Monday, February 17, 2014

Published:

Ethiopian co-pilot hijacks plane to Geneva to seek Swiss asylum; passengers scared but safe

GENEVA (AP) -- It seemed like a routine overnight flight until the Ethiopian Airlines jetliner went into a dive and oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. Only then did the terrified passengers -- bound for Italy from Addis Ababa -- realize something was terribly wrong.

The co-pilot had locked his captain from the cockpit, commandeered the plane, and headed for Geneva, where he used a rope to lower himself out of a window, then asked for political asylum.

Authorities say a prison cell is more likely.

One passenger said the hijacker threatened to crash the plane if the pilot didn't stop pounding on the locked door. Another said he was terrified "for hours" Monday as the plane careened across the sky.

"It seemed like it was falling from the sky," 45-year-old Italian Diego Carpelli said of the Boeing 767-300.

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UN letter to North Korean leader warns on-accountability for 'crimes against humanity'

GENEVA (AP) -- A U.N. panel warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday that he may be held accountable for orchestrating widespread crimes against civilians in the secretive Asian nation, ranging from systematic executions to torture, rape and mass starvation.

It is unusual for a U.N. report to directly implicate a nation's leader. But in a letter accompanying a yearlong investigative report, the chairman of a three-member U.N. commission of inquiry, retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, directly warned Kim that international prosecution is needed "to render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for crimes against humanity."

"Even without being directly involved in crimes against humanity, a military commander may be held responsible for crimes against humanity committed by forces under the commander's effective command and control," Kirby wrote.

He urged Kim to take "all necessary and reasonable measures" to stop crimes against humanity and insure that they are properly investigated and prosecuted. Kirby added, however, there was no indication the North Korea would do so.

The investigative commission's 372-page report is a wide-ranging indictment of North Korea for policies including political prison camps with 80,000 to 120,000 people, state-sponsored abductions of North Korean, Japanese and other nationals, and lifelong indoctrination.

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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. WHAT'S NEXT FOR HIJACKER

The co-pilot who commandeered an Ethiopian jetliner is asking for asylum in Switzerland. But authorities say a prison cell is more likely.

2. IRAN TALKS BEGIN ANEW -- AMID PESSIMISM

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Security forces raid headquarters of opposition party as tensions build in Venezuela

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- A crowd of anti-government activists wrested free an opposition politician as he was being hauled away in handcuffs by security forces following a raid on the party headquarters of President Nicolas Maduro's biggest foe.

Dario Ramirez, a city councilman, shouted "I'm an elected official" as national guardsmen, surrounded by journalists and party activists, frantically looked for an escape route from the Caracas shopping mall where they took him into custody. Once outside, dozens of activists banging pots and pans in protest attacked the squad, freeing Ramirez by force and speeding him away on a motorcycle.

The dramatic scene underscored the rising tensions that could spill over into violence Tuesday when pro- and anti-government activists hold dueling demonstrations in the capital.

Ramirez belongs to the Popular Will party led by Leopoldo Lopez, the target of a police manhunt accused by Maduro of inciting violence and leading a U.S.-backed conspiracy to oust him from power.

Maduro's government on Monday gave three U.S. Embassy officials 48 hours to leave the country, charging that the Obama administration is siding with opposition protesters.

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Ahead of new talks, huge obstacles between Iran and 6 powers stand in way of final nuke deal

VIENNA (AP) -- It took months of arduous bargaining before Iran and six world powers could agree on a first-step nuclear deal. But the two sides may find the going even tougher Tuesday, when they start to confront hurdles standing in the path of a final accord.

Tehran denies Western accusations that it wants -- or worked on -- nuclear arms. But on Nov. 24 it agreed to initial curbs on uranium enrichment -- which can serve at different levels as the core of nuclear arms or reactor fuel -- in exchange for some easing of the sanctions choking its economy.

In effect for six months, the deal is meant to lead to a final accord that minimizes any potential Iranian nuclear weapons threat in return for a full lifting of sanctions.

But as the sides begin haggling over the final pact in Vienna, Gary Samore, who helped the U.S. negotiate with Iran until last year, describes the interim deal as "simply a truce," with the hard work still ahead.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, is even more pessimistic.

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Train accidents stir safety worries as oil boom sends more tanker trains across North America

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- At least 10 times since 2008, freight trains hauling oil across North America have derailed and spilled significant quantities of crude, with most of the accidents touching off fires or catastrophic explosions.

