VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI says he was surprised when he was elected pontiff, but accepted the role even though the challenge seemed greater than his strength.
Benedict was asked by a curious child at a Vatican audience with thousands of children on Saturday if he ever thought he would grow up to be come pontiff.
He replied that he found it difficult to understand why the Lord would have picked him, once an “ingenuous, small town boy,” for the post.
But, says Benedict: “I accepted it, even though it seemed to me to be something that went beyond my strength.”
He also reminisced about being an altar boy when he was 8 or 9, and how he and his friends were, as he put it, “no saints,” and sometimes even had fights in the small village in Germany where he grew up.
Archive for May, 2009
VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI says he was surprised when he was elected pontiff, but accepted the role even though the challenge seemed greater than his strength.
NEW YORK – It’s a police officer’s nightmare scenario: Confronting someone who appears to be an armed suspect and opening fire, only to discover that person was actually an officer not in uniform.
It’s the kind of mistake that haunts a department, opens it to scrutiny, and dominates headlines. While the phenomenon has happened around the country, New York is home to several cases in the past few years.
But friendly fire incidents with police are fairly rare, according to federal statistics, likely a testament to procedures in place in police departments around the country.
“There’s an awareness by police departments that this is a very high risk,” Jim Cohen, a professor of criminal law at Fordham Law School, said Saturday. “The rules are pounded into these officers in training, and continued training, using their guns when other cops are around.”
Late Thursday, Officer Omar J. Edwards, 25, was shot by a fellow officer on a Harlem street while in street clothes. He had just finished his shift, and had his service weapon out, chasing a man who had broken into his car, police said. Three plainclothes officers on routine patrol arrived at the scene and yelled for the two to stop, police said. One officer, Andrew Dunton, opened fire and hit Edwards three times as he turned toward them with his service weapon. It wasn’t until medical workers were on scene that it was determined he was a police officer.
Now, investigators are working to determine whether anyone was at fault. Witnesses are being re-interviewed and many questions remain, specifically whether Edwards identified himself as an officer, and whether Dunton’s split-second judgment to fire was against department guidelines. The district attorney will likely convene a grand jury to decide whether to file charges against Dunton, as is practice for police-involved shootings. After, he will be interviewed by police. Dunton’s attorney had no comment.
But NYPD procedure for officer confrontation places the responsibility on the out-of-uniform officers. They are instructed to drop their weapon, stay still and to obey all directions from the uniformed officers to defuse the tense situation.
In the police academy, officers get weeks of intense training on what they call confrontations with role playing, as well as lectures on the subject. Training continues on the subject when officers leave the academy. After the shooting Thursday, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly switched on-the-job training for officers from courtroom testimony to confronting officers for the month of June.
Procedures on the topic were also recently revamped after the shooting death of Sean Bell, an unarmed man killed on his wedding night in a hail of 50 police bullets.
“We have seen fatal police-involved shootings plummet in recent decades — even as the size of the NYPD increased — because of training and disciplined use of force,” said Paul Browne, the New York Police Department’s deputy commissioner for public information.
“Department guidelines are neat and clean on paper, not so in the split-second reality of an armed confrontation. Our training is designed to help officers safely navigate through the hazards of the real thing.”
According to statistics by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, about 22 officers have been killed in accidental shootings in the past decade. The figure includes officers caught in crossfire, mistaken for a suspect and firearm mishaps. It varies from year to year to between one and four officers killed around the country, and doesn’t include those injured who survived. But, it’s still staggeringly low given the tense and confusing circumstances officers regularly face. The nation’s largest police department has about 34,000 officers.
“I think it goes back to context,” Cohen said. “You have in law enforcement, which is perhaps different than military, a serious emphasis placed on not killing fellow officers. And that training is universal.”
Still, it occurs, and when it does, the sticky issue goes deeper than issues of procedure. The FBI statistics don’t specify the race of the officers killed, and many community members and leaders say race is clearly the reason for the accidents. Dunton and the other two officers were white; Edwards was black.
In 2008, a black, off-duty Mount Vernon police officer was killed by a Westchester County policeman while holding a gun on an assault suspect in suburban White Plains. In 2006, a New York City police officer, Eric Hernandez, was shot and killed by an on-duty patrolman who was responding to an attack at a White Castle in the Bronx.
In Providence, Sgt. Cornel Young Jr. was killed in 2000 while he was off duty and trying to break up a fight. He was dressed in baggy jeans, an overcoat and a baseball cap, and carrying a gun. His mother unsuccessfully sued the city. In 2005, an Orlando, Fla., police officer killed a man who had fired a gun outside the Citrus Bowl. The victim was a plainclothes officer working for the University of Central Florida. In 2001, two uniformed officers shot and killed an undercover detective when he trained his gun on a suspected car thief in Oakland, Calif.
On Saturday in Harlem, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel joined the Rev. Al Sharpton in calling for a federal probe, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Kelly met with concerned community members around the city. Edwards’ family mourned their son, who always wanted to be a police officer and had two small children and a wife.
“If you become an officer and you have a pistol and you are of color, in or out of uniform, your chances of getting shot down by a police officer are a lot heavier than if you were not of color,” Rangel said.
Associated Press Writer Verena Dobnik contributed to this report.
YANGON, MyanmarThe trial of Aung San Suu Kyi has been postponed until Friday while the country’s military junta once again justifiedalbeit indirectlyits detention of the opposition leader.
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been held in confinement for 13 of the past 19 years.
Without mentioning Suu Kyi by name, a full-page article in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Saturday laid out the penalty for someone running afoul of the state’s subversion lawsunder which the pro-democracy advocate is being tried. “The restrictions can be extended up to a total of five years with the prior approval of the government in accordance with the law,” the article said. Suu Kyi’s movement is already restricted: she is under house arrest. The explanation implies that if convicted, she could be confined for five more years. The junta says Suu Kyi violated her house arrest when she offered temporary shelter to an American man, John William Yettaw, who swam to her lakeside home. Her supporters say the move is meant to keep her confined so she cannot participate in the general elections that the junta has scheduled for next year. In recent days, international calls for Suu Kyi’s release has grown increasingly louder as Suu Kyi’s trial continues at the Insean Prison compound near Yangon. In response, the junta has been trying to make the case that it was within its rights to detain Suu Kyi. Last week, Police Brigadier General Myint Thein told reporters that the government considered releasing the Nobel laureate at the end of the current period of detention. Learn more about Myanmar and Suu Kyi » “As Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Gen. Aung San, the leader of our country, we were deeply thinking whether to extend her detention or not,” Myint Thein said. “Unfortunately, a U.S. citizen entered her house for two days. She allowed and made conversation with him, gave him food.”
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U.S. man tried with Suu Kyi wanted to film her
“These kind of actions broke the law,” he added. “This is why we have no way but to open a case. And we are very sad about this case.” The newspaper piece on Saturday was an indirect reiteration of the same claim. The piece, entitled “Laws enacted for state stability and community peace,” begins by saying every countryincluding the United States and the United Kingdomhas put in place laws that “if necessary to prioritize with national security interest, civil liberties of a citizen may be restricted.” “Every citizen is to understand the fact that the government’s promulgating the laws and taking action against offenders in accordance with the law are not associated with any forms of discrimination against or in favor of particular persons, nut just in the interests of the nation and the people,” the article said. The trial adjourned for the weekend on Friday after the court heard from the lone defense witness in the case.
