BERLIN (AP) - Trying to tamp down concerns about government over-reach, President Barack Obama on Wednesday defended U.S. Internet and phone surveillance programs as narrowly targeted efforts that have saved lives and thwarted at least 50 terror threats. "This is not a situation in which we are rifling through ordinary emails" of huge numbers of citizens in the United States or elsewhere, the president declared during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He called it as a "circumscribed, narrow" surveillance program.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghanistan's president says he will not pursue peace talks with the Taliban unless the United States steps out of the negotiations and the militant group stops its violent attacks on the ground. Hamid Karzai is upset over a U.S. and Taliban announcement the day before that they would begin preliminary peace talks in Qatar without the Afghan government.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Internal Revenue Service is about to pay $70 million in employee bonuses despite an Obama administration directive to cancel discretionary bonuses because of automatic spending cuts enacted this year, according to a GOP senator. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa says his office has learned that the IRS is executing an agreement with the employees' union on Wednesday to pay the bonuses. Grassley says the bonuses should be canceled under an April directive from the White House budget office.
SAO PAULO (AP) - Tens of thousands of Brazilians again flooded the streets of the country's biggest city to raise a collective cry against a longstanding lament - people are weighed down by high taxes and high prices but get low-quality public services and a system of government infected with corruption. That was the repeated message Tuesday night in Sao Paulo, where upward of 50,000 people massed in front of the city's main cathedral. While mostly peaceful, the demonstration followed the rhythm of protests that drew 240,000 people across Brazil the previous night, with small bands of radicals splitting off to fight with police and break into stores.
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) - Al-Qaida-linked militants detonated multiple bomb blasts and breached the main U.N. compound in Mogadishu on Wednesday, sparking gun battles with security forces that killed at least 12 people. U.N. personnel who reached the compound's secure bunker all survived, though officials hinted not all reached that bunker. An ambulance driver said that five Somali civilians were killed and an Associated Press reporter who went inside the U.N. compound after the battle saw two dead bodies of what appeared to be al-Shabab attackers wearing Somali military uniforms. An official said seven attackers died in total.
ASHLAND, Ohio (AP) - A woman told authorities she was held captive for more than a year by three people who forced her to do housework, raided her bank account and menaced her with snakes and pit bulls. But an attorney for one of the suspects and the alleged captor's mother said the mentally impaired woman was given a place to stay because she and her young daughter had no home and that the woman was free to move in an out whenever she wanted.
The image was stark: a silent, solitary figure standing in passive defiance to the Turkish prime minister's demand for protesters to clear Taksim Square in central Istanbul. The challenge by performance artist Erdem Gunduz is catching on with other protesters in Turkey, encouraged by social media into imitating his gesture across the country.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Michael Hastings, the war correspondent whose unflinching reporting from Afghanistan led to the resignation of a top U.S. army general, has died in a car accident in Los Angeles, according to his employer and family. Hastings, who was 33, was described by many of his colleagues as an unfailingly bright and hard-charging reporter who wrote stories that mattered. Most recently, he wrote about politics for the news website BuzzFeed, where the top editor said colleagues were devastated by the loss.
MIAMI (AP) - When LeBron James' greatness almost wasn't good enough, officials began preparing for a San Antonio celebration. Miami's championship reign would be over. Someone in Spurs black would replace James as NBA Finals MVP.