OCALA, Florida (AP) — Jessica Korda, Stacy Lewis and Azahara Munoz each shot 5-under 67 in the opening round of the LPGA Tour season opener.
All three teed off in windy conditions and finished in chilly temperatures just before dark Wednesday in the Coates Golf Championship.
Korda straightened out an errant driver on the front nine and birdied six of her final 13 holes. Lewis birdied five of her final six holes, including one on an uphill, 6-footer just after the horn blew. Munoz was solid throughout her round and closed with consecutive birdies to make it a three-way tie atop the leaderboard.
Twenty-three players failed to complete the opening round at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club. They will finish early Thursday morning, when temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s.
Only 26 players out of 120 were under par when play was halted.News Topics: Sports, Golf, Women's golf, Women's sports
People, Places and Companies: Jessica Korda, Stacy Lewis, Azahara Munoz, Ocala, Florida, United States, North America
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams plays Madison Keys in an all-American semifinal while Maria Sharapova plays Ekaterina Makarova in the other at the Australian Open on Thursday. Andy Murray plays Tomas Berdych in a men's final four. By John Pye. Upcoming, 700 words, photos, with sidebars. Play begins at 0000 GMT.
SHEFFIELD, England — Christian Eriksen added a late goal to his sublime early free kick to help Tottenham scrape a 2-2 draw with third-tier Sheffield United on Wednesday and secure a place in the League Cup final against Chelsea. SENT. 500 words.
MADRID — Neymar scored twice to lead Barcelona past nine-man Atletico Madrid and into the Copa del Rey semifinals with a 3-2 victory in a game that went from pulsating to unseemly at Vicente Calderon Stadium on Wednesday. SENT. 600 words.
SOC--AFRICAN CUP ROUNDUP
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea — The luck of the draw will decide the final quarterfinalist at the African Cup of Nations. The Ivory Coast earned its spot from Group D by beating Cameroon 1-0 on Wednesday, but Mali and Guinea drew 1-1 yet again, meaning they cannot be separated in the standings. By Chris Lehourites. SENT. 550 words.
PARMA, Italy — Serie A leader Juventus needed an 89th-minute goal from substitute Alvaro Morata for a 1-0 win at last-place Parma on Wednesday to advance to the Italian Cup semifinals. SENT. 400 words.
GENEVA — The fight to remove Sepp Blatter from the most powerful job in world soccer intensified in Europe on Wednesday. In a surprise entry to the FIFA presidential contest, Portuguese great Luis Figo - the 2001 world player of the year - claimed the required support of five national federations by the entry deadline Thursday. By Graham Dunbar. SENT. 700 words.
SOC--REAL MADRID-RONALDO BANNED
MADRID — Cristiano Ronaldo has been suspended from Real Madrid's next two matches after his violent outburst in last weekend's league game that included kicking an opponent. SENT. 300 words.
LONDON — Chelsea striker Diego Costa is facing a three-match ban after being charged Wednesday by the English Football Association with violent conduct for stamping on an opponent during the League Cup semifinal win over Liverpool. SENT. 350 words.
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Tiger Woods returned to the Phoenix Open and received cheers, boos and gasps. All on one hole. By Doug Ferguson. SENT. 600 words.
STOCKHOLM — Javier Fernandez of Spain took a strong lead in his quest for a third consecutive European figure skating championship with a dynamic short program to the raucous rocker "Black Betty" on Wednesday. By Jim Heintz. SENT. 500 words.
SOCHI, Russia — Against all odds, Sochi now boasts a professional ice hockey team and a steady following of fans who turn the otherwise deserted Olympic Park into the noisy, busy place it was a year ago during the games. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT. 800 words.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian swimming reached new heights in December when it topped the gold-medal table at the short-course world championships in Qatar. The South Americans are a growing power in the sport, and the results seemed to bode well for the host country at next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. By Stephen Wade. SENT. 700 words.
CRI--SOUTH AFRICA-WEST INDIES
CENTURION, South Africa — Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw both smashed centuries in a record stand as South Africa thumped the West Indies by 131 runs in a rain-affected fifth one-day international on Wednesday. SENT. 400 words.
YOUR QUERIES: Questions and story requests are welcome. Contact your local AP bureau or the AP International Sports Desk in London by telephone at 44-2074274105 or email email@example.com.News Topics: Violence in sports, Men's skating, Men's tennis, Men's soccer, Professional soccer, Football League Cup, Women's tennis, Skating, Tennis, International soccer, Violence, Social issues, Social affairs, Men's sports, Sports, Soccer, Events, Women's sports
People, Places and Companies: Serena Williams, Madison Keys, Maria Sharapova, Ekaterina Makarova, Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych, Christian Eriksen, Neymar, Alvaro Morata, Sepp Blatter, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa, Tiger Woods, Javier Fernandez, Spain, Madrid, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Phoenix, West Africa, Western Europe, Europe, Southern Africa, Africa, Central Africa, Arizona, United States, North America
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics Co. says its quarterly earnings dropped 27 percent in the fourth quarter but its result beat forecasts.
