IS makes unusual claim of responsibility for Turkey attack
ISTANBUL (AP) — The Islamic State group on Monday made an unusual claim of responsibility for a major terrorist attack in Turkey, saying a “soldier of the caliphate” carried out the mass shooting at an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people as they welcomed the new year.
The group said Christian revelers were targeted in response to Turkish military operations against IS in northern Syria, but most of the dead were foreign tourists from Muslim countries.
The claim came after a recent IS propaganda video urged attacks on Turkey, which is home to an air base used in the U.S.-led effort against the group in Syria and Iraq.
Turkish authorities never confirmed the authenticity of the Dec. 22 video that purported to show Turkish soldiers who were burned alive, but access to social media was temporarily restricted in what appeared to be an effort to curb circulation of the footage.
The nightclub assailant, armed with a long-barreled weapon, killed a policeman and a civilian early Sunday outside the Reina club before entering and firing at some of the estimated 600 people inside. The establishment is frequented by famous locals, including singers, actors and athletes.
IS suicide bomber kills 36 in Baghdad market
BAGHDAD (AP) — A suicide bomber driving a pickup loaded with explosives struck a bustling market in Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 36 people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group hours after French President Francois Hollande arrived in the Iraqi capital.
The bomb went off in a fruit and vegetable market that was packed with day laborers, a police officer said, adding that another 52 people were wounded.
During a press conference with Hollande, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the bomber pretended to be a man seeking to hire day laborers. Once the workers gathered around, he detonated the vehicle.
IS claimed the attack in a statement circulated on a militant website often used by the extremists. It was the third IS-claimed attack in as many days in and around Baghdad, underscoring the lingering threat posed by the group despite a string of setbacks elsewhere in the country over the past year, including in and around the northern city of Mosul.
The attack took place in Sadr City, a vast Shiite district in eastern Baghdad that has been repeatedly targeted by Sunni extremists since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Federal prosecutor tackles heroin scourge that claimed son
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The phone at Bruce Brandler’s home rang at 3:37 a.m. It was the local hospital. His 16-year-old son was there, and he was in really bad shape.
A suspected heroin overdose, the nurse said.
Brandler didn’t believe it. Erik had his problems, but heroin? It seemed impossible.
Nearly 10 years later, the nation is gripped by a spiraling crisis of opioid and heroin abuse — and Brandler, a veteran federal prosecutor recently promoted to interim U.S. attorney, suddenly finds himself in a position to do something about the scourge that claimed his youngest son’s life.
Until now, he has never publicly discussed Erik’s overdose death. It was private and just too painful. But Brandler, now the chief federal law enforcement officer for a sprawling judicial district that covers half of Pennsylvania, said he felt a responsibility that came with his new, higher-profile job.
For Trump, the 1980s still hold relevance
NEW YORK (AP) — Bobby Knight. Don King. Sylvester Stallone.
Many of President-elect Donald Trump’s cultural touchstones, which he’d frequently name-drop at campaign rallies and on Twitter, were at their peak in the 1980s — the decade Trump’s celebrity status rose in New York, Trump Tower was built, “The Art of the Deal” was published and he first flirted with running for public office.
The “Go Go 1980s” of New York were spurred by Wall Street’s rise. It was a brash decade in which excess was the norm and ostentatious displays of wealth and power were celebrated in pop culture and among Manhattan’s elite. And while much of what defined the 1980s has since gone out of style, Trump has seemingly internalized its ethos, which is reflected in the decor of the Trump Tower lobby and the celebrities he stood alongside during the campaign.
An outer-borough New York developer trying to prove himself across the East River, Trump always sought approval of Manhattan’s ruling class and was eager to make a name for himself, according to those who tangled with him during that formative decade.
“He would relentlessly promote himself in the newspapers or on TV. He knew how to get press and squash his enemies,” said Geoge Arzt, press secretary for former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who served from 1978 to 1989. The me-first attitude that defined the 1980s “has long been a part of who Trump is,” Arzt added.
Carolina’s equipment man savors chance to skate in a game
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Jorge Alves usually sharpens the Carolina Hurricanes’ skates. Lately, the team’s equipment manager has been lacing up his own.
It’s been a wild past few days for Alves. The 37-year-old former Marine, ex-minor leaguer and veteran of the team’s equipment staff suddenly found himself in uniform for an NHL game — and even, for 7.6 unforgettable seconds, on the ice — as the Hurricanes’ emergency goalie while regular backup Eddie Lack was too sick to play.
And when the Hurricanes returned to practice Monday, he was back on the ice again — he regularly suits up during morning skates when one of the goalies on the roster is unavailable — and trying to get comfortable with the attention his unusual story has generated.
“This is the brightest stage in our sport, and it’s just, to have the honor to do this, everybody dreams about it,” Alves said. “Just working out and running and stuff, I’m always thinking about it — what if it ever happened? What would I do? How would I react? And then, when it actually did happen, I kind of went blank. You can’t prepare for that. It was unexpected and it was just quite a memory.”
It’s not like Alves doesn’t know his way around a rink: After serving four years in the Marines, he played club hockey at North Carolina State from 2002-04 and skated in the ECHL and the low-level Southern Professional Hockey League. He first worked with Carolina’s equipment staff during the 2003-04 season and became a full-time equipment manager in 2012-13.
