Attorney General

Around the World: January 23, 2015

Here's what's happening across the United States and around the world today.

New Saudi King Salman names second-in-line to throne, vows to maintain predecessors' policies

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's new king moved swiftly Friday to name the country's interior minister as deputy crown prince, making him the second-in-line to the throne, as he promised to continue the policies of his predecessors in a nationally televised speech.

U.S. & World

Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.

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King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud's actions came as the oil-rich, Sunni-ruled kingdom began mourning King Abdullah, who died early Friday at the age of 90 after nearly two decades in power.

Salman's royal decree puts Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in line to ascend to the throne after his designated successor, Crown Prince Muqrin. Mohammed is the son of late King Abdullah's half brother Nayef.

"We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment," Salman said in the speech aired on the state-run Saudi 2 television station.

Salman also made an oblique reference to the chaos gripping the greater Middle East as the extremist Islamic State group now holds a third of both Iraq and Syria.

Saudi King Abdullah pushed gradual reforms at home, led Arab Spring backlash

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — His changes looked minute to the outside world. But in a kingdom where ultra-conservative Muslim clerics have long held a lock on all aspects of society, King Abdullah's incremental reforms echoed mightily.

When Abdullah took the unprecedented step of opening a new university where men and women could mix in classrooms, part of his gradual campaign to modernize Saudi Arabia, grumbling arose among the hard-liners who form the bedrock of the powerful religious establishment. One sheikh dared to openly say that the mingling of genders at the king's university was "a great sin and a great evil."

Abdullah sent a tough signal: He fired the critic from the state-run body of clerics who set the rules for Saudi life.

As one of the world's largest oil exporters, Saudi Arabia is governed by a mix of tribal traditions and perhaps the world's strictest interpretation of Islam. Its royal family prefers to act quietly in the background, shies away from direct confrontation, avoids putting itself on the line and prefers slow-paced change to radical reform.

But Abdullah, who died Friday at the age of 90 after nearly two decades in power, acted at times with unusual forcefulness for a Saudi monarch. At home, the results were reforms, including advancements for women, that were startling — for the kingdom at least — and a heavy crackdown against al-Qaida militants. Abroad, his methods translated into a powerful assertion of Saudi Arabia's influence around the Middle East.

Islamic State-affiliated militants say countdown for lives of 2 Japanese hostages has begun

TOKYO (AP) — Militants affiliated with the Islamic State group have posted an online warning that the "countdown has begun" for the group to kill a pair of Japanese hostages.

The posting which appeared Friday shows a clock counting down to zero along with gruesome images of other hostages who have been beheaded by the Islamic State group.

The militant group gave Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a 72-hour deadline — which expired Friday — to pay a $200 million ransom for the two hostages. The posting on a forum popular among Islamic State militants and sympathizers did not show any images of the Japanese hostages.

In the past the website has posted Islamic State videos very quickly, sometimes before anyone else. Nippon Television Network first reported the message in Japan.

The status of efforts to free the two men was unclear. Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga, when asked about the latest message, said Japan was analyzing it.

Read between the lines of Obama's veto threats for a sense of what roils Washington politics

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has a telling hit list.

The veto threats that he's issued over the last three weeks are a microcosm of American politics, representing the roiling issues of the day, the power struggle playing out between Congress and the White House, and even the pique between the president and GOP congressional leaders.

Obama, who vetoed just two minor bills over the past six years, has been tossing out veto threats like confetti since Republicans took full control of Congress.

In addition to delivering eight formal veto notices on specific bills under consideration, the president has sounded broader warnings that he'll block legislative efforts that jeopardize his health care law, roll back rules governing Wall Street, reverse his immigration actions or impose new sanctions on Iran.

There's a little bit of everything in Obama's veto threats: the culture wars (abortion), energy policy (Keystone XL oil pipeline), social matters (Obamacare), foreign policy (Iran), economic angst (financial regulation), even wonky details of governance (rule-making processes).

NY panel asks feds to probe 2013 Rikers Island inmate death; calls care 'incompetent'

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors should launch a civil rights probe into the 2013 death of a mentally ill Rikers Island inmate who was locked in his cell for six days without care or medication, a state oversight panel concluded in a review that called the treatment "so incompetent and inadequate as to shock the conscience."

Bradley Ballard, a 39-year-old paranoid schizophrenic with diabetes, died shortly after a doctor finally went into his cell and found him naked, covered in feces and badly infected from a piece of cloth he tied tightly around his genitals.

The review by the New York State Commission of Correction, obtained by The Associated Press, said the lapses by the city and its medical provider, Corizon Health Inc., violated state law and "were directly implicated in his death."

"Had Ballard received adequate and appropriate medical and mental health care and supervision and intervention when he became critically ill, his death would have been prevented," the report said. "The medical and mental health care ... was so incompetent and inadequate as to shock the conscience."

