LOS ANGELES (Reuters) –
Actor Kelsey Grammer said on Saturday that his heart attack last year was probably the result of stress and that it had given him a chance to re-tool his life.
Grammer, 54, best-known for his roles in the TV sitcoms “Frasier” and “Cheers”, has said he almost died of the heart attack in May 2008. Six weeks later he was back in the hospital after feeling faint.
The health scares followed close on the cancellation of his 2008 TV comedy series “Back to You”, in which he played a pompous TV news anchor, after just one season.
“There is obviously some connection to one's life and the stress that takes place in one's life,” Grammer told television reporters on Saturday.
He said doctors had examined his arteries and found no blockages and no high cholesterol levels that would explain a heart attack.
“I had an event they think was stress related. You can make of that what you will.
“It was not a great year…Maybe it was my time to get re-tooled a bit. It was probably a great thing. I am now healthier, stronger, faster…Things are really looking good,” he said.
Grammer is to star in a new comedy “Hank” on the ABC television channel from September, in which he plays a wealthy New York businessman who loses his money in the stock market crash and has to downsize.
Archive for August 8th, 2009
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) –
Pakistan demands Taliban evidence
Pakistan’s interior minister has challenged the Taliban to prove their leaders are still alive, after reports that two of them have been killed.Rehman Malik told the BBC officials had non-physical evidence that the top commander, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a US missile attack on Wednesday. He said intelligence suggested a shoot-out later broke out between Mehsud’s potential successors in which one died. The Taliban has accused the interior ministry of making up the incident. However, the militant group’s spokesmen were also unable to offer any physical evidence to disprove the government’s claims. ‘Credible information’In an interview with the BBC, Mr Malik denied the allegation that the Pakistani security forces had no evidence proving that Mehsud was killed along with one of his wives in a strike on his father-in-law’s house in the Zangarha area, north-east of Ladha, on Wednesday.
“The day before yesterday, there was credible information coming from inside the area that Baitullah Mehsud had been killed,” the minister said. “This credible information had come right from sources based in South Waziristan, and particularly in Ladha.” But Mr Malik admitted that the government did not have “any material evidence so far confirming that Baitullah Mehsud is dead”. He said intelligence suggested that a “scuffle” had broken out between Mehsud’s potential successors in Waziristan on Friday in which one of them, Hakimullah Mehsud, was killed. Local media also said a shoot-out had happened. “Obviously, it is not a story made up by us. This fight must have happened because of the succession,” he added. Mr Malik said Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman, the other leader allegedly involved in the shootout, had long been hostile towards each other. “They had been fighting in the past and we have information that there has been enmity between Waliur and Hakimullah since they were fighting together in Kurram valley,” he said. “Hakimullah was replaced by Baitullah Mehsud with Waliur.” On Saturday morning, however, Hakimullah Mehsud told the BBC by telephone that reports of his and Mehsud’s death were “ridiculous”. “The news regarding our respected chief is propaganda by our enemies,” he said.
“We know what our enemies want to achieve – it’s the joint policy of the ISI [Pakistani intelligence service] and FBI – they want our chief to come out in the open so they can achieve their target.” He said the Pakistani leader had decided to adopt the tactics of Osama bin Laden and stay silent. He said he would issue a message in the next few days. But Mr Malik challenged the Taliban to prove their version of events. “If Baitullah Mehsud is alive, or Hakimullah is alive, why don’t they bring out a video. Every telephone has a camera on it. They can just get one out and show people that they are alive. I challenge them.” Believed to command as many as 20,000 pro-Taliban militants, Mehsud came to worldwide attention in the aftermath of the 2007 Red Mosque siege in Islamabad – in which the security forces confronted and forcibly ejected militant students loyal to him. He has been blamed by both Pakistan and the US for a series of suicide bomb attacks in the country, as well as suicide attacks on Western forces across the border in Afghanistan.
Medics avoid mental health help
The vast majority of doctors would not seek medical help for mental health problems, a survey suggests.Career worries, professional integrity and stigma were listed as the main reasons for doctors’ reluctance to seek help for problems such as depression. Medics are more likely to discuss mental health problems with family and friends, the survey of 2,500 doctors in Birmingham reported. The researchers said such reluctance could put doctors and patients at risk. The researchers said the anonymous survey, published in the journal Clinical Medicine, is the first of its kind outside the psychiatric profession. It found only 13% of respondents would choose to disclose their illness to a GP or another health professional. And when it comes to inpatient treatment, 79% would opt for treatment in either a private or distant facility, rather than be treated by local NHS services. ConfidentialityThe responses suggested such decisions appear most often to be based around concerns that personal information would not be kept confidential and the effect that could have on a doctor’s career. They also found 41% of respondents would seek informal medical advice, but 8% would either self-medicate or opt for no treatment at all. In all, 12.4% indicated that they had experienced a mental illness. Dr Alfred White, consultant psychiatrist at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust and one of the researchers, said the fact they had a 70% response rate from the initial 3,500 questionnaires suggested this was an important issue for doctors. “Doctors who are reluctant to seek professional advice for mental health issues may be putting themselves, and possibly also their patients, at risk and we are concerned that there are a lack of options for doctors who feel they are mentally unwell.
He added: “Doctors suffer higher levels for depression and substance misuse, as well as higher rates of suicide than the general population. “The apparent lack of confidence in the current system protecting doctors’ confidentiality may exacerbate these trends.” He called for better support for doctors with mental health problems. Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said: “Many people are afraid to disclose their mental health problems in the workplace for fear that they will be seen as ‘weak’ or ‘less capable’ than others. “It says a lot about stigma that people who are more enlightened about mental health, still see being open about their problems as a barrier to career progression. “Doctors work long hours under extreme pressure, and it’s important that they feel they can seek medical support when they need it, just like anyone else.” A spokeswoman for the British Medical Association said the findings backed up their own research, which suggested that as well as confidentiality, many worry that admitting to mental health problems could be a barrier to career progression. “What we need is culture change to battle the stigma of mental illness. “Doctors should feel free to seek help from the NHS rather than think they need to hide what they’re going through.” A spokeswoman for mental health charity Rethink said: “If doctors themselves are unable to overcome the stigma surrounding mental illness then what hope is there for the rest of us. “The fact that stigma remains strong among doctors – professionals who by definition should know that mental health problems can affect anyone at any time – shows just how entrenched the prejudice is.”
MPs attack UK’s role in rendition
The government has not done enough to investigate the transfer of terror suspects through British territories, a report by MPs has said.The study found there was inadequate investigation into the transportation of two men through the small British Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia. The Foreign Affairs Select Committee also had grave concerns that British officers were complicit in torture. The Foreign Office said ministers would respond to Parliament in due course. The committee said there was a “moral and legal obligation” on ministers to ensure UK airspace and airports were not used as part of the “rendition circuit”. Risk of complicityIt also expressed concern that allegations continued to be made about the use of the giant American airbase on Diego Garcia for US “rendition” flights carrying terrorist suspects. The cross-party group of MPs urged ministers to pile pressure on the US to carry out a comprehensive check of its records to establish whether there have been other cases beyond two from 2002 it admitted last year. The committee also said it was “imperative” the government was faithful to its legal requirement to actively prevent torture and to investigate allegations it had taken place.
