Rubio's presidential bid boosted by secret-money commercials WASHINGTON (AP) - Voters are beginning to learn about Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio. What they're not learning, however, is who is paying to promote his candidacy. The Florida senator is benefiting in unprecedented ways from a nonprofit group funded by anonymous donors. While other presidential candidates also have ties to secret-money groups, the Rubio arrangement is the boldest. Every pro-Rubio television commercial so far in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina has been paid for not by his campaign or even by a super PAC that identifies its donors, but instead by a nonprofit called Conservative Solutions Project.
VW executive: Any fix for car owners could take year or more WASHINGTON (AP) - Volkswagen's top U.S. executive apologized Thursday as the emissions-rigging scandal engulfing the world's largest automaker deepened and members of Congress said the company violated the public's trust. "On behalf of our company, my colleagues in Germany and myself, I would like to offer a sincere apology for Volkswagen's use of a software program that served to defeat the regular emissions testing regime," Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn told a House subcommittee. Calling his company's admission "deeply troubling," Horn said, "We have broken the trust of our customers, dealerships, and employees, as well as the public and regulators." Even so, Horn distanced himself from the company's behavior, saying he felt personally deceived by actions he said were taken by unknown individuals.
Clinton server hack attempts came from China, Korea, Germany WASHINGTON (AP) - Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email server, containing an electronic inventory of some 55,000 pages of emails from her stint as secretary of state, was repeatedly hit by attempted cyberattacks originating in China, South Korea and Germany in 2014, according to a congressional document obtained by The Associated Press. At least five cyberattack tries were apparently blocked by a "threat monitoring" product that was connected to her network in October 2013, eight months after she left office. But for more than three months earlier that year, her system was not protected by the security product because it had not been installed.
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Syrian general says Russian strikes aid ground offensive DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Syria's top general on Thursday said Russian strikes had helped government forces launch a "wide-ranging" offensive in central and northwestern Syria, where al-Qaida's affiliate as well as other insurgents had advanced toward key government strongholds in recent months. Gen. Ali Ayoub said in a rare televised statement that the Russian strikes have facilitated an expanded military operation to eliminate "terrorists" - a term the Syrian government uses to refer to all armed opposition to President Bashar Assad. The Syrian ground push got a boost after Russian warships launched cruise missiles into Syria from the Caspian Sea on Wednesday, bringing new military might into the nearly five-year civil war.
McCarthy, rivals make pitch for speaker as House GOP votes WASHINGTON (AP) - House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy appealed to sharply divided fellow Republicans Thursday to back him for speaker at a time of turmoil and change. But the day's secret-ballot elections were shaping up as merely an early skirmish in the chaotic battle to lead the House. As the day began, McCarthy and his two rivals to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner addressed a closed-door meeting of the GOP rank and file in the basement of the Capitol, making final pitches ahead of elections to begin at noon. Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, who's supporting McCarthy, said the 50-year-old Californian pitched himself as "a proven leader, a generational change in the speakership." "Plus he listens very carefully," Brady said, "and as a result our conference will continue to have more power over the agenda, which is what we all want." But McCarthy has failed to win over a small but crucial bloc in the House GOP: the hardline Freedom Caucus.
Air Force: French train hero stabbed in California WASHINGTON (AP) - An Air Force spokesman says Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, who helped subdue an attacker on a French train in August, is in stable condition after being stabbed in California. The spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher Karns, says details are sketchy. He says Stone is being treated in a hospital in the Sacramento area. Stone is assigned to Travis Air Force Base in California. Karns says the matter is being handled by local law enforcement officials. Karns has no details on the nature or exact location of the stabbing.
Receding floodwaters lead to homecoming heartbreak SUMMERTON, S.C. (AP) - The pungent stench of mildew greeted Asiah Lewis when she came home to her apartment, her footsteps making squishing sounds on the carpet as she picked through soggy clothes and a lifted a moldy shoe from the floor. Three days after Lewis, her four children and her mother fled the Meadowfield Apartments in chest-deep floodwaters, she returned Wednesday only to realize that - for now, at least - her family is homeless. As floodwaters recede across the state, residents are coming home to the heartbreaking reality of just how much they have lost. "Pictures on the walls we're going to try to get.
Amid new attacks, Israel bars ministers from Jerusalem site JERUSALEM (AP) - An Arab attacker stabbed four Israelis with a screwdriver on Thursday before a soldier shot and killed him amid fresh violence that prompted Israel's premier to bar Cabinet ministers and lawmakers from a sensitive Jerusalem holy site at the heart of the latest tensions. The attack in Tel Aviv was among three new stabbings on Thursday that left several people wounded. A series of similar attacks in recent days, carried out mainly by young people with no known links to armed groups, have shocked Israelis and raised fears of a new uprising. The screwdriver-wielding assailant stabbed and wounded four Israelis, including a female soldier, near a busy Tel Aviv road before being shot dead, Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
Why is elephant cancer rare? Answer might help treat humans CHICAGO (AP) - Cancer is much less common in elephants than in humans, even though the big beasts' bodies have many more cells. That's a paradox known among scientists, and now researchers think they may have an explanation - one they say might someday lead to new ways to protect people from cancer. Compared with just one copy in humans, elephants' cells contain 20 copies of a major cancer-suppressing gene, two teams of scientists report. The gene helps damaged cells repair themselves or self-destruct when exposed to cancer-causing substances. The findings aren't proof that those extra p53 genes make elephants cancer-resistant, but if future research confirms it, scientists could try to develop drugs for humans that would mimic the effect.
Greek town glimpses mass transit future: driverless buses TRIKALA, Greece (AP) - There'll be no arguing with the driver on this bus: the rides are free and there's no driver anyway. Trikala, a rural town in northern Greece, has been chosen to test a driverless bus in real traffic conditions for the first time, part of a European project to revolutionize mass transport and wean its cities off oil dependency over the next 30 years. Trials of the French-built CityMobil2 buses started last week and will last through late February. Over the past year, CityMobil2 has been tried out near its base in La Rochelle in western France, on a campus in Lausanne, Switzerland, and near Helsinki, Finland, all in controlled conditions that produced no accidents.