LOS ANGELES – Skateboard veteran Danny Way celebrated yet another X Games gold medal, yet again on crutches.
Way, who once launched over the Great Wall of China with a broken ankle, won the inaugural Big Air Rail Jam on Friday, a best trick competition held on the mega ramp he invented.
Way won despite hurting his ankle at the start in the competition.
“I rolled my ankle on the first try,” Way said. “It was just my warm-up, my intention was to make it and move on.”
Way ended up landing that warm-up trick — a lip slide 270 — for a score of 92 and the victory, but was hobbling around on crutches immediately afterward.
“I don’t know why I have to always be the guy that gets hurt, and to prove that you can keep going when you’re hurt. I don’t know if I like that title very much.”
Way, 35, of San Diego, had missed Thursday’s Skateboard Big Air with an injury to the same knee that has been operated on eight times.
He had won gold in that event three times and last year won silver, getting up repeatedly after nasty crashes.
Brazil’s Bob Burnquist was second with a score of 89, and Rob Lorifice of Encintas, Calif. won bronze, matching their finishes in Thursday’s Big Air competition.
REYNOLDS WRAPS UP ANOTHER: Garrett Reynolds won his second straight X Games gold in BMX Freestyle Street on Friday.
Reynolds, an 18-year-old from Toms River, N.J., won with a score of 419, beating the 412 posted by Ty Morrow of West Palm Beach, Fla.
Van Homan of Pennsville, N.J. was third with a score of 403.
Archive for August 1st, 2009
LOS ANGELES – Skateboard veteran Danny Way celebrated yet another X Games gold medal, yet again on crutches.
PASADENA, Calif. – Ken Burns says working on a documentary about America’s national parks reawakened a long-forgotten memory about a painful time in his childhood.
Burns was filming in Yosemite for PBS’ “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” when he recalled a 1959 visit with his father to Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Burns, then 6 years old, said it was a difficult period for the family because of his mother’s fight against cancer.
Burns told the Television Critics Association on Saturday that the splendor of Yosemite allowed him to reclaim memories of the trip, including hiking with his dad in Shenandoah.
Burns’ films include “The Civil War” and “Baseball.” The six-part “National Parks” will premiere Sept. 27 on PBS.
Daily alcohol limit ‘unhelpful’
By Michelle Roberts
Health Reporter, BBC News
Daily limits on alcohol consumption are meaningless and potentially harmful, experts have warned.The government says men should drink no more than three to four units per day and women no more than two to three. Liver specialist Dr Nick Sheron, of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, says these limits were devised by civil servants with “no good evidence” for doing so. He says the advice runs the risk of people taking it to mean that it is safe to drink alcohol every day.
Dr Sheron’s comments follow a report by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee which suggested public confusion about safe drinking levels was fuelling problem drinking. Dr Sheron says we should go back to using the old weekly limits, which are based on sound research. The 1987 sensible drinking limits, which set the bar at 21 units per week for men and 14 units per week for women, remained in place until 1995. Sensible drinkingIt was then that the government decided to switch the limits from weekly to daily in a bid to curb binge drinking and emphasise the harms of saving up a week’s limit to blow in one or two sessions at the weekend – a decision it stands by today.
But Dr Sheron says this was a mistake: “They were turned into daily limits by a community of civil servants and the reasoning behind it is shrouded in mystery and is not largely supported by experts. “The weekly limits were based on robust studies and were set at a level at which alcohol harms outweigh any putative benefit.” Some studies show that alcohol, in moderation, can reduce the risk of heart disease. In terms of damage to the liver, the risk begins when regular weekly consumption exceeds about 30 units, said Dr Sheron. But for other conditions, like cancer, the risk starts at zero and goes up proportionately with the amount of alcohol is consumed. Daily dangerAlthough the daily recommendations originally included the important caution to have some alcohol-free days, Dr Sheron this message has got lost. The advice now warns against regularly drinking over the daily limit and says drinkers should also “take a break for 48 hours after a heavy session to let your body recover.”
Dr Sheron said that by setting a daily limit, people might take this to mean they could drink every day. Dr Rachel Seabrook, research manager at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, agrees. “The Royal Colleges’ recommendation for two days of abstinence a week has quietly disappeared. It was probably dropped to keep the message simple. But that is not a good move. “And we are quite concerned about the use of ‘daily’ in the message. It implies that you can drink on every day. “There should be an explicit warning against this.” Clear adviceA Department of Health spokesman defended the current recommendations saying: “Advice on limits is based on scientific evidence from studies in populations in this country and worldwide about long-term health harms for broadly average, healthy adults. “The scientific evidence base was examined by an inter-departmental working group in 1995. This has been kept under review since then. “There are a number of public health campaigns to help people understand government guidelines around drinking alcohol. “Ongoing and future campaigns will also help people to live more healthily.” In Britain in 2007, 69% of people reported that they had heard of the government guidelines on alcohol consumption. Of these people, 40% said that they did not know what the recommendations were. Although binges are dangerous and can cause harm – largely through accidents caused by reckless behaviour – in terms of long-term health risks, it is the average amounts consumed over the weeks, months and years that count. A person who regularly drinks 50g of alcohol a day – around 6 units or three pints of normal strength beer – has nearly double the risk of stroke, high blood pressure and pancreatitis as someone who abstains. In a snapshot survey for England in 2006, 12% of men and 7% of women reported drinking alcohol every day during the previous week. In the same year, 23% of men and 15% of women reported binge drinking.
Mandelson urges Labour fightback
Lord Mandelson has said Labour must “roll its sleeves up” and take the fight to the Conservatives instead of handing them victory “on a plate”.The business secretary suggested the general election would come down to “the substance of Gordon Brown versus the shallowness of David Cameron”. Writing in the News Of The World, he indicated Labour would fight the poll on the basis of its economic record. And Mr Brown stepping down before the election was “not an option”, he added.