The world's top smartphone maker reported Thursday that its October-December earnings were 5.3 trillion won ($4.9 billion), compared with 7.3 trillion won a year earlier.
Samsung's quarterly net income has dropped over a year earlier for four straight quarters. Still, the bottom line was a modest recovery from the previous quarter's 4.2 trillion won and higher than analysts' forecasts of 4.4 trillion won, according to financial data provider FactSet.
Sales fell 11 percent to 52.7 trillion won from a year earlier while operating profit slumped 36 percent to 5.3 trillion won.
The Korean company's mobile business began to struggle this year while Apple enjoyed record-high sales of bigger iPhones.News Topics: Business, General news, Earnings surprises, Earnings reports, Earnings, Financial performance, Corporate news
People, Places and Companies: Apple Inc, South Korea, East Asia, Asia
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Charles Hard Townes, the co-inventor of the laser and a Nobel laureate in physics, has died at age 99.
Officials at the University of California, Berkeley, where Townes was a professor emeritus, said he had been in poor health before he died Tuesday on the way to an Oakland hospital.
Townes did most of the work that would make him one of three scientists to share the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics for research leading to the creation of the laser while he was a faculty member at Columbia University.
His research applied the microwave technique used in wartime radar research to the study of spectroscopy, the dispersion of an object's light into its component colors.
Later in his career, Townes earned praise and scorn for a series of speeches investigating the similarities between science and religion.News Topics: General news, Science, Obituaries
People, Places and Companies: Charles H. Townes, California, United States, North America
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (AP) — A disgruntled, former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist promised to build 40 nuclear weapons for Venezuela in 10 years and design a bomb targeted for New York City in exchange for "money and power," according to secret FBI recordings released Wednesday.
In the recordings, Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni tells an agent posing as a Venezuelan official that the bombs would prevent the United States from invading the oil-rich nation and brags to his wife that the passing of secrets would make him wealthy.
"I'm going to be the boss with money and power," the naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina is heard saying. "I'm not an American anymore. This is it."
Mascheroni said his New York bomb wouldn't kill anyone but would disable the city's electrical system and help Venezuela become a nuclear superpower. It was not known how realistic his New York bombing idea was.
But he suggested that once Venezuela obtained a bomb, the country should explode it "to let the world know what we've got," according to the recordings.
The recordings were played Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque before a federal judge sentenced Mascheroni, 79, to five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release as part of a plea agreement.
Mascheroni and his wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, pleaded guilty in 2013 to offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela through dealings with an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of the South American country. The U.S. government did not allege Venezuela sought U.S. secrets.
His wife received a year and a day in prison for conspiring with her husband to sell nuclear secrets.
The U.S. government did not allege Venezuela sought U.S. secrets.
Despite the evidence and the plea agreement, federal prosecutor Fred Federici said Pedro Mascheroni refused to admit he did anything wrong and has tried to argue that he was the victim of the federal government trying to trap him after being critical of U.S. nuclear policy.
"He was no true hero," Federici said. "He was simply a man who betrayed his country."
Speaking to a judge, Mascheroni was defiant and said that if his case had gone to trial, a federal jury would have acquitted him. He said the information he passed onto the agent was already available online or simply was made up.
"I was basically selling used cars," Mascheroni said during a long tirade in federal court that had to be interrupted by U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson. "What I was selling was completely science fiction."
Before his indictment, Mascheroni was under investigation for about a year. The FBI had seized computers, letters, photographs, books and cellphones from the couple's Los Alamos home.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Mascheroni said he believed the U.S. government was wrongly targeting him as a spy and denied the accusations.
The scientist said he approached Venezuela after the United States rejected his theories that a hydrogen-fluoride laser could produce nuclear energy.
Mascheroni worked in the nuclear weapons design division at the Los Alamos lab from 1979 until he was laid off in 1988. His wife, a technical writer, worked there between 1981 and 2010.
Follow Russell Contreras at http://twitter.com/russcontreras.News Topics: General news, Bombings, Weapons technology, Nuclear weapons manufacturing, Crime, Nuclear weapons, National courts, Law and order, Technology, Weapons manufacturing, Aerospace and defense industry, Industrial products and services, Industries, Business, Weapons of mass destruction, National governments, Government and politics, Courts, Judiciary
People, Places and Companies: Leonardo Mascheroni, Venezuela, United States, Albuquerque, New Mexico, New York City, Los Alamos, South America, Latin America and Caribbean, North America, New York
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says the U.S. will work closely with Greece's new government and help Greece pursue long-term prosperity.
Obama spoke by phone Wednesday with new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to congratulate him on his party's victory in Greece's recent elections.
Tsipras' new radical left government has vowed to scrap austerity budget cuts, tax hikes and reforms that Greece had promised in exchange for rescue loans from Europe. That's prompted a renewed clash with other eurozone countries about whether to cut Greece off.
