Saturday, February 13
UPDATE: Death toll in Taiwan earthquake rises to 109
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Only two people remain missing a week after a powerful earthquake struck Taiwan's oldest city of Tainan, collapsing a 17-story residential complex.
Rescuers have recovered the bodies of 115 people, all but two at the ruins of the residential building which toppled in the 6.4-magnitude earthquake. A total of 327 people in the building survived. Authorities have detained the building's developer and two architects on suspicion of negligent homicide amid accusations his firm cut corners in the construction.
Tainan city officials say they will inspect several dozen other developments, as well as other buildings in the compound that did not collapse.
Mayor urges 'extreme precautions' as cold weather hits NYC
NEW YORK (AP) — The National Weather Service says the coldest air mass of the winter may hit the Eastern U.S. this weekend.
A wind chill advisory was in effect for New York City beginning Saturday afternoon and continuing to noon Sunday. With the actual temperatures falling as low as 4 degrees below, the weather service says the city could see wind chills of 18 degrees below to 24 degrees below. Wind gusts may reach 45 mph.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned New Yorkers to take "extreme precautions" over the weekend and heed cold-weather warnings. He said city workers would also bring people living on the street to shelters or hospitals.
The bitter cold is expected to settle in over the next several days but temperatures may rise by Monday.
US deploys more Patriot missiles in South Korea
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The United States has temporarily deployed an additional Patriot missile battery in South Korea in response to North Korea's nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch.
The announcement Saturday came as Seoul and Washington prepare to begin talks as early as next week on deploying a more sophisticated U.S. missile defense system in South Korea, known as THAAD.
The U.S. military command in South Korea says that an air defense battery unit from Ft. Bliss, Texas, has been conducting ballistic missile training using the Patriot system with other American forces based at Osan Air Base near Seoul.
Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, commander of Eighth Army, says "exercises like this ensure we are always ready to defend against an attack from North Korea."
NEW: Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric calls for government reforms
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is calling for the inclusion of more technocrats in government and is threatening to withdraw from the political process if his proposal is not accepted.
Al-Sadr spoke Saturday following Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's call for a Cabinet reshuffle this week in an effort to break the current deadlock after months of stalled progress on a proposed reform package.
Al-Abadi proposed the reforms following widespread protests in Iraq last summer demanding better services and an end to corruption.
Iraq is engaged in a humanitarian and security crisis that erupted as the Islamic State group swept across the country. It is now also battling a crippling economic crisis that threatens to further choke the government's ability to provide basic domestic services.
NEW: Russian, Ukrainian, German, French officials meet on Ukraine
MUNICH (AP) — Senior officials from Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France have met on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich to discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier hosted Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and Ukraine's Pavlo Klimkin, along with the French Foreign Ministry's political director Nicolas de Riviere, for a meeting Saturday.
Germany and France brokered a peace deal for eastern Ukraine in Minsk, Belarus a year ago and have been at the forefront of diplomatic efforts to try to implement it. Still, fighting hasn't fully stopped and there has been little progress in bringing about a political settlement.
Steinmeier told the Munich Security Conference that "not talking to each other in times of crisis can't be the answer."
Rubio under pressure as Republicans debate in South Carolina
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Marco Rubio enters Saturday night's Republican presidential debate facing immense pressure to right his campaign. He faltered badly in the last contest and finished a disappointing fifth in New Hampshire.
Rubio's stumble has re-energized some of his rivals as the race heads to the South and reignited questions about whether the 44-year-old first-term senator has the experience to be president. He's sought to shed some of his reliance on well-rehearsed talking points in recent days, and the debate will be a prime test of whether he can rebound.
Just six contenders will face off Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina, far from the long line of candidates who took the stage in earlier GOP debates. But even with a streamlined field, the Republican race remains deeply uncertain.
GOP 2016-TAX RETURNS
NEW: Tax returns could be an issue again
WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential hopefuls Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio still haven't released tax returns despite promises to do so, sometimes after events that have now come and gone.