Lord Mandelson said the prime minister “averted a Great Depression” when the banks were rescued last year. Recognising that Labour was adrift in the polls, Lord Mandelson – who has become one of Gordon Brown’s closest allies since his return to government – said: “Do we shrug our shoulders, accept our fate and meekly hand over power to an arrogant Conservative Party which believes it can do nothing, sit back and be given power on a plate? Or do we fight back? “When we come back in the autumn, the party needs to roll its sleeves up, pull together and concentrate.” He said Labour would continue go on the offensive over the Tories’ public spending proposals in the run-up to an expected spring ballot. “The next general election will not simply be a referendum on the government,” he said. “In the long run-up to that election, the public will be faced with a choice between a government that will try to do everything it can to protect our frontline public services, and a Conservative Party whose appetite for deep and savage spending cuts seems to have been well and truly whetted.” ‘Totally winnable’Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has also talked up Labour’s chances of success at the next election. He told the Sunday Mirror: “The more people scrutinise David Cameron, the more they will realise he is an empty vessel. “I still believe the next election is totally winnable for us. We can come back as the underdogs with Gordon Brown as the Comeback Kid and win.” Meanwhile, a survey suggests the Conservatives’ lead over Labour is even stronger in key marginal seats than in the rest of the country. The poll, conducted in 30 constituencies, put the Tories on 44%, Labour on 20% and the Liberal Democrats on 18%. The survey of 1,004 voters was carried out by Crosby/Textor/Pepper for aviation lobby group FlyingMatters, and appears in the Sunday Telegraph. A YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph on Friday put the Conservatives at 41% across the country as a whole compared to 27% for Labour.
US man ‘killed child by praying’
A US jury has found a man guilty of killing his ill 11-year-old daughter by praying for her recovery rather than seeking medical care.The man, Dale Neumann, told a court in the state of Wisconsin he believed God could heal his daughter. She died of a treatable disease – undiagnosed diabetes – at home in rural Wisconsin in March last year, as people surrounded her and prayed. Mr Neumann’s wife was convicted earlier this year. The couple both face up to 25 years in prison when they are sentenced in October.
FRANKFURT (Reuters) –
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier phoned GM's (GM.UL) chief executive to underscore Germany's expectations for the sale of GM's Opel unit, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
Without citing sources, mass-circulation newspaper Bild said Steinmeier phoned GM's Fritz Henderson on Friday to say that German government financial guarantees would only be available for an investor that was long-term and that would secure jobs.
Steinmeier is also vice chancellor in the current coalition government and the Social Democrat (SPD) party candidate to succeed conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel in elections scheduled for September 27.
The German states where Opel has manufacturing plants and the federal government have expressed a preference for a bid by Canadian auto parts maker Magna (MGa.TO), while sources close to the negotiations have said GM likes RHJ International (RHJI.BR).
Magna wants to expand Opel's full-scale car assembly business and forecasts high growth rates, particularly in Russia, home of its bidding partner, Sberbank (SBER03.MM).
RHJ aims to shrink production to return Opel to profit and may be open to selling it back to GM at a later date.
One German state premier said a decision on a new start for Opel could come as early as this week, though a member of the German government's Opel Task Force has said the talks between GM and the two competing bidders could drag on longer than expected.
The endgame of the battle for control of Opel will likely be played out in the Opel Trust, which has formally owned 65 percent of the carmaker ever since GM entered bankruptcy in June and must approve any binding deal.
Opel Trust's board is comprised of two GM representatives and two for Germany — one for the federal government and a delegate for the four states in which Opel has plants. A fifth “neutral” board member has no vote.
GRAND BLANC, Michigan (Reuters) –
Tiger Woods will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the Buick Open after the world number one shifted into top gear on Saturday to fire a seven-under 65.
After an erratic opening round 71 left him eight shots off the pace and sparked talk of missing consecutive cuts for the first time in his professional career, Woods has hit back in spectacular style to go top of the leaderboard on 17-under 199, one shot clear of faltering Michael Letzig.
Woods rolled in a 34-foot birdie on the 17th to grab a share of the lead and was then left alone at the top when fellow American Letzig stumbled to a double-bogey at the 18th to finish with four-under 68.
Australian John Senden, who held a two-shot lead overnight, struggled to a one-under 71 to leave him two back going into Sunday's final round.
(Editing by Sonia Oxley)
BRISTOL, Va. – At times, it seems like Barack Obama has time-traveled back to last summer when he was simply a Democrat running for the White House.
Only now, he’s the president, and he’s facing a more complicated objective and opponent as he campaigns to overhaul a costly health care system.
Yet, there he was last Wednesday, jetting to this Virginia town to talk to supermarket workers from a platform between the bakery and deli. Earlier, he bounded onto a flag-draped stage at a North Carolina high school to cheers from an adoring throng of 2,000. At both sites, he made remarks, took questions and shook hands.
He also recently appeared at an interest group forum, AARP, toured the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and lent his starpower to Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine of New Jersey at political events — typical stops when he was the Democratic nominee.
Obama’s pitch has been the same everywhere: Congress quickly must pass health care legislation; this is not “socialized medicine” that Republicans decry; people who have health care will not lose it.
At each stop, Obama is his usual wonky professor yet charming everyman self, in his usual dark suit and tie, fielding the usual offbeat questions with ease and playing by his usual rules: “I’m just going to call on people as they raise their hand. I’ll go girl, boy, girl, boy so that people don’t think I’m biased.”
Just like his 2008 campaign — but not.
Six months into his presidency, Obama’s campaign-trail approach to curry favor with the public seems virtually unchanged from a year ago when he ran against Republican John McCain. And virtually every state Obama visits now was competitive in that election.
But, these days, Obama’s mission is different, arguably more challenging.
It used to be winning the White House with one opponent, McCain and the Republicans, in an environment that tilted strongly toward Democratic victory.
Obama’s objective now is winning passage of his domestic priority, battling both conservative-to-moderate Democrats whose concerns over the legislation have slowed progress and Republican critics who have ratcheted up attacks and made compromise more difficult. He’s maneuvering in a political landscape in which the public generally is supportive of health care change but has increasing doubts about Obama’s ability to pull it off.
Even so, Obama is approaching this challenge as he did the one in 2008 — at least in style, for top advisers recognize that Obama himself is his presidency’s best asset.
The strategy comes with a risk of overexposure, a diluting of the Obama “brand” advisers are so careful to protect. Many politicians over the years have had difficulty translating campaign success into governing success.
So far, it seems that Obama’s postelection campaigning has helped convert his popularity into support for his policies. He successfully lobbied for passage of the economic stimulus only to watch the public grow skeptical of its effects. He scored a major victory with House passage of climate-and-energy legislation but the bill didn’t go as far as he had wanted, and its fate is less certain in the Senate.
Whether Obama’s approach works on health care remains to be seen.
The president won’t get votes by the full House and Senate this summer as he sought but there’s an excellent chance he will get bills through all but one of the five House and Senate committees with jurisdiction, before Congress leaves on its August break. That would be an enormous step that eluded plenty of presidents, including Bill Clinton.
