AP Exclusive: Twin tragedies give survivor a new face
ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — He'd been waiting for this day, and when his doctor handed him the mirror, Andy Sandness stared at his image and absorbed the enormity of the moment: He had a new face, one that had belonged to another man.
Are face transplants still research, or regular care?
Is replacing a severely disfigured person's face with one from a dead donor ready to be called regular care, something insurers should cover? Mayo Clinic has raised that question by doing the first U.S. face transplant that's not part of research.
Faces, hands, wombs and even a penis have been transplanted in recent years. Unlike liver or heart transplants, these novel procedures are not life-saving but life-enhancing.
Aboriginal woman’s slaying exposes Australia’s racial divide
YAMBA, Australia (AP) — The life was long drained from Lynette Daley by the time the cops rolled up to the lonely beach where her naked body lay.
Her skin was cold, her lips were blue, and her blood was everywhere. It was between her legs and in a large clot by her feet. It was inside the four-wheel drive parked nearby and on the remains of the recently burned mattress partly hidden in the sand. And it was on the jeans worn by one of the two men who were with Lynette when she died.
Project examines opioid industry’s political influence
This is another installment in an investigation by The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity examining the politics behind the nation's opioid epidemic.
The story examines how drug companies are working to convince lawmakers and regulators that abuse-deterrent formulas —new, higher-priced forms of their painkillers — are a key solution to America's opioid crisis. They are making the push even though there is little evidence that the reformulated opioids reduce overdoses or deaths.
Revolutionary Guard faces new foe in Iran’s opening economy
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran's Revolutionary Guard faces a new enemy: the gradual opening of the country's economy after the nuclear deal with world powers.
Though better known for its hard-line fervor as an elite force created to defend Iran's cleric-led system, the Guard holds vast business interests both public and hidden across the Islamic Republic. In times of international sanctions, the organization won massive no-bid government contracts and expanded its influence.
Year’s top news filled with division _ and no middle ground
Fed up with Europe's union across borders? Reject it. Disgusted with the U.S. political establishment? Can it.
The news in 2016 was filled with battles over culture and territory that exposed divisions far deeper than many realized. But people confronting those divides repeatedly rejected the prospect of middle-ground solutions and the institutions put in place to deliver them.
Pellets fired to quell protests blind hundreds of Kashmiris
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Indian authorities call the shotgun shells filled with hundreds of small metal pellets a "non-lethal" weapon for crowd control, but that does not make them harmless. They've inflicted a permanent toll on hundreds of Kashmiris hit by them.
Their faces are scarred. Their eyes are damaged or simply gone, replaced with prosthetics. And their psychological wounds run deeper still.
In 2016, politics dominated our pop culture _ and vice versa
Our politics is often reflected in our popular culture, and vice versa — especially in an election year. That relationship seemed closer than ever in 2016, when a TV personality was elected president, reality shows and beauty contests were referenced in presidential debates, and even a Broadway show ignited partisan sparring.
Next on Michelle Obama’s journey: Figuring out next steps
WASHINGTON (AP) — After eight years as first lady, what Michelle Obama does next will be one of the most talked-about questions when the Obamas leave the White House.
She'll have a variety of options after being a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk-show guest, a Democratic power player and a fashion maven.
Preventing not-so-happy holidays fraud
More spending, more donations, more travel and more distractions — there's no time like the holidays for fraud.
"Scammers are opportunists and, unfortunately, at the holidays we give them plenty of opportunities," said Katherine Hutt, a spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau. She says the most important thing people can do is be aware of possible scams and to be extra cautious at this time of year.
Here are a few common types of holiday frauds and tips on how to avoid them:
Smuggler or survivor? Migrants forced to help, face arrest
PACHINO, Sicily (AP) — All migrant Marc Samie has of his fiancee is a picture in his mind. Louise, seven and a half months pregnant, is standing silently on a beach in Libya, tears rolling down her face as traffickers force him at gunpoint into a rubber dinghy with a compass.
Myanmar town wants the secret out: George Orwell slept here
KATHA, Myanmar (AP) — In the 1990s, Nyo Ko Naing noticed that the handful of foreign tourists who made it to his remote hometown were carrying their own maps and looked like they were searching for something. Someone, it turns out, by the name of George Orwell.
