- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Famed Elvis photographer Alfred Wertheimer dies in New York

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Alfred Wertheimer, the photographer whose portraits of Elvis Presley documented the birth of a music legend, has died.

Wertheimer, who was 85, died of natural causes Sunday at his New York apartment, said Chris Murray, who owns Washington, D.C’s Govinda Gallery which counts Wertheimer among its artists.

Wertheimer was 26 when he was assigned to photograph the unknown 21-year-old singer. He traveled with Elvis from New York to Memphis by train and produced a series of now famous black and white portraits that were the subject of exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution and the Grammy Museum.

“There has been no other photographer that Elvis ever allowed to get as up close and personal in his life through photos as he did with Alfred,” Priscilla Presley said Tuesday. “I’m deeply saddened by the death of Alfred Wertheimer. He was a dear friend and special soul. I feel he was a gift for all who knew him especially, Elvis Presley.”

Among the most famous shots: “The Kiss,” a photo of Elvis nuzzling a woman fan backstage. Photographs of Elvis recording “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” reading fan mail, eating alone, staring out a train window, playing a piano in an empty studio and walking by himself on a deserted New York street depicted a solitude that later was surrendered to fame and mobs of fans.

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US closes gap in Ebola screening of air travelers; Rwanda says it will check visitors from US

WASHINGTON (AP) - Fending off demands to ban travel from Ebola-stricken West Africa, the Obama administration instead tightened the nation’s defenses against Ebola by requiring that all arrivals from the disease-ravaged zone pass through one of five U.S. airports.

The move responds to pressure from some Congress members and the public to impose a travel ban on the three countries at the heart of the Ebola outbreak, which has killed over 4,500 people, mostly in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, since it emerged 10 months ago.

Beginning Wednesday, people whose trips began in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone must fly into one of the five U.S. airports performing fever checks for Ebola, the Homeland Security Department said.

Previously, the administration said screenings at those airports covered about 94 percent of fliers from the three countries but missed a few who landed elsewhere.

There are no direct flights from those nations into the U.S; about 150 fliers per day arrive by various multi-leg routes.

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American given surprise release from North Korea; US still pressing amnesty for 2 others

WASHINGTON (AP) - North Korea’s reclusive government abruptly freed an American man Tuesday, nearly six months after he was arrested on charges of leaving a Bible in a nightclub, but Pyongyang refused to hand over two other U.S. citizens who are still being held.

There was no immediate explanation for the release of Jeffrey Fowle, who was quickly whisked to the U.S. territory of Guam before heading back to his wife and three children in Miamisburg, Ohio. Relations between Washington and Pyongyang, never warm, are at a particularly low point, and the U.S. has sought unsuccessfully for months to send a high-level representative to North Korea to negotiate acquittals for all three men.

Fowle’s wife, Tatyana, “screamed when I told her,” said family attorney Timothy Tepe, who received a call from the State Department with word of the release. Tepe said Fowle himself called his wife soon afterward.

“She is ecstatic, excited, use whatever word you want,” Tepe said.

State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Fowle was seen by doctors and appeared to be in good medical health. She declined to give more details about his release except to thank the government of Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang, for its “tireless efforts.”

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10 Things to Know for Wednesday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:

1. US TIGHTENS EBOLA SCREENING AT AIRPORTS

The move responds to pressure from some Congress members and the public to impose a travel ban on the three countries at the heart of the outbreak.

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Activists, militants say Islamic State group fighters seize weapons airdrop meant for Kurds

BEIRUT (AP) - Islamic State group fighters seized at least one cache of weapons airdropped by U.S.-led coalition forces that were meant to supply Kurdish militiamen battling the extremist group in a border town, activists said Tuesday.

The cache of weapons included hand grenades, ammunition and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, according to a video uploaded by a media group loyal to the Islamic State group.

The video appeared authentic and corresponded to The Associated Press’ reporting of the event. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which bases its information on a network of activists on the ground, said the militants had seized at least one cache.

The caches were airdropped early on Monday to Kurds in the embattled Syrian town of Kobani that lies near the Turkish border. The militant group has been trying to seize the town for over a month now, causing the exodus of some 200,000 people from the area into Turkey. While Kurds are battling on the ground, a U.S.-led coalition is also targeting the militants from the air.

On Tuesday, IS loyalists on social media posted sarcastic thank you notes to the United States, including one image that said “Team USA.”

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Indiana man who confessed to killing 7 women showed signs of violence a decade earlier

GARY, Ind. (AP) - With hindsight, there were signs years ago of increasing violence against women by Darren Vann, who police said Tuesday has confessed to killing seven women in northwestern Indiana.

Indiana court records from 2004 describe him grabbing a woman in a chokehold, dousing her with gasoline and threatening to set her on fire. He was sentenced to a year in prison.

In 2009, he was convicted in Texas of raping a woman. She told police that when she went to his apartment in Austin he knocked her down and began to strangle her, hit her several times in the face and said he could kill her, court records show. He served time in prison until last year, when he was released and moved back to Indiana.

