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Feb. 1, 2013 at 8:25 AM   |   0 comments

New York's 'Hizzoner' Edward I. Koch dies

NEW YORK, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Edward Koch, the high-spirited politician who ran New York City for three terms with combative zeal, died Friday, his spokesman said. He was 88.

Koch's spokesman, George Arzt, said the former mayor died of congestive heart failure at New York-Presbyterian Columbia Hospital, where was being treated, The New York Times reported.

Koch had coronary and other medical problems since he left office in 1989, but had always been in relatively good health in his on-the-go life as a television judge, radio talk-show host, author, lawyer, newspaper columnist and professor, among other pursuits.

The premiere of "Koch," a documentary biographical film, was opening Friday nationwide.

His 12-year tenure as mayor encompassed the fiscal austerity of the late 1970s and the racial conflicts and corruption scandals of the 1980s.

He is credited with steering the city government from near bankruptcy in the 1970s to prosperity in the 1980s, the Times said. He also began one of New York's most ambitious housing programs, which continued after he left office and eventually built or rehabilitated more than 200,000 housing units.

"I'm the sort of person who will never get ulcers," the mayor told reporters on Inauguration Day in 1978. "Why? Because I say exactly what I think. I'm the sort of person who might give other people ulcers."

Koch shifted from an independent liberal to pragmatic conservative on the Democratic spectrum during his political life that included serving two years as a councilman and nine more in Congress representing Manhattan's East Side.

The gregarious, media-conscious Koch -- known for his catch phrase "How'm I doin'?" -- courted comparison with the legendary reform politician Fiorello La Guardia, the only other three-term New York mayor, who ran the city from the Depression through World War II.


Bomb kills 2 at U.S. Embassy in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A suicide bomber set off an explosion Friday at an entrance to the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, killing two security guards, officials said.

At least two people were injured in the blast at a secondary entrance to the building, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The explosion destroyed a door at the entrance and scattered masonry from the wall around it but embassy workers said there was no damage inside the building.

All embassy personnel had been taken to safe rooms within the building, the newspaper reported.

The attack on the consulate in Ankara came just over 4 1/2 months after heavily armed militants stormed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Sept. 11. Four Americans died in that attack, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.


Clinton leaving post; Kerry to take over

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ends her tenure as the top U.S. diplomat Friday, turning the reins over to U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Clinton planned to address State Department employees in the afternoon before leaving her post, Voice of America reported.

Kerry, who resigned his Senate seat after his confirmation earlier this week, will be sworn in during a private ceremony as the second secretary of state of President Obama's administration.

Kerry officially begins his duties Monday.

During his confirmation hearing, Kerry told his colleagues he believed Clinton set the bar high for "tireless efforts."

Clinton has said she is looking forward to the next chapter in her life. Although she has denied it, there is widespread speculation that she will be a presidential candidate in 2016 and a super PAC supporting Clinton has been launched.


Church bares 12,000 files, removes prelate

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Catholic church released 12,000 documents from files on priests accused of sexual abuse and ended Cardinal Roger Mahoney's remaining duties.

The retired prelate of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who was archbishop from 1985 to 2011, "will no longer have any administrative or public duties," Archbishop Jose Gomez said in a letter to parishioners.

The archdiocese said in a separate statement the release of the confidential church files detailing how the Los Angeles archdiocese dealt with priests accused of molestation was "a sad and shameful chapter in the history of our local church."

The archdiocese released the files hours after Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie H. Elias ordered the church to do so.

Gomez said in the letter he found the files "brutal and painful reading."


Pemex blast toll: 25 dead, 100 injured

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A blast that killed at least 25 people and injured about 100 at Pemex, Mexico's state oil company, ripped a building "from the inside out," a paramedic said.

Hours after the explosion Thursday at the office complex in Mexico City, rescuers searched the rubble for anyone trapped inside, CNN reported Friday.

One emergency worker said crews could smell "a strong odor of gas" when they entered the building.

At least 14 of the injured were hospitalized, two in serious condition.

Emergency responders said the explosion, which came from the basement, collapsed two floors of a building adjacent to the company's office tower.

The explosion tore through the building "from the inside out," paramedic Carlos Javier Rodriguez Jurado said.

Rescuers found many people trapped.

At least one person was rescued more than 5 hours after the blast, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on his Twitter page.

"People were screaming. ... You could see pieces of the wall falling to the ground," said Joaquin Borrell Valenzuela, an attorney with the Pemex comptroller's office, who was outside the building when the blast occurred.

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