2:56 AM AKDT, May 21, 2012
Robin Gibb, co-founder of Bee Gees who defined disco era, dies at 62 after long cancer battle
LONDON (AP) — With his carefully tended hair, tight trousers and perfect harmonies, Robin Gibb, along with his brothers Maurice and Barry, defined the disco era. As part of the Bee Gees — short for the Brothers Gibb — they created dance floor classics like “Stayin Alive,” ‘’Jive Talkin’,” and “Night Fever” that can still get crowds onto a dance floor.
The catchy songs, with their falsetto vocals and relentless beat, are familiar pop culture mainstays. There are more than 6,000 cover versions of the Bee Gees hits, and they are still heard on dance floors and at wedding receptions, birthday parties, and other festive occasions.
Robin Gibb, 62, died Sunday “following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery,” his family announced in a statement released by Gibb’s representative Doug Wright.
Gibb was the second disco-era star to die this week. Donna Summer — who earned the Queen of Disco title by singing “Last Dance” and “I Feel Love” — died of cancer in Florida on Thursday.
The Bee Gees, born in England but raised in Australia, began their career in the musically rich 1960s but it was their soundtrack for the 1977 movie “Saturday Night Fever” that sealed their success. The album’s signature sound — some called it “blue-eyed soul” — remains instantly recognizable more than 40 years after its release.
For NATO leaders, heralding end to Afghan war is complicated by conflict’s harsh realities
CHICAGO (AP) — As President Barack Obama and fellow NATO leaders herald the coming end of the deeply unpopular Afghanistan war, they face the grim reality of two more years of fighting ahead and more of their troops sure to die in combat.
The many partners in the fighting coalition will gather Monday in Obama’s hometown to reassert their commitment to ending the war in 2014 and solidify another milestone for next year, when Afghan forces take the lead in combat missions while NATO assumes a supporting role.
So far in the two-day NATO conference, the leaders have voiced hope that a decade of war in Afghanistan will give way to a decade of transition to peace and stability, aided by the U.S. and its allies.
But hard realities intrude.
Some NATO countries, most recently France, have sought to end their combat commitments early. The Taliban and its allies have warned that they are waiting to fill the void in Afghanistan after NATO leaves. And with alliance forces — the bulk of which are American — still committed to many more months of fighting, the sacrifices are far from over.
High school graduation in Joplin marks a senior year of tragedy, perseverance
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — It was a label they sought both to embrace and avoid, a refrain overheard in whispers or uttered bluntly at soccer games, summer camps and national academic competitions: Here come the tornado kids from Joplin.
For the 428 members of Joplin High School’s Class of 2012, Monday night’s graduation— featuring a commencement speech by President Barack Obama —caps a senior year marked by tragedy, turmoil and perseverance.
The president will visit southwest Missouri the day before the one-year anniversary of the country’s deadliest single tornado in six decades. The May 22, 2011, twister killed 161 people, injured hundreds more and destroyed thousands of buildings, including Joplin High. Five other Joplin schools were also destroyed, with four more among the damaged structures.
The twister arrived hours after last year’s high school graduation, forever defining the Joplin High Class of 2011 and their younger classmates as well.
“They had to grow up the night of the storm,” Joplin High principal Kerry Sachetta said. “They saw things they never should have had to see.”
Officials say militants attacked US Coast Guard trainers in Yemen, injuring one
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni security officials say militants have opened fire on three U.S. Coast Guard trainers in western Yemen, wounding one.
The officials say the shooting took place on Sunday in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida in western Yemen. The three Americans were traveling in a car near their hotel when the militants pulled up in another vehicle and sprayed them with machinegun fire.
The officials had no word on the condition of the wounded American.
The officials spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
UN nuclear chief in Tehran on key mission over allowing watchdog to resume probe of Iran sites
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The head of the U.N. nuclear agency arrived Monday in Tehran on a key mission that could lead to the resumption of probes by the watchdog on whether Iran has secretly worked on an atomic weapon.
It would also strength the Islamic Republic’s negotiating hand in crucial nuclear talks with six world powers later this week in Baghdad.
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano and his two aides were quickly whisked away after landing at the Tehran airport before dawn Monday. They are to meet Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, as well as Iran’s foreign minister and other officials later in the day.
The visit — Amano’s first since becoming the IAEA chief in 2009 — is focused on getting Iran to agree to terms that will allow IAEA probes of suspect Iranian sites, including the Parchin military complex where the agency had reported suspicious activities in the past.
Tehran denies having worked on atomic weapons, saying Parchin is only a conventional weapons site.
