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World briefly for Sep. 21

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POSTED: September 21, 2012 7:00 a.m.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani police opened fire on rioters who were torching a cinema during a protest against an anti-Islam film Friday, killing one man on a holiday declared by the government so that people could demonstrate against the video.

Mohammad Amir, a driver for a Pakistani television station, was killed when bullets hit his vehicle in the northwest city of Peshawar, said Kashif Mahmood, a reporter for ARY TV who was also sitting in the car at the time. The TV channel showed footage of Amir at the hospital as doctors tried to save him. It also showed the windshield of the vehicle, shattered by several gunshots.

The film denigrating the Prophet Muhammad has sparked unrest in many parts of the Muslim world over the past 10 days, and the deaths of at least 31 people, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, have been linked to the violence. Much of the anger has been directed at the U.S. government even though the film was privately produced in the U.S. and American officials have criticized it for insulting Muslims.

Pakistan has experienced nearly a week of violent rallies against the film in which three people have died. The government declared Friday to be a national holiday and encouraged people to protest peacefully.

Police could not immediately be reached for comment about the death of Amir.

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Romney seeks to grab change mantle from Obama, argues he can fix Washington partisanship

WASHINGTON (AP) — Now it's Mitt Romney who wants to be the candidate of change.

Romney is seizing on President Barack Obama's comment that "you can't change Washington from the inside." Grasping for a way to right his campaign and appeal to independents, the Republican nominee says he has what it takes to end the nasty partisanship in the nation's capital.

"I can change Washington," Romney said Thursday. "I will change Washington. We'll get the job done from the inside. Republicans and Democrats will come together."

Romney was expected to press the issue again Friday during a campaign rally in Nevada, a state hard hit by the nation's housing and unemployment woes.

Obama, who ran for president in 2008 on a pledge to fix Washington's combative tone, said in an interview that he had come to the conclusion "you can't change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside." Adding that he wanted people to speak out on issues, he went on to say: "So something that I'd really like to concentrate on in my second term is being in a much more constant conversation with the American people so that they can put pressure on Congress to help move some of these issues forward."

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Apple's iPhone 5 starts selling in shops across Asia, Europe ahead of US, Canada launch

HONG KONG (AP) — In a now familiar global ritual, Apple fans jammed shops from Sydney to Paris to pick up the tech juggernaut's latest iPhone.

Eager buyers formed long lines Friday at Apple Inc. stores in Asia, Europe and North America to be the first to get their hands on the latest version of the smartphone.

In London, some shoppers had camped out for a week in a queue that snaked around the block. In Hong Kong, the first customers were greeted by staff cheering, clapping, chanting "iPhone 5! iPhone 5!" and high-fiving them as they were escorted one-by-one through the front door.

The smartphone will be on sale in the U.S. and Canada hours after its launch in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Britain, France and Germany. It will launch in 22 more countries a week later. The iPhone 5 is thinner, lighter, has a taller screen, faster processor, updated software and can work on faster "fourth generation" mobile networks.

The handset has become a hot seller despite initial lukewarm reviews and new map software that is glitch prone. Apple received 2 million orders in the first 24 hours of announcing its release date, more than twice the number for the iPhone 4S in the same period when that phone launched a year ago.

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Voter ID laws provoking black women, who had highest turnout in 2008, to turn out voters

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deidra Reese isn't waiting for people to come to her to find out whether they are registered to vote.

With iPad in hand, Reese is going to community centers, homes and churches in nine Ohio cities, looking up registrations to make sure voters have proper ID and everything else they need to cast ballots on Election Day.

"We are not going to give back one single inch. We have fought too long and too hard," said Reese, 45, coordinator of the Columbus-based Ohio Unity Coalition, an affiliate of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.

Reese is part of a cadre of black women engaged in a revived wave of voting rights advocacy four years after the historic election of the nation's first black president. Provoked by voting law changes in various states, they have decided to help voters navigate the system — a fitting role, they say, given that black women had the highest turnout of any group of voters in 2008.

"We've forgotten our mothers went to three jobs, picked us up from school, put the macaroni and cheese on the table, got up and got somebody registered to vote," said actress Sheryl Lee Ralph, one of several women who participated in a strategy session this week during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual legislative conference in the nation's capital. Ralph is married to Pennsylvania state Sen. Vincent Hughes.

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Defense Secretary Panetta says 33,000 US surge troops now out of Afghanistan, leaving 68,000

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — The 33,000 additional U.S. troops that President Barack Obama ordered to Afghanistan to tamp down the Taliban attacks nearly two years ago have now left the country, but a new wave of deadly insider attacks and a reassessment of how NATO troops partner with Afghans have raised questions about how well the military strategy is working.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced on Friday the troops had come out, declaring the surge had accomplished its mission.

But after a tumultuous week in Afghanistan that saw commanders put limits on when NATO and Afghan troops can patrol together, Panetta also acknowledged there will still be difficult days ahead.

"The surge did accomplish it objectives of reversing the Taliban momentum on the battlefield and dramatically increasing the size and capability of the Afghan national security forces," Panetta told reporters at a press conference at the Government House here where he was meeting with New Zealand leaders.