The report said there was a danger the UK could be complicit in torture if it turned a blind eye while using information obtained in countries known for their human rights abuses. The committee said: “There is a risk that use of evidence which may have been obtained under torture on a regular basis, especially where it is not clear that protestations about mistreatment have elicited any change in behaviour by foreign intelligence services, could be construed as complicity in such behaviour.” ‘Pulling punches’Committee chairman Mike Gapes said: “The government has a duty to use information that comes into its possession, from whatever source and however obtained, if it believes this will avert the loss of life. “At the same time, we strongly recommend that the government should continue to exert as much persuasion and pressure as possible to try to ensure world-wide that torture is not employed as a method of interrogation.” The committee had particular concerns over Britain’s relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, and it accused the Foreign Office of “pulling its punches” over the “massive scale” of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia. “The fact that Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally of the UK should not lead to an official policy of turning a blind eye to its human rights failings,” the committee said.
The report comes as Scotland Yard is conducting a criminal investigation into claims that MI5 was complicit in the abuse of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who says he was tortured while being held at sites in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan. Amnesty International UK campaigns director Tim Hancock described the report as “yet another voice in a growing chorus demanding greater transparency over the UK’s involvement in ‘war on terror’ human rights abuses”, and demanded a full, independent inquiry. “The committee rightly asks some very pointed questions about the use of UK airspace and territory, particularly Diego Garcia, in US rendition operations,” he said. “Britain should stand firm in its opposition to torture, both through our words and our actions.” Andrew Tyrie, the Tory MP who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition, said an inquiry should be held immediately. “The… committee is mistaken to suggest that an independent judicial inquiry into allegations of UK complicity in torture should await a conclusion to ‘current court cases’,” he said. “Neither the investigation by the police into the Binyam Mohamed case nor the other civil actions brought should stand in the way of getting to the bottom of this. “It is the only way to give the public confidence that we have got to the bottom of all of this, to draw a line under it and to move on.”
LONDON, EnglandForty seven-year-old Australian “adrenaline junkie” Sean Langman will attempt to break the 50-knot sailing speed barrier with his half sailboat, half plane, after a serious crash last summer.
The half sailboat, half plane uses technology known as supercavitationsailing just above the water’s edge.more photos »
Langman, a shipyard owner and yachtsman, is intent on beating the French-set record within the next few weeks, with the “Wot Rocket,” a canoe-style pod with a nine meter-longrigid sail. The Wot Rocket is waiting for confirmation from the World Sailing Speed Record Council to attempt, once again, an unprecedented technology known as “supercavitation”sailing just above the water in a gas bubble created by the deflection of water. This is to to reduce the drag which is around 1,000 times greater in the water than in the air. “Wot Rocket is so exciting as we push to sail up to three times the speed of the wind,” Langman told CNN. In October last year Langman and his co-pilot crashed when they lost control of the vessel at 42 knotsover 60 miles per hour. But after re-building and perfecting the vessel at a cost of half a million dollars, Langman is ready to try again. “The exhilaration of sailing/flying is so big, you don’t think about danger,” he told CNN.
Each month CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta brings viewers health stories from around the world.
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Langman is certain that this time around he will beat the record. “My only concern is we won’t be able to keep control of the craft.” In case the pilots crash again, Langman says the most thing is to remain calm.”Last time I felt a mild panic as we were underwater. I just hoped the paramedics would get there in time. “But really I feel very safe doing anything on water as that what I’ve done my whole life. I feel most ‘in tune’ when I’m on water,” he added. The idea for Wot Rocket was conceived four years ago by Langman after he was inspired by the story of Burt Munro, the New Zealander who set a world land speed record on his modified Indian Scout motorcycle in 1967played by Antony Hopkins in the 2005 Hollywood movie “The World’s Fastest Indian.” Do you think the wotrocket can beat the record? “I came up with the idea in the shower. So I presented it to a group of engineers and said ‘this is what I believe.’Most said I’m a lunatic but one said ‘I want to work with you’.” Langman joined forces with leading Australian designer Andy Dovell and sought input from Boeing 747 pilots for their aeronautical knowledge. He then had the “Wot Rocket” built using the staff and facilities at his various Shipyards. Finally, he teamed up with Wotif.com founder Graeme Wood who invested in the project because, as he explained,he “likes leftfield ideas.”
“My family think I’m crazy, but every time I’ve had an idea it’s taken me somewhere. It’s really about ideas versus science and trying to make it work,” Langman explained. “And no one remembers the second man to walk on the moon.”
Espanyol captain Daniel Jarque has died from a heart attack while on a pre-season training camp in Italy.
Jarque’s death has stunned Barcelona-based Espanyol.
The 26-year-old defenderdied at the hotel where the team were staying in the town of Coviciana. He was found after teammates realized he had not come for an evening meal. Club doctors and Italian paramedics tried to revive Jarque, a product of the Espanyol youth system, but without success. Jarque’s death comes two years after the death, also from heart failure, of Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta, who died after collapsing in the opening game of the Spanish Primera Liga season. It is shattering blow for the Barcelona-based club, who beat Liverpool 3-0 in a pre-season friendly as part of their preparation for the start of La Liga with Jarque playing in the match. A statement on the club Web site, www.rcdespanyol.cat confirmed the terrible news on Saturday night. “Tragedy struck Espanyol and the family of Dani Jarque this evening. The blanquiazul player died from a cardiac arrest. ” “The doctor Cervera carried out CPR on the player and used a defibrillator, which showed that the arrest was non-responsive. “The medical services continued carrying out CPR, administering adrenaline and atropine for an hour, but the player’s heart did not react, so finally that determined his death. “RCD Espanyol, broken with pain, wish to put themselves at the absolute disposition of the family of our captain Dani Jarque, to whom go our warmest thoughts.” Espanyol, who had been due to play Italian side Bologna on Sunday, have suspended their pre-season tour of Italy and will fly back to Barcelona. Jarque joined Espanyol at the age of 12, making his debut in 2002, and was given the captaincy this summer as a reward for his strong performances.
CAIRO, Egypt — Iranian state-run television Saturday announced that a trial had resumed for more than 100 opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , but most of the day's programming consisted of parenting shows, nature footage accompanied by French meditations and a documentary on the North Pole .
Even on Reporter's Day, which is supposed to honor journalists who've been imprisoned or killed in the line of duty, Iran is carefully filtering news of the trials of well-known reformist leaders and other activists on charges related to plotting an alleged “soft coup” against the government.
Political analysts say the regime hopes to discredit its opponents and find legal cover for a massive and often violent crackdown that began after Iran's disputed June elections, which Ahmadinejad won.
Critics, however, say that tactic is backfiring, as the lack of transparency, identical charges and carefully scripted statements draw mockery, especially from urban and more educated Iranians who view the trial not as a legitimate legal proceeding but as a brazen warning to opposition sympathizers.
“With everyone from a former vice president to a Newsweek reporter all confessing the same thing, it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out the confessions were written for them,” said Shiva Balaghi, a fellow at the Cogut Center at Brown University .
When Iranian media eventually released some trial coverage Saturday, state-run channels and news services again focused on the purported confessions and allegations of a Western-backed opposition plot to overthrow the government. Iranian leaders repeatedly have accused the United States and Europe of helping to fuel the now almost-daily clashes between Iranian security forces and supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi , the opposition leader who charges that Ahmadinejad stole the election.
A new batch of defendants appeared in court Saturday, including a young French academic and local Iranian employees of European embassies in Tehran .
France and the European Union are demanding the release of 23-year-old French national Clotilde Reiss , who told the court that she made a mistake by attending a demonstration and said she'd gone out of “personal motives.”
Reiss, 24, is accused of acting against Iran's national security by joining protests, gathering information, taking photos and sending them abroad, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. She appeared in court wearing a headscarf and struggled to keep it from sliding as she issued her confession in halting but proficient Farsi, part of which was broadcast on IRINN ( Islamic Republic of Iran News Network). Reiss said she'd spoken to Iranian friends about the protests, and then e-mailed information to individuals in France .
