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April 24, 2014

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AP Top News at 5:44 p.m. EST

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 | 2:44 p.m.

AP Exclusive: Few Army women want combat jobs

FORT EUSTIS, Va. (AP) — Only a small fraction of Army women say they'd like to move into one of the newly opening combat jobs, but those few who do say they want a job that takes them right into the heart of battle, according to preliminary results from a survey of the service's nearly 170,000 women. That survey and others across the Army, publicly disclosed for the first time to The Associated Press, also revealed that soldiers of both genders are nervous about women entering combat jobs but say they are determined to do it fairly. Men are worried about losing their jobs to women; women are worried they will be seen as getting jobs because of their gender and not their qualifications. Both are emphatic that the Army must not lower standards to accommodate women.

AP Exclusive: Health law cybersecurity challenges

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the Obama administration raced to meet its self-imposed deadline for online health insurance markets, security experts working for the government worried that state computer systems could become a back door for hackers. Documents provided to The Associated Press show that more than two-thirds of state systems that were supposed to tap into federal computers to verify sensitive personal information for coverage were initially rated as "high risk" for security problems.

A signal that preschooler obesity is falling?

ATLANTA (AP) — A new study may be another signal of a national decline in childhood obesity. The finding comes from a government study considered a gold-standard gauge of trends in the public's health. The researchers found that obesity among children ages 2 to 5 dropped — to 8 percent, from 14 percent a decade ago.

Obama tells Pentagon to plan for Afghan pullout

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a blunt warning to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President Barack Obama threatened on Tuesday to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year if a crucial security pact isn't signed — and he ordered the Pentagon to accelerate planning for just that scenario. At the same time, in a rare phone call with Karzai, Obama indicated he was willing to wait his mercurial counterpart out and sign a security agreement with a new Afghan president after April elections. That would allow the U.S. to keep as many as 10,000 troops in the country.

Pro-Russian rally in Crimea decries Kiev 'bandits'

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Dozens of pro-Russian protesters rallied Tuesday in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea against "the bandits" in Kiev who are trying to form a new government — with some even speaking of secession. A lawmaker from Russia stoked their passions further by promising them that Russia will protect them. As a Russian flag flew Tuesday in front of the city council building in Sevastopol — a key Crimean port where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based — an armored Russian personnel carrier and two trucks full of troops made a rare appearance on the streets of the city.

Arizona governor heads home amid furor over bill

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer headed home Tuesday after five days in Washington to a state that has become embroiled in a national debate over religious and gay rights because of a bill on her desk. The Republican governor is expected to arrive in Phoenix in the afternoon and likely will spend the next day or more pondering Senate Bill 1062 before deciding whether to sign or veto the legislation.

Ugandan newspaper prints list of '200 top' gays

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A Ugandan newspaper published a list Tuesday of what it called the country's "200 top" gays, outing some Ugandans and raising fears of violence against those named just a day after the president enacted a severe anti-gay law. Many on the list "are scared and they need help," said Pepe Julian Onziema, a prominent Ugandan gay activist who was named in in the Red Pepper tabloid. "Some want to leave the country and they are asking to be helped."

Rick Warren acts on mental health in son's death

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (AP) — A year after his son's suicide, popular evangelical pastor Rick Warren is taking on a new mental health ministry inspired by his personal tragedy. Warren, founder of Saddleback Church and a best-selling author, will team with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to host a daylong event next month focused on helping church leaders reach parishioners who are struggling with mental illness.

Collapse of exchange spells trouble for bitcoin

TOKYO (AP) — The sudden disappearance of one of the largest bitcoin exchanges only adds to the mystery and mistrust surrounding the virtual currency, which was just beginning to gain legitimacy beyond the technology enthusiasts and adventurous investors who created it. Prominent bitcoin supporters said the apparent collapse of the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox exchange was an isolated case of mismanagement that will weed out "bad actors." But the setback raised serious questions about bitcoin's tenuous status and even more tenuous future. At least one supporter said the blow could be fatal to bitcoin's quest for acceptance by the public.

FDA weighs unknowns of 3-person embryo technique

WASHINGTON (AP) — Genetic experts cautioned that it could take decades to confirm the safety of an experimental technique, meant to prevent children from inheriting debilitating diseases, that would create babies from the DNA of three people. The Food and Drug Administration heard from supporters and opponents of the provocative technique at a two-day meeting, as the agency considers whether to greenlight testing in women who have defective genes linked to blindness, organ failure and many other inheritable diseases.