CHINA'S CHEN SPEAKS BY PHONE TO CONGRESS HEARING: WASHINGTON (AP) — Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng spoke to a congressional hearing Thursday from his Beijing hospital bed — and requested a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The surprise call — Chen's voice amplified from a cellphone held to a microphone — was the latest twist in a dramatic week in which his bid for U.S. protection has snared U.S.-China diplomacy and cast an international spotlight on his persecution by Chinese authorities.
The blind activist, who has spent the last seven years in prison or under abusive house detention, left the embassy for hospital Wednesday. He has since said that rather stay in China as originally agreed in negotiations between Chinese and U.S. officials, he wants to come with his family to the U.S.
MOORE TRADES @MRSKUTCHER FOR @JUSTDEMI ON TWITTER: LOS ANGELES (AP) — Demi Moore is no longer (at)mrskutcher, in real life or on Twitter.
The 49-year-old actress changed her Twitter name to (at)justdemi on Thursday.
Moore and Ashton Kutcher, who often used the micro-blogging site to post pictures of themselves and proclaim their love for one another, announced the end of their marriage in November. In April, Moore asked her followers on the site for suggestions for a new handle.
Moore said she would "have to get clever" because so many names on the popular site have already been claimed.
She wrote Thursday that it was "so hard finding a name that was fun somewhat playful and available." She said her new name "could grow on me."
Moore has nearly 5 million followers on Twitter.
MILITARY COMMANDERS WARNED TO GET TROOPS IN LINE : WASHINGTON (AP) — Military leaders are telling commanders to get their troops in line and refrain from misconduct such as urinating on enemy corpses, in a sharp response to the tasteless photos and other disturbing examples of bad behavior that have enraged Afghans and complicated war-fighting.
The broader message to shore up discipline in the ranks was expected to be underscored by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in remarks Friday at Fort Benning, Ga.
The Army and Marine Corps chiefs have focused on discipline in recent talks to midlevel commanders around the country. They say they recognize that part of the problem may be leadership stumbles by the young officers who have shouldered much of the burden of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Maybe we've gotten overconfident and maybe we've gotten a little bit comfortable in our young leaders," Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. "Realizing that they are young, they don't have a lot of experiences. We have to continue to assist them so they understand what is expected of them."
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos was blunter.
"We are allowing our standards to erode," he wrote his commanders. "A number of recent widely publicized incidents have brought discredit on the Marine Corps and reverberated at the strategic level. The undisciplined conduct represented in these incidents threatens to overshadow all our good work and sacrifice."
ANOTHER FINALIST TAKES A BOW ON 'AMERICAN IDOL: LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was an unfortunate night for Skylar Laine on "American Idol."
The 18-year-old country rocker from Brandon, Miss., who imbued Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" and Dusty Springfield's "Say You Love Me" with her twangy sensibilities on Wednesday's show was revealed to have received the fewest viewer votes Thursday on the Fox singing contest.
Laine was joined at the bottom by Hollie Cavanagh, the 18-year-old balladeer from McKinney, Texas, who opened Wednesday's installment with a pop-infused take on Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep Mountain High," and later dialed it down with the Leona Lewis hit "Bleeding Love."