IRNA also reported that defendant Hossein Rassam , an Iranian political analyst at the British Embassy , told the court that he was instructed to establish contacts between the British government and opposition leaders, and that Britain had allocated about 500,000 for the project. Rassam is charged with espionage and “acting against national security,” according to IRNA.
Rassam said he'd followed the orders of his British employers and attended the protests. He also admitted to meeting with opposition figures in the months before the election. He also confessed to sending information on to London .
Britain's Foreign Office issued a statement in response to what it called “this latest outrage.”
“We deplore these trials and the so-called confessions of prisoners who have been denied their basic human rights,” the statement read.
The accused have limited, if any, access to attorneys, and only a handful of them reportedly have been allowed brief phone calls to relatives. Iranian and international media receive only government-authorized access to the proceedings. When some of the defendants appeared on television to offer stilted, apparently rehearsed “confessions,” Iranians immediately took to the Internet to denounce the admissions as false and coerced.
Following the first trial on Aug. 2 , Mousavi issued a statement through his Ghalam News service that “the teeth of the torturers and interrogators had hit the bone of the people,” called the allegations against the defendants “baseless” and dismissed the confessions.
“I investigated the claims against them and didn't find them to be true. But what I heard were deep moans that spoke to the painful 50 days they've endured . . . . I saw crushed human beings who would confess to anything,” Mousavi wrote in Ghalam. “And, really, what else do they have to say other than the story of their suffering?”
Perhaps the most provocative part of the trial is the prosecution of Mohammad Abtahi , a relatively moderate cleric who was vice president under the reformist government of former President Mohammad Khatami . Abtahi appeared on the first day of the trial, Aug. 1 , without his clerical robes and confessed to the court that the opposition spread lies about election fraud and planned even before the vote to seize power through an East European-style velvet” revolution.
Abtahi's wife, Fahimeh Mousavinejad, told Human Rights Watch that she'd learned of her husband's trial from media reports. She said that she'd been able to visit her husband only once, on July 30 .
“We sat together in a room where a video camera filmed us, and if we deviated slightly from personal affairs, we were reprimanded,” she told Human Rights Watch . Abtahi “was weak and unhealthy, his body was shaking. He had lost more than 36 pounds. I was surprised to see him taken into court in that condition.”
Abtahi's confession was deemed especially absurd, given his long record of outspoken opposition to the government.
“It's gone too far. You can't treat a vice president in this manner, stripping him of his cloak. (Abtahi) is a mullah, an ayatollah, and on television we saw him in an ordinary shirt. That's a big disrespect,” said Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh , a professor at Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran and the director of the Eurosevic research foundation in London .
“Perhaps the regime would be wise enough to put some facade of legality on this,” Mojtahed-Zadeh said, “because these show trials are not acceptable in any way, by anyone.”
Allam reported from Cairo, Egypt . McClatchy special correspondent Parvaz reported from Vancouver, Canada .
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Christian rock band MercyMe canceled a show Saturday in the St. Louis area after its tour bus collided with a car in northeastern Indiana, killing two passengers in the car and the pregnant car driver’s unborn baby.
No one in the band was seriously injured, sustaining what they described as “minor bumps and bruises.” A news story on the crash and a photo of the damaged front of the bus were posted on the band’s Web site Saturday.
“MercyMe would like to express their incredible heartache over this horrible accident,” the band said in a statement. “They are praying for the families of all who this will affect, and are asking others to please pray as well.”
Fort Wayne police Officer Liza Thomas said witnesses told police the bus was going through a green light about 1:15 a.m. when the car made a left turn in front of it. The band from the Dallas area had been in Fort Wayne for a Friday night show at Parkview Field.
“Their hearts are heavy,” the band’s statement said. “They appreciate the concern they have received from people all over the world.”
Two passengers in the car, a male and female, were pronounced dead. Driver Kara Klinker, 18, of Fort Wayne, was in her third trimester of pregnancy and the baby died. Klinker was hospitalized Saturday in critical condition, Thomas said.
Authorities haven’t released the names of those killed because their families haven’t yet been notified, Thomas said.
Six Flags St. Louis in Eureka, Mo., issued a statement saying MercyMe’s Saturday show had been rescheduled for Sept. 5. All concert tickets will be honored for the new date, it said.
The band expected other tour stops to go on as scheduled.
MercyMe, known for its 2001 single “I Can Only Imagine,” started in 1994 in Greenville, Texas, where several band members live. In July, the band was ranked ninth on Billboard magazine’s Top Christian Albums list for “10,” (INO/Provident-Integrity).
MercyMe has sold more than 5 million records, won several Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, an American Music Award and been nominated for a Grammy.
On the Net:
EU hits out at Tehran over trial
European nations have strongly criticised the latest trials in Iran over the unrest that followed the disputed presidential poll.Iranian workers at the French and British embassies and a French national were among dozens of detainees to appear in court in Tehran. The EU presidency said action against any EU national or embassy would be seen as an act against the whole bloc. The UK and France also spoke out against the trial. This is the second group trial of those accused of taking part in the mass protests that erupted after the 12 June election. Last week more than 100 people, including leading reformers, appeared in court in Tehran on charges including conspiracy. ‘Spying for foreigners’The group that appeared in court in Tehran on Saturday included reformist lawmakers and journalists, all wearing grey prison clothes. They are accused of crimes including rioting, spying and plotting to overthrow the government. Hossein Rassam, the most senior Iranian employee at the British embassy, stands accused of “spying for foreigners”. Prosecutors accuse him of monitoring the riots on the ground along with two UK diplomats who have since been expelled.
An Iranian employee of the French embassy, Nazak Afshar, was also in the dock, as was 24 year-old French teacher Clotilde Reiss. She has been charged with acting against national security by joining protests and gathering information. Iranian state media reported that all three apologised to the court for their actions. European nations reacted with anger. “This is obviously a show trial directed against the EU,” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told Reuters news agency. The Swedish EU presidency said the trial was an act against the entire bloc. “Actions against one EU country, citizen or embassy staff is considered an action against all of the EU, and will be treated accordingly,” it said in a statement. British Foreign Minister David Miliband criticised what he called “unjustified charges” against a member of embassy staff “going about his legitimate duties”. France’s Foreign Ministry described charges against Ms Reiss as “devoid of foundation”. Ones against Nazak Afshar were “non-existent”, it said. BBC Tehran correspondent Jon Leyne says it is now up to the EU whether they can agree new diplomatic measures, such as the withdrawal of ambassadors, or perhaps new financial sanctions. At least 30 people were killed in the violence that followed the 12 June poll. Official results gave victory to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the opposition says the poll was rigged. The Iranian government has accused Western nations of fuelling the violence. Human rights groups say the Iranian government has detained hundreds of reformers, journalists and opposition supporters since the poll. Mr Ahmadinejad was sworn in earlier this week, but a number of top Iranian officials did not attend.
DENVER – A federal judge was so appalled that a former Colorado prison guard accused of raping an inmate was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor that he imposed 1.3 million in damages in the inmate’s civil lawsuit — a message advocates hope will pressure corrections officials nationwide to protect prisoners from sexual misconduct.
“It sends a strong message to the agency and also individual correctional officers that there’s not going to be immunity to violating the constitutional rights of people they’re required to safeguard,” said Brenda Smith, a member of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission.
