BC-AP News Digest 6:20 pm

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Associated Press

Posted on April 8, 2013 at 4:30 PM

The world at 6:20 p.m. Times EDT.

At the Nerve Center, news producers Coralie Carlson, Rob Jagodzinski and Mike Stewart can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Dan Goodman (ext. 1900). For graphics and interactives, ext. 7636. Expanded AP Content can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com . For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact customersupport(at)ap.org or call 877-836-9477.

A selection of top photos can be found at http://bit.ly/APTopPhotos .

NEW & DEVELOPING

— NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP — Game starts at 9:23 p.m.

— US-SOMALIA — White House clears way to arm Somali forces as US normalizes relations with Somalia.

— JC PENNEY-CEO — JC Penney ousts CEO Ron Johnson, names predecessor to top spot.

— HOSPITAL ALARMS-DEATHS — Too many beeping hospital alarms linked with dozens of deaths in a new Joint Commission report.

— SEC-WHITE CONFIRMATION — Senate confirms White to head SEC; will be first ex-prosecutor to lead watchdog agency.

— GUANTANAMO-HUNGER STRIKE — US gov't now informs lawyers if Guantanamo prisoners are being force fed during hunger strike

— TV-CNN-THE POINT — Another stab at something new for CNN is gone quickly; 'The Point' disappears after a week.

TOP STORIES

BRITAIN-OBIT-THATCHER

LONDON — Love her or loathe her, one thing's beyond dispute: Margaret Thatcher transformed Britain. The Iron Lady who ruled for 11 remarkable years imposed her will on a fractious, rundown nation — breaking the unions, triumphing in a far-off war and selling off state industries at a record pace. She left behind a leaner government and more prosperous nation by the time a mutiny ousted her. She died Monday morning of a stroke at age 87. By Gregory Katz and Robert Barr.

AP photos, video, interactive.

THATCHER-REAGAN ECONOMICS

WASHINGTON — Together, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and American President Ronald Reagan, two self-assured and decisive-speaking social conservatives, joined forces in the early 1980s and drastically changed the economic landscape in both countries. Their calls for smaller and more-austere government and lower taxes still resonate today with so-called supply-side economists and with conservative politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. By Tom Raum.

AP photos.

OBAMA'S AGENDA

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's second-term hopes are being robustly tested this week, with gun control and immigration in the spotlight on Capitol Hill and the White House set to release his long-delayed budget blueprint. In a taste of what lies ahead, Democratic weapons legislation arrives on the Senate floor — in the face of a new Republican effort to block it. By Julie Pace.

AP photos, interactive.

— OBAMA — Obama encourages Americans to push for tighter gun regulation in honor of Sandy Hook victims. AP photos.

— OBAMA-BUDGET — Obama budget plan revisits small-bore budget cuts that have proven difficult to pass.

SYRIA

DAMASCUS, Syria — A suicide attacker detonates a massive car bomb at the gates of the state-run investment agency in Damascus, killing at least 15 people, blowing out windows of the neighboring central bank and setting cars and trees ablaze. The U.N. chief says he wants to send U.N. inspectors to Syria to investigate reported chemical weapons attacks that both sides in the civil war have blamed on the other. By Albert Aji and Ryan Lucas.

AP photos, video, audio, interactive.

GUNS IN SCHOOLS

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — When a gunman killed 26 children and staff at a Connecticut school, Missouri Rep. Mike Kelley quickly responded with legislation that would allow trained teachers to carry hidden guns into the classroom as a "line of defense" against attackers. Similar proposals soon proliferated in Republican-led states as the National Rifle Association called for armed officers in every American school. Yet less four months later, the quest to put guns in schools has stalled in many traditionally gun-friendly states. By David A. Lieb.

AP photos, interactive.

CHILDREN TRAPPED

STANLEY, N.C. — A young boy and girl are buried and killed after a 24-foot hole where they were playing collapses on them. The hole — a massive crater as deep as a two-story building — was the talk of the neighborhood, where some parents warned their kids to stay away. Authorities are investigating how it all happened. Some neighbors say the pit was part of the homeowner's plan to build a bunker in case of an apocalypse. By Mitch Weiss.

AP photos, video.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP

ATLANTA — Rick Pitino tries to become the first coach to win national titles at two schools when he leads top overall seed Louisville into the championship game against Michigan, which reached the final for the first time in 20 years with another youthful team. By National Writer Paul Newberry.

AP photos, video.

MORE ON THATCHER

BRITAIN-THATCHER-CULTURE

LONDON — Margaret Thatcher was not just a political titan, she was a cultural icon. With her uncompromising politics, ironclad certainty, bouffant hairstyle and ever-present handbag, the late British leader was grist for comedians, playwrights, novelists and songwriters, whether they loved her or — as was often the case — did not. By Jill Lawless.

AP photos.

— THATCHER-REACTION — Combative and determined to get her way, Thatcher divided opinion down the middle in life — and in death. AP photos.

— THATCHER'S BUSINESS LEGACY — More than any other field, Thatcher redefined global finance by setting the standard for the liberal capitalism that helped turn London into one of the world's largest banking centers.