That said, several polls show that Obama’s personal popularity, though still high, has slipped and public confidence in him on issues has fallen since January.
On health care specifically, polls show widespread support for an overhaul generally and even for various specific ideas, but also increasing skepticism of the president’s handling of the issue. A recent AP-GfK poll shows that 50 percent of the public approves of Obama on the issue and 43 percent doesn’t, but that figure was a big jump from April when 28 percent disapproved. The latest nonpartisan Pew Research Center survey found similar results.
Given such volatility, the charismatic campaigner again has turned to his specialty — courting the public personally.
As Obama campaigns these days, the perks and trappings of the presidency are clear, from the Air Force One travel to the presidential seal on his ever-present podium to the traditional “Hail to the Chief” score at his events. Otherwise, Obama largely holds true to his classic campaign style in visits to familiar territory.
Surrounded by strawberries, peaches and grapes at a Kroger supermarket on the Virginia-Tennessee border, the president began his appearance Wednesday afternoon with the obligatory recognition of local officials and recollection of his last Bristol visit during the campaign.
He joked about his extraordinary situation as president — both with groceries and health care.
“This is the first time I’ve been in a grocery store in a while,” he said to laughter. “They don’t let me do my own shopping, but I miss it. So I may pick up some fruit on the way out.” (He, did, indeed snag a piece later.)
He drew more chuckles when he added: “As president, I’ve got this doctor who follows me everywhere, seriously, and an ambulance. And so, you know, I don’t want to pretend like I don’t have super-duper care.” He quipped: “But I don’t think that lasts after I leave!”
Joking aside, Obama spent most of the hour providing a detailed explanation of his health care proposal, mixing academic language that showed his expertise with folksy, regular-guy phrases that appeared to resonate with workers sitting before him.
He added a dash of trademark optimism — “America is the greatest nation on Earth. We can solve this problem.” — and ended the event with a plea: “We can get it done with your support” — an echo of his campaign’s “Yes we can” mantra.
WASHINGTON (AFP) –
Saudi Arabia has rebuffed an appeal by Washington for immediate Arab gestures toward normalizing ties with Israel as the kingdom urged the Jewish state to show it was serious about peace.
Seated next to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on Friday rejected a “step-by-step” diplomatic approach and called for tackling core issues like Palestinian statehood and refugees.
“The question is not what the Arab world will offer,” Prince Saud said at a joint press conference with Clinton after talks in Washington. “The question really is: what will Israel give in exchange for this comprehensive offer.”
He was referring to a Saudi-sponsored initiative endorsed by the 22-nation Arab League.
The offer calls on all Arab states to establish full and normal relations with Israel in exchange for the Jewish state's withdrawal from all lands occupied in the 1967 war and the creation of a Palestinian state.
But Saud, reading slowly and deliberately from a statement, said: “Israel hasn't even responded to an American request to halt settlements which President (Barack) Obama described as illegitimate.”
He baulked at a question from a journalist who asked what Saudi Arabia would do in return if the right-leaning Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu changed course and froze all settlement activity.
He said it was “not by making gestures, it is by delving into the real issues” that will lead the way to peace in the Middle East.
He also accused Israel of “trying to distract attention from the core issue” of establishing a Palestinian state by turning to side issues like academic conferences and civil aviation matters.
“This is not the way to peace,” he said, warning it will only lead the region into a “maelstrom of instability and violence.”
In a sign of differences, Saud described his talks with Clinton as “frank, honest and open” between longstanding allies, but he also praised the Obama administration for tackling the Arab-Israeli conflict so quickly.
The chief US diplomat reiterated calls she had made last month in a keynote foreign policy speech where she urged Arab states to take steps toward normalizing ties with Israel.
“We've also asked the Arab states, including our friends in Saudi Arabia, to work with us to take steps to improve relations with Israel, to support the Palestinian Authority and to prepare their people to embrace the eventual peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Clinton told the press conference.
Her remarks were buttressed by more than 200 US lawmakers who urged Saudi King Abdullah on Friday to push Middle East peace efforts forward with “a dramatic gesture” towards recognizing Israel's legitimacy.
The US representatives cited Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's historic 1977 visit to Jerusalem and the opening of direct Jordan-Israel ties by the late King Hussein as Arab-world actions that aided the cause of peace.
Clinton also said the United States and Saudi Arabia “shared concerns about the destabilizing role that Iran has played throughout the region and the continued expansion of its nuclear program and its support for terrorism.”
She added that Washington had an “unwavering” commitment toward Saudi Arabia's security.
US officials have talked of exploiting joint Arab and Israeli concerns about non-Arab Iran as an opportunity for ending their decades-old conflict.
GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Tiger Woods says he didn’t like the way he hit in the third round of the Buick Open.
Woods was happy with how he scored, though, as a 65 Saturday put him at 17 under. It ended up being good enough for the lead because Michael Letzig double bogeyed the last hole.
Letzig hit a poor shot out of the sand at No. 18 and two-putted from 12 feet and fell to 16 under while Woods was on the practice range.
Second-round leader John Senden shot a 1-under 71 to fall to 15 under and in third place.
Woods, in his first tournament since missing the cut at the British Open, opened with a 71 after what he said was probably his worst putting day. He roared back into contention by going 9 under in the second round and 7 under in the third.
Michael Jackson’s other funeral
By John James
BBC News, Krindjabo, Ivory Coast
A “funeral” for pop star Michael Jackson has been taking place in the village of Krindjabo, where he was crowned a prince of the Anyi people on a visit to the country in 1992.The village has been in mourning since his death on 25 June. The villagers appealed without success to have the body returned, but since his official funeral in Los Angeles they have decided he also needs to be properly buried according to the customs in the Sanwi kingdom. The village football pitch here has been transformed into a green square surrounded on all sides by tents full of what I guess is around 1,000 people from the village and – like us – from Abidjan to formally say goodbye to one of the biggest pop music stars of the last 50 years. You may know him as Michael Jackson, but here he is Prince Michael Amalaman Anoh. One of the organisers of the event, Emmanuel Kassy Kofi, said they had appealed through the international media and the US embassy in Abidjan for Michael Jackson’s body to be returned.
Michael Jackson was enthroned as a king-in-waiting and should normally be buried in a river. “If for example the Americans or his family permitted for us to bring the body here we’d do what needs to be done,” Mr Kofi said. “We asked for the body – it’s for us. It was Michael Jackson himself who tested his DNA and said it’d be good to find his family. “And by certain signs the King also recognised certain signs that he was part of the dynasty. And the royal seat that the king’s sitting on – Michael Jackson sat on it too.” The organisers say his spirit is already here and will be put to rest. The whole village is in mourning here until Sunday when the successor to Prince Michael Jackson Amalaman Anoh will be announced. Until then, the party and memorials will continue well into the night.
