AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EST

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Associated Press

Posted on February 17, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Updated Monday, Feb 17 at 6:02 AM

Ethiopian plane hijacked to Geneva by co-pilot who wanted asylum in Switzerland

GENEVA (AP) — An Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot hijacked a plane bound for Rome on Monday and flew it to Geneva, where he wanted to seek asylum, officials said.

The Boeing 767-300 plane with 202 passengers and crew aboard had taken off from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and landed in the Swiss city at about 6 a.m. (0500 GMT). Officials said no one on the flight was injured.

Geneva airport chief executive Robert Deillon told reporters that the co-pilot, an Ethiopian man born in 1983, took control of the plane when the pilot ventured outside the cockpit.

"The pilot went to the toilet and he (the co-pilot) locked himself in the cockpit," Deillon said.

The man "wanted asylum in Switzerland," he said. "That's the motivation of the hijacking."

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Putin's time in Sochi reflects his discipline and wiles

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — So far during the Winter Olympics, Vladimir Putin hasn't shown off his pecs, scuba-dived to a treasure site or engaged in any sort of the he-man stunts he's known for.

But the Russian president's vigor and determination have been on display in quieter ways during these Winter Olympics -- which, for him, have been a long round of visits to officials, athletes' facilities and sporting events. That's harder duty than it sounds.

Competitors at the Olympics get nervous knowing that the eyes of the world will be on them for a few minutes. For Putin, that scrutiny extends for the entire 17 days of the games. And many of those eyes are waiting for him to fail.

Although the home-country crowds may be largely on his side, Putin has received much criticism from abroad for the Olympics' staggering cost, Russia's crackdown on dissent and the widely denounced law banning pro-gay "propaganda" to minors. Serious questions have been raised about whether his security forces are capable of fending off threatened attacks by Islamic militants and whether Russia has been cooperating enough with Western governments on protecting fans and athletes.

Through it all, Putin has conducted himself with the slightly chilly aplomb that is his hallmark. During more than a dozen years in power, he's rarely allowed himself to be spontaneous; those moments when he did were often embarrassing, as when he inexplicably nuzzled a boy on the stomach. But he has learned how to use a choreographed moment to present an image of studied casualness.

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After UAW defeat in Tennessee, can GOP fulfill promises that more jobs will come?

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Republicans fighting a yearslong unionization effort at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee painted a grim picture in the days leading up to last week's vote. They said if Chattanooga employees joined the United Auto Workers, jobs would go elsewhere and incentives for the company would disappear.

Now that workers have rejected the UAW in a close vote, attention turns to whether the GOP can fulfill its promises that keeping the union out means more jobs will come rolling in, the next great chapter in the flourishing of foreign auto makers in the South.

Regardless of what political consequences, if any, Republicans would face if that fails to happen, the Volkswagen vote established a playbook for denying the UAW its goal of expanding into foreign-owned plants in the region, which the union itself has called the key to its long-term future.

On the first of three days of voting at the Chattanooga plant, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker all but guaranteed the German automaker would announce within two weeks of a union rejection that it would build a new midsized sport utility vehicle at its only U.S. factory instead of sending the work to Mexico.

"What they wanted me to know, unsolicited, that if the vote goes negative, they're going to announce immediately that they're going to build a second line," Corker told The Associated Press of his conversations with unnamed Volkswagen officials.

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With visits to Sunnylands, Obama helps fulfill Annenberg dream of a 'Camp David of the West'

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — With two visits in less than a year to the sprawling Sunnylands estate in Southern California, President Barack Obama is helping to fulfill the dream of the late philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg, who hoped the desert property they used as a winter home would become the "Camp David of the West."

Obama has spent two long weekends at Sunnylands since June, mixing diplomatic duties with the pursuit of a favorite pastime: golf.

By comparison, he visited the real Camp David, the official mountaintop presidential retreat in Maryland, three times last year. He most recently took family and friends to the secluded mountain compound in August to celebrate his 52nd birthday but has yet to visit this year.

Obama is the eighth American president since the mid-1960s to enjoy the 200-acre Sunnylands property, which includes the Annenberg's 25,000-square-foot home, a nine-hole golf course, tennis court, 11 lakes, a swimming pool and a mausoleum where the Annenbergs are interred. The property also has many walking paths, reflecting pools and multiple varieties of wildlife and arid-landscape plants.

Hosting King Abdullah II of Jordan at Sunnylands this past weekend, Obama said the lush venue would allow for extensive talks in a less formal setting.

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Media strategists ready to target voters, 1 television at a time

WASHINGTON (AP) — The days when political campaigns would try to make inroads with demographic groups such as soccer moms or white working-class voters are gone. Now, the operatives are targeting specific individuals.

And, in some places, they can reach those individuals directly through their televisions.

Welcome to Addressable TV, an emerging technology that allows advertisers — Senate hopefuls and insurance companies alike — to pay some broadcasters to pinpoint specific homes.

