AP News in Brief at 8:58 p.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on May 18, 2014 at 8:05 PM

Historic flooding in Bosnia triggers more than 3,000 landslides, unearths unexploded mines

BRCKO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Floodwaters triggered more than 3,000 landslides across the Balkans on Sunday, laying waste to entire towns and villages and disturbing land mines leftover from the region's 1990s war, along with warning signs that marked the unexploded weapons.

The Balkans' worst flooding since record keeping began forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and threatened to inundate Serbia's main power plant, which supplies electricity to a third of the country and most of the capital, Belgrade.

Authorities organized a frenzied helicopter airlift to get terrified families to safety before the water swallowed up their homes. Many were plucked from rooftops.

Floodwaters receded Sunday in some locations, laying bare the full scale of the damage. Elsewhere, emergency management officials warned that the water would keep rising into Sunday night.

"The situation is catastrophic," said Bosnia's refugee minister, Adil Osmanovic.

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AP PHOTOS: Balkans hit with record flooding

Entire towns and villages in the Balkans have been laid to waste as the region struggles to deal with the worst flooding on record.

Floodwaters have triggered more than 3,000 landslides and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes. At least two dozen people have died, with more casualties expected.

"The situation is catastrophic," said Bosnia's refugee minister, Adil Osmanovic.

Here are some photos of the devastation.

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AT&T's $48.5 billion DirecTV acquisition could form 2nd largest US pay TV company

LOS ANGELES (AP) — AT&T Inc. on Sunday agreed to buy satellite TV provider DirecTV for $48.5 billion, or $95 per share, a deal both companies described as transformational as they seek to take on cable companies and online video providers, delivering content to multiple screens —on living room TVs, PCs, tablets and mobile phones.

With 5.7 million U-verse TV customers and 20.3 million DirecTV customers in the U.S., the combined AT&T-DirecTV would serve 26 million. That would make it the second-largest pay TV operator behind a combined Comcast-Time Warner Cable, which would serve 30 million under a $45 billion merger proposed in February.

"What it does is it gives us the pieces to fulfill a vision we've had for a couple of years — the ability to take premium content and deliver it across multiple points: your smartphone, tablet, television or laptop," AT&T's Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said on a conference call with journalists Sunday.

But the deal could face unique regulatory scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice. Unlike the cable company tie-up, the AT&T-DirecTV merger would effectively cut the number of video providers from four to three for about 25 percent of U.S. households. That's a situation that could result in higher prices for consumers and usually gives regulators cause for concern.

Stephenson said those concerns would be addressed with a number of what he called "unprecedented" commitments. Among them:

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News Summary: AT&T, DirecTV propose $48.5B merger

BIG MERGER: AT&T is seeking to acquire DirecTV for $48.5 billion, of $95 per share, in a deal to help it better compete with rivals.

WHY IT'S HAPPENING: The deal would give telecommunications giant AT&T a larger base of video subscribers. The combined company would serve 26 million TV customers. AT&T could also improve its Internet service by pushing its current U-verse subscribers onto DirecTV's satellite-based service, freeing up bandwidth in its network.

WHAT'S NEXT: The deal could face scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department. The companies expect it to close within 12 months.

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Renegade Libyan general's group says parliament has been suspended after its Tripoli attack

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Forces apparently loyal to a renegade Libyan general said they suspended parliament Sunday after earlier leading a military assault against lawmakers, directly challenging the legitimacy of the country's weak central government three years after the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Libya's leadership condemned the attack and vowed to carry on.

A commander in the military police in Libya read a statement announcing the suspension on behalf of a group led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter, a one-time rebel commander who said the U.S. backed his efforts to topple Gadhafi in the 1990s. Hours earlier, militia members backed by truck-mounted anti-aircraft guns, mortars and rocket fire attacked parliament, sending lawmakers fleeing for their lives as gunmen ransacked the legislature.

Gen. Mokhtar Farnana, speaking on a Libyan television channel on behalf of Hifter's group, said it assigned a 60-member constituent's assembly to take over for parliament. Farnana said Libya's current government would act on as an emergency Cabinet, without elaborating.

Farnana, who is in charge of prisons operated by the military police, said forces loyal to Hifter carried out Sunday's attack on parliament. He also said Sunday's attack on Libya's parliament was not a coup, but "fighting by the people's choice."

