Hot rhetoric aside, there's overlap in competing fiscal offers that could form basis of a deal
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bluster and hot rhetoric aside, the White House and House Republicans have identified areas of significant overlap that could form the basis for a final agreement after "fiscal cliff" posturing gives way to hard bargaining.
Both sides now concede that tax revenue and reductions in entitlement spending are essential elements of any deal. If the talks succeed, it probably will be because House Speaker John Boehner yields on raising tax rates for top earners and the White House bends on how to reduce spending on Medicare and accepts some changes in Social Security.
The White House and Boehner kept up the ridicule of each other's negotiating stances on Tuesday. But beneath the tough words were the possible makings of a deal that could borrow heavily from a near-bargain last year during debt-limit negotiations.
Then, President Barack Obama was willing to reduce cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries and increase the eligibility age for Medicare, as Boehner and other top Republicans have demanded. On Tuesday, Obama did not shut the door on Republican ideas on such entitlement programs.
"I'm prepared to make some tough decisions on some of these issues," Obama said, "but I can't ask folks who are, you know, middle class seniors who are on Medicare, young people who are trying to get student loans to go to college, I can't ask them to sacrifice and not ask anything of higher income folks."
Tens of thousands protest outside Egypt's presidential palace, police fire tear gas
CAIRO (AP) -- More than 100,000 Egyptians protested outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Tuesday, fueling tensions over Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi's seizure of nearly unrestricted powers and the adoption by his allies of a controversial draft constitution.
The outpouring of anger across the Egyptian capital, the Mediterranean port of Alexandria and a string of other cities pointed to a prolonged standoff between the president and a newly united opposition.
Morsi's opponents, long fractured by bickering and competing egos, have been re-energized since he announced decrees last month that place him above oversight of any kind, including by the courts, and provide immunity to two key bodies dominated by his allies: The 100-member panel drafting the constitution and parliament's upper chamber.
The decrees have led to charges that Morsi's powers turned him into a "new pharaoh."
The large turnout in Tuesday's protests -- dubbed "The Last Warning" by organizers -- signaled sustained momentum for the opposition, which brought out at least 200,000 protesters to Cairo's Tahrir Square a week ago and a comparable number on Friday to demand that Morsi rescind the decrees.
10 Things to Know for Wednesday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and stories that will be talked about Wednesday:
1. COMMON GROUND ON THE 'FISCAL CLIFF'
Both sides now concede that more tax revenues and cuts in entitlement spending are essential elements of any deal.
Fighting, death tolls surge as rebels push fight against regime to Syrian capital of Damascus
BEIRUT (AP) -- Syria's civil war is closing in on President Bashar Assad's seat of power in Damascus with clashes between government forces and rebels flaring around the city Tuesday, raising fears the capital will become the next major battlefield in the 20-month-old conflict.
Numerous reports emerged of at least a dozen people killed near the ancient city and elsewhere, and the regime said nine students and a teacher died from rebel mortar fire on a school. The state news agency originally said 30 people had been killed in the attack.
While many of the mostly poor, Sunni Muslim suburbs ringing Damascus have long been opposition hotbeds, fighting has intensified in the area in recent weeks as rebels press a battle they hope will finish Assad's regime.
"The push to take Damascus is a real one, and intense pressure to take control of the city is part of a major strategic shift by rebel commanders," said Mustafa Alani of the Geneva-based Gulf Research Center. "They have realized that without bringing the fight to Damascus, the regime will not collapse."
The increased pressure has raised worries that he or his forces will resort to desperate measures, perhaps striking neighbors Turkey or Israel, or using chemical weapons.
FBI: Alaska barista sexually assaulted, dismembered by man who confessed to killing her
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A man who died in an apparent suicide this week in an Alaska jail after confessing to a string of killings across the country had sexually assaulted and strangled an Anchorage barista the day after he abducted her, then left her body in a shed while he went on a two-week cruise, the FBI said Tuesday.
In the most detailed account yet of what happened to Samantha Koenig, who disappeared in February, authorities said Israel Keyes told them he strangled the 18-year-old, then left her body in a shed outside his Anchorage house until he returned from his cruise from New Orleans.
Once home, Keyes posed Koenig's body to make it appear she was still alive and took a Polaroid photo of her tied up, along with a newspaper dated Feb. 13 -- 12 days after the abduction from a coffee stand. He later typed a ransom note demanding $30,000 from Koenig's family on the back of a photocopy of the photo, sending a text message from the woman's cellphone with directions where he'd left the note at a local dog park.
Keyes dismembered Koenig's body and disposed of the remains in a frozen lake north of Anchorage after he cut a hole in the ice, the FBI said in a release.