INTERNATIONAL

KOREAS-TENSION

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea says it will suspend operations at a factory complex it jointly runs with South Korea, pulling out more than 53,000 North Korean workers and moving closer to severing its last economic link with its rival as tensions escalate. Shutting down the Kaesong industrial complex, even temporarily, would show that North Korea is willing to hurt its own economy to display its anger with South Korea and the United States. By Hyung-Jin Kim.

AP photos.

— JAPAN-NKOREA'S THREAT — It's easy to write off North Korean bluster about striking the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile. But what about Japan? AP photos.

PAKISTAN

ISLAMABAD — Four days of fierce fighting in the northwest leave 30 soldiers and nearly 100 militants dead after the army manages to wrest control of a large part of a remote valley away from the Pakistani Taliban and their allies. Rival militant groups have been fighting for supremacy in the Tirah Valley in recent weeks, forcing thousands of civilians to flee the rugged, mountainous area in Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal region. By Riaz Khan and Zarar Khan.

AP photo.

PORTUGAL-FEELING THE PAIN

LISBON — Serving a frugal lunch in their tiny kitchen, Pedro and Elena Baptista spoon stewed chicken feet onto their boiled potatoes and leave the slightly meatier wings for their 12-year-old daughter Vania and 7-year-old son Joao. The Baptista family counts itself among the casualties of an unrelenting financial crisis that is squeezing the life out of some European Union economies, including Portugal. Now the Portuguese government has said it will pile on more austerity, leading many to wonder how a fraying society will cope. By Barry Hatton.

AP photos.

WASHINGTON

POSTAL PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service delivers mail to 11 million more homes, offices and other addresses than it did a decade ago, even as the amount of mail that people in the United States receive has dropped sharply. That combination may be financially dicey, some analysts say. By Pauline Jelinek.

AP photos, graphic, interactive.

KERRY-MIDEAST

JERUSALEM — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks to breathe new life into dormant Mideast peace talks in meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli and Palestinian officials. U.S. officials say Kerry is exploring modifications to a decade-old Arab plan that's long been greeted with skepticism by the Jewish state. By Bradley Klapper and Josef Federman.

AP photos.

AIRLINE QUALITY

WASHINGTON — Virgin America was the top-ranked airline among the 14 largest domestic carriers in a new gauge of how well airlines did on on-time performance, mishandled bags, overbooking and consumer complaints. United came in last. By Joan Lowy.

AP photos, video, interactive.

— AIRLINE QUALITY-GLANCE — List of the rankings.

NATIONAL

RUTGERS PRESIDENT

TRENTON, N.J. — The president of Rutgers University president made a mistake but shouldn't be fired for his handling of the allegations brought against the basketball coach, Gov. Chris Christie says as the school announces an independent investigation and the president declares tape of all sports practices will be examined for any evidence of improper behavior. By Angela Delli Santi and Katie Zezima.

AP photos.

— RUTGERS-NEWS GUIDE.

POOP IN PARADISE

SAN DIEGO — La Jolla's jagged coastline is strictly protected by environmental laws that ensure the San Diego community remains the kind of seaside jewel that has attracted swanky restaurants, top-flight hotels and some of the nation's rich and famous. Tourists flock to the place. So do lots of birds. And with those birds comes lots of poop, leaving people holding their noses rather than gasping in amazement at the beautiful views. Businesses are demanding a solution. Biologists say the odor is the smell of success. By Julie Watson.

AP photos.

ENTERTAINMENT

OBIT-ANNETTE FUNICELLO

NEW YORK — She was the first crush for a generation of boys, the perfect playmate for a generation of girls. Annette Funicello — who became a child star as a perky, cute-as-a-button Mouseketeer on "The Mickey Mouse Club" in the 1950s, then teamed with Frankie Avalon on a string of '60s fun-in-the-sun movies with names like "Beach Blanket Bingo" — has died. She was 70. By Frazier Moore.

AP photos, video, audio.

ALSO GETTING ATTENTION

— EBERT FUNERAL — Roger Ebert remembered for big heart, acclaimed film criticism at Chicago funeral. AP photos.

— JACKSON REPLACEMENT'S-CHALLENGE — US rep to be elected in Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Chicago-area district will face huge challenges.

— OBAMA'S IOUs-ENERGY INDEPENDENCE — Obama, like every modern president, has promised to cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil. He may actually achieve it. AP photo.

— NFL-CONCUSSION LAWSUITS — With perhaps billions of dollars at stake, a hearing Tuesday over concussion litigation filed against the NFL promises to be a brawl between legal heavyweights. AP photos.

— CLINTON OFFICE-DEFENDANT — A man who took hostages at a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign office in 2007 is recaptured after walking away from a minimum-security facility in New Hampshire. AP photos.

— GERMANY-NUTELLA HEIST — Sticky fingers: Thieves steal 5 tons of Nutella chocolate spread from trailer in Germany.

— BABY FOODS LEAD — The nation's largest baby food makers face a lawsuit by an environmental group aimed at forcing them to alert consumers that some products contains low amounts of lead.

— CUBA-BEYONCE-POLITICIANS UPSET — 2 Cuban-American politicians demand information on Beyonce, Jay-Z trip to Cuba.

— FOX BROADCAST THREAT-AEREO — News Corp executive threatens to convert free-to-air Fox into pay TV channel to thwart Aereo.

___

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