AP News in Brief at 10:58 p.m. EDT

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Associated Press

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 12 at 12:00 AM

Robin Williams, Oscar-winning comedy star of stage and screen, dies in apparent suicide at 63

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Robin Williams, a brilliant shapeshifter who could channel his frenetic energy into delightful comic characters like "Mrs. Doubtfire" or harness it into richly nuanced work like his Oscar-winning turn in "Good Will Hunting," died Monday in an apparent suicide. He was 63.

Williams was pronounced dead at his San Francisco Bay Area home Monday, according to the sheriff's office in Marin County, north of San Francisco. The sheriff's office said the preliminary investigation shows the cause of death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.

The Marin County coroner's office said Williams was last seen alive at home at about 10 p.m. Sunday. An emergency call from his house in Tiburon was placed to the Sheriff's Department shortly before noon Monday.

"This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken," said Williams' wife, Susan Schneider. "On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions."

Williams had been battling severe depression recently, said Mara Buxbaum, his press representative. Just last month, he announced he was returning to a 12-step treatment program he said he needed after 18 months of nonstop work. He had sought treatment in 2006 after a relapse following 20 years of sobriety.

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Celebrities reflect on Robin Williams' comedic contributions after his death at age 63

Celebrity colleagues and admirers of Robin Williams shared their reactions Monday to his death at age 63 in an apparent suicide:

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— "I am completely and totally devastated. What more can be said?" — "Mork & Mindy" co-star Pam Dawber, in a statement.

— "Robin was a lightning storm of comic genius and our laughter was the thunder that sustained him. He was a pal and I can't believe he's gone." — "Hook" director Steven Spielberg, in a statement.

— "I could not be more stunned by the loss of Robin Williams, mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul." — "Waiting for Godot" co-star Steve Martin, on Twitter.

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10 Things to Know for Tuesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Tuesday:

1. ROBIN WILLIAMS AN APPARENT SUICIDE AT 63

The comic supernova is pronounced dead of asphyxia at his California home. Williams won an Oscar for a rare dramatic role — as a teacher in the 1997 film "Good Will Hunting."

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Power struggle deepens in Iraq as US increases its role in fighting Sunni militants

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's president snubbed incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and picked another politician Monday to form the next government, setting up a fierce political power struggle even as the country battles extremists in the north and west.

The showdown came as the United States increased its role in fighting back Sunni extremists of the Islamic State group that is threatening the autonomous Kurdish region in the north. Senior American officials said U.S. intelligence agencies are directly arming the Kurds who are battling the militants in what would be a shift in Washington's policy of only working through the central government in Baghdad.

U.S. warplanes carried out new strikes Sunday, hitting a convoy of Sunni militants moving to attack Kurdish forces defending the autonomous zone's capital, Irbil. The recent American airstrikes have helped the Kurds achieve one of their first victories after weeks of retreat as peshmerga fighters over the weekend recaptured two towns near Irbil. The Pentagon's director of operations said the effort will do little to slow Islamic State militants overall.

Haider al-Ibadi, the deputy speaker of parliament from al-Maliki's Shiite Dawa party, was selected by President Fouad Massoum to be the new prime minister and was given 30 days to present a new government to lawmakers for approval.

U.S. President Barack Obama called al-Ibadi's nomination a "promising step forward" and he urged "all Iraqi political leaders to work peacefully through the political process."

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Cease-fire takes hold in Gaza as Israeli, Palestinian negotiators begin talks in Cairo

CAIRO (AP) — As a new temporary truce took hold, negotiators from Israel and the Hamas militant group resumed indirect talks Monday to reach a long-term cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

The two sides huddled in an Egyptian government building for nine consecutive hours, a Palestinian official said Monday, in what are expected to be marathon negotiations in the coming days.

The Palestinian delegations were more optimistic Monday, the Palestinian official told The Associated Press, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the negotiations with the media. He said progress was made on several issues.

The 72-hour truce, brokered by Egypt, took effect just after midnight, in the second attempt to halt a month of heavy fighting between the sides.

A similar three-day truce collapsed on Friday when militants resumed rocket fire on Israel after the sides were unable to make any headway in Egyptian-brokered negotiations for a more lasting deal. Hamas is seeking an end to an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade, while Israel wants Hamas to disarm.

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Liberia says its doctors will get experimental Ebola drug thus far only given to Westerners

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) — Liberia announced Monday that it would soon receive doses of an experimental Ebola drug and give it to two sick doctors, making them the first Africans to receive some of the scarce treatment in a spiraling outbreak.

