In brief | Nation & World, December 23, 2013


AP poll: Glitch-plagued rollout of Obama’s health care overhaul voted top story of 2013

NEW YORK — The glitch-plagued rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul was the top news story of 2013, followed by the Boston Marathon bombing and the dramatic papal changeover at the Vatican, according to The Associated Press’ annual poll of U.S. editors and news directors.

The saga of “Obamacare” — as the Affordable Care Act is widely known — received 45 first-place votes out of the 144 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. The marathon bombing received 29 first-place votes and the papal transition 21.

Other strong contenders were the bitter partisan conflict in Congress and the leaks about National Security Agency surveillance by former NSA analyst Edward Snowden.

Last year, the top story was the massacre of 26 children and staff at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. That result came after a rare decision by the AP to re-conduct the voting; the initial round of balloting had ended Dec. 13, a day before the Newtown shooting, with the 2012 election at the top.

Elf habitat advocates, environmentalists hold up highway project in Iceland

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — In this land of fire and ice, where the fog-shrouded lava fields offer a spooky landscape in which anything might lurk, stories abound of the “hidden folk” — thousands of elves, making their homes in Iceland’s wilderness.

So perhaps it was only a matter of time before 21st-century elves got political representation.

Elf advocates have joined forces with environmentalists to urge the Icelandic Road and Coastal Commission and local authorities to abandon a highway project building a direct route from the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home, to the Reykjavik suburb of Gardabaer. They fear disturbing elf habitat and claim the area is particularly important because it contains an elf church.

The project has been halted until the Supreme Court of Iceland rules on a case brought by a group known as Friends of Lava, who cite both the environmental and the cultural impact — including the impact on elves — of the road project. The group has regularly brought hundreds of people out to block the bulldozers.

And it’s not the first time issues about “Huldufolk,” Icelandic for “hidden folk,” have affected planning decisions.

Louisiana Lt. Gov offers to help embattled ‘Duck Dynasty’ if A&E network gives it the boot

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana’s lieutenant governor says the “Duck Dynasty” reality TV show is important to state tourism — and he could help connect the Robertson family with new producers if they cannot reach agreement with the A&E network.

The network suspended patriarch Phil Robertson last week for telling GQ magazine that gays are sinners akin to adulterers and swindlers.

“Regardless of one’s views on Phil Robertson’s statements, Duck Dynasty has been an important representation of the state of Louisiana, inspiring prospective visitors and investors since its debut,” Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne said in a statement emailed Saturday.

The show is produced around the Robertson family’s home base in Ouachita Parish. KNOE-TV of Monroe reported in February that the show was bringing people from around the country who wouldn’t otherwise stop in northeast Louisiana. The Duck Commander warehouse has become a tourist attraction, said Alana Cooper, director of the Monroe-West Monroe Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Dardenne, whose job includes running the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said the audience of tens of millions is eager to visit Louisiana.

By wire sources