Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment


Associated Press

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 4 at 12:00 PM


US stocks turn higher after big slump Monday

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks have been moderately higher so far today, a day after posting their worst losses in months.

But lingering concerns over the U.S. economy and emerging markets are keeping investors jittery in the U.S. and overseas.

Some analysts believe the turmoil in financial markets in recent days is a long-overdue correction that will eventually bottom out. But others think it will last longer, partly because the Federal Reserve is reducing its stimulus effort.


US factory orders down 1.5 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. manufacturers saw orders for their products decline in December by the largest amount in five months although the setback for a key category that tracks business investment was not as large as first reported.

The Commerce Department says orders to U.S. factories fell 1.5 percent in December, the biggest drop since July, with much of the weakness coming from a plunge in aircraft orders. Orders had risen 1.5 percent in November after a 0.5 percent October decrease.

Orders in a closely watched category that serves as a proxy for business investment declined 0.6 percent, a smaller fall than the 1.3 percent drop estimated in a preliminary report last week. The decrease followed a sizable 3 percent jump in November, an increase spurred by an expiring tax break.


New report: Budget deficit to drop to $514B

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new report says the government's budget deficit is set to fall to $514 billion for the current year, down substantially from last year and the lowest by far since President Barack Obama took office five years ago.

The Congressional Budget Office report credits higher tax revenues from the rebounding economy and sharp curbs on agency spending as the chief reason for the deficit's short-term decline.

But CBO sees the long-term deficit picture worsening by about $100 billion a year through the end of the decade because of slower growth in the economy over the coming decade than it had previously predicted.

Last year's deficit registered $680 billion. Obama inherited an economy in crisis and first-ever deficits exceeding $1 trillion.


NEW: Web site woes will reduce health care enrollment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Budget experts for Congress say fewer uninsured people than expected will get covered this year through President Barack Obama's health care law.

The Congressional Budget Office dropped its estimate by 2 million people. That's partly the result of website problems that prevented people from signing up last fall when new markets for subsidized private insurance went live.

Website woes have largely cleared up, but the nonpartisan analysts said Tuesday they expect 1 million fewer people to sign up through the new insurance exchanges, for a new total of 6 million in 2014. They predict enrollment will pick up and top 20 million in 2016.

CBO also revised its Medicaid projection down by 1 million, for a new total of 8 million. About half the states have accepted the law's Medicaid expansion.


NEW: Target taking actions on security, executive says

WASHINGTON (AP) — An executive of Target Corp. says the retailer has taken actions to shore up security following the massive breach of millions of consumers' data during the holiday season. He urged banks, retailers and the government to work together to protect consumers.

John Mulligan, executive vice president and chief financial officer at the No. 2 U.S. discounter, testified at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It was the first public appearance by a Target executive addressing the issue since the breach that occurred between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. An estimated 40 million credit and debit card accounts were affected.

Mulligan said Target is "deeply sorry" for the effect of the data theft on consumers, and he acknowledged that their confidence in the Minneapolis-based company has been shaken.


NEW: US Rep. Rob Andrews of NJ resigning after 23 years

HADDON HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews will leave Congress in two weeks after 23 years in office.

The 56-year-old is leaving the Capitol on Feb. 18.

He intends to join a law firm with offices in Washington. He says the job just opened and he "had to make a decision this weekend."

Andrews was first elected to Congress to represent a district outside Philadelphia in 1990.

A congressional ethics committee has been looking into Andrews' campaign spending after reports that he was using campaign funds for trips to California, where his daughter had a fledgling singing and acting career.

His departure will end that inquiry.

The seat will be open until the general election in November.


NEW: US official: Snowden leaks lead to Pentagon change

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top U.S. military intelligence official says the Pentagon will have to make costly changes to programs and personnel because of leaks by former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden.

Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is telling Congress Tuesday that his agency has to assume that Snowden took every document he accessed, and that much of it concerned Pentagon programs. He says he believes there will have to be changes in all branches of the U.S. military because investigators have to assume the information is compromised.

Officials have said Snowden downloaded some 1.7 million documents. U.S. intelligence officials have said some of those documents include the identities of undercover operatives. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.


Klitschko warns Ukrainian tempers are heating up

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian opposition leader Vitali Klitschko, after meeting with the country's beleaguered president, is warning that tempers are heating up and says the president must take action to resolve the country's political crisis.

Klitschko's meeting on Tuesday with President Viktor Yanukovych came as parliament held a session that took no action.

Two months of protests have put Yanukovych under substantial pressure. But he has made no moves to work with the opposition since last week, when he pushed parliament to pass a measure providing amnesty to many arrested protesters if demonstrators vacate buildings they occupy.

Protesters rejected that condition and continue to seek Yanukovych's resignation and early elections.

