Nation/World Briefs

YouTube now serving videos to 1 billion people monthly

SAN FRANCISCO – YouTube says more than 1 billion people are now visiting its online video site each month to watch everything from zany clips of cute kittens to sobering scenes of social unrest around the world.

The milestone announced Wednesday marks another step in YouTube’s evolution from a quirky startup launched in 2005 to one of the most influential forces in today’s media landscape.

YouTube crossed the 1 billion threshold five months after Facebook Inc. said its online social network had reached that figure for the first time.

The vast audience has given YouTube’s owner, Google Inc., another lucrative channel for selling online ads beyond its dominant Internet search engine.

Google bought YouTube for $1.76 billion in 2006 when the video site had an estimated 50 million users worldwide.

Amazon CEO recovers Apollo engines from Atlantic

LOS ANGELES – Rusted pieces of two Apollo-era rocket engines that helped boost astronauts to the moon have been fished out of the murky depths of the Atlantic, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos and NASA said Wednesday.

A privately funded expedition led by Bezos raised the main engine parts during three weeks at sea and was headed back to Cape Canaveral, Fla., the launch pad for the manned lunar missions.

“We’ve seen an underwater wonderland – an incredible sculpture garden of twisted F-1 engines that tells the story of a fiery and violent end,” Bezos wrote in an online posting.

Last year, the Bezos team used sonar to spot the sunken engines resting nearly 3 miles deep in the Atlantic and 360 miles from Cape Canaveral. At the time, the Internet mogul said the artifacts were part of the Apollo 11 mission that gave the world “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Bezos now says it’s unclear which Apollo mission the recovered engines belonged to because the serial numbers were missing or hard to read on the corroded pieces. NASA is helping trace the hardware’s origin.

Senate vote: OK $85B cuts, avert government shutdown

WASHINGTON – The Senate approved legislation Wednesday to lock in $85 billion in broad federal spending cuts and simultaneously avoid a government shutdown next week – and pointedly rejected a call to even reopen White House tours that the Obama administration says had to be canceled because of the cuts.

If the House goes along, as expected, that means the across-the-board cuts set in motion by a failed earlier deficit-cutting effort and vigorously decried by President Barack Obama last month, will remain in effect for the rest of the fiscal year through Aug. 31.

Some adjustments will be made. Federal meat inspectors were spared furloughs, for example, as lawmakers in both parties alternately clashed and cooperated over proposals to take the edge off the deficit-fighting cuts that took effect March 1.

Obama, Netanyahu show solidarity on Iran

JERUSALEM – Seeking a fresh start to a strained relationship, President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday demonstrated solidarity on the key issues that have stirred tensions between them. The U.S. president vowed he would do “what is necessary” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, while Netanyahu reaffirmed that his newly formed government seeks a two-state solution to Israel’s decades-long dispute with the Palestinians.

Obama, in Israel for the first time in his presidency, also pledged to investigate reports that Syria had used chemical weapons for the first time in its two-year civil war. And he sternly warned Syrian leader Bashar Assad that use of such weapons would be a “game-changer,” one that could potentially draw the U.S. military into the conflict for the first time.

Associated Press