AP News in Brief

AP News
Posted: Feb 27, 2011 6:02 AM
AP News in Brief

Libyan revolt appoints ex-justice minister to head a provisional government

BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) _ A member of the Benghazi city council says the Libyan cities under rebel control have appointed an ex-justice minister to lead a provisional government.

Fathi Baja says opponents of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi named Mustafa Abdel-Jalil to the provisional leadership post.

Baja said Sunday that Abdel-Jalil was chosen by the committees running the eastern Libyan cities now in the rebellion's hands.

On Saturday, Libya's top envoy to the U.S. also said Gadhafi opponents were rallying behind efforts to form an alternative government led by Abdel-Jalil, who has criticized Gadhafi's brutal crackdown on protesters.

It was not immediately clear how much support the proposed provisional leadership commands.


Obama says Gadhafi's time up as Libyan leader; says he has lost legitimacy to rule

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama has called on Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to leave power immediately, saying he has lost the legitimacy to rule with his violent crackdown on his own people.

With that shift Saturday, Obama dropped the careful condemnation, threats of consequences and the reminders to Gadhafi's regime about its responsibility to avoid violence.

The president called on Gadhafi to step down for the first time, saying the Libyan government must be held accountable for its brutal crackdown on dissenters. The administration also announced new sanctions against Libya, but that was overshadowed by the sharp demand for Gadhafi's immediate ouster.

"The president stated that when a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now," the White House said.

The statement summarizing Obama's telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel came as Libya's embattled regime passed out guns to civilian supporters and sent armed patrols around its capital to quash dissent and stave off the rebellion that now controls large parts of the North African nation.


North Korea threatens to attack South Korea, US on eve of allies' joint military drills

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ North Korea threatened Sunday to enlarge its nuclear arsenal and mercilessly attack South Korea and the United States, as the allies prepared to start annual joint military drills which the North says are a rehearsal for an invasion.

North Korea routinely issues similar threats against South Korea and the U.S. over any joint military drills. The latest warning, however, could rekindle tensions on the Korean peninsula which sharply rose last year after two deadly incidents blamed on the North.

North Korea fired artillery at a front-line South Korean island in November, killing four people. The barrage came eight months after the sinking of a South Korean warship which killed 46 sailors. North Korea has denied firing a torpedo at the ship.

North Korea called the planned South Korea-U.S. drills a "dangerous military scheme."

"The army and people of (North Korea) will return bolstered nuclear deterrent of our own style for the continued nuclear threat by the aggressors," North Korea's military said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.


In show of solidarity, protesters nationwide supporting Wis. workers fighting anti-union bill

MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ Chanting pro-union slogans and carrying signs declaring "We are all Wisconsin," protesters turned out in cities nationwide to support thousands of public workers who've set up camp at the Wisconsin Capitol to fight Republican-backed legislation aimed at weakening unions.

Union supporters organized rallies from New York to Los Angeles in a show of solidarity Saturday as the demonstration in Madison entered its 12th straight day and attracted its largest crowd yet: more than 70,000 people. Hundreds banged on drums and screamed into bullhorns inside the Capitol as others braved frigid weather and snow during the massive rally that flooded into nearby streets.

"I want to thank you for coming out here today to exercise those pesky First Amendment rights," actor Bradley Whitford, who starred in television's "The West Wing," said as he rallied his hometown crowd. "This governor has to understand Wisconsin is a stubborn constituency. We fish through ice!"

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has introduced a bill that includes stripping almost all public workers of their right to collectively bargain on benefits and work conditions. Walker has said the bill would help close a projected $3.6 billion deficit in the 2011-13 budget, and argues that freeing local governments from collective bargaining would give them flexibility amid deep budget cuts.

The bill has sent Democrats and unions into an outrage. They see it as trampling on workers' rights and as an attempt to destroy Democrats' strongest campaign allies.


Irish opposition sweep election, shape of next government in the balance

DUBLIN (AP) _ Ireland's opposition parties have made big gains in a general election focussed on the country's economic woes, but the shape of the next government is hanging in the balance as counting continues for a second day on Sunday.

The Fine Gael party was leading the pack as voters angry about Ireland's battered economy ended the 80-year dominance of Fianna Fail.

"This was a democratic revolution at the ballot box," Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny told supporters Saturday night.

By Sunday morning, 57 seats had been won by Fine Gael, 30 by Labour, 13 by Fianna Fail, 12 by Sinn Fein and 13 by smaller parties and independents. It takes 83 seats for a majority in the Dail, the lower house of the parliament.

Fine Gael was widely expected to form a coalition government with Labour. But with Fine Gael sensing that it might win nearly 80 seats, party leaders also talked about forming alliances with independent candidates. Kenny, destined to become prime minister, pledged to move quickly to form a government.


Residents hold open-air services outside quake-wrecked churches to pray for New Zealand's dead

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) _ Residents held open-air prayers for the dead and missing Sunday on the lawns of churches cracked and shattered in New Zealand's earthquake while teams continued their search through debris of one of the country's worst disasters.

