AP Top News at 2:18 p.m. EDT

May 9, 2011
Workers use cranes to remove some of the Bonnet Carre Spillway's wooden barriers, which serve as a dam against the high water in Norco, La., Monday, May 9, 2011 in anticipation of rising floodwater. The spillway, which the Corps built about 30 miles upriver from New Orleans in response to the great flood of 1927, last opened during the spring 2008. Monday marked the 10th time it has been opened since the structure was completed in 1931. The spillway diverts water from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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Workers use cranes to remove some of the Bonnet Carre Spillway's wooden barriers, which serve as a dam against the high water in Norco, La., Monday, May 9, 2011 in anticipation of rising floodwater. The spillway, which the Corps built about 30 miles upriver from New Orleans in response to the great flood of 1927, last opened during the spring 2008. Monday marked the 10th time it has been opened since the structure was completed in 1931. The spillway diverts water from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain.

The Mississippi rose toward the highest level ever in the river city, flooding pockets of low-lying neighborhoods and forcing more than 1,000 people from their homes, though the water was not threatening the music heartland's most recognizable landmarks, from Graceland to Beale Street. As residents waited for the river to reach its peak as early as Monday night — several inches short of the record mark set in 1937 — those downstream in Mississippi and Louisiana evacuated prisoners and diverted water from the river in an attempt to stave off catastrophic flooding that has a long history of hitting the area.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's prime minister defended his nation's military and intelligence services on Monday and said Pakistan was not solely to blame for the failure to detect Osama bin Laden's presence in a garrison town close to the capital. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, in his first address to parliament since the covert U.S. raid that killed the al-Qaida chief a week ago, lashed out at allegations Pakistan knew where bin Laden was hiding, though he offered no details on what the country did know about his location. He also warned the U.S. that any unilateral raids in the future would be met with "full force."

ATLANTA (AP) — Newt Gingrich is running for president. The former House speaker disclosed his bid on Twitter and Facebook on Monday and urged followers to tune into Fox News on Wednesday.

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian security forces arrested hundreds of activists and anti-government protesters in house-to-house raids across the country Monday, part of an escalating government crackdown aimed at stamping out a revolt engulfing the country. President Bashar Assad has dispatched army troops and tanks to crush the seven-week uprising that has posed the most serious challenge to his family's 40-year rule. Assad's regime appears determined to crush the uprising by force and intimidation, despite rapidly growing international outrage and a death toll that has topped 630 civilians since the unrest began, according to rights groups.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unlikely as it may seem, President Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress actually share some common ground on the need to curb Medicare costs to fight the spiraling federal debt. Although the House GOP plan to replace Medicare with a voucher-like system got shunted aside last week, that may not be the end of the story. Embedded in both the Republican plan and in Obama's counter-proposal is the idea of putting limits on the growth of the half-trillion-dollar-a-year program — and then enforcing them.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemeni security forces opened fire on demonstrators and launched rocket-propelled grenades at an office building Monday as they cracked down on a protest in the flashpoint city of Taiz in the country's south. Three people were killed, witnesses and medics said. The attacks came a day after protesters began a new sit-in on one of the city's main streets, and as tensions escalate across the country between embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh and protesters seeking his ouster.

BAGHDAD (AP) — Al-Qaida's front group in Iraq reaffirmed its support Monday for the terror network's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, a week after U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaida has not yet announced a successor and there is some uncertainty about whether al-Zawahri will indeed take over for bin Laden.

BOSTON (AP) — The nation's first full face transplant recipient said the first thing his young daughter told him when she saw him after the operation was "Daddy, you're so handsome." Dallas Wiens (WEENS), sporting a goatee and dark sunglasses, joined surgeons Monday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston in his first public appearance since the 15-hour procedure in March.

NEW YORK (AP) — Whitney Houston is back in rehab. A representative for the superstar singer confirmed Monday that Houston is undergoing treatment. Kristen Foster says Houston is in an out-patient program for drug and alcohol treatment. She says it is a voluntary measure and part of Houston's "long-standing" recovery process. The 47-year-old, one of the most successful singers in pop music history, has battled problems with drug addiction for years. But in 2009, as she released a comeback album, she declared herself healthy and clean.

MILAN (AP) — Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt died Monday after a high-speed downhill crash at the Giro d'Italia, the first death in a major cycling race in 16 years. The 26-year-old rider fell during a descent more than 12 miles from the finish in northern Italy. He lay motionless and bleeding heavily on the roadside before paramedics removed his helmet and tried to resuscitate him.