(Reuters) - Moody's Investors Service slashed Atlantic City's credit rating six notches deeper into junk territory on Friday, a day after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appointed an emergency manager with a mandate to consider a debt restructuring. Atlantic City has about $344 million of long-term debt outstanding. Moody's dropped the city's general obligation rating to Caa1, down from Ba1, indicating that the credit rating agency thinks there is a substantial risk of default over the next five years. The order from Christie to consider a restructuring also marks a "rapid, dramatic" change from the usually strong oversight New Jersey provides its local governments, including the requirement that they pay their bond debts, Moody's said.
By Barbara Goldberg NEW YORK (Reuters) - Up to 8 inches of snow is expected to fall over parts of the Northeast this weekend, and a wintry mix could make for a messy Monday morning commute in New York, Boston and other cities, the National Weather Service said on Friday. Rhode Island, parts of Connecticut and central Massachusetts were expected to be hit the hardest from twin snowstorms, beginning Friday evening and followed by a second storm late Sunday. "Bring it on!" said Tom Meyers, spokesman for Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton, Massachusetts, about 50 miles west of Boston. The weather service said the same system that brought heavy snow to the southern Plains would bring a wintry mix to the mid-Atlantic and New England at the start of the weekend.
By David Beasley ATLANTA (Reuters) - One of two lawsuits involving the children of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. has been dropped, possibly signaling a thaw in their tense relations as they continue to fight over the sale of his Bible and Nobel Peace Prize. Bernice King said in a statement late Thursday that her father's estate had voluntarily dropped its August 2013 lawsuit against the non-profit Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, which she heads. King's sons, Dexter King and Martin Luther King III, acting as majority board members of their father’s estate, had sought to revoke the center’s right to use King's name and image unless Bernice King was removed as CEO. Bernice King said the estate's decision to drop the suit vindicated the King Center's position on its licensing rights and offered a promising sign that the feud pitting the children against one another was on the road toward reconciliation.
By Richard Weizel MILFORD, Conn. (Reuters) - Gunmaker Remington won a bid to move a lawsuit by families of the victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre from state to federal court, officials said on Thursday. The move could help Remington by taking the suit out of the hands of a state system that might be influenced by local issues, said Timothy Lytton, a professor at Albany Law School. "The defendants must believe they have a better chance of stopping the lawsuit in federal court than in state court," he said, adding that federal courts have a track record of rejecting gun manufacturer liability cases. Ten families of the victims of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, filed suit in state court in December against Remington, owner of Bushmaster Firearms International, which manufactured the AR-15 rifle used in the attack.
The mother of one of the Japanese men being held by Islamist militants on Friday urged the Tokyo government to pay the jihadists' $200 million ransom and pleaded that her son's life be spared. As the extremists' deadline passed, there was no news from the prime minister's office on the fate of Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist, or Haruna Yukawa, the self-employed contractor who he had gone to rescue from the clutches of extremists. Reporters waiting for any announcement on the two men's fate said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looked tired and drawn as he rushed from one committment to the next. Hours earlier, Junko Ishido launched an emotional appeal for mercy for Goto, her son.
The United States and Iraq have started preparing for an offensive by summer to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was taken by Islamic State militants last June, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Preparations include selecting and training military units for the planned assault and cutting supply lines to Islamic State fighters, General Lloyd Austin, head of the U.S. military's Central Command, told the Journal. Mosul is the largest city in a self-declared Islamic State caliphate straddling the border between northern Iraq and eastern Syria. A senior Iraqi official told Reuters in November that Mosul was the focus of government efforts to defeat Islamic State, because of the city's size and symbolic status.
By Jane Wardell SYDNEY (Reuters) - The United States has agreed that Australian David Hicks, jailed on terrorism charges for five years at Guantanamo, is innocent, his lawyer said on Friday. Hicks pleaded guilty in 2007 to providing "material support for terrorism" but his legal team claimed that he did so under duress and filed an appeal in late 2013. Lawyer Stephen Kenny said the legal team arguing the appeal has been told the U.S. government did not dispute Hicks' innocence and also admitted that his conviction was not correct. Kenny said he expected to hear within a month whether the Court of Military Commission Review in Washington would quash his conviction.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday he hoped the Supreme Court would issue a ruling that would prevent states from banning gay marriage when it rules on the issue later this year. The court last week agreed to decide whether states can ban gay marriage. Obama has said previously that he is in favor of allowing same-sex couples to wed. "I'm hopeful the Supreme Court comes to the right decision," Obama said during an interview on YouTube. (Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Sandra Maler)
By Eric Beech WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. auto safety regulator plans to change its vehicle safety ratings program to include automatic emergency braking systems, putting pressure on automakers to add those features to new cars and trucks, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said on Thursday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)will add the braking systems to the recommended safety features included in its New Car Assessment Program, which awards up to five stars for vehicles based on safety.