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TOP HEADLINES: JPMorgan CEO apologizes; Army opens more jobs for women

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 | 6:40 p.m. CDT; updated 7:41 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Here are today's top stories from The Associated Press.

JPMorgan Chase CEO confronted by shareholders but keeps chairman's job

TAMPA, Fla. — The CEO of JPMorgan Chase offered a quick but blunt apology to shareholders Tuesday for a $2 billion trading loss that "should never have happened" and survived a push to strip him of the title of chairman of the board.

CEO Jamie Dimon, who in recent years has given expansive answers to questions about the bank's handling of foreclosures and loan modifications, was unusually subdued at the JPMorgan annual meeting.

He spent four minutes talking about the trading loss and steps the company has taken to address it, and just two more talking about accomplishments of the company over the past year.

The loss, disclosed Thursday, rattled investor confidence in the largest bank in the United States and in the ability of Wall Street to fight regulatory changes more than three years after the financial crisis.

Army opens jobs in combat battalions to women

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Female soldiers this week are moving into new jobs in once all-male units as the Army breaks down formal barriers in recognition of what has already happened in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The policy change announced earlier this year is being tested at nine brigades, including one at Fort Campbell, before going Army-wide. It opens thousands of jobs to female soldiers by loosening restrictions meant to keep them away from the battlefield. Experience on the ground in the past decade showed women were fighting and dying alongside male soldiers anyway.

Col. Val Keaveny Jr., commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team that is among units piloting the change, told The Associated Press that for the last decade it has been common to have women temporarily attached to the combat units and serve alongside them.

Under the new policy, female officers and non-commissioned officers will be assigned to combat units below the brigade level. The change will open up about 14,000 new jobs for women in the military, but there are still more than 250,000 jobs that remain closed to women.

Defense hedges on whether to call Edwards, mistress to testify

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Attorneys for John Edwards indicated Tuesday their case was winding down, but they were not yet saying whether they will call to the witness stand the former presidential candidate or his mistress.

After testimony ended for the day with the trial still focusing on financial records, Edwards' team said they had not made a final decision on whether to call Edwards, his oldest daughter, Cate, or his mistress, Rielle Hunter. They could also recall Edwards' once-close confidant and aide, Andrew Young.

Lead defense lawyer Abbe Lowell said they may call some or all of the remaining potential witnesses. "We may also very well be done tomorrow," Lowell told the judge overseeing the case.

Dad says Georgia grad student fighting flesh-eating bacteria is alert and bored

SAVANNAH, Ga. — A week ago, doctors gave her little chance of survival. Now a Georgia grad student who is battling a rare flesh-eating infection is alert and bored enough to ask for a book, her father told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Aimee Copeland remained in critical condition at an Augusta hospital, unable to speak because of a breathing tube in her throat as she continued to fight the life-threatening disease that took hold after she gashed her leg in a fall from a broken zip line.

Doctors had to amputate most of the 24-year-old woman's left leg to save her life, and her father says she'll likely lose her fingers too. But he told AP that doctors now believe they'll be able to save not only the palms of his daughter's hands but her right foot as well.

Days ago she faced losing both of her hands and feet.

"This doctor can't fathom a reason for why she's improved the way she has," Andy Copeland said in a telephone interview. "Her spirits are extraordinarily high. I am absolutely amazed."

Alzheimer's focus shifts to testing therapies earlier

WASHINGTON — Look for a fundamental shift in how scientists hunt ways to ward off the devastation of Alzheimer's disease — by testing possible therapies in people who don't yet show many symptoms, before too much of the brain is destroyed.

The most ambitious attempt: An international study announced Tuesday will track whether an experimental drug can stall the disease in people who appear healthy but are genetically destined to get a type of Alzheimer's that runs in the family. If so, it would be exciting evidence that maybe regular Alzheimer's is preventable too.

A second study will test whether a nasal spray that sends insulin to the brain helps people with very early memory problems, based on separate research linking diabetes to an increased risk of Alzheimer's.

The new focus emerges as the Obama administration adopts the first national strategy to fight the worsening Alzheimer's epidemic — a plan that sets the clock ticking toward finally having effective treatments by 2025.

Poll shows low opinion of Facebook

NEW YORK  — Facebook's reach is wide but not deep. Few users surveyed in an Associated Press-CNBC poll say they click on the site's ads or buy the virtual goods that make money for it.

More than 40 percent of American adults log in to the site — to share news, personal observations, photos and more — at least once a week. In all, some 900 million people around the world are users. But many of them don't have a very high opinion of Facebook or trust it to keep their information private.

If Facebook the company were a Facebook user, it would have a lot of virtual friends but not many real ones, the poll suggested.

Romney blasts Obama for feeding 'prairie fire' of debt

DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican Mitt Romney said Tuesday that President Barack Obama's support for increased federal debt has put the economy on a disastrous course, portraying himself in a speech in battleground Iowa as the defender of fiscal responsibility and his opponent as reckless.

Calling for sharp spending cuts and a long-term budget discipline, Romney is trying to frame the campaign against the Democrat as a contest of fairness versus irresponsibility.

"A prairie fire of debt is sweeping across Iowa and our nation and every day we fail to act we feed that fire with our own lack of resolve," Romney said, according to excerpts of a speech he's scheduled to deliver on his first trip to Iowa since January.

The White House promptly dismissed Romney's critique. Press secretary Jay Carney blamed federal overspending primarily on Romney-backed tax cuts for the wealthy that were enacted during President George W. Bush's administration and on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Boehner says spending cuts must offset any increase in nation's debt limit

WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner said Tuesday that when Congress raises the nation's borrowing cap he will again insist on spending cuts and budget reforms to offset the increase.

In remarks Tuesday afternoon at a budget conference in Washington, the Ohio Republican said he welcomes another wrenching debate on increasing the so-called debt limit because it forces a Congress and White House plagued by gridlock to make difficult decisions.

Boehner also said the GOP-controlled House will vote to extend Bush-era tax cuts due to expire at the end of the year and that the House will act next year on "broad-based tax reform that lowers rates for individuals and businesses while closing deductions, credits and special carveouts."

According to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the government will hit its borrowing cap later this year, but the Treasury can use accounting maneuvers to buy time for the newly elected Congress to deal with the issue early next year.


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