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WORLD NEWS IN BRIEF: Petraeus sex scandal widens; Congress faces 'fiscal cliff'

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 | 8:34 p.m. CST; updated 8:46 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 13, 2012

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

Petraeus scandal widens to probe of top U.S. general's "flirtatious" emails to second woman in case

WASHINGTON — The sex scandal that led to CIA Director David Petraeus' downfall widened Tuesday with word the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is under investigation for alleged "inappropriate communications" with another woman involved in the case. Some of the material was "flirtatious," an official said.

Even as the FBI prepared a timeline for Congress about the investigation that brought to light Petraeus' extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta revealed that the Pentagon had begun an internal investigation into emails between Gen. John Allen and a Florida woman involved in the case.

Some of the 20,000-plus pages of documents and emails between Allen and Tampa, Fla., socialite Jill Kelley were "flirtatious," according to a senior defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the case publicly. It wasn't immediately clear who wrote the flirtatious notes — Allen, Kelley, or both.

Allen succeeded Petraeus as the top American commander in Afghanistan in July 2011, and his nomination to become the next commander of U.S. European Command NATO forces in Europe has now been put on hold, as the scandal seemed certain to ensnare another acclaimed military figure.

In a White House statement early Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said President Barack Obama has held Allen's nomination at Panetta's request. Obama, the statement said, "remains focused on fully supporting our extraordinary troops and coalition partners in Afghanistan, who Gen. Allen continues to lead as he has so ably done for over a year."

Florida socialite is at the center of overlapping scandals involving two Army generals

TAMPA, Fla. — If you were to diagram the increasingly tangled sex scandal surrounding former CIA Director David Petraeus, nearly all lines would lead back to one person: Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old Tampa, Fla., socialite who hosted parties for the nation's top military brass.

Kelley's complaint about anonymous, threatening emails triggered the FBI investigation that led to Petraeus' downfall. And now she is at the center of an investigation of the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan over alleged "inappropriate communications" between the two.

Kelley is a close friend of the Petraeus family, and photographs circulating in the media show the dark-haired woman posing for pictures at parties with Petraeus, his wife and her husband, Scott, a cancer surgeon. She served as a sort of unofficial social ambassador for U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla. holding gatherings for the general when he was commander there from 2008 to 2010.

She also met Gen. John Allen while he was at Central Command, and now investigators are looking at 20,000-plus pages of documents and emails between Kelley and Allen, some of which have been described as "flirtatious." The general has denied any wrongdoing.

For her part, Kelley has taken a low profile since Petraeus' affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, became public. The Kelleys have hired Washington lawyer Abbe Lowell, who has represented corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former presidential candidate John Edwards. Lowell did not immediately return a call.

France first in West to recognize new opposition group as sole representative of Syrian people

BEIRUT — France on Tuesday became the first Western country to formally recognize Syria's newly formed opposition coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

The U.S. also recognized the leadership body announced in Qatar on Sunday as a legitimate representative but stopped short of describing it as the "sole" one, saying the group must first demonstrate its ability to represent Syrians inside the country.

The two announcements could start a trend toward world recognition of the rebels as the legitimate government of Syria, undercutting whatever legitimacy the regime of President Bashar Assad still has after 20 months of a bloody civil war.

"We look forward to supporting the national coalition as it charts a course for the end of Assad's bloody rule, and marks the start, we believe, of a peaceful, just and democratic future for the people of Syria," said U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner in Washington.

Under intense international pressure to form an opposition that includes representatives from the country's disparate factions fighting to topple President Assad, the anti-government groups struck a deal Sunday in Doha, Qatar, to form a coalition headed by former Muslim preacher Mouaz al-Khatib.

Police say letters show grandmother, uncle behind murder-suicide that killed 3 Ohio children

TOLEDO, Ohio — Letters found after an Ohio murder-suicide that killed three children indicate it was orchestrated by their grandmother and uncle, who were found dead with the children in the family garage amid a disagreement over who should care for them, police said Tuesday.

Firefighters used a sledgehammer Monday to force open a barricaded door to the garage, where a truck was running with hoses leading from the exhaust into the car that contained the bodies, police said.

Investigators said the relatives might have died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Two dogs and a cat also were found dead.

The family members were identified as 54-year-old Sandy Ford, her 32-year-old son, Andy Ford, and her grandchildren, 10-year-old Paige Hayes, 6-year-old Logan Hayes and 5-year-old Madalyn Hayes.

Until last week, the children had lived with Sandy Ford and her husband Randy at the house in a residential neighborhood close to the Michigan state line. Andy Ford also lived at the home.

Attorneys wrap up preliminary hearing in case of U.S. soldier accused of Afghanistan massacre

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — Army prosecutors on Tuesday asked an investigative officer to recommend a death penalty court-martial for a staff sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a predawn rampage, saying that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales committed "heinous and despicable crimes."

Prosecutors made their closing arguments after a week of testimony in the preliminary hearing. Prosecutors say Bales, 39, slipped away from his remote base at Camp Belambay in southern Afghanistan to attack two villages early on March 11. Among the dead were nine children.

The slayings drew such angry protests that the U.S. temporarily halted combat operations in Afghanistan, and it was three weeks before American investigators could reach the crime scenes.

"Terrible, terrible things happened," said prosecutor, Maj. Rob Stelle. "That is clear."

Stelle cited statements Bales made after he was apprehended, saying that they demonstrated "a clear memory of what he had done and consciousness of wrong-doing."

Cardinal Dolan: U.S. bishops won't comply with Obama rule on birth control coverage in insurance

BALTIMORE — A top American bishop said Tuesday the Roman Catholic Church will not comply with the Obama administration requirement that most employers provide health insurance covering birth control.

New York Cardinal-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said church leaders are open to working toward a resolution with federal officials but will meanwhile press ahead with challenges to the mandate in legislatures and in court.

"The only thing we're certainly not prepared to do is give in. We're not violating our consciences," Dolan told reporters at a national bishops' meeting. "I would say no door is closed except for the door to capitulation."

The bishops have been fighting the regulation since it was announced by President Barack Obama early this year. Houses of worship are exempt, but religiously affiliated hospitals, charities and colleges are not.

Obama promised to change the requirement so that insurance companies, not faith-affiliated employers, would pay for the coverage. But details have not been worked out. And not only the bishops, but Catholic hospitals and some other religious leaders generally supportive of Obama's health care overhaul have said the compromise proposed so far appears to be unworkable.

Polar bears, farmers and "fiscal cliff" on returning Congress' to-do list

WASHINGTON — Bears and budgets top the list as Congress returned Tuesday from a seven-week election break to a long list of unfinished business.

Looming large in the lame-duck session is the urgent need for President Barack Obama and Congress to figure out how to avoid the double economic hit of tax increases and automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs that kick in after Jan. 1. Those high-stakes negotiations could take weeks and the issue might not be resolved by year's end.

In the interim, Democrats and Republicans are picking up where they left off on several bills while welcoming the newest members — 12 in the Senate and some 70 in the House — for Congress' version of freshmen orientation.

The Senate has scheduled an early evening procedural vote Tuesday for a sportsmen's bill that will decide the fate of 41 polar bear carcasses that hunters want to bring home from Canada as big-game trophies. Hunters killed the bears just before a 2008 ban on polar bear trophy imports took effect but were not able to bring them home before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services listed them as a threatened species.

The House on Tuesday passed and will send to the president legislation that would exclude U.S. airlines from the requirements on emissions that the European Union has sought to impose on all planes flying to and from the European continent.

After years of manipulation, "guru" who swindled French aristocratic family gets prison time

PARIS — He started with the woman who hired him at the secretarial school, befriending her and winning her confidence. She introduced him to her elderly mother and her children. Her grandchildren, nearing adulthood, were next. Soon, Thierry Tilly was almost a member of the family of aristocrats.

Then he dropped the bombshell: Someone wanted them dead.

Bit by bit, family members saw sinister motives in even ordinary encounters. They retreated to their chateau, where Tilly took away their clocks, their calendars, their sense of time. One by one, they relocated with him to Oxford, England, then returned to their Bordeaux home where, the family lawyer said, they were cut off from friends and relatives.

"There was no day and no night," said the lawyer, Daniel Picotin.

Protection didn't come cheap: They sold their ancestral home, apartments, jewels, wine collection, luxury watches — more than 4.5 million euros in all — handing over the proceeds to Tilly, a man they saw as their protector, even their "guru."

Archduke Joseph Diamond fetches record $21.5 million in Geneva auction

GENEVA — Christie's has auctioned off the famed Archduke Joseph Diamond for $21,474,525 including commission, a world auction record price per carat for a colorless diamond.

The price was well above the expected $15 million and more than triple the price paid for it at auction almost two decades ago. The auction took place in Geneva.

The 76.02-carat diamond, with perfect color and internally flawless clarity, came from the ancient Golconda mines in India. It was named for Archduke Joseph August of Austria, the great grandson of both a Holy Roman emperor and a French king.


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