Obama: Extremists used anti-Islam video as 'excuse' for attack against US interests
MIAMI (AP) — President Barack Obama said Thursday that extremists used an anti-Islam video as an excuse to assault U.S. interests overseas, including an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.
The president's comments came as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton faced questions from members of the House and Senate about the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate in Benghazi in a series of closed-door classified briefings on Capitol Hill.
Republicans have accused the Obama administration of misreading the assault as the outgrowth of widespread demonstrations in the Middle East over the video. They insisted it was a terrorist attack, a term White House spokesman Jay Carney used on Thursday. Obama did not use the phrase.
"What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests," the president said at a candidate forum on the Spanish-language network Univision.
Asked if that meant al-Qaida, Obama said, "We don't know yet."
APNewsBreak: Officials say 33,000 US surge troops now out of Afghanistan; leaving 68,000
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Nearly two years after President Barack Obama ordered 33,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan to tamp down the escalating Taliban violence, the last of those surge troops have left the country, U.S. officials said Thursday.
The withdrawal, which leaves 68,000 American forces in the warzone, comes as the security transition to Afghan forces is in trouble, threatened by a spike in so-called insider attacks in which Afghan Army and police troops, or insurgents dressed in their uniforms, have been attacking and killing U.S. and NATO forces.
And it's called into question the core strategy that relies on NATO troops working shoulder to shoulder with Afghans, training them to take over the security of their own country so the U.S. and its allies can leave at the end of 2014 as planned.
The number of U.S. forces there peaked at about 101,000 last year, and they have been coming out slowly over the past several months.
The surge was aimed at beating back the Taliban to give the Afghan government and its security forces the time and space to take hold. The key goal was to ensure that the Taliban did not regain a foothold in the country that could allow it once again to become a safe haven for terror groups. And there was hope that Taliban members would be willing to come to the peace table.
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. THE LAST 33,000 U.S. SURGE TROOPS LEAVE AFGHANISTAN
The withdrawal leaves 68,000 American forces in the warzone.
iPhone 5's launch draws crowds at Apple's shops in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore
HONG KONG (AP) — In a now familiar ritual, Apple's Asian fans jammed the tech juggernaut's shops in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore to pick up the latest version of its iPhone.
Eager buyers formed long lines at Apple Inc. stores in Australia and Japan to be the first to get their hands on the latest version of the smartphone. In Hong Kong, buyers had to sign up online for the chance to pick up the device at a preset time. The first customers were greeted by staff cheering, clapping, chanting "iPhone 5! iPhone 5!" and high-fiving them as they were escorted through the front door.
The smartphone is also being launched in the U.S., U.K., Canada, France and Germany on Friday and will go on sale in 22 more countries a week later. The iPhone 5 is thinner, lighter, has a taller screen, faster processor, updated software and can work on faster "fourth generation" mobile networks.
Order numbers indicate the iPhone 5 has overcome initial lukewarm reviews. Apple received 2 million orders in the first 24 hours of announcing its release date, more than twice the number for the iPhone 4S in the same period when that phone launched a year ago.
Analysts have estimated Apple will ship as many as 10 million of the new iPhones by the end of September.
Trading blows, Obama criticizes Romney, who counters economy is 'bumping along the bottom'
MIAMI (AP) — President Barack Obama cast Mitt Romney on Thursday as an out-of-touch challenger for the White House and an advocate of education cuts that could cause teacher strikes to spread from Chicago to other cities. The Republican countered that the U.S. economy "is bumping along the bottom" under the current administration and he predicted victory in the fall.
The two men eyed each other across hotly contested Florida, a state with 29 electoral votes, more than any other battleground in the close race for the White House.
"When you express an attitude that half the country considers itself victims, that somehow they want to be dependent on government, my thinking is maybe you haven't gotten around a lot," the president said. That was in response to a question about Romney's recent observation that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax and believe they are victims and entitled to an array of federal benefits.
Obama spoke at a town hall-style forum aired by the Spanish-language television network Univision.
For his part, Romney was eager to move past that controversy, which has knocked him off stride. He disclosed plans for a three-day bus tour early next week through Ohio with running mate Paul Ryan and sought to return the campaign focus to the economic issues that have dominated the race all year.
Ads promoting defeat of 'savage' jihad going up in NYC subways after blogger wins court order
NEW YORK (AP) — A provocative ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages is set to go up in the city's subway system as violent protests over an anti-Islamic film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad sweep over much of the Muslim world.
