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World briefly for Jan. 11

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POSTED: January 11, 2013 9:50 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Looking for broader remedies to gun violence, Vice President Joe Biden is reaching out to the video game industry for ideas as the White House seeks to assemble proposals in response to last month's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

Biden is scheduled to meet with video game representatives Friday as the White House explores cultural factors that may contribute to violent behavior.

The vice president, who is leading a task force that will present recommendations to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, met with other representatives from the entertainment industry, including Comcast Corp. and the Motion Picture Association of America, on Thursday.

Friday's meeting comes a day after the National Rifle Association rejected Obama administration proposals to limit high-capacity ammunition magazines and dug in on its opposition to an assault weapons ban, which Obama has previously said he will propose to Congress. The NRA was one of the pro-gun rights groups that met with Biden during the day.

In previewing the meeting with the video game industry, Biden recalled the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, who lamented during crime bill negotiations in the 1980s that the country was "defining deviancy down."

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Obama, Karzai to discuss Afghanistan war's future; no decision on troop withdrawal expected

WASHINGTON (AP) — Charting the course for a war's end, President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai meet Friday at the White House to discuss the future of the U.S. role in Afghanistan and the 66,000 American troops in harm's way.

The two leaders plan a joint afternoon news conference. White House officials said, however, that Obama will not announce any decisions on the next phase of troop withdrawals or whether any U.S. forces will stay behind in Afghanistan after the war formally ends in 2014.

U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have proposed keeping 6,000 to 15,000 U.S. troops after 2014 to continuing pursuing terrorists and training Afghan security forces. But the White House, which tends to favor lower troop levels than the generals, says Obama would be open to pulling all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

"We wouldn't rule out any option," said Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser. "We're not guided by the goal of a certain number of U.S. troops in the country. We're guided by the objectives that the president set — disrupt, dismantle, defeat al-Qaida."

Beyond troop levels, Obama and Karzai are also expected to discuss preparations for next year's Afghan elections and the prospects for advancing Afghan peace talks with the Taliban.

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Miss America contestant to undergo preventive double mastectomy after Saturday competition

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Win or lose Saturday, Miss America contestant Allyn Rose will have conveyed a message about breast cancer prevention using her primary tool as a beauty queen: her body.

The 24-year-old Miss DC plans to undergo a double mastectomy after she struts in a bikini and flaunts her roller skating talent. She is removing both breasts as a preventative measure to reduce her chances of developing the disease that killed her mother, grandmother and great aunt.

"My mom would have given up every part of her body to be here for me, to watch me in the pageant," she said between dress rehearsals and preliminary competitions at Planet Hollywood on the Las Vegas Strip Wednesday. "If there's something that I can do to be proactive, it might hurt my body, it might hurt my physical beauty, but I'm going to be alive."

If crowned, the University of Maryland, College Park politics major could become the first Miss America not endowed with the Barbie silhouette associated with beauty queens.

Rose said it was her father who first broached the subject, during her freshman year of college, two years after the death of her mother

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Calif. student who shot classmate gave gun to teacher saying: 'I don't want to shoot you'

TAFT, Calif. (AP) — The 16-year-old boy had allegedly wounded the teenager he claimed had bullied him, fired two more rounds at students fleeing their first-period science class, then faced teacher Ryan Heber.

"I don't want to shoot you," he told the popular teacher, who was trying to coax the teen into giving up the shotgun he still held.

Recounting the suspect's words, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said the confrontation was enough of a distraction to give 28 students time to escape their classroom Thursday at a California high school.

The violence came just minutes after administrators had announced new lockdown safety procedures prompted by the Newtown, Conn., school slayings.

"Just 10 minutes before it happened our teachers were giving us protocol because of what happened in Connecticut," said student Oscar Nuno, who was across campus from the science building at Taft Union High School when an announcer on the PA system said the school was under lock down "and it was not a drill."

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Indiana boy abducted by grandparents in 1994 found living under assumed name in Minnesota

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Richard Wayne Landers Jr. was just 5 years old when he and his paternal grandparents, who were upset over custody arrangements, disappeared from Wolcottville, a town about 30 miles north of Fort Wayne.

Nineteen years later, news that he has been found living under an assumed name in Minnesota left his mother overjoyed and "jumping up and down," her husband said Thursday shortly after police announced the break in the case.

Indiana State Police said the now 24-year-old Landers was found in Long Prairie, Minn., thanks in part to his Social Security number. His grandparents were living under aliases in a nearby town and confirmed his identity, investigators said.

Police declined to say whether the grandparents will face charges, citing the ongoing investigation.

