Gay couples wed in Utah after judge overturns ban SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A federal judge struck down Utah's same-sex marriage ban Friday in a decision that marks a drastic shift toward gay marriage in a conservative state where the Mormon church has long been against it. The decision set off an immediate frenzy as the clerk in the state's most populous county began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples while state officials took steps to appeal the ruling and halt the process.
Obama hints at changing phone records collection WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama suggested Friday that he may be ready to make some changes in the bulk collection of Americans' phone records to allay the public's concern about privacy. Obama said he has not yet made any decisions about the National Security Agency's collection programs. But among the dozens of recommendations he's considering, he hinted that he may strip the NSA of its ability to store data in its own facilities and instead shift that storage to the private phone companies.
Obama puts a rosy spin on rough presidential year WASHINGTON (AP) - Putting a rosy spin on a difficult year, President Barack Obama acknowledged frustrating "ups and downs" on Friday but exulted that the improving economy is creating new jobs and claimed crucial progress for his troubled health care overhaul. He predicted 2014 would be "a breakthrough year for America." In his annual year-end news conference, Obama refused to dwell on his tumbling approval ratings, the disastrous rollout of his signature health care law or the pile of unfinished domestic priorities he leaves behind as he heads for a Christmas holiday in Hawaii. Asked whether this had been the worst year of his presidency so far, he laughed and said, "That's not how I think about it."
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Canadian court strikes down anti-prostitution laws TORONTO (AP) - Canada's highest court struck down the country's anti-prostitution laws Friday, a victory for sex workers who had argued that a ban on brothels and other measures made their profession more dangerous. The ruling drew criticism from the conservative government and religious leaders. The court, ruling in a case brought by three women in the sex trade, struck down all three of Canada's prostitution-related laws: bans on keeping a brothel, making a living from prostitution, and street soliciting. The ruling won't take effect immediately, however, because the court gave Parliament a year to respond with new legislation, and said the existing laws would remain in place until then.
Obama says 1 million signed up for health care WASHINGTON (AP) - His health care plan facing a dicey transition, President Barack Obama said Friday that insurance sign-ups are surging now that the government's website is working better for consumers. But it was too soon to say the rollout has turned the corner. More than 1 million people have enrolled since Oct. 1, Obama said at his end-of-the-year press conference. That's more than two-and-a-half times the number on Nov. 30, when major fixes to the website were completed. At that point, only 365,000 had signed up through new federal and state markets offering subsidized private insurance.
Judge orders hospital to keep girl on support OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - A judge on Friday ordered a California hospital to keep a girl declared brain dead on life support following what was supposed to be a routine tonsillectomy. The ruling by Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo came as both sides in the case agreed to get together and chose a neurologist to further examine 13-year-old Jahi McMath and determine her condition. The judge scheduled a hearing Monday to appoint a physician.
Reagan shooter granted more time outside hospital WASHINGTON (AP) - The man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan will get to spend more time outside a mental hospital where he has been confined for most of the past three decades, a judge ruled Friday. John Hinckley will be allowed to visit his mother's home in Williamsburg, Va., for up to 17 days at a time. Hinckley has been allowed to spend increasing amounts of time at his mother's house in recent years, but previous visits were capped at 10 days. Hinckley must make at least eight successful 17-day visits away from the hospital before any requests to increase his time in Williamsburg beyond that will even be considered, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman said in his ruling.
Stores open for 100 hours to attract shoppers NEW YORK (AP) - Some stores are ending the holiday shopping season the same way they began it - with round-the-clock, marathon shopping hours. Kohl's for the first time is staying open for essentially five days straight, from 6 a.m. on Friday through 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
Tom Cruise, tabloids, settle defamation lawsuit LOS ANGELES (AP) - The publisher of two tabloid magazines said it never intended to imply that Tom Cruise had cut all ties to his daughter after his divorce and announced Friday that it had reached a settlement with the actor over two stories it published. Bauer Publishing and Cruise's lawyer wrote in a joint statement that the terms of the settlement were confidential.
AP's Top 10 photos of 2013 How to sum up an entire year of news in just 10 photos? The very notion is daunting when we consider that the AP's award-winning team of hundreds of staff photographers, freelancers and photo editors sends out some 3,000 photos every 24 hours - over 1 million photos a year - to our subscribers around the globe. Photo editing is, of course, a subjective process of comparison and selection. It involves aesthetics, journalism, impact and memory.