AP News in Brief for June 9th, 2014

Monday, June 9, 2014

 

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — The Pakistani Taliban on Monday claimed responsibility for a brazen five-hour assault on the country's busiest airport that saw gunmen disguised as police guards storm the international terminal in Karachi, set off explosions and kill 18 people.

The Taliban said the assault on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province, was in revenge for the killing last November of the militant group's leader in a U.S. drone strike.

 

The claim further diminished prospects for a resumption of government-led peace talks with the Taliban. Those talks floundered in recent weeks and the Taliban have called off a cease-fire they declared during negotiations. Since then, Pakistani troops have carried out airstrikes in the country's troubled northwest to target militant hideouts, killing dozens of suspected militants. Residents claim several civilians were also killed in the strikes.

 

The Karachi assault started late Sunday when 10 gunmen, at least some disguised as policemen, opened fire with machine-guns and rocket launchers, triggering a gunbattle with police during which all the attackers were killed, said Rizwan Akhtar, the chief of Pakistan's elite paramilitary Rangers.

 

Heavy gunfire and multiple explosions were heard coming from the terminal, used for VIP flights and cargo, as militants and security forces battled for control. A major fire rose from the airport, illuminating the night sky in an orange glow as the silhouettes of jets could be seen. As dawn broke Sunday, smoke could still be seen billowing in the air.

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Police: 2 officers slain at Vegas restaurant, attackers kill 1 more and then themselves

 

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Two police officers were "simply having lunch" at a strip mall pizza buffet in Las Vegas when a man and a woman fatally shot them in point-blank ambush, then fled to a nearby Walmart where they killed a third person and then themselves in an apparent suicide pact, authorities said.

The attack at a CiCi's Pizza restaurant Sunday killed Officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31, who are both husbands and fathers. One of the shooters yelled, "This is a revolution," but a motive remains under investigation, Las Vegas police spokesman Larry Hadfield told The Associated Press.

"It's a tragic day," Sheriff Doug Gillespie said at a news conference Sunday afternoon. "But we still have a community to police, and we still have a community to protect. We will be out there doing it with our heads held high, but with an emptiness in our hearts."

For added safety, officers who normally work alone will be paired up with another officer for a time, Gillespie said.

The deadly rampage in the aging shopping center about five miles northeast of the Las Vegas Strip took place in a matter of minutes. Police were called at 11:22 a.m. to the pizzeria, where one of the officers was able to fire back at his assailants. It's unclear whether he hit them, Gillespie said.

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Clinton to open high-profile book tour touting her State Department years

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton is embarking on a book tour this week that will feature overtones of a potential presidential campaign in 2016. The tour could offer a window into the former secretary of state's stamina and how she might present her rationale for another White House bid.

Clinton's memoir, "Hard Choices," will be released on Tuesday, accompanied by interviews with ABC News and other news organizations. Clinton will appear at book events this week in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and suburban Washington, D.C.

The former first lady remains the leading Democratic contender for the White House if she chooses to run for president again.

Republicans have aggressively challenged her record at the State Department in anticipation of another campaign.

 

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Some of the best Tony moments: A bouncing host, a tearful mom, and two Carole Kings

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Hugh Jackman hopping his way into the theater, Neil Patrick Harris licking the eyeglasses of Samuel L. Jackson. A little history, and a slew of genuinely heartfelt speeches. The Tonys are often the most entertaining awards show of the year, and this year, again, they didn't disappoint. A look at some of the evening's most memorable moments, including some you didn't see on TV:

 

WAS HE A BUNNY OR A KANGAROO? He never really said. But Jackman's entrance, bouncing like an indefatigable doll into the theater, down the aisles, up to the stage and off to various other places, epitomized the spirit of this winning host, who was in good shape and game for anything. When, at the end, he asked all the Tony winners to come onstage and bounce along with him, not all had the energy. We can't all be Hugh Jackman.

