---- — Is Obama a skeet shooter? White House releases photo it says shows him shooting clay targets
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two days before President Barack Obama’s first trip outside Washington to promote his gun-control proposals, the White House tried to settle a brewing mystery when it released a photo to back his claim to be a skeet shooter.
Obama had set inquiring minds spinning when, in an interview with The New Republic magazine, he answered “yes” when asked if he had ever fired a gun. The admission came as a surprise to many.
“Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” Obama said in the interview released last weekend, referring to the official presidential retreat in rural Maryland, which he last visited in October while campaigning for re-election. Asked whether the entire family participates, the president said: “Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there.”
Few could recall Obama ever talking about firing a gun or going skeet shooting “all the time.”
The official White House photo released Saturday is dated Aug. 4, 2012. The caption says Obama is shooting clay targets on the range at Camp David. Obama is seen holding a gun against his left shoulder, his left index finger on the trigger and smoke coming from the barrel. He is wearing jeans, a dark blue, short-sleeved polo shirt, sunglasses and headphones.
Report: Missing NYC woman found dead in Turkey; 9 arrested in the case
ISTANBUL (AP) — A New York City woman who went missing while vacationing alone in Istanbul was found dead on Saturday, and police detained nine people for questioning in connection with the case, Turkey’s state-run news agency said.
Sarai Sierra, a 33-year-old mother of two, was last heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was to fly home. Her disappearance attracted a lot of interest in Turkey, where the disappearance of tourists is rare, and Istanbul police had set up a special unit to find her.
The state-run Anadolu Agency said the body of a woman was discovered Saturday evening near the remnants of ancient city walls and that police later identified it as Sierra’s.
The agency did not say what caused her death. But the private NTV television reported that she was stabbed to death, while a private news agency, Dogan, said she had a head wound, suggesting she may have been hit with an object.
Police reached by The Associated Press refused to comment on the case.
As standoff drags on in Alabama, nearby town grieves for bus driver who was shot to death
MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — As the standoff with a man accused of holding a 5-year-old boy hostage continued Saturday, a nearby community prepared to bury the beloved bus driver who was shot to death when the episode started to unfold five days ago.
Charles Albert Poland Jr., a 66-year-old man known around his town as Chuck, was described by folks in his hometown of Newton as a humble hero who gave his life Tuesday to protect the children on his bus. Visitations services for Poland were scheduled for Saturday evening, and his funeral was set for Sunday afternoon.
“I believe that if he had to do it all over again tomorrow, he would,” said Poland’s sister-in-law, Lavern Skipper. “He would do it for those children.”
Authorities said Jim Lee Dykes — a Vietnam-era veteran known as Jimmy to his neighbors —boarded a stopped school bus filled with 21 children Tuesday afternoon and demanded two boys between 6 and 8 years old. When Poland tried to block his way, the gunman shot him several times and took one 5-year-old boy — who police say remains in an underground bunker with Dykes.
Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said in a briefing with reporters Saturday that Dykes has told them he has blankets and an electric heater in the bunker. Authorities have been communicating with Dykes through a ventilation pipe to the underground bunked.
Egypt Interior Minister vows probe into attack on naked protester, blames rioters for now
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s Interior Minister vowed Saturday to investigate the beating of a naked man by riot police that threatened to further inflame popular anger against security forces, but suggested that initial results absolve the police of direct abuse.
The beating was caught on camera and broadcast live on television late Friday as protests raged in the streets outside the presidential palace. Video showed police trying to bundle the naked man into a police van after beating him.
Less than 24 hours after the incident, several thousand anti-government demonstrators marched again on the palace Saturday denouncing the police and Islamist President Mohammed Morsi after a week of violent protests that claimed more than 60 lives nationwide.
Speaking to reporters after Friday’s assault, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said that initial results from the public prosecutor’s investigation show that 48-year-old Hamada Saber was undressed by “rioters” during skirmishes between police and protesters. He was then hit in the foot by a bird shot, the interior minister said, stopping short of saying if the injury was a result of police firing into the crowds.
“The central security forces then found him lying on the ground and tried to put him in an armored vehicle, though the way in which they did that was excessive,” said Ibrahim.
Turkish official: US Embassy bomber had previous terror conviction, took part in hunger strike
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The suicide bomber who struck the U.S. Embassy in Ankara spent several years in prison on terrorism charges but was released on probation after being diagnosed with a hunger strike-related brain disorder, officials said Saturday.
The bomber, identified as 40-year-old leftist militant Ecevit Sanli, killed himself and a Turkish security guard on Friday, in what U.S. officials said was a terrorist attack. Sanli was armed with enough TNT to blow up a two-story building and also detonated a hand grenade, officials said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that police believe the bomber was connected his nation’s outlawed leftistFullscreen militant group Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C. And on Saturday DHKP-C claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on a website linked to the group. It said Sanli carried out the act of “self-sacrifice” on behalf of the group.
The group called itself “immortal” and said, “Down with imperialism and the collaborating oligarchy.” But it gave no reason for attacking the U.S. Embassy. The authenticity of the website was confirmed by a government terrorism expert who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with rules that bar government employees from speaking to reporters without prior authorization.
Turkey’s private NTV television, meanwhile, said police detained three people on Saturday who may be connected to the U.S. Embassy attack during operations in Ankara and Istanbul. Two of the suspects were being questioned by police in Ankara, while the third was taken into custody in Istanbul and was being brought to Ankara.
Holograms seen as tools to teach future generations about Holocaust, retell survivors’ stories
LOS ANGELES (AP) — For years, Holocaust survivor Pinchus Gutter has told the tragic story of watching his parents and 10-year-old twin sister herded into a Nazi death camp’s gas chambers so quickly that he had no time to even say goodbye.
He was left instead with an enduring image he has carried with him through 70 years: that of his sister vanishing into a sea of people doomed to die.
Only this time the elderly, balding man wasn’t really there as he recounted the horror of the Holocaust to an audience gathered in an auditorium at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.
It was the 80-year-old survivor’s digital doppelganger, dressed in a white shirt, dark pants and matching vest, that was doing the talking as it gazed intently at its audience, sometimes tapping its feet as it paused to consider a question.
Over the years, elderly Holocaust survivors like Gutter have been leaving behind manuscripts and oral histories of their lives, fearful that once they are gone there will be no one to explain the horror they lived through or to challenge the accounts of Holocaust deniers like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ohio Art Co. says Etch A Sketch inventor Andre Cassagnes dies near Paris
BRYAN, Ohio (AP) — Andre Cassagnes, the inventor of the Etch A Sketch toy that generations of children drew on, shook up and started over, has died in France, the toy’s maker said.
Cassagnes died Jan. 16 in a Paris suburb at age 86, said the Ohio Art Co., based in Bryan in northwest Ohio. The cause wasn’t disclosed Saturday.
“Etch A Sketch has brought much success to the Ohio Art Company, and we will be eternally grateful to Andre for that. His invention brought joy to so many over such a long period of time,” said Larry Killgallon, president of Ohio Art.
Then an electrical technician, Cassagnes came upon the Etch A Sketch idea in the late 1950s when he peeled a translucent decal from a light switch plate and found pencil mark images transferred to the opposite face, the Toy Industry Association said.
Ohio Art saw his idea at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1959. The toy, with its gray screen, red frame and two white knobs that are twisted back and forth to create drawings, was launched in 1960 and became the top seller that holiday season. More than 100 million have been sold worldwide since.