Mexico’s drug war marks a decade amid doubts, changes
CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico (AP) — Ten years after Mexico declared a war on drugs, the offensive has left some major drug cartels splintered and many old-line kingpins like Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman in jail, but done little to reduce crime or violence in the nation's roughest regions.
Chapel of Love lost to fire that ravaged city in Smokies
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — The wildfires that killed 14 people and tore through Gatlinburg also stole an iconic venue from this city at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains whose nickname is "the wedding capital of the South."
All that remains of Cupid's Chapel of Love is a heart-shaped pink sign with its name spelled out in Barbie-doll-style cursive lettering.
When neo-Nazis have doubts, there’s a number to call
SCHLEIFE, Germany (AP) — Felix Benneckenstein was a rising star on Germany's far-right scene, a young songwriter whose rousing guitar anthems made white nationalism sound romantic and rebellious.
But when fellow neo-Nazis attacked a friend, Benneckenstein found the doubts he'd ignored for years coming to the surface.
Iraq prepares for new fight against post-Mosul IS
BAGHDAD (AP) — With the Islamic State group's "caliphate" seemingly nearing its downfall in Iraq, the country's security agencies are preparing for a different fight against the militants, shifting away from ground offensives to a focus on intelligence work, surgical airstrikes and a higher level of cooperation with the West.
Time to set limits: Business owners suffer tech overload
NEW YORK (AP) — Three years into being a business owner, Becky Davis knew she needed to break the hold technology had on her.
Davis, a marketing and management consultant to other small business owners, was so immersed in emails, texts and social media that she was getting only four or five hours of sleep a night and her husband said he felt invisible. It also hurt her productivity — she'd get distracted reading people's posts and realize she'd lost two hours of work time.
Spread by trade and climate, bugs butcher America’s forests
PETERSHAM, Mass. (AP) — In a towering forest of centuries-old eastern hemlocks, it's easy to miss one of the tree's nemeses. No larger than a speck of pepper, the Hemlock woolly adelgid spends its life on the underside of needles sucking sap, eventually killing the tree.
Chopper crash in Rio flashpoint with police in ‘City of God’
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Viviane Goncalves cries softly as she explains why she believes her husband was killed.
The 32-year-old widow says she thinks military police shot him in revenge after one of their helicopters crashed Nov. 19 while helping an anti-drug operation near the City of God slum where the couple lived, killing all four officers on board.
Cuba starts return to normal as mourning for Castro ends
HAVANA (AP) — Music is playing in the streets again. Tourists are sipping mojitos at sidewalk cafes. Flags are flapping at full staff. After nine days of national mourning for Fidel Castro, Cuba is slowly returning to noisy, boisterous normality.
Cuba is a country where sidewalks serve as living rooms and social clubs, but during the mourning period people mostly stayed indoors, watching television and avoiding any appearance of joviality.
No more room for the dead as Syria’s Aleppo is crushed
BEIRUT (AP) — The old Aleppo cemetery filled up a year ago. The new one filled up last week. Now the dead are left in the besieged enclave's streets, buried in backyards and overwhelming the morgues.
Experts warn of mental health woes as wildfires ravage South
ATLANTA (AP) — When U.S. Forest Ranger Jody Bandy confronted the man in the Pisgah National Forest, he said he'd been at the nearby wildfire and "couldn't take it anymore."
Then he ran from the officer, tumbling head-over-head down the mountainside, into the river below and slamming into boulders in the water, Bandy said in a court affidavit.
For now, Trump bears signs of a dealmaker, not a policymaker
WASHINGTON (AP) — He phones. He kibitzes. He cajoles. He threatens. He rewards.
It's a freewheeling style that President-elect Donald Trump used to stop Carrier from shipping 800 jobs from an Indiana factory to Mexico. And it marks a radical shift from the measured words and scripted events that typify most presidents-elect.
Within hours, wildfires set Tennessee mountain city aflame
GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — Tracey Mayberry told her boss to fire her.
Semper (and suffer) Fidel: Artists conflicted about Castro
NEW YORK (AP) — As a prominent advocate for human rights, the poet Rose Styron knew well the abuses in Fidel Castro's Cuba and the censorship of artists and publications with dissenting views. But when she and her husband, author William Styron, were invited to meet him in 2000 she didn't hesitate to accept.