The Denver Women’s Correctional Facility inmate said the former guard coerced her into a five-month sexual relationship, and sodomized her when she began refusing his advances, according to court documents.
The former guard pleaded guilty in 2008 to misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact and was sentenced to 60 days in jail.
U.S. District Judge David Ebel (eh-BELL’) in June called the plea deal “simply egregious,” and said the man and some fellow corrections officers “are in need of a strong punitive award in this case to cure them of their disrespect for the law.” The former guard didn’t return a written message seeking comment.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated in 2007 that 38,600 inmates of both genders in federal and state prisons had experienced sexual misconduct by staff. That equals about 2.9 percent of the national prison population.
Inmate advocates hope the Colorado judge’s ruling, as well as Michigan’s decision in July to pay 100 million to settle claims by 500 female inmates who alleged sexual misconduct by officers, will be a deterrent.
“It’ll have an impact in Colorado but also nationally,” said Margaret Winter, associate director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project.
Brian Lathen is a lawyer in Salem, Ore., representing four inmates who say they were victims of sexual misconduct by Oregon state prison staff.
“I hope that it makes all the prisons and women’s facilities around the nation start to better supervise their employees,” Lathen said.
At least three other female inmates in Colorado have civil lawsuits pending in federal court that allege they were forced by state Department of Corrections employees to perform sex acts. Each seeks 150 million in damages.
The three men accused in the lawsuits received either probation or deferred sentences on criminal state charges and had to register as sex offenders. They no longer work for the department.
The Department of Corrections has “seen it happen time and time again,” said Andrea Blancset, an attorney handling the cases. “When there are criminal charges, they don’t go to prison.”
Department spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said the department can and does push for criminal charges in such cases.
As for the former employees’ criminal sentences, she said, “That’s the judges’ and courts’ decisions.”
“What their sentence is has nothing to do with what the department’s position is. We have a no-tolerance policy on sexual misconduct,” Sanguinetti said.
The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, created by Congress under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, recommended in June that prisoners be able to report sexual misconduct to someone outside the prison system.
They also urged Congress to change parts of the 1996 Prison Litigation Reform Act, which requires prisoners to prove they were physically injured before they can receive compensatory damages and to exhaust all internal administrative remedies before going to court.
The act was meant to discourage prisoners from filing frivolous lawsuits. But Winter said the requirements are extreme for sexually abused inmates who fear retaliation for reporting they were attacked.
The U.S. attorney general’s office has a year to issue rules based on the commission’s report.
“We know sexual violence is seriously underreported,” said Smith, the commission member. “The scope of the problem is significant and something that should not be tolerated in civil society.”
On the Net:
National Prison Rape Elimination Commission report: http://nprec.us/publication/download
Tiger Woods is poised to win his seventh title at Firestone after charging to a third round 65 in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Saturday.
Woods swung superbly to charge into contention at Firestone.
Woods started the third day five shots behind leader Padraig Harrington, frustrated by his putting in his second round 70 for a halfway total of two-under 138. But the world number one found his touch with a breathtaking back nine in wet conditions in Akron, Ohio. Woods had made a solid, but unspectacular start, making a birdie on the fifth before giving it back with his only bogey of the third round on the eighth. But a birdie on the second toughest hole on the course at the ninth sparked his charge. Playing impeccable golf from tee to green, Woods gave himself a string of birdie chances and finally made one on the 13th as his second shot spun back to close to the flag. On the 15th, Woods rolled home a 12-footer from another birdie. For once, he missed the fairway on the par-five 16th, and after laying up, his third spun back again to inches from the hole.
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His sixth and final birdie of the day came at the 18th where once again his control of spin and flight saw the ball near to the hole, a six-footer completing his round. At seven-under 203, Woods is set for his fifth victory of the PGA Tour season and ideal preparation for the final major of the year at Hazeltine next week. Woods has been drawn with defending champion Padraig Harrington and Rich Beem for the first two rounds and it was the Irishman who was shaping as his biggest challenger at Firestone. Harrington responded to Woods’ back nine charge by making successive birdies on the 12th and 13th and another at the 15th to maintain his lead, and with South African Tim Clark slipping away was set to be paired with the American on the final day at Firestone. Veterans Kenny Perry and Miguel Angel Jimenez also moved into the picture with fine third round 66s to join a large group on four-under with a day to go. But world number two Phil Mickelson slipped out of contention with a five-over-par 75 to stand four over.
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) –
Even with all the loose ends left dangling in the finale last year, is there a “Mad Men” fan in God's creation that actually believes the show's Season 3 premiere on AMC on Sunday, August 16 is going to tie each and every one of them up in pretty bows?
As two seasons of “Mad Men” are enough to indicate, that is not series creator Matthew Weiner's way. The “Sopranos” alumnus graduated from the David Chase School of Storytelling. You not only don't give the viewers what they want, you confound them by toying with their expectations. Maybe you even make them question those expectations in the first place. Want tidy resolutions to cliffhangers? Go watch “Desperate Housewives.”
Weiner certainly had his pick of explosive story lines to detonate. We already know Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has re-entered family life after wife Betty (January Jones) tells him she is pregnant with their third child; she hasn't told him of the torrid one-night stand committed in retribution for Don's own infidelities. Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) has finally told Pete (Vincent Kartheiser) of their child she gave up. Joan (Christina Hendricks) is to marry the man who raped her on the office floor. Sterling Cooper is on the verge of being reshaped in the wake of its merger to British ad agency Putnam Powell Lowe. Roger Sterling (John Slattery) has renounced his marriage to marry a comely young secretary.
All that should be revealed about the third-season premiere is that some of these sleeping dogs are roused, some are not. Some aren't even acknowledged. That's about as much detail as should be given rather than risk spoiling the fun (such is the peril of writing a “Mad Men” review, to risk telling too much even by saying what doesn't happen).
Perhaps the only predictable element of “Mad Men” is that the premiere is a return to form, the series is as spellbinding and elusive as Draper himself. If “Mad Men” is making some kind of significant creative recalibration this season, there's no evidence available in this episode.
The only significant new element to be found is the addition to the cast of Jared Harris as Putnam's financial officer, Lane Pryce. Together with Pryce's assistant, John Hooker (Ryan Cartwright), the interlopers' mere presence at Sterling Cooper carries a menacing undercurrent before either even so much as opens their mouths. The inevitable consequence of a merger being no different in 1963 or 2009, this installment of “Mad Men” reverberates in our recession-rocked era more so than the usual episode.
(Editing by DGoodman at Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Midway through their first year in power, President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress can point to early signs the nation is beginning to shake off its worst recession in seven decades.
Yet there are glaring holes in their to-do list. The biggest and most difficult priorities had not been accomplished as Obama reached the six-month mark, ending the normal honeymoon period most new presidents enjoy.
While Obama and fellow Democrats did enact the 787 billion economic stimulus, much remains undone:
_Health care. An expansion of coverage for most of the estimated 48 million people without it has failed to pass either the House or Senate despite a now-expired Obama deadline.
_Global warming. His initiative squeaked through the House, opening major rifts in the party. It arrived in the Senate as a dead letter.
_Financial overhaul. Now on the back burner are a rewrite of lending and investing laws and a restructuring of government regulations. The goal is to prevent a repeat of last year’s financial and credit market collapses.
Obama and the Democrats did push through a massive package of tax cuts, benefit increases and job-producing public works projects to help alleviate the recession. They expanded health coverage to millions more children, clamped down on cigarette producers and placed the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court.
They bought some good will by offering as much as 3 billion in government rebates of 3,500 and 4,500 for people to trade in old gas guzzlers for new cars or trucks that get better mileage.
