RIO DE JANEIRO

Death toll reaches 205 as excavation continues

The death toll from landslides and floods in and around Rio de Janeiro this week reached 205 on Friday and was expected to rise as searchers continued looking for bodies, authorities said.

Morning and afternoon downpours threatened to set off new slides as emergency crews used excavating equipment to search for victims at the most devastated site: a slum built atop a garbage dump that was buried by a landslide.

Crews have pulled 27 bodies from the debris so far at the hardest hit site in Niteroi, next to Rio. Authorities fear the death toll from that slide alone could be as many as 200.

BANGKOK

Protesters’ defiance erodes credibility of prime minister

Protesters who want a change of government in Thailand forced their way Friday into a satellite transmission complex, sending soldiers fleeing and compelling authorities to reverse a ban on their TV channel.

The action was the latest setback to government efforts to quash a month of disruptive street protests, and erodes the credibility of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, even among his own supporters. The army’s failure to keep order raised concerns about its loyalty to his government.

Further embarrassing the government was its failure to arrest protest leaders who spoke freely from a public stage Friday night to tens of thousands of supporters despite warrants being issued for their arrest earlier in the day.

CANCUN, Mexico

Former ‘Survivor’ producer suspected of killing his wife

The producer of “Pimp My Ride” and formerly of “Survivor” is barred from leaving Mexico while authorities investigate the death of his wife, whose body was found in the sewer of a Cancun resort, a state official said Friday.

Bruce Beresford-Redman was released from custody early Friday because investigators don’t have enough evidence to hold him, said Francisco Alor, the attorney general in Quintana Roo state, where Cancun is located. The 38-year-old producer was handed to U.S. Consulate officials and taken to an undisclosed hotel. But Alor said Beresford-Redman remains a suspect.

The producer insisted to police that he last saw his wife, Monica Beresford-Redman, on Monday morning, when he says she left the Moon Palace resort to go shopping and never returned, Alor said. But witnesses said they saw the couple arguing on Monday evening, he said.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.

Two spacewalkers work to replace ammonia tank

A pair of spacewalking astronauts disconnected an old empty ammonia tank outside the International Space Station on Friday and got a new one ready to put in its place.

The two men lifted the 1,700-pound tank out of Discovery and handed it off to a robot arm, which maneuvered it to a temporary storage location at the space station.

The actual swap-out of the two tanks will take place during the second spacewalk Sunday, with the entire effort wrapping up on the third and final outing Tuesday.

MARQUETTE, Mich.

Democrat leaving Congress, says tea party isn’t catalyst

Rep. Bart Stupak insists that tea party activists outraged over his crucial support of health care legislation didn’t run him out of office, but his decision to retire gives conservatives a rallying point as they target Democrats in the midterm elections.

The congressman, an anti-abortion Democrat whose high-profile role in the “Obamacare” debate earned him enemies on the left and the right, said Friday that he’s leaving because he’s tired and has accomplished his No. 1 goal: improving health care.

“The tea party did not run me out,” Stupak told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “If you know me and my personality, I would welcome the challenge.”

The opening now offers Republicans a ripe opportunity to regain a seat they held for decades.

CLEVELAND

Judge advises local citizens to arm themselves – safely

One judge’s solution for citizens feeling less secure because of budget cuts: Carry a gun.

Judge Alfred Mackey of Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court advised residents Friday to be vigilant and arm themselves because the number of deputies has been cut about in half. He also urged neighbors to organize anti-crime block watch groups.

“They have to be law-abiding, and if they are not familiar with firearms they need to take a safety course so they are not a threat to their family and friends and themselves,” Mackey said Friday.

Andrew Pollis, who teaches law at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, saw the original TV clip and said it was clear the judge wasn’t advocating vigilantism.