"As our citizens make their way to church this Sunday they will be joined in prayer by millions around the world," said Mayor Bob Parker of the devastated city of Christchurch. "For now we are truly comforted by the thoughts and prayers of so many."

The official death toll rose Sunday to 147 and was expected to rise further, Police Superintendent Dave Cliff said. Prime Minister John Key has said the quake, which decimated the city's downtown, may be the country's "single-most tragic" disaster.

When the quake ripped through the city last Tuesday, the city's churches were among the hardest-hit buildings. Among them was the iconic Christchurch Cathedral, at the heart of the city, which suffered massive damage, its bell tower in ruins and 22 people potentially lying dead inside.

Still, many residents of the largely Christian city found a way to hold Mass on Sunday.


More than meatballs: Scandinavian food makeover revives 'culinary disaster zone'

STOCKHOLM (AP) _ The year was 1986. The setting, one of Stockholm's most exclusive restaurants. Thomas Harmgardt, a newly arrived German chef, strapped on his apron and got to work.

He was absolutely horrified. The broccoli was frozen. The French string beans came out of a can! In Sweden, he found out, fresh ingredients were as scarce as daylight in winter.

"It was a culture shock for me," the 48-year-old Harmgardt recalled. After working in Mexico, France and Germany, he had arrived in a country where "avocado was viewed as something exotic." Or as Lund University food researcher Hakan Jonsson called it: "a culinary disaster zone."

It's hard to imagine a quarter-century later. A culinary revolution has swept Europe's frigid north, where a smorgasbord of innovative chefs are challenging the image of Norse food as bland and limited to a narrow range of specialties such as meatballs or lutefisk, a jelly-like seafood dish traditionally served at Christmas.

The major cities of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland have doubled their tally of Michelin stars in the past 20 years. Copenhagen's "Noma" has been crowned the world's best eatery. And this year Scandinavian chefs finished 1-2-3 in France's famed Bocuse d'Or cooking contest, also known as the Olympics of cooking.


Astronauts sleep in after busy docking day at space station, first major job completed

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ The 12 astronauts in orbit are getting a little break after staying up late to complete their first job together.

It took longer than usual for the hatches to open between Discovery and the International Space Station, following Saturday's docking. That put the two crews behind in attaching an equipment platform to the space station.

Late Saturday night, the platform finally was installed. The giant shelf holds a spare radiator. It was delivered by the shuttle.

Mission Control said the astronauts could sleep in Sunday morning. They will spend the day preparing for their first spacewalk, on Monday.

This is the last flight for Discovery. The shuttle will be retired when it returns to Earth in just over a week.


Oscar documentary nominees aren't afraid of any possible Banksy surprises at Oscars

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Lucy Walker is more worried about gussying up for the 83rd annual Academy Awards than worrying about whether Banksy will make his mark on Sunday's ceremony. The director of the transformative garbage dump chronicle "Waste Land" is among the nominees facing the infamously elusive street artist for the documentary feature Oscar.

"I'm a female documentary filmmaker," Walker said Saturday at a posh HBO reception honoring this year's documentary nominees at the Four Seasons hotel. "Nothing can scare me as much as standing on a red carpet next to movie stars."

Other nominees up against Walker's "Waste Land" and Banksy's is-it-real-or-not "Exit Through the Gift Shop" include the Afghanistan war account "Restrepo" by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger and the financial meltdown tale "Inside Job" by Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs. Partygoers were buzzing that Oprah Winfrey would be presenting their awards.

"What's happening this year with documentary films is as exciting as what's happening with narrative films," said nominee Josh Fox, the director of environmental expose "Gasland," which a natural gas industry group sought to disqualify from awards consideration. "If there's controversy, whether that's the gas industry, Banksy or Oprah, it's all good."

Banksy, the mysterious graffiti star who intentionally keeps his identity a secret, apparently hasn't shown up to any of the week's events, including a Wednesday panel of the documentary filmmaker nominees at the Academy's Beverly Hills headquarters and the Independent Spirit Awards, where "Exit Through the Gift Shop" won the documentary award Saturday.


UCLA beats No. 10 Arizona 71-49 in final men's game at Pauley Pavilion

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ UCLA struggled all season to put two solid halves together. The Bruins waited until their last game at historic Pauley Pavilion to do it, helped by a last basket that John Wooden surely had an assist.

Reeves Nelson had a career-high 27 points and 16 rebounds, and the Bruins defeated No. 10 Arizona 71-49 on Saturday to tie the Wildcats for first place in the Pac-10 in the last men's game played in the arena before it closes for renovation.

Fittingly, the late Wooden's great-grandson Tyler Trapani, a walk-on who rides the Bruins' bench, got in the game and scored their final basket.

"It was kind of meant to be," said Tyler Honeycutt, who had 15 points.

Joshua Smith added 17 points for the Bruins (21-8), who share the league's top spot at 12-4 with two games remaining. They have won 12 of 14 after being out of the top 25 all season.