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BC-AP News Digest 2:15 pm
Associated Press
2014-01-20 03:42 AM

The world at 2:15 p.m. Times are EST.

At the Nerve Center, Caleb Jones and Rich Somma can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Susan Plageman (ext. 1900). For interactives and graphics, Suzanne Boyle McCrory (ext. 1919). Expanded AP content can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact apcustomersupport@ap.org or call 877-836-9477.

DEVELOPING

-- AFC CHAMPIONSHIP -- New England at Denver, game begins at 3 p.m.

-- NFC CHAMPIONSHIP -- San Francisco at Seattle, game begins at 6:30 p.m.

TOP STORIES

IRAN-NUCLEAR

TEHRAN, Iran -- Ahead of the start of a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, an official in the Islamic Republic calls limiting uranium enrichment and diluting its stockpile the country's "most important commitments." The comments by Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman of Iran's atomic department, show how the government of moderate President Hassan Rouhani welcomes the deal, which begins Monday. International inspectors already have arrived in Tehran, preparing for the government opening its facilities to them. By Nasser Karimi. SENT: 550 words, photos.

WITH:

-- IRAN-NUCLEAR-GLANCE -- A look at the deal between Iran and six world powers. SENT: 300 words.

IRAQ

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi government forces and allied tribal militias launch an all-out offensive to push al-Qaida militants from a provincial capital, an assault that killed or wounded some 20 police officers and government-allied tribesmen. Fierce clashes rage throughout the day in parts of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province. By Sinan Salaheddin. SENT: 500 words, photos.

NSA SURVEILLANCE

WASHINGTON -- A chief element of President Barack Obama's attempt to overhaul U.S. surveillance will not work, leaders of Congress' intelligence committees say, pushing back against the idea that the government should cede control of how Americans' phone records are stored. By Libby Qaid. SENT: 400 words. UPCOMING: 600 words by 2 p.m., photos.

GAY REPUBLICANS

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Dan Innis' husband persuaded him to run for the U.S. House. It didn't matter that Innis, a former business school dean, faced an aggressive Democratic incumbent, GOP colleagues who oppose his right to marry, and history -- no Republican has been openly gay when first elected to Congress. Innis is among three openly gay Republicans nationwide expected to run in this year's midterm elections. None has an easy path to Washington. The Republican Party is trying to soften its tone on divisive social issues, but many religious conservatives see homosexuality as immoral. By Steve Peoples. SENT: 960 words, photo.

FIXING LAGUARDIA

NEW YORK -- Dark, dingy, crowded and sad. These are some of the words travelers use to describe their first impression of New York City when they arrive at LaGuardia Airport, often described in customer satisfaction surveys as the worst airport in America. "It does not represent what people think of when they think of New York and Broadway shows and glamour. It's not very pretty," says one regular visitor. That appears about to change. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state is taking control of an ambitious $3.6 billion construction project that envisions an entirely new Central Terminal Building. Cuomo also is calling for improvements at nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport, including a plan to redevelop the airport's aging cargo infrastructure. By Frank Eltman. SENT: 850 words, photos.

OLY-SOCHI-PUTIN

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered new assurances to gay athletes and fans attending the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics next month. Yet he defends Russia's anti-gay law by equating gays with pedophiles and said Russia needs to "cleanse" itself of homosexuality if it wants to increase its birth rate. Putin's comments show the wide gulf between the perception of homosexuality in Russia versus the West. By Lynn Berry. SENT: 425 words, photos.

MONDAY SPOTLIGHT

KING'S STREETS

ST. LOUIS -- Mention the city streets named for Martin Luther King Jr., and what comes to mind are images that would surely unsettle the slain civil rights leader: vacant storefronts, fast-food restaurants, liquor stores and open drug markets. Now, groups are mobilizing to reverse the decline of the most ubiquitous symbols of King's legacy. In St. Louis, the nonprofit Beloved Streets of America is working to reclaim MLK's streets as a source of pride and inspiration, not disappointment. By Alan Scher Zagier. SENT: 900 words, photos.