The derailments released almost 3 million gallons of oil, nearly twice as much as the largest pipeline spill in the U.S. since at least 1986. And the deadliest wreck killed 47 people in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Those findings, from an Associated Press review of U.S. and Canadian accident records, underscore a lesser-known danger of America's oil boom, which is changing the global energy balance and raising urgent safety questions closer to home.

Experts say recent efforts to improve the safety of oil shipments belie an unsettling fact: With increasing volumes of crude now moving by rail, it's become impossible to send oil-hauling trains to refineries without passing major population centers, where more lives and property are at risk.

Adding to the danger is the high volatility of the light, sweet crude from the fast-growing Bakken oil patch in Montana and North Dakota, where many of the trains originate. Because it contains more natural gas than heavier crude, Bakken oil can have a lower ignition point. Of the six oil trains that derailed and caught fire since 2008, four came from the Bakken and each caused at least one explosion. That includes the accident at Lac-Megantic, which spilled an estimated 1.6 million gallons and set off a blast that levelled a large section of the town.

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Study: Saliva test may help predict which teenage boys will later develop major depression

LONDON (AP) -- A saliva test for teenage boys with mild symptoms of depression could help identify those who will later develop major depression, a new study says.

Researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in teenage boys and found that ones with high levels coupled with mild depression symptoms were up to 14 times more likely to suffer clinical depression later in life than those with low or normal cortisol levels.

The test was tried on teenage boys and girls, but found to be most effective with boys.

About one in six people suffer from clinical depression at some point in their lives, and most mental health disorders start before age 24. There is currently no biological test to spot depression.

"This is the emergence of a new way of looking at mental illness," Joe Herbert of the University of Cambridge and one of the study authors said at a news conference on Monday. "You don't have to rely simply on what the patient tells you, but what you can measure inside the patient," he said.

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Jimmy Fallon's opening night as 'Tonight Show' host brings TV institution back to New York

NEW YORK (AP) -- Little more than a week after exiting "Late Night," Jimmy Fallon makes his much-anticipated debut Monday as host of NBC's "Tonight Show," as the venerable TV institution returns to New York after four decades based on the West Coast.

Scheduled guests are U2 and Will Smith, with the show reclaiming Rockefeller Center's Studio 6B, where "Tonight" aired during its early Johnny Carson years.

Fallon, who had hosted "Late Night" since 2009, moves up to the job Jay Leno held for much of the past 22 years until his recent departure from the "Tonight" host chair.

The 39-year-old Fallon first found stardom as a cast member and "Weekend Update" co-anchor on "Saturday Night Live." He left "SNL" in 2004 to pursue a movie career, but he was met with less success in that arena.

Despite the excitement surrounding his new "Tonight" stint (much of it expressed by Fallon himself), he has also emphasized that "Tonight" under his regime won't be notably different from the show his "Late Night" had evolved into.

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After missing 6 days with an eye infection, Costas returns to NBC Olympic coverage

SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- Bob Costas returned as host for NBC's prime-time Olympic coverage Monday night, if still not exactly clear-eyed, at least with a sharpened sense of respect for the colleagues and crew who covered for him during a six-day absence.

Costas joked at the show's opening that he was "sitting in" for Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, who had subbed for him while he was out with an eye infection. He thanked the two, and viewers for expressing concern.

"My apologies to everyone for the unavoidable but uncomfortable circumstance of a broadcaster's ill-timed affliction getting in the way, even for just a moment, from what we all came here for," Costas said.

Hours before his return, he told The Associated Press that his infection has to run its course of 2-to-3 weeks, the entire Olympics. "It's the all-time perfect bad timing, but what can you do? It's a curve ball and you've got to go with it," Costas chuckled during an interview, "even though I couldn't spot the rotation on a curve ball right now."

The broadcaster who began his Olympic work as a late-night host at the 1988 Seoul Games looked relaxed at the NBC compound in a navy polo shirt and cardigan sweater. Traces of his bout with viral conjunctivitis were still visible -- the infection began in his left eye and spread quickly to the right -- and both are still reddened.

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AP PHOTOS: Ice and fog rule the day at Sochi

Lightning-fast bobsledders, a biathalon course shrouded in fog, and skiers tumbling through the air and on the ground are all part of the sights from Monday's Winter Olympics competition.

Check out the notable moments and scenes in this photo gallery.

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Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter: http://apne.ws/1c3WMiu