AP News in Brief

AP News
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Posted: Nov 27, 2009 6:15 AM

Diplomats: Majority of IAEA board censures Iran's nuclear defiance in a vote

VIENNA (AP) _ The majority of the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency has voted to censure Iran for its nuclear defiance.

Diplomats inside the meeting said Friday that 25 of the 34 IAEA board nations present voted for a resolution backed by the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

The resolution criticizes Iran for defying a U.N. Security Council ban on uranium enrichment _ the source of both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.

It also censures it for secretly building a uranium enrichment facility, and demands that it immediately suspend construction.

It notes that the IAEA cannot confirm that Tehran's nuclear program is exclusively geared toward peaceful uses, and expresses "serious concern" that Iran may be hiding a military nuclear program.

Iran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful. But there are fears it could turn them to making nuclear arms.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

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Ready, set, shop: Stores open doors to throngs for traditional start of holiday buying season

By The Associated Press

The nation's retailers are ushering in the traditional start of the holiday shopping season with expanded hours and deep discounts on everything from toys to TVs to lure crowds of shoppers.

A number of stores, including Walmart and many Old Navy locations, opened on Thanksgiving, hoping to make the most of the extra hours. Toys R Us opened most of its stores at midnight Friday.

Online sellers also pushed to grab a piece of the action, pushing deals on Thursday and even earlier in the week.

After suffering the worst sales decline in several decades last holiday season, the good news is that the retail industry is heading into the Christmas selling period armed with lean inventories and more practical goods on their shelves that reflect shoppers' new psyche.

Still, with unemployment at 10.2 percent and consumers still struggling with tight credit, many analysts expect total holiday sales to be about even from a year ago.

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Dubai debt trouble weighs on world markets again; Asia bears brunt of selling

LONDON (AP) _ World stocks tumbled Friday amid fears that the fallout from Dubai's problems repaying $60 billion in debt would derail the global financial and economic recovery.

Sentiment among investors has been hit hard by Wednesday's news that Dubai World, a government investment company, has asked creditors if it can postpone its forthcoming payments until May. That has stoked fears of a potential default and contagion around the global financial system, particularly in emerging markets.

Asian stocks were particularly badly hit as they played catch-up following big losses in Europe in the previous session _ the main indexes in Hong Kong and South Korea slumped nearly 5 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended 1,075.91 points, or 4.8 percent, lower at 21,134.50, while South Korea's benchmark plummeted 4.7 percent to 1,524.50.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 16.13 points, or 0.3 percent, at 5,178, while Germany's DAX fell 19.45 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5,594.72. The CAC-40 in France was 23.27 points, or 0.6 percent, lower at 3,655.976.

On Thursday, Europe's main indexes slid over 3 percent, with banks, especially those thought to have exposure to Dubai such as Barclays PLC, HSBC PLC and Standard Chartered PLC, particularly badly hit.

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Secret Service won't say whether dinner guests are screened for biological weapons

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Secret Service maintains that President Barack Obama was never in danger at a state dinner after an uninvited Virginia couple got through security, but it wouldn't comment on whether anyone is screened for radiological or biological weapons.

Edwin Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, said Thursday the agency doesn't discuss the levels of security screening at the White House.

Donovan had said earlier that Michaele and Tareq Salahi went through the same security screening for weapons as the 300-plus people invited to the dinner Tuesday for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Bravo Media, meanwhile, confirmed that on the day of the dinner Michaele Salahi was being filmed around Washington and while she prepared for the dinner by a film crew connected with the network's reality show, "The Real Housewives of D.C.," because she is being considered for the upcoming TV program.

"Half Yard's cameras were not inside the White House. They filmed the couple preparing for the event," Johanna Fuentes, Bravo Media's vice president, communications, said in an e-mail late Thursday. She said the Salahis "informed Half Yard that they were invited (to the dinner), the producers had no reason to believe otherwise."

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Pirates pitcher digs spikes into farming policy with internship at Agriculture Department

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An e-mail requesting an internship arrived at the Agriculture Department this summer with an impressive resume: Princeton University degree in operations research and financial engineering, 3.8 college GPA, 1520 SATs.

Ross Ohlendorf didn't mention his 95 mph sinking fastball, but it probably wouldn't have hurt his chances. Department officials were impressed that the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher wanted to work for them in the offseason.

Doug McKalip, confidential assistant to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, recalled the secretary's reaction when told of Ohlendorf's e-mail: "Are you serious? A major league player wants to do this?"

Good location is key to both pitching and landing a job, and Ohlendorf had mastered that this summer, arranging to catch Vilsack's opening pitch at a Pirates game in Pittsburgh because of the pitcher's interest in agriculture.

