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Tensions high, US warns Iran not to block shipping

WASHINGTON (AP) – Tensions rising by the day, the Obama administration said Friday it is warning Iran through public and private channels against any action that threatens the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. The Navy revealed that two U.S. ships in and near the Gulf were harassed by Iranian speedboats last week. Spokesmen were vague on what the United States would do about Iran's threat to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz, but military officials have been clear that the U.S. is readying for a possible naval clash.

S&P cuts credit ratings for France, Italy, Spain

PARIS (AP) – Standard & Poor's swept the debt-ridden European continent with punishing credit downgrades Friday, stripping France of its coveted AAA status and dropping Italy even lower. Germany retained its top-notch rating, but Portugal's debt was consigned to junk. in all, S&P, which took away the United States' AAA rating last summer, lowered the ratings of nine countries, complicating Europe's efforts to find a way out of a debt crisis that still threatens to cause worldwide economic harm.

Obama takes on big government: 'It has to change'

WASHINGTON (AP) – Seeking more power to shrink the government, President Barack Obama on Friday suggested smashing six economic agencies into one, an election-year idea intended to halt bureaucratic nightmares and force Republicans to back him on one of their own favorite issues. “The government we have is not the government we need,” Obama told business owners he'd gathered at the White House. Lawmakers seemed willing to at least consider his ideas.

Desecration of the dead is as old as war itself

Since before Achilles dragged Hector's body around the walls of Troy, warriors have been desecrating the corpses of their vanquished enemies, whether to send a message or exact revenge. And for just as long, they have known in their hearts it was wrong.

In SC, Perry steps lightly on Republican rivals

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry aimed his sharpest criticism at President Barack Obama rather than his GOP rivals as he campaigned Friday in coastal South Carolina, eight days ahead of the state's primary. Perry, using a light touch as he spoke to people in crowded restaurants in Bluffton and Charleston, mostly stuck with the campaign speech he used in Iowa and elsewhere. he mentioned front-runner Mitt Romney by name only when a Charleston man said he feared Perry has a poorer chance of beating Obama this fall.

Judge: John Edwards has serious heart condition

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Ex-presidential candidate John Edwards has a serious heart condition that will require a medical procedure next month and his illness limits his travel including for an upcoming court case over possible campaign violations, his doctor told a judge, who delayed the trial. Federal Judge Catherine Eagles did not disclose the exact nature of Edwards' illness Friday or what procedure he needed. however, she said the two-time presidential candidate had “three episodes” and indicated his condition could be life-threatening if left untreated.

Peru court sentences Van der Sloot to 28 years

LIMA, Peru (AP) – Joran van der Sloot knew his guilty plea in the strangulation death of a young woman he met at a Lima casino was a big gamble as he tried to get a reduced sentence. On Friday, the poker-loving Dutchman lost. a three-judge panel sentenced him to 28 years in prison, discarding his claims of contrition in a killing his lawyer said was triggered by trauma from being the prime suspect in the unsolved 2005 disappearance of U.S. teen Natalee Holloway.

Demise of local Dr Pepper brand worries Texas town

DUBLIN, Texas (AP) – Dublin didn't invent Dr Pepper, but no other place has embraced the soft drink quite like it has. a dozen or so signs and murals around town tout the virtues of the local version of the drink, Dublin Dr Pepper, which was first bottled in Dublin in 1891, six years after it debuted in Waco. And a giant Dublin Dr Pepper billboard greets the nearly 100,000 annual visitors to the central Texas town – most who come just to buy the drink, which is made with cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup and is sweeter than typical Dr Pepper.

Gene Hackman OK after Fla. bicycle accident

MIAMI (AP) – Oscar-winner Gene Hackman was briefly hospitalized with bumps and bruises Friday after a pickup truck hit him from behind while he was riding a bicycle in the Florida Keys, his publicist said. The 81-year-old Hackman was airlifted to a Miami hospital and released several hours later after routine tests, said publicist Susan Madore.

Penn State president faces more Paterno questions

NEW YORK (AP) – Penn State President Rodney Erickson says the school has yet to start making plans to honor former football coach Joe Paterno. Erickson faced alumni for the third time in three days Friday night in lower Manhattan to answer questions in the wake of the child sexual charges against longtime football assistant Jerry Sandusky. As with the previous meetings in Pittsburgh and outside Philadelphia, the sometimes-tense town hall style event included multiple questions about Paterno's firing.

Copyright 2012 The associated Press. All rights reserved. this material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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