The White House says Obama told Tsipras he looks forward to working closely with the new Greek government. Obama and Tsipras also discussed cooperation on security in Europe and counterterrorism.News Topics: General news, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Barack Obama, Alexis Tsipras, Greece, United States, Western Europe, Europe, North America
PARIS (AP) — Singer Carla Bruni, actress Catherine Deneuve and burlesque performer Dita Von Teese were among regulars attending the specular displays at Paris' haute couture week Wednesday.
Sophie Hunter, the fiancée of Oscar-nominee Benedict Cumberbatch, meanwhile, caused much fracas when she attended Valentino hiding her baby bump.
But it was surely Naomi Campbell who stole the show, strutting out panther-like at Jean Paul Gaultier despite being dressed as a bouquet of flowers. It's good to know that high fashion still retains its humor.
Here are the tidbits and highlights of the 2015 spring-summer collections.
CARLA BRUNI MOBBED, THEN CELEBRATED
Unaccompanied Bruni was mobbed by intrusive cameramen upon entering the Jean Paul Gaultier collection.
As she arrived at the top of the venue's marble steps the scrum grew, she panicked, calling out: "Where do I go? Where is the show?"
The 47-year-old former French first lady then physically forced one of the lenses away from her face.
Once in her front row seat, the mood changed — and she was seen to be enjoying herself. There were even cheers when her 2002 hit "Quelqu'un m'a dit" was played in the show soundtrack.
"It's completely understandable I love her songs and it was perfect," said Gaultier, unaware of the scuffle.
LIFE AFTER READY-TO-WEAR
Jean Paul Gaultier chose to explore marriage in white — and divorce, in black — for his first couture show after the end of his ready-to-wear line.
The obvious symbolism was renewal, or change — after bidding an emotional goodbye last season to his over-three-decade long "pret-a-porter" career.
But there was no soul searching whatsoever in this infectious and imaginative show.
Gaultier, ever the optimist, said that the end of the ready-to-wear had given him more time to "perfect the techniques and the work of the atelier, which was unbelievable" — such as a trompe l'oeil dress resembling python skins, which was, in reality, embroidered silk knots.
Whatever this aging enfant terrible does, one thing is a constant: Fun.
Burlesque star Von Teese and Eurovision Song contest winner Conchita Wurst were among celebrity guests escorted to sections named after wedding anniversaries: amethyst for 6 years, jade for 12 years, emerald for 20 years — and the unromantic-sounding granite, for the near-impossible 90-year-celebration.
GAULTIER GOES TO THE CHAPEL
The show, almost exclusively in black and white, was a tale of two silhouettes — with many dresses split down the middle.
The best look was a figure-hugging black crepe number with another gown, in trompe l'oeil 3-D hourglass tulle, placed creatively on the front.
The 62-year-old designer said show celebrated "all forms of marriage, and for all ages, and as many times as you want... And, yes divorce."
This mantra was resoundingly clear: in his signature menswear tuxedos (representing gay marriage) and in the inclusion of models up to their 60s; a common theme.
The divorce element appeared as a comic homage to the infamous seven weddings of actress Liz Taylor — with a blue python dress and feathered hair piece, modelled theatrically.
The couturier said, in an aside, that divorce and multiple marriages may indeed help boost couture dress sales.
Silhouettes were often graphic, with more than an echo of his Eighties heyday.
It might have benefited more if Monsieur Gaultier had used this fresh chapter in his career to do something completely different — but in all, it was a joyful collection.
VALENTINO'S CHAGALL-INSPIRED COUTURE
It was a strong couture collection from Valentino's Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli that moved gracefully from the dense, geometric embroideries of Hungarian styles to the bright colors and cosmic dreaming of Russian artist Marc Chagall.
But the high point of the show was surely the final flourish of diaphanous powder-colored gowns with chic embroidered writing. They were aptly called "tulle clouds" and felt at once both couture and highly contemporary.
Valentino Garavani looked on approvingly from the front row, as some 47 looks filed by inside the chic Hotel de Rothschild.
The designers did not do away with their signature Empire lines and continued their ongoing musings in the traditional flowing silks and silhouettes of the Renaissance.
But the muse of Chagall served well as a spring board to liberate the occasionally-stiff designs.
Here the duo explored bolder colors such a vibrant "Chagall blue," cut with primary yellow. Elsewhere, hand painted prints such as a sun, sky and stars — beautifully evoked the naturalized-French artist's famed stained glass windows.
ELIE SAAB'S DELICATE COUP
Elie Saab moved in a welcome direction in Wednesday's delicately feminine display — inspired, apparently, by the nostalgia of his mother's Seventies heyday.
In a fleshed out program book, the Lebanese designer touchingly went back in time through text and photos, tracing the fashions throughout the eras of his birth city, Beirut — once graced by such stars as singer Dalida, actor Omar Sharif and French icon Brigitte Bardot.