"I talked to him briefly afterward and told him my family raised longhorns," Ohlendorf recalled in an interview at his USDA office. "A little while later, it came into my head that it would be a great opportunity to intern here in the offseason." He followed that up with an e-mail to McKalip.

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Local official says Kandahar governor survives assassination attempt in southern Afghanistan

KABUL (AP) _ The governor of the volatile southern Afghan province of Kandahar survived an assassination attempt when a bomb targeting his convoy exploded as he headed for Friday prayers to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The remote-controlled roadside bomb damaged Turyalai Wesa's car and blew out one of the vehicle's windows, but the governor was unhurt, said spokesman Zelmai Ayubi.

He said one policeman was wounded in the blast.

Kandahar, a city of an estimated 800,000, is an important piece in the battle for Afghanistan. The city and the outlying province of the same name is expected to be a focus of the additional buildup of tens of thousands of troops that President Barack Obama is expected to order for Afghanistan.

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At 96, Pinetop Perkins still turning out signature Chicago blues in noisy clubs, smoky bars

CLARKSDALE, Miss. (AP) _ Noisy crowds in smoky bars don't bother 96-year-old bluesman Pinetop Perkins.

It's all part of his job. Most nights, after he snuffs out his menthol cigarette, Perkins slides onto the piano bench in some club and eases into a wail about hard times and treacherous women.

Perkins is believed to be the oldest of the old-time Delta blues musicians still performing. In an 80-year career, he's traveled through juke joints, nightclubs and festival stages shared with the likes of John Lee Hooker, Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters.

In a telephone interview after a gig a week before Thanksgiving at a jazz club in Oakland, Calif., the old bluesman summed up his performance simply: "Looks like the folks loved what I was doing last night."

And he's not done yet.

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In Virginia, where tobacco was once king, restaurants prepare to go smoke-free on Dec. 1

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The bluish haze that has hung over the Third Street Diner's bar and booths for decades finally lifts next month as a new anti-smoking law takes hold in Virginia, a huge shift for a state whose tobacco habit dates to the Jamestown settlement some 400 years ago.

Starting Dec. 1, Virginia will join dozens of other states that ban smoking in restaurants. Restaurants in Virginia will be allowed to have a smoking area only if they segregate smokers into rooms with ventilation systems separate from those that heat and cool nonsmoking patrons.

For most of its history dating to colonial times, tobacco was Virginia's premier crop and economic staple. Frescoes of the golden-brown leaf adorn the ceiling of the Capitol rotunda, a short cab ride from the massive factory that supplies the world with Marlboros.

Yet this year, strict new curbs on lighting up where food and drink are sold were enacted by lawmakers in Richmond and in Raleigh, N.C., major tobacco capitals where cigarette giants Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have been accustomed to getting their way.

North Carolina's law takes effect Jan. 2 and will allow smoking on outdoor patios and in private membership clubs, as does Virginia's law. Unlike Virginia, North Carolina law will not allow any smoking in restaurants.

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Earlier rescues successful at Utah cave crevice that claimed mans' life

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ The medical student who died in a Utah cave was the third spelunker in recent years to get stuck in the same tiny crevice but the only one die _ an outcome that devastated the dozens of rescuers who worked for more than a day to save him.

John Jones, 26, of Stansbury Park, died early Thursday morning nearly 28 hours after he got stuck in Nutty Putty Cave, a popular spelunking site south of Salt Lake City. It was the first known fatality since cavers began exploring the 1,500-foot cave's narrow passageways in the 1960s, cave access manager Michael Leavitt said.

Utah County sheriff's office Sgt. Spencer Cannon said rescuers, who numbered well above 50 at times, were shocked and deeply saddened by the outcome.

"It's a tough" situation, Cannon said. "It's not very often where you come in, you have high hopes and you are going into an operation you have done before with success and then you get into a situation where it doesn't go as you planned."

Search and rescue workers successfully pulled two people from the same spot in the 1,500-foot-long cave during the same week in 2004.

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With emotions on sleeves, Broncos end month of misery with 26-6 rout of New York Giants

DENVER (AP) _ Four weeks after getting ripped for taunting opponents during warmups, Denver coach Josh McDaniels was caught on TV cursing at his bumbling Broncos.

This time, he was the object of an apology from the NFL Network instead of league-wide criticism for jawing with San Diego's linebackers. Oh, and the Broncos finally won a game again, beating the New York Giants 26-6 on Thursday night.

McDaniels is an emotional coach who stocked his roster with passionate players, and that was on full display Thanksgiving night in the Broncos' R-rated win that sent the Giants to their fifth loss in six games.

Brian Dawkins' inspired play led a Denver defensive revival and the offense did its part by controlling the clock in a win that snapped a four-game losing streak.

The NFL Network accidentally aired a clip of McDaniels cursing at his players after they committed three false starts and dropped a pass in a five-play sequence in the first half that really got his blood boiling.