 

MORE LOVE FOR NPH: Well, maybe only Neil Patrick Harris can be Hugh Jackman. The frequent (and much-admired) Tony host wasn't performing those duties this year, but he still gave the show one of its most memorable moments, performing "Sugar Daddy" from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." As Hedwig, a transgender East German singer, Harris sauntered around the stage in his giant blonde wig, then ventured into the crowd, giving a lap dance to Sting and licking Jackson's glasses. Later NPH was awarded the Tony for best actor in a musical. The orchestra starting to play him off wasn't the best move.

 

AND MORE GLORY FOR AUDRA: Her win for playing Billie Holliday in "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" gave Audra McDonald six Tonys, a record; She's now won in all four acting categories. She got the biggest ovation of the night — the entire theater was on its feet — with a tearful speech in which she thanked her parents for ignoring doctors' orders to medicate her as a hyperactive child, and instead encouraging her to try the theater. Even more touching was McDonald's shout out to her daughter: "Do you understand, Mommy is nothing without you!"

 

A HAPPY GENIE: James Monroe Iglehart was one happy genie, and it was hard not to catch the happy bug as the ebullient, portly-yet-graceful actor broke into a "praise shout" and a glorious, well, happy dance while accepting his award for featured actor in a musical for "Aladdin." Iglehart said later at the Tony after-party that he is "having the best time doing 'Aladdin' — I'm a big kid in a Disney show!"

 

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The vow never to leave a soldier behind is a potent one, and not just reserved for heroes

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — We never leave troops behind. We don't negotiate with terrorists.

Those core U.S. commitments, to the soldier, the country and the world, came into conflict when Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl fell into the hands of the Taliban and the government saw only one way to get him back: in essence, make a deal with terrorists.

 

The debate over Bergdahl rages on multiple fronts, touching on whether the U.S. came out on the short end in a bargain that freed five Taliban captives, whether the soldier who walked away from his post was disloyal to country, whether adversaries will see more gain in capturing Americans, whether the administration was justified in acting without notice to Congress, and more.

What's clear in the complexities is that the age-old vow to retrieve the captured or the fallen proved more potent than the refusal to make deals with those who don't fight by the rules.

Each ethos runs deep in the American conscience, yet has been violated through history, notably in the age of terrorism, where traditional standards of warfare, spying and negotiating are run through a hall of mirrors

.

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Pyrotechnics, nude acrobats set desert ablaze at Israel's 'Burning Man' festival

 

NEGEV DESERT, Israel (AP) — For the Bedouin Arab shepherds tending their flocks in Israel's Negev desert last week, it was almost as if aliens had landed from outer space.

Some 3,000 people set up a colorful encampment in the dusty moonscape, swinging from hoops by day and burning giant wooden sculptures by night.

It was Midburn, Israel's first Burning Man festival, modeled after the popular carnival held annually in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Midburn is a mix of "midbar," Hebrew for desert, and the English word "burn."

For five days, participants — mostly Israelis — created a temporary city dedicated to creativity, communal living and what the festival calls "radical self-expression."

Some came costumed in cape or corset. Others, from babies to grandparents, went nude. Participants brought their own food and water, and shared with others. The only thing on sale was ice because of the scorching heat.

 

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These boots were made for the World Cup: Shoe companies putting best feet forward

 

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Nike, adidas, Puma and other shoemakers are all trotting out new and innovative looks for this summer's World Cup. Gone are the old-school black boots like the fabled Puma Kings worn by Pele.

Legend has it that Pele was paid $125,000 for his deal — a paltry sum by today's standards — to wear the boots starting with the 1970 World Cup. The contract was sealed in the final between Brazil and Italy when Pele asked a referee for a moment so he could tie his shoe — guaranteeing that the TV cameras were pointed at his Pumas.

 

Now shoe deals are part of the game for every star and even some average players. Cristiano Ronaldo wears Nike. Lionel Messi wears adidas. Puma and Mizuno have their own athletes. So when the World Cup opens in Brazil on Thursday, there will be a clash of competing cleats on the pitch with everyone trying to get a leg up on the other guy.