Scale of Nigerian unrest emerges
Around 700 people were killed in the city at the centre of the recent wave of violence in Nigeria, according to a senior regional military official.Col Ben Ahanotu, head of security in Maiduguri, said that mass burials had begun there. An earlier tally of victims of the unrest, in which police battled Islamists, put the figure at 400. Life in the affected areas is now beginning to return to normal with banks and markets reopening. Col Ahanotu said the compound of the Islamist sect behind the violence was being used as one of the burial sites because bodies were decomposing in the heat.
He told the Associated Press news agency that officials gathering bodies had found “almost 700″. The compound used by the Boko Haram sect was destroyed by government troops and is now smouldering rubble. More members of the sect have been arrested in house-to-house searches across northern Nigeria and the military said most would be prosecuted. Maiduguri is the capital of Borno state but the fighting spread to cities across the north of the country and the total death toll is unknown. A military spokesman said two of those killed were soldiers and 13 were police officers. The number of injured, meanwhile, is still being counted. The Red Cross had earlier said about 3,500 people fled the fighting. The violence ended on Thursday when the sect’s leader, Mohamed Yusuf, was killed by police. The controversy surrounding his death continues. The police say he was killed in a shoot-out while he was being detained. But Col Ahanotu says he captured him and handed him over alive.
SAN FRANCISCO – Cliff Lee spotted his fastball with precision, and his curveball, too. What a National League debut for the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.
Lee pitched a four-hitter, carrying a no-hit bid into the sixth inning and even adding two hits with the bat, and the Philadelphia Phillies felt an immediate impact two days after acquiring the left-hander from Cleveland, beating the San Francisco Giants 5-1 on Friday night.
Jayson Werth homered to put Philadelphia ahead early and added a two-run single in the seventh, Raul Ibanez drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh for an insurance run and Lee did the rest.
He tossed his 11th career complete game, fourth this season and third in four starts. Lee’s line: one run, six strikeouts, two walks, 109 pitches and 78 strikes. He was done in 2 hours, 39 minutes, getting a hug from catcher Paul Bako afterward and tucking the game ball in his back pocket as a keepsake.
Lee faced the minimum through five and didn’t allow a hit until Juan Uribe doubled to the deep corner in right with one out in the sixth. His defense also was spot on, with Lee hustling forward on Edgar Renteria’s eighth-inning sacrifice bunt and quickly firing to first.
Lee doubled in the eighth for his first career extra-base hit and that gave him his first multihit game; he doubled his previous career hit total. Fittingly, it was Ben Francisco — who also came to the Phillies from the Indians on Wednesday — whose sacrifice fly helped Lee score his first career run.
Lee faced only two three-ball counts until the seventh on a cool night at the Giants’ waterfront ballpark, where an eerie mist hovered over the field for much of the game. He had thrown only 13 balls among his first 54 pitches.
Lee, who went 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA in 22 starts for the Indians this season, won his fourth straight start dating to a loss at Detroit on July 10.
He struck out Randy Winn looking on a 93 mph fastball on his third pitch of the game and was through that inning on all of nine pitches.
Ryan Garko, Lee’s teammate with Cleveland until getting dealt to the Giants on Monday, drew a 12-pitch walk in the second for San Francisco’s first baserunner. Garko offered some insight on Lee to his new teammates during a hitter’s meeting Thursday, telling them that Lee has been pretty much unbeatable of late.
After Garko’s walk, Lee got Aaron Rowand to ground into an inning-ending double play. That was the first of 12 straight batters retired before Uribe’s hit.
The way Lee was going in San Francisco’s pitcher-friendly ballpark, it was clear this could be a special outing.
Kevin Millwood threw the Phillies’ last no-hitter on April 27, 2003, against the Giants.
Werth homered just over a leaping Rowand in left-center leading off the second to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead — and it held up this time. Philadelphia also took an early lead Thursday night but lost the series opener 7-2.
Giants rookie Ryan Sadowski (2-4) lost his fourth straight start after beginning his career 2-0 with 16 scoreless innings. He was done after four innings and 82 pitches and hasn’t gone longer than five during his losing streak.
It didn’t help that the right-hander needed 25 pitches to get through the first.
Rowand returned to San Francisco’s lineup after missing four straight games with a torn tendon in his right forearm, which he hurt when hit with a pitch by Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson on July 20. Rowand hadn’t started the previous 10 games.
Newly acquired Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez, traded by Pittsburgh on Wednesday, is expected to be added to the roster Saturday and perhaps be available to pinch-hit. He’s been nursing an inflamed left knee.
NOTES: Lee, who is 3-0 lifetime vs. San Francisco, was 2 for 32 lifetime at the plate before Friday. For the Indians, Lee had won his last three starts with two complete games and a 1.44 ERA. … Philadelphia All-Star CF Shane Victorino was held out of the lineup for the second straight game with a bruised left knee. The injury forced him to leave Wednesday’s 4-0 loss at Arizona in the seventh inning. … Injured Phillies RHP Pedro Martinez, placed on the DL with a strained right shoulder after signing a one-year deal July 15, allowed five runs — four earned — and three hits in five innings of a rehab start Friday night for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
LIMONADE, Haiti — When Alix Charles slipped out of his tin-roofed shack at night, he didn’t say where he was going, only that he would be back soon.
The 23-year-old father of two infant daughters left on a treacherous ocean voyage that turned deadly for at least 15 migrants and perhaps dozens more. His family still didn’t know Saturday, six days after the accident, whether he survived — or how they would get by if he didn’t.
“I’m not angry, he went to search for a life,” his 20-year-old wife, Dieula, said as she breast-fed one daughter beside a row of cactuses in this northern Haitian town, an hour’s walk from the sea, and waited for news. “The problem is I don’t know if he’s alive or dead, and there is no one to help me take care of the kids.”
There have been enough catastrophes for Haitian migrants that everyone is aware of the danger. Yet the perilous voyages are a familiar passage for Haitians, forced by their country’s almost medieval economy to spend more than a year’s cost of food and housing and risk their lives for a chance to work abroad.
Thousands flee this country of more than 9 million each year to reach “lot bo dlo” — Creole for the other side of the water. Many travel the same way as the migrants who were killed when their overloaded sailboat struck a coral reef at night off the island of West Caicos, launching some 200 people into the sea. Some managed to swim to land, while others clung to the jagged reef for 17 hours without food or water. Nearly 70 are still missing.
