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Saturday, May 3, 2014,AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

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Posted: May 2, 2014 4:00 PM

Updated: May 3, 2014 4:00 AM

OSCE observers held in eastern Ukraine released

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) Pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine on Saturday released the seven OSCE military observers and five Ukrainian assistants who had been held for more than a week.

The observers were seized on April 25 in the city of Slovyansk, the epicenter of eastern Ukraine's unrest, as they traveled with an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observer team. The insurgents said they possessed unspecified suspicious material and alleged they were spying for NATO.

An observer from Sweden was also seized as part of the team, but was released earlier. Unlike the other observers' countries, Sweden is not a member of NATO and the Swede reportedly suffers from a mild form of diabetes.

Shortly before the release, the insurgents' leader in Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying he ordered the release because of increasing insecurity in the city.

Two Ukrainian helicopters were reported shot down outside the city on Friday, killing two crew members and the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said two other soldiers were killed in a clash on the oustkirts. Ponomarev said 10 local people were killed in a confrontation with soldiers on Slovyansk's outskirts, but there was no independent confirmation.

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Rescuers struggle to help Afghans hit by massive landslide in northeast

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) Afghan rescuers and hundreds of volunteers armed with shovels rushed on Saturday to help villagers hit by a massive landslide in the remote northeast a day earlier, officials said, while fears of a new torrent of mud and earth complicated rescue efforts.

Figures on the number of people killed in the disaster varied as officials try to gather precise information from the village of Hobo Barak.

Abdullah Homayun Dehqan, the director of Badakshan province's National Disaster Department, said he did not have an exact number of how many people were killed. The United Nations on Friday said at least 350 people died, and the provincial governor said as many as 2,000 people were feared missing.

Afghanistan deputy director of the Natural Disaster Management Authority, Mohammad Aslam Seyas, said Saturday that 255 people had died. He said villagers believe the number is higher, but said judging by previous experiences that the 255 figure seems more realistic.

"Search and rescue operations are going on very slowly," Seyas said, adding that fear of new landslides had slowed the operation.

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Kerry: US ready to help, but African nations need to take steps to ensure democracy, security

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) America's top diplomat said Saturday the U.S. is ready to help increase its ties with Africa, but nations across the continent need to take stronger steps to ensure security and democracy for its people.

In an Africa policy address to members of the Addis Ababa diplomatic corps and the Young Africa leader network, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry highlighted crises in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and the Central African Republic and urged Africans to demand stability and financial development.

He called for an expansion of American investment in Africa and noted that U.S. companies IBM, Microsoft and Google already have spent more than $100 million on projects across the continent.

"So this is clearly a moment of opportunity for all Africans," Kerry told about 100 Ethiopians at an environmentally-friendly auditorium on a mountaintop. "It is also a moment of decision."

Africa has the natural resources, capacity and the know-how for economic development, Kerry said, adding that the U.S. is the continent's "natural partner."

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California jury says Samsung infringed Apple smartphone patents, awards $119 million

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) A California jury awarded Apple $119 million far less than it demanded in a patent battle with Samsung over alleged copying of smart phone features, and the jury made the victory even smaller by finding that Apple illegally used one of Samsung's patents.

The verdict was a far cry from the $2.2 billion Apple sought and the $930 million it won in a separate 2012 trial making similar patent infringement claims against older Samsung products, most of which are no longer for sale in the United States.

The jury found that Apple had infringed one of Samsung's patents in creating the iPhone 4 and 5. Jurors awarded Samsung $158,400, trimming that amount from the original $119.62 million verdict. Samsung had sought $6 million.

"Though this verdict is large by normal standards, it is hard to view this outcome as much of a victory for Apple," Santa Clara University law professor Brian Love said. "This amount is less than 10 percent of the amount Apple requested and probably doesn't surpass by too much the amount Apple spent litigating this case."

The award may be adjusted slightly in favor of Apple. Jurors were ordered to return to court Monday to continue deliberations on a minor matter that could result in a higher award for Apple. Because the jury was still empaneled, jurors were prevented from talking publicly about the case.

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The April jobs report looks strong, but here are 5 signs that the recovery has further to go

WASHINGTON (AP) Employers added a sizable 288,000 jobs in April.

Hiring in February and March was better than first thought.

The unemployment rate plunged to 6.3 percent from 6.7 percent.

At first glance, Friday's U.S. jobs report suggested that the agonizingly slow 5-year-old economic recovery had burst into a full sprint.

Yet several cautionary signs emerged from the report, starting with that spectacular plunge in the unemployment rate.

