Attorney General

Around the World: January 26, 2015

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

Nor'easter threatens 250-mile stretch of Northeast with snow, powerful winds, coastal flooding

NEW YORK (AP) — Northeast residents are girding for a "crippling and potentially historic" storm that could bury communities from northern New Jersey to southern Maine in up to 2 feet of snow.

The National Weather Service said the nor'easter would bring heavy snow, powerful winds and widespread coastal flooding starting Monday and through Tuesday. A blizzard warning was issued for a 250-mile stretch of the Northeast, including New York and Boston.

Government officials began to activate emergency centers on Sunday as professional sports teams, schools and utilities hastily revised their schedules and made preparations.

"This could be a storm the likes of which we have never seen before," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference in a Manhattan sanitation garage where workers were preparing plows and salt for the massive cleanup on about 6,000 miles of city roadways.

In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker warned residents to prepare for roads that are "very hard, if not impossible, to navigate," power outages and possibly even a lack of public transportation.

Obama takes in grand Republic Day parade in show of solidarity between US, India

NEW DELHI (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday took in a grand display of Indian military hardware, marching bands and elaborately dressed camels, becoming the first American leader to be honored as chief guest at India's annual Republic Day festivities.

The crowd erupted in cheers as Obama, along with first lady Michelle Obama, emerged from his armored limousine and took his place on the rain-soaked parade route in the capital of New Delhi. The parade was the centerpiece of Obama's three-day visit to India, which is aimed at strengthening a relationship between theworld's largest democracies that has at times been fraught with tension and suspicion.

Obama's attendance at the Republic Day celebrations was unlike any other event he has participated in during his overseas travel as president. He spent about two hours on an outdoor viewing platform, an unusual amount of time given Secret Service security concerns. Obama nodded in approval as Indian tanks and rocket launchers, some of them Russian-made, rolled down the parade route and air force jets sped by overhead.

Republic Day marks the anniversary of India's democratic constitution taking force in 1950. Beyond the show of military power, the parade included ornate floats highlighting India's cultural diversity. Obama gave a thumbs-up to the acrobatic balancing act of several groups of men on motorbikes, while Mrs. Obama smiled broadly at dance performance by young children.

Following the parade, the Obamas were to attend a reception with dignitaries at Rashtrapati Bhawan, the sprawling presidential palace.

Pediatricians Set New Policy For Medical Marijuana Use For Children

CHICAGO (AP) — With virtually no hard proof that medical marijuana benefits sick children, and evidence that it may harm developing brains, the drug should only be used for severely ill kids who have no other treatment option, the nation's most influential pediatricians group says in a new policy.

Some parents insist that medical marijuana has cured their kids' troublesome seizures or led to other improvements, but the American Academy of Pediatrics' new policy says rigorous research is needed to verify those claims.

To make it easier to study and develop marijuana-based treatments, the group recommends removing marijuana from the government's most restrictive drug category, which includes heroin, LSD and other narcotics with no accepted medical use, and switching it to the category which includes methadone and oxycodone.

The recommended switch "could help make a big difference in promoting more research," said Dr. Seth Ammerman, the policy's lead author and a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Stanford University.

The academy's qualified support may lead more pediatricians to prescribe medical marijuana, but the group says pediatric use should only be considered "for children with life-limiting or severely debilitating conditions and for whom current therapies are inadequate."

NJ Gov. Chris Christie launches political action committee in firmest step toward 2016 race

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has taken his firmest step yet toward running for president, launching an organization that allows him to raise money for a potential 2016 campaign.

While not a formal entry into the race, opening the political action committee will allow Christie to begin to hire staffers, build the foundations of a campaign operation and travel across the country as he weighs a final decision on a run.

The creation of the political action committee — called Leadership Matters for America — was widely expected, and comes not long after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced in December he was launching a similar organization, which kicked off an aggressive race to lock down establishment donors and may have drawn 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney into the race.

A mission statement on the organization's website echoes themes that Christie has focused in recent speeches, including remarks on Saturday in Iowa in front of conservative activists.

"America has been a nation that has always controlled events and yet today events control us. Why? Because leadership matters," the mission statement reads. "It matters if we want to restore America's role in theworld, find the political will to take on the entrenched special interests that continually stand in the way of fundamental change, reform entitlement spending at every level of government, and ensure that every child, no matter their zip code, has access to a quality education."

Greek election winner Syriza to form government after small party promises backing

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's Syriza party gained the key backing needed to form a government Monday, creating a surprise alliance with a small right-wing party that signals possible confrontation over the country's bailout.

Although the alliance between two ideologically opposed parties who share only their opposition to the bailout was a surprise, it nevertheless boosted stock markets across Europe that had fallen on news of the uncertain election results and fear of a second election. Stocks had fallen as much as 4 percent in Athens on Monday morning.

