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World briefly for Jan. 25

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POSTED: January 25, 2013 10:48 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) — There is a legal avenue to try to get any gun you want somewhere in the U.S., thanks to the maze of gun statutes across the country and the lack of certain federal laws.

That undermines gun-control efforts in communities with tougher gun laws — and pushes advocates of tighter controls to seek a federal standard. Gun rights proponents say enforcing all existing laws makes more sense than passing new ones.

An Associated Press analysis found that there are thousands of laws, rules and regulations at the local, county, state and federal levels. The laws and rules vary by state, and even within states, according to a 2011 compilation of state gun laws by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

These laws and regulations govern who can carry a firearm, what kind of firearm is legal, the size of ammunition magazines, and more. In some places, a person can buy as many guns as desired.

Not only can people acquire military-style assault weapons, they can also get gangster-style Tommy guns, World War II-era bazookas and even sawed-off shotguns.

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From the start, Boeing's Dreamliner had rushed development schedule, unusual construction plan

NEW YORK (AP) — The 787 Dreamliner was born in a moment of desperation.

It was 2003 and Boeing — the company that defined modern air travel — had just lost its title as the world's largest plane manufacturer to European rival Airbus. Its CEO had resigned in a defense-contract scandal. And its stock had plunged to the lowest price in a decade.

Two years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, financially troubled airlines were reluctant to buy new planes. Boeing needed something revolutionary to win back customers.

Salvation had a code name: Yellowstone.

It was a plane that promised to be lighter and more technologically advanced than any other. Half of it would be built with new plastics instead of aluminum. The cabin would be more comfortable for passengers, and airlines could cut their fuel bills by 20 percent.

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1st woman to lead US troops in combat 'thrilled' that Pentagon opening more roles to females

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Former U.S. Army Capt. Linda L. Bray says her male superiors were incredulous upon hearing she had ably led a platoon of military police officers through a firefight during the 1989 invasion of Panama.

Instead of being lauded for her actions, the first woman in U.S. history to lead male troops in combat said higher-ranking officers accused her of embellishing accounts of what happened when her platoon bested an elite unit of the Panamanian Defense Force. After her story became public, Congress fiercely debated whether she and other women had any business being on the battlefield.

The Pentagon's longstanding prohibition against women serving in ground combat ended Thursday, when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that most combat roles jobs will now be open to female soldiers and Marines. Panetta said women are integral to the military's success and will be required to meet the same physical standards as their male colleagues.

"I'm so thrilled, excited. I think it's absolutely wonderful that our nation's military is taking steps to help women break the glass ceiling," said Bray, 53, of Clemmons, N.C. "It's nothing new now in the military for a woman to be right beside a man in operations."

The end of the ban on women in combat comes more than 23 years after Bray made national news and stoked intense controversy after her actions in Panama were praised as heroic by Marlin Fitzwater, the spokesman for then-President George H.W. Bush.

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A world without work: As robots, computers get smarter, will humans have anything left to do?

WASHINGTON (AP) — They seem right out of a Hollywood fantasy, and they are: Cars that drive themselves have appeared in movies like "I, Robot" and the television show "Knight Rider."

Now, three years after Google invented one, automated cars could be on their way to a freeway near you. In the U.S., California and other states are rewriting the rules of the road to make way for driverless cars. Just one problem: What happens to the millions of people who make a living driving cars and trucks — jobs that always have seemed sheltered from the onslaught of technology?

"All those jobs are going to disappear in the next 25 years," predicts Moshe Vardi, a computer scientist at Rice University in Houston. "Driving by people will look quaint; it will look like a horse and buggy."

If automation can unseat bus drivers, urban deliverymen, long-haul truckers, even cabbies, is any job safe?

Vardi poses an equally scary question: "Are we prepared for an economy in which 50 percent of people aren't working?"

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Education Department tells schools to find ways for disabled students to play sports

WASHINGTON (AP) — Students with disabilities must be given a fair shot to play on a traditional sports team or have their own leagues, the Education Department says.

Disabled students who want to play for their school could join traditional teams if officials can make "reasonable modifications" to accommodate them. If those adjustments would fundamentally alter a sport or give the student an advantage, the department is directing the school to create parallel athletic programs that have comparable standing to traditional programs.

"Sports can provide invaluable lessons in discipline, selflessness, passion and courage, and this guidance will help schools ensure that students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to benefit from the life lessons they can learn on the playing field or on the court," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a statement announcing the new guidance Friday.

The groundbreaking order is reminiscent of the Title IX expansion of athletic opportunities for girls and women four decades ago and could bring sweeping changes to school budgets and locker rooms for years to come.

Activists cheered the changes.

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Questions surround NM slayings as family, church community prepare to bury former pastor, kids

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Fifteen-year-old murder suspect Nehemiah Griego grew up in a family deeply rooted in the Christian faith.

His father, a gang member turned pastor, helped others turn their lives around. There were missions to Mexico, prayer sessions with former jail inmates and weekly Bible study gatherings. For Griego, there were jam sessions with the Calvary Albuquerque's youth band and pickup basketball games at the church.

