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Associated Press

Posted on February 2, 2013 at 6:02 AM

Turkish official: US Embassy bomber had previous terror conviction, took part in hunger strike

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish official says a suicide bomber who struck the American Embassy in Ankara spent four years in prison on terrorism charges before being released for a brain disorder contracted while on hunger strike.

The 40-year-old bomber, Ecevit Sanli, killed himself and a Turkish security guard on Friday in an attack Turkish officials blamed on domestic leftist militants. It was the second deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in five months.

The official said Saturday that Sanli was arrested in 1997 for membership in the outlawed Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front, or DHKP-C, and took part in a major hunger strike that led to the deaths of dozens of inmates.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because government rules bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without authorization.

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New federal rules aim to aim to make all foods in schools healthful, get rid of junk food

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most candy, high-calorie drinks and greasy meals could soon be on a food blacklist in the nation's schools.

For the first time, the government is proposing broad new standards to make sure all foods sold in schools are more healthful.

Under the new rules the Agriculture Department proposed Friday, foods like fatty chips, snack cakes, nachos and mozzarella sticks would be taken out of lunch lines and vending machines. In their place would be foods like baked chips, trail mix, diet sodas, lower-calorie sports drinks and low-fat hamburgers.

The rules, required under a child nutrition law passed by Congress in 2010, are part of the government's effort to combat childhood obesity. While many schools already have improved their lunch menus and vending machine choices, others still are selling high-fat, high-calorie foods.

Under the proposal, the Agriculture Department would set fat, calorie, sugar and sodium limits on almost all foods sold in schools. Current standards already regulate the nutritional content of school breakfasts and lunches that are subsidized by the federal government, but most lunchrooms also have "a la carte" lines that sell other foods. Food sold through vending machines and in other ways outside the lunchroom has never before been federally regulated.

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As sexual assaults spike, teams of Egyptians organize to protect demonstrators

CAIRO (AP) — With bright neon vests and hardhats gleaming at dusk, a dozen Egyptian volunteers fanned out through Cairo's crowded Tahrir Square. Their project: end a surge in sexual assaults on women that activists say has become the darkest stain on the country's opposition street movement.

Patrolling on Friday, the men and women have joined Tahrir Bodyguard — one of several informal groups that have arisen to protect female demonstrators after women were stripped, groped and assaulted in a string of attacks this past year. Over the past week alone, while mass protests filled city squares around the country, over two dozen new sexual attacks have been reported — a wave activists call the worst in years.

Soraya Bahgat said she founded the group using online social media after seeing television footage last November of a mob of men attacking a woman and tearing off her clothes. She had been on the way to a demonstration at Tahrir herself, but instead stayed in, gripped with fear.

"It was sickening. They were dragging her through the street," said the 29-year-old, who works as a human resources manager. "I couldn't imagine something so horrific, and something that fundamentally would keep women from exercising their right to assembly like anyone else. No one should be prevented from demonstrating."

Such is the concern that the United Nations on Thursday demanded authorities to act to bring perpetrators to justice, saying it had reports of 25 sexual assaults on women in Tahrir rallies over the past week. Another Egyptian organization that also patrols the square, Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment/Assault, reported 19 incidents on one day alone. It was January 25th — the second anniversary of the start of the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

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Maya Angelou radio special celebrates black history with Oprah, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the midst of talking black history with Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys, Maya Angelou breaks out singing a hymn a cappella.

The acclaimed poet and author wants to show Keys, a New Yorker, what "lining out," call-and-response singing that is popular in black churches down South, sounds like.

That teaching moment is one of many during Angelou's third annual Black History Month program, "Telling Our Stories," airing on more than 175 public radio stations nationwide throughout February.

Angelou says she is obligated to share her knowledge and experience with younger people like Keys, in a way that is not "preaching" but gives context to the "human truth."

"We owe the truth, not just the facts," she said recently in a phone interview from her home in Winston-Salem, N.C. "I'm celebrating my 84th year on this planet. I've seen many things, I've learned many things. I've certainly been exposed to many things and I've learned something: I owe it to you, to tell you."

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With death of legendary New York City mayor, Koch tributes pour in; funeral set for Monday

NEW YORK (AP) — In 1977, New York City was deep into its worst fiscal crisis ever. Riots erupted that summer during a blackout. And a fire in one of the most blighted, bombed-out parts of town that fall led Howard Cosell to announce during a World Series game at Yankee Stadium: "Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning."

Into that mess stepped Ed Koch as the city's newly elected mayor. Within a few years, New York was back on firmer financial footing and the fears that the city was sliding into anarchy had given way to a new sense of energy and optimism.

Koch didn't do it all by himself, but is credited with hectoring, cajoling and noodging the city to make the hard decisions on its road back.

"The whole city was crumbling, and then we elected Ed Koch," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday during a ceremony marking the centennial of Grand Central Terminal, a once-crumbling edifice Koch helped save from the wrecking ball.

