Obama to host concert honoring Carole King

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is putting on a show at the White House next week for singer-songwriter Carole King.

She’s the first woman to receive the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress.

The White House says Obama will present the award to King during a concert Wednesday. The program will include performances by King, Gloria Estefan, Billy Joel, Jesse McCartney, Emeli Sande, James Taylor and Trisha Yearwood.

King’s hits during five decades of songwriting include “You’ve Got a Friend,” ‘’So Far Away” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman.”

Wednesday’s concert will be the latest in the “In Performance at the White House” series. It will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov , and broadcast nationally by PBS stations on May 28.

‘American Idol’ finale draws record low ratings

NEW YORK — Ratings for the “American Idol” finale plunged to a record low for the 12-year-old show.

According to Nielsen Co. figures Friday, Candice Glover’s victory over Kree Harrison was watched by 14.3 million viewers. That’s a 33 percent drop from the year before, when 21.5 million viewers saw Phillip Phillips claim the “Idol” crown. That represented the show’s previous record low finale audience.

“American Idol” saw an even steeper 44 percent drop among advertiser-coveted young adults for Thursday’s finale.

The lack of interest in the winner of this year’s contest parallels the show’s declining ratings for the season. Fox is scrambling to revive the singing contest that once dominated TV, revamping the judges’ panel and making yet-to-be detailed format changes.

Original judge Randy Jackson has already announced his exit.

Mount St. Helens 33rd blast anniversary Saturday

OLYMPIA — Saturday was the 33rd anniversary of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens that killed 57 people, knocked down a forest and filled the sky and rivers with volcanic ash.

The mountain in southwest Washington may be the best-known volcano in the state, but it’s not the only one or the most dangerous.

The U. S. Geological Survey says Mount Rainier could be one of the deadliest volcanoes in the world because of its location near Tacoma and Seattle. Volcanic gases could rapidly melt snow and ice and generate a huge mudslide called a lahar that could flow through some populated areas.

Other volcanoes in Washington are Mount Baker in Whatcom County, Glacier Peak in Snohomish County and Mount Adams in Yakima County.

Canada abuzz over purported crack video of mayor

TORONTO — A video purportedly of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack has caused an uproar in Canada. Ford on Friday called the allegations “ridiculous.”

The video has not been released publicly, and there is no way to verify whether it is authentic. Reports by gossip website Gawker and the Toronto Star said it was taken by a man who claimed he had sold crack to Ford. The Associated Press hasn’t seen the video.

The conservative mayor of Canada’s largest city refused to take questions Friday. In brief comments outside his office, he said it was “another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me. And that’s all I’ve got to say for now.”

A lawyer for the colorful, often unscripted Ford didn’t respond to messages seeking comment. Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said investigators were “monitoring the situation closely.”

The Star reported that two reporters watched a video that appears to show Ford, sitting in a chair, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. The Star said it did not obtain the video or pay to watch it.

The Star also reported that Ford made an anti-gay slur against the leader of the federal Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

Ford later appeared Friday at a previously scheduled ceremony marking International Day Against Homophobia.

Ford has been embroiled in controversies about his behavior since being elected in 2010, but these are the most serious allegations he’s faced yet. The Toronto Star reported earlier this year that he was asked to leave a gala fundraiser for wounded Canadian soldiers because he appeared intoxicated.

During his campaign for mayor, Ford held a news conference to discuss a 1999 arrest for marijuana possession in Florida. He ultimately pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and failing to give a breath sample to police.

While in office, he has been accused of flouting conflict of interest rules and making obscene gestures at residents from his car.

Ford, a city councilor for years, once said Toronto would be better off if it didn’t accept more immigrants. Half of the city’s population was born outside Canada.

Toronto deputy mayor Doug Holyday questioned the authenticity of the video, saying “video can be altered” and “drug dealers can’t be trusted.”

Holyday said he has not spoken to Ford or his staff since the allegations surfaced, but noted he still believes in the mayor “at this point.”

“I wouldn’t want my career or my credibility resting on the word of drug dealers,” Holyday said.

The controversy has drawn comparisons to the 1990 arrest of then-Washington Mayor Marion Barry, who was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting operation.

Barry served six months in federal prison on a misdemeanor drug possession conviction and later won a fourth term as mayor in 1994.

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