Democrats are confident their health care overhaul will pass by year’s end. But it has lost the aura of inevitability that surrounded it in the spring. It passed one House committee only after moderate “Blue Dog” Democrats prevailed upon House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to postpone a full House vote until the fall.
Many of them felt stung by their politically scorching votes to tackle global warming by raising people’s electric bills, despite mounting evidence the Senate probably won’t vote on it this year.
The House Appropriations Committee chairman, Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., acknowledged recently the early vote on global warming made it more difficult to keep pace on health care.
Polls show voters are losing faith in Obama’s 787 billion economic recovery bill and increasingly worried about the government’s mushrooming debt.
The president’s overall approval rating is solid, in the mid-50s in most polls, including a 55 percent rating in an AP-Gfk poll conducted July 16-20. But it has slipped from the levels that for a time kept Republicans from criticizing Obama directly. Now the gloves are off, and the tone in Washington is as partisan as ever.
Pollster Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press says despite that slip, the ground hasn’t fallen out from under him.
“Most importantly, the more general questions about confidence in him show no erosion,” Kohut said. “People still think that he’s going to fix the economy.”
A president’s signature accomplishment typically occurs in his first year in office, before the August congressional recess. It was tax cuts for President Ronald Reagan and deficit reduction for President George W. Bush, though health care proved elusive for President Bill Clinton.
Obama’s top accomplishment clearly is the 787 billion measure blending federal spending and tax cuts to try to revive the economy. It was initially popular in public surveys, but 58 percent of those polled in the mid-July AP-Gfk poll said they were not confident it is helping the economy. Only 9 percent said were very confident that it is.
“We’re pointed in the right direction,” Obama said Friday as new unemployment figures showed a slight dip in the jobless rate, even as the economy shed 247,000 jobs in July. “We’re losing jobs at less than half the rate we were when I took office.”
Lawmakers will return in September for a 3 1/2-month sprint. To do: a health care bill that Obama and Democrats can claim victory on; the dozen appropriations bills that so far feature double-digit spending increases for 2010; and legislation to bolster regulation of the financial system.
The Senate, or at least some of its committees, may take a stab at global warming.
Still looming are annual budget deficits projected to stay above 600 billion in the coming decade. The eye-popping 1.8 trillion or more deficit expected for the current year is weighing down Obama’s agenda — and also his standing with voters, especially with independents.
If and when he does tackle the deficit, he’ll be hard-pressed to keep his promise not to raise taxes on couples making less than 250,000.
Even as Obama’s popularity slips slightly and approval ratings for Democrats in Congress remain low, the GOP numbers are even worse. Chances of a political tsunami like that when Republicans swept Democrats from control of Congress in 1994 seem unlikely.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Andrew Taylor covers Congress and budget policies for The Associated Press.
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – There isn’t much chance the husband of Diane Schuler could face criminal charges for the fiery crash she caused while driving the wrong way on a highway, killing herself and seven others, attorneys agree.
Prosecutors would have to prove Daniel Schuler was aware his wife was intoxicated — and failed to stop her — when she packed her two children and three nieces into a minivan at an upstate campground for the ride home to Long Island. A witness who saw her there said she was sober, and state police have said she wasn’t impaired an hour after she left.
So what was defense attorney Dominic Barbara doing when he paraded the teary-eyed widower before a mob of reporters this week to dispute autopsy findings that Diane Schuler was high on marijuana and drunk when she smashed head-on into a sport utility vehicle?
Attorneys suspect it was the first step in trying to soften the hearts of potential jurors for civil litigation that some victims’ families intend to pursue.
“For obvious reasons, the family wants to rehabilitate this lady’s reputation,” said attorney Vincent Trimarco, who is not involved in the case. “She’s not the most popular person out there. To most people, she committed a murder.”
Beginning with a dramatic, tear-filled press conference Thursday, Daniel Schuler, his family and attorney have argued that the 36-year-old Long Island mother was revered and trusted with children and suggested that separate medical conditions could have affected her driving before the July 26 crash on the Taconic State Parkway, about 35 miles north of New York City.
Tom Ruskin, an investigator working for Barbara, is looking at four calls Diane Schuler made a couple of hours before the crash; most were to her brother, and in one, her 8-year-old niece, Emma Hance, got on the phone and said that her aunt was having trouble seeing and speaking, he said.
Toxicology reports from Schuler’s autopsy found her blood-alcohol level was .19 percent, more than double the state’s legal limit, and high levels of the key ingredient in marijuana in her system, suggesting she had smoked pot from 15 minutes to an hour before the 1:30 p.m. crash.
Schuler slammed her minivan head-on into an SUV about a half-hour after her last phone call after driving south on the northbound lanes of the highway for nearly two miles. She died along with her 2-year-old daughter, three nieces and three Yonkers men in the SUV. Her 5-year-old son survived.
A couple in a third car were also injured. A lawyer for Michael and Guy Bastardi, a father and son killed on their way to a family dinner, has said someone should be held criminally responsible for the crash and suggested many people around Schuler would have known she had a drinking problem.
“I find it very hard to believe that anybody will be charged with the homicides of these victims,” attorney Stephen LaMagna said. He represented Martin Heidgen, who was convicted of murder after driving the wrong way on a Long Island parkway in 2005, killing a limousine driver and a 7-year-old flower girl coming home from a family wedding.
“It’s horrible. We want to hold somebody up to the public to be brought to justice,” LaMagna said. “But in this case, the responsible party also died in the accident.”
J. Herbie DiFonzo, a former federal prosecutor who is a law professor at Hofstra University, said insurance companies are likely to be the ones fighting it out in the coming months and years.
The lawyer for the Bastardis has said victims’ families will pursue civil lawsuits.
“She is legally responsible for the deaths of all the individuals,” DiFonzo said. “First, they will turn to the insurance companies, and then perhaps go after her estate.”
But DiFonzo noted that any assets co-owned by both Daniel and Diane Schuler — like their home, perhaps — would not be vulnerable because he can’t be held liable for her actions.
Police and investigators are also trying to determine when Schuler began drinking and smoking pot. A broken, extra-large bottle of Absolut vodka was found in the wrecked minivan.
Ruskin has said the family had a bottle of vodka they would take from their Long Island home to the upstate campground for the summer and wasn’t sure which car it was in when the couple drove separately home that Sunday morning.
Ann Scott, co-owner of the Hunter Lake campground, said there was no sign Schuler had been drinking when she left at about 9:30 a.m.
Investigators say she stopped at a McDonald’s in Liberty, N.Y., where witnesses reported seeing no signs that the woman was suffering any physical ailments.
She left the restaurant at about 10:45 a.m., state police said, and was last heard from when she made a cell phone call to her brother — the father of Schuler’s nieces — at 1:02 p.m.
Daniel Schuler and attorneys have pointed to medical conditions like gestational diabetes — which goes away after childbirth — a stroke or an untreated bump on her leg that could have caused problems for Diane Schuler. And they say she was a loving, responsible mother who never would have driven drunk.
Experts say that now, more than anything, Daniel Schuler may be trying to salvage his family’s legacy.
“It’s his name,” said Jeremy Saland, a former prosecutor and defense attorney. “He doesn’t want his family, for the next generation, to be known as the family involved with that horrible mother who perpetrated a crime against her children.”
Associated Press writer Colleen Long in New York City contributed to this report.
CHICAGO – Vehicles already were lined up for one of the weekly auto auctions benefiting Texans Can, a charity that helps at-risk teenagers and their families, when prospective donors started to call, saying they had changed their minds.
