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POSTED: January 18, 2013 9:24 a.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — The most effective part of Oprah Winfrey's interview with Lance Armstrong came right at the beginning: Five questions, five one-word answers — each of them the same.

"Yes or no," Winfrey said. "Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?

"Was one of those banned substances EPO?

"Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?

"Did you ever use any other banned substances like testosterone, cortisone or human growth hormones?

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Some travelers unshaken by Boeing 787 safety concerns, others don't know what plane they're on

DALLAS (AP) — Some frequent fliers say they aren't worried about safety aboard Boeing's problem-plagued 787 aircraft, while many less-seasoned travelers are often unaware of what model of plane they're flying on.

That makes it anyone's guess whether Boeing Co., or the airlines that use its planes, will pay a price for concerns surrounding the 787. The planes were grounded worldwide on Thursday after a battery fire on one, and an emergency landing on another after pilots smelled something burning.

"I'm as excited today to get on a 787 as I was a year ago," says Edward Pizzarello, a travel blogger who has logged four flights on the 787, which Boeing calls the Dreamliner. "Boeing will fix this, and I'll be flying on this plane for many years."

Lee Simonetta, a research engineer at Georgia Tech, said he too would hop on the Dreamliner again. He was among the aviation fanatics aboard the plane's first trip with paying customers, an All Nippon Airways flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong in October 2011. It was a time to marvel at a jet made of composite materials that make it lighter and far more fuel-efficient, and at its use of electrical systems to do just about everything.

That was before a series of incidents including fuel leaks, cracked windshields and overheating batteries gained worldwide attention. Photos of charred battery boxes from the planes popped up all over the Internet. Safety officials around the world took a second look at the planes, and the Federal Aviation Administration grounded 787s in this country — United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier to fly them, but several foreign airlines use them on flights to and from the U.S.

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Algeria's deadly hostage crisis not over, UK says; death toll unclear

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — An Algerian military raid to free hostages from at least 10 countries at a remote Sahara natural gas complex and wipe out their Islamist militant captors unleashed bloody chaos, and the British government said Friday that the situation was not yet over.

The fate of the fighters and many of the captives remained uncertain, and dueling claims from the military and the militants have muddied the world's understanding of an event that angered Western leaders.

By nightfall, Algeria's government said the raid was over. But Britain's Foreign Office said Friday morning that "the terrorist incident remains ongoing." It said it could give no further details. Manuel Valls, France's interior minister, said the situation remained murky.

At least six people, and perhaps many more, were killed — among them Britons, Filipinos and Algerians. Terrorized hostages from Ireland and Norway trickled out of the Ain Amenas plant. Dozens more remained unaccounted for: Americans, Britons, French, Norwegians, Romanians, Malaysians, Japanese, Algerians and the fighters themselves.

"This remains a fluid and evolving situation and many details are still unclear, but the responsibility for the tragic events of the last two days squarely rests with terrorists who chose to attack innocent workers, murdering some and holding others hostage," British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Sky News from Australia.

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Looking to rebound, GOP eyes new election laws in states Obama won

BOSTON (AP) — After back-to-back presidential losses, Republicans in key states want to change the rules to make it easier for them to win.

From Wisconsin to Pennsylvania, GOP officials who control legislatures in states that supported President Barack Obama are considering changing state laws that give the winner of a state's popular vote all of its Electoral College votes, too. Instead, these officials want Electoral College votes to be divided proportionally, a move that could transform the way the country elects its president.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed the idea this week, and other Republican leaders support it, too, suggesting that the effort may be gaining momentum. There are other signs that Republican state legislators, governors and veteran political strategists are seriously considering making the shift as the GOP looks to rebound from presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Electoral College shellacking and the demographic changes that threaten the party's long-term political prospects.

"It's something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red ought to be looking at," Priebus told the Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, emphasizing that each state must decide for itself.

Democrats are outraged at the potential change.

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Justice Department decision leaves food servers more vulnerable to threats over food allergies

WASHINGTON (AP) — People with severe food allergies have a new tool in their attempt to find menus that fit their diet: federal disabilities law. And that could leave schools, restaurants and anyplace else that serves food more vulnerable to legal challenges over food sensitivities.

A settlement stemming from a lack of gluten-free foods available to students at a Massachusetts university could serve as a precedent for people with other allergies or conditions, including peanut sensitivities or diabetes. Institutions and businesses subject to the Americans With Disabilities Act could be open to lawsuits if they fail to honor requests for accommodations by people with food allergies.

Colleges and universities are especially vulnerable because they know their students and often require them to eat on campus, Eve Hill of the Justice Department's civil rights division says. But a restaurant also could be liable if it blatantly ignored a customer's request for certain foods and caused that person to become ill, though that case might be harder to argue if the customer had just walked in off the street, Hill said.

The settlement with Lesley University, reached last month but drawing little attention, will require the Cambridge, Mass., institution to serve gluten-free foods and make other accommodations for students who have celiac disease. At least one student complained to the federal government after the school would not exempt the student from a meal plan even though the student couldn't eat the food.