He said the re-deployment of the 33,000 troops was a "very important milestone" and that the U.S. is on track to accomplish its goals in Afghanistan. The withdrawal, which was completed on schedule, still leaves close to 100,000 NATO troops there, including 68,000 Americans.

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Heirs to glorious pasts, Turkey and Egypt seek wider role with each other's help

CAIRO (AP) — The image of an Ottoman sultan glowered at the gridlock from a highway billboard in the Egyptian capital, hands clasped, his feathered headgear and gold-hewn epaulettes in elegant contrast to the grind of traffic below. The poster for a Turkish-made movie about the 1453 fall of Constantinople recalled the early feats of an empire that eventually ruled the Middle East and beyond.

Egypt, like Turkey, has its own grand history — evident in the pyramids and other monuments that its ancients left behind, and in a national pride that's distinctive in the Arab world.

The descendants of yesterday's sultans and pharaohs, so to speak, also have ambitions of an outsized role for their respective countries. Each wants to speak for the Middle East.

But they can't go it alone so Turkey and Egypt now talk of working together. In some ways, it's an odd couple.

Turkey is relatively stable and prosperous, though its foreign outreach has soured in some quarters, forcing it to tone down ambitions to become a statesman above the Mideast fray.

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Family of Minnesota Somali says he left to join al-Shabab; fears of recruiting revive

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota man recently traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabab, a spokesman for his family said, renewing fears that the terror group is continuing to recruit Somalis living in the U.S. to return to their homeland to fight.

The investigation into al-Shabab's recruitment of young men has been going on for years, and authorities have never ruled out that more men could be traveling from Minnesota — home to the largest Somali population in the U.S. — to join the terror group. Still, there have been no public reports of travelers from Minnesota since 2009, and the investigation has been largely out of public view for more than a year.

But in recent weeks, some Somalis here have been visited by the FBI and subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury — possible signs that the investigation has picked up. The reasons for the subpoenas were not immediately clear. Authorities would not confirm that additional men have recently traveled to join al-Shabab, and they would not say whether any increased FBI activity is connected to reports of recent departures or to the overall investigation.

But according to a spokesman for his family, 21-year-old Omar Farah left Minneapolis several weeks ago and called his aunt after his departure to say he was in the Somali town of Merca — and that he was with al-Shabab.

Abdirizak Bihi, a member of the Minneapolis Somali community who has worked with families of some men who left Minnesota, spoke to The Associated Press on behalf of Farah's family. He said Farah told his aunt he wouldn't return to the U.S.

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A borough on the upswing: 55 years after the Dodgers left, Brooklyn gets a new pro sports team

NEW YORK (AP) — It was like a death in the family for Brooklyn baseball fans when their beloved Dodgers left the borough behind in 1957 for the California coast.

Times were grim for Brooklyn back then. Residents were leaving en masse for the suburbs. Crime was on the rise. And there was little hope that the borough's plight would improve.

"When the Dodgers left, it was another punch in the face to the fact that Brooklyn's best days may not be ahead, but may have been behind us," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who was 12 years old at the time. "It was depressing."

After decades without a professional sports team, New York City's ascendant borough is hitting the major leagues again on Friday when the Brooklyn Nets' new arena opens to the public. The state-of-the-art, 18,000-seat arena will be officially christened Saturday night with a rap concert by Nets co-owner and native Brooklynite Jay-Z.

Just as the Dodgers' departure was a harbinger of difficult times ahead, the opening of the Barclays Center is a symbol of Brooklyn's astonishing rise in recent years as a sought-after destination for people from all over the globe.

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Nation's largest cancer hospital, in Texas, plans 'moonshot' against 8 forms of the disease

The nation's largest cancer center is launching a massive "moonshot" effort against eight specific forms of the disease, similar to the all-out push for space exploration 50 years ago.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston expects to spend as much as $3 billion on the project over the next 10 years and already has "tens of millions" of dollars in gifts to jump start it now, said its president, Dr. Ronald DePinho.

One of the cancers is myelodysplastic syndrome. "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts has that kind and had a bone marrow transplant to treat it on Thursday. The others are especially deadly forms of breast and ovarian cancer, along with lung, prostate, melanoma and two types of leukemia.

The project aims to find cures and lower deaths. Although no overall benchmarks have been set, individual projects for various cancers have specific goals.

With genetic information and more precise drugs, "we have many of the tools we need to pick the fight of the 21st century" and find ways to defeat these cancers, DePinho said.

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Shuttle turns tourist with low flyovers planned around California before heading to museum

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Space shuttle Endeavour will spend its last flying day Friday not rocketing into space, but doing what most tourists do when visiting California: Taking in the state Capitol, Golden Gate Bridge and the Hollywood Sign.

In what promises to be a crowd-rousing air show, Endeavour, strapped atop a 747 jumbo jet, will take off after sunrise from Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert and dip low over various landmarks in a 4 1/2-hour sightseeing flight before landing at the Los Angeles International Airport.

It's Endeavour's last aerial hurrah before it spends its retirement years as a museum piece.

"We're so excited to be welcoming Endeavour home in grand style with these flyovers," said Jeffrey Rudolph, president of the California Science Center, where the shuttle will go on permanent display.

Since Endeavour will buzz by some of the Golden State's most iconic sights, law enforcement and transportation authorities warned motorists not to "gawk and drive."

 

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