Posted Saturday, July 28, 2012 --- 5:55 a.m.
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today.
NEW: Obama, GOP continue confrontation on taxes
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Republicans are sparring on familiar ground today in their weekly media messages -- criticizing one another on the economy.
Obama blamed Republicans for a stalemate that could increase taxes on Americans next year while a leading Senate Republican cast Obama and his Democratic Party as obstructionists.
Obama pressed the Republican-controlled House to extend Bush-era tax cuts for households making $250,000 or less while letting lower rates on wealthier taxpayers expire and go up. He says the GOP is holding the tax cuts hostage to help the rich.
Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, says Obama's plan would do more harm to the economy and criticized him with almost identical language. He called for extending current tax rates for all taxpayers and spending 2013 overhauling and simplifying the tax code.
2. OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONY
Queen declares games open during glitzy opening ceremony; IOC head: London Olympics boost gender equality
LONDON (AP) — One thing director Danny Boyle didn't do was let the Olympic opening ceremony catch its breath.
There was the surprise movie magic of the queen and James Bond appearing to parachute into Olympic Park, and the seven teenage athletes who had the supreme honor of igniting the Olympic flame.
Around it all, Olympic Stadium was a giant jukebox, cranking up world-beating rock from the Beatles, the Stones and The Who.
NEW: Phelps barely makes final; Women's basketball, soccer teams in action
LONDON (AP) — The competition is getting up to full-speed today at the London Olympics.
Swimming is drawing a lot of attention, with a Michael Phelps-Ryan Lochte showdown later today. Two-time defending Olympic champion Phelps won his 400-meter individual medley heat but barely squeaked into the 8th and final spot. American teammate Lochte advanced in third place.
Lochte was the bronze medalist in Beijing and has won the 400 IM at the last two world championships.
The U.S. women's basketball team opens Olympic play today against Croatia, a team they just pounded by more than 50 points in a tuneup.
McKayla Maroney's busted big toe won't keep her from vaulting for the U.S. gymnastics team in tomorrow's qualifying.
Pakistan official slams drones ahead of CIA talks
ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — Pakistan's top diplomat in the U.S. called for an end to CIA drone strikes ahead of an intelligence summit in Washington between the two countries expected next week.
In a debate with White House war adviser Douglas Lute, Pakistani Ambassador Sherry Rehman said the strikes have already succeeded in diminishing al-Qaida but are now only serving to recruit new militants. The two were speaking to an audience at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
Lute called on Pakistan to deliver an ultimatum to the Taliban to stop fighting Afghan forces from Pakistan's sanctuary.
The two did agree, however, that Pakistan could help broker an eventual peace deal with the Taliban.
Pakistan's intelligence chief is expected to meet CIA Director David Petraeus in Washington next week.
5. COLORADO SHOOTING-PACKAGE
Defense: Shooting suspect was seeing psychiatrist
DENVER (AP) — Court papers say the former graduate student accused in the Colorado movie theater shooting was being treated by a psychiatrist at the university where he studied.
The revelation was disclosed today in a defense motion. The motion seeks to discover the source of leaks to some media outlets that a package that James Holmes sent the psychiatrist contained a notebook with descriptions of an attack.
The lawyers say the package contained communications between Holmes and his psychiatrist that should be shielded from public view. The document describes Holmes as a "psychiatric patient" of Dr. Lynne Fenton. They say the leak jeopardized Holmes' right to a fair trial and violated a judge's gag order.
The motion did not reveal when Holmes began seeing Fenton or whether he was being treated for a mental illness.
The package was seized by authorities Monday after it was discovered in the mailroom at the University of Colorado, Denver. It's unclear if it was sent before the attack early Friday.
6. COLORADO SHOOTING-FUNERALS
Ohio, Texas funerals set for 2 Colo. victims
CINCINNATI (AP) — Two victims of the deadly shooting spree in a Colorado movie theater are set to be laid to rest at funerals in Ohio and Texas today.
Both Jessica Ghawi's and Matt McQuinn's stories struck a chord across the country following the July 20 massacre that left 12 dead and 58 wounded in Aurora, Colo.
Ghawi was an aspiring sports journalist from San Antonio. She had survived a shooting at a Toronto mall in June.
McQuinn had just moved to Colorado from Ohio last fall with his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler. He saved Yowler in the same movie theater by diving in front of her and taking three bullets.
McQuinn's funeral will be held in his western Ohio hometown of Springfield, while Ghawi's will be in San Antonio.
Yesterday, Gov. John Hickenlooper and Aurora police officers attended the funeral for Alexander "A.J." Boik, who was to start attending the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.
A private memorial also was held late Friday for former Air Force linguist Rebecca Wingo, followed by a celebratory public gathering at the Denver bar where she went every week.
2 NATO service members killed in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The NATO military coalition in Afghanistan says two of its service members have been killed in an insurgent attack in the east of the country.
The military alliance says the attack happened on Saturday but doesn't provide further details.
NATO also did not provide the nationalities of the dead. Most of the troops in eastern Afghanistan are American,
Saturday's deaths bring the number of international service members killed in Afghanistan so far this month to at least 42.
July 2011 saw 52 international service members killed.
8. MARYLAND SHOOTING PLOT
Police: Man calling himself 'a joker' threatened shooting
WASHINGTON (AP) — Police say a Maryland man calling himself "a joker" threatened to shoot up the business from which he was about to be fired and was wearing a T-shirt that read "Guns don't kill people. I do," when he first talked to officers who arrested him.
An official with knowledge of the investigation says Neil Prescott phoned in the threat to software and mailroom supplier Pitney Bowes near Washington, D.C. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is unfolding, and police would not confirm the suspect's name.
At a news conference, Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw said the suspect is accused of saying on the phone to Pitney Bowes "I am a joker and I'm gonna load my guns and blow everybody up."
Investigators say a search of the 28-year-old man's apartment in Crofton, Md., turned up some 25 firearms, including semi-automatic rifles and pistols, and several thousand rounds of ammunition. Police say they were surprised by the number of weapons they found.
The suspect is undergoing an emergency mental health evaluation and charges are pending.
Officials say the man made several threats on separate phone calls earlier this week.
Activists: Syrian helicopters pound Aleppo
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian activists say the government is pounding the country's second city, Aleppo, with military helicopters.
International concern has been mounting over what activists said could be a looming massacre as Syrian troops bombarded the city for the past week.
On Saturday, activists said soldiers were targeting rebel-controlled neighborhoods to crush the opposition forces for good. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fierce fighting has erupted inside those neighborhoods.
The battle is one of the most important of the 17-month-old uprising. With a population of about 3 million, Aleppo is Syria's largest city and commercial hub, a key pillar of support for President Bashar Assad's regime.
10. JAPAN-US STEALTH FIGHTERS
Under restrictions, F-22 fighters arrive in Japan
TOKYO (AP) — A group of U.S. F-22 stealth fighters has arrived in Japan in what the U.S. Air Force hopes will be a step toward proving its prized aircraft are safe after an oxygen problem that made pilots sick.
The F-22s arrived at Kadena Air Base on Saturday from the United States. They are expected to remain on Japan's southern island of Okinawa for several months.
The F-22, manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp., is the Air Force's most advanced stealth fighter. The fleet has been under tight restrictions since mid-May because pilots were reporting dizziness and symptoms of hypoxia. On Tuesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved sending the fighters to Japan because he said the Air Force has identified the cause of the problem and has taken measures to fix it.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.