“They said they went ahead and traded it in for the ‘cash-for-clunkers’ program,” said Cheryl Rios, vice president of the Dallas-based charity that serves as many as 6,000 students. She estimates Texas Can already has lost 75,000 to the federal program.
While “cash-for-clunkers” has been a huge hit with car buyers looking to snap up rebates of up to 4,500 for trading in gas-guzzlers for new fuel-efficient cars, some charities that rely on vehicle donations for funding say they’re receiving fewer cars and trucks.
Others, though, call the program a boon for prompting awareness and activity in an economically distressed market.
Mike Muzzi feared the clunkers program would be bad news for the Good News Garage, an affiliate of Lutheran Social Services of New England. But Muzzi, Vermont director of the program that fixes up donated cars and provides them at low cost to struggling families, said some car dealers with potential customers who don’t meet stringent cash-for-clunkers requirements have sent business Muzzi’s way.
“There’s no straight line we can draw between cash-for-clunkers and an increase in donations,” Muzzi said. “But we are experiencing an increase in donations. Last year was a record year for us, and this year is on track to do the same.”
Many charity operators and economic observers say it’s too soon to determine how the clunkers program will ultimately affect giving.
“It is logical that many charities would be hurt,” said John List, an economics professor at the University of Chicago who has studied fundraising. “But it’s intuition right now. All the experts are guessing.”
Goodwill Industries International Inc. uses the 14.5 million it gets from the 28,000 donated vehicles it receives each year to fund job training programs. While not jumping to conclusions about the effect on donations, the Rockville, Md.-based charity is “somewhat dubious about it,” said its president and chief executive, Jim Gibbons.
“There’s absolutely a risk of negative impact for us and others’ ability to provide necessary services to people during a tough economic time,” Gibbons said. “If this results in an ability to not fund programs, then we think a new program should be created.”
The New York-based National Kidney Foundation receives about 30,000 vehicle donations a year, accounting for 18 percent of the charity’s total revenue or 13 million in research, early detection, patient services and education. The charity said it estimates a 10 to 15 percent decline due to the federal rebates, but hopes people who don’t qualify for them will consider donation.
Rick Watkins, who heads Charitable Auto Resources, a San Diego company that manages auto donations for about 800 charities, said he’s not only concerned his clients will receive fewer cars, but that the cars they will receive will be in worse shape and fetch less money.
“They (charities) ask me every single day what’s going to happen with the cash-for-clunkers program,” Watkins said. “The answer is we’re going to get less donations and we’re going to get lesser quality.”
Charities also said they’re waiting to see if Congress will extend or put even more money behind the rebate program.
“You start throwing a couple more billion dollars out there, the impact is definitely going to be up there,” said Steven Morrow, president of the Denver-based agency Cars Helping Charities Inc.
Some donation program operators say the clunkers program’s popularity and publicity has raised awareness about car donation in general and proven beneficial.
“For us it’s actually had a counterintuitive effect,” said Jerry Davis, CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Texas. He said his group received 26 cars in July, up from 18 to 12 in the previous five months. “When you want to get rid of your clunker you start thinking about donating it.”
Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, a public watchdog group that monitors charities, said although some charities might lose in the short-term, they should be pleased about the overall economic benefits of the clunkers program.
“I think this program is going to help charities because it is going to help the people the charities exist to serve,” he said. “Sure they are likely going to have less cars donated. But there needs to be a calculation: The money charities lose versus more money in the pockets of people in need.”
But Helen Ortega, head of Many Motors, a car donation program in Ventura County, Calif., said aside from a recent drop in donations, she’s especially disturbed by the destruction of low-mileage cars under the clunkers program.
“I’ve got a waiting list of 80 families waiting for cars,” she said. “It’s insanity to go and smash them.”
Dave Gram reported from Burlington, Vt., and Associated Press Writer Michael Tarm contributed to this report from Chicago.
Espanyol stunned by Jarque death
Espanyol captain Daniel Jarque has died after he suffered a heart attack following a training session, the club have confirmed in a statement.The 26-year-old midfielder had been training in Coverciano, Italy, where the squad are on a pre-season camp. Club doctors and Italian paramedics tried to revive Jarque without success. His death comes two years after Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta, 22, died of heart failure after collapsing during a Spanish league game. Jarque joined Espanyol at the age of 12, making his debut in 2002, and the Spaniard was handed the club captaincy this summer. “Tragedy struck Espanyol and the family of Dani Jarque this evening. The blanquiazul player died from a cardiac arrest,” said a club statement. “The doctor carried out CPR on the player and used a defibrillator, which showed that the arrest was non responsive. “RCD Espanyol, broken with pain, wish to put themselves at the absolute disposition of the family of our captain Dani Jarque, to whom go our warmest thoughts.” Espanyol, who had been due to play Bologna tomorrow, have suspended their pre-season tour of Italy and will fly back to Barcelona. The president of city neighbours Barcelona, Joan Laporta, offered his club’s condolences. “We are filled with extreme dismay at this tragic event which we deeply regret,” he told the Barcelona club website. “Today we are all in mourning. “I want to send, on behalf of FC Barcelona, our deepest sympathies to RCD Espanyol for the painful loss of their captain Dani Jarque, and to his family.”
Clinton helps South Africa bloom
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has helped clear rubble and plant flowers as she visited two housing projects near Cape Town, South Africa.The most senior diplomat in the US also danced as she was welcomed with music at the Victoria Mxenge Housing project, which she first visited 12 years ago. When asked if she wanted to donate to the project, Mrs Clinton handed over 50 (30) borrowed from an aide. Mrs Clinton is visiting South Africa on a tour of seven African nations. Correspondents say she was in her element as she toured the Victoria Mxenge project, which she had visited while she was first lady in 1997 and 1998. Stopping off at a second project, she called on staff to lend a hand to teams of women preparing ground for a new building. They cleared rubble from the site and planted flowers and a tree. “This is what I really believe in,” she was quoted as saying during the tour. “I mean, I have travelled literally all over the world and when people organise themselves and are given the tools and the training to really empower themselves and their future and build houses and communities, that’s what’s lasting.” When one woman asked if Mrs Clinton wanted to make a contribution she explained she had no money on her, and turned to Africa envoy Johnnie Carson, who drew a 50 note from his wallet. “These are good businesswomen,” Mrs Clinton said.
NEW YORK – The nation’s car dealers have a new worry: they’re running out of vehicles.
As the “cash-for-clunkers” program reaches its next chapter, and consumers pour into showrooms, some dealers say their stock of new cars — especially for fuel-efficient smaller models — is waning.
At Larry Miller Honda in Boise, Idaho, about two-thirds of the car lot is empty. The dealership is nearly out of 2009 models — something that usually doesn’t happen until the late fall.
And the situation is so dire at a Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealership in Beaver Springs, Pa., that the owner, Michael Andretta, is essentially shutting down this weekend to repave his car lot.
“I’m out of cars,” Andretta said. “I do not have a single car in my dealership that qualifies for anything.”
Such a scenario amounts to a complete shift from earlier in the year, when hard-hit dealers saw cars pile up as consumers largely shunned big-ticket purchases.
It also reflects the rampant popularity of the incentive program, which gives car owners vouchers of up to 4,500 to trade in older, gas-guzzling vehicles for new, cleaner varieties.
On Friday, President Barack Obama approved another 2 billion to extend the program until Labor Day, putting consumers back in the car-buying mood. The program’s first 1 billion ran out in about a week.