"We announce to the world that the country can't be a breeding ground or an incubator for terrorism," said Farnana, who wore a military uniform and sat in front of Libya's flag.

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As parents ask why, ferry sinking makes S. Korea question pride in progress, faith in leaders

ANSAN, South Korea (AP) — Park Si-chan had trouble sleeping the night before the biggest trip of his young life, a four-day journey with his entire junior high school class to a lush volcanic island known here as the "Hawaii of Korea."

The trip was the students' last chance for all-out fun before preparing for grueling, all-important university entrance exams, and Si-chan was excited. While packing, he kept saying, "'What am I missing?'" his father, Joseph Park, recalled.

He gave his son some advice: Know where the life jackets are, "just in case." And if anything happens, "just do what those in charge say."

That's exactly what the kids and other passengers did, and many died as a result when the five-story-high Sewol ferry turned upside down and sank in just a few hours on April 16. Most of the 304 people dead or missing were teenagers trapped in cabins where the crew had ordered them to stay.

The tragedy has prompted Koreans to question the very foundations of their society.

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Pyongyang building collapse leaves considerable casualties; prompts rare North Korean apology

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean officials offered a rare public apology for the collapse of an apartment building under construction in Pyongyang, which a South Korean official said was believed to have caused considerable casualties that could mean hundreds might have died.

The word of the collapse in the secretive nation's capital was reported Sunday morning by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, which gave no death toll but said that the accident was "serious" and upset North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un.

The report said it occurred in the capital's Phyongchon district on Tuesday "as the construction of an apartment house was not done properly and officials supervised and controlled it in an irresponsible manner."

In Seoul, a South Korean government official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information said the 23-story apartment building that collapsed was presumed to have housed 92 families.

That could mean the casualties could be in the hundreds because a typical North Korean family has four members. However, it was not clear whether all the residents were inside at the time of the collapse, or that four people lived in each apartment.

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3 face charges in Turkey mine disaster amid growing anger about alleged negligence

ISTANBUL (AP) — In the face of widespread anger over Turkey's worst mining disaster, prosecutors arrested three people, including a company manager, on charges of negligence Sunday.

The three were also accused of causing the death of more than one person, a charge that doesn't imply intent, prosecutor Bekir Sahiner said at a news conference in the western town of Soma, where 301 coal miners were killed in Tuesday's tragedy.

The arrests follow allegations by miners that the company failed to heed safety concerns and that government inspections had been superficial. The disaster has provoked anger at a critical time for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he mulls running in August's presidential election.

A total of 25 people were initially detained for questioning and six were later released, Sahiner said. Prosecutors will now decide whether to charge or release the remaining 16 people in custody.

Sahiner said one of those arrested was the company's operations manager. The manager is Akin Celik, though Sahiner didn't identify him by name.

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Kerry jokes that Yale's diverse graduating class is Clippers owner Sterling's 'nightmare'

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Secretary of State John Kerry took a poke at the NBA's controversy surrounding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling during a speech at Yale University's Class Day.

Joking about college and pop culture at the start of his speech Sunday, Kerry told the Ivy League graduates: "You are ... the most diverse class in Yale history. Or, as it's called in the NBA, Donald Sterling's worst nightmare." The comment drew laughs from the audience.

The NBA commissioner has banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million following the release last month of a recording in which the Clippers' owner makes racist remarks. The commissioner also called on owners to oust Sterling from the league.

According to a speaker at Class Day, students from 61 countries are graduating from Yale this weekend.

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CANNES WATCH: Hilary brilliant, Our Girls campaign gets more attention on Cannes carpets

CANNES, France (AP) — The Associated Press is all over the Cannes Film Festival — from its glitzy premieres to the celeb parties and quirky moments in between. Here's what reporters have seen and heard:

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LOOK OF THE DAY: HILARY SWANK

It was a coup for Donatella Versace: Hilary Swank was brilliant in white on the Cannes red carpet Sunday for the premiere of "The Homesman," with a silk one-shoulder gown from Atelier Versace, twinned with a 1000-watt smile.

The killer dress came from the Italian house's couture line and was gathered at the waist and draped at the back.

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