BC-AP News Digest 320 am

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Photo -   Federal and local law enforcement officers gather at their trucks after the hostage crisis ended in Midland City, Ala., on Monday afternoon, Feb. 4, 2013. Officials say they stormed a bunker in Alabama to rescue a 5-year-old child being held hostage there after his abductor was seen with a gun. (AP Photo/The Dothan Eagle, Jay Hare)
Federal and local law enforcement officers gather at their trucks after the hostage crisis ended in Midland City, Ala., on Monday afternoon, Feb. 4, 2013. Officials say they stormed a bunker in Alabama to rescue a 5-year-old child being held hostage there after his abductor was seen with a gun. (AP Photo/The Dothan Eagle, Jay Hare)
News,Science and Technology

The world at 3 :20 a.m. Times EST.

At the Nerve Center, news producers Richard Somma and Vincent Willis can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Swayne Hall (ext. 1900). For graphics and interactives, ext. 7636. Expanded AP Content can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com . For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact customersupport(at)ap.org or call 877-836-9477. A selection of top photos can be found at http://bit.ly/APTopPhotos .

NEW & DEVELOPING

— HOME PRICES — Private data provider CoreLogic issues its report on home prices for December at 8:30 a.m.

— ECONOMY-SERVICES: The Institute for Supply Management issues its U.S. non-manufacturing (service-sector) index for January at 10 a.m.

— OBAMA — President meets with labor leaders at 11 a.m.; business leaders at 3:20 p.m.

— BOYFRIEND SLAYING — Woman accused of killing Ariz. lover to continue testimony at 12:30 p.m.

— GUANTANAMO-COLE ATTACK — Hearing for Guantanamo Bay prisoner accused of orchestrating USS Cole attack, 1 p.m.

— BRITAIN-GAY MARRIAGE — Timing of vote uncertain.

TOP STORIES

SCHOOL BUS DRIVER SHOT

Midland City, Ala. — For six days, people in this small Alabama town asked just one question about the 5-year-old boy being held hostage by a menacing, unpredictable neighbor: "Is he free yet?" After FBI agents determined talks with an increasingly agitated Jimmy Lee Dykes was breaking down, they stormed the closet-sized underground shelter and freed the kindergartner. Dykes was killed by law enforcement officials, an official told the AP. Authorities say the boy is doing well, but have yet to answer questions about how they monitored Dykes and what prompted them to storm in. By Jay Reeves and Kate Brumback.

AP photos, video, audio.

OBAMA-DIVERSE CABINET

President Barack Obama is ready to put a diverse face on his administration in his new wave of Cabinet nominees — an image that was missing as he filled the first round of vacancies of his second term with a parade of white men. Obama is said to be looking at women, Latinos, even openly gay candidates for top slots at the departments of Commerce, Labor and Interior, and for his own White House budget office. By Jim Kuhnhenn.

AP photo.

SUPER BOWL-POWER OUTAGE

NEW ORLEANS — While authorities investigate causes of the 34-minute Super Bowl blackout, documents show that Superdome officials were worried about losing power at the big game last fall. Tests on the dome's electrical feeders showed decay and "a chance of failure," state officials warned, and the utility that supplied the stadium with power expressed concern about the reliability of the service. By Kevin McGill and Michael Kunzelman.

AP photos, video.

STANDARD & POOR'S-LAWSUIT-Q&A

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government is readying civil charges against Standard & Poor's Ratings Services for improperly giving high ratings to toxic mortgage bonds before the financial crisis, the company says. Here are some questions and answers about the expected charges against S&P. By Business Writer Daniel Wagner.

MYANMAR PORTRAITS-UNCHAINED AUTHORS

YANGON, Myanmar — Poet Saw Wai parked himself on the lawn, unfurled a map of Myanmar with a blob of blood red paint dripping down from a spot up north and invited people to make poetry with him. His point about fighting in Kachin state is the sort of thing you couldn't really talk about here for 50 years. Myanmar's writers were long accustomed to writing around censorship, but now they are relearning the habits of free thought and testing the boundaries of speech. By Erika Kinetz. First in a yearlong series examining the opening of Myanmar after decades of military rule.

AP photos, video.

TEEN GUN LOBBYIST

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Sami Rahamim has committed statistics about gun deaths to memory, folding them into sentences that make his case. He talks like a lawyer, not a high school senior — no pauses or filler, no public trace of his pain. On Sept. 27, Rahamim's father, Reuven Rahamim, was shot and killed along with five others at Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis, the company he founded, by an ex-worker who recently had been fired. In the months since, Sami Rahamim has become a 17-year-old lobbyist for reducing gun violence. By Kyle Potter.

AP photos.