However, industry officials say shoppers now searching for deals may need to be more flexible, given the dwindling number of cars on many lots. Customers hoping for a blue vehicle, for instance, may need to settle for a white one instead, said John McEleney, the chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.
“People are having to maybe make a second or third choice,” he said.
The association’s chief economist, Paul Taylor, said in a statement Friday that “the overall inventory of passenger cars and light trucks can support another month of robust new vehicle sales” as automakers ramp up production.
Still, even as car lots thin, some wonder whether the new infusion of government cash into the clunkers program is actually weakening consumers’ resolve to go out and make a deal.
During the first phase of the program, which began last month, consumers flocked into dealerships, worried that they’d miss out otherwise as the money ran out. Now, shoppers may not feel as pressured.
At Crown Ford in Lynbrook, N.Y., sales manager Anthony Ciuffo said Saturday that walk-in traffic had slowed down at his dealership, although phone calls remained steady.
“It seemed that there was more sense of urgency prior to passing the bill,” he said. “People feel that they have a longer window of opportunity.”
Ciuffo said sales had been brisk earlier in the week, and that his dealership had sold out of the Focus sedan and mid-size Escape SUV — two of Ford’s most popular cash-for-clunkers vehicles. Like many dealers interviewed, Ciuffo said additional cars should arrive in about a week to 10 days.
But John Rogin, who owns a Buick dealership in Livonia, Mich., said he wasn’t expecting the same frenzied pace that he witnessed earlier, since many of those who could afford a new car already jumped at the chance to do so when the program debuted.
“This is really going to slow up,” he said. “It’s not going to accelerate from here.”
What’s more, he said he’s beginning to notice a changing consumer sentiment. The early excitement that came with the program is slowly morphing into bitterness among consumers discovering that their vehicles don’t qualify for vouchers, he said.
To be eligible, vehicles must have a combined city/highway mileage of 18 miles per gallon or less when they were new.
“Right now, it’s, ‘Oh well, I don’t qualify,’ ” he said.
But, he said, those ineligible are now wondering: “What about me?”
To be sure, dealers say they are happy with the program and thrilled with the increase in business.
Paul R. Smith, general manager of a Chevy dealership in East Hartford, Conn., said the number of prospective buyers has doubled — to between 20 and 25 per day from 10 — in his showroom where car roofs sport signs that read, “If your car qualifies, this car qualifies.”
The Chevy dealership, on a strip occupied by several others, has sold 25 cars in the cash-for-clunkers program so far. Still, Smith worries about how many cars he’ll have left until 2010 models arrive in November.
“We’re running out of inventory,” he said. “I’m very concerned.”
AP Writers Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, and Stephen Singer in East Hartford, Conn., contributed to this report.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) –
The Pakistani government has received reports that shooting broke out between two rivals for the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban, and one of them may have been killed, the interior minister said Saturday.
Pakistani news channels were carrying unconfirmed reports that Hakimullah Mehsud, one of the movement's most powerful commanders, had been killed at a shura, or council meeting, held to decide who would succeed slain leader Baitullah Mehsud.
“The infighting was between Wali-ur-Rehman and Hakimullah Mehsud,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Reuters. “We have information that one of them has been killed. Who was killed we will be able to say later after confirming.”
A Taliban official in South Waziristan, where the meeting took place, told Reuters the government had fabricated reports of fighting between the different factions.
Noor Said, who had been a deputy spokesman under Baitullah, said: “There was no fighting in the shura. Both Wali-ur-Rehman and Hakimullah are safe and sound.”
Western governments with troops in Afghanistan are watching to see if any new Pakistani Taliban leader would shift focus from fighting the Pakistani government and put the movement's weight behind the Afghan insurgency led by Mullah Mohammad Omar.
An intelligence officer in South Waziristan said he had reports that Hakimullah Mehsud died in the shooting after heated exchanges between the rivals at the meeting held around 4:30 p.m.(6:30 a.m. EDT).
“According to reports Wali-ur-Rehman fired and killed Hakimullah Mehsud,” the official said.
State-run Pakistan Television (PTV) said there were reports that both leaders might have been killed in a shoot-out.
The shura was called in Taliban-controlled territory in Waziristan, a northwest tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
Earlier in the day Hakimullah Mehsud had telephoned journalists to deny that Baitullah Mehsud had been killed in a missile strike by U.S. drone aircraft Wednesday.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Friday the government was “pretty certain” that Mehsud perished in the missile blitz Wednesday that also killed his second wife, a brother, seven bodyguards and destroyed his car.
Some analysts had anticipated the Pakistani Taliban's leadership would be split over who should become the next chief and the denial aimed to buy time until a new leader was chosen.
Hakimullah, who controls fighters in the Orakzai, Kurram and Khyber tribal regions, is regarded as one of the leading contenders to replace Baitullah Mehsud, who had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head.
Wali-ur-Rehman is another shura member and a former spokesman for Baitullah.
Qureshi had anticipated the death of Mehsud would leave a void in the Taliban movement that could lead to divisions.
“With him gone, I think there is going to be an internal struggle and disarray in their ranks, I think it will set in demobilization. It is a great success for the forces that are fighting extremism and terrorism in Pakistan,” Qureshi told BBC radio late Friday.
(Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Robert Woodward)
BAGHDAD – Iraq has appealed to Iran for information about the detention of three Americans who crossed the border while hiking in the Kurdish north, the foreign minister said Saturday.
The request came as the three entered their second week in captivity facing the possibility of an investigation on spying charges despite the insistence of U.S. and Kurdish authorities that they accidentally went astray.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said he raised the issue Thursday during a meeting with Iran’s ambassador to Iraq.
“He did confirm that they have been arrested for entering the country without proper visas and they are now being interviewed to determine more details,” Zebari told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
The ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, promised to pass the request for more information to his government, Zebari said.
Iranian lawmakers were scheduled to discuss the case Sunday during the weekly meeting of parliament’s foreign policy committee, according to Press TV, the English language Iranian state television.
“We will discuss the additional information (handed to us) and the details of the case,” said Hossein Sobhaninia, the deputy chair of the commission, in a report on the channel’s Web site.
Iranian border guards detained freelance journalist Shane Bauer, Sara Shourd and Josh Fattal on July 31 while they were hiking near a waterfall on a mountain in Iraq’s self-ruled Kurdish region.
Shon Meckfessel, a companion who had skipped the outing because he was ill, has said the three had set up camp near a place called Ahmed Awa, which is famous for a beautiful waterfall, but later called to tell him they had been detained and urge him to call the U.S. Embassy.
A prominent Iranian lawmaker and member of parliament’s National Security Committee, however, has rejected the suggestion the Americans were tourists and said authorities were investigating whether to charge them with espionage.
“Surely we can say that they came as spies,” Mohammad Karim Abedi, a hard-line lawmaker said earlier this week on Iran’s state-run Al-Alam TV. “The concerned authorities will decide whether they were spies or not. If it is proven that they were spies, the necessary legal procedures will be sought against them.”
He compared the matter with a case involving British military personnel seized by Iran in March 2007 after Tehran said they had entered Iranian waters from Iraqi territory. The 15 sailors and marines were held for nearly two weeks, and some were paraded on Iranian television to deliver supposed confessions of trespassing.
American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi was convicted of espionage before being released on an appeal in May.
The U.S. State Department has dismissed the spying allegations.
The case is the latest source of friction between Washington and Tehran, which are locked in bitter dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. The two countries have had no diplomatic ties since 1979 when militant students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took Americans hostage for 444 days.
The detentions also have put Iraq in an uncomfortable position because it needs to balance the interests of its two main allies, the United States and Iran.