With:

-- KING ON KENNEDY -- Martin Luther King Jr. discusses Kennedy in long lost 1960 tape rediscovered in Tenn. attic. SENT: 800 words, photos.

WASHINGTON

POSTAL SERVICE-STAPLES

WASHINGTON -- The opening of Postal Service retail centers in dozens of Staples stores around the country is being met with threats of protests and boycotts by the agency's unions. The new outlets are staffed by Staples employees, not postal workers, and labor officials say that move replaces good-paying union jobs with low-wage, nonunion workers. The dispute comes as the financially struggling Postal Service continues to form partnerships with private companies, and looks to cut costs and boost revenues. The deal with Staples began as a pilot program in November at 84 stores in California, Georgia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania as a way make it easier for customers to buy stamps, send packages or use Priority and certified mail. By Sam Hananel. SENT: 820 words, photos.

INTERNATIONAL

UKRAINE

KIEV -- Thousands of anti-government demonstrators clash for hours with riot police in Ukraine's capital, attacking officers with sticks, stones and flares a few days after new legislation was passed to stifle protests. Dozens of people are injured. The violence further escalates Ukraine's political crisis, which erupted after President's Viktor Yanukovych's decision in November to freeze ties with the European Union and seek a huge bailout from Russia. By Maria Danilova. SENT: 450 words, photos.

BANNU, Pakistan -- A Taliban bombing inside an army compound in northwest Pakistan has kill at least 20 troops, officials and militants said, in one of the deadliest attacks to target the country's forces as they battle insurgents in its volatile frontier. The blast targeted a vehicle in a convoy about to leave a military base in the town of Bannu and drive west to the North Waziristan tribal area, police official Inyat Ali Khan said. Pakistan's military said the blast wounded 30 troops. Ijaz Mohammed and Rebecca Santana. SENT: 560 words, photos.

THAILAND-POLITICS

BANGKOK -- Two explosions shake an anti-government demonstration site in Thailand's capital, wounding at least 28 people in the latest violence to hit Bangkok as the nation's increasingly bloody political crisis drags on. Police said the blasts near Victory Monument were caused by fragmentation grenades -- the same kind that killed one man and wounded dozens Friday in a similar explosion targeting protest marchers. By Thanyarat Doksone and Todd Pitman. SENT: 830 words, photos.

NORTH AFRICA-AL-QAIDA REFUGES

SEBHA, Libya -- Swathed in a white turban and robes, Eissa Abdel Majid sits in his militia barracks on the edge of the desert describing a losing battle to stem the flow of armed militants with suspected links to al-Qaida. He says he's fed up with trying to guard borders and oil installations in a power vacuum left by the fall of Moammar Gadhafi. In the rocky mountains and dune-covered wastes of southwestern Libya, al-Qaida's North African branch has established a haven. By PAUL SCHEMM. SENT: 1,340 words, photos.

EGYPT-THE NEXT STEP-NEWS ANALYSIS

CAIRO -- For all the self-congratulatory tone of Egypt's pro-military media, the result of last week's constitutional referendum may have fallen short of the emphatic popular mandate the nation's military chief looked for before announcing his presidential run. Moreover, the result -- nearly everyone who cast a ballot approved the draft constitution though turnout was only 38.6 percent -- has put on display the nation's enduring divisions six months after the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and nearly three years after autocrat Hosni Mubarak was removed. By Hamza Hendawi. UPCOMING: 1,100 words, photos by 3 p.m.

WITH:

-- EGYPT -- Egypt's prosecutors refer the country's ousted Islamist president to trial for a fourth time, now for insulting the judiciary and defaming its members to spread hate. SENT: 500 words.

NATIONAL

GAY MARRIAGE-VIRGINIA

RICHMOND, Va. -- Almost overnight, Virginia has emerged as a critical state in the nationwide fight to grant gay men and women the right to wed. With the recent court gains in deeply conservative Utah and Oklahoma, gay rights advocates are heartened by the new mood in Virginia ushered in by a Democratic sweep at the top of the ticket. Symbolically as well, they say, court challenges of Virginia's gay marriage ban resonate because of the state's role in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision involving interracial marriage. By Steve Szkotak. SENT: 900 words.

