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Associated Press

Posted on November 24, 2012 at 6:02 AM

'Dallas' star Larry Hagman, scheming oil baron J.R. Ewing on TV's long-running soap, dies

J.R. Ewing was a business cheat, faithless husband and bottomless well of corruption. Yet with his sparkling grin, Larry Hagman masterfully created the charmingly loathsome oil baron — and coaxed forth a Texas-size gusher of ratings — on television's long-running and hugely successful nighttime soap, "Dallas."

Although he first gained fame as nice guy Capt. Tony Nelson on the fluffy 1965-70 NBC comedy "I Dream of Jeannie," Hagman earned his greatest stardom with J.R. The CBS serial drama about the Ewing family and those in their orbit aired from April 1978 to May 1991, and broke viewing records with its "Who shot J.R.?" 1980 cliffhanger that left unclear if Hagman's character was dead.

The actor, who returned as J.R. in a new edition of "Dallas" this year, had a long history of health problems and died Friday due to complications from his battle with cancer, his family said.

"Larry was back in his beloved hometown of Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved the most. Larry's family and closest friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday," the family said in the statement, which was provided to The Associated Press by Warner Bros., producer of the show.

The 81-year-old actor was surrounded by friends and family before he passed peacefully, "just as he'd wished for," the statement said.

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AP PHOTOS: TV icon Larry Hagman through the years

Larry Hagman, whose masterful portrayal of the charmingly loathsome J.R. Ewing on "Dallas" brought him his greatest stardom, has died at the age of 81. That role on CBS' long-running nighttime soap opera was a ratings bonanza for the network, particularly the "Who shot J.R.?" story twist.

Years before "Dallas," Hagman gained TV fame as a nice guy with the fluffy 1965-70 NBC comedy "I Dream of Jeannie." He played Capt. Tony Nelson, an astronaut whose life is disrupted when he finds a comely genie, portrayed by Barbara Eden, and takes her home to live with him.

He also starred in two short-lived sitcoms, "The Good Life" (NBC, 1971-72) and "Here We Go Again" (ABC, 1973). His film work included well-regarded performances in "The Group," ''Harry and Tonto" and "Primary Colors."

Here, in images, are some of Hagman's memorable moments:

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Iraq, Afghanistan war veterans represent diverse political spectrum in House freshmen class

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Tammy Duckworth sees it, her path to Congress began when she awoke in the fall of 2004 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She was missing both of her legs and faced the prospect of losing her right arm.

Months of agonizing therapy lay ahead. As the highest-ranking double amputee in the ward, Maj. Duckworth became the go-to person for soldiers complaining of substandard care and bureaucratic ambivalence.

Soon, she was pleading their cases to federal lawmakers, including her state's two U.S. senators at the time — Democrats Dick Durbin and Barack Obama of Illinois. Obama arranged for her to testify at congressional hearings. Durbin encouraged her to run for office.

She lost her first election, but six years later gave it another try and now is one of nine veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who will serve in next year's freshman class in the of House of Representatives.

Veterans' groups say the influx of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is welcome because it comes at a time when the overall number of veterans in Congress is on a steep and steady decline. In the mid-1970s, the vast majority of lawmakers tended to be veterans.

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Worst Egypt violence since Morsi took office; president defends new, near-absolute powers

CAIRO (AP) — Supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi clashed Friday in the worst violence since he took office, while he defended a decision to give himself near-absolute power to root out what he called "weevils eating away at the nation of Egypt."

The edicts by Morsi, which were issued Thursday, have turned months of growing polarization into an open battle between his Muslim Brotherhood and liberals who fear a new dictatorship. Some in the opposition, which has been divided and weakened, were now speaking of a sustained street campaign against the man who nearly five months ago became Egypt's first freely elected president.

The unrest also underscored the struggle over the direction of Egypt's turbulent passage nearly two years after a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian regime. Liberals and secular Egyptians accuse the Brotherhood of monopolizing power, dominating the writing of a new constitution and failing to tackle the country's chronic economic and security problems.

"I don't like, want or need to resort to exceptional measures, but I will if I see that my people, nation and the revolution of Egypt are in danger," Morsi told thousands of his chanting supporters outside the presidential palace in Cairo.

But even before he spoke, thousands from each camp demonstrated in major cities, and violence broke out in several places, leaving at least 100 wounded, according to security officials.

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Christmas shopping: Stores opening on Thanksgiving Day likely to become the new norm

This season could mark the end of Black Friday as we know it.

For decades, stores have opened their doors in the wee hours on the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, major chains such as Target and Sears ushered in customers on Thanksgiving itself, even before the turkey leftovers had gotten cold, turning the traditional busiest shopping day of the year into a two-day affair.

Despite an outcry from some employees, both stores and shoppers seemed to like it. Some people went shopping with a full belly, going straight from the dinner table to the stores. Others slept off their big meal and went to the mall before daybreak on Black Friday.

