- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Oscar Dystel, paperbacks pioneer who published ‘Catcher in the Rye,’ ‘Jaws,’ dies in NY at 101

NEW YORK (AP) - Oscar Dystel, a leader of the paperbacks market who transformed Bantam Books into a prolific powerhouse that released best-selling editions of “The Catcher in the Rye,” ”Jaws,” Ragtime” and many others, died Wednesday at age 101.

He had been in failing health in recent years and died at his home in Rye, just north of New York City, said his daughter, literary agent Jane Dystel.

Millions of people who loved to find quick reads for the airport or beach could thank Dystel, who had been a magazine editor when he was hired in 1954 to take over the then-struggling Bantam imprint. Alert to the growing appeal of cheap and portable books, Dystel soon presided over popular paperbacks of Leon Uris’ “Battle Cry” and John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” and within years had made Bantam the dominant publisher of mass market paperbacks.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, Bantam was releasing hundreds of books a year, from Peter Benchley’s “Jaws” and E.L. Doctorow’s “Ragtime” to a million-selling edition of the Warren Commission’s report on President John F. Kennedy’s assassination and Jacqueline Susann’s sensational “Valley of the Dolls.” At the time of Dystel’s departure, Bantam accounted for an estimated 15 percent of mass market sales.

“My whole concept was to be an effective merchandiser of books,” Dystel said in a 2006 interview with Move! Magazine. “When we considered new titles, we didn’t read for the sake of enjoying the book but of considering its commercial potential. We learned how to read the first and last part of the book and make a judgment as to its potential sales.”

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Seeking to redefine US foreign policy, Obama straddles line between intervention and isolation

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) - Seeking to redefine America’s foreign policy for a post-war era, President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared that the United States remains the only nation with the capacity to lead on the world stage but argued it would be a mistake to channel that power into unrestrained military adventures.

Obama’s approach, outlined in a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy, underscored his efforts to straddle the line between global isolation and intervention. Neither view, he said, “fully speaks to the demands of this moment.”

“It is absolutely true that in the 21st century, American isolation is not an option,” Obama said in remarks to more than 1,000 of the military’s newest officers. “But to say that we have an interest in pursuing peace and freedom beyond our borders is not to say that every problem has a military solution.”

Obama has often struggled to articulate not only what should fill the space between intervention and isolation but also any success the administration has had in finding that middle ground. His preferred tool kit, which includes economic sanctions, diplomatic negotiations and international coalition building, rarely generates quick fixes and is often more ambiguous than more easily explained military action.

The president’s strategy also has garnered mixed results. While diplomacy and sanctions have brought the U.S. and Iran closer to a nuclear accord than ever before, neither approach has stopped the bloodshed of Syria’s four-year civil war or prevented Russia from annexing territory from Ukraine.

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Poet Maya Angelou, author of ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,’ dies at 86 in North Carolina

NEW YORK (AP) - Maya Angelou’s story awed millions. A childhood victim of rape, she broke through silence and shame to tell her tale in one of the most widely read memoirs of the 20th century. A black woman born into poverty and segregation, she recited the most popular presidential inaugural poem in history.

“I’m not modest,” she told The Associated Press in 2013. “I have no modesty. Modesty is a learned behavior. But I do pray for humility, because humility comes from the inside out.”

Angelou, a renaissance woman and cultural pioneer, died Wednesday at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was 86.

“She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance and peace,” said her son, Guy B. Johnson.

Tall and regal, with a deep, majestic voice, she was unforgettable whether encountered in person, through sound or the printed word. She was an actress, singer and dancer in the 1950s and 1960s and made a brave and sensational debut as an author in 1969 with “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which became standard (and occasionally censored) reading and made Angelou one of the first black women to enjoy mainstream literary success.

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Apple adds hip-hop flair with $3 billion purchase of headphone maker, music streamer Beats

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) - Apple is striking a new chord with a $3 billion acquisition of Beats Electronics, a headphone and music streaming specialist that also brings the swagger of rapper Dr. Dre and recording impresario Jimmy Iovine.

Wednesday’s announcement comes nearly three weeks after deal negotiations were leaked to the media. It’s by far the most expensive acquisition in Apple’s 38-year history, a price that the company is paying to counter a threat posed to its iTunes store.

The price consists of $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in Apple stock that will vest over an unspecified time period. The deal is expected to close before October.

With $1.1 billion in revenue last year, Beats is already making money and will boost Apple’s earnings once the new fiscal year begins in October, Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview.

“We have known these guys forever,” Cook said of Iovine and Dre. “We’ve dated, we’ve gone steady and now we are getting married. This relationship started a decade ago, so we know there is an incredible cultural fit. These two guys have a very rare set of skills. It’s like finding a particular grain of sand on the beach. It’s that rare.”

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Google to build prototype car controlled by computers, not driver, without steering wheel

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Google plans to build and launch onto city streets a small fleet of subcompact cars that could operate without a person at the wheel.

Actually, the cars wouldn’t even have a wheel. Or gas and brake pedals. The company says the vehicles will use sensors and computing power, with no human needed.

Google Inc. hopes that by this time next year, 100 of the two-seaters will be on public roads, following extensive testing. The cars would not be for sale and instead would be provided to select operators for further tweaking and have limitations such as a 25 mph top speed.

The announcement presents a challenge to automakers that have been more cautious about introducing fully automated driving and to government regulators who are scrambling to accommodate self-driving cars on public roads. Other companies are working on the technology but none as large as Google has said it intends to put such cars in the hands of the public so soon.