In both cases, the charges against Vann were reduced as part of plea bargains, and Texas officials deemed him a low risk for violence. He registered as a sex offender in Indiana and police made a routine check in September that he lived at the address he provided.

“He was not on our radar at all,” Gary Police Chief Larry McKinley said at a news conference Tuesday, adding that Vann was never suspected of taking part in homicides in the days or months before his arrest.

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McDonald’s CEO: We haven’t been changing to keep up with customer expectations

NEW YORK (AP) - After posting yet another disappointing quarter, McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson said Tuesday the company hasn’t been keeping up with the times and that changes are in store for its U.S. restaurants.

Thompson said that starting in January McDonald’s will “simplify” its menu to make room for restaurants to offer options that are best-suited for their regions. To offer greater customization, he also said the company planned to expand its “Create Your Taste” offering that lets people pick the buns and toppings they want on burgers by tapping a touchscreen. The program is currently being offered in Southern California, and McDonald’s has said it will roll it out nationally in Australia.

“We haven’t been changing at the same rate as our customers’ eating-out expectations,” Thompson conceded during a conference call outlining the changes.

The remarks came after McDonald’s said sales at established locations fell 3.3 percent globally and in the U.S. division, marking the fourth straight quarter of declines in its home market. Profit sank 30 percent.

The changes come as McDonald’s continues to struggle with myriad problems. One of its biggest challenges in the U.S. is long-held perceptions around the freshness and quality of its ingredients. The chain has been fighting to boost sales as people gravitate toward foods they feel are more wholesome. As a result, people have been gravitating to places like Chipotle, which markets its ingredients as being of superior quality.

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Ben Bradlee, celebrated editor who guided The Washington Post during Watergate scandal, dies

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a charmed life of newspapering, Ben Bradlee seemed always to be in just the right place.

The raspy-voiced, hard-charging editor who invigorated The Washington Post got an early break as a journalist thanks to his friendship with one president, John F. Kennedy, and became famous for his role in toppling another, Richard Nixon, in the Watergate scandal.

Bradlee died at home Tuesday of natural causes, the Post reported. He was 93.

Ever the newsman and ever one to challenge conventional wisdom, Bradlee imagined his own obituary years earlier and found something within it to quibble over.

“Bet me that when I die,” he wrote in his 1995 memoir, “there will be something in my obit about how The Washington Post ‘won’ 18 Pulitzer prizes while Bradlee was editor.” That, he said, would be bunk. The prizes are overrated and suspect, he wrote, and it’s largely reporters, not newspapers or their editors, who deserve the credit.

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FBI: Denver girls stopped in Germany may have wanted to join Islamic State group in Syria

DENVER (AP) - Three teenage girls from suburban Denver may have been trying to join Islamic State militants in Syria after stealing their parents’ money and flying to Germany, authorities said Tuesday.

The girls - two sisters, ages 17 and 15, and their 16-year-old friend - were reported missing after they skipped school Friday, but the families had no indication of where they might have gone, said Glenn Thompson, bureau chief of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Department

They were stopped at the Frankfurt, Germany, airport over the weekend by FBI agents and returned to Colorado where they were reunited with their families, FBI spokeswoman Suzie Payne said.

A U.S. official said the girls were headed toward Turkey en route to Syria and that investigators were now reviewing evidence, including the girls’ computers.

Another U.S. official called the case “concerning” both to the community and to the country in general. The official said the evidence gathered so far made it clear that the girls were headed to Syria, though the official said investigators were still determining what sort of contacts they had in that country. The official said investigators would be trying to figure out whether there were “like-minded” friends and acquaintances in the girls’ social circle.

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Mormons open up about often misunderstood, ridiculed undergarments in new online video

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Mormon church is addressing the mystery that has long surrounded undergarments worn by its faithful with a new video explaining the practice in-depth while admonishing ridicule from outsiders about what it considers a symbol of Latter-day Saints’ devotion to God.

The four-minute video on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ website compares the white, two-piece cotton “temple garments” to holy vestments worn in other religious faiths such as a Catholic nun’s habit or a Muslim skullcap.

The footage is part of a recent effort by the Salt Lake City-based religion to explain, expand or clarify on some of the faith’s more sensitive beliefs. Articles posted on the church’s website in the past two years have addressed the faith’s past ban on black men in the lay clergy; its early history of polygamy; and the misconception that members are taught they’ll get their own planet in the afterlife.

The latest video dispels the notion that Latter-day Saints believe temple garments have special protective powers, a stereotype perpetuated on the Internet and in popular culture by those who refer to the sacred clothing as “magical Mormon underwear.”

“These words are not only inaccurate but also offensive to members,” the video says. “There is nothing magical or mystical about temple garments, and church members ask for the same degree of respect and sensitivity that would be afforded to any other faith by people of goodwill.”

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