"I ate my turkey dinner and came right here," said Rasheed Ali, a college student in New York City who bought a 50-inch TV for $349 and a sewing machine for $50 when Target opened at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving. "Then I'm going home and eating more."

This new approach could become a holiday shopping season tradition.

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Officials investigate cause of Mass. strip club blast that injured 18, mostly 1st responders

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Officials had already evacuated part of the entertainment district in one of New England's biggest cities because of a gas leak and odor report before a natural gas explosion leveled a strip club and heavily damaged a dozen other buildings, including a day care. Eighteen people were injured, many of them first responders.

Investigators were trying to figure out what the caused the Friday evening blast that could be heard for miles and left a large hole in the ground where the multistory brick building housing Scores Gentleman's Club once stood and debris scattered over several blocks.

Teams of inspectors on Saturday were scheduled to assess the level of damage to other buildings in downtown Springfield. Some controlled demolition was expected.

Firefighters, police officers and gas company workers were in the area filled with commercial properties and residences after responding to a gas leak and odor reported about an hour before the explosion.

"It really is a miracle and it's an example of our public safety officials, each and every day, putting themselves in harm's way, taking what could have been considered a very routine call of an odor of gas, but they took the proper precautions," State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said. "And thanks to God that they did."

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End nears for boxer 'Macho' Camacho as mother decides to stop life support after sons' visit

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The mother of Hector "Macho" Camacho says she has decided to have doctors cut off life support for the former world champion boxer Saturday once three more of his sons get a last chance to see him.

Though opposed by Camacho's eldest son, Maria Matias, the boxer's mother, said she had decided it was time for doctors to disconnect the machines that have kept him alive since he was shot in the face earlier in the week.

"I lost my son three days ago. He's alive only because of a machine," Matias said. "My son is not alive. My son is only alive for the people who love him," she added.

She said at a news conference Friday night that she was waiting only for Camacho's three other sons, who were expected to arrive from the U.S. mainland early Saturday. "Until they arrive, we will not disconnect the machine," Matias said.

Another news conference was scheduled for Saturday morning at Centro Medico, the main trauma center for San Juan.

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Thai anti-government protesters clash with police, call on prime minister to step down

BANGKOK (AP) — Protesters calling for Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to step down rallied in the heart of Bangkok on Saturday, clashing with police in the first major demonstration against the government since it came to power last year.

Although the rally site itself was peaceful, protesters on a nearby street tried and failed to break through a concrete police barricade, at one point ramming a truck into it. Both demonstrators and riot police lobbed tear gas canisters at each other.

Police spokesman Maj. Gen. Piya Utayo said five officers were injured in the skirmishes, two of them seriously. He said 130 demonstrators were detained, some of them carrying knives and bullets.

The demonstration underscores the simmering political divisions that have split the country since the army toppled Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra in a 2006 military coup, a move that triggered years of instability.

Saturday's rally was organized by a royalist group calling itself "Pitak Siam" — or "Protect Thailand." Led by retired army Gen. Boonlert Kaewprasit, the group accuses Yingluck's administration of corruption, ignoring insults to the revered monarchy and being a puppet of Thaksin.

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Saturday's Powerball jackpot grows to estimated $325 million, fourth-largest in game's history

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Black Friday shoppers in many cities briefly detoured into lottery retailers, drawn off task by the prospects of winning a $325 million Powerball jackpot — the fourth-largest in the game's history.

Chicago resident Clyde Gadlin, 65, emerged from the bustle of holiday shoppers on Chicago's Michigan Avenue, to stop in at a 7-Eleven to buy his daily batch of Lottery tickets, including Powerball.

For him, the game is a chance to dream — a single winner's cash payout would be nearly $213 million before taxes — and he tries not to let the long odds burst his bubble.

Lottery officials say they're unsure what effect Thanksgiving and beginning of Christmas shopping season will have on sales, which normally pick up in the days before high-dollar drawings.

If Gadlin wins, he said he'd return to his grandfather's farm in Heidelberg, Miss., where he spent part of his childhood.

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Freshman QB Max Wittek faces a daunting debut when underdog USC hosts No. 1 Notre Dame

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Not many young quarterbacks would even have the audacity to imagine making their first career starts under the circumstances surrounding Max Wittek at the Coliseum on Saturday night.

The freshman is replacing Matt Barkley, an injured senior who has claimed most of the career passing records at Southern California. He's facing Notre Dame (11-0), a storied football power with a No. 1 ranking and the nation's most feared defense.

The Irish need just one more win to book a spot in the national title game, and the struggling Trojans (7-4) have lost three of four. Yet Wittek also has arguably the best receiving duo in the nation catching his passes and a sold-out stadium firmly at his back.

If the enormity of this occasion is scaring Wittek, the confident 19-year-old with a bigger arm than Barkley hasn't shown it a bit.

"You really can't ask for a better opportunity to show what you've got," Wittek said. "I just want to get that first snap, maybe that first hit, out of the way, and I'll be ready to go."

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