AP News in Brief at 10:58 p.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on May 20, 2014 at 10:03 PM

McConnell routs tea party rival in Ky. GOP primary; Nunn wins Georgia Dem Senate nomination

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell dispatched his tea party challenger with ease Tuesday night, and Democrats turned to two women, Alison Lundergan Grimes to oppose him in Kentucky and Michelle Nunn to fight for Georgia, in elections next fall with control of the Senate at stake.

Setting up a third high-profile race, Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas and his Republican challenger, Rep. Tom Cotton, were unopposed for their parties' nominations.

On the busiest primary night of the year to date, Democrats eyeing a return to power in the Pennsylvania state Capitol nominated businessman Tom Wolf to oppose Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's bid for a second term.

Republican primary struggles between establishment-backed conservatives and tea party-favored rivals were a dominant feature of the evening, as they had been earlier in North Carolina and will be later in Mississippi, Kansas and Alaska. Republicans must gain six seats to win a Senate majority, and party leaders have made it a priority to avoid the presence of candidates on the ballot this fall who are seen as too conservative or unsteady — or both — to prevail in winnable races.

McConnell, a five-term lawmaker and the embodiment of the GOP establishment, was pulling 60 percent of the vote in Kentucky. Challenger Matt Bevin was gaining 36 percent.

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Thai army declares martial law, denies coup underway as it intervenes in political crisis

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's powerful army chief intervened for the first time in the country's latest political crisis, declaring martial law and dispatching gun-mounted jeeps into the heart of the capital with a vow to resolve the deepening conflict as quickly as possible.

The army insisted it was not taking over, and it left the nation's severely weakened caretaker government intact. But a dozen official edicts announced throughout the day — which steadily expanded the military's power and included media censorship and threats to prosecute opponents — fueled speculation troops had carried out what Human Rights Watch described as "a de facto coup."

Despite Tuesday's dramatic events, life continued normally in most of the country, with residents largely unfazed by the declaration and tourist sites open. But the intervention, which follows six months of crippling protests that killed 28 people and injured more than 800, left the country at another precarious crossroads — its fate now squarely in the hands of the military.

"The key going forward will be the military's role in politics," said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University. "If they play the role of enforcer of law and order and even mediator ... this could be a resolution to the impasse."

But if they don't, "we can expect protests and turmoil from the losing side."

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. FIGHT WITHIN GOP MARKS PRIMARIES

Republican struggles between establishment-backed conservatives and tea party-favored rivals are a dominant feature this election season.

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Judge overturns Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage, calls challengers 'courageous'

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pennsylvania's ban on gay marriage was overturned by a federal judge Tuesday in a decision that legalized the practice throughout the Northeast and sent couples racing to pick up licenses.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III called the plaintiffs — a widow, 11 couples and one couple's teenage daughters — courageous for challenging the constitutionality of the ban passed by lawmakers in 1996.

"We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history," the judge wrote.

The judge declined to put his ruling on hold for a possible appeal by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, so it went into immediate effect. The governor, who opposes gay marriage, did not issue a statement or indicate whether he would appeal. However, his state party chairman complained that an "activist" judge had usurped the power of the Legislature.

Amid a frenzy of celebration across the state, county offices in Philadelphia stayed open late to handle marriage applications, while officials in Pittsburgh were closed for election day but accepting them online. Couples must wait three days before getting married, unless a sympathetic judge grants a waiver.

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Police: 'Shield' actor Jace called 911 and told operator that he shot his wife in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Actor Michael Jace, who played a police officer on the hit TV show "The Shield," was arrested Tuesday after authorities said he called 911 and told an operator he shot his wife.

Detectives were investigating whether the couple's financial problems or other marital difficulties played a role in the killing that police said occurred during an argument Monday night while the couple's two sons, both under 10, were in the house.

Police were unsure if the children witnessed the argument or gunfire. They were placed with relatives.

April Jace, 40, was shot multiple times and was found dead in a hallway of the family home in the quiet, modest Hyde Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Police recovered a handgun believed to belong to her husband, Los Angeles police Detective Dean Vinluan said.

"She came home with the kids and then the dispute happened and the shooting happened," he said.

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US-China: When computer networks are hacked, victims are sometimes their own worst enemies

WASHINGTON (AP) — The victims were their own worst enemies.

The hacking techniques the U.S. government says China used against American companies turned out to be disappointingly mundane, tricking employees into opening email attachments or clicking on innocent-looking website links.

The scariest part might be how successfully the ruses worked. With a mouse click or two, employees at big-name American makers of nuclear and solar technology gave away the keys to their computer networks.