A conservative blogger who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the Sept. 11 terror attack site won a court order to post the ad in 10 subway stations next Monday. The ad reads, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
The ad was plastered on San Francisco city buses in recent weeks, prompting some artists to deface the ads and remove some of the words, including "Jihad," or holy war. The blogger, Pamela Geller, said she filed suit Thursday in the nation's capital to post the ad in Washington's transit system after officials declined to put up the ad in light of the uproar in the Middle East over the anti-Islam film.
Abdul Yasar, a New York subway rider who considers himself an observant Muslim, said Geller's ad was insensitive in an unsettling climate for Muslims.
"If you don't want to see what happened in Libya and Egypt after the video — maybe not so strong here in America — you shouldn't put this up," Yasar said.
IUDs, implants are best birth control methods for teenage girls, doctors group says
CHICAGO (AP) — Teenage girls may prefer the pill, the patch or even wishful thinking, but their doctors should be recommending IUDs or hormonal implants — long-lasting and more effective birth control that you don't have to remember to use every time, the nation's leading gynecologists group said Thursday.
The IUD and implants are safe and nearly 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, and should be "first-line recommendations," the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said in updating its guidance for teens.
Both types of contraception are more invasive than the pill, requiring a doctor to put them in place. That, and cost, are probably why the pill is still the most popular form of contraception in the U.S.
But birth control pills often must be taken at the very same time every day to be most potent. And forgetting to take even one can lead to pregnancy, which is why the pill is sometimes only 91 percent effective.
An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a small, T-shaped piece of plastic inserted in the uterus that can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years. An implant is a matchstick-size plastic rod that releases hormones. It is placed under the skin of the upper arm and usually lasts three years.
Device that shuts people up, dynamics of sloshing coffee are among 2012 Ig Nobel winners
BOSTON (AP) — For anyone who's ever been tired of listening to someone drone on and on and on, two Japanese researchers have the answer.
The SpeechJammer, a device that disrupts a person's speech by repeating his or her own voice at a delay of a few hundred milliseconds, was named Thursday as a 2012 winner of the Ig Nobel prize — an award sponsored by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine for weird and humorous scientific discoveries.
The echo effect of the device is just annoying enough to get someone to sputter and stop.
Actually, the device created by Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada is meant to help public speakers by alerting them if they are speaking too quickly or have taken up more than their allotted time.
"This technology ... could also be useful to ensure speakers in a meeting take turns appropriately, when a particular participant continues to speak, depriving others of the opportunity to make their fair contribution," said Kurihara, of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan.
Grainy black-and-white video shows moment pedestrian claims Lindsay Lohan's car hit him in NY
NEW YORK (AP) — Grainy surveillance footage released Thursday shows Lindsay Lohan's car driving toward a man who says she hit him outside a nightclub and kept going, but the blur used to conceal witnesses' faces partially obscures the scene.
The black-and-white video, released by police, shows Lohan's Porsche turning from a Manhattan street onto an alley around 12:20 a.m. Wednesday as Jose Rodriguez passes in front of the car and apparently is struck. Rodriguez, a 34-year-old restaurant worker from Jersey City, N.J., stays on his feet and walks after the car as it drives away.
Rodriguez called 911 and was hospitalized with a knee injury. He said he was coming from his job at a restaurant inside the nearby Maritime Hotel when he was struck and was in a lot of pain. He criticized Lohan and her entourage.
"They acted like I was nothing," he told the Daily News. "That no one could touch her because she was so rich and powerful."
The 26-year-old actress later was arrested as she left the nightclub at the Dream Hotel in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, police said. No alcohol was involved, they said.
Washington back in postseason for 1st time since 1933, Nationals clinch by beating Dodgers 4-1
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals brought postseason baseball back to the nation's capital for the first time since 1933, earning a playoff spot Thursday night with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"Nats Clinch" flashed on the scoreboard as Washington ensured at least an NL wild-card spot behind Ross Detwiler's six strong innings and Ryan Zimmerman's RBI double.
A crowd of 30,359 stood and cheered in the ninth inning, then got even louder when Drew Storen struck out Hanley Ramirez to end it. Manager Davey Johnson saluted the fans as he left the field and the team wore caps acknowledging the playoff berth.
Washington's magic number to win the NL East was reduced to eight. The Nationals lead idle Atlanta by 5 1/2 games.
The Nationals became the second team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this year. Cincinnati sealed its slot earlier in the day.