AP News in Brief at 5:58 a.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on July 28, 2012 at 2:00 AM

Updated Saturday, Jul 28 at 9:01 AM

Rhythm-and-royalty infused Olympic opening ceremony shows Britain is ready to rock

LONDON (AP) — Shaken and stirred.

James Bond and the queen teamed to give London a wild Olympic opening like no other.

And creative genius Danny Boyle turned Olympic Stadium into a jukebox, cranking up world-beating rock from the Beatles, the Stones and The Who to send the planet a message: Britain, loud and royal proud, is ready to roll.

Now over to you, athletes. It was a brilliant introduction to kick off a 17-day festival of sports.

Queen Elizabeth II, playing along with movie magic from director Boyle, provided the highlight of the Oscar-winner's high-adrenaline show. With film trickery, Boyle made it seem as if Britain's beloved 86-year-old monarch and its most famous spy parachuted into the stadium together.

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Costas remembers Israeli athletes killed at 1972 Munich Olympics, stops short of own protest

NEW YORK (AP) — NBC's Bob Costas noted a controversy over honoring Israeli athletes killed at the Olympics 40 years ago during his coverage of the opening ceremony but stopped short of offering his own protest.

The International Olympic Committee had declined a request to hold a moment of silence during the ceremony to acknowledge the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by Palestinian gunmen in Munich in 1972. Costas called that decision insensitive during an interview this month and indicated he would call for his own moment of silence when Israeli athletes marched into the Olympic Stadium on Friday.

Costas' comments took his bosses by surprise. Jim Bell, executive producer of the NBC's telecast, said this week that Costas hadn't brought it up with him before the interview.

As the athletes marched in Friday, Costas said that IOC President Jacques Rogge led a moment of silence for the late Israelis this week before about 100 people at the Athlete's Village.

"Still, for many, tonight with the world watching is the true time and place to remember those who were lost and how and why they died," Costas said.

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Romney can expect warm Israeli embrace, chilly Palestinian reception

JERUSALEM (AP) — Mitt Romney's support for Israel will likely earn the presumptive Republican presidential nominee a warm welcome from Israeli leaders when he visits on Sunday — and a frosty reception from Palestinians, who fear he would do little to advance their stalled statehood dreams.

Romney is visiting Israel as part of a three-nation foreign tour that includes Britain and Poland. He hopes it will boost his credentials to direct U.S. national security and diplomacy.

The visit to Israel comes at a time when its leaders are weighing a military attack on Iran, the neighboring regime in Syria is looking increasingly shaky and Mideast peace talks are going nowhere.

Romney, a longtime friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to play up his critique of President Barack Obama's posture toward the Jewish state and his handling of Iran's suspected nuclear weapons ambitions.

Israeli political scientist Abraham Diskin says Romney can expect an "enthusiastic" reception, both because of his solid record of pro-Israel comments — and because he's not Obama.

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Analysis: Dilemma for US in figuring out how to respond to rising tensions in South China Sea

WASHINGTON (AP) — China has heightened tensions in the South China Sea with its new, remote island city and planned military garrison in a contested area viewed as a potential flashpoint for conflict in the Asia-Pacific.

How might the United States respond?

Criticize Beijing too strongly and the Obama administration will strain its relationship with the emerging superpower. Let it pass and undermine two years of intense diplomacy that has promoted the U.S. standing among Southeast Asian nations that are intimidated by China's rise.

A key plank of the administration's engagement in the Asia-Pacific since 2010 has been its declaration of a U.S. national interest in the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea, where China and five of its neighbors — most notably the Philippines and Vietnam — have competing territorial claims.

But tensions have only escalated. China's raising of the flag this week at Sansha municipality, on tiny Yongxing island, 220 miles (350 kilometers) from its southernmost province of Hainan, come as claimants jockey for influence in the resource-rich region.

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EYES ON LONDON: Half of Britain tuned in — and some views from China

LONDON (AP) — Around the 2012 Olympics and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of the games to you:

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HUGE AUDIENCE

Who says the collective television event is dead?

The BBC says 27 million people watched its coverage of the Olympic opening ceremony — almost half the entire British population. That's even more than the 20 million who watched last year's royal wedding.

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Police: Maryland man who made threat, 'joker' reference had an arsenal of guns

PALMER PARK, Md. (AP) — A week after the Colorado movie theater massacre, a Maryland man was taken into custody when police said he made a "joker" reference and threatened to shoot up a business he was being fired from.