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Guide operators hope Everest deaths will prompt long-overdue safety fixes on notorious icefall

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) Guy Cotter was so concerned about the safety of Sherpa guides and porters through Mount Everest's notorious Khumbu Icefall that he and another commercial guide operator hatched a plan: Before this year's climbing season began, they would use helicopters to transport 4 tons of equipment above the icefall.

Nepal-based Simrik Air backed the plan and hired New Zealand pilot Jason Laing, an expert in hauling loads using long cables. But in January, the answer came back from Nepalese authorities: permit denied.

Three months later, Laing put his expertise to use. But not hauling gear. On April 18 came Everest's worst disaster, in which 16 Sherpas were killed in an avalanche at the icefall. Laing made flight after flight that day, using his long cables to rescue four injured Sherpas and haul out 13 bodies. The three others are buried under heavy snow and ice.

"It was tough," Laing said. "I just had to get on with it."

Among those killed were three Sherpas hired by Cotter's company, Adventure Consultants.

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Efrem Zimbalist Jr., handsome star of TV series '77 Sunset Strip' and 'The FBI,' dies at 95

LOS ANGELES (AP) Handsome, debonair and blessed with a distinguished voice that reflected his real-life prep school upbringing, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. seemed born to play the television roles that made him famous, that of hip Hollywood detective and brilliant G-man.

A prolific actor who also appeared in numerous films and stage productions, Zimbalist became a household name in 1958 as Stu Bailey, the wisecracking private investigator who was a co-partner in a swinging Hollywood detective agency located at the exclusive address of "77 Sunset Strip."

When the show of the same name ended in 1964, Zimbalist became an even bigger star playing the empathetic, methodical G-man Lewis Erskine in "The F.B.I."

The actor, who in recent years had retired to his ranch in Southern California's bucolic horse country, died there Friday at age 95.

"We are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., today at his Solvang ranch," the actor's daughter Stephanie Zimbalist and son Efrem Zimbalist III said in a statement. "He actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf and visiting with close friends."

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White House correspondents to honor black reporter once barred by their predecessors

WASHINGTON (AP) Harry McAlpin was standing outside the Oval Office, moments away from becoming the first black reporter to attend a presidential press conference, when one of his contemporaries approached with a deal.

Stay out here, the reporter told McAlpin. The other White House correspondents would share their notes, and McAlpin would have a chance to become an official member of the correspondents association. McAlpin marched into the Oval Office anyway. Afterward, President Franklin Roosevelt shook McAlpin's hand and said, "I'm glad to see you, McAlpin, and very happy to have you here."

McAlpin, who became a fixture at the White House during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, never got a White House Correspondents' Association membership. But now, in its centennial year, the WHCA is honoring McAlpin with a scholarship bearing his name.

The scholarship will be presented Saturday night during the WHCA's annual dinner with President Barack Obama.

"Harry McAlpin is someone who should be recognized and shouldn't be forgotten," National Journal correspondent George Condon, the association's unofficial historian, said this week during a panel discussion about diversity and the White House press corps.

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Stiviano tells ABC Sterling's racist remarks from recording not the first he made to her

V. Stiviano says Donald Sterling's racist comments on an audio recording leaked to the public were not the first by the Los Angeles Clippers owner in conversations with her.

"There's been a number of occasions where Mr. Sterling and I had conversations just like this one. This was one of very many," Stiviano told Barbara Walters on ABC's "20/20" in an interview that aired Friday night. "Part of what the world heard was only 15 minutes. There's a number of other hours that the world doesn't know."

Sterling told Stiviano in the recording that she should not post online photos of herself with black people, including basketball great Magic Johnson, or bring black people to Clippers' games.

The recording, which an attorney for Stiviano said was leaked by a third party, led to public outcry across the country and the NBA. Some sponsors dropped the Clippers and others re-evaluated their relationship with the NBA.

On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and urged league owners to force him to sell the team. A three-quarters vote by the NBA owners is required to force him to sell.

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California Chrome aims to beat speedy 19-horse field in 140th Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) California Chrome has the Kentucky Derby post that trainer Art Sherman wanted and a sparkling resume that has made him the horse to beat in the 140th edition at Churchill Downs.

By maximizing that position to get ahead of a speedy 19-horse field, he could earn a garland of red roses Saturday and take an important first step toward ending a 36-year Triple Crown champion drought.

Both are huge challenges, but the chestnut colt seems capable of getting a leg up in the sport's marquee race. California Chrome is unbeaten as a 3-year-old and has six wins and a second in 10 starts.

Starting from the fifth position as a 5-2 morning-line favorite, he aims to become the first California-bred Derby winner in 52 years and make Sherman, 77, the oldest winning trainer.

The scheduled post time is 6:24 p.m. EDT with temperatures expected in the low-70s and a 10 percent chance of showers, conditions that Sherman hopes will pay off for California Chrome and jockey Victor Espinoza.

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