It particular, Saab described the impact of the last golden years of glamor before the protracted Civil war in 1975, through the prism of a tulip print silk dress his mother would often wear.
Flesh pink, beige, black and blue-grays abounded in floaty, nostalgic silhouettes that touched on these moments.
"These memories still inspire my colors and my scents... The 70's, women in ankle length dresses, trapeze dresses, high waist skirts, embroidered and sheer tops wading through downtown," said Saab.
Fastidiously embroidered ruffles on full skirts and diaphanous feathers gave this 55-piece show a more textural quality than normal.
And embroidered, shimmering flared pants made it securely on-trend.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAPNews Topics: General news, Lifestyle, Fashion, Beauty and fashion, Celebrity fashion, Celebrity, Couture, Fashion design, Paris Fashion Week, Fashion shows, Celebrity weddings, Adult entertainment, Entertainment, Arts and entertainment, Events, Celebrity relationships
People, Places and Companies: Naomi Campbell, Carla Bruni, Catherine Deneuve, Dita Von Teese, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jean Paul Gaultier, Conchita Wurst, Elizabeth Taylor, Elie Saab, Omar Sharif, Brigitte Bardot, France, Paris, Western Europe, Europe
SYDNEY (AP) — The PGA of Australia says former British Open winner and U.S. Open runner-up Kel Nagle has died. He was 94.
The PGA said in a statement Thursday that Nagle, who won the British Open at St. Andrews in 1960, its centenary year, died overnight at a Sydney hospital. It did not give a cause of death.
The Australian golfer won a tournament every year for 26 years after turning professional in 1946, collecting 61 victories on the PGA Tour of Australasia and two on the U.S. tour,
He finished second to Gary Player at the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellerive in St. Louis, losing an 18-hole playoff to the South African. Player said then that Nagle was "one of the best short-game players" he had seen.
Nagle also won the Australian PGA championship a record six times.News Topics: Sports, Men's golf, Obituaries, Golf, U.S. Open Men's Golf Championships, British Open Golf, Men's sports, Events
People, Places and Companies: Gary Player, Australia, Sydney, Oceania
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad:
The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, on Netanyahu invitation breaching protocol:
As part of its serial rebuttals to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address — remembered largely for GOP Sen. Joni Ernst's reminiscences of using Wonder Bread bags as foul weather footwear — the House Republican leadership has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on Feb. 11.
"I don't believe I'm poking anyone in the eye," House Speaker John Boehner said of the invitation, although of course it was, a direct jab at Obama and a gross breach of traditional protocol.
Congress can invite whomever it wishes to speak to it, but when the guest is a foreign leader the White House as a matter of courtesy is consulted, or at least informed, well in advance.
Obama learned of the invitation just shortly before Boehner announced it publicly.
Netanyahu has never been reluctant about meddling in U.S. politics.
He lobbied strenuously, and thankfully unsuccessfully, for a U.S. airstrike on Iran's nuclear facilities, an attack whose results would have been problematic given Iran's defensive preparations.
In the current political climate, Netanyahu would add weight to Republican lawmakers' push to impose additional sanctions on Iran despite Obama's threat to veto them and diplomatic warnings that new sanctions would blow up talks with Tehran about scrapping its development of a nuclear weapons capability. In addition, it might fracture the coalition of nations that have joined with the U.S. in those talks.
Progress in those talks has been painfully slow and they might ultimately fail, but there is no Plan B other than an increasingly hostile Iran determined to assert itself by stepped-up military meddling in Iraq and Syria.
Congressional Republicans themselves do not have clean hands when it comes to meddling in Israeli politics. Netanyahu's Likud Party is behind the opposition Labor Party in polls leading up to Israeli elections in March. The prestige of an address to the U.S. Congress on the eve of the voting could give him a significant boost.
The old maxim that partisan politics stops at the water's edge, although infrequently honored more in the breach than in reality, has served this country well.
The Republicans may get yet another chance to run U.S. foreign policy after 2016. They should wait until the voters decide whether they deserve that chance.
In the meantime, they have more than enough problems to keep them occupied at home.
Dothan (Alabama) Eagle on upcoming Bloody Sunday anniversary:
There's a disappointing controversy clouding the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march in Selma that became the tipping point for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. President Barack Obama has scheduled a trip to coincide with the anniversary of the March 7, 1965, march, cut short by a violent standoff with law enforcement at Edmund Pettus Bridge. However, March 7 is a Saturday, and the anniversary march is scheduled for the next day, Sunday the 8th, just as it has always been observed on the Sunday nearest to March 7.
Hence the kerfuffle - Congressman John Lewis, who was badly beaten in the 1965 march, invited the president to Selma on March 7, and local black leaders are insistent that the Sunday observance is sacred and must not be rescheduled.
What we've got here is a failure to communicate.
