AP News in Brief at 10:58 p.m. EST


Senate prepares for gun reform debate

WASHINGTON — Two influential senators, one from each party, are working on an agreement that could expand background checks on firearms sales to include gun shows and online transactions, Senate aides said Sunday.

If completed, the effort could represent a major breakthrough in the effort by President Barack Obama and his allies to restrict guns following last December’s massacre of schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn.

Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., could nail down an accord early this week, said the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private talks. With the Senate returning Monday from a two-week recess, the chamber’s debate on gun control legislation could begin as soon as Tuesday, though it might be delayed if the lawmakers need more time to complete a deal, the aides said.

Expanding background checks to gun shows and online sales is one possibility that has been discussed, and the overall package, if completed, could still change, aides said. The senators are also discussing exempting transactions between relatives and temporary transfers for hunters and sportsmen, they said.

Manchin is a moderate who touts an A rating from the National Rifle Association, which has opposed Obama’s gun control drive. Toomey has solid conservative credentials and was elected to the Senate two years ago with tea party support from his Democratic-leaning state.

Several people injured in Egypt clashes

CAIRO — Christians angered by the killing of four Christians in weekend sectarian violence clashed Sunday with a mob throwing rocks and firebombs, killing one and turning Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral into a battleground.

The clashes raised tempers in an already tense political atmosphere, as workers shut down the country’s trains in a strike over wages and a dispute over the nation’s chief prosecutor entered a new phase — all signs of two years of unending turmoil.

Reacting to Sunday’s violence, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party blamed “dubious” attempts by unnamed parties to broaden instability in Egypt by igniting sectarian violence and spreading chaos.

Morsi said in a statement late Sunday that he spoke to Pope Tawadros II by phone. He gave orders to authorities to guard the cathedral and citizens in the area, adding that protecting the lives of Muslims and Christians was a state responsibility.

‘Zero TV’ households on the rise, says Nielsen

LOS ANGELES — Some people have had it with TV. They’ve had enough of the 100-plus channel universe. They don’t like timing their lives around network show schedules. They’re tired of $100-plus monthly bills.

A growing number of them have stopped paying for cable and satellite TV service, and don’t even use an antenna to get free signals over the air. These people are watching shows and movies on the Internet, sometimes via cellphone connections. Last month, the Nielsen Co. started labeling people in this group “Zero TV” households, because they fall outside the traditional definition of a TV home. There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007.

Winning back the Zero TV crowd will be one of the many issues broadcasters discuss at their national meeting, called the NAB Show, taking place this week in Las Vegas.

While show creators and networks make money from this group’s viewing habits through deals with online video providers and from advertising on their own websites and apps, broadcasters only get paid when they relay such programming in traditional ways. Unless broadcasters can adapt to modern platforms, their revenue from Zero TV viewers will be zero.

“Getting broadcast programing on all the gizmos and gadgets — like tablets, the backseats of cars, and laptops — is hugely important,” says Dennis Wharton, a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters.

By wire sources