The AP first reported the details of Ballard's death last year soon after it reported another mentally ill inmate, Jerome Murdough, died last February after he was left unattended for hours in a cell that sweltered to 101-degrees because of malfunctioning heating equipment.

Town once run by polygamist leader is divided between loyalists and defectors to modern world

HILDALE, Utah (AP) — As polygamist leader Warren Jeffs awaited his fate in a Texas prison, he sent an order to his followers on the Utah-Arizona border: Build me a new compound.

Hundreds of men worked around the clock for three months to construct a mammoth, two-story edifice with dozens of rooms. It was encircled by a 15-foot wall of special white cement. The carpets were turquoise, just as he liked.

At the time, in 2010, Jeffs believed God would allow him to return to live with his wives and children in a village of 7,700 at the foot of picturesque red rock cliffs. But that never happened.

Nearly four years after Jeffs was sentenced to life for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered brides, his compound is being converted into a bed and breakfast — a symbol of the changes overtaking the community he once led. Today, the sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, are split between loyalists who still believe Jeffs is a victim of religious persecution and defectors who are embracing government efforts to pull the town into modern society.

Jeffs' compound is being converted by his former bodyguard, Willie Jessop, who for years defended the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS. In defiance of some of Jeffs' rules, he now flies the American flag, keeps the gate open and has torn down part of the wall — all meant as clear signals that there is life after Jeffs in this divided place 300 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Here are 5 things Europe's struggling economy needs to follow the ECB's plan to revive growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — What now?

The European Central Bank's plan to rescue Europe's economy won't work on its own. Its success hinges on whether people, governments and companies do what's needed: Spend, hire, borrow, invest, export, expand.

ECB chief Mario Draghi on Thursday delivered on a pledge to do whatever it takes to pull Europe out of a deep and prolonged slump. The central bank will buy 1.1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) worth of government and corporate bonds through September 2016 — longer if necessary — to shrink the euro's value, boost exports and encourage borrowing, spending and hiring.

"The ECB has made its move," says Jacob Kirkegaard, senior research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Now, "the euro area needs to go to work."

Collectively, the economy of the 19 nations in the currency alliance eked out growth of just 0.2 percent in last year's third quarter. Now that the ECB has acted, here are five things the economy needs to revive itself:

Thai ex-premier Yingluck impeached, also faces criminal charges over money-losing rice program

BANGKOK (AP) — In the latest battle in a political war that has lasted almost a decade, Thailand's military-appointed legislature on Friday voted to impeach former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for her role in overseeing a government rice subsidy program that lost billions of dollars.

The vote was generally seen as a partisan action aimed at crippling the political machine founded by her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, another ousted Prime Minister.

The vote, which means Yingluck will be banned from politics for five years, came just hours after the attorney general's office announced separate plans to indict her on criminal charges for negligence related to losses and alleged corruption in the rice program.

No date has been set for the formal indictment, but if convicted Yingluck could face 10 years in jail. She was forced by a court ruling last May to step down from her job for illegally transferring a civil servant, and just days later the army staged a successful coup against her government.

The coup came after months of violent street protests by anti-Thaksin activists, which the army refused to help quash.

First Impressions: Microsoft is latest to try virtual reality; here's what HoloLens is like

REDMOND, Wash. (AP) — Microsoft didn't use skydivers or stunt cyclists to introduce what it hopes will be the next big leap in computing technology. Instead, with its new HoloLens headset, the company is offering real-world examples to show how you might use three-dimensional digital images — or holograms — in daily life.

And that might be what it takes to get people to buy a computer they wear on their face.

I got a brief peek at what wearing the HoloLens could be like in different scenarios: performing a simple home repair, pretending to be a scientist studying the surface of Mars and exploring a colorful, animated game that added new dimensions to an unremarkable room.

Microsoft unveiled HoloLens at its headquarters this week, on the same day the company touted its upcoming Windows 10 software release. What I saw of the device seems unfinished, but it shows potential.

Roger Federer upset in 3rd round of Australian Open, loses in 4 sets to Andreas Seppi

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — For the first time in a dozen years, Roger Federer won't be featuring in the Australian Open semifinals after his upset third-round loss to Andreas Seppi on Friday.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion had never lost to Seppi in 10 previous meetings, but made some uncharacteristic errors including nine double-faults — one to surrender a mini break in the last tiebreaker — in the 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (5) defeat.

Seppi, a 30-year-old Italian who had only advanced beyond the second round once at his nine previous trips to Melbourne Park, held his nerve despite some withering winners from Federer, who registered his 1,000th career match win when he collected the Brisbane International title earlier this month to open the season.

Federer also had a 4-1 lead in the second-set tiebreaker and let it slide.

"I knew how important that second-set tiebreaker was — clearly that hurt, losing that one," Federer said. "It just broke me to lose that second set. And actually the fourth, I should win it, too. Just a brutal couple of sets to lose there. The end wasn't pretty."


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