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

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Associated Press

Posted on February 27, 2014 at 6:02 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 27 at 6:02 AM

Gunmen seize government buildings in Ukraine's Crimea; pro-Western government formed in Kiev

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Dozens of heavily armed gunmen seized control of local government buildings in Ukraine's Crimea region early Thursday and raised the Russian flag, mirroring the three-month protest movement that drove Ukraine's pro-Russian president into hiding last week.

The moves escalated tensions in Ukraine, whose population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West. Some 150,000 Russian soldiers carried out military exercises and fighter jets patrolled the border, as a respected Russian newspaper reported that Moscow is sheltering fugitive Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

In a statement published by three Russian news agencies, the fugitive president said he is asking Russia's protection from "extremists" and that he still considers himself to be Ukraine's legitimate leader. An unnamed Russian official said that his request was "satisfied in the territory of Russia," the Russian agencies said.

Oleksandr Turchynov, who stepped in as acting president after Yanukovych's flight, warned that any move by Russian troops off of their base in Crimea "will be considered a military aggression."

In Kiev, lawmakers were expected to approve the new government that will face the hugely complicated task of restoring stability in a country that is not only deeply divided politically but on the verge of financial collapse.

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Reports: Russian official: Yanukovych's protection plea 'satisfied in the territory of Russia'

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian official is quoted as saying that Moscow has accepted the plea of fugitive Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who had asked for protection.

Three Russia news agencies quoted an unnamed official saying that Yanukovych's request for protection "was satisfied on the territory of Russia."

Yanukovych, who fled from Ukraine's capital Kiev last week, said in the Thursday statement that he still considers himself to be the legitimate leader.

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AP Exclusive: Airport phone system didn't give dispatchers location of LA airport shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles International Airport police dispatcher who received a call seconds after a gunman opened fire last year didn't know where to send officers because no one was on the line and the airport communications system didn't identify that the call was coming from a security checkpoint emergency phone, two officials told The Associated Press.

A screening supervisor in the sprawling airport's Terminal 3 picked up the phone but fled before responding to a dispatcher's questions because the gunman was approaching with a high-powered rifle and spraying bullets, according to two officials briefed on preliminary findings of a review of the emergency response to the Nov. 1 incident. They spoke only on condition of anonymity because the final report won't be released until next month.

One of the officials likened the situation to a 911 call but police not knowing what address to go to. Airport dispatchers knew something was wrong but didn't know where to send help because the system didn't identify locations of its emergency phones. After asking questions and receiving no answers, the dispatcher hung up. An airline contractor working in the terminal called dispatch directly from his cellphone, and officers were dispatched 90 seconds after the shooting.

Douglas Laird, a former security director for Northwest Airlines who owns an aviation security consulting business, said most emergency phone systems he's seen indicate the origin of a call.

If "dispatch doesn't know where the call is coming from, that shows there's a serious flaw, obviously," said Laird, who has conducted security surveys at about 100 airports around the world. He was not involved in the review of the LA airport shooting.

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Analysis: Tax overhaul bill joining immigration, trade and more on the shelf

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ordinarily, the late-winter introduction of major legislation by the chairman of a powerful committee might signal a major push in Congress for an election-year accomplishment.

That's not the case with tax reform, which now takes its place in the "do not disturb" corner with immigration legislation, trade bills and an increase in the federal minimum wage.

When Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, unveiled his 182-page summary for revising the tax code on Wednesday, it marked the beginning, the high point and the end of the issue for the current Congress.

Even other Republicans said so.

Especially other Republicans.

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Republican Arizona governor vetoes religious bill that angered gays in rebuke of party right

PHOENIX (AP) — Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer slapped down the right wing of her own party, vetoing a bill pushed by social conservatives that would have allowed people with sincerely held religious beliefs to refuse to serve gays.

The conservative governor said she could not sign a bill that was not only unneeded but would damage the state's improving business environment and divide its citizens.

Senate Bill 1062 had set off a national debate over gay rights, religion and discrimination and subjected Arizona to blistering criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.

Loud cheers erupted outside the Capitol building immediately after Brewer made her announcement Wednesday night.

Brewer pushed back hard against the GOP conservatives who forced the bill forward by citing examples of religious rights infringements in other states.

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What's really in it? New nutrition labels on food packages would highlight calories and sugars

WASHINGTON (AP) — Those "Nutrition Facts" labels that are plastered on nearly every food package found in grocery stores are getting a new look.

Calories would be in larger, bolder type, and consumers for the first time would know whether foods have added sugars under label changes being proposed by the Obama administration. Serving sizes would be updated to make them more realistic. A serving of ice cream, for example, would double to a full cup, closer to what people actually eat.