Keyes, 34, was arrested in Koenig's death in March in Texas, after using her stolen debit card at ATMs there and in Alaska, Arizona and New Mexico.
Israeli settlement plans will force 1 state for Israelis, Palestinians, Abbas aide warns
RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- The Palestinians will ask the U.N. Security Council to call for an Israeli settlement freeze, President Mahmoud Abbas and his advisers decided Tuesday, as part of an escalating showdown over Israel's new plans to build thousands more homes on war-won land in and around Jerusalem.
Such construction will destroy any lingering hopes of setting up a Palestinian state, Abbas aides warned, as international anger over the settlement construction snowballed.
Israel announced the new plans after the U.N. last week recognized a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem -- lands Israel occupied in 1967 -- as a non-member observer.
The plans include 3,000 more homes for Jews in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, as well as preparations for construction of an especially sensitive project near Jerusalem, known as E-1.
Separately, Israel is moving forward with two major settlement projects in east Jerusalem. Israel would build more than 4,200 apartments in the two areas, Ramat Shlomo and Givat Hamatos.
Grizzly bear managers look toward trophy hunts in Rockies once federal protections are lifted
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- With bear-human conflicts on the rise, wildlife managers in the Northern Rockies are laying the groundwork for trophy hunts for grizzlies in anticipation of the government lifting their threatened species status.
It's expected to be 2014 before about 600 bears around Yellowstone National Park lose their federal protections, and possibly longer for about 1,000 bears in the region centered on Glacier National Park.
Yet already government officials say those populations have recovered to the point that limited hunting for small numbers of bears could occur after protections are lifted -- and without harm to the species' decades-long recovery. That could include hunts in areas of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho where run-ins with humans and livestock attacks have increased in recent years.
A federal-state committee that oversees grizzly bears will consider adopting a pro-hunting policy next week during a meeting in Missoula. Precise details on bear hunts have not been crafted.
The government has spent more than $20 million on restoration efforts since grizzly bears in the Lower 48 states were put on the list of federally protected species in 1975.
Biotech company behind 'frankenfish' faces uncertain future as FDA review of salmon drags on
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Salmon that's been genetically modified to grow twice as fast as normal could soon show up on your dinner plate. That is, if the company that makes the fish can stay afloat.
After weathering concerns about everything from the safety of humans eating the salmon to their impact on the environment, Aquabounty was poised to become the world's first company to sell fish whose DNA has been altered to speed up growth.
The Food and Drug Administration in 2010 concluded that Aquabounty's salmon was as safe to eat as the traditional variety. The agency also said that there's little chance that the salmon could escape and breed with wild fish, which could disrupt the fragile relationships between plants and animals in nature. But more than two years later the FDA has not approved the fish, and Aquabounty is running out of money.
"It's threatening our very survival," says CEO Ron Stotish, chief executive of the Maynard, Mass.-based company. "We only have enough money to survive until January 2013, so we have to raise more. But the unexplained delay has made raising money very difficult."
The FDA says it's still working on the final piece of its review, a report on the potential environmental impact of the salmon that must be published for comment before an approval can be issued. That means a final decision could be months, even years away. While the delay could mean that the faster-growing salmon will never wind up on American dinner tables, there's more at stake than seafood.
Obama uncle in Mass. gets new deportation hearing 2 decades after being ordered to leave US
BOSTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama's uncle is getting a new deportation hearing after an appeals board ordered the agency running the U.S. immigration court system to review his case.
Onyango Obama, the half brother of the president's late father, is from Kenya but has lived in the United States for decades. He was ordered by an immigration judge to leave the U.S. in 1992, when he failed to renew an application to remain. He later sought to reverse the deportation order.
The Board of Immigration Appeals has sent Obama's case to the Executive Office for Immigration Review for reassessment, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brian Hale said Tuesday, declining to discuss the reasoning behind the decision.
Obama's Cleveland-based attorney, P. Scott Bratton, didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment. An Executive Office for Immigration Review spokeswoman wouldn't comment, citing privacy laws.
Bratton previously said Obama's deportation order was caused by a technical error. He said Obama, 68, moved to the United States as a teenager in the early 1960s to live with a host family and attend school.
NYC police say suspect in death of man pushed in front of train has implicated himself
NEW YORK (AP) -- New York City police say a suspect in the death of a subway rider who was shoved onto the tracks has implicated himself in the crime.
The suspect was taken into custody on Tuesday after investigators recovered security video showing a man fitting the description of the assailant working with street vendors near Rockefeller Center.
New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne says no charges are expected to be announced until Wednesday.
Ki-Suck Han of Queens died shortly after being hit by a train Monday at the Times Square subway station.
Police say he tried to climb a few feet to safety, but got trapped between the train and the platform's edge.