Zebari said the Iranian ambassador didn’t mention the spying charges. The Iraqis felt compelled to raise the issue because the Americans had crossed the border from their territory, he added.
Iran and Iraq share an 800 mile (1,280 kilometer) border over which there have been long-standing disagreements. The frontier is poorly marked, particularly in the mountainous Kurdish region.
A senior Kurdish official said Saturday that the regional Interior Minister Kerim Sinjari also has met with the Iranian consul in Irbil to request more information about the detentions.
“We feel that we are responsible for these three Americans because they crossed to Iran via our territories. We do believe that they did so unintentionally and mistakenly,” said the official, Falah Mustafa. “We think the Iranian side will answer us within two days. Moreover, we are optimistic that the Islamic Republic of Iran will release them within a short time.”
The Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests, has been trying to learn more about the status of the Americans through its contacts with the Iranian Foreign Ministry.
The Kurdish region has not faced the bloodshed that plagued the rest of the country following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, leading foreigners to feel more secure traveling in the area without bodyguards.
Attacks continue elsewhere in Iraq, although the overall level of violence has declined sharply.
The death toll climbed to 44 in Friday’s suicide truck bomb attack on the northern outskirts of Mosul. The explosion left a 16-foot (5-meter) crater, reducing a Shiite mosque and several nearby houses to rubble.
Associated Press Writer Yahya Barzanji in Irbil contributed to this report.
Bayern Munich were held to a 1-1 draw by Hoffenheim in their opening match of the Bundesliga season and first under new coach Louis van Gaal.
Louis van Gaal shows his concern as his side battled to a 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim.
Dutchman van Gaal hoped to celebrate his 58th birthday with a victory at theRhein-Neckar Arena, but could have no complaints with a point. Ivica Olic gave Bayern the lead in the 25th minute after an assist from Croatia teammate Danijel Pranjic, another new signing by the Bavarian giants. It came against the run of play as the hosts, the early pacesetters in the Bundesliga last season, might have gone ahead with an effort from Josip Simunic which was unfortunately ruled out. But Chinedu Obasi leveled in the 41st minute after a superb pass from the returning Vedad Ibisevic, who missed much of the second half of last season through injury as Hoffenheim faded from title contention. Bayern, desperate to win back the German title, stepped up the pace in the second half with Mario Gomez hitting the outside of the post having rounded Hoffenheim goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand. Frank Ribery, the subject of continued transfer rumors, missed the match through injury and Bayern were also without strikers Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni.
CNN’s German Bundesliga preview
Striker Martens moves to Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg win first Bundesliga title
Hleb rejects Inter Milan for Stuttgart
Earlier on Saturday, Kevin Kuranyi scored twice to give Schalke and new coach Felix Magath a winning start with a 2-1 victory at promoted Nuremberg. Magath joined Schalke after leading Wolfsburg to the Bundesliga title last season. Marvin Matip’s own goal gave Borussia Dortmund’s massive 80,000 sell-out crowd reason to cheer as they edged Cologne 1-0 for an opening victory. Cologne lost Germany striker Lukas Podolski to injury on his return to his home-town club after three largely disappointing seasons with Bayern Munich.
In other matches, Eintracht Frankfurt won 3-2 at Werder Bremen, Bayer Leverkusen drew 2-2 at promoted Mainz and Hertha Berlin beat Hannover 1-0. On Friday, Wolfsburg got the defense of their Bundesliga title off to a winning start with a convincing 2-0 home victory over Stuttgart.
NEW YORK (Reuters) –
Nine people, including five Italian tourists were killed on Saturday when a small plane hit a helicopter over New York and crashed into the Hudson River, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
He said there were five Italian tourist and a pilot aboard the helicopter and three people on the plane including the pilot and a child. Two bodies had been recovered but there was no hope of finding survivors.
“This has changed from a rescue to a recovery mission,” Bloomberg said. “There's not going to be a happy ending.”
Search and rescue craft had rushed to the area in the vicinity of West 14th Street in Lower Manhattan immediately after the midair collision at noon (1600 GMT). Police divers started looking for survivors and wreckage. The weather was clear and mild.
Bloomberg said the plane, a Piper Saratoga, appeared to hit the back of the helicopter which immediately fell into the river. Police had found one piece of wreckage in murky waters and the search for bodies and debris would probably continue for a few days.
The helicopter was operated by Liberty Helicopter, the largest sightseeing and charter helicopter operator in the U.S. Northeast.
An eyewitness told the NY1 local TV station he saw a wing come off the plane around the time of the collision. The helicopter immediately “fell like a stone” into the river, the witness said. Others reported hearing a loud boom.
Chunks of debris also fell on the New Jersey side of the river, narrowly missing motorists.
In January, a US Airways jet with more than 150 people on board crashed into the frigid Hudson River off Manhattan after apparently hitting a flock of geese. All aboard survived.
(Writing by Alan Elsner; Editing by Paul Simao and Todd Eastham)
England are heading for a humiliating defeat in the fourth Ashes Test at Headingley after crumbling to 82 for five wickets in their second innings by the close of the second day.
In-form Michael Clarke followed up his century from Edgbaston with another crucial innings.
Marcus North made his second century of the Ashes series and shared a 152-run stand with vice-captain Michael Clarke as Australia took a first innings lead of 343 and then turned the screw in the final session. England openers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook were comfortable enough in taking them to 58 without loss until Ben Hilfenhaus started the rout with two wickets in two balls. He trapped Strauss leg before wicket for 22 and then repeated the dose as Ravi Bopara went first ball, TV replays showing him to have been unfortunate with a clear nick on to his pad. England were in disarray and Ian Bell was caught behind for three as Mitchell Johnson gained his first reward of an impeccable spell of left-arm swing bowling. Paul Collingwood was trapped leg before to a vicious inswinging yorker andCook went shortly before the close as he edged to Brad Haddin behind the wicket for 30. Matt Prior was dropped by Marcus North to the last ball of the day bowled by Johnson, who had taken three wickets for 21, but the end will surely not be long coming on the third day. Victory will see Australia level the series at 1-1 and with the momentum going into the final Test at The Oval. As holders of the Ashes, Australia would need only a draw to retain the coveted urn, but on the evidence of the first two days at Headingley will be strong favorites to force a series-winning victory. England made a disastrous 102 all out in their first innings and were looking to wrap up Australia’s innings quickly on Saturday as the tourists resumed on 196 for four wickets. But Michael Clarke, who was dismissed seven short of his century by Graham Onions just before lunch, and the in-form North combined as they had done in the drawn Test at Edgbaston to frustrate England.
Australia take command of Headingley Test
Australia bat out for Edgbaston draw
Flintoff guides England to Test victory
England snatch draw in Ashes thriller
England had to wait until the second new ball four overs after lunch before they finally began to make inroads, with Steve Harmison removing wicketkeeperHaddin. Stuart Broad then worked his way through the tail, but a late blast from Stuart Clark, who hammered three sixes and a four, really rubbed it in. North also upped his scoring rate, reaching his century with a six off Graeme Swann and finally becoming the last man to go as he holed out in the deep to Broad who finished with his Test best figures of six for 91. It left England captain Strauss and opening partner Cook with the daunting task of batting out to the end of the second day, but after a solid opening their collapse closely mirrored the first innings.
With key all-rounder Andrew Flintoff ruled out due to his ongoing knee problems before the start of the match, England have been on the backfoot from the start of the match. England hope to have talisman Flintoff, who bowled them to victory at Lord’s, back for the likely decider which will be his final Test match after announcing his retirement from five-day cricket before the series began.