Police in Turks and Caicos are conducting a criminal investigation into the incident and still interviewing some survivors. A full list of those on board has not been released.
There is no mystery about why people leave: Haitians endure extreme poverty on a mountainous island with a higher population density than Japan, suffering through ever-worsening hunger, natural disasters and an almost utter lack of jobs. Some 80 percent of the population gets by on 2 a day.
So overloaded boats head north, south and east to other Caribbean islands, to the United States or to the Turks and Caicos Islands or Bahamas — which can be stepping stones to the U.S. or a place to find work in the underground economy.
Haitians find work in construction and on sugar plantations, at all-inclusive beach resorts and restaurants — opportunities that do not exist in places like Limonade. A dusty collection of concrete, mud and wooden shacks just inland from the Atlantic Ocean, Limonade is a frequent recruiting ground for the smugglers who arrange migrant voyages.
Many do not make it. Some are halted by the U.S. Coast Guard or the forces of other countries. Dozens have been killed in just the last two years in boat accidents like the one off Turks and Caicos. Officials say overloading is usually the cause.
Michel St. Croix, the mayor of nearby Cap Haitien, the country’s second largest city, said some boat captains know they will crash their vessels at the first sign of trouble, yet do nothing to warn or prepare their passengers in tightly packed decks below.
“I believe the captains are criminals,” St. Croix said. “They take people on the sea knowing that people are going to die.”
Haitians go to the Turks and Caicos, a British territory, to work in construction or maintenance, easing what has traditionally been a shortage of laborers in the sparsely populated, tourism-dependent chain. But now many say it has become harder to find jobs amid the global economic slump.
Jack Tonton, a 22-year-old who said he has managed to find work in construction and as a plumber in recent years, said would-be employers are now demanding residency papers — something few migrants can produce.
“If you ain’t got no papers, it’s difficult,” Tonton said outside a clutch of ramshackle cinderblock houses off a dirt road near the airport. “I ain’t got no work to do, ain’t got nothing to do, because I need papers to work.”
Tonton said he has crossed from Haiti to the Turks and Caicos twice in a boat and was deported once. “There’s better opportunities here, that’s why I made sure to come back.”
U.S. officials talk about development efforts in Haiti as a means of preventing floods of migrants. President Rene Preval has pleaded with U.S. officials for months to declare an extended but temporary halt on deportations of illegal Haitian migrants in the wake of last year’s four tropical storms.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during an April visit that the issue was under consideration, but that the Obama administration wants to ensure that it does not encourage more people to undertake the perilous journey.
The ship that carried Charles toward Turks and Caicos was a red-and-blue painted sailboat named the Se Lavi, meaning “that’s life.” It loaded late July 24 and left before dawn July 25 from a secluded marsh a several-mile walk from Charles’ hometown of Limonade through forest, mangroves and swamp.
Most aboard did not tell their families where they were going, some to save them from worry, others out of fear of admitting they had spent all their savings, or to keep the voyage a secret.
At least eight men from Limonade were aboard the Se Lavi when it slammed into the reef Sunday night. Some survivors swam two miles to shore, while others waited for rescue.
The ordeal began weeks before when men from nearby Cap-Haitien pulled into the dusty town on motorcycles, spreading word to the young and unemployed that a boat would soon leave. Most paid about 15,000 gourdes, or 375, more than most Haitians live on in an entire year.
“When they hear that a boat is leaving, they rush to sell everything they have,” said Charles’ mother, Adline Moransy, her hands shaking as she spoke. Her eyes were red and hair uncombed after several sleepless nights worrying about her son.
Alix Charles had made the journey once before, working as a gardener and handyman for a British woman after the birth of his now 3-year-old first daughter, Esmerelda. He made enough money to buy a plane ticket for his return.
This time, the family can only hope he is alive. Charles’ godfather, who lives in Turks and Caicos, called to say he heard rumors that Charles had survived the journey, his mother said.
Migrants have been trickling back on flights from Providenciales, the most populated island in Turks and Caicos. The next flight is expected Monday and Dieula may have to wait until then to learn the fate of her husband. Like dozens of other families on this desperate stretch of coastline, all she can do is wait.
Associated Press writer Jennifer Kay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, contributed to this report.
LONDON (AFP) –
US private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) plans initial public offerings (IPOs) worth billions of dollars for up to six of its companies, including Toys R Us, the Financial Times said Saturday.
The FT said KKR was looking to list companies it bought in the financial boom years before the start of the credit crunch in 2007 because the global economy was showing signs of improvement and stock markets were rising.
A person familiar with KKR, cited by the business daily, said the New York-based private-equity firm was also looking to float US hospital operator HCA, credit-card processor First Credit, Danish Telecoms group TDC and discount retailer Dollar General.
KKR had already filed for an IPO of Avago Technologies, the Singapore-based semiconductor company, the FT said.
“We think there are five to six companies in the portfolio that can be taken public in the next 12 months,” said a person familiar with KKR's plans and quoted by the paper. KKR did not comment on the report.
PARIS (AFP) –
Tens of thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses gathered on Saturday in cities across France for an annual international gathering, the religious movement said.
About 150,000 flocked to meetings with the main gathering in Villepinte, in the Paris region, attracting 50,000 followers.
Several hundred Jehovah's Witnesses were baptised by being immersed in water during the event, which lasts the whole weekend.
Those baptised were adults, following the example of Christ.
Jehovah's Witnesses consider themselves the heirs of a primitive form of Christianity.
Their beliefs are strongly based on the text of the Bible and they consider modern Christian Churches to have deviated from the book's true teachings.
Followers reject the ideas of modern evolutionary theory and refuse blood transfusions.
They are perhaps best known for preaching on doorsteps, where they offer religious literature and attempt to convert people.
The movement emerged towards the end of the 19th century in the United States and arrived in France in 1906.
There are more than seven million Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide and around 150,000 in France.
The group's status varies from country to country. They are given the same recognition as mainstream religions in Austria and Germany but are classed as a “recognised cult” in Denmark.
In France, some of their branches have the status of “religious association” but the movement was also mentioned in a 1995 parliamentary report on sects.
A 40-year tradition of annual negotiations — and as often as not, standoffs — between iron ore miners and Asian steel producers may have begun to weaken. Mining giant BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP – News) said Thursday it would price a portion of its iron ore sold to China according to what are effectively spot-market mechanisms rather than the usual fixed yearlong rate.