Considering that the Bloody Sunday march is about something far greater than a presidential visit, rescheduling the observance to fit the schedule of a dignitary is unreasonable. State Sen. Hank Sanders, Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford and others who have stood firm on the scheduling should be commended.
However, it would not be unreasonable to extend the observance of the 50th anniversary of this pivotal civil rights event into a weekend, with anniversary events planned for both Saturday, when the president is scheduled to arrive, and Sunday, the somber gathering on Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Far greater obstacles have been cleared in the course of civil rights in America.
Orange County Register, Santa Ana, California, on crowded potential GOP field:
These are nervous times for Republicans. After losing an election that should have been a cakewalk, Mitt Romney is back for more. After years of middling performance and sagging approval, Barack Obama's ratings have risen to roughly where Ronald Reagan's and George W. Bush's were at the same point in their presidencies. No wonder that seemingly every well-known Republican officeholder wants to run for president.
The list is long and growing longer. Beyond the predictable - Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and so on - the GOP has on offer the likes of Carly Fiorina and Sen. Lindsey Graham.
The temptation for Republicans is to worry that too many candidates will crowd the field. Since George W. Bush left office, every presidential primary has acquired more than a whiff of a freak show - with dud candidates like Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich creating political circuses that ultimately amounted to nothing. It all compounds the adage that the quicker a nominee is selected, the sooner he or she can train fire on the other party's pick.
On balance, however, Republicans ought to relax. Today, the GOP is stuffed to the gills with varying ideas and varying kinds of talent. It's natural to see successful politicians whose careers have matured throw their hat in the ring. And, after two consecutive defeats, it's natural that this horse race to be lacks a runaway leader.
Look at the Democrats' experience in 1992 - the year they crawled back from political oblivion. In that election cycle, their field of presidential hopefuls was derided as a pack of dwarves. Ross Perot commanded more attention. But the party tidied up its ideological house, homing in on a theme and a style that came to serve them - in spite of it all - better than they'd been served in a generation. Clintonism is still alive in the Democratic Party. In fact, it's difficult to imagine where the Left would go without it.
In the same way, Republicans have a chance to let their crowded field winnow itself down to a few clear and coherent choices. Sure, the primary season might be a disaster. It might lead to the internecine war that so many Republicans have long feared.
Then again, the Right has a way of smoothing things out when it's crunch time. Why not define today's GOP along the way?
New York Times on new chapter for America and India:
After years of near misses and unfulfilled promises, President Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India appear to have set relations between their democracies on a deeper, perhaps even revolutionary, path.
Part of the improvement in bilateral relations has to do with the personal chemistry between the two, which by all accounts appears warm and genuine. Obama had barely gotten off his plane in New Delhi when he and Modi embraced like old friends. They share humble roots. A visit by Modi to the White House in September went exceptionally well. And there was plenty of colorful symbolism in New Delhi: Obama became the first American president to attend the annual Republic Day parade.
There are strategic imperatives at work as well. Both leaders need to expand their economies, and both see the other as a crucial partner in offsetting China's increasingly assertive role in Asia. The potential for cooperation is considerable. Much of the public focus on the visit was on trade, energy and breaking a logjam that has held up the sale of American nuclear energy technology to India. But when Modi and Obama sat down to talk, the first 45 minutes of the discussion was consumed by China.
Although it has a history of suspicion and rivalry with China, India has acted independently in foreign policy and resisted American efforts to forge a common front. That seems to be changing with Modi, who shares concerns about China's growing economic and military strength and has shown remarkable confidence in striking a new path. He signed a joint statement with Obama chiding the Chinese government for provoking conflict with its neighbors over the South China Sea; suggested reviving a security network involving the United States, India, Japan and Australia; and expressed interest in playing a greater role in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, in which India could help balance China's influence.
China was not happy, dismissing the visit as a "superficial rapprochement." The trick for Obama and Modi will be to stand firm in support of a stable, rules-based order in Asia while not provoking China.
That could be tested by their decision to renew a 10-year defense pact as well as agreements to proceed jointly on developing military hardware, including Raven drones, systems for Lockheed's C-130 transport planes and jet engine technology. India is the world's biggest weapons importer and, just last year, the United States overtook Russia as India's main arms supplier. Modi, who has made economic growth his first priority, is determined to develop an indigenous defense industry. The question is how to do that without fueling a regional arms race.
No real breakthroughs were announced on trade. The Americans have been frustrated with the slow pace of Modi's economic reforms; and the solution that the two leaders claimed to have found to the Indian liability law that has blocked the sales of American nuclear fuel and reactors struck observers as vague and inconclusive. The impasse has long marred a 2006 nuclear deal that was supposed to help energy-hungry India.
The modest movement on climate change was disappointing. India agreed to move to phase down hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, in line with a treaty called the Montreal Protocol. But it set no specific goals limiting greenhouse gases, as China did in its meeting with Obama in November. India is the third-largest carbon polluter behind the United States and China but has resisted bolder measures, citing its need to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty. Without India on board with commitments, the best efforts of the rest of the world will not be enough.