After the meeting, Klitschko said "the temperature of society is growing and I told the president we have to immediately take a decision."


Mich. highway shooter gets more than 6½ years

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A southeastern Michigan man who opened fire on other motorists in a series of attacks in October 2012 has been sentenced to more than 6½ years in prison in the first of two related cases.

The Oakland County Circuit Court judge sentenced Raulie Casteel on Tuesday to a term that could last up to 10 years behind bars. The Wixom man pleaded no contest but mentally ill last year to assault and firearms charges.

Casteel was convicted of terrorism last week in a related Livingston County case faces up to life in prison for that charge when he's sentenced next month.

Casteel testified that he shot at vehicles while feeling fear and anxiety. The nearly two-dozen shootings terrified the region for weeks. No one was seriously hurt.


NEW: Clinton encourages reading in Hispanic families

NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH'-zee-oh) are joining forces for a cause dear to both: early childhood education.

De Blasio and Clinton helped launch a public service campaign Tuesday in Harlem. It encourages Hispanic families to read, sing and talk more to their young children.

It's part of the "Too Small to Fail" effort sponsored by the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit. The Spanish-language Univision media company is a partner.

A quarter of all babies and toddlers in the U.S. are Hispanic. A recent study shows that they're only half as likely to have parents read to them as white, non-Hispanic children.


NEW: DC mayor urges caution on pot decriminalization

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington's mayor and police chief are concerned that a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana will lead to widespread pot smoking in public.

Mayor Vincent Gray said in a letter to the D.C. Council that a bill up for an initial vote Tuesday doesn't establish enough deterrents to public smoking.

The bill would make possession of less than one ounce of marijuana a civil offense. Smoking in public would incur a $100 fine that the mayor says people can easily ignore. He says he doesn't want to make smoking pot the equivalent of littering and that children shouldn't have to breathe marijuana smoke while they walk to school.

Gray says Police Chief Cathy Lanier is also concerned about the reemergence of open-air drug markets.


2 out of 3 adults in England overweight or obese

LONDON (AP) — More than 60 percent of adults in England are overweight or obese, according to new figures by the national public health agency.

The figures were released Tuesday. Experts have previously predicted England's increasing obesity epidemic could mean half its population will be obese by 2030. People who are heavy have a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

To fight bulging waistlines in Stoke-on-Trent in the West Midlands, authorities are trying a new approach. Overweight people can sign up to get frequent text messages encouraging them to move more and eat less.

One text says "Maybe walk to the shops or use the stairs more often." Officials described it as a "cheap and effective nudge" to take action before obese people need expensive medical attention.


NEW: Justin Bieber gets March trial date in Fla. case

MIAMI (AP) — A trial date has been set for Justin Bieber in Miami for his recent arrest on charges of driving under the influence, resisting arrest and driving with an invalid license.

A Miami-Dade County judge set trial for the three misdemeanors for March 3. Bieber's attorneys have already filed a written plea of not guilty. Initial trial dates are often delayed.

The 19-year-old pop star was arrested Jan. 23 in Miami Beach after what police called an illegal drag race between two exotic sports cars driven by Bieber and R&B singer Khalil Amir Sharieff. Sharieff was also arrested on a DUI charge.

Breath tests showed Bieber's blood alcohol content below the .02 threshold for underage drivers. But police say a toxicology test detected the presence of marijuana and Xanax in his system.


NEW: De Blasio won't be in NYC St. Patrick's Day parade

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (dih BLAH'-zee-oh) says he won't be marching in the nation's largest St. Patrick's Day parade.

De Blasio says he won't partake in the traditional march along Fifth Avenue because of parade organizers' refusal to allow participants to carry gay-pride signs.

The new mayor's predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, always marched. De Blasio also did not march while public advocate.

Its organizers say gay people are welcome to march, but they say signs celebrating being gay would detract from the parade's focus on honoring Irish heritage.

The parade is a tradition that predates the city itself. Organizers predict more than 1 million people will attend on March 17.

The mayor says he won't heed activists' call to ban city workers from marching while wearing their uniforms.


NY couple charged after toddler calls 911 15 times

LOWVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities have charged a northern New York woman and her boyfriend because the woman's 2-year-old daughter used their cellphones to dial 911 a total of 15 times last month.

Village of Lowville Police Officer Matthew Martin says the 23-year-old mother and her 33-year-old boyfriend told him they tried to keep their phones away from the persistent toddler, but the girl kept getting them and dialing 911.

Martin spoke to the couple Wednesday after Lewis County 911 dispatchers reported that a child had called 14 times in January. Martin says the child called 911 a 15th time later that night.

He charged the couple the next day with obstructing governmental administration.

Martin says the girl called 911 three more times Friday but hasn't made an emergency call since then.