AP Morning News Brief and Tuesday's Forecast

Posted: March 19, 2013

WINCHESTER-AREA WEATHER: Much warmer today with temperatures reaching 52 this afternoon. A foggy start to the day, then partly cloudy, a slim chance of precipitation, but breezy. Partly cloudy before clearing tonight, a low near 30 and a windchill near 23. Partly cloudy and 48 on Wednesday.

News Brief from the Associated Press . . .

Pope Francis urges protection of creation, weak
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has urged princes, presidents, sheikhs and thousands of ordinary people gathered for his installation Mass to protect God's creation, the weakest and the poorest of the world. He is officially beginning his ministry as the 266th pope with a clear focus of his priorities.

Cyprus proposes no charge on small account holders
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cypriot finance officials are revising a planned financial bailout to relieve small account holders from having to pay a charge on their savings in order to secure an international rescue of the country's troubled banks. Under a new draft bill discussed in Parliament's finance committee Tuesday, deposits below €20,000 ($25,900) would be exempt from any charge. Those between €20,000-€100,000 would have a 6.75 percent levy imposed, and those above €100,000 would have a 9.9 percent charge.

Syria accuses rebels of firing chemical weapon
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria's state media say rebels have fired a chemical weapon in the north of the country, killing 15 people. The report by the official SANA news agency marks the first time the government has accused fighters seeking to topple President Bashar Assad of using chemical weapons.

Remade Mideast poses new perils for Obama on trip
WASHINGTON (AP) — On his second trip to the Middle East as U.S. commander in chief, President Barack Obama this week will confront a political and strategic landscape nearly unrecognizable from the one he encountered on his first trip to the region shortly after assuming office in 2009. Gone are the authoritarian regimes and leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and the once seemingly indestructible Assad regime in Syria is tottering on the brink of collapse. Uncertainty abounds in the wake of the revolutions that have convulsed the Arab world for the past two years and shaken many of the strong but imperfect pillars of stability on the planet's most politically volatile patch of land.

AP: Costs of US wars linger for over 100 years
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — If history is any judge, the U.S. government will be paying for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the next century as service members and their families grapple with the sacrifices of combat. An Associated Press analysis of federal payment records found that the government is still making monthly payments to relatives of Civil War veterans — 148 years after the conflict ended.

Police: Fla. college student plotted an attack
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A University of Central Florida student who pulled a dorm fire alarm in the middle of the night had a more sinister plan than sending students scurrying out into the night, authorities said. Campus police said Monday that 30-year-old James Oliver Seevakumaran was armed with two guns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a backpack filled with explosives and a plan to attack other students as they fled the seven-story dorm where he lived.

Congress works on budget for both 2013 and future
WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is finally cleaning up its unfinished budget business for the long-underway 2013 budget year with a bipartisan government-wide funding bill, even as the combatants in the House and Senate gear up for votes this week on largely symbolic measures outlining stark differences between Democrats and Republicans about how to fix the nation's long-term deficit woes. The Senate is positioned to approve the catchall spending bill Tuesday after it cleared a procedural hurdle Monday by a strong 63-35 vote. The House, which approved a narrower version two weeks ago, is expected to quickly clear the measure and ship it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Report: 1 in 3 seniors dies with, not of, dementia
WASHINGTON (AP) — A staggering 1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia, says a new report that highlights the impact the mind-destroying disease is having on the rapidly aging population. Dying with Alzheimer's is not the same as dying from it. But even when dementia isn't the direct cause of death, it can be the final blow — speeding someone's decline by interfering with their care for heart disease, cancer or other serious illnesses. That's the assessment of the report released Tuesday by the Alzheimer's Association, which advocates for more research and support for families afflicted by it.

Wave of Iraq blasts kill 56 decade after invasion
BAGHDAD (AP) — A wave of bombings tore through Baghdad on Tuesday morning, killing at least 56 people and wounding more than 200, highlighting increasing sectarian tensions in Iraq on the eve of the anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion. The attacks, mostly by car bombs, targeted small restaurants, day laborers and bus stops in the Iraqi capital and nearby towns over a span of more than two hours.