The judge had asked both the prosecution and the defense to submit their summarized arguments by Monday. Over the weekend, Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party was informed the trial will resume Friday.
‘Race’ attacks spark Indian rally
At least 2,000 Indian students and supporters have rallied in Australia to protest against violent attacks which they say are racially motivated.In one of the recent attacks in Melbourne, a student was critically injured by a screwdriver. There have been more than 70 assaults in the past year, with at least four in the past fortnight. Police have denied any racial motivation, saying the students were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They have said the crimes were “opportunistic”, with Indian students seen as “soft targets”. Indian students tend to travel on their own, late at night – either from study or employment – and carry valuable items such as laptops and phones, Victorian Police deputy commissioner Kieran Walshe said. Education destinationBut the students and Indian officials have demanded action, including more police at train stations and other problem areas. The students’ union, which organised the march, has also called on the Indian government to declare Australia an unsafe destination for Indian students if the attacks continue. There are thought to be about 90,000 Indian students studying at Australian universities. Bollywood starThe march began at the hospital where an injured Indian student is battling for his life. Sravan Kumar Theerthala, 25, was stabbed with a screwdriver a week ago. The protest was described as largely peaceful, although the Melbourne Age website showed photos of damage to a main train station after some protesters reportedly threw missiles. The issue has attracted prominent media coverage in India – prompting the Indian government to convey its concern in high-level meetings with Australian officials. One of India’s leading film stars, Amitabh Bachchan, turned down an honorary degree from Queensland University of Technology, saying he could not accept the it under the current circumstances. “My conscience is profoundly unsettled at the moment” by the events, he wrote on his website.
JERUSALEMIsrael started its biggest emergency drill in the nation’s history Sunday to prepare civilians, soldiers and rescue crews for the possibility of war, the defense force said in a statement.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has expressed skepticism that Iran can be persuaded to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
The five-day drill, nicknamed Turning Point 3, comes amid the nation’s rising tensions with Iran. It will be conducted in public facilities, including schools, military bases and government offices. Students, soldiers and other civilians will practice how to gather at protected places during an emergency. Officials said the drill will include simulated rockets, air raids and other attacks on infrastructure and essential facilities, and use of weapons on civilians. Everyone is expected to go to a protected place at the sound of sirens, the defense force said, adding that more instructions will be broadcast on a public channel. “It is of great importance that every civilian, institute and workplace will seriously practice in order to improve our preparedness and national resilience,” Maj. Gen. Yair Golan of the Home Front Command said in a news statement. The move comes amid tension between Israel and Tehran.
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Netanyahu presses U.S. over threat of nuclear Iran
The Israeli government considers Iran’s nuclear program as the dominant threat facing the country. Israel is publicly supportive of President Barack Obama administration’s outreach to the Islamic state. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israeli Army Radio last week that he believes “that the chance the dialogue has of stopping Iran’s nuclear efforts is very low.” Barak’s views are keeping with the majority of his countrymen. An Israeli poll released this month found that 74 percent believe that the U.S. policy of engagement with Iran will fail and 81 percent think Iran will develop a nuclear weapon capability. Israel has conducted emergency drills the past two years, but officials said this is the biggest so far.
Why Obama’s Cairo speech matters
Barack Obama travels to the Middle East next week for an event of huge importance to him and his presidency. Officials promised that early on, he would travel to a Muslim nation and make a speech redefining US relations with Islam. It could be a turning point, says BBC North America editor Justin Webb.I cannot remember where I was – it is a blur now, the election – but somewhere out in the middle states, the “flyover states” they call them, an incident occurred which has direct relevance to Thursday’s presidential speech. The Republican candidate John McCain was holding a cosy town hall chat during which supporters were primed to throw wicked questions – “Why are you so wonderful? Why is your health plan so superior?” etc. On this occasion a woman made her way to the stage and sat just inches from the candidate. She did not have a question, she had a statement. Barack Obama, she said, is a danger to America – he is an Arab. Mr McCain, who has a short temper at the best of times, lunged at her. Fundamental prejudiceI can still see the move as the audience froze in horror. He grabbed the microphone off her and then uttered these immortal words: “No Ma’am, he is a family man!”
Of course the whole of sophisticated America laughed – not just at the woman but at Mr McCain as well, who had intended to rebuke his supporter but in fact had rather given wings to her fundamental prejudice that Arabs (Muslims is what she meant) are not family men and women. That is a strand of American thinking about the Muslim world, it is undeniable. Out in Nowhereville they do not have a high opinion of the culture of Islam. Part of it is inspired by America’s own intense religious belief. ‘My God is bigger’President Bush referred at one stage to the Iraq conflict as a “crusade”. He quickly withdrew that description but it was a useful reminder that American Protestants do not shrink from violent conflict.
In one of the more bizarre episodes of the Iraq debacle it was reported that the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, had his intelligence briefs for President Bush plastered with biblical verses: “Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter” etc. One of Mr Rumsfeld’s most senior generals was on record as saying that, during a previous battle with a Muslim warlord in Somalia, he knew he would win because his God was bigger than the warlord’s! Lt-Gen William Boykin also believed that the 9/11 attacks on the US came because America was a Christian nation. In other words he embraced, and presumably still does, the idea that Islam and Christianity are at war. Going too far?All of this Mr Obama will address in Cairo on Thursday.
I doubt Mr Boykin will get a mention, but the simplistic attitudes will. In effect, Mr Obama will tell the Muslim world: “We accept that you are family men [and women].” And yet. There is a danger here. A danger that is being pointed out with ever increasing vigour by domestic critics of the president, a danger that he goes too far. Go to Wichita, Kansas, ground zero of Nowhereville and the heartland of American Evangelism, fizzing with creationists and crusaders, and what do you find? A mosque. Here in the centre of the nation, the Kansas tornado belt, Dorothy’s home in the Wizard of Oz, a gentle acceptance of religious pluralism. A day-to-day rubbing along. Such pluralism can be found in parts of the Muslim world of course, but is absent in much of it. Mr Obama visits Saudi Arabia next week where apostasy is punishable by death. Then Egypt, for the big speech, where a recent culling of pigs – swine flu was the excuse – was widely believed to be an attack on the Coptic Christians who tended them.
Advisers say the president will not shy away from “tough issues” in Cairo
And it is not just religious freedom. Egypt is a politically repressive nation where a democracy movement flourished briefly with support from the Bush White House, but has now been cut loose by Mr Obama and his secretary of state, Mrs Clinton, who said recently that she considered Egypt’s autocratic leader, President Mubarak, to be a family friend. Mr Obama’s critics ask: “What’s wrong with freedom, with democracy, with pluralism and the rule of law? Why should we go to Cairo (of all places) and apologise for these things?” Challenge to MuslimsOf course he is aware of that, and I expect this speech to be thoughtfully weighted. There will be an acceptance that the “family man problem”, as we might term it, must be addressed: America needs to respect Islamic culture. But I suspect as well that there will be a challenge to Muslims in the speech, a passage that says you, too, have your share of work to do if this relationship is to change for the better. He did it in Europe when he told French youngsters that it was time to stop sneering at America. They heard him in silence and the passage did not make news. Again the headlines from this speech will be about the outreach but it seems to me the real story is the reaction. Change has come to America but for it to work, others need to notice and bring it to their worlds as well.
ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) –
The Orlando Magic crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-90 on Saturday to claim the Eastern Conference championship and set up an NBA Finals showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Dwight Howard, who likes to be called Superman, played the role to perfection, scoring a playoff-career best 40 points and grabbing 14 rebounds as the Magic won the best-of-seven Eastern series in six games.
“He was incredible,” Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters. “I don't know what else he could have done. He was fantastic.”
League MVP LeBron James had 25 points for Cleveland, who posted the NBA's best regular-season record but could not overcome match-up problems with the outside-shooting Magic.
“It seemed like they shot 100 percent from three(-point range) for the whole series; it was tough to guard,” Cleveland's Mo Williams added.
“Going into the playoffs, we were confident we were going to the NBA Finals, we were confident we were going to win it. Obviously it hurts inside because you know you had the team to get it done.”
James, who had seven rebounds and seven assists, did not talk to reporters after the game, heading instead straight to the team bus, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland reported.
The NBA Finals begin in Los Angeles on Thursday, where the Western Conference champions will make a record 30th Finals appearance. They lost to the Boston Celtics in six games in 2008.
Orlando was swept by the Houston Rockets in four games in 1995 in its only previous finals.
The Magic, who beat the Cavaliers in five consecutive games in Orlando this season, zipped to a five-point first-quarter lead behind Howard's 13 points.
The lead grew to 18 points by halftime as James was held scoreless in the second quarter.
Cleveland scored the first eight points of the second half, but Orlando remained in control behind Howard and a strong defense.
Rashard Lewis added 18 points and Mickael Pietrus contributed 14. Cleveland got 22 points from Delonte West and 17 from Williams.
“We had a heck of a season,” Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. “But we had one goal in mind and we came up short.
“He (Howard) was a monster tonight. We threw a lot of different things at him and he was patient and eight out of 10 times he made the right play.”
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by John O'Brien; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
LONDON – Susan Boyle may have been beaten by a group of street dancers who jumped, kicked and shook their way to victory against her on “Britain’s Got Talent,” but her musical career has barely begun.
The 48-year-old church volunteer with the show-stopping voice told broadcaster ITV she hoped to release an album and would “play it by ear” in her new musical career.
The past week had been tumultuous for Boyle. She lost her cool during a confrontation with two reporters, and the police intervened. Another contest judge said Boyle had contemplated pulling out of the program to soothe her frazzled nerves.
On the night itself, she appeared on stage composed, in a glamorous but modest sparkly floor-length dress and gave a polished performance, but it was not enough to secure her victory.
Millions voted by telephone after Saturday’s live show, which Boyle had long been expected to win.
“She lost because people didn’t bother voting for her because they thought she was going to win it,” lamented 21-year-old Gordon Mackenzie. “I didn’t vote for her because I thought everyone else would.
Her hometown of Blackburn, Scotland — a working-class village about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Edinburgh — rallied round her, stringing up signs declaring their support. Her defeat was greeted with shouts of “no” and gasps of disbelief at the Happy Valley Hotel, where neighbors and friends had gathered to watch the program.
On Sunday Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond was scathing of the media pressure that Boyle had almost buckled under.
“We’ve got elements of a press who like nothing better than to build people up and then drag them down,” he said on BBC’s Radio Five Live. “It’s pretty sad actually. It’s almost a psychosis. I would love Susan to win, to triumph over that sort of nastiness.”
Boyle became an Internet phenomenon after she auditioned for the television talent show. She was up against a host of everyman acts determined to find stardom on reality television, including a 12-year-old whose voice was compared to Michael Jackson’s, an 11-year-old body-popping dancer and a grandfather-grandaughter singing duo.
For the finals, she returned to the song that made her a YouTube sensation, “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables.”
Boyle’s entree into the limelight has become reality-show history, after being viewed millions of times — the fifth-most watched clip ever on YouTube.
But despite her popularity, she was beaten in the finals by the street dance group “Diversity,” which mesmerized audiences with a frenetic but perfectly choreographed dance routine . Judge Simon Cowell said their performance had been “utter perfection.”
“Diversity”, made up of 11 friends, including three sets of brothers, from Essex, east of London, were never seen as front runners even though they had won praise throughout the competition and had won the UK dance championships in 2007.
On Saturday, they looked stunned as they heard they had beaten Boyle.
Boyle was quick to praise “Diversity” saying “the best people won.”
Dancer Terry Smith, 24, returned the compliment, saying Boyle is bound for a great career.
“Diversity” have now earned them 100,000 pounds (159,000), and the right to perform for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Show in December but Boyle may well have the more lucrative future.
On the Net:
Ferrari stay firm over budget cap
Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali insists their decision to sign up conditionally for the 2010 Formula 1 season does not mean they will accept a budget cap.Ferrari and the eight other members of Formula One Teams Association (Fota) have submitted a joint entry dependent on conditions being met by 12 June. One condition is that they can operate under current technical regulations. Domenicali said: “Making the 2009 regulations the starting point means there will be no budget cap.” Ferrari had threatened to quit F1 after 60 unbroken years of competition if the International Automobile Federation (FIA) did not change the rules for the 2010 season which included an optional 40m budget cap. But Ferrari’s decision to enter conditionally was seen as greatly reducing the likelihood of their departure from the sport. However, if the conditions, put forward by Fota members Ferrari, McLaren, BMW Sauber, Toyota, Renault, Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso, Brawn GP and Force India are not met, Domenicali pointed out the answer was simple. “If the conditions are not met, the entries will be invalid,” he said. The FIA is due to publish the official entry list for the 2010 season on 12 June. Williams were suspended from Fota after signing up for next season on their own last Monday.
Hong Kong protest over Tiananmen
Thousands have marched in Hong Kong to mark the forthcoming 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen killings, in one of the few such events on Chinese soil.Hundreds, possibly thousands, of people were killed in China’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests. There has been no official inquiry so the exact death toll remains unclear. Among the crowds in Hong Kong on Sunday was Xiong Yan, a leading student protester during the 1989 demos, now living in exile in the US. He was admitted into Hong Kong on Saturday, to his surprise, he told AFP news agency, having been turned back on several previous occasions. He told cheering crowds: “I feel like I have returned home.”
Many at the protest wore black and white, to symbolise mourning. Police said at least 4,700 people had gathered, and tens of thousands more were set to attend a candlelit vigil later on Sunday. China still considers the Tiananmen protests “counterrevolutionary”, but they are openly marked each year in Hong Kong because it is ruled under a separate political system. Many of those taking part in the events see the occasion as vital to the preservation of Hong Kong’s freedom of speech. A University of Hong Kong poll released on Wednesday suggested that 69% of Hong Kongers think the crackdown was a mistake and 61% believe the Chinese government should stop condemning the protests. “June 4 was a time when a group of people sacrificed their lives for democracy. We need to remember their efforts,” said demonstrator Steve Chan.
Talent results watched by 18.5m
More than 18m people tuned in to watch dance group Diversity’s shock victory over singer Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent, early figures show.Viewing figures peaked at 18.5m when the 11-strong group from Essex were announced the winners. ITV say it is the most watched TV show since the Euro 2004 England v Portugal match, which attracted 20.66m viewers. Diversity defied predictions to win the 100,000 prize and the chance to perform at the Royal Variety Show. During the final show, an average of 15m people and a 70% audience share watched the three sets of brothers and four friends perform their routine which judge Simon Cowell described as “sheer and utter perfection”.
