AP Top News at 6:59 p.m. EST
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) UN rescinds invitation to Iran to attend talksGENEVA (AP) — A last-minute U.N. invitation for Iran to join this week's Syria peace talks threw the long-awaited Geneva conference into doubt Monday, forcing U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to rescind his offer under intense U.S. pressure after the opposition threatened to boycott. With the invitation withdrawn, the main Western-backed opposition group said it would attend the talks aimed at ending Syria's ruinous three-year civil war. The opposition said the conference should seek to establish a transitional government with full executive powers "in which killers and criminals do not participate."
Iran, US, Europe start implementing nuclear dealTEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran unplugged banks of centrifuges involved in its most sensitive uranium enrichment work on Monday, prompting the United States and European Union to partially lift economic sanctions as a landmark deal aimed at easing concerns over Iran's nuclear program went into effect. The mutual actions — curbing atomic work in exchange for some sanctions relief — start a six-month clock for Tehran and the world powers to negotiate a final accord that the Obama administration and its European allies say will be intended to ensure Iran cannot build a nuclear weapon.
2 deaths confirmed in Omaha plant explosionOMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An explosion Monday morning that brought down part of an animal feed processing plant in Omaha left at least two people dead and 10 others seriously hurt, authorities said. It was unclear if the death toll would rise as crews continued sifting through the rubble of the International Nutrition plant. Interim Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger said the search was progressing slowly because the structure is unsafe.
Family of man held in NKorea worried, encouragedSEATTLE (AP) — The family of an American missionary held more than a year in North Korea was heartbroken and encouraged by a brief news conference in which Kenneth Bae, wearing a gray cap and inmate's uniform with the number 103 on his chest, apologized and said he committed anti-government acts. "Our end goal is to see Kenneth reunited so he can recover emotionally and physically. He has chronic health problems," family friend Derek Sciba told The Associated Press. Sciba is a friend of Bae's sister, Terri Chung of Edmonds, and part of a group pushing for Bae's release.
Speeches, marches honor Martin Luther King Jr.ATLANTA (AP) — As the nation remembered and reflected Monday on the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., leaders and everyday Americans talked about how far the country has come in the past 50 years and how much more is to be done. At Ebenezer Baptist Church in King's hometown of Atlanta, civil rights leaders and members of King's own family spoke about poverty, violence, health care and voting rights, all themes from the civil rights struggle that still resonate to this day.
Some Obama spy changes hampered by complicationsWASHINGTON (AP) — Several of the key surveillance reforms unveiled by President Barack Obama face complications that could muddy the proposals' lawfulness, slow their momentum in Congress and saddle the government with heavy costs and bureaucracy, legal experts warn. Despite Obama's plans to shift the National Security Agency's mass storage of Americans' bulk phone records elsewhere, telephone companies do not want the responsibility. And the government could face privacy and structural hurdles in relying on any other entity to store the data.
Christie aide: Hoboken treated no differentlyTRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration on Monday pushed back against a claim that Superstorm Sandy relief funding was withheld from a severely flooded city because its Democratic mayor wouldn't sign off on a politically connected real estate venture. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno strongly denied Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer's claims as "false" and "illogical" on Monday, the day before Christie's second-term inauguration. And Marc Ferzan, executive director of the Governor's Office of Recovery and Rebuilding, told reporters in a conference call that Hoboken has been treated no differently than other cities with respect to storm relief funds.
Russians study Islamic video threatening OlympicsMOSCOW (AP) — Russia's counter-terrorism agency says it's studying a video posted by an Islamic militant group that asserted responsibility for suicide bombings that killed 34 people last month and is threatening to strike the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Security experts say the Russians are right in taking the threat seriously.
Comet-chasing probe wakes up, signals EarthBERLIN (AP) — Waking up after almost three years of hibernation, a comet-chasing spacecraft sent its first signal back to Earth on Monday, prompting cheers from scientists who hope to use it to land the first space lander onto a comet. The European Space Agency received the all-clear message from its Rosetta spacecraft at 7:18 p.m. (1818 GMT; 1:18 p.m. EST) — a message that had to travel some 800 million kilometers (500 million miles).
Wedding insurance expands as nuptials get pricierHARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Worried about the groom getting cold feet? There's an insurance policy for that. With the cost of the average American wedding reaching about $26,000, insurers have been selling a growing number of policies to protect against losses from extreme weather, illness and, in one firm's case, even a sudden change of heart.
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