White House asks Iran to return U.S. captives

WASHINGTON (AP) – The White House on Tuesday made a holiday appeal to Iran to return a retired FBI agent and two other Americans being held in the country. Robert Levinson, the former FBI agent, disappeared during a business trip to Iran’s Kish Island in March 2007.

The United States believes that the private investigator and father of seven was abducted and is being held in Iran. Levinson’s case was a topic in recent negotiations between the United States and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday

Obama specifically raised Levinson’s case, as well as those of U.S. citizens Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati, who have been detained in Iran, during a telephone conversation earlier in the fall with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.


Obama, at film studio, cites GOP obstruction

LOS ANGELES – President Obama accused Republicans in Congress Tuesday of focusing on trying to damage him politically at the expense of programs and legislation that would help the U.S. economy.

Speaking to an audience of movie industry workers in California, Obama said Republicans in the House voted more than 40 times trying to repeal the 2010 health care law rather than take up proposals he has made to rebuild U.S. infrastructure and improve education.

“We’d be a lot further along without some of the dysfunction and obstruction we’ve seen in Washington,” Obama said at the film studio of DreamWorks Animation SKG in Glendale. DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is a top Obama donor.

– Bloomberg News


Flip of U.S.-bound boat kills up to 30 migrants

MIAMI (AP) – A Royal Bahamas Defense Force spokesman said Tuesday that the death toll may reach 30 in the capsizing of a U.S.-bound sailboat packed with migrants from Haiti. Lt. Origin Deleveaux said Bahamian authorities have confirmed that at least 20 people died when the boat flipped after striking a reef over near Staniel Cay.

Deleveaux told the Associated Press that five bodies had been recovered with the aid of the U.S. Coast Guard. About 110 people have been rescued from the boat, including 19 women.

The accident was the latest in a series of shipwrecks involving Haitian migrants, who pay smugglers to ferry them across dangerous waters to the United States.


5 guns, ammo found in Zimmerman home

ORLANDO, Fla. – Seminole County deputies found five guns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition in George Zimmerman’s home last week soon after he was arrested for domestic violence.

A search warrant made public Tuesday shows that he had the weapon that his then-live-in girlfriend said he had used to threaten her: a Kel-Tec 12-gauge shotgun. He also had an AR-15 assault rifle and three handguns.

Zimmerman, 30, acquitted of second-degree murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, was arrested Nov. 18, accused of aggravated assault, domestic violence battery and criminal mischief.

– Orlando Sentinel