"When we were down, Ed Koch picked us up. When we were worried, he gave us confidence," Bloomberg said. "When someone needed a good kick in the rear, he gave it to them — and, if you remember, he enjoyed it."

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Twitter says hackers gain access to 250,000 user accounts in latest cyber security breach

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The social media giant Twitter acknowledged that it has become the latest victim in a number of cyber-attacks against media companies, saying hackers may have gained access to information on 250,000 of its more than 200 million active users.

The company said a blog post on Friday it detected attempts to gain access to its user data earlier in the week. It shut down one attack moments after it was detected.

But Twitter discovered that the attackers may have stolen user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords belonging to 250,000 users they describe as 'a very small percentage of our users."

Nonetheless, the company reset the pilfered passwords and sent emails advising the affected users.

The online attack comes on the heels of recent hacks into the computer systems of U.S. media and technology companies, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Both American newspapers reported this week that their computer systems had been infiltrated by China-based hackers, likely to monitor media coverage the Chinese government deems important.

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Why the heck is Beckham satisfied to be play second string at Paris Saint-German for no money?

PARIS (AP) — David Beckham has won league championships in three countries on two continents, earns millions of dollars in endorsements and his name is practically synonymous with celebrity itself. He has his own cologne, for goodness sake. So why is he even bothering to sit on the bench for the Paris Saint-Germain football club?

His royal highness of football doesn't need the money — and he's said he'll donate his PSG salary to charity — but he does need to start thinking about life after the game. At 37, Beckham is practically a dinosaur for the sport, and he acknowledged in his welcoming press conference on Thursday that he probably won't be in the team's starting lineup.

Instead, Beckham may be beginning to put in place a plan for life after the final whistle. Ellis Cashmore, a sociologist who writes about sports and media culture at Staffordshire University, said that prolonged exposure is always useful to celebrities building empires. In that way, the deal with PSG does double work: It keeps his name in lights for longer and also garners extra attention for the charitable contribution.

"When he does stop playing, which is going to be quite soon, his overall brand appeal will inevitably decline because we will inevitably forget about this guy," he said. "I think he's probably thinking, I want to stay in the shop window for a bit longer."

But Cashmore also cautioned against being too cynical in assessing Beckham's motives: "The guy is an athlete. He wants to do what he loves to do."

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'Scandal' star Kerry Washington wins 3 trophies NAACP Image Awards

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kerry Washington was a triple threat at the NAACP Image Awards.

The star of ABC's "Scandal" picked up a trio of trophies at the 44th annual ceremony: outstanding actress in a drama series for "Scandal," supporting actress in a motion picture for "Django Unchained" and the President's Award, which is given in recognition of special achievement and exceptional public service.

"This award does not belong to me," said Washington, who plays a slave separated from her husband in "Django Unchained," as she picked up her first trophy of the evening for her role in the film directed by Quentin Tarantino. "It belongs to our ancestors. We shot this film on a slave plantation, and they were with us along every step of the way."

Washington, who plays crisis management consultant Olivia Pope on "Scandal," serves on President Barack Obama's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Don Cheedle was awarded the outstanding actor in a comedy series trophy for his role as a slick management consultant in Showtime's "House of Lies."

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Had your winter Phil? Forecast rests with Pennsylvania Punxsutawney rodent on Groundhog Day

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) — Furry little Punxsutawney (puhnk-suh-TAW'-nee) Phil is ready to make his annual appearance out of Gobbler's Knob in west-central Pennsylvania.

Groundhog Day is Saturday, and the community is holding its welcome-back bash for the famous winter-weather prognosticator — the so-called seer of seers and sage of sages.

Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow on Feb. 2, winter will last six more weeks. No shadow means an early spring.

Phil's got company. Groundhogs in Atlanta, New York, and Ontario also make predictions.

But Punxsutawney partisans say Phil is the original and the best. The 1993 movie "Groundhog Day" starring Bill Murray brought the Pennsylvania rodent even more notoriety.

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For the family of Ravens' Oher, a New Orleans Super Bowl befits the 'Blind Side' story line

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A knowing grin spread across Sean Tuohy's face as he considered the uncanny connections between the hit film that changed his family's life and the fact that Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher will play in his first Super Bowl in the Big Easy.

New Orleans is where Tuohy grew up and went to high school with author Michael Lewis, who wrote "The Blind Side."

The book led to the movie, which depicted the Tuohys' rewarding experience as Oher's adoptive family. Actress Sandra Bullock, who starred as Sean Tuohy's wife, Leigh Anne, owns a home in New Orleans.

"And there are people that think that's a coincidence," Sean Tuohy said. "How stupid is that?

"We've got a huge sign in our garage that says: 'We believe in miracles,'" he continued. "For other people, it may be hard to understand that. For us, it's easy."

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