Advertisers have long bought ads knowing that only a fraction of the audience was likely to respond to them. Allowing campaigns — political or not — to finely hone their TV pitches to individuals could let them more efficiently spend their advertising dollars.

"With a traditional TV buy you can end up paying for a lot of eyeballs you don't care about," said Chauncey McLean, chief operating officer of the Analytics Media Group, an ad and data firm. "Addressable TV is a powerful tool for those that are equipped to use it. If you know who you want to talk to and what you want to say, you can be much more precise."

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Kerry accuses Assad of stonewalling in peace talks, calls on Russia to push regime

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of stonewalling in peace talks and called on Russia to push its ally to negotiate with opposition leaders.

"Right now, Bashar al-Assad has not engaged in the discussions along the promised and required standard that both Russia spoke up for and the regime spoke up for," Kerry said during a press conference in Jakarta with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.

He said Assad's team "refused to open up one moment of discussion" of a transitional government to replace Assad's regime.

"It is very clear that Bashar Assad is trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table in good faith," Kerry said

Peace talks last week in Geneva ended with no progress toward breaking the impasse in the nearly 3-year-old conflict in Syria.

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Thick fog over mountains causes delays in skiing events at Sochi Olympics

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — After days of warm weather at the Sochi Olympics, fog up in the mountains is causing an even bigger disturbance.

Thick fog rolled in over the mountains in Krasnaya Polyana on Sunday night and was still lingering on Monday, and the limited visibility forced organizers to delay a biathlon race and cancel the seeding runs in a snowboard event.

The men's biathlon mass-start race had already been pushed back from Sunday evening to 10 a.m. (0600 GMT) Monday, but was delayed again because of continuing fog. The new start time was set for 3:30 p.m. (1130 GMT) as officials expected the fog to lift by then. The women's mass-start race was still set for its original 7 p.m. start.

"For the afternoon, there is a positive forecast," said Peer Lange, a spokesman for the International Biathlon Union.

However, two hours before the new start time, the fog was still heavy. A race jury will make the decision on whether the visibility is good enough, Lange said.

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Pakistani polio strain turns up in other countries, threatening global efforts to wipe it out

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Just a few weeks ago, 11-month-old Shaista was pulling herself up, giggling as she took her first wobbly steps with the helping hand of her teenage mother.

Then the polio virus struck and Shaista was no longer able to stand, her legs buckling beneath her weight. Today, her mother cries a lot and wonders what will become of her daughter in Pakistan's male-dominated society, where a woman's value is often measured by the quality of her husband.

"It is not a hardship just for the child, but for the whole family," said the child's 18-year-old mother, Samia Gul. "It is very difficult for a poor family like us. She will be dependent on us for the rest of her life."

Shaista is one of five new polio cases to surface in Pakistan in just the first month of this year. Last year, Pakistan recorded 92 new cases, beating Nigeria and Afghanistan — the only other polio-endemic countries — by almost 2 to 1, the World Health Organization said.

Pakistan's beleaguered battle to eradicate polio is threatening a global, multi-billion-dollar campaign to wipe out the disease worldwide. Because of Pakistan, the virus is spreading to countries that were previously polio-free, U.N officials say.

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French prosecutor rules out any criminal wrongdoing in Michael Schumacher's skiing accident.

PARIS (AP) — French investigators have ruled out any criminal wrongdoing in the debilitating ski accident of Formula One great Michael Schumacher, a state prosecutor said Monday.

Albertville prosecutor Patrick Quincy said "no infraction by anyone has been turned up" and the probe has been closed, his office said in a statement — responding to questions about whether the Meribel ski station in the French Alps or an equipment maker might have had some role in Schumacher's injury.

The 45-year-old German auto racing legend suffered serious head injuries on Dec. 29 when he fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock off the side of a demarcated slope in Meribel. Schumacher has been treated at Grenoble University Hospital in southeastern France since then.

Quincy's office said the rock that caused Schumacher to fall was 10.4 meters (34 feet) away from another rock upon which he hit his head — and each were more than 4 meters away from the edge of the red-level piste that he was on.

"The accident took place in an off-piste area," the prosecutor's statement said. "The signage, marking, staking and information provided about the edges of this slope adhere to French norms in place."

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Eastern Conference ends its All-Star skid, pulling out a 163-155 victory behind MVP Irving

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — LeBron James usually has his fun in June, when the Miami Heat have won NBA championships the last two years.

Doesn't mean he's OK with losing in February.

And he certainly won't stand for his team getting picked on.

Three straight times he had left a loser, and he was even more driven for this All-Star game after a half season of his conference getting ridiculed for its mediocrity.

"We've been getting killed a lot this season, talking about the Eastern Conference is pretty bad, it's a two-man race and we're not holding up our end of the bargain," James said. "So it was special to get this win."

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