AP News


Mixed signals over in-flight use of cellphones PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by JOAN LOWY, Associated Press   
Saturday, 22 February 2014 08:20

WASHINGTON (AP) — When it comes to deciding whether airline passengers can use their cellphones in flight, federal agencies are sending different signals to consumers.

The Transportation Department, which regulates aviation consumer issues, indicated in a notice posted online Friday that it is considering retaining the 23-year-old ban on the calls, and asked for public comment.

Two months ago, the Federal Communications Commission voted to pursue allowing the calls. The FCC has responsibility for determining whether the use of cellphones in flight would interfere with cellular networks on the ground.

Polls show that many passengers, particularly frequent fliers, oppose allowing in-flight calls from passengers' cellphones. Echoing their concerns, the Transportation Department said it believes allowing passengers to make cellphone calls "may be harmful or injurious" to others.

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California farmers won't get federal water PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by SCOTT SMITH, Associated Press   
Friday, 21 February 2014 15:31

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Federal officials announced Friday that many California farmers caught in the state's drought can expect to receive no irrigation water this year from a vast system of rivers, canals and reservoirs interlacing the state.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its first outlook of the year, saying that the agency will continue to monitor rain and snow fall, but the grim levels so far prove that the state is in the throes of one of its driest periods in recorded history.

Unless the year turns wet, many farmers can expect to receive no water from the federally run Central Valley Project. Central Valley farmers received only 20 percent of their normal water allotment last year and were expecting this year's bad news. Some communities and endangered wildlife that rely on the federal water source will also suffer deep cuts.

"We will monitor the hydrology as the water year progresses and continue to look for opportunities to exercise operational flexibility," Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said in a written statement, noting that the state's snowpack is at 29 percent of average for this time of year.

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Versatile TV newsman Garrick Utley dies at 74 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 21 February 2014 11:17

NEW YORK (AP) — NBC News says veteran reporter Garrick Utley has died of cancer. He was 74.

Utley began at NBC News in 1963, where for three decades he handled a wide variety of assignments. Early on, he reported from Vietnam on the escalating conflict. In later years, he moderated "Meet the Press."

He once speculated that he may have been the only person at NBC News who handled every type of programming as host or anchor.

In 1993, he left NBC to be a foreign correspondent for ABC News. He reported for CNN from 1997 to 2002.

Standing a lanky 6-foot-6, Utley was known for his courtly and knowledgeable on-the-air manner.

An opera buff, he was also a host of PBS' "Live From the Met."


Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
Colorado, Utah move to hike smoking age to 21 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press MICHELLE PRICE, Associated Press   
Friday, 21 February 2014 09:45

DENVER (AP) — Two Western states with some of the nation's lowest smoking rates are considering cracking down even more by raising the tobacco age to 21.

Utah and Colorado lawmakers both voted favorably on proposals Thursday to treat tobacco like alcohol and take it away from 18- to 20-year-olds, a move inspired by new research on how many smokers start the habit as teenagers.

"By raising the age limit, it puts them in a situation where they're not going to pick it up until a much later age," said Marla Brannum of Lehi, Utah, who testified in favor of the idea there.

In Colorado, the testimony was similar — that pushing the tobacco age could make it harder for teens to access tobacco, and possibly reduce usage rates among adults.

"What I'm hoping to do is make it harder for kids to obtain cigarettes," said Rep. Cheri Gerou, a Republican who sponsored the measure.

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Ukraine: Opposition agrees to deal with president PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Friday, 21 February 2014 09:43

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's president gave in to pressure from European diplomats and offered concessions Friday to defuse a crisis that has divided his country and left scores dead. Shots rang out near Kiev's protest camp and protesters fought among themselves about what to do next.

The capital remained tense after President Viktor Yanukovych announced early presidential elections and promised to bring opposition members into the government — but didn't say when.

German and Polish officials and an opposition spokeswoman said the Maidan protest movement had agreed to a deal with the president. But it is unclear whether the president's belated concessions will be enough to satisfy protesters who have occupied a piece of Kiev and government buildings around the country in a nationwide battle over the identity of their country.

European foreign ministers had stayed up all night in Kiev trying to negotiate an end to the standoff, prompted when the president aborted a pact with the European Union in November in favor of close ties with Russia instead.

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