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MADRID (AP) — Renowned Cuban pianist Bebo Valdes, a composer and bandleader who recorded with Nat "King" Cole, was musical director at Havana's legendary Tropicana Club and a key participant in the golden age of Cuban music has died in Sweden at age 94. The news of his death was confirmed by Cincy Byram, the agent of Valdes' son Chuco Valdes, who is a well-known musician in his own right. A cause of death was not given.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration says it will close two air traffic control towers in Minnesota because of federal budget cuts. The agency announced the decision Friday, a month after it released a preliminary list of facilities that could be closed. In Minnesota, air traffic control towers slated for closure are at St. Cloud Regional Airport and Anoka County-Blaine Airport.
NEW YORK (AP) — The opening sentence was as simple, declarative and revolutionary as a line out of Hemingway: "Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond," Chinua Achebe wrote in "Things Fall Apart." Africans, the Nigerian author announced more than 50 years ago, had their own history, their own celebrities and reputations. Centuries of being defined by the West were about to end, a transformation led by Achebe, who continued for decades to rewrite and reclaim the history of his native country.
NEW YORK (AP) — They've both helped make millions at the box office and are two of Hollywood's most sought after talents, but "The Croods" voice stars Ryan Reynolds and Emma Stone say they still get self-conscious hearing themselves on film. "It's like hearing your voice back on a voicemail," said the 24-year-old Stone, who is known for her trademark raspy voice. "I still can't believe I sound like this."
DALLAS (AP) — Advance bids for a copy of The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album autographed by all four band members are even higher than the auction house anticipated. Dallas-based Heritage Auctions said Friday that bidding for the 1967 album has reached $110,500 and could surpass $150,000 by the March 30 auction. Heritage originally estimated the album would go for around $30,000. The Beatles signed the album on the gatefold above pictures of their heads.
WASHINGTON (AP) — It isn't every day that more than half the Democrats in the Senate vote to repeal part of President Barack Obama's health care law. But that's what happened Thursday night when the Senate voted 79-20 to repeal a 2.3 percent sales tax on medical devices such as catheters, pacemakers and MRI machines, which was intended to help to finance coverage for the uninsured that starts next year.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — NBC plans to air excerpts of jailhouse interviews with former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky next week, which his lawyer said were given to a documentary filmmaker working on a defense of Joe Paterno.
NEW YORK (AP) — They haven't hit the studio yet, but Tony Bennett says he "can't wait" to record his next album with Lady Gaga. The 86-year-old said in an interview Thursday that he and the pop star will record "a big swing album." He says "we have it all worked out already on paper." Bennett and Gaga collaborated on "The Lady Is a Tramp" for his Grammy-winning, platinum-selling 2011 "Duets II" album. He called the 26-year-old a "wonderful person and a great talent."
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Mark Dayton's plan for an income tax on snowbirds is generating heat from people who say it could wind up driving out long-term visitors. Right now, only people who live in Minnesota more than six months of the year have to pay state income taxes. Dayton would extend that to anyone who spends 60 or more days a year in Minnesota, raising an estimated $15 million a year, although even the governor himself has expressed doubts that the proposal can pass.
SYDNEY (AP) — Ellen DeGeneres is so excited to be Down Under, she's even tweeting that way. The talk show host's Twitter account had an upside-down message Friday saying, "I made it to Australia!" She's visiting Sydney and Melbourne on her six-day trip to the country for segments being filmed for her popular U.S. television show.