"All colleges should heed this settlement and take steps to make accommodations," says Alice Bast, president and founder of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. "To our community this is definitely a precedent."

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Hagel pick echoes Tower nomination fight, a test of Senate on presidential choices

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the middle of a bitter fight over a Republican president's nominee for defense secretary, a former White House occupant pleaded with senators to give the president his choice for the Pentagon job.

"Unless there is conclusive evidence against the nominee, the Senate should respect the right of a new president to choose the men and women he believes are best qualified to serve in his Cabinet," former President Richard Nixon said in March 1989.

Nixon's request fell upon deaf ears. The Democratic-controlled Senate, on a largely party-line vote, defeated the nomination of John Tower amid allegations that he was an excessive drinker, womanizer and held close ties to defense contractors — all charges that he denied.

It was an ignominious outcome for the former four-term Texas senator as it marked the first time the Senate had rejected one of its own for a Cabinet post. Republican President George H.W. Bush, on the job barely two months, absorbed the political blow.

More than two decades later, President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary, two-term former GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel, faces stiff opposition from fellow Republicans who are willing to ignore Nixon's plea — and perhaps even toss aside their own words from 24 years ago — and vote against Hagel.

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As Tibetan burnings increase, China seizes residents, TVs, goes on propaganda offensive

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities are responding to an intensified wave of Tibetan self-immolation protests against Chinese rule by clamping down even harder — criminalizing the suicides, arresting protesters' friends and even confiscating thousands of satellite TV dishes.

The harsh measures provide an early indication that the country's new leadership is not easing up on Tibet despite the burning protests and international condemnation.

For months, as Tibetans across western China doused themselves in gasoline and set themselves alight, authorities responded by sending in security forces to seal off areas and prevent information from getting out, but those efforts did not stop or slow the protests. The self-immolations even accelerated in November as China's ruling Communist Party held a pivotal leadership transition.

Then the government went on the offensive in December, announcing through a state-owned newspaper that the burnings are the work of foreign hostile forces keen on separating Tibet from the mainland and that those who help others self-immolate are liable to be prosecuted for murder. Arrests quickly followed.

"Tibet is getting into the global evening news because of self-immolations and so there's this anxiety to bring it under control," said Michael Davis, a law professor and Tibet expert at the University of Hong Kong. Davis said he expected the government to continue to take a repressive and conservative approach. "The new leadership will be particularly anxious not to have any of these problems blow up in their face."

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Colo. theater reopens, months after mass shooting; some survivors boycott ceremony

AURORA, Colo. (AP) — One survivor had to pause on his way into the theater and pray. Another braced for flashbacks as he entered the auditorium where 12 people died and dozens were injured during a massacre six months earlier. Others refused to come, viewing the reopening of the multiplex as insensitive.

The former Century 16, now renovated and renamed the Century Aurora, opened its doors to victims of the July 20 attack on Thursday night with a somber remembrance ceremony and a special showing of "The Hobbit."

Theater 9, where neuroscience graduate student James Holmes allegedly opened fire on a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Returns," is now an XD theater with a wall-to-wall screen and stadium seating.

"We as a community have not been defeated," Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan told victims, officials, and dozens of police officers and other first responders who filled half the theater's seats at the ceremony.

"We are a community of survivors," Hogan declared. "We will not let this tragedy define us."

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Bolshoi Theater's artistic director attacked with acid in Moscow

MOSCOW (AP) — The artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater's ballet troupe was attacked with acid in Moscow and his eyesight is threatened, the theater said Friday.

Sergei Filin, a 42-year-old former ballet star, was approached Thursday night by an unknown man who splashed acid on his face as he got out of his car outside his home in central Moscow, Russian television reported.

Bolshoi spokeswoman Katerina Novikova, who visited Filin at the hospital Thursday night, told The Associated Press that his condition is stable but his eyesight is threatened.

Filin was appointed artistic director of the Bolshoi's ballet company in March 2011. He danced for the Bolshoi on and off from 1988 to 2004 when his sustained a severe injury onstage.

The theater's director general Anatoly Iksanov told Russia's Channel One that he believes the attacked is linked to Filin's work.

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With Te'o silent, critics and supporters wait for answers about his role in 'girlfriend' hoax

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Manti Te'o has already tried to explain how his heartwarming story of playing through adversity was a lie he wasn't responsible for, how he was the victim of a cruel hoax about a dead girlfriend who never existed.

He still has questions to answer, with many wondering whether he was a victim or participant in the scam. Those doubts even extended to his own campus, where he is one of the most popular players in Notre Dame's storied history.

"Whenever Manti decides to speak I'll bet the entire campus will stop what they're doing and watch what he has to say," Notre Dame student body president Brett Rocheleau said Thursday. "I think the majority of students believe in Manti. They just want to hear him answer these final few questions and hear the story from his point of view."

When Te'o will do that, like so much else about this story, is still a mystery.

An Associated Press review of news coverage found that Te'o talked about his doomed love in a Web interview on Dec. 8 and again in a newspaper interview published Dec. 10. He and the university said he learned on Dec. 6 that it was all a hoax — not only was she not dead, she wasn't real.

 

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