Neil E. Prescott, 28, had an arsenal of guns, though it wasn't clear how serious he was about threats he made to his boss over the telephone, authorities said. When police questioned Prescott at his apartment, authorities said he was wearing a T-shirt that said "Guns don't kill people. I do."

Prescott told a supervisor at software and mailroom supplier Pitney Bowes that he wanted to see his boss' "brain splatter all over the sidewalk," according to police and an application for a search warrant.

"I'm a joker and I'm gonna load my guns and blow everybody up," Prescott said, according to the document.

The threats were made in two separate phone calls this week, and investigators who searched Prescott's apartment Friday morning found several thousand rounds of ammunition and about two dozen semi-automatic rifles and pistols. The weapons so far appear to have been acquired legally but are still being examined, said Mike Campbell, a spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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With Syria's civil war within earshot, Golan Heights Druse loyalty to Assad begins to fray

BUKATA, Golan Heights (AP) — The raging civil war just across the cease-fire line in Syria is posing an uncomfortable political choice for the Druse people in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.

Do they maintain their traditional loyalty to the government of Bashar Assad, whose family has vowed to take back the territory? Or should they support the burgeoning Arab revolt against Assad's harsh rule?

In the shifting sands of the Middle East, the Druse again find themselves a people caught in the middle.

In Druse villages close enough to hear the fighting, families and friends are divided between backers of the revolt and supporters of the regime. A Druse doctor predicted his people would demand Assad's downfall, while a butcher in a nearby town denounced the Syrian uprising as a foreign conspiracy.

Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war. In 1981 it annexed the strategic plateau, 65 kilometers (40 miles) long and 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide, because militarily, it commands Israel's north. The international community has not recognized the Israeli annexation. In negotiations, Israel has offered to exchange the territory for full peace, but talks broke down a decade ago over exact borders and other issues.

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Treaty to regulate global arms trade must wait as UN member states fail to reach agreement

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A U.N. treaty to regulate the multibillion-dollar global arms trade will have to wait after member states failed to an reach agreement, and some diplomats and supporters blamed the United States for the unraveling of the monthlong negotiating conference.

Hopes had been raised that agreement could be reached on a revised treaty text that closed some major loopholes by Friday's deadline for action. But the U.S. announced Friday morning that it needed more time to consider the proposed treaty — and Russia and China then also asked for more time.

"This was stunning cowardice by the Obama administration, which at the last minute did an about-face and scuttled progress toward a global arms treaty, just as it reached the finish line," said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "It's a staggering abdication of leadership by the world's largest exporter of conventional weapons to pull the plug on the talks just as they were nearing an historic breakthrough."

A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, also blamed the U.S., saying "they derailed the process," adding that nothing will happen to revive negotiations until after the U.S. presidential election in November.

Chief U.S. negotiator Thomas Countryman refused to talk to several dozen reporters when the meeting broke up.

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Mayo Clinic: Ill. Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. at the Rochester, Minn. clinic for depression.

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) — Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., whose whereabouts haven't been disclosed since he quietly took a medical leave from Congress several weeks ago, is being treated for depression at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, according to a statement released by the hospital.

Jackson is undergoing an extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and for gastrointestinal issues, the hospital said, providing the first details about his medical condition. But the statement released late Friday didn't disclose where the longtime Chicago congressman, the son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, had previously been staying.

"Further information will be released as Congressman Jackson's evaluation proceeds," the statement said, adding that he and his family were "grateful for the outpouring of support and prayers that have been received throughout his care."

Phone messages left by The Associated Press for his spokesman weren't returned Friday. In 2004, Jackson underwent a procedure to help him lose weight that involves removing part of the stomach and rearranging the intestine.

The Democrat went on leave June 10, though his office didn't disclose it until weeks later and has been mum on details ever since. Initially, his office said Jackson was being treated for exhaustion. But his staff later said Jackson's condition was more serious and required inpatient medical treatment. They also said Jackson has been grappling with emotional issues.

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Michael Phelps grabs last spot in 400 IM Olympic final; Lochte advances

LONDON (AP) — Michael Phelps qualified eighth-fastest in the 400-meter individual medley preliminaries on Saturday, grabbing the last spot in the evening final.

The two-time defending Olympic champion won his heat in 4 minutes, 13.33 seconds with a time that was well off his world record of 4:03.84 set four years ago in Beijing, when Phelps won a record eight gold medals.

Kosuke Hagino of Japan led the way in 4:10.01. Chad le Clos of South Africa was second at 4:12.24, and Ryan Lochte advanced in third at 4:12.35.

Laszlo Cseh of Hungary, the silver medalist in Beijing, was ninth and missed the final by one spot.

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