Boyle, who sang I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables – the same song that catapulted her to global fame – was gracious in defeat saying that “the best people won” adding: “I wish you all the best.” Saxophonist Julian Smith, 39, from Birmingham finished in third place in the competition. ITV said that out of the nearly four million votes cast Diversity secured 24.9% of the public vote, while Boyle received 20.2% and Smith received 16.4%. It added that it had raised over 1m for the Royal Variety Charity from the revenue from phone votes. Diversity is the second dance act to win the talent contest after 15-year-old George Sampson won the show last year.
Sri Lanka rules out outside probe
Sri Lanka has dismissed calls for an independent inquiry into claims of human rights abuses by the military, saying its own courts will investigate.Foreign minister Rohita Bogollagama said the claims that heavy weaponry was used in civilian areas during the war with Tamil rebels were “fictional”. He said the claims were being used to boost accusations of genocide against the country’s Tamil minority. Aid agencies and the United Nations have called for an inquiry. The exact number of civilians killed in the final weeks of the long-running war has not been established, but one report put it as high as 20,000. An unverified and unofficial UN estimate said that more than 7,000 civilians were killed and another 13,000 injured in the conflict from January to April this year, according to the BBC’s Anbarasan Ethirajan in Colombo. Mr Bogollagama said the allegations were intended to discredit the armed forces and embarrass the government of Sri Lanka.
Government forces were ordered to stop using heavy weapons on 27 April. From that time onwards they were supposed to observe a no-fire zone where 100,000 Tamil men, women and children were sheltering. “Those transmitted, unsubstantiated allegations against the military claimed heavy weapons in civilian areas being used in order to buttress the propaganda of genocide against the Tamil people,” Mr Bogollagama said. “This was both fictional and well-fabricated, with ulterior and sinister motives, in order to discredit the armed forces, as well as to embarrass the government of Sri Lanka.” He said now that the war was over, the country would seek to rebuild. “Our people are weary of war, yet they are resilient and want to get on with their lives. “Therefore, the post-conflict period will focus on rehabilitation, resettlement, economic development and holding free and fair elections.” The UN’s senior humanitarian affairs co-ordinator, John Holmes, said that while the estimates had no “justification,” the claims were serious and needed to be investigated. Human rights group Amnesty International also called on the UN to investigate. International appealBut Mr Bogollagama, speaking during a summit of Asian defence ministers in Singapore, told Reuters: “Sri Lanka is a sovereign country with its own legal framework. “We have a very strong separation of powers (and) the judiciary is independent.” The foreign minister also appealed for international help in disabling, what he described, as the Tamil Tigers’ powerful political lobbies outside Sri Lanka that were seeking to resurrect the movement. “It is important for the international community to take all measures to assist the government of Sri Lanka, to track down the global network of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers),” Mr Bogollagama said.
Los Angeles (E! Online) –
How can mags get away with proclaiming Angie and Brad preggers and in love one week, breaking up the next, ready to adopt the week after? Are they really that volatile? Do mags just make s–t up?
—Carly, via Facebook
We're talking about a pair of bazillionaire mega-movie stars. Why wouldn't Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt be at least partially as volatile as the headlines claim? Sure, mags are responsible for their own drama-queen headlines. But in general, when it comes to this couple, I am told that the crazy Brangie reports are at least believed to be true by the people who gather and write them.
Still, let's dig a little deeper and take a look at a few of the rumors you mention, starting with the constant whisperings of pregnancy…
Of course many mags have just gotten this story wrong at one point or another; Angie has birthed one single baby and one set of twins, despite rumors of her being pregnant every second of every day. In fact, according to Star, Angelina is carrying a fourth messiah child right this very millisecond. This could be true or not—I really can't say I care.
But remember, reporters rely on sources, some of whom are more connected than others. When there's a very clear-cut story about a pregnancy, there's usually a source, or someone, who heard something that led someone to believe that Angie was preggers.
“There are a lot of reasons why someone could report a pregnancy,” says CoverAwards founder and former Life & Style editor Mark Pasetsky. “They could have someone tell them they are pregnant, or just trying to get pregnant.”
Many magazines say one thing on their covers and report something quite different on the inside.
A headline may scream something like the oh-so-fresh phrase “baby joy,” but inside, the copy is all about some couple just talking about a baby. Remember that candy-colored headline from OK! magazine proclaiming Shiloh and Suri to be “best friends”? That was based on a report of some vague conversation between the parents about maybe arranging a play date.
Read the whole story—if you can stand it—and not just the cover.
But the most important point to remember here is that some celebrity couples really are that dramatic. Would you really be all that shocked if Brangelina were one of them?
Twitter Joy! @answerbitch
··· THEY SAID WHAT? Get today's most commented stories now at www.eonline.com
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) –
Pakistani forces battled militants in South Waziristan on the Afghan border on Sunday and a government official said an offensive in the Swat valley could be over in two or three days.
Pakistan has been carrying out its most concerted offensive against an expanding Taliban insurgency, which has raised fears for the stability of the nuclear-armed U.S. ally and the safety of its nuclear arsenal.
The focus of the fighting has been the former tourist destination of Swat, 120 km (80 miles) northwest of Islamabad, which the Taliban virtually took as the government alternated between inconclusive military action and peace pacts.
But tension has also been rising in South Waziristan, an al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold, with military officials saying an offensive was likely there after Swat was secured.
The United States and the Afghan government have long been pressing Pakistan to root militants out of South Waziristan and other enclaves on the Afghan border, from where the Taliban direct their Afghan war.
Militants attacked a paramilitary force camp near the town of Jandola, 80 km (50 miles) east of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, late on Saturday, security officials said.
“They carried out a very serious attack on our positions at
around midnight. It was repulsed after a heavy exchange of fire,” said military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas.
Up to 15 militants and three soldiers were killed, he said, although an intelligence official in the region said earlier at least 40 militants and four soldiers were killed. There was no independent confirmation of the casualty estimates.
Militant violence has surged in Pakistan since mid-2007, with attacks on the security forces, as well as on government and Western targets.
There have been eight bomb attacks in various towns and cities since the offensive in Swat and neighboring districts began in late April and the Taliban have threatened more.
The offensive in Swat has sparked an exodus of about 2.4 million people, according to government figures, and the country faces a long-term humanitarian crisis. The United Nations has pleaded for contributions for a $543 million fund to help.
Bomb attacks in cities and the plight of the displaced could undermine public support for the offensive but for now, analysts say, the authorities are determined to defeat the Taliban in Swat.
The army said on Saturday it had regained full control of Mingora, the main town in Swat, and a top Defense Ministry official said on Sunday the military operation could be over in
two or three days.
“Only five to 10 percent of the job is remaining and hopefully within two to three days, the pockets of resistance will be cleared,” Syed Athar Ali, secretary of defense for Pakistan, said at a regional defense meeting in Singapore.
Military spokesmen have been cautious about predicting how long the offensive would last, saying there was still resistance.
“It's very difficult to give a timeline,” said Abbas. “It's a very big area so nobody's in a position to give any timeline for the operation.”
The military says 1,217 militants have been killed since late April, while 81 soldiers have been killed and 250 wounded. There are no independent casualty estimates available.
