Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment


Associated Press

Posted on January 11, 2014 at 4:00 AM

Updated Saturday, Jan 11 at 11:32 AM


NEW: Neiman Marcus is a victim of cyber security attack

NEW YORK (AP) — Luxury merchant Neiman Marcus says thieves may have stolen customers' credit card and debit card information and made unauthorized charges over the holiday season.

The hacking marks the second retailer after Target Corp. to be a victim of a cyber security attack in recent weeks.

Neiman Marcus's spokeswoman Ginger Reeder said in an email that its credit card processor notified the retailer in mid-December about potentially unauthorized payment card activity. On Jan. 1, a forensics firm confirmed evidence that the upscale retailer was a victim of a criminal cyber-security intrusion and that some customers' cards were possibly compromised as a result.

Reeder says the Dallas-based retailer is working with the Secret Service.

Reeder wouldn't estimate how many customers may be affected.


NEW: Obama says Sharon dedicated his life to Israel

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is remembering former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (ah-ree-EL' shah-ROHN') as a leader who dedicated his life to Israel.

In a written statement, Obama used Sharon's death Saturday to reaffirm what the president says is America's unshakable commitment to Israel's security and its appreciation for the friendship between the two countries and their people.

Obama says the U.S. continues to press for lasting peace and security for all Israelis.

Tributes to Sharon also poured in from Secretary of State John Kerry, former President Bill Clinton and other Washington leaders.

Kerry calls Sharon a "big bear of a man" who's finally at rest.

Sharon died eight years after a stroke put him in a coma. He was 85.


NEW: Abbas says he won't make concessions on Jerusalem

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told a cheering audience in a fiery speech that "the Palestinian people won't kneel" and won't drop demands to establish a capital in east Jerusalem.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to forge an agreement between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the outlines of a peace deal, which also would address the fate of Jerusalem.

The Palestinians want a capital in east Jerusalem, one of the areas Israel captured in 1967. Netanyahu has previously rejected a partition. Abbas and his aides fear that Kerry's proposal, expected in the coming weeks, only will contain a vague reference to Palestinian "aspirations" in the city.

Abbas warned Saturday that "there will be no peace" without a Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem.


NEW: Russia nabs 5 terror suspects in North Caucasus

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's counterterrorism agency says five people suspected of involvement in an international terrorist group have been detained in a Caucasus province.

Saturday's bust comes less than a month before the start of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, located about 300 kilometers (about 185 miles) west of the city of Nalchik where the arrests were made.

The National Anti-Terrorism Committee said the suspects were detained during a sweep in Nalchik, the regional capital of Kabardino-Balkariya, one of Russia's restive North Caucasus provinces. It said they possessed grenades, ammunition and self-made explosive device.

The agency didn't name the group the suspects allegedly belonged to or give further details.

The leader of Islamic insurgents in the North Caucasus has called on his men to launch attacks on the Games.


Africa sees violent, deadly start to 2014

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Sub-Saharan Africa has seen a very violent start to 2014, with raging conflicts in South Sudan and Central African Republic, as well as continued violence in Congo, and attacks in Somalia and Kenya.

The death tolls are huge and the individual incidents gruesome. One estimate says nearly 10,000 people have been killed in South Sudan in a month of warfare, while in neighboring Central African Republic combatants in Muslim-vs.-Christian battles have beheaded children.

J. Peter Pham, director of the Washington-based think tank Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, says that compared to decades past, Africa and its people are suffering from fewer conflicts today, but several recent outbreaks of violence are cause for concern. He says the conflicts also lack strong international peacekeeping.


Ex-C. African Republic leader seeks exile in Benin

COTONOU, Benin (AP) — Officials say the man who ruled Central African Republic as the country disintegrated into near-anarchy is now seeking exile in Benin.

Michel Djotodia, a rebel leader from the country's north, seized power of Central African Republic in March with the help of thousands of armed fighters.

On Friday, he agreed to step aside along with his prime minister following growing international pressure to resign.

Officials in Central African Republic and Benin, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists, said Djotodia was to arrive in Benin later Saturday.

Djotodia's departure was initially met with celebrations although sporadic violence and looting occurred overnight in Bangui.

The political conflict has devolved into sectarian violence with the Christian majority now targeting Muslims accused of supporting Djotodia.


Several hospitalized, 32 treated and released after chemical spill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A handful of people have been hospitalized and several hundred thousand remain without water after a chemical leaked from a storage tank in Charleston into the public water treatment system, state authorities said Saturday.

About 300,000 people in nine counties entered their third day Saturday without being able to drink, bathe in, or wash dishes or clothes with their tap water after a foaming agent escaped the Freedom Industries plant and seeped into the Elk River. The only allowed use of the water was for flushing toilets.

Allison Adler of the Department of Health and Human Resources says 32 people sought treatment at area hospitals for symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Of those, four people were admitted to the Charleston Area Medical Center. Their conditions were not immediately known.

Adler added that authorities were still trying to figure out the safety level of the water and that more information should be available to residents later Saturday.


Former Reagan spokesman Larry Speakes dies at 74

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Larry Speakes, who spent six years as acting press secretary for President Ronald Reagan, has died in his native Mississippi. He was 74.

Kenny Williams of the Cleveland Funeral Home says Speakes died Friday at home in Cleveland, Miss., where he had lived the past several years.

Bolivar County Coroner Nate Brown says Speakes had Alzheimer's disease and died in his sleep. He was buried in North Cleveland Cemetery during a private service Friday morning.

Speakes became Reagan's acting spokesman after Press Secretary James Brady was injured during an assassination attempt on Reagan in 1981.

After resigning in 1987, Speakes worked for Merrill Lynch in New York. He returned to Washington in 1988 and worked in public relations for Northern Telecom and the U. S. Postal Service, retiring in 2008.


White House says gov't can't force Kimmel off air

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House has responded to a petition calling for an apology and the removal of Jimmy Kimmel's television show by saying the comedian can't be forced off the air.

More than 105,000 people signed the petition on the White House website. It followed an October broadcast of ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" featuring a segment in which Kimmel spoke to young children about U.S. government debt owed to China.

One boy said "kill everyone in China" when Kimmel asked how the U.S. should repay the Asian power.

In its response, the White House noted that ABC and Kimmel have apologized, and that the network has removed the segment from future broadcasts and its online platforms.

The White House also noted that the Constitution protects free speech, even when it's offensive.


Storms topple trees, prompt tornado watch

ATLANTA (AP) — A tornado watch has been issued for much of central Georgia as a line of powerful storms sweeps through, toppling trees.

Fire crews in metro Atlanta freed a 14-year-old child from a mobile home this morning after a tree crashed into a back bedroom of the residence. A 2-year-old child in the same mobile home was taken to a hospital.

A flash flood warning was issued for DeKalb County, where forecasters warned that heavy rains would cause flooding of small creeks and streams, as well as streets and underpasses.


NEW: Giant panda leaves San Diego for new life in China

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo is being sent to China.

The zoo says Yun Zi was crated up and driven to Los Angeles on Thursday in preparation for the flight. His keeper and a veterinarian will accompany him.

The zoo's pandas are on loan from the Chinese government, which decides where zoo-born offspring go after they turn 3. Yun Zi turned 4 in August.

The zoo prepared Yun Zi for the trip by making the special bread he'll eat in China instead of the kibble used in San Diego. He's also been fattened up to deal with the cooler temperatures of the mountains where he'll live.

China is trying to breed and preserve the pandas. Only about 1,600 are believed to remain in the wild.