To date, Google has driven hundreds of thousands of miles on public roads and freeways in Lexus SUVs and Toyota Priuses outfitted with special sensors and cameras. But with a “safety driver” in the front seat, those vehicles were not truly self-driving.

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Inspector general says 1,700 veterans awaiting care at Phoenix VA hospital left off wait list

WASHINGTON (AP) - About 1,700 veterans in need of care were “at risk of being lost or forgotten” after being kept off the official waiting list at the troubled Phoenix veterans hospital, the Veterans Affairs watchdog said Wednesday in a scathing report that increases pressure on Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign.

The investigation, initially focused on the Phoenix hospital, found systemic problems in the VA’s sprawling nationwide system, which provides medical care to about 6.5 million veterans each year. The interim report confirmed allegations of excessive waiting time for care in Phoenix, with an average 115-day wait for a first appointment for those on the waiting list.

“While our work is not complete, we have substantiated that significant delays in access to care negatively impacted the quality of care at this medical facility,” Richard J. Griffin, the department’s acting inspector general, wrote in the 35-page report. It found that “inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic throughout” some 1,700 VA health facilities nationwide, including 151 hospitals and more than 800 clinics.

Griffin said 42 centers are under investigation, up from 26.

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall and Montana Sen. John Walsh on Wednesday became the first Democratic senators to call for Shinseki to leave. “We need new leadership who will demand accountability to fix these problems,” Udall said in a statement.

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Ukraine sees Russia as source of insurgent threat as rebels admit to outside assistance

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - As separatists conceded that militants from Russia’s province of Chechnya had joined the rebellion, a Ukrainian government official cautioned Wednesday that its borders had become a “front line” in the crisis.

Chechnya’s Moscow-backed strongman brushed away allegations he had dispatched paramilitary forces under his command to Ukraine, saying he was powerless to stop fellow Chechens from joining the fight.

While there is no immediate indication that the Kremlin is enabling or supporting combatants from Russia crossing into Ukraine, Moscow may have to dispel suspicions it is waging a proxy war if it is to avoid more Western sanctions.

In a wide-ranging foreign policy speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, President Barack Obama addressed the crisis in Ukraine by saying, “Russia’s recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe.”

The Kremlin welcomed the election Sunday of billionaire Petro Poroshenko as the president of Ukraine. An advocate of strong ties with Europe, Poroshenko also favors mending relations with Russia.

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California rampage shows gaps in mental health law; ‘No one was connecting the dots’

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Elliot Rodger’s murderous rampage near Santa Barbara has tragically exposed the limitations of involuntary-commitment laws that allow authorities to temporarily confine people who are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

Three weeks before he stabbed and shot six people to death and then apparently took his own life, the 22-year-old sometime college student was questioned by sheriff’s deputies outside his apartment and was able to convince them he was calm, courteous and no threat to anyone. The officers had been sent by local health officials after Rodger’s family expressed concern about him.

“He just didn’t meet the criteria for any further intervention,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “He was able to make a very convincing story that there was no problem, that he wasn’t going to hurt himself or anyone else.”

Like many other states, California has a law intended to identify and confine dangerously unstable people before they can do harm. It allows authorities to hold people in a mental hospital for up to 72 hours for observation.

To trigger it, there must be evidence a person is suicidal, intent on hurting others or so “gravely disabled” as to be unable to care for himself.

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Egypt’s el-Sissi way ahead of sole rival in presidential election

CAIRO (AP) - Partial results of Egypt’s presidential election announced late Wednesday showed the nation’s former military chief comfortably ahead of his rival after votes from 2,000 polling stations were counted.

The campaign of retired field marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he won 4.2 million votes, with left-wing politician Hamdeen Sabahi taking 133,548.

El-Sissi’s win was never in doubt, but the 59-year-old career infantry officer had hoped for a strong turnout to bestow legitimacy on his ouster last July of Egypt’s first freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

However, el-Sissi’s campaign said turnout nationwide was around 44 percent, well below the nearly 52 percent won by Morsi, even after voting was extended for a third day Wednesday.

In his final campaign TV interview last week, el-Sissi set the bar even higher, saying he wanted more than 45 million voters to cast ballots - a turnout of more than 80 percent - to “show the world” the extent of his popular backing.

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Abortion doctor restrictions take root in South; clinic scarcity may force long trips for some

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - From Texas to Alabama, laws are being enacted that would greatly restrict access to abortion, forcing many women to travel hundreds of miles to find a clinic. The laws, requiring abortion doctors to have privileges to admit patients to local hospitals, could have a profound impact on women in poor and rural sections of the Bible Belt.

In many places in the South, clinic doctors come from out of state to perform abortions and don’t have ties to a local hospital. Critics say the laws mean hospitals, leery of attracting anti-abortion protesters, could get veto power over whether the already-scarce clinics remain in business. They say the real aim is to outlaw abortions while supporters say they are protecting women’s health.

The laws are the latest among dozens of restrictions on abortions that states have enacted in the past two decades, including 24-hour waiting periods, parental consent and ultrasound requirements.

“You’re looking at huge swaths of the country where women’s options are becoming severely limited,” said Amanda Allen, state legislative counsel for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

The requirements are already in effect in Texas and Tennessee. Laws in Mississippi and Alabama are on hold during court challenges. Louisiana and Oklahoma are about to enact their laws, which would bring the total to 10 states, according to figures from the Center. If the law there is upheld, Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic would have to close, meaning women in some parts of the state would have to travel at least three hours to an out-of-state clinic.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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