The proposed overhaul comes as science has shifted. While fat was the focus two decades ago when the labels first were created, nutritionists are now more concerned with how many calories we eat. And serving sizes have long been misleading, with many single-serving packages listing multiple servings, so the calorie count is lower.

The idea isn't that people should eat more; it's that they should understand how many calories are in what they are actually eating. The Food and Drug Administration says that by law, serving sizes must be based on actual consumption, not ideal consumption.

"Our guiding principle here is very simple, that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf and be able to tell whether it's good for your family," said first lady Michelle Obama, who was to join the Food and Drug Administration in announcing the proposed changes Thursday at the White House.

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The latest airline perk for super-elite fliers: A safe distance from the masses

NEW YORK (AP) — On flights from San Francisco to Hong Kong, first-class passengers can enjoy a Mesclun salad with king crab or a grilled USDA prime beef tenderloin, stretch out in a 3-foot-wide seat that converts to a bed and wash it all down with a pre-slumber Krug "Grande Cuvee" Brut Champagne.

Yet some of the most cherished new international first-class perks have nothing to do with meals, drinks or seats. Global airlines are increasingly rewarding wealthy fliers with something more intangible: physical distance between them and everyone else.

The idea is to provide an exclusive experience — inaccessible, even invisible, to the masses in coach. It's one way that a gap between the world's wealthiest 1 percent and everyone else has widened.

Many top-paying international passengers, having put down roughly $15,000 for a ticket, now check-in at secluded facilities and are driven in luxury cars directly to planes. Others can savor the same premier privileges by redeeming 125,000 or more frequent flier miles for a trip of a lifetime.

When Emirates Airline opened a new concourse at its home airport in Dubai last year, it made sure to keep coach passengers separate from those in business and first class. The top floor of the building is a lounge for premium passengers with direct boarding to the upstairs of Emirates' fleet of double-decker Airbus A380s. Those in coach wait one story below and board to the lower level or the plane.

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What to expect from this year's premium smartphones: camera power closer to high-end digital

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Expect sharper, clearer selfies this year.

Samsung Electronics Co. has beefed up the camera in its Galaxy S5 smartphone due for April release and added smarter camera software, following Sony and Nokia in their upgrades of handset cameras. The tweaks mean smartphone photos, ubiquitous nowadays because of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, will be closer in quality to images captured by digital single-lens reflex cameras, also known as DSLR.

How to give a super-thin smartphone the power of a DSLR camera that can capture moving images with clarity is a key challenge for the likes of Samsung, Sony, Nokia and LG as they try to differentiate their offerings in a crowded handset market. Their efforts to make smartphone cameras more powerful have taken a toll on the compact, point-and-shoot camera market, but catching up to the high-end cameras used by professional photographers had appeared a far-fetched ambition.

The gap is getting narrower thanks mainly to improvements in camera software and other technologies, but may never close completely.

The global wireless show that wraps up in Barcelona on Thursday showed smartphone makers using software trickery to offset their camera weaknesses: inferior image sensors and lack of optical zoom lens. The companies are also making photo manipulation on the phone easier to learn than manually controlling DSLR cameras.

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Cambodian filmmaker's haunted memories and search for catharsis lead him to the Oscars

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The office of Cambodia's most celebrated filmmaker is filled with books on the Khmer Rouge. On his desk, on the walls, in the filing cabinets and in every corner of Rithy Panh's dimly lit office are memories of his country's greatest tragedy.

Probing the painful past started as a coping mechanism for Panh and evolved into a career. For the past two and a half decades, Panh has made movies that he considers his duty as a survivor, and his debt to the dead.

His latest, "The Missing Picture," is the first time he has focused on his own story of loss and tormented survival. It's also the first Cambodian film to be nominated for an Academy Award, and could win Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars this weekend.

The 51-year-old filmmaker said he makes movies because "I had to find a way to work with my memories."

"When you survive a genocide, it's like you've been radiated by a nuclear bomb," Panh said during an interview at his Phnom Penh office, which is inside a film preservation center that he runs. "It's like you've been killed once already, and you come back with death inside of you."

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Jim Lange, first host of popular show 'The Dating Game,' dies at 81.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Jim Lange, the first host of the popular game show "The Dating Game," has died at his home in Mill Valley, Calif. He was 81.

He died Tuesday morning after suffering a heart attack, his wife Nancy told The Associated Press Wednesday.

Though Lange had a successful career in radio, he is best known for his television role on ABC's "The Dating Game," which debuted in 1965 and on which he appeared for more than a decade, charming audiences with his mellifluous voice and wide, easygoing grin.

He also played host to many celebrity guests. Michael Jackson, Steve Martin and Arnold Schwarzenegger, among others, appeared as contestants.

Even a pre-"Charlie's Angels" Farrah Fawcett appeared on the program, introduced as "an accomplished artist and sculptress" with a dream to open her own gallery.

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