On Sunday, the military urged civilians to leave the town of Charbagh, about 15 km (10 miles) north of Mingora, and lifted a curfew there and in Mingora and thousands of people left the two towns.
“We have to flee. I don't know what will happen tomorrow,” Mingora resident Mohammad Nisar told Reuters.
Pakistan is vital for U.S. plans to defeat al Qaeda and cut support for the Afghan Taliban.
The United States, which is sending thousands of reinforcements into Afghanistan, has been heartened by the offensive in Swat.
(Additional reporting by Hafiz Wazir, Alamgir Bitani and Junaid Khan; Writing by Robert Birsel, Editing by Dean Yates)
LONDON – Britain’s prime minister, facing a national uproar over lawmakers claiming lavish expenses, promised Sunday to pursue consititutional reforms including a proposal to take away legislators’ power to decide their own pay.
Gordon Brown said he was shocked by the recent revelations that scores of legislators from all three main political parties had filed claims for a range of expenses from tax advice to swimming pools.
He said the government was considering reforms that would mean lawmakers no longer set the rules about their salaries and expenses.
“There will be no more of the gentleman’s club,” Brown said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show. “Self regulation, closed society. That was a 19th century idea.”
He said he would back a bill to reform Britain’s constitition, and wanted to overhaul the House of Lords — Britain’s unelected upper chamber — and set up external supervision of Parliament.
“It is no longer left to MPs to make their own decision,” he said.
Brown also said an independent panel would scrutinize all lawmakers’ expense claims for the last four years.
The scandal has rocked all three parties, and at least 12 lawmakers have said they would stand down in next year’s elections.
But the Labour Party’s popularity has plummeted the furthest, as Britain’s recession continues to bite and newspapers continue to publish details of lawmakers expenses. The Sunday Telegraph reported that a Labour lawmaker had tried unsuccessfully to claim a 5 pound (8) church donation.
A poll shows Britain’s governing Labour Party is least popular of the three parties for the first time in 22 years, just days before European parliamentary elections.
The ICM poll in the Sunday Telegraph indicates 22 percent of voters would support Labour in a general election, while 40 percent would vote for the Conservative Party and 25 percent for the Liberal Democrats. The poll surveyed 1,013 adults in late May. No margin of error was given.
Labour was last in third place in polls in 1987 during a Conservative government.
The three parties are expected to dominate the British vote for EU legislative elections Thursday, but smaller parties including the Green Party, the British National Party and the UK Independence Party are also vying for European Parliament seats.
GM bosses discuss bankruptcy plan
Senior executives at General Motors are expected to meet later to discuss proceedings for a widely expected filing for bankruptcy protection.They are likely to firm up the details of how to completely restructure what was once the world’s largest car company, under judicial supervision. GM’s sales have been hit hard by the financial crisis and the firm has received 20bn (12bn) in state aid. President Barack Obama will give full details of the restructuring on Monday. He is scheduled to hold a press conference on the plan at around 1400 GMT (1500 BST) on Monday. The Obama administration had given GM a 1 June deadline to submit a viable revival plan or file for bankruptcy. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by GM would rank as one of the largest bankruptcies in US history. GM’s European arm, which makes the Vauxhall and Opel brands, will likely be spared bankruptcy following a deal by Canadian car parts maker Magna to buy GM Europe. However, unions fear that jobs may be lost at Vauxhall plants in Luton and Ellesmere Port, which employ 5,500 people. Jobs may also go in Belgium, Poland and Spain. Creditors keyThe support of GM’s creditors will be key to orderly bankruptcy proceedings.
Investors turned down an earlier deal to swap their 27bn worth of GM corporate bonds – IOUs issued by big companies – for a 10% stake in GM. This made bankruptcy all but inevitable. However, bondholders with slightly more than 50% of GM’s bond debt agreed to support a new restructuring plan although this is not seen as enough to prevent bankruptcy, the New York Times reported. That plan would split General Motors in two – “Old GM”, with all the “bad” assets like defunct car plants – and “New GM”, which will own the “good” assets, such as viable factories and brands like Chevrolet and Cadillac. The bondholders were offered up to 25% of “New GM” if they would come on board. But it is still possible that dissident bondholders may mount legal challenges in the bankruptcy court. Meanwhile, a US bankruptcy court judge in New York is expected to approve a deal between US carmaker Chrysler and Italy’s Fiat on Monday. The third biggest US automaker has declared bankruptcy and is seeking a tie-up with Fiat to save the company from liquidation.
SINGAPORE (Reuters) –
The United States and its Asian allies could look at tougher responses should diplomacy fail to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, officials at a security conference said at the weekend.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told his counterparts from South Korea and Japan on Saturday that while diplomacy was preferred, other steps may be considered if it failed.
“Six party talks are the preferred course of diplomacy,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said, referring to the now defunct talks among the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States to disarm the North.
“But given that the six-party talks haven't produced the results we're looking for, Gates also made the point that while we pursue that course, we have to look at other options … to improve our defenses, if that becomes necessary,” he told Reuters.
A Japanese government official, briefing reporters on Saturday after Gates met Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada on the sidelines of the Asian Security Conference in Singapore, said missile defense was one of the topics raised.
“There are two paths we can take against North Korea,” the official quoted Gates as telling Hamada.
“One is the diplomatic effort through six-party talks or the United Nations. The other is for Japan, the U.S. and South Korea to strengthen anti-nuclear proliferation measures. Specifically, that could mean missile defense and other defensive moves against North Korea.”
CONSULTATIONS ABOUT TEST
South Korea on Tuesday joined the Proliferation Security Initiative, an ad hoc alliance of states working to stop shipments of weapons of mass destruction.
An outraged North Korea then declared the truce ending the 1950-53 Korean War to be dead and threatened to attack the South.
Gates has not elaborated on how the United States might respond to North Korea, but he earlier said no additional troops will be sent to the peninsula, where 28,000 U.S. soldiers are stationed, and has stressed diplomacy in his remarks.
South Korean and U.S. troops, however, have been on heightened alert over the possibility Pyongyang may provoke an incident along the heavily armed border.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg will lead a U.S. delegation to Asia this week to consult regional players on how to respond to North Korea's latest nuclear test.
Stephen Bosworth, the U.S. special envoy on North Korea, was expected to accompany Steinberg on the visit to Japan, China, Russia and South Korea.
The delegation also includes Stuart Levy, the Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, and Admiral James Winnefeld of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“It is an effort to go to each of the capitals to have a good working level discussion, to see what people are thinking and where we're heading, what kind of ideas can be offered. And we'll come with ideas of our own,” Morrell said.
The delegation will not visit North Korea, which has been condemned internationally since conducting the nuclear test, its second in two and a half years.
Gates said on Saturday the United States would not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. The Obama administration would also hold North Korea “fully accountable” if it transferred any nuclear material outside its borders, he said.
North Korea has warned of an intercontinental ballistic missile test in anger over U.N. Security Council punishment for what Pyongyang said was a satellite launch on April 5.
South Korean news reports at the weekend said the North was preparing to move an inter-continental ballistic missile toward a testing site on its east coast, an indication such a test might happen soon. North Korea has conducted two such tests before.
In New York, the United States and Japan have circulated a draft U.N. Security Council resolution, condemning the nuclear test and demanding strict enforcement of sanctions imposed after the North's first atomic test in October 2006.