The U.S. government confirmed that it had put Liberian officials in touch with the maker of ZMapp, and referred additional questions to Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. In a statement, the California-based company said that in responding to a request from an unidentified West African country, it had run out of its supply of the treatment.

The news comes as anger is growing over the fact that the only people to receive the experimental treatment so far have been Westerners: two Americans and a Spaniard, all of whom were evacuated to their home countries from Liberia.

Late Monday, the World Health Organization said 1,013 people had died in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Authorities have recorded 1,848 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of the disease, the U.N. health agency said. The updated WHO tally includes figures from Aug. 7-9 when 52 more people died and 69 more were infected.

There is no Ebola vaccine or treatment available, but there are several in development besides ZMapp. That treatment is so new that it hasn't been tested for safety or effectiveness in humans. And the company has said it would take months to produce even modest quantities.

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Authorities use tear gas on crowd near St. Louis where black teen was fatally shot by police

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — A black teenager who was fatally shot by a police officer had his hands raised when the officer approached with his weapon drawn and fired repeatedly, according to two men who said they witnessed the shooting that sparked two nights of unrest in suburban St. Louis.

The FBI opened an investigation Monday into the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who police said was shot multiple times Saturday after being confronted by an officer in Ferguson, a suburb of 21,000 that's nearly 70 percent black.

Authorities in Ferguson used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to disperse a large crowd Monday night that had gathered at the site of a burned-out convenience store damaged a night earlier, when many businesses in the area were looted.

Police Chief Tom Jackson said members of the crowd threw rocks at police and gunfire came from the crowd, so officers used tear gas and shot "beanbag rounds" meant to stun them.

An Associated Press photographer said police were telling people to go home, but authorities had blocked exit streets off. Jackson said police blocked off the area where most of the looting and vandalism occurred the previous night out of concern that cars passing by might hit demonstrators in the street.

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Ukraine: Red Cross will lead humanitarian aid mission into rebel-held territory

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian forces on Monday zeroed in on rebel strongholds as the government welcomed an international humanitarian relief mission into the rebellious east involving Russia, the United States and the European Union.

The mission will be conducted under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross. The organization said in a statement it is ready to facilitate the operation with the involvement of all sides concerned following a Russian initiative to provide humanitarian assistance to people in eastern Ukraine.

It wasn't clear when the deliveries would start.

"The practical details of this operation need to be clarified before this initiative can move forward," said Laurent Corbaz, the ICRC's head of operations for Europe and Central Asia.

Moscow had long urged Kiev to allow the aid delivery, but Ukraine and the West previously had opposed the move, fearing that it could serve as a pretext for sending Russian troops into rebel-held territory. Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of arming and supporting the rebels fighting government troops in the east, a charge that the Kremlin has denied.

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In a kerfuffle about the Facebook messaging app? Here are 5 things you should know

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook's recent effort to force people to adopt its standalone mobile messaging app has privacy-concerned users up in arms. Many of them believe the app is especially invasive.

One blog from the Huffington Post published in December has gone viral, making the rounds on the social network recently because it claims the app gives Facebook "direct control over your mobile device" and allows Facebook to call phone numbers without a users' intervention and send text messages without confirmation, but none of that is accurate.

In truth, Facebook Messenger isn't any more invasive than Facebook's main app —or other similar applications.

The fear and confusion stem from a message that greets owners of Android devices when they install the app. It explains that the app requires permission access to the device's camera, microphone, list of contacts and other information.

Here's what Facebook's mobile messaging app does and doesn't do.

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AP PHOTOS: Adaptive program at rowing club allows disabled people to participate in the sport

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Juan Carlos Gil likes the feeling of independence the sport of rowing gives him.

"The freedom the water can give me is exhilarating when I hear the water flick over the oars," said Gil, who has cerebral palsy, and is legally blind.

Gil, 32, of Miami, is participating in the adaptive rowing program at the Miami Beach Rowing Club, which was recently sanctioned as a Paralympic Sport Club by the U.S. Olympic committee. The free program runs on private donations with a small coaching staff and a group of volunteers. It is open to people with all disabilities.

According to head coach Bob Wright, rowing is a sport that accommodates disabilities very well. Although Gil is unable to use his legs in the rowing stroke, he can compensate by conditioning to strengthen his core in his shoulders, arms and back. His long-term goal is to qualify for the Paralympics.

While out on the water training, Gil encourages Louis Amaro, 36, of Miami Gardens, Florida, rowing in a nearby boat. Amaro became a paraplegic in 1999 as the result of a gunshot wound. He describes his life coping with a disability as a journey where "you have to stay positive."

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