The right-wing Independent Greeks party said it would back Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras to be the next prime minister, after he fell just short of the majority needed to govern alone following Sunday's poll.

"From this moment, the country has a government. Independent Greeks give a vote of confidence to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras," Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos said — without clarifying whether he would join a coalition with Tsipras or give support to a minority government.

Tsipras has promised to renegotiate Greece's massive bailout agreements, but has vowed not to take any unilateral action against lenders from other eurozone countries.

Egyptian officials say 2 sons of ousted President Hosni Mubarak have been freed from prison

CAIRO (AP) — The two sons of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were released from prison Monday, nearly four years after they were first arrested along with their father, authorities said.

Security officials said the two, wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak's one-time heir apparent Gamal, walked free from Torah Prison in a southern Cairo suburb shortly after daybreak and headed to their respective homes in the capital's upscale Heliopolis suburb.

The two, along with their father, still face a retrial on corruption charges. Separately, the two sons also face trial on insider trading charges. They had been acquitted of other charges.

Mubarak, 86 and ailing, stepped down in February 2011 in the face of a popular uprising. He and his two sons were arrested in April that year. Mubarak remains at a military hospital in a southern suburb of Cairo although there are no longer any legal grounds for his detention.

The security officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to speak to journalists.

Super Bowl host city's effort to become sports destination has it reeling financially

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The entire world will be watching Glendale on Sunday as it hosts the Super Bowl and the legions of fans who are shelling out big bucks to see the big game.

What may be not visible amid all the hoopla is a sobering reality about the Super Bowl host city: Glendale is suffering deep financial issues over its troubled effort to become a sports destination.

Glendale bet big on professional sports in the last 15 years, spending millions of dollars on a hockey arena for the Arizona Coyotes and investing heavily in a spring training ballpark for the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. Then the economy tanked, and the hockey team went through bankruptcy, with several different owners in recent years. It got so bad for Glendale that leaders were talking about bankruptcy at one point as its credit rating faltered.

The city has found stronger financial footing since then and its bond rating has improved markedly, but not without having to raise taxes, trim 25 percent of the municipal workforce, cut back on paving projects, and reduce hours at municipal swimming pools and libraries. The 9.2 percent sales tax that shoppers and diners pay in Glendale is among the highest in the state.

To fiscal conservatives, Glendale serves as a cautionary tale for suburban cities across the United States that want to throw public money at professional sports projects.

Malaysia Airlines hacked by group claiming to support Islamic State

HONG KONG (AP) — The website of Malaysia Airlines was hacked Monday by a group that proclaimed support for the militant Islamic State group and also vowed to release data stolen from the site.

The airline's site was down for at least seven hours, replaced by a message from the hacker group, before the company brought it back online by mid-afternoon in Malaysia.

The hackers at first changed the site to display a message saying "404 - Plane Not Found" and that it was "Hacked by Cyber Caliphate," with a photo of one of the airline's Airbus A380 superjumbo jets. The browser tab for the website said "ISIS will prevail."

Malaysia Airlines is struggling to recover from twin disasters last year, including the disappearance of Flight 370, which authorities believed crashed 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) off Australia's west coast, and the downing of Flight 17 over Ukraine.

The hackers later replaced the jet with a picture of a lizard in a top hat, monocle and tuxedo smoking a pipe. The Islamic State reference was removed and the claim of responsibility changed to "Lizard Squad - Official Cyber Caliphate," with a link to the group's Twitter account.

AP Interview: Iraqi official says 'sleeper cells' key in battle against Islamic State group

BAGHDAD (AP) — "Sleeper cells" made up of former Iraqi police officers and soldiers are tipping off authorities to Islamic State group positions in the northern city of Mosul, a prominent lawmaker has told The Associated Press.

The comments by Hakim al-Zamili, the head of parliament's security and defense committee, are the first high-level confirmation of the groups' existence after weeks of rumors.

Their work remains incredibly dangerous as the Islamic State group has shut down mobile phone networks and regularly kills suspected government collaborators. However, their intelligence could prove invaluable as the U.S.-led coalition steps up airstrikes around Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, to disrupt Islamic State group supply lines ahead of an expected operation later this year to take back the city from militants

"Those patriotic groups, some operate from inside the city of Mosul and others from the areas surrounding it, are now giving us information about the military preparations being made by Islamic State group in order to face any attack by government forces to retake the city," al-Zamili told the AP.

The Islamic State group captured Mosul in August during its blitz across northern Iraq. The militants now hold about a third of both Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-declared caliphate.


That's what's happening. Read more stories to jump start your day in our special Breakfast Buzz section.

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