Western diplomats said permanent Security Council members Russia and China have agreed in principle that North Korea should be sanctioned, but it was not clear what kind of penalties they would support. Both are generally reluctant to approve sanctions.
British Minister for International Defense and Security Ann Taylor told Reuters on Sunday she remained hopeful the resolution would include tougher financial sanctions.
“There is a genuine world concern, and hopefully a consensus will come from that,” she said. “It is that unity of action that I think is important here. Because if we only can get the unity of action, the regime in North Korea will understand the strength of feeling and will begin to take notice.”
Gates also met on Saturday with China's representative at the Asian Security Conference, Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army. Beijing has been reluctant to get tough with the North, up until the latest nuclear test.
(Additional reporting by Nopporn-Wong Anan, Saeed Azhar, Neil Chatterjee, Editing by Dean Yates)
Big Ben, arguably the world’s most famous clock, celebrates on Sunday 150 years of keeping London on time. The British landmark has lived through war, bad weather and disasters.
Big Ben’s distinctive bongs have been a part of the London scene for 150 years.
Big Ben is the 14-ton bell inside the world’s largest four-faced chiming clock, although most people use the name to describe the tower that houses it. The clock is perched on a 96-meter (310-foot) elegant tower at the Westminster Bridge end of the Palace of Westminster. The Victorian masterpiece, which provides distinctive chimes known as bongs, was voted Britain’s favorite monument in 2008. It has been featured in films such as “101 Dalmatians” and “Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix.” Big Ben has been disrupted a few times over the years for various reasons, including weather and breakages. Its bongs went silent for about two months in August 2007 to allow a crew to repair its mechanism system. During that time, the rest of the clock was running on an electric system. It was fully restarted again October 1. The clock pays tribute to Britain’s royal history: It has a Latin inscription of the phrase: “O Lord, save our Queen Victoria the First.” The ornate masterpiece has some quirky features. The hour hand, which weighs 300 kilograms (661 pounds), is made of gun metal while the minute hands are made of copper sheet. The minute hands would not work when they were first made of cast iron because they were too heavy. The clock started working on May 31, 1859, after the lighter copper hands were installed. The origins of the landmark’s name are obscure. Some say it was named after the 1850s heavyweight boxer Ben Caunt while others suggest it was named after Sir Benjamin Hall, a former member of parliament. Hall, the commissioner of works in 1859, was responsible for ordering the bell. Alan Hughes, the director of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry that made the bell, prefers the latter. “I suppose I like it chiefly because it was a nickname of a man who was big and loud and pompous, and never used one word if 27 would do,” he said in a 2008 interview. Hughes’ company also made America’s Liberty Bell and a number of others for cathedrals and churches around the world.
London, ENGLANDShe may have finished second but Susan Boyle continued to make newspaper headlines in the UK Sunday following her shock defeat in the final of “Britain’s Got Talent.”
Susan Boyle fans watch her perform for the final time on Britain’s Got Talent.
“Boyle Backlash” said the headline in the tabloid News of the World, suggesting that the Scottish 48-year-old’s alleged “four-letter tantrum” earlier this week had influenced millions of viewers to switch their votes to dance act Diversity. The build-up to Saturday night’s live final had been dominated by reports that Boyle lost her temper in a London hotel and had even considered pulling out of the talent show finale. The Mail on Sunday said she had been been “comforted by psychiatrists” ahead of Saturday’s final. “They have a whole army of doctors, psychiatrists and experts all available to any contestant at any time. They have all been taking great care of Susan,” the paper quoted Britain’s Got Talent judge Piers Morgan as saying. Watch how Boyle’s rise to fame has been an emotional ride » In Scotland, where crowds had gathered in Boyle’s hometown of Blackburn in anticipation of victory, celebration parties were stopped in their tracks as the unexpected result was announced. “Boyle foiled in final: Susan’s dream is over,” said the headline in the Sunday Mail. Earlier, the paper said, Blackburn’s community center had been “a sea of hands” as Boyle performed her signature tune, “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables.” “They stood with tears in their eyes as Susan hit every note. Stamping and chanting her name, her fellow villagers could not have been more proud.” Watch the dramatic end to Susan Boyle’s dream » But “the cheers were caught in the collective gullet… as dance troupe Diversity gatecrashed this most expectant of parties,” the Sunday Herald reported. “Jaws were left agape. Tears were shed. And then the supportive chanting of ‘SuBo’ began again.” Boyle could still be the real winner from the series, which became a global hit after clips of her audition of “I Dreamed a Dream” racked up millions of hits on YouTube. Did Susan deserve to win? Sound Off below “6M superstar” said the Sunday Mirror, claiming that Britain’s Got Talent impresario Simon Cowell plans to take Boyle across the Atlantic to “conquer the U.S.” The News of the World upped Boyle’s likely earnings on the back of “Britain’s Got Talent” to 8 million (13 million).
Dance group beats Boyle in ‘Talent’ final
Blog: Will message from Boyle endure?
iReport: Being judged on looks
On top of a multi-million dollar record deal and share of album sales, Boyle is also set to earn from a Hollywood movie of her rags to riches life, a book deal and millions more from image rights, endorsements and television appearances, the paper said. In an interview with the News of the World, Cowell said Boyle could be the biggest star he had ever discovered. “They don’t care in America whether she wins a British TV show-they care about the woman they saw singing on YouTube,” a Cowell insider also told the paper. “If anything, 8 million in her first year might be an underestimate.”
Meanwhile competition winners Diversity are also set to cash in on their success with a film deal and a possible slot supporting Michael Jackson when the superstar plays a series of shows in London next month, the Sunday Mirror said. The group collected 100,000 (162,000) for winning the final and will perform in front of Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Show later this year. “We feel electric. Words can’t describe it. I’m genuinely shocked. We thought Susan was unstoppableshe’s an unbelievable talent,” the paper quoted the group’s choreographer, Ashley Banjo, as saying.
Los Angeles (E! Online) –
Before you even think about clicking into this item, ask yourself the following question: Do you want to know who kills someone in the season finale of 90210?
For the spoilerphobes, steer clear until you finish the episode tonight. However, if you're all for knowing what happens and where next season is taking us, Jessica Stroup spills all the juicy details below.
Even more importantly, if you've seen the episode already, grab your postprom party gear and get on in here!
This season, you go from fun yet cynical blogger to having bipolar disorder. How did it feel playing Silver this year?
This year was, for me, a journey. The journey that I took with Silver was one that I got to experience fully as myself as well. I've never played a character that I really respected and responded to as much as Silver. I just felt that she was such a smart, witty, strong girl who was turning into a woman. As the story went along and as we chose paths to try with her—to go down the love path, the parent path, the bipolar situation—I really saw her changing into an even stronger person. She started off with so many ideas and opinions, and she expressed them through a blog. People weren't afraid of her, but they knew that she was an outspoken person and not to piss her off. I think she really came into her own through discovering more of herself through having this disease. It's nowhere from being done. This season finishes out on so many levels as a cliffhanger, and a lot of her stuff, including the Dixon (Tristan Wilds) relationship, the Ethan (Dustin Milligan) relationship and her relationship with herself, with this disease, has really only just begun. The path that she's on, she's just now started to go on. I'm really excited to see where it goes next year, and I hope people can respond to what's happened with her.