In a 31-count indictment announced on Monday the Justice Department said five Chinese military officials operating under hacker aliases such as "Ugly Gorilla," ''KandyGoo" and "Jack Sun" stole confidential business information, sensitive trade secrets and internal communications for competitive advantage. The U.S. identified the alleged victims as Alcoa World Alumina, Westinghouse, Allegheny Technologies, U.S. Steel, United Steelworkers Union and SolarWorld.

China denied it all on Tuesday.

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118 dead in twin car bombs at bus station, market in Nigerian city; toll expected to rise

JOS, Nigeria (AP) — Two car bombs exploded at a bustling bus terminal and market in Nigeria's central city of Jos on Tuesday, killing at least 118 people, wounding dozens and leaving bloodied bodies amid the flaming debris.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the twin car bombs. But they bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group that abducted nearly 300 schoolgirls last month and has repeatedly targeted bus stations and other locations where large numbers of people gather in its campaign to impose Islamic law on Nigeria.

The second blast came half an hour after the first, killing some of the rescue workers who had rushed to the scene, which was obscured by billows of black smoke.

"It's horrifying, terrible," said Mark Lipdo of the Stefanos Foundation, a Christian charity based in Jos, who described the sickening smell of burning human flesh.

A woman's body, her legs blown off, lay on the edge of an inferno consuming other bodies. In the middle if the flames, an arm reached up. Another woman, unconscious and wrapped in a brightly colored cloth, was being carried away in a wheelbarrow on a road strewn with glass shards.

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Federal court halts Missouri inmate's execution, citing medical condition; state appeals

BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Attorney General's office on Tuesday evening appealed a federal appeals court panel's ruling that temporarily halted the execution of a condemned killer, a ruling that cited concerns about the inmate's rare medical condition that could cause pain and suffering during lethal injection.

The appeal came soon after a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 ruling, halted the execution of Russell Bucklew. He is scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for killing a southeast Missouri man in 1996.

"Bucklew's unrebutted medical evidence demonstrates the requisite sufficient likelihood of unnecessary pain and suffering beyond the constitutionally permissible amount inherent in all executions," the ruling read.

In a dissenting opinion, appeals court Judge James Loken said Bucklew's medical evidence "simply does not satisfy the Supreme Court's rigorous standards" for a stay of execution.

The office of Attorney General Chris Koster asked for a hearing before the full 8th Circuit, saying the panel's ruling conflicted with previous Supreme Court rulings.

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GM recalls 2.4 million more vehicles; costs included in $400 million second-quarter charge

DETROIT (AP) — Another day, another recall from General Motors.

At least that's the way it seems as the automaker reviews safety issues across its line-up of cars and trucks in the wake of a mishandled recall of millions of older small cars.

The number of recalls issued this year by the nation's top carmaker rose Tuesday to 29 as GM announced four separate actions affecting 2.4 million cars and trucks. While no fatalities were involved in the latest recalls, the problems were serious enough that GM has temporarily halted sales of the vehicles.

GM has recalled 13.6 million vehicles in the U.S. since early February. That's more than the total number of cars it sold here in the last five years, and already surpasses GM's previous U.S. recall record of 10.75 million vehicles, set in 2004. By comparison, rival Ford has recalled 1.2 million vehicles in the U.S. this year, while Toyota has recalled 2.9 million, according to federal data and the companies.

The parade of bad news is part of the fallout from GM's recall of 2.6 million Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars for defective ignition switches — and a consequence of government regulation. GM says it's redoubling efforts to resolve outstanding safety issues. It's hiring 35 new safety investigators and is issuing recalls one by one, as soon as a decision is made. GM can't wait and announce a group of recalls once a month; it's required by federal law to report defects to the government within five days of discovering them.

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Ex-players sue NFL, accuse it recklessly dispensing painkillers; drugs 'handed out like candy'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Opening another legal attack on the NFL over the long-term health of its athletes, a group of retired players accused the league in a lawsuit Tuesday of cynically supplying them with powerful painkillers and other drugs that kept them in the game but led to serious complications later in life.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages on behalf of more than 500 ex-athletes, charges the NFL with putting profits ahead of players' health.

To speed injured athletes' return to the field, team doctors and trainers dispensed drugs illegally, without obtaining prescriptions or warning of the possible side effects, the plaintiffs contend.

Some football players said they were never told they had broken bones and were instead fed pills to mask the pain. One said that instead of surgery, he was given anti-inflammatory drugs and excused from practices so he could play in games. Others said that after years of free pills from the NFL, they retired addicted to painkillers.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in Atlanta for the league's spring meetings, said, "Our attorneys have not seen the lawsuit and obviously I have been in meetings all day."

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