AP Top News at 5:25 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Romney would raise eligibility age for MedicareDETROIT (AP) _ Four days before critical primary elections, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney outlined a far-reaching plan Friday to gradually delay Americans' eligibility for Medicare as well as Social Security. Romney said the shift, as people live longer, is needed to steer the giant benefit programs toward economic sustainability.
At least 50 killed in Syria as regime pound rebelsBEIRUT (AP) _ President Bashar Assad's forces pounded rebel-held areas in central Syria on Friday, killing at least 22 people, activists said. More than 60 nations meeting in Tunisia asked the United Nations to start planning for a civilian peacekeeping mission that would deploy after the Syrian regime halts its crackdown. As government troops relentlessly shelled rebel-held neighborhoods in the besieged city of Homs, thousands of people in dozens of towns staged anti-regime protests under the slogan: "We will revolt for your sake, Baba Amr," referring to the Homs neighborhood that has become the center of the Syrian revolt. Activists said at least 50 people were killed nationwide.
Oil prices rising to near 2011 highsNEW YORK (AP) _ Oil prices are approaching last year's highs as tensions increase over Iran's nuclear program. The rise pushed gasoline prices on Friday to a national average of $3.65 per gallon, the highest ever for this time of year. Western nations fear Iran is building a nuclear weapon and have been trying to force it to open its facilities to inspection. Iran has refused, turning away international inspectors this week for the second time this month. The United Nations said Friday that Iran has responded to the recent scrutiny by speeding up production of higher-grade enriched uranium, feeding concerns that it is developing a bomb.
UN atomic agency: Iran rapidly expands nuke workVIENNA (AP) _ Iran has rapidly ramped up production of higher-grade enriched uranium over the last few months, the U.N. nuclear agency said Friday, in a confidential report that feeds concerns about how quickly the Islamic republic could produce an atomic bomb. The International Atomic Energy Agency report also said Iran failed to give a convincing explanation about a quantity of missing uranium metal. Diplomats say the amount unaccounted for is large enough to be used for experiments in arming a nuclear missile.
Chavez flies to Cuba for urgent tumor removalCARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ President Hugo Chavez bid an emotional farewell laced with references to Jesus Christ and independence hero Simon Bolivar as he departed Venezuela on Friday for Cuba for urgent surgery to remove a tumor he says is probably malignant. Clasping the hand of his youngest daughter, Chavez addressed allies of his socialist political movement and troops standing at attention at the Miraflores presidential palace.
More Quran protests leave 7 dead in AfghanistanKABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan called on his troops to resist any urge to avenge the death of two American soldiers killed in riots over the burning of Qurans at a U.S. base, even as renewed protests Friday claimed at least seven lives. The anti-American demonstrations by thousands of Afghans who took to the streets after midday prayers were further evidence that President Barack Obama's apology has failed to quiet the outrage over what the U.S. says was the inadvertent destruction of the holy books.
FACT CHECK: Gingrich energy ad errs on factsWASHINGTON (AP) _ A 28-minute political ad offers a candidate something sound bites can never capture _ a chance to explore a subject in depth. But in the case of Newt Gingrich's unusual extended commercial on American energy policy, it just means more time for mistakes.
GOP-allied groups see Senate as good betWASHINGTON (AP) _ Republicans' clear shot at winning control of the Senate is attracting tens of millions of dollars from GOP-allied outside groups eager to spend on a surer bet than a White House race with a resurgent President Barack Obama and an unsettled GOP field. Republicans need to capture four Democratic seats to grab the majority and Democrats have all but conceded one _ Nebraska _ where Sen. Ben Nelson decided against a third-term bid in the heavily GOP state. Control of the Senate will hinge on tight races in Massachusetts and Nevada, where Democrats see their best chances of unseating two of the newest Republican senators Scott Brown and Dean Heller; Montana and Missouri, where Democrats Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill won narrowly in 2006, and open Democratic seats in Virginia and Wisconsin, according to Republicans, Democrats, campaign consultants and lobbyists.
Relentless scrutiny pushed Palin to exasperationJUNEAU, Alaska (AP) _ Just a few months after returning from the presidential campaign trail, a weary Sarah Palin shot off a 1 a.m. email to top colleagues in her office. Flimsy ethics complaints were mounting, and the Alaska governor was feeling increasingly detached from her family. She faced mounting legal bills that only exacerbated the financial turmoil related to her family's travel.
Judge awards iPhone user $850 in throttling caseSIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) _ When AT&T started slowing down the data service for his iPhone, Matt Spaccarelli, an unemployed truck driver and student, took the country's largest telecommunications company to small claims court. And won. His award: $850.
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