Morning News Briefs and Thursday's Forecast

Posted: July 18, 2013

Winchester-Area Weather: Partly sunny today with scattered showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and this evening. Highs in the mid-90s and lows in the lower 70s. Chance of rain is 40 percent. More of the same on Friday and Saturday with a greater chance of rain and storms on Saturday before cooling off with highs in the lower 80s for Sunday

Morning News Briefs from the Associated Press for Thursday, July 18, 2013

Mandela 'steadily improving' on 95th birthday
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa celebrated Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday on Thursday, a milestone capped by news that the former president's health was improving after fears that he was close to death during ongoing hospital treatment. "Madiba remains in hospital in Pretoria but his doctors have confirmed that his health is steadily improving," said a statement from President Jacob Zuma, referring to Mandela by his popular clan name.

Artists celebrate Mandela with paintings
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — With giant portraits of Nelson Mandela and colorful posters, South African artists are celebrating the 95th birthday Thursday of the anti-apartheid leader, who remains hospitalized although his condition has improved. The "father of the nation" has inspired many artists to create works to commemorate the Nelson Mandela International Day, a day declared by the United Nations as a way to recognize the Nobel Prize winner's contribution to reconciliation.

In Illinois, Obama led fight on racial profiling
WASHINGTON (AP) — In 1999, a fresh-faced state senator on Chicago's South Side heard constituents complain that police were free to pull over drivers because they were black. So Barack Obama proposed a bill to tackle racial profiling. When it failed, he revised it and proposed it again and again. "Race and ethnicity is not an indicator of criminal activity," Obama said when his bill finally passed the Senate four years later. He said targeting individuals based on race was humiliating and fostered contempt in black communities.

Senators ready to restore lower college loan rates
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators are ready to offer students a better deal on their college loans this fall, but future classes could see higher interest rates. The Senate could vote as early as Thursday on a bipartisan compromise that heads off a costly increase for returning students. The compromise could be a good deal for students through the 2015 academic year, but then interest rates are expected to climb above where they were when students left campus this spring.

Relief from worst heat on the horizon by weekend
NEW YORK (AP) — Cooler temperatures are within sight but likely not soon enough and cool enough for a large swath of the country hit with dangerously high temperatures for days as the largest heat wave of the summer failed to budge from South Dakota to Massachusetts. The relief is expected to begin arriving Thursday in some regions of the country as a cold front drops south from Canada. But it is not soon enough for others. New York City, for instance, is bracing for another day of temperatures in the high 90s.

Kerry visits Syrian refugee camp in Jordan
ZAATARI, Jordan (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday visited a camp for Syrian refugees displaced by the fighting in their country, hearing first-hand accounts from Syrians who have fled what the U.N. says is the worst humanitarian crisis in decades. In Jordan on his sixth trip to the Middle East as secretary of state, Kerry flew Thursday to the Zaatari camp north of Amman, just south of the Syrian border. He was accompanied by Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Disputes between Morsi, military led to Egypt coup
CAIRO (AP) — The head of Egypt's military, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, sat with a polite smile in the front row listening to President Mohammed Morsi give a 2 1/2-hour speech defending his year in office. El-Sissi even clapped lightly as the audience of Morsi supporters broke into cheers. It was a calculating display of cool by an army general plotting the overthrow of his commander in chief. Just over a week later, el-Sissi slid in the knife, announcing Morsi's ouster on state TV on July 3 as troops took the Islamist leader into custody.

Russian opposition leader sentenced to 5 years
KIROV, Russia (AP) — Alexei Navalny, one of the Russian opposition's leading figures, was convicted of embezzlement Thursday and sentenced to five years in prison. Navalny and his supporters claimed the case was politically driven to try to shut down the vehement Kremlin critic and intimidate his supporters.

Unconventional pastor leads booming NYC megachurch
NEW YORK (AP) — Carl Lentz is not your typical pastor. Along with his half shaved head and slicked back Mohawk, he's dressed in his usual Sunday attire: black jeans and an unbuttoned denim shirt with a tank top underneath. His tattooed arms, including one with two guns crossed, peek out from under his rolled-up sleeves.

Online series, movie stars hope for Emmy honors
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Groundbreaking Internet series and movie actors could be the headliners in the upcoming Emmy Awards contest. "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development," which Netflix delivered to viewers on the Internet, not on TV, may become the first online programs to receive top series and acting bids when the Emmy nominations are announced early Thursday.