CHRISTIE-TRAFFIC JAMS

TRENTON, N.J. -- The Democratic mayor of a town flooded during Superstorm Sandy said she was told an ultimatum tying storm recovery aid to her support of a prime real estate development came directly from Republican Gov. Chris Christie, an accusation the governor's spokesman called "categorically false." By Angela Delli Santi. UPCOMING: 500 words by 4 p.m., photos.

HORSE RETIREMENT FARM

ALACHUA, Fla. -- Whenever a horse arrives at Florida's Mill Creek Farm, Peter and Mary Gregory make the aging animal a promise: Never will that horse be worked or ridden the rest of its days. Nearly all of the horses retired to the farm in north-central Florida had spent years working in law enforcement, military or other service jobs; some were seized by police. By Tamara Lush. SENT: 860 words.

STATE OF THE ARTS

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- While other states are cutting back on funding for the arts, Rhode Island is betting that arts could help it turn around its lagging economy, and state leaders are proposing big increases in funding. Gov. Lincoln Chafee has proposed spending $35 million on improvements at state arts sites, a year after lawmakers voted to make all art made and sold in Rhode Island tax free. The idea: to make the nation's smallest state a destination for artists, performers and their customers. By David Klepper. SENT: 950 words.

ENTERTAINMENT

CHINA-SHERLOCK MANIA

SHANGHAI -- The BBC's "Sherlock" TV series has become a global phenomenon, but nowhere more than in China, which was one of the first countries where the new season was shown this month. Online fan clubs have attracted thousands of members. Chinese fans write their own stories about the modern version of author Arthur Conan Doyle's prickly, Victorian detective and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, to fill the time between the brief, three-episode seasons. In Shanghai, an entrepreneur has opened a "Sherlock"-themed cafe. BY Fu Ting. SENT: 870 words, photos.

SPORTS

FBN--AFC CHAMPIONSHIP

DENVER -- Peyton Manning and Tom Brady meet for the 15th time and the stakes have never been higher. There's a trip to the Super Bowl on the line when the Broncos play the Patriots in a classic showdown of great quarterbacks. By National Writer Eddie Pells. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos. With running copy. Game starts 3 p.m. EST.

FBN--NFC CHAMPIONSHIP

SEATTLE -- The best of the West, the Seahawks and 49ers, go at it at ear-shattering CenturyLink Field for the NFC championship in what figures to be an especially hard-hitting game. Seattle and San Francisco split during the regular season. By Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos. With running copy. Game starts 6:30 p.m. EST.

GETTING ATTENTION

--UNITED STATES-RUSSIA-SECURITY -- Members of Congress express serious concerns about safety of Americans at next month's Olympics in Russia, say Moscow needs to cooperate more on security. SENT: 500 words.

-- AFGHANISTAN -- Afghanistan's president intensifies his anti-American rhetoric and demanded that the United States no longer carry out military operations or airstrikes and must jump-start peace talks with the Taliban before his country signs a security deal to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014. SENT: 800 words, photos.

-- CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC -- Attackers armed with machetes and clubs ambush a convoy of Muslims fleeing sectarian violence in Central African Republic, killing 22 people, an aid group says. SENT: 620 words, photo.

-- JAPAN-OKINAWA ELECTION -- Japanese voters re-elect mayor opposed to moving US air base to their city in Okinawa. SENT: 302 words, photos.

-- ISRAEL-GAS MASKS -- Israel ends gas mask distribution after security assessment shows low odds of chemical attack. SENT: 130 words.

-- EMIRATES-MILITARY -- United Arab Emirates launches plans for mandatory military service for adult males. SENT: 130 words.

-- BOX OFFICE -- 'Ride Along' rolls into No. 1 spot at weekend box office with $41.2M debut. SENT: 400 words, photos.

___

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