Ethan and Dixon have a serious thrown-down in the finale. Now, especially with Dustin leaving the show, how is that going to affect Dixon and Silver's relationship next year?
I have talked to [executive producer] Rebecca [Rand Kirshner Sinclair], and I've talked to some of the writers. I'm curious to see where they're really going to go. I know that next year is going to start with a whole fresh start. The whole season is going to be different. Some storylines might just evolve and disappear—or just reappear. Ethan and Dixon, although they only met this past year and this is a brand-new friendship for them, they still became really good friends. It was never Ethan's intention to ruin that relationship. It just happened. He couldn't deny what his feelings are for her after letting them flourish while watching her at the prom. I'm curious to see where Ethan goes and what path they choose to take for him.
We're wondering the same thing because Rebecca said to us before that Dustin is not going to be back next season at all, but she also said his leaving has nothing to do with the death. Do you think that's who Annie (Shenae Grimes) hits with her car? I know you can't say, but who do you think it is?
The funny thing is we all have theories. Every single of one of my castmates has a theory, and we have talked about it. We've gone through scenarios. I've said things like, “It's Ty! It's Brandon Walsh's dad!” We've said everything. We have no idea. I'm really curious as well. My pick, if I could pick who I think it could be, I think it would be interesting if it was Dixon, but not dying! I don't want anyone to die. I don't want it to be Dixon, but I think it would be a really interesting storyline for Annie to hit her brother and drive off drunkenly.
How do you think the death is going to affect everyone next year?
Of course it's going to change Annie inevitably. She's going to be a totally different character. As awful as it is with drunk driving, and playing that character was hard for Shenae, but I think she plays that really well. She has a whole other depth to her, a whole other side. I think next year is going to be amazing for her because she's going to go through a lot of changes with this character and down some really, really dark roads. I hope, at least, that it affects every one of us. I know that it's going to affect all the characters, but I hope it brings us back together at some point as a whole group. I really want that whole bonding. Besides Ethan who's going to be leaving obviously, I love playing that group bond. At some point next season, you're really going to start to see it all coming together, with us becoming stronger as a whole.
This is a pretty twisted finale for a first season show.
When I read it, I was like, “whoa.” I did not see that coming at all.
For the fans who haven't seen the finale, what would you like to tell them or tease for them to get as many fans glued to the TV set tonight?
For me, I haven't seen it, and I am dying to see it. I read the script—I was there working on it—but to see the final product, and I know how amazing and how much work went into the finale. I think it's going to be amazing, and I hope everybody does watch it. It's going to be exciting.
Annie goes pretty crazy in the finale. It looks like she took a page from Silver. Did you give her any tips about that?
No, that's funny though. I'm excited to see what she did with it. She worked really hard and worked with some acting coaches and had fun with it.
By far, the Wilson parents accidentally getting high on pot brownies was probably one of the best parts.
Hilarious, right? That was one of my favorite parts. I thought it was hilarious. I wasn't there when they were shooting it, but I just desperately wanted to see Rob Estes doing that.
It came off very, very well.
I'm sure it did. I'm like, “What kind of research did you do for this?”
The kiss between you and Ethan is pretty hot. Of course, that comes naturally to you guys.
[Laughs] What do you mean? I don't know what you're talking about. He's a good friend of mine.
I know you might be biased, but who is the better kisser? Tristan or Dustin?
That is never going to be answered. They are both great boys. They're both just different.
You've had so many alums come on the show, between Tori Spelling, Shannen Doherty and, of course, Jennie Garth. Who would you like to see come on the show next season?
I really hope my other brother-ish person, David Silver, comes back. I actually met Brian Austin Green before I ever started shooting. I was with one of my best friends at a Coffee Bean, and he was sitting there on the phone. I had just gotten the part, and I was freaking out, thinking I have to go talk to him—I have to tell him I'm playing his baby sister. Of course, he thought, “Who is this crazy chick hovering over me while I'm on the phone.” But he was supernice to me once I explained that I wasn't a crazy stalker. I think he's a great actor and is funny and hot, so why not come back?
You just said your show brother is hot.
I know. It could be a very weird situation for us.
When it comes down to it, are you for Silver and Dixon staying together next season?
I am for them taking the situation that comes up at prom and actually working through it. I don't want it to be something where they are just in the relationship, move on and are not friends anymore. I don't want them to be over it. I want it to be something they talk about—something that they both seriously and maturely think about and whether or not this is detrimental to the foundation they built as a relationship. Do I want them to stay together? I love their coupling as a whole, but I think there are a lot of other places they both can go individually. Whether or not they do that together, I don't know.
The season-one finale of 90210 airs tonight at 9 on the CW.
··· THEY SAID WHAT? Get today's most commented stories now at www.eonline.com
DEAR ABBY: Lately when I’m upset about something, I have been snapping my wrists with rubber bands. It seemed harmless at first, better than cutting, right? But I have noticed that now I have red lines that never go away and the welts take longer to disappear, and I’m constantly having to cover them up.
I’m 15 and I’m worried that I can’t stop doing it. I’m not even sure why I do it, but I’m actually more scared to stop than I am to continue. I’m embarrassed and ashamed, and I don’t want to hurt my family. I know they’d be upset if they found out. I don’t want to ask for help, but also, I don’t want to stop. Please help me. — MESSED UP IN MINNESOTA
DEAR MESSED UP: The first step in resolving a problem is recognizing you have one and that you need help. You have done that. I have heard from other young people that they’re embarrassed, ashamed or scared to tell their parents they have a problem because they’re afraid their parents will become upset or angry. This is wrong. Parents may react — but only out of concern.
Snapping a rubber band is a technique some people use to stop a bad habit — like smoking. You, however, appear to be using it as a way of not dealing with your emotions. The marks on your wrists may be caused because the rubber bands are so tight they are cutting off your circulation.
There is a reason you are trying to distract yourself with pain, and it’s important that you find out what it is so your behavior doesn’t escalate. A licensed mental health professional can help you quickly get to the root of your problem, and telling your parents what’s going on is the fastest way to get that help. Please don’t put it off any longer.
DEAR ABBY: I work in a small public library. We love helping our patrons and receiving donations of books. However, there are a few things we’d like folks to keep in mind:
1. If the sign says “Closed,” we are closed. The door may be unlocked to allow staff easy entrance, but we are not open for business.
2. We are not baby sitters. We are glad to see you and your children, and to get you started on research, but you must watch your kids and keep them under control.
3. We can accept books that are in good condition only. If the volume has been rotting in your basement or has been extensively written in, please throw it out. We cannot place defaced literature in our collection.
4. Any book checked out on your card is your responsibility. If you let your kids use your card and they return a book late, understand that you are the person liable for the fine.
5. Please leave your cell phone in the car or turn it off while using the library. Ringing phones and personal conversations are disruptive and distract the other patrons.
Thank you for helping us get the word out. — LIBRARY LADY, ANYTOWN, U.S.A.
DEAR LIBRARY LADY: You’re welcome. However, on the chance that your patrons miss reading today’s column, your business hours should be clearly posted at the entrance of your building. And the rest of your rules should be printed in large block letters and hung behind the information and checkout desks where no one can miss them.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in “What Every Teen Should Know.” To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for 6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
AUSTIN, Texas – Travis Tucker hit an RBI single with one out in the top of the 25th inning, leading Texas to a 3-2 victory over Boston College on Saturday night in the longest game in NCAA history.