Under 3 weeks left: Obama in closing stretch of presidency
WASHINGTON (AP) — His last vacation behind him, President Barack Obama is entering the closing stretch of his presidency, an eleventh-hour push to tie up loose ends and put finishing touches on his legacy before handing the reins to President-elect Donald Trump.
Obama returned to Washington midday Monday from Hawaii with less than three weeks left. His final days will largely be consumed by a bid to protect his endangered health care law, a major farewell speech and the ongoing handover of power to Trump.
In an email to supporters on Monday, Obama said his valedictory speech on Jan. 10 follows a tradition set in 1796 when the first president, George Washington, spoke to the American people for the last time in office. The speech will take place at McCormick Place, a giant convention center in Obama’s hometown of Chicago.
“I’m thinking about them as a chance to say thank you for this amazing journey, to celebrate the ways you’ve changed this country for the better these past eight years, and to offer some thoughts on where we all go from here,” Obama said.
Obama’s chief speechwriter, Cody Keenan, traveled with Obama to Hawaii and spent much of the trip working on the speech. The Chicago trip will likely be Obama’s last outside Washington as president and will be include a “family reunion” for Obama’s former campaign staffers.
Cruel bully or modern-day Wyatt Earp? Sheriff’s mixed legacy
PHOENIX (AP) — The full-throated bravado that made Sheriff Joe Arpaio a household name in debates over illegal immigration and the treatment of jail inmates was missing as he started his last news conference in a law enforcement career that spanned a half-century.
After being charged with a crime and booted from office by voters, the 84-year-old Arpaio looked tired and dispirited as he defended his investigation of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate — a debunked controversy that critics say Arpaio exploited to raise funds from his supporters.
The sheriff mispronounced several words as he attacked the birth record of the president he blames for his political demise. The media-savvy lawman ended the news conference by uncharacteristically declining to mix it up with reporters about the credibility of the five-year Obama investigation by his volunteer posse.
He told his 75 supporters in the room that the investigation wasn’t about whether Obama was born in the U.S. and instead focused on a claim that the birth certificate was fraudulent.
“This is tough for me to say — believe me, all of you media know me,” Arpaio said. “Sometimes I get diarrhea of the mouth. But I am going to tell you, we are not going to answer any questions. There is more sensitive information that we have regarding this matter, and I am not going into it.”
Medicare launches revamp for heart attacks, hip fractures
WASHINGTON (AP) — Heart attacks and broken hips cause much suffering and worry as people grow older. This year, Medicare wants to start changing how it pays for treatment of these life-threatening conditions, to promote quality and contain costs. Beneficiaries and family members may notice a new approach.
Hospitals and doctors in dozens of communities selected for large-scale experiments on this front are already gearing up. The goal is to test the notion that better coordination among clinicians, hospitals, and rehab centers can head off complications, prevent avoidable hospital re-admissions and help patients achieve more stable and enduring recoveries. If results back that up, Medicare can adopt the changes nationwide.
The cardiac and hip fracture experiments are the latest development in a big push under the Obama administration to reinvent Medicare, steering the program away from paying piecemeal for services, regardless of quality and cost. It’s unclear whether Donald Trump as president will continue the pace of change, slow down or even hit pause.
Trump’s Health and Human Services nominee, orthopedic-surgeon-turned-congressman Tom Price, has expressed general concern that the doctor-patient relationship could be harmed by Medicare payment changes seeking to contain costs. And the Medicare division that designed the experiments — the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation — is itself under threat of being abolished because it was created by President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law.
Some outside groups, including AARP, worry that Medicare may be moving too fast and that focusing on cost containment could lead to beneficiaries being shortchanged on rehab care.
Alabama band to march at inauguration, igniting controversy
The marching band of Alabama’s oldest private, historically black liberal arts college has accepted an invitation to perform at President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural parade, organizers said.
Talladega College’s band will march at Trump’s inauguration as other historically black schools such as Howard University, which performed at President Barack Obama’s first inaugural parade, said they won’t be marching in the Jan. 20 event.
“We were a bit horrified to hear of the invitation,” said Shirley Ferrill of Fairfield, Alabama, a member of Talladega’s Class of 1974.
“I don’t want my alma mater to give the appearance of supporting him,” Ferrill said of Trump on Monday. “Ignore, decline or whatever, but please don’t send our band out in our name to do that.”
The move has lit up Talladega College’s social media sites with a sharp debate about the band’s decision to participate in the parade. Some people voiced strong opposition, while others support the band’s participation.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski takes leave to have back surgery
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Hall of Fame Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is stepping away from the team to have lower back surgery.
The school announced Monday that the procedure is scheduled for Friday, with an anticipated recovery time of four weeks.
Krzyzewski will coach Wednesday night’s game against Georgia Tech before handing off to associate head coach Jeff Capel for Saturday’s home game against Boston College.
Krzyzewski, 69, will have a fragment of a herniated disk removed at Duke University Hospital. The school says Krzyzewski tried several treatment options during the past month before deciding on surgery.
Krzyzewski said in a statement that he consulted with the university’s medical team and “together, we have determined that surgery is the best course of action at this time.” He says the Blue Devils will “be in the capable hands” of Capel and assistants Nate James and Jon Scheyer.
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