 

Here are five things to know about the boots on the ground in Brazil:

WHAT THE HECK? Puma is pushing the envelope by putting its athletes in one pink shoe and one blue shoe. Apparently, this will make it easier to tell which foot that player delivers goals with: Pink is right and blue is left. Look for Spain's Cesc Fabregas and Italy's Mario Balotelli in the boots. "I have to be honest, the first time I saw the Tricks boots, I thought the Puma guy was mad," Balotelli is quoted as saying. "But when I realized he wasn't, I was already excited.

"

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Tracy Morgan recovering after surgery on broken leg, will remain hospitalized for 'weeks'

 

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Tracy Morgan was recovering, but was expected to remain hospitalized for several weeks after having surgery on a broken leg suffered in a chain-reaction crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that left two others critically injured and another man dead.

The 45-year-old actor and comedian, a former "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock" cast member, remained in critical condition early Monday. Morgan's spokesman, Lewis Kay, said he was "more responsive" Sunday after having surgery for a broken leg.

 

Kay said that Morgan also suffered a broken femur, broken nose and several broken ribs and is expected to remain hospitalized for "several weeks." He said that Morgan's family is "tremendously overwhelmed and appreciative of the outpouring of love and support from his fans."

 

A Wal-Mart truck driver from Georgia was charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by auto. Authorities said 35-year-old Kevin Roper, of Jonesboro, apparently failed to slow for traffic ahead early Saturday in Cranbury Township and swerved at the last minute to avoid a crash. Instead, his big rig smashed into the back of Morgan's chauffeured Mercedes limo bus, killing comedian James "Jimmy Mack" McNair, authorities said.

 

Also critically injured were Morgan's assistant, Jeffrey Millea, 36, of Shelton, Connecticut, and comedian Ardie Fuqua Jr., 43, of Jersey City. They remained in critical condition Sunday evening, said Zenaida Mendez, a spokeswoman for Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick. Another passenger, comic Harris Stanton, was treated and released.

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Burglary suspect arrested at Los Angeles home of Sandra Bullock, who was home but unharmed

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police say they arrested a burglar at the Los Angeles home of Sandra Bullock while the actress was there, but she wasn't harmed.

Los Angeles police spokeswoman Nuria Vanegas says officers responded to the call of a prowler around 6:30 a.m. Sunday and arrested 39-year-old Joshua Corbett on suspicion of residential burglary.

 

A phone message left for Bullock's publicist Cheryl Maisel (mye-ZELL') wasn't immediately returned. But she acknowledged the burglary for People magazine and said Bullock is "unharmed and fine."

It wasn't clear whether Corbett has hired an attorney, and a phone message left at a possible family home wasn't immediately returned.

 

The 49-year-old actress is best known for her roles in "Speed," ''Gravity," and "The Blind Side," for which she won an Academy Award.

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Once a preserver of a traditional art, famed Syrian storyteller's life upended by war

 

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — For more than 20 years, the Storyteller of Damascus entertained crowds in a centuries-old cafe in the Syrian capital with long, poetic tales of Arab warriors and lovers, acting out scenes with his fists thumping and a sword that he'd swing and slam on a table.

Rashid Hallak was the most famous of the few remaining "hakawatis" in Syria — traditional reciter-performers of old Arab legends.

 

Now he's a 70-year-old broken man, his life upturned by Syria's war.

"I am the Storyteller of Damascus," Hallak said, chain-smoking, in an interview with The Associated Press in the Syrian capital. "In these events, many people were harmed. I am one of them."

The war, now in its fourth year, cost him his job and his home, destroyed in shelling. He's among the more than 9 million people driven from their homes in a war that has killed more than 160,000, leveled parts of cities and unraveled the country's social fabric — with no end in sight as rebels and the forces of President Bashar Assad battle.

 

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