Largest compilation of exonerations ever finds over 2,000 falsely convicted over past 23 years
WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 2,000 people who were falsely convicted of serious crimes have been exonerated in the United States in the past 23 years, according to a new archive compiled at two universities.
There is no official record-keeping system for exonerations of convicted criminals in the country, so academics set one up. The new national registry, or database, painstakingly assembled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, is the most complete list of exonerations ever compiled.
The database compiled and analyzed by the researchers contains information on 873 exonerations for which they have the most detailed evidence. The researchers are aware of nearly 1,200 other exonerations, for which they have less data.
They found that those 873 exonerated defendants spent a combined total of more than 10,000 years in prison, an average of more than 11 years each. Nine out of 10 of them are men and half are African-American.
Nearly half of the 873 exonerations were homicide cases, including 101 death sentences. Over one-third of the cases were sexual assaults.
More than half of overweight and obese adolescents have heart disease risk, CDC study says
ATLANTA (AP) — Half the nation’s overweight teens have unhealthy blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar levels that put them at risk for future heart attacks and other cardiac problems, new federal research says.
And an even larger proportion of obese adolescents have such a risk, according to the alarming new numbers.
“What this is saying, unfortunately, is that we’re losing the battle early with many kids,” said Dr. Stephen Daniels, a University of Colorado School of Medicine expert who was not involved in the study.
People can keep their risk of heart disease very low if they reach age 45 or 50 at normal weight and with normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol and no diabetes. So these results are not good, he said.
The study was released Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Lockerbie families express relief, regret and doubt after Libyan convicted in bombing dies
NEW YORK (AP) — The death of the only man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing has left some victims’ relatives relieved and others raising questions about his guilt and whether others went unpunished.
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence official died Sunday of cancer, his family said. His death renewed pleas from some victims’ relatives for further investigation of the bombing.
“It closes a chapter but it doesn’t close the book. We know he wasn’t the only person involved,” Frank Dugan, president of the group Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, said from Alexandria, Va.
Al-Megrahi was convicted of blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over the Scottish town on Dec. 21, 1988. The bombing killed 270 people, many of them New York and New Jersey residents. Syracuse University in central New York was particularly hard hit: 35 students on the way home for Christmas break died in the bombing.
Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi handed over al-Megrahi and a second suspect to Scottish authorities after years of punishing U.N. sanctions. In 2003, Gadhafi acknowledged responsibility, though not guilt, for the bombing and paid compensation of about $2.7 billion to victims’ families.
Yahoo agrees to sell half of its stake in China’s Alibaba for about $7.1 billion
HONG KONG (AP) — Struggling Internet company Yahoo Inc. has secured a lifeline after agreeing to sell half of its prized stake in Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba for about $7.1 billion, with most of the cash going to shareholders.
The deal, announced Sunday in the U.S., will see Alibaba Group buying back half of its 40 percent stake from Yahoo Inc. for $6.3 billion cash and up to $800 million of Alibaba preferred shares.
The announcement caps at least a year of rocky on-and-off talks as Yahoo tried to sell the stake as part of efforts to turnaround its business. Money from the sale will give Yahoo the financial firepower to return cash to disgruntled shareholders, many of whom are still upset after it squandered an opportunity to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. in May 2008 for $33 per share, or $47.5 billion. Yahoo’s stock has sagged since then, trading at $15.42 on Friday.
Yahoo said in a joint statement with Alibaba that it plans to return “substantially all” of the after-tax cash proceeds to shareholders. It said its share buyback program had been increased by $5 billion though a final decision on how to return the cash had not been made.
The deal, which closes in six months, is good for Yahoo because the company gets a “wad of cash” but still has exposure to fast-growing China, said Napoleon Biggs, head of digital integration at public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard Asia Pacific.
Spurs rally to beat Clippers 102-99 to win series 4-0 and advance to Western Conference finals
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs mowed down another opponent, using their guile under pressure to close out another perfect playoff series.
Tim Duncan scored 21 points, Tony Parker added 17 and the Spurs beat the Los Angeles Clippers 102-99 on Sunday night to win their second-round matchup 4-0 and advance to the Western Conference finals.
“They played great, they made it tough on us,” Parker said. “The last 2 minutes we got the stops we needed. Everybody did something.”
The Spurs extended their winning streak to 18 games and their playoff record to 8-0, tying the third-best postseason streak in franchise history.
“Until we go all the way, I can’t compare this team,” said Parker, who has won three NBA titles with the Spurs. “We’re just trying to stay focused.”
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