The change will apply to only 30% of the Australian ore BHP delivers to China, the world's largest ore buyer. The miner also agreed to cut prices to China by a third on the 23% of trade still under annual contracts. Negotiations continued on the remaining 47% of ore set to move between the two in the coming year, the company said.
The change, if not quite earth-shaking, has its advantages. Over the past half decade, a spot market developed in China via its imports from India. Discrepancies between those prices and the fixed contracts negotiated with suppliers like BHP spurred the Chinese to begin pressing for more flexible pricing.
BHP gradually complied, negotiating an increasing portion of its prices to the Chinese according to the spot market.
“This announcement is pretty much a clarification of what BHP has been doing for some time now,” Phillip Price, steel editor of the Metal Bulletin in London, said.
As a result, the change gives neither the Chinese nor the Australians an inherent advantage. But Brazil, China's other leading source of ore, is another story.
Australia is closer to China, giving it what should be a pricing advantage to Brazil. But Brazil's suppliers, led by Vale (NYSE:VALE – News), have generally negotiated prices ahead of shipping costs and at a premium to Australian ore.
During the first quarter, ore prices from Brazil averaged 95 per ton while Australian ore priced out near 81. Current shipping rates from Australia are around 13.50 per ton; from Brazil, around 35. This means the Chinese are paying a 38% premium for Brazil's ore.
BHP's new approach could give China some leverage in narrowing that gap.
“Spot prices put everybody on a level playing field on a delivered basis,” said analyst Tony Robson with BMO Capital Markets-Canada.
Firms that mine iron ore, copper, nickel, uranium and other metals fill IBD's metal ores group. Iron ore, the raw material for steel, is the biggest bite of the apple. Copper is next.
Three companies in the group, BHP, Rio Tinto (NYSE:RTP – News) and Vale, control 75% of the world's seaborne iron ore trade. BHP is also diversified into petroleum production projects, but sees more than 85% of its revenue from mining interests.
Chile's Codelco is the largest producer of copper in the world. Phelps Dodge, owned by Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX – News), is the second largest. BHP is No. 3.
Name Of The Game: This is not an industry for startups. The biggest players own the bulk of existing resources. They fight to manage production levels, ratchet down costs and battle each other to negotiate the best delivery prices possible.
The global markets for iron ore, copper and other base metals are largely determined by construction markets and infrastructure development. Makers of steel and copper pipe and wiring are the largest buyers. Markets in the U.S. and Europe had dominated the customer list since the post-WWII era.
In the past half decade, China has become the dominant player in global metals demand. But markets in India, Russia and Brazil are also rising rapidly, redistributing the power of the purse across the global market.
“There has been a change across all of the base metals in the weight of consumption — away from the developed countries toward developing countries,” said Gayle Berry, metals analyst with Barclays in London.
The climate across the metal ores group is roughly the same as the global economy: overcast skies, with a chance of lightning. Iron ore prices that had never topped 100 a ton last year swept up to near 200, then fell to current levels, near 50. Copper prices jumped from near 1 per pound to above 4 during the same period, and now hover between 2 and 3.
The outlook for the iron ore trade has grown blustery, however, as China-based aluminum producer Chinalco and BHP have fought over a combination of some sort with Australia's other major ore supplier, Rio Tinto.
Rio shareholders balked in May over a possible takeover by Chinalco. The deal valued the company below the market and raised concerns regarding China's increased pricing power over the commodity.
BHP had called off an ongoing hostile takeover effort last November. But it re-entered the fray last month, arranging a melding of the two companies' Australian ore operations.
The companies are calling the arrangement a joint venture. China fears the collapsing of what has been a three-party oligopoly into a duopoly, with its critical Australian ore supply managed by a single, two-headed interest.
BHP and Rio pledge to maintain separate marketing operations and independent shipments, although the mining operations that produce the ore would be jointly owned and managed.
“They have very clearly tried to pacify whatever opposition they were reading, especially from the European antitrust authorities,” said BMO's Robson.
BHP's agreeing to China's demands to provide some spot market flexibility could also be a move designed to appease fears of a lock on the market.
“You are just talking about a very basic business conflict here,” said steel analyst Mark Parr with Keybanc Capital Markets. “The Chinese are increasingly dependent on imported raw materials for steel making, and Australia continues to represent the most vital long-term supply source.”
Vale is addressing the ore price war by also adopting a more flexible approach to pricing, and with a move into new territory: shipping. The Brazil-based operation announced last August it had ordered 12 large-scale ore carriers from China-based shipbuilder Jiangsu Rongsheng Heavy Industries at a total price of 1.6 billion.
This puts Vale at the forefront of ore producers capturing what has been a very unpredictable pricing link in their supply chain to customers.
Mining and smelting technology haven't changed much over the years.
The biggest advances may come from the metal ore sector's customers. New technology lets steel makers use lower-quality — and cheaper — iron ore. And the industry is working on ways to reduce the raw materials and energy used in the steel-making process.
The long-term outlook for metal ores is powerfully positive. China is swinging into an era of development that matches or even exceeds the immense buildout of U.S. infrastructure that followed WWII and lasted into the 1960s.
How long will China's development phase last?
“My thinking is at least another 10 years,” said Peter Kakela, professor and iron ore industry analyst with the University of Michigan.
Upside: World stockpiles of steel and copper have been drawn down and production levels are relatively in balance, so oversupplies are not accruing. In addition, a weak dollar and strong pricing in China bode well for U.S. domestic steel makers, potentially boosting ore demand on the domestic front.
“Given that prices in the U.S. continue to be well below the prices in China, the opportunity for further upside in U.S. pricing appears above average even without any increase in demand,” Parr said.
Risks: The shorter-term outlook is more challenging. China appears to be the lead dog in a possible global economic recovery. It imported record levels of iron ore, copper and other goods in April, May and June.
Analysts are now closely watching to see whether that activity will hold into July, or whether it was a temporary, stimulus-driven bump.
WASHINGTON (AFP) –
President Barack Obama on Friday expressed sadness at the death of former Philippine president Corazon Aquino, describing her as a historic figure who helped restore democracy to her country.
Obama “was deeply saddened” by news of Aquino's death, read a statement late Friday from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
Aquino “played a crucial role in Philippines history”, moving the country to democratic rule through her non-violent “People Power” movement over 20 years ago.