Obama could not leave India without addressing human rights. In a speech on Tuesday, he urged India to protect the rights of girls and women, combat human trafficking and slavery, promote religious and racial tolerance, and empower young people. Hopes have faded that Modi would rein in the divisive agenda of his militant Hindu-nationalist supporters. But his plans to build India into an economic powerhouse will mean nothing if the country devolves into division and bloodshed.
With their talk of an "enduring commitment," Obama and Modi have raised expectations and set a firm basis for moving forward. Even so, the countries have no obvious plans to deal with Pakistan or the India-Pakistan nuclear competition that threatens the region, and it cannot be assumed that all past differences will fade. Building a true partnership will take sustained efforts over many decades.
Khaleej Times, Dubai, on Kim's Russian itinerary:
The reclusive North Korean leader has swung a diplomatic surprise. Kim Jong-un's decision to visit Russia is of far-reaching significance, as this marks his debut international travel since he took over the reins of power in 2011. The choice of Kremlin makes it altogether more important because the Kims were traditionally obsessed with making a sojourn only to Beijing, thus sending across the message of geopolitical fraternity in all humility. The late leader Kim Jong-il undertook several visits to China and that too by train, seeking notes and listening all the way to his aides during the long journey.
The proposed visit to Leningrad, to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War-II, is likely to mark a milestone in Kim's career, as he will rub shoulders with host of leaders from Europe and elsewhere. The probability of Russian President Vladimir Putin inviting his US counterpart Barack Obama is, however, too low — given ... the war of attrition that is underway between the two countries, especially in the backdrop of Edward Snowden and Ukrainian crisis. But if realpolitik cards fell that way, Kim will have a rare opportunity to unlearn from the finer principles of diplomatic reciprocity and reach out to the Western world in a more forthcoming manner.
The young leader, who had surprised the world at large and even its most strategically allied friend, China, through his trigger-happy tendencies, as he tested nuclear devices and fired missiles across the Sea of Japan, should spell out his foreign policy priorities before embarking on Russia's visit. Pyongyang's decision to prefer Moscow to Beijing is widely being seen as a snub to Chinese President Xi Jinping, who had taken exception to Kim's way of dealing with regional allies in the last three years. The bad blood apparently set in as China backed UN resolutions last year calling for strengthening sanctions on North Korea after its missile and nuclear tests in the year 2013.
In the wider scheme of things, nonetheless, it is Putin who has made his mark by luring Kim to look at Russia, as the Stalinist country crosses swords with the United States. The recent standoff over Sony Studio's film and sanctions that came Pyongyang's way is a case in point. Russia's yatra is an opportunity for Kim to grant his country with a multi-dimensional defense and diplomatic perspective and open up to all those who wish to see a more interdependent and proactive communist state across the Armistice line.
People, Places and Companies: Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, John Boehner, Mitt Romney, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ross Perot, Narendra Modi, Kim Jong-il, Vladimir Putin, Edward Snowden, Xi Jinping, China, United States, India, New Delhi, Russia, Israel, North Korea, Beijing, Pyongyang, East Asia, Middle East, Selma, Iran, Greater China, Asia, North America, South Asia, Eastern Europe, Europe, Alabama
OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) — McDonald's Corp. on Wednesday tapped Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook as its new president and CEO to succeed Don Thompson.
McDonald's has been dealing with intense competition and changing consumer tastes. Earlier this month, the world's largest hamburger chain reported falling earnings and sales for its fourth quarter and said it is going to take action this year to save money and bring back customers. This includes slowing down new restaurant openings in some markets. It's also making menu changes.
Thompson will retire March 1 after nearly 25 years with the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company. He has been CEO for about two-and-a-half years.
Easterbrook is also a senior executive vice president. He has led efforts related to marketing and menus.
In after-hours trading, shares of the company jumped 3 percent to $91.55. The stock has declined about 6 percent in the past year while broader markets are up in the double digits.News Topics: Business, General news, Executive changes, Corporate management, Corporate news, Personnel
People, Places and Companies: Mcdonald's Corp, Don Thompson
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Spain's ambassador to the United Nations is blaming Israel for the death of a Spanish U.N. peacekeeper during the Israeli military's exchange of fire with the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group in a disputed border area.
"It was because of this escalation of violence, and it came from the Israeli side," Spanish Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi told reporters.
The U.N. peacekeeper has been identified as Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo, 36, and U.N. officials have said only that the cause of his death is under investigation.
The Security Council condemned the peacekeeper's death in the strongest terms and offered its deepest sympathies.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Israel, Lebanon, Spain, Middle East, Western Europe, Europe
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Officials at Puerto Rico's main international airport seized five clay artifacts created by the Taino people who lived in the Caribbean before the arrival of Christopher Columbus.
The small items were found in the luggage of a man who did not have the required permit to import them, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday. The five items appear to be fragments of larger pieces and at least one depicts a face, the statement said.
