ireland. Obama also told Putin he looked forward to visiting St. Petersburg for the meeting of leading rich and developing nations in September.
The White House says Putin and Obama welcome "substantive and constructive consultations" by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov over a political transition in Syria.
SINKHOLE SWALLOWS MAN
Sinkhole that swallowed Fla. man 'unstable'
SEFFNER, Fla. (AP) — Florida authorities say a sinkhole that has swallowed the bedroom of Tampa-area house with a man in it is likely to grow.
The soil around the house is very soft. The hole, now about 25 feet deep and 30 feet across, opened in seconds last night under Jeff Bush's bedroom. A dresser and the TV set vanished down the hole, along with most of Bush's bed. He's presumed dead. Officials lowered equipment into the sinkhole and saw no signs of life.
Jeremy Bush says he jumped in the hole but couldn't find his brother. Four others in the house weren't injured. They said it sounded like a car had crashed into the house.
A county administrator says the home is "seriously unstable." No one can go in the home because officials are afraid of another collapse and losing more lives.
Florida is highly prone to sinkholes because there are caverns below ground of limestone, a porous rock that easily dissolves in water. A 1981 sinkhole near Orlando grew to 400 feet across and devoured five sports cars, most of two businesses, a three-bedroom house and the deep end of an Olympic-size swimming pool.
AIR FORCE ACADEMY SUPERINTENDENT
First woman in line to lead Air Force Academy
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — Maj. Gen. Michelle Johnson has been appointed to be the next superintendent of the Air Force Academy, the first woman to hold the job.
Academy officials said Friday the Senate must first approve Johnson's promotion to a three-star lieutenant general, the rank required to become superintendent.
It wasn't immediately clear when the Senate would take up her promotion and when she would assume command.
Johnson would replace Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, who has been superintendent since June 2009. An academy spokesman said Gould's plans haven't been announced.
Johnson is a 1981 graduate of the academy. She is currently NATO's deputy chief of staff for operations and intelligence.
APSE DIVERSITY REPORT
Study: Sports departments still lack diversity
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The opportunities for people of color and women working in sports departments at newspapers and websites are showing slight improvements.
But according to a report released Friday by the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports the departments are still largely dominated by white males.
The report again gave the outlets that belong to the Associated Press Sports Editors a C-plus for racial hiring and its third consecutive F for gender hires in jobs including sports editor, columnist, reporter and copy editor.
The bi-annual report is the fourth done on APSE since 2006 and looks at numbers from 2012.
Last year, 90.9 percent of sports editors, 83.9 percent of columnists and 86.3 percent of reporters were white. Also, 90.4 percent of sports editors were men.
US judge: Insurer not obliged to cover Sandusky
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A federal judge says the insurance carrier for the children's charity founded by former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky doesn't have to cover his criminal or civil legal costs related to acts of abuse.
U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane's Friday ruling says Sandusky wasn't acting as an employee or executive of The Second Mile when he molested boys. She says Sandusky's behavior was personal. She sided with New Jersey-based Federal Insurance Co.
Sandusky was convicted of abusing 10 boys and faces multiple lawsuits. Prosecutors say he found victims through his charity. He was sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison but is appealing.
Sandusky's appellate lawyer Norris Gelman says he's sticking with his client but "without money it's going to be a little tough."
Messages left for Federal Insurance attorneys haven't been returned.
Hundreds attend Conn. vigil to honor 2 slain boys
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Hundreds of people have attended a vigil in Connecticut in honor of two young brothers who were killed by their grandmother before she committed suicide.
The vigil held Friday night in North Stonington was also held to support the boys' parents, Jeremy and Brenda Perry.
The Day of New London reports that Jeremy Perry told the crowd: "Your support is probably the only reason we're still on our feet right now."
Police say Brenda Perry's mother, Debra Denison, left a suicide note and took a revolver from her house Tuesday before picking up 2-year-old Alton Perry and 6-month-old Ashton at their day care in North Stonington. Their bodies were found in a van hours later after a frantic search.
The medical examiner's office says the boys had multiple gunshot wounds.
JACKSON-CONCERT PROMOTER SUIT
Suit over hiring of Jackson doctor to go to trial
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge has dismissed all but one count in a civil lawsuit by Michael Jackson's mother against concert giant AEG Live over the pop superstar's death.
Superior Court Judge Yvette Palazuelos' ruling issued Thursday means that Katherine Jackson will have a trial on her claim that AEG negligently hired and supervised the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death.
The decision follows a tentative ruling Palazuelos issued earlier this week dismissing Katherine Jackson's claims that AEG could be held liable for Murray's conduct and breached its duty to properly care for the pop superstar.
AEG attorney Marvin Putnam has said Murray was not employed by the promoter and he expects the company to win at trial.
Katherine Jackson's attorney Kevin Boyle was not immediately available for comment.
Ex-Montana quarterback acquitted of rape
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A former University of Montana quarterback has been acquitted in a rape trial that has played out amid NCAA and federal investigations into how the school and the city of Missoula respond to rape allegations on campus.
Jurors delivered the verdict Friday after deliberating for less than two hours.
The case against 20-year-old Jordan Johnson has drawn much attention in Montana, where UM football is the top sports attraction.
Johnson led the school to a successful 2011 season as starting quarterback before being accused of assaulting a woman as they watched a movie together at her home last February.
The woman testified that she and Johnson were kissing when his demeanor changed and he held her down and raped her, despite her protests.
Johnson maintains the sex was consensual.Tags: