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WORLD BRIEFLY: Report says senior officials knew IRS targeted tea party groups

Saturday, May 11, 2013 | 9:45 p.m. CDT

Here are today's top world and national news stories from The Associated Press.

Watchdog report says senior IRS officials knew tea party groups targeted in 2011

WASHINGTON — Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general's report obtained by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner.

The IRS apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was "inappropriate" targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status. The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware.

But on June 29, 2011, Lois G. Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt organizations, learned at a meeting that groups were being targeted, according to the watchdog's report. At the meeting, she was told that groups with "Tea Party," ''Patriot" or "9/12 Project" in their names were being flagged for additional and often burdensome scrutiny, the report says.

The 9-12 Project is a group started by conservative TV personality Glenn Beck.

Lerner instructed agents to change the criteria for flagging groups "immediately," the report says.

DNA shows Ohio kidnap suspect fathered girl freed with 3 women; relatives call him paranoid

CLEVELAND — As relatives of the Cleveland kidnapping and rape suspect recounted claims of his unnerving paranoia and violent outbursts, DNA testing confirmed the man accused of holding three women captive for nearly a decade is the father of a 6-year-old girl who also escaped from the house.

Ariel Castro, charged with rape and kidnapping, remained jailed Friday under a suicide watch on $8 million bond while prosecutors weighed more charges, including some that might carry the death penalty. Public defender Kathleen Demetz, who said she is acting as Castro's adviser while he awaits a full-time attorney, said Friday she can't speak to his guilt or innocence and said only that she advised him not to talk to reporters.

But those who know the 52-year-old Castro are speaking up, saying he was often angry, paranoid and prone to violent outbursts against the now-dead mother of his adult children. He frequently beat her, played bizarre psychological games and locked her indoors, they said.

The stories, repeated in separate interviews with The Associated Press by members of Castro's extended family, have surprised people who knew him as a musician who played bass in several bands around Cleveland the last two decades.

Miguel Quinones, manager of a group Castro played with twice as a backup bass player about five years ago, said he had nothing bad to say about Castro based on his own experiences.

For 3 rescued Cleveland women, a confusing ordeal of recovery begins now

Year after year, the clock ticked by and the calendar marched forward, carrying the three women further from the real world and pulling them deeper into an isolated nightmare.

Now, for the women freed from captivity inside a Cleveland house, the ordeal is not over. Next comes recovery — from sexual abuse and their sudden, jarring re-entry into a world much different from the one they were snatched from a decade ago.

Therapists say that with extensive treatment and support, healing is likely for the women, who were 14, 16 and 21 when they were abducted. But it is often a long and difficult process.

"It's sort of like coming out of a coma," said Barbara Greenberg, a psychologist who specializes in treating abused teenagers. "It's a very isolating and bewildering experience."

World passes carbon dioxide level milestone; experts say 'we're stuck' with global warming

WASHINGTON — The old saying that "what goes up must come down" doesn't apply to carbon dioxide pollution in the air, which just hit an unnerving milestone.

The chief greenhouse gas was measured Thursday at 400 parts per million in Hawaii, a monitoring site that sets the world's benchmark. It's a symbolic mark that scientists and environmentalists have been anticipating for years.

While this week's number has garnered all sorts of attention, it is just a daily reading in the month when the chief greenhouse gas peaks in the Northern Hemisphere. It will be lower the rest of the year. This year will probably average around 396 ppm. But not for long — the trend is going up and at faster and faster rates.

Within a decade the world will never see days — even in the cleanest of places on days in the fall when greenhouse gases are at their lowest — when the carbon measurement falls below 400 ppm, said James Butler, director of global monitoring at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth Science Research Lab in Boulder, Colo.

"The 400 is a reminder that our emissions are not only continuing, but they're accelerating; that's a scary thing," Butler said Saturday. "We're stuck. We're going to keep going up."

Spacewalking repair at station halts serious leak for now; NASA hopeful new pump the answer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Astronauts making a rare, hastily planned spacewalk replaced a pump outside the International Space Station on Saturday in hopes of plugging a serious ammonia leak.

The prospects of success grew as the minutes, then hours passed and no frozen flecks of ammonia appeared. Mission Control said it appeared as though the leak may have been plugged, although additional monitoring over the coming weeks will be needed before declaring a victory.

"I will tell you that we're happy. We're very happy," said Joel Montalbano, NASA's deputy space station program manager. "We didn't see any obvious signs of a leak, but it's going to take some time ... for us to look at the system, evaluate the system and make sure we did, indeed, stop the leak."

Montalbano expects it will take "a good four weeks, five weeks, maybe even a few weeks longer."

"Obviously, the longer you go, the more confidence you get," he told reporters.

America's Cup death latest patch of rough waters for planners of sailing's biggest race

SAN FRANCISCO — Olympic gold medal-winning sailor Andrew "Bart" Simpson's death during an America's Cup training run on San Francisco Bay last week was the latest and most glaring setback to befall an event that had already encountered its share of rough waters.

Now, questions are being raised about the safety of the $10 million high-tech boats that can obtain speeds of 45 mph and how Simpson's death will affect his team, Artemis Racing, and the America's Cup itself. It's unclear if Artemis will compete, as planned, now that one of its two boats has been destroyed.

From the moment billionaire Larry Ellison proposed holding the event in San Francisco after winning the trophy in 2010, America's Cup organizers ran into vocal political opposition, lawsuits and community protests over the public cost of the event to the city's treasury and environment.

"This is not the first time a bunch of starry eyed politicians have been bamboozled by a tycoon," said former city supervisor Aaron Peskin, who settled his lawsuit last year that sought to stop the event. "Usually when things get hyped that much they turn out to be too good to be true. This was too good to be true."

Up to a dozen sailing teams were expected to set up operations for months around the bay, injecting a significant boost to the local economy, but only three competitors showed up to take on the defending cup champions Oracle racing.

Former Pakistani prime minister declares victory in historic election based on partial vote count

ISLAMABAD — Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared victory following a historic election marred by violence Saturday, as unofficial, partial vote counts showed his party with an overwhelming lead.

If his victory is confirmed, it would be a remarkable comeback for the 63-year-old Sharif, who has twice served as the country's premier but was toppled in a military coup in 1999. He spent years in exile before returning to the country in 2007. His party weathered a strong campaign by former cricket star Imran Khan that energized Pakistan's young people.

Sharif expressed a desire to work with all parties to solve the country's problems in a victory speech given to his supporters in the eastern city of Lahore as his lead in the national election became apparent based on unofficial, partial vote counts announced by local Pakistan state TV.

The results indicated Sharif's party has an overwhelming lead, but would fall short of winning a majority of the 272 directly elected national assembly seats, meaning he would have to put together a ruling coalition.

"I appeal to all to come sit with me at the table so that this nation can get rid of this curse of power cuts, inflation and unemployment," Sharif said.

Turkey blames group linked to Syria for car bombings that kill 43, wound 140 others

REYHANLI, Turkey — In one of the deadliest attacks in Turkey in recent years, two car bombs exploded near the border with Syria on Saturday, killing 43 and wounding 140 others. Turkish officials blamed the attack on a group linked to Syria, and a deputy prime minister called the neighboring country's intelligence service and military "the usual suspects."

The blasts, which were 15 minutes apart and hit the town of Reyhanli's busiest street, raised fears that Turkey could increasingly be drawn into Syria's brutal civil war.

Turkey already hosts Syria's political opposition and rebel commanders, has given shelter to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and in the past retaliated against Syrian shells that landed in Turkey.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said the assailants were from Turkey, but were linked to Syria's intelligence service.

"We have to a great extent completed our work toward identifying the assailants," he told reporters. "We have established that the organization and assailants have links to the pro-regime mukhabarat (intelligence) organization."

Britain's Prince Harry, U.S. swimmer Missy Franklin help kick off Warrior Games for wounded vets

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Escorted by Britain's Prince Harry and swimming superstar Missy Franklin, a U.S. Navy officer blinded by an improvised bomb in Afghanistan lit an Olympic-style cauldron Saturday to launch the Warrior Games for wounded service members.

Lt. Bradley Snyder, Harry and Franklin completed the last leg of a brief torch relay at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to formally start the games.

All three lifted the torch to the lip of the cauldron to ignite the flame.

It was a touching start to the Paralympic-style games, which run through Thursday. About 260 athletes are competing in basketball, volleyball, shooting, archery, track and field and swimming — Snyder's sport.

Britain sent a 35-member team, and the prince met with the athletes earlier in the day. He also sat on a gymnasium floor in a circle of 12 sitting volleyball players, batting the ball around amid whoops and laughter.


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