Spokesman Jeffrey Quinones said authorities were trying to determine whether the items came from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica or Puerto Rico.
Quinones said the unidentified traveler told authorities he was given the items while in the Dominican Republic. The unidentified man was not arrested because no crime was committed, the spokesman said.
Diseases brought by European settlers largely wiped out the Taino.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Caribbean, Latin America and Caribbean
SYDNEY (AP) — An inquest into a deadly siege in a Sydney cafe is set to begin as a coroner works to determine exactly how a gunman and two of his hostages ended up dead after a 16-hour standoff with police.
Man Haron Monis took 18 people hostage last month in a downtown Sydney cafe. The standoff finally ended when police stormed the cafe in a barrage of gunfire to free the captives. Two hostages were killed, along with Monis.
Police have not said whether the hostages were killed by Monis or in police crossfire.
The coronial inquest that begins Thursday is aimed at determining how Monis and his captives died and whether their deaths could have been prevented.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Australia, Sydney, Oceania
NEW YORK (AP) — For the seventh quarter in a row Facebook beat profit and revenue forecasts, continuing to win more mobile advertising revenue as most users shift to using the site on smartphones and other portable devices.
The world's biggest online social network said Wednesday that advertising revenue jumped 53 percent to $3.59 billion for the fourth quarter — with mobile ad revenue representing 69 percent of the total. That percentage has grown steadily in each quarter of this year.
Facebook's massive user base also expanded. It had 1.39 billion monthly active users at the end of the year, up 13 percent from a year earlier. Daily users totaled 890 million, up 18 percent. Mobile monthly active users jumped 26 percent to 1.19 billion.
"The bigger Facebook gets, it cements its position as one of the most dominant players in digital media, and it has the size and reach to change the rules of digital advertising and convince others to play by them," said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at research firm eMarketer.
Facebook, which turns 11 years old this year, began offering mobile ads in 2012, the year its stock began publicly trading. More recently, Facebook expanded into video ads, which are very lucrative, and last year it re-launched Atlas, a tool for marketers to better target people across devices, platforms and publishers and to measure how well the ads work.
Facebook had a "strong quarter capping off a really great year," Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in an interview.
She called 2014 the year Facebook completed the shift to mobile, and said the company will continue to make investments to build its business this year. When it comes to Facebook's ad business, the focus is squarely mobile. Sandberg said that in the U.S., 25 percent of consumers' time spent on various media is spent on mobile — while only about 10 percent of advertising budgets goes to mobile.
"What that says to me is that we have opportunity for growth," she said.
The company is still a long way from catching up to rival Google Inc. in the digital advertising market, though. In 2014, Facebook had a nearly 8 percent share of the market compared with Google's 31 percent according to eMarketer. That's an increase for Facebook and a slight decrease for Google from 2013.
After paying preferred dividends Facebook earned $696 million, or 25 cents per share, in the October to December quarter, up from $520 million, or 20 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.
Adjusted earnings totaled 54 cents per share. Analysts, on average, were expecting adjusted earnings of 48 cents per share, according to FactSet.
Revenue grew to $3.85 billion from $2.59 billion a year earlier, also topping analysts' $3.78 billion forecast. Sterne Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia said the company has "made it clear" that it expects revenue growth rates to slow due to tough comparisons to year-ago results, but added that this "should not be a big concern, especially for long-term investors."
Facebook, which owns the popular photo-sharing app Instagram and the messaging service WhatsApp, has launched stand-alone mobile apps of its own, in a move that helps it take up more real estate on people's phones. Besides its Messenger app, though, these apps have seen limited success.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised that Facebook will continue investing in new areas that might not pay off for a long time. This includes its purchase of Oculus, a small company that makes virtual reality goggles, last year. The company's ambitious Internet.org project, meanwhile, aims to connect everyone on Earth to the Internet.
Zuckerberg said recently that it's a misconception that Facebook does everything for business reasons.
"I can promise you that if what I cared about was making more money, I would take the engineers and the people who are working on Internet.org and spreading connectivity around the world and have them go work on our ads product," he told an audience recently in Bogota, Colombia.
Case in point, costs and expenses for the fourth quarter rose 87 percent to $2.72 billion from a year earlier.
Shares of Menlo Park, California-based Facebook slipped $1.09, or 1.4 percent, to $75.15 in extended trading after the results came out.
Some analysts attributed the after-market pullback to profit-taking by short-term investors.
"Investors are getting accustomed to better than expected results," said Edward Jones Analyst Josh Olson, adding that he sees any weakness as a buying opportunity. "Mobile continues to be a success. They are really redefining the mobile ad market right now."News Topics: Business, General news, Technology, Social media, Earnings estimates, Online advertising and marketing industry, Social media industry, Earnings surprises, Mobile media, New products and services, Online media, Media, Earnings, Financial performance, Corporate news, Information technology, Industries, Advertising and marketing industry, Advertising and public relations, Media and entertainment industry, Online media industry, Media industry, Products and services
People, Places and Companies: Facebook Inc, Google Inc, Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Edward Jones
NEW YORK (AP) — A motorcyclist accused of touching off a bloody, caught-on-video confrontation between bikers and the driver of a sport-utility vehicle in New York City has pleaded guilty to assault and rioting.