“Her courage, determination, and moral leadership are an inspiration to us all and exemplify the best in the Filipino nation. On behalf of the American people, the President extends his deepest condolences to the Aquino family and the nation of the Philippines,” the statement read.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hailed Aquino as an inspiration.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the Aquino family and all the people of the Philippines on the death of former president Corazon Aquino,” Clinton said in a statement.
“Cory Aquino was beloved by her nation and admired by the world for her extraordinary courage after the assassination of her husband, and later, during her service as president.
“She helped bring democracy back to the Philippines after many years of authoritarian rule with a faith in her country and its people that never wavered.”
Clinton, a onetime first lady who narrowly lost a bid last year to become her Democratic Party's nomination for president, said Aquino served as an inspiration to her and her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
The country's current president, Gloria Arroyo, was in the United States on an official trip at the time of Aquino's death.
Manila is a longstanding Washington ally in Southeast Asia, and Arroyo was the region's first leader to visit the White House since Obama's January inauguration.
JOHANNESBURG, South AfricaA South African policeman guarding former South African President Nelson Mandela’s home shot and killed himself Saturday, police said.
A police sergeant working for the police VIP unit killed himself outside Nelson Mandela’s Johannesburg home.
The police sergeant, who was working for the police VIP unit, killed himself while on duty at the guard house outside Mandela’s Johannesburg home, National Police spokeswoman Sally de Beer said. Mandela, who rose to lead South Africa after being a prisoner of the former apartheid government, was at home at the time, but was not in any danger, de Beer said. The shooting occurred at around 11 a.m. (5 a.m. ET), de Beer said. She did not identify the sergeant, but said he was 37 and had been a member of the South African Police Service since 2005. Before that, he was a member of the South African Defence Force, she said. He used his service weapon in the act, she said. Police said there was no apparent reason for the suicide. The Nelson Mandela Foundation said it was aware of the incident, but referred all calls to the South African police.
DEAR ABBY: My mother lives on Social Security and has very little savings left since Dad died last year. I manage her affairs, and I’m trying to encourage her to save some of her money for emergencies.
The problem is my 38-year-old brother, “Jeff.” He will not keep a job, and he’s burning through the little bit of savings she has. It has reached the point that Mom is now hiding food in her own house so she’ll have something to eat.
Jeff recently brought a woman to stay with him. Because he can’t pay the rent and utility bills on his trailer, he now spends a lot of time at Mom’s house. He has ruined the car he was given when Dad died and now drives Mom’s car.
I want to put the deadbeat on the road, but Mom feels she needs to help him. Jeff has made three or four suicide attempts, but I think it’s just to get pity and mooch some more. How can I get her to see that he’s not trying to help himself and he’s just using her? She knows my feelings but doesn’t want me to say anything. — WORRIED SON IN SOUTH CAROLINA
DEAR WORRIED SON: Hiding food in order to eat? An adult son spending his mother’s savings? Your brother may have emotional problems, but he may also be guilty of elder abuse.
I urge you to discuss this matter with a social worker or someone with a background in psychology who can help your mother recognize that she’s not helping Jeff by enabling him. Not only that, she’s risking her own health and welfare. The nearest senior center or area agency on aging, listed in your local telephone directory under Senior Services, can put you in touch with someone. Please don’t wait.
DEAR ABBY: Last February you printed a letter I wrote signed “Sports Dad Down South” about how to handle my out-of-control son, “Trent,” who was a star athlete in school. In May, you featured an entire column of letters you had received in response to mine. I thank you for that.
Just as an update, my son was expelled from his high school for behavioral issues and three failed classes. The scholarship offers he had received from several Division I universities were withdrawn.
As one mom wrote to you about her experience, the coaches pushed my son on to the next game, where he performed up to all expectations. But they forgot entirely that these kids are called “student athletes” for a reason. They are students first, athletes second. As a result of that insanity, Trent lost any chance of having a career in baseball.
A word to the wise to other parents of rising young stars: Be careful. Watch for the warning signs that you are losing control to the sports mania. I didn’t recognize them and respond in time. There is no going back. Abby, if my voice can prevent another family from falling into this high school madness, I will feel I did the right thing by writing. — SPORTS DAD SPEAKS AGAIN
DEAR SPORTS DAD: I’m glad you wrote, and so — I am sure — will be the parents of high school athletes everywhere. Your son has learned a bitter life lesson. But better that he learned it early than if he had been similarly pushed through college with no skills to show for it.
What happened to your son doesn’t have to be a tragedy. There is still time for Trent to get his GED, to mature emotionally and decide on a direction for his future. He will find more than one road to success once he decides which path to take.
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.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for 12 (U.S. funds)
to: Dear Abby — Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)
ATLANTA – Ordained a United Methodist minister, the Rev. Chester Cook has now become a jack of all faiths.
On a recent day, Cook welcomed a Christian-oriented Army chaplain, a Muslim family and a Buddhist ticket agent to his interfaith chapel at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — a snapshot of the grab bag of faithful who make a stop in the chapel.
Across the country, chapels designed to offer passengers refuge and reflection in bustling airports are making changes: Removing denomination-specific decor, adding special accommodations and hosting services geared to accommodate an increasingly diverse group of travelers flying with faith.
In Atlanta, it means a simple stained-glass window marking the entrance to the 1,040-square-foot chapel on the third floor. Inside there’s room for 30, and a library stocking everything from Gideon Bibles to Jewish mystical texts. A large floor mat provides a cushiony spot to kneel for prayer; officials don’t set it aside for any specific faith.
“There are representations of almost every faith,” said Cook, who recently oversaw a 200,000 renovation that more than doubled the chapel to its current size. “There are Buddhists in their orange robes, there are some Hindus … I helped a Wiccan one time.”
About 1,500 people per week visit the chapel, a fraction of the 250,000 people who pass through the world’s busiest airport each day.
The chapel remains unadorned to maintain its interfaith feel.
“We try to help others be respectful in honoring the way someone else may practice their faith,” said Cook, adding that Christmas decorations are kept to a minimum.
On a recent Wednesday, baggage checker William Lowe stood, raised his hands, and dropped his head for one of the multiple daily prayers he observes as a Muslim.
Moments later, Army chaplain Al Spitler ducked into the chapel to thumb through a Bible and pray for guidance as he prepared to return to Iraq and his duties counseling fearful soldiers.
“I could’ve done the same thing in a chair,” he said. “(But) it’s kind of a holy place, a private place.”
Removing the crosses and other typical markers of church to make others welcome might seem extreme in a more traditional chapel.
