VIDEO: Today's Headline News from Associated Press



WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama urged lawmakers Thursday to remember the children gunned down in America and not "get squishy" in the face of powerful forces against gun control legislation, as supporters struggle to win over moderate Democrats before a Senate vote expected next month.


Obama, flanked by grim-faced mothers who have lost their children to guns, said Washington must do something after the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., three months ago. He called out to the families of four children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School sitting in his audience.


"Shame on us if we've forgotten," Obama said. "I haven't forgotten those kids."


Obama's event comes as gun control legislation faces an uncertain future, even though more than 80 percent of people say in polling they support expanded background checks. Backed by a $12 million TV advertising campaign financed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, gun control groups scheduled rallies around the country Thursday aimed at pressuring senators to back the effort.


Obama said the upcoming vote is the best chance in more than a decade to reduce gun violence. He encouraged Americans, especially gun owners, to press lawmakers home from a congressional spring break to "turn that heartbreak into something real."




ROME (AP) -- Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of a dozen inmates at a juvenile detention center in a Holy Thursday ritual that he celebrated for years as archbishop and is continuing now that he is pope. Two of the 12 were young women, a remarkable choice given that the church's current liturgical law says only men should participate.


The Mass was held in the Casal del Marmo facility in Rome, where 46 young men and women currently are detained. Many of them are Gypsies or North African migrants, and the 12 selected for the foot-washing rite included Orthodox and Muslim detainees, news reports said.


Because the inmates were mostly minors - the facility houses inmates aged 14-to-21 - the Vatican and Italian Justice Ministry limited media access inside. But Vatican Radio carried the Mass live, and Francis told the detainees that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion in a gesture of love and service.




JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Nelson Mandela was back in the hospital for the third time in four months Thursday, and the 94-year-old former South African president was reported to be responding well to treatment for a chronic lung infection.


South Africa's presidency said that doctors were acting with extreme caution because of the advanced age of the anti-apartheid leader, who has become increasingly frail in recent years.


The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was admitted just before midnight to a hospital in Pretoria, the South African capital. He has been particularly vulnerable to respiratory problems since contracting tuberculosis during his 27-year imprisonment for fighting white racist rule in his country.


"The doctors advise that former President Nelson Mandela is responding positively to the treatment he is undergoing for a recurring lung infection," the presidency said in a statement. "He remains under treatment and observation in hospital."


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