Christopher Cruz is expecting a four-month jail sentence after pleading guilty Wednesday. Several other bikers are heading toward a trial, including an undercover police detective. Cruz' lawyer has not immediately returned a call seeking comment.
Police say the September 2013 encounter began when Cruz cut in front of the SUV and slowed down on Manhattan's West Side Highway.
The SUV bumped the bike. Motorcyclists converged on the vehicle. The driver fled and ran over a biker, who was paralyzed.
Other motorcyclists chased down the SUV, pulled out the driver and attacked him, causing injuries that required stitches to his face. He was not criminally charged.News Topics: General news, Assault and battery, Legal proceedings, Violent crime, Crime, Law and order
People, Places and Companies: New York City, New York, United States, North America
CHANDLER, Arizona (AP) — Tom Brady is dealing with a cold four days before the Super Bowl but says he'll be OK.
The New England Patriots quarterback sounded under the weather during his session with the media on Wednesday. He rubbed the back of his right hand under his nose at one point.
He says he's been fighting a cold but "I'll be good."
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman laughed when told the news and said, "his arm doesn't have a cold."
Brady sounded healthier on Tuesday when he was one of the most popular interview subjects during Super Bowl Media Day.
The defending champion Seahawks meet the three-time champion Patriots on Sunday in Glendale.
People, Places and Companies: Tom Brady, Richard M. Sherman, Richard Sherman, Arizona, United States, North America
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Officials say an Irish police officer on vacation in New Orleans was shot by an armed robber, becoming one of the latest victims in a string of shootings putting the city on edge as it gets ready to kick off Carnival festivities.
Authorities say Brian Hanrahan was shot early Tuesday morning. Hanrahan told officers he was robbed after withdrawing money from an automatic teller machine. He was listed in serious but stable condition Wednesday. Officers say they haven't found a suspect or Hanrahan's wallet.
Hanrahan's shooting came a day after a 17-year-old student was killed on his way to school.
Also Tuesday, a 25-year-old woman was killed on the other side of the city.
The shootings come as police struggle with a shrunken force and an uptick in violent crime.News Topics: General news, Shootings, Violent crime, Crime
People, Places and Companies: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, North America
PARIS (AP) — Controversial French comic Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala has told a court he wants "to make peace" with critics who have accused the 12-times convicted performer of anti-Semitism and inciting racial hatred.
Dieudonne is being prosecuted for inciting racial hatred for comments he made during a 2013 performance in 2013 and on a video. The 48-year-old could be fined 30,000 euros ($34,000) if found guilty. A ruling is expected March 19.
He faces a separate hearing next week over a Facebook post seen as praising one of the attackers in this month's Paris terror attacks.
Last year French authorities banned several of Dieudonne's performances, in which he made light of the Holocaust and popularized a gesture some describe as an inverted Nazi salute.
In court Wednesday Dieudonne said "I'm not an anti-Semite."News Topics: General news, Racial and ethnic discrimination, Discrimination, Human rights and civil liberties, Social issues, Social affairs, Race and ethnicity
People, Places and Companies: France, Paris, Western Europe, Europe
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the state of Oklahoma to postpone lethal injections executions using a controversial sedative until the court rules in a challenge involving the drug.
The court's order Wednesday came as little surprise after both the state and the lawyers for three inmates who faced execution between now and March requested the temporary halt. The justices agreed on Friday to take up the challenge to the use of the sedative midazolam, which has been used in problematic executions in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma.
The case will be argued in April and decided by late June.
Left open by the court's order is whether Oklahoma can carry out an execution that does not involve midazolam.News Topics: General news, Death penalty controversy, Supreme courts, Social issues, Social affairs, National courts, National governments, Government and politics, Courts, Judiciary
People, Places and Companies: United States, Oklahoma, North America
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) — Cuban President Raul Castro is demanding that the United States return the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, lift the half-century trade embargo on Cuba and compensate it for damages before the two countries re-establish normal relations.
He says that full diplomatic relations can be established before those demands are met, but "if these problems aren't resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn't make any sense." He spoke Wednesday at a summit in Costa Rica.
Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Dec. 17 that they would move toward renewing full diplomatic relations by reopening embassies in each other's countries.
Obama also offered to loosen the embargo with a range of measures that would increase economic ties before the U.S. and Cuba. Cuba welcomed the offer but has pushed for additional measures.News Topics: General news, Restoring U.S.-Cuba diplomatic relations, Events, International relations, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Raul Castro, Barack Obama, Cuba, Costa Rica, United States, Caribbean, Latin America and Caribbean, Central America, North America