But the nation’s roughly 34 airports with chapels cater to a mixed community with a changing range of faith needs, according to the Rev. John A. Jamnicky, former chaplain of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and a 20-year veteran of travel ministry.
He said airport chapels date back to the 1940s when the explosion of commercial aviation, combined with a surplus of military chaplains home from World War II, gave church leaders the idea to mix faith with flying. The first known airport chapel was opened in 1951 at Boston’s Logan International Airport, according to the International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains.
It started a trend. Over time, airport chapels became largely Catholic in northern cities like Chicago and New York, and Protestant in southern cities like Atlanta and Dallas, Jamnicky said.
As travelers become more numerous and more diverse, Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports now advertise prayer rugs and special Muslim facilities. Chapels created at airports in Norfolk, Va., and Tulsa, Okla., in the last decade have been interfaith. And in Cleveland, airport officials have discussed toning down the Catholic orientation of the airport’s ornate chapel.
“It’s responding to the needs that are present in our society and among travelers, ” Jamnicky said.
Airports also are looking to conserve space, said the Rev. Michael Zaniolo, chaplain at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, and president of the National Conference of Catholic Airport Chaplains. In the past, some airports have had multiple chapels to accommodate various faiths.
“Instead of having four or five very small chapels, we’ve got one nice-sized chapel,” he said, referring to chapels across the country. “And it’s available for everyone.”
The airport chapel in Atlanta offers a one-size-fits-all religious experience. A silhouette of a person kneeling is the only prominent icon in the chapel. Spare rosaries, yarmulkes, prayer shawls and a Catholic Mass kit are tucked away for use as needed.
A large compass on the chapel floor, meanwhile, was created with multiple faiths in mind.
“We also looked at the direction of the chapel so that the north, south, east and west could all be clearly understood without using any religious symbols,” Cook said, explaining that Jews, Muslims and members of other faiths face east for prayer.
Maher Subeh, wife Ilham and children Bashar, 14, Zayd,12, and Noor, 9, recently slipped off their sneakers and readied for prayer. Each folded their legs beneath them and solemnly bowed on the large chapel mat for a few moments, before grabbing their luggage for a flight back to Los Angeles.
The Muslim family rarely sees chapels in American airports and was glad to have an alternative to praying in a corner of the crowded terminal among onlookers.
“Sometimes they don’t know what you’re doing,” said Maher Subeh, adding that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the ritual gained uncomfortable attention.
Cook smiled at the family as they trundled out, and a ticket agent who frequents the chapel to meditate slipped in.
On the Net:
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International chapel, http://www.airportchapel.org
TEL AVIV (Reuters) –
A gunman sprayed automatic fire at an Israeli club for gay teenagers on Saturday, killing two people and wounding at least eight, police and witnesses said.
The shooting spree in central Tel Aviv set off a citywide security clampdown, reviving memories of Palestinian attacks that have ebbed in recent years. But a police spokesman said that the incident was “criminal, rather than nationalistic.”
Citing witnesses, Israeli television said a black-clad, masked gunman stormed into the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association building and opened fire in a basement room where teenage homosexuals were holding a weekly support group.
Most of the casualties were minors, the police spokesman said, adding that the assailant was believed to have used an automatic weapon such as an M-16 rifle.
“This is an unprecedented event for Israel and for the community,” association director May Pamel told Channel 10 TV.
“We have joined the roster of 'civilized' countries where hatred is the standard.”
Coastal, cosmopolitan Tel Aviv has a bustling gay scene, but open homosexuality is less welcome in conservative areas of the Jewish state. Annual gay pride parades in Jerusalem meet with often violent protests from ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Tel Aviv police chief Shachar Ayalon stopped short of branding the shooting a hate crime remarks to reporters.
But one protester at the scene held up a placard blaming a powerful religious Jewish political party whose members have regularly inveighed against gays.
Israeli media said police had warned other gay clubs in Tel Aviv to close for fear of a follow-up attack.
(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Michael Roddy)
US concern as Iran holds tourists
The US says it is using all available means to assist three Americans arrested inside Iran after apparently straying across the Iraqi border.Iran accuses the three of ignoring warnings from border guards and crossing into its territory on Friday from Iraq’s Kurdish region. Washington has asked the Swiss, who look after US interests in Teheran, to seek consular access to the three. The border between Iran and Iraq is reportedly poorly marked. A Kurdish government official, Bayan Abdurahman, told the BBC the Americans had entered the region as tourists on a walking tour. They had travelled to the resort of Ahmed Awa, where apparently they ignored local warnings not to climb a mountain close to the border. The BBC’s Jon Donnison, in Washington, says the detentions are possibly the last thing the US government wanted given how strained relations already are by the dispute over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and its recent elections. Tourist resortEarlier, a senior security official in the Iraqi city of Suleymaniyeh, Qadr Hamajan, told Reuters news agency that the three US nationals and a fourth man had arrived there on Wednesday.
He said three of them had travelled the following day to the tourist resort of Ahmad Awa near the Iranian border. They went out hiking near Halabja. The fourth was taken ill and stayed behind in a hotel in Suleymaniyeh. “They phoned their friend … and told him ‘we are in trouble and are being held by soldiers who are not speaking Kurdish or Arabic’,” Mr Hamajan said. An official in the region told the BBC that the Iraqi border guards had seen three Americans with big backpacks crossing the border, but they did not stop them because they thought Americans were allowed to go anywhere. The mountainous border region is popular for hiking, and the American walkers had no interpreter or bodyguards. Reports earlier said American helicopters and vehicles searched the area amid fears the three had crossed the border.
Judge jails 15 Colombian soldiers
A Colombian judge has sentenced 15 soldiers to up to 30 years in prison for killing civilians and presenting them as rebels.The case involved two restaurant workers killed in 2006. The soldiers were among those accused of “false positives”, in which killings were faked to claim success against rebels or drug cartels. The Colombian attorney general’s office is investigating more than a thousand such murders. Among those sentenced on Saturday were an officer, three subordinates and six ordinary soldiers who were found to have taken part in the killing of the two restaurant workers and were sentenced to 30 years. Five others were sentenced to four years in jail for covering up details about the case. The men disappeared on their way home from work in May 2006. Their bodies were later presented as rebels killed in combat. The BBC’s Jeremy McDermott reports from Medellin that the army abuses have hurt the human rights reputation of the security forces and the government of President Alvaro Uribe. Investigators say there could be anything up to 1,500 civilian victims, with more cases being reported all the time. Most victims are poor or homeless people, often lured to their deaths by promises of employment. The government insists that the practice has been stopped, our correspondent says.