That all changed last Saturday when his parents and three younger siblings were slain at home and Griego was arrested and charged with the killings.

On Friday, family and friends will gather at the church to mourn the deaths — a tragedy that just doesn't make sense to surviving family members or the church community that has watched him grow up.

Griego was just a normal teen to Vince Harrison, a former police officer who had known the family for about 10 years through his security work at the church.

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NASA testing vintage engine left over from Apollo 11 rocket to improve for future missions

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Like vinyl records and skinny ties, good things eventually come back around. At NASA, that means looking to the Apollo program for ideas on how to develop the next generation of rockets for future missions to the moon and beyond.

Young engineers who weren't even born when the last Saturn V rocket took off for the moon are testing a vintage engine from the program.

The engine, known to NASA engineers as No. F-6049, was supposed to help propel Apollo 11 into orbit in 1969, when NASA sent Neil Armstrong and two other astronauts to the moon for the first time. The flight went off without a hitch, but no thanks to the engine — it was grounded because of a glitch during a test in Mississippi and later sent to the Smithsonian Institution, where it sat for years.

Now engineers are learning to work with technical systems and propellants not used since before the start of the space shuttle program, which first launched in 1981.

Nick Case, 27, and other engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center on Thursday completed a series of 11 test-firings of the F-6049's gas generator, a jet-like rocket which produces 30,000 pounds of thrust and was used as a starter for the engine. They are trying to see whether a second-generation version of the Apollo engine could produce even more thrust and be operated with a throttle for deep-space exploration.

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Hundreds of MBA students play poker tournament in Vegas to win job at Caesars casino

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Forget the firm handshake and networking chit chat. Business students who want a job at Caesars Entertainment need to work on their poker faces.

Nearly 300 Master of Business Administration students and alumni anted up for a three-day Texas Hold 'em poker contest last weekend in hopes of hauling in a corner office. Hiring managers and corporate executives schmoozed with candidates during breaks in the action.

The annual MBA tournament on the Las Vegas Strip was little more than a marketing gimmick until last year, when Caesars decided to add cocktail hours and high-level interviews, said Tijuana Plant, who works in the company's human resources department.

Now, the event is a serious recruitment tool. The festive atmosphere and real-money stakes help the company screen for the critical thinking ability and social aptitude needed in the gambling industry, where business is often mixed with pleasure, Plant said.

"We like to see analytical people," she said. "Poker players are analytical and are willing to take strategic risk, and that is what we're looking for."

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Blind sled dog thrives with brother's help at NH kennel that takes in rescue, 2nd-chance, dogs

JEFFERSON, N.H. (AP) — When Gonzo started tripping over his food dish three years ago, no one could explain or stop the Alaskan husky's quickly advancing blindness. But a veterinarian offered some simple advice: "Run this dog."

Gonzo, one of 120 dogs at Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel, was happy to comply. With help from his brother, Poncho, he soon resumed his place pulling a sled all over New Hampshire's North Country to the delight of tourists and his caretakers, who quickly realized that if Gonzo didn't treat his blindness like an obstacle, neither would they. Given the dog's obvious eagerness, he was allowed to continue on as usual.

"Even though he's blind, he still knows when hook-ups are happening. He's still very aware," said kennel manager Ben Morehouse. "When you have a dog such as Gonzo, with such a want and a drive and a desire ... you try it, you hook up, you see what happens."

A frenzy of excited barking engulfs the kennel whenever Morehouse and other staffers haul out a sled. The chosen team is outfitted with harnesses and booties; those left behind scramble onto their doghouse roofs and howl. Gonzo and Poncho are lined up side-by-side, usually toward the back of the eight-member team — "brains to brawn" is how Morehouse describes the order.

"A lot of people say everything about dog sledding is efficiency. Gonzo and Poncho are not the most efficient sled dogs out there. They won't set a speed record, they won't pull the most you've ever seen," Morehouse said. "To be honest, they're probably some of the goofiest dogs you can put in harness. But they're just fun."

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Stars join Damon as he 'hijacks' Kimmel's ABC show; even Kimmel's ex-girlfriend appears

NEW YORK (AP) — Matt Damon had his revenge.

The butt of a long-running joke on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live," the actor opened Thursday night's show as a kidnapper who tied Kimmel to a chair with duct tape and gagged him with his own tie.

"There's a new host in town and his initials are M.D.," Damon said. "That's right, the doctor is in."

For years, Kimmel has joked at the end of his show that he ran out of time and was unable to bring Damon on as a guest. Kimmel was the silent one Thursday, watching from the back of the stage as Damon did his job.

Damon tormented Kimmel by bringing on a succession of big-name guests. Robin Williams stopped by to finish the monologue. Ben Affleck had a walk-on role. Sheryl Crow was the bandleader and performed her new single. Nicole Kidman, Gary Oldman, Amy Adams, Reese Witherspoon and Demi Moore all crowded the talk show's couch.

 

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