Landers' mother, Lisa Harter, was "jumping up and down for joy" when investigators told her a few days ago that her son had been found, her husband Richard Harter told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

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Death toll from Pakistan bombings rises to 120, marking deadliest day in years

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — The death toll from a series of deadly bombings across Pakistan rose Friday to 120, police said, marking one of the deadliest days the country has seen in years.

Five people who were wounded in twin bombings on a billiards hall late Thursday died of their wounds overnight, senior police official Hamid Shakeel from the southern city of Quetta said, putting the death toll from that attack at 86.

The strike was the worst of three deadly bombings targeting Shiites and soldiers in Quetta, capital of the volatile Baluchistan province, and worshippers at a Sunni mosque in the northwest on the same day. Funerals are expected later Friday.

The billiards hall bombing, in a Shiite area of the city, started with a suicide attack but was followed by a car bomb minutes later in the same area. Militants often use such staggered bombings as a way to maximize the body count by targeting rescuers and others who rush to the scene after the first explosion to help.

Pakistan's minority Shiite Muslims have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group with strong ties to the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack. Hazara Shiites, who migrated from Afghanistan more than a century ago, have been the targets of dozens of attacks by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Quetta over the past year, but Thursday's attack was by far the bloodiest.

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Defense: Colorado theater shooting suspect not ready for arraignment

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A judge has ordered the Colorado theater shooting suspect to stand trial, but his attorneys say they're not ready to enter a plea.

District Judge William Sylvester ruled Thursday night that prosecutors had presented sufficient evidence to proceed with charges alleging James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a suburban Denver movie theater July 20.

Holmes is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

The next major step is for Holmes to enter a plea during an arraignment hearing. Sylvester scheduled the arraignment for Friday but noted that defense lawyers will likely ask for a delay.

His defense attorneys filed papers earlier Thursday saying he's not ready to enter a plea.

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As Greece sinks, gold mine seen as savior to some -- curse to others

IERISSOS, Greece (AP) — Barbed wire cuts across woodland patrolled by dozens of private security guards. Burly and stony-faced, they demand identity cards from anyone trying to pass through, and order cameras to be put away.

Beyond lies a precious prize: a gold mine -- and its owners are taking no chances. Protesters, they say, have torched company property in violent demonstrations.

The oak- and beech-covered forests of northern Greece's Halkidiki peninsula have yielded various metals for more than 2,000 years. But as modern extraction and processing methods took over, they became a flashpoint in the debate over large-scale mining, environmental protection, job creation and tourism.

Champions of an ambitious new mining project say that it will create jobs and pour hundreds of millions into the local economy, as Greece struggles with a devastating financial crisis. Opponents argue that mining will endanger lives through pollution, wipe out precious forests and drive tourists away from a region of striking natural beauty.

Hellas Gold — 95 percent owned by Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold Inc. and the remaining 5 percent by Greek construction company Aktor — holds mining licenses for an area covering 317 square kilometers (122 sq. miles) with proven and probable reserves of lead, zinc, silver, gold and copper. Many see the foreign investment as vital to helping Greece emerge from what is essentially a depression, with a quarter of the workforce unemployed and the economy heading into a sixth year of recession.

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GM and Ford unveil app maker programs, but voice integration with some apps still a far cry

LAS VEGAS (AP) — It's not wise to Google the nearest gas station, compose email, or use your smartphone to check the latest sports scores while driving. But many Americans do.

Drivers have grown so accustomed to their on-the-go tasks that automakers are increasingly trying to make those things easier to pull off with both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road.

As General Motors and Ford commissioned ideas from app makers this week, the possibilities for what you can do with your vehicle's steering wheel buttons, microphone, speakers and internal gauges are quickly expanding.

How would you like to choose your favorite tune by simply uttering the song's title, turn your car into a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, or respond to an ad you hear on the radio without lifting a finger?

At the International CES show, General Motors and Ford launched programs that will open their designs to developers, inviting them to create software applications for future car models. It's a relatively new strategy for car makers, but one that many gadget manufacturers employ, including Apple, which did it for the original iPhone in 2007.

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Third time around: Browns hire Rob Chudzinski as coach, had 2 tours as assistant with team

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns hauled their coaching search to Arizona and back. They talked to high-profile college coaches, NFL assistants and a fired pro coach who took a team to a Super Bowl.

None of them was hired.

Instead, Rob Chudzinski became their pick.

With no experience as a head coach at any level, Chudzinski was hired Thursday night by the Cleveland Browns, the team he cheered for as a kid. This is Chudzinski's third stint with the team, but this time around he's the guy in charge.

Chudzinski, who spent the past two seasons calling plays as Carolina's offensive coordinator, is the Browns' sixth full-time coach since 1999 and 14th in team history.

 

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