The game eclipsed the previous record of 23 innings, set in 1971 when Louisiana-Lafayette defeated McNeese State 6-5. The game began at 7:02 p.m. EDT Saturday and concluded 7 hours, 3 minutes later at 2:05 a.m. Sunday.
“I knew we were going to win as I ran down to first base,” Tucker said. “We scored one, and no way our pitchers were going to let them score in the bottom of the inning.”
Texas reliever Austin Wood pitched 13 innings, including 12 1-3 innings of no-hit ball before allowing a two-out single to Tony Sanchez in the 19th inning.
“In my 41 years of coaching, the effort by Austin Wood was the best pitching performance I have ever seen,” said Texas coach Augie Garrido, the Division I leader in career victories.
Connor Rowe walked to lead off the top of the 25th for Texas (43-13-1) and was sacrificed to second by David Hernandez. Rowe advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Tucker grounded past second base through the drawn-in infield for the go-ahead run against Boston College (34-25).
“I’ve never been a part of anything like this,” Boston College coach Mik Aoki said. “In fact, nobody in college baseball has been part of anything like this.”
Tucker’s hit came in his NCAA-record 12th at-bat to tie a mark he now shares with teammate Michael Torres, who also batted 12 times.
Texas reliever Austin Dicharry earned his eighth victory by pitching 5 2-3 innings of scoreless relief, striking out four and allowing one hit.
Wood got one out in the 20th before allowing a single to Barry Butera, then hitting Andrew Lawrence. Wood, who threw 169 pitches, including 120 strikes, was relieved by Dicharry, who retired the next two hitters.
“I can’t believe I threw 13 innings,” Wood said. “I was tired, but we never doubted that we were going to win that game.”
Boston College reliever Mike Belfiore hurled 9 2-3 innings, allowing three hits and striking out 11 before leaving in the 19th.
“This is the most exciting game I have ever played in,” Belfiore said. “And while it was too bad we lost, it was the experience of a lifetime.”
Boston College used eight pitchers, with Mike Dennhardt (5-2) taking the loss.
Texas scored twice in the second inning when Preston Clark doubled and Kevin Keyes followed with a homer into the left-field bullpen for a 2-0 lead. Keyes added a fourth-inning double before being replaced by a pinch hitter in the eighth inning.
Belfiore’s two-out, run-scoring single brought home Matt Hamlet with Boston College’s first run in the bottom of the third inning. The Eagles tied it in the sixth when Hamlet doubled and sacrificed to third before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Sanchez.
Boston College will face Army on Sunday in an elimination game, and Texas will play the winner. The Longhorns would win the regional with a victory.
FRESNO, Calif. – Hundreds of gay marriage supporters marched in rural, conservative California, but before the dusty roads could clear, opponents of same-sex couples planned to take to the streets to renew their resolve.
The outfits that helped persuade voters to ban gay marriage in the state Constitution in November will on Sunday celebrate weddings between men and women at Fresno City Hall, while nearly a dozen religious and social conservative groups planned a similar rally in San Diego.
Just a day earlier, gay marriage advocates marched along dusty roads, saying they wouldn’t be dissuaded the state Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Proposition 8, which enshrined the ban on gay marriage in the state Constitution.
The gay marriage supporters pledge to put a new initiative before voters to overturn the ban — perhaps as soon as next year — and to take their message to Washington in October.
But there were skeptical residents, some of whom showed up Saturday just to see what all the commotion was about.
Tom Johnson, 57, a disabled Vietnam veteran from Clovis, a Fresno suburb, said voters already made their choice.
“I’m against people coming into our community with those viewpoints. I just can’t accept it,” Johnson said. “People already voted yes on Prop. 8. That’s the law and we should follow it.”
The event attracted veteran activists and celebrities, including Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron and Eric McCormack. It was organized by a lesbian mother in Fresno who was removed from the parent-teacher association at her son’s Catholic school after she spoke out against banning same-sex weddings.
“Fresno represents middle America values, and we can start changing our neighbors’ feelings about gay marriage beginning right here in the Central Valley,” said lead organizer Robin McGehee, a 36-year-old college professor who married her longtime partner last year. “We’re doing exactly what the freedom riders would do in the South in the 1960s, which is reaching into communities that are different from us so we can all live in equality.”
Paying homage to the 1965 marches in Selma, Ala., that marked the peak of the civil rights movement, the “Meet in the Middle 4 Equality” protest began Saturday morning in Selma, Calif., the self-proclaimed raisin capital of the world.
Hundreds of spirited marchers were escorted by the California Highway Patrol along an aging highway to Fresno, a city of more than 450,000 and the largest in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley. On the lawn adjacent to City Hall, organizers flew a massive rainbow flag on loan from San Francisco’s Castro District, the nexus of the city’s gay and lesbian community.
Some wore wedding dresses or carried rainbow flags, a symbol of support for gay rights.
Many gay activists now believe their campaign against Proposition 8 focused too much on liberal urban enclaves along the coast, failing even to reach out to the state’s rural regions. The measure passed with nearly 69 percent of the vote in Fresno County, compared to 52 percent statewide.
“We aren’t here to impose our beliefs on anyone. We are here to begin a dialogue on civil rights,” said Cleve Jones, a pioneer activist and protege of Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay leader who was slain in 1978. “Harvey said we can’t win unless we open up our hearts to connecting with people who appear to be very different from us.”
The campaign’s next phase will train thousands of volunteers and faith leaders to canvass door-to-door to talk about the issue with neighbors, said Rick Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign. Representatives from all 50 states will march on Washington on October 11 to coincide with National Coming Out Day, Jacobs said.
“We’re not doing what we used to do, which is meet in West Hollywood,” Jacobs said. “We want people from all 435 congressional districts to tell their stories in Washington.”
PHILADELPHIA – A Pennsylvania woman accused in an abduction hoax that ended in Florida and involved her 9-year-old daughter will stay with relatives following her release from a county prison, her lawyer said.
Bonnie Sweeten, 38, must be supervised when she visits her children as a condition of her bail, attorney Louis R. Busico said in Sunday’s editions of The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Bucks County Courier Times. She has two other daughters, ages 15 years and 8 months.
Sweeten was released from the Bucks County Correctional Facility in suburban Philadelphia on Saturday after posting 100,000 in cash, or 10 percent of her 1 million bail.
Sweeten will stay with “distant relatives” outside the county, and she also will start receiving mental-health treatment next week, Busico said.
She was returned to Pennsylvania from Florida on Friday and has been charged with identity theft and false reporting. A court hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Busico said.
Authorities say Sweeten phoned 911 on Tuesday from downtown Philadelphia and told dispatchers that she and her daughter had been carjacked and stuffed in the trunk of a Cadillac near their suburban home, prompting a frantic search that ended 30 hours later at a Walt Disney World hotel.
Local police also are investigating whether Sweeten stole money from a family member or others, but no related charges have been filed. Authorities allege that Sweeten had withdrawn 12,000 from several bank accounts and flew to Florida with her daughter under another person’s name, paying cash for the one-way tickets and for a three-night hotel stay inside the park.
Her daughter, Julia Rakoczy, was reunited with her father, Anthony Rakoczy, in Florida on Thursday. Rakoczy still lives near Sweeten, his ex-wife, and spoke well of her in interviews this week.