The campaigns haven't explained the delays. Other candidates including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush have already disclosed years' worth of private tax returns to dispel questions about their personal finances.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, says he learned a lesson about that and advises this year's crop not to delay releasing tax returns.
ARIZONA SCHOOL SHOOTING
Motive suspected in school killings
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Police now say the deaths of two 15-year-old female students at a high school in a Phoenix suburb is a murder-suicide.
Glendale Police Officer Tracey Breeden say a suicide note was located at the scene of Friday morning's shooting at Independence High School.
She says both victims were shot once and a weapon was found near the bodies, which were located near the school's cafeteria area under a covered patio.
Breeden says the teens have been positively identified, but their names aren't being released by police because they are juveniles.
MISSING BELLVUE BOYS FOUND
FBI: Washington boys located in Mexico in safe condition
BELLEVUE, Wash. (AP) — The FBI says two brothers missing from Bellevue since August have been found in safe condition in Mexico.
FBI officials said in a news release that 15-year-old Sage Cook and 9-year-old Isaac Cook were located by authorities in Mexico's Sinaloa state.
They reportedly returned to Washington Friday with their father, David Cook, and stepmother, Helen Cook, after they were reunited in Mexico earlier in the day.
The boys were last seen in California at Los Angeles International Airport to have a supervised visit with their biological mother, Faye Ku, on Aug. 28.
The FBI says Ku has been taken into federal custody.
Legal documents show Ku, who hasn't had custody of the boys since her divorce from their father in 2009, attempted to leave the country with Sage and Isaac in 2013.
Pope opens Mexico visit after historic stop with patriarch
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Pope Francis officially begins his visit to Mexico Saturday by speaking with Mexican officials and foreign ambassadors at the National Palace.
The speech, which is a fixture of every papal trip, is usually the pope's most political message, and Francis is expected to touch on some of the grave problems facing Mexico stemming from drug violence, migration and poverty.
Francis is fresh from historic meeting in Cuba with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
During a three-hour stop in Havana on Friday, Francis embraced Patriarch Kirill and with an exclamation of "finally" took a momentous step toward closing a nearly 1,000-year schism in split Christianity.
The two religious leaders signed a 30-point joint declaration of religious unity that committed their churches to overcoming their differences. Francis tweeted that the meeting was a "gift from God."
US, Cuba to sign agreement on restarting commercial flights
HAVANA (AP) — U.S. officials say the United States and Cuba will sign an agreement next week to restart commercial air traffic for the first time in five decades.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx flies to Havana on Tuesday to cement the deal.
It will let U.S. airlines bid on routes for dozens of U.S.-Cuba flights per day. That's more than five times the current number of flights, all of which are charters.
There has been no commercial air traffic between the nations since shortly after Cuba's 1959 revolution.
Resuming commercial passenger flights would be the most important development in U.S.-Cuba trade since the countries announced in late 2014 that they would begin normalizing ties.
State Department official Thomas Engle says the deal reinforces President Barack Obama's goal of building ties with Cuba.
NUNS FACE EVICTION
Deal delays eviction threat for San Francisco nuns
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nuns who faced possible eviction from San Francisco's gritty Tenderloin district because of a rent increase have won a reprieve.
The San Francisco Chronicle (http://sfg.ly/1Lm5E4T ) says lawyers for the nuns and landlord, with help from motivational speaker Tony Robbins, reached a deal Friday allowing the nuns to stay for a year at their current rent.
That gives the sisters time to find a new home for their soup kitchen. Robbins promised to donate $50,000 to help.
The Fraternite Notre Dame has run the kitchen for eight years but in January the nuns were told their rent would jump about 50 percent to $5,500 a month. The nuns said they couldn't afford it and refused to pay.
A lawyer for landlord Nick Patel says he's glad there's a tentative resolution.