A Castro legacy: Cuban-Americans’ hefty clout in US politics
MIAMI (AP) — Cuban-Americans carry hefty political clout in the United States — they vote more frequently than any other Latinos; they have a strong presence in Washington with three senators, two of whom were serious contenders for the presidency; and only one non-Cuban has been Miami's mayor since 1985.
Supreme Court hears cases about use of race in redistricting
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is returning to the familiar intersection of race and politics, in a pair of cases examining redistricting in North Carolina and Virginia.
The eight-justice court is hearing arguments Monday in two cases that deal with the same basic issue of whether race played too large a role in the drawing of electoral districts, to the detriment of African-Americans.
Website seeks to match migrants with employers in Germany
BERLIN (AP) — A startup company in Berlin is trying to help integrate last year's flood of migrants into the German workforce with a tailor-made online job market for new arrivals.
The website www.MigrantHire.com was founded earlier this year by a mix of Germans and migrants, and operates with a staff of five volunteers out of a shared working space in a former industrial building in Berlin's trendy Kreuzberg district.
Adulation of Fidel Castro runs deepest in rural eastern Cuba
EL GUAYABO, Cuba (AP) — The single dirt street in El Guayabo runs past a few dozen cinderblock homes, the medical clinic and the primary school to a grove of 76 trees planted to honor Fidel Castro on his 76th birthday.
On Friday, residents of El Guayabo walked a mile down that street to Cuba's central highway to bid a final farewell to the man they credit for bringing medical care, education and basic comforts to this hamlet in the farming and ranching country of arid, sun-scorched eastern Cuba.
US investigating leak related to Petraeus case
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Defense Department is conducting a new leaks investigation related to the sex scandal that led to the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus, The Associated Press confirmed Monday, the same day Petraeus was meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in New York.
Petraeus, who could be in line for a Cabinet nomination, arrived at Trump Tower in early afternoon and met with Trump for about one hour. Trump afterward tweeted that he "was very impressed."
Weed is winning, but the train could still go off the tracks
DENVER (AP) — Weed is winning in the polls, with a solid majority of Americans saying marijuana should be legal. But does that mean the federal government will let dozens of state pot experiments play out? Not by a long shot.
If Christmas gets you down, there’s a sad song for you
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — 'Tis the season for bright, cheery holiday music playing ad nauseam on the radio, in shopping malls and television commercials. But if you're not feeling the Christmas spirit, there's still a song for you.
Take Elvis' mournful "Blue Christmas," released in 1957, which has become a holiday staple. Or consider Stevie Wonder's "Someday At Christmas," a Vietnam War-era song about wishing for a world where all men could live in equality and peace.
Silent victims of violence: 4 million kids orphaned in Congo
GOMA, Congo (AP) — More than 4 million children have lost at least one parent in Congo over the past two decades, the silent victims of continuous cycles of violence.
And more than 26 million orphans live in West and Central Africa, where Congo is located — the second highest number in the world behind South Asia, according to the United Nations.
California considers ban on sex between lawyers and clients
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The nation's largest state bar association is overhauling ethics rules for attorneys for the first time in 30 years, and some lawyers are unhappy about a proposal that would open them up to discipline for having sex with clients.
California currently bars attorneys from coercing a client into sex or demanding sex in exchange for legal representation.
Brown water, beaver battle among early signs of water woes
ATLANTA (AP) — Beaver dams have been demolished, burbling fountains silenced, and the drinking water in one southern town has taken on the light brownish color of sweet tea.
Though water shortages have yet to drastically change most people's lifestyles, southerners are beginning to realize that they'll need to save their drinking supplies with no end in sight to an eight-month drought.
Some fear California’s tax on e-cigarettes may deter smokers
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Smoking has dropped to historic lows nationwide, dramatically decreasing revenue from tobacco taxes. In search of funds, a growing number of states are taxing electronic cigarettes — a trend that is sparking a fierce public health debate over whether it will deter smokers from switching to a safer alternative.
Havana tries to get its chaotic commercial areas in order
HAVANA (AP) — Known for chaotic avenues filled with car-dodging pedestrians, balconies that discharge waterfalls onto sidewalks and reggaeton played at deafening volume, Havana wants to clean up its streets.
Havana authorities have passed new city codes meant to make streets around nearly three dozen commercial shopping zones more pleasant both for Cubans and the surging number of foreign tourists.