WASHINGTON

IMMIGRATION-GUEST WORKERS

WASHINGTON — Business and labor union officials are delving into high-stakes negotiations over a particularly contentious element of immigration reform — a guest worker program to ensure future immigrants come here legally. By Erica Werner.

AP photos.

— MENENDEZ — After ducking comment for days, Sen. Robert Menendez is forcefully denying allegations he engaged with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.

— CONGRESS-HISPANICS — How many Hispanic members are there in Congress? There is no dispute about the Senate, which has three Hispanic senators. The House, however, is another matter.

INTERNATIONAL

MEXICO-PEMEX-EXPLOSION

MEXICO CITY — A gas buildup ignited by an electrical spark or other heat source caused the blast that killed 37 people and wounded dozens of others last week at the state oil company's headquarters, Mexico's attorney general said. By Michael Weissenstein.

AP photos.

BRITAIN-GAY MARRIAGE

LONDON — At least 100 Tory MPs are expected to vote against the same sex couples bill when it faces its first hurdle. The proposals, personally championed by Prime Minister David Cameron, should pass easily as they are backed by the vast majority of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs, but Conservative votes against it could be an embarrassment to Cameron. By Jill Lawless.

AP photos.

MOROCCO-ISLAMIST CHALLENGE

RABAT, Morocco — Morocco likes to project itself as unique in the Middle East in finding a third way between revolution and repression amid the uprisings of the Arab Spring. The nation's largest opposition Islamist group is challenging that view. In an interview with The Associated Press, Fathallah Arsalane, political leader of Al Adl wal Ihsan, or the Justice and Charity movement, warned that Morocco is at serious risk of a popular revolt if the state doesn't recognize the demands of the Arab Spring and implement real democratic reforms. By Paul Schemm.

AP photos.

VATICAN-KNIGHTS OF MALTA

ROME — Matthew Festing — aka His Most Eminent Highness The Prince and Grand Master of the Knights of Malta — bounds into the sitting room of his magnificent Renaissance palazzo sweaty and somewhat disheveled, and asks an aide if he should take off his sweater to be photographed. Garrulous and self-effacing, Festing embodies some of the paradoxes of a fabled Catholic religious order that dates from the medieval Crusades. Steeped in European nobility and mystique, the order's mission is humility and charity; it has many trappings of a country, printing its own stamps, coins, license plates and passports, and yet — a stateless state — it rules over no territory. By Nicole Winfield.

AP photos, video.

NATIONAL

SNIPER-AUTHOR-SHOOTING

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Iraq War veteran charged with killing a former Navy SEAL sniper and his friend on a Texas shooting range had been taken to a mental hospital twice in the past four months. Police records show 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh was taken to a mental hospital in September after threatening to kill his family and then commit suicide. Routh told authorities then that he was a Marine veteran who was suffering from PTSD. By Angela K. Brown and Jamie Stengle.

AP photos, video.

WYOMING GAY RIGHTS

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — To say merely that Wyoming is a conservative state doesn't begin to capture it. Republicans hold nearly every elected office. Lawmakers frequently argue over how much of the revenue from the state's mineral wealth to stash away. And gun ownership is part of a cherished way of life. And so, it was remarkable in the weeks-old legislative session when a handful of Republicans supported two measures that were more akin to liberal California. While civil unions and a ban on discrimination against gays made it out of committee, they went down in votes in the Legislature. That they got that far was seen by many as a glimpse at how the shifting national attitude toward gay rights is affecting solidly red states such as Wyoming. By Ben Neary.

AP photos.

ROAD CONGESTION-REPORT

AUSTIN, Texas — The nation's commuters are adapting to increasing traffic congestion by building delays into their schedules, but at a cost of $121 billion in wasted time and fuel, according to an annual study of national driving patterns. The new report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that Americans wasted an average of $818 each sitting in traffic in 2011. By Chris Tomlinson.

— BOYFRIEND SLAYING — Woman accused of killing Ariz. lover to continue testimony. Trial begins at 12:30 p.m.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— TOUR BUS CRASH — California tour bus cited for brake problems before deadly crash

— MATCH-FIXING — European police say match-fixing probe uncovers hundreds of suspicious soccer games

— FRANCE-PANTS FOR WOMEN — An 1800 law in Paris bans women from wearing pants

— TV-CHRISTIE-LETTERMAN — NJ Gov. Christie, Letterman share laughs about fat jokes during his first 'Late Show' appearance.

— AGE OF NEANDERTHALS — New carbon dating suggests Neanderthals died out earlier, may not have lived alongside humans.

— DOUBLE-LOTTERY WINNER-ARKANSAS — No fish tale: Ark. couple on fishing trip buys 2 winning lottery tickets, including $1M prize.

— SEVERED FINGERS-TUG-OF-WAR — Boy, girl lose fingers in lunchtime tug-of-war game at Los Angeles-area high school.

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