NEW DELHI (AP) — Police have started questioning an Indian guru after he was arrested at his sprawling ashram with more than 400 followers following a 10-day deadly standoff.
Jawahar Yadav, a Haryana state spokesman, says the self-styled guru Sant Rampal appeared in court in Chandigarh on Thursday. The judge gave police five days to question him.
Rampal had repeatedly ignored orders to answer a 2006 murder charge against him.
Police have filed additional criminal charges against him and his supporters over the standoff that left six people dead and about 200 others injured.News Topics: General news, Arrests, Crime, Law and order
People, Places and Companies: India, South Asia, Asia
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama invited a showdown with newly empowered Republicans in Congress, ordering far-reaching changes to the U.S. immigration system that will protect nearly 5 million people from deportation while testing the limits of his presidential powers.
In a televised address Thursday night, Obama described the most sweeping changes to fractured immigration laws in nearly three decades, saying that taking executive actions were a "commonsense" plan consistent with what previous presidents of both parties had done. Immigrants living illegally in the United States would be saved from deportation by receiving work permits; millions more would remain in limbo.
Obama sought to break a stalemate in America's long-simmering debate over immigration by cutting out Congress, confronting Republicans who swept congressional elections earlier this month and all but ensuring that the contentious debate will carry on into the 2016 presidential campaign.
Furious Republicans, who take full control of Congress in January after capturing the Senate from Democrats, warned that Obama would face serious consequences for what they described as an unconstitutional power grab.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, who has refused to have his Republican members vote on broad immigration legislation passed by the Senate last year, said Obama's decision to go it alone "cemented his legacy of lawlessness and squandered what little credibility he had left."
"To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill," Obama said.
Republicans were united in opposing Obama's move but divided on how to respond. Lawmakers have raised options including lawsuits, a government shutdown and even impeachment. Party leaders are seeking to avoid a government shutdown, say such moves could backfire and anger voters ahead of the next presidential election in two years.
Republicans are in a bind over immigration: the U.S. electorate is rapidly becoming more diverse, especially more Hispanic. Republican leaders have said the party risks its long-term future if it does not act to solve America's immigration problems. But many in the party's conservative base oppose any reform that includes a path to citizenship for those who enter the country illegally.
The White House says the president is exercising his executive authority to tackle immigration reform unilaterally, as Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush did before him.
Obama, who had been weighing potential executive actions since early summer, planned to sign a pair of presidential memorandums Friday and travel to Las Vegas for an immigration rally as he appeals for support.
As Obama spoke from the White House, immigration supporters with American flags draped over their shoulders marched on the street outside carrying signs that read, "Gracias, Presidente Obama."
While Obama's measures are sweeping in scope, they still leave more than half of the 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally in limbo. The president announced new deportation priorities that would compel law enforcement to focus its efforts on tracking down serious criminals and people who have recently crossed the border, while specifically placing a low priority on those who have been in the U.S. for more than 10 years.
Obama, whose approval ratings have sagged, insisted that his actions did not amount to amnesty.
"Amnesty is the immigration system we have today — millions of people who live here without paying their taxes or playing by the rules, while politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time," he said.
The main beneficiaries of the president's actions are immigrants who have been in the U.S. illegally for more than five years but whose children are citizens or lawful permanent residents. After passing background checks and paying fees, those individuals can now be granted relief from deportation for three years and get work permits. The administration expects about 4.1 million people to qualify.
Obama is also broadening his 2012 directive that deferred deportation for some young immigrants who entered the country illegally. Obama will expand eligibility to people who arrived in the U.S. as minors before 2010, instead of the current cutoff of 2007, and will lift the requirement that applicants be under 31. The expansion is expected to affect about 300,000 people.
Obama says that although there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children coming across the border over the summer, overall the number of people trying to cross the border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s.
Obama also touted his efforts to bolster security at the U.S.-Mexico border and pledged to continue shifting resources to those areas and easing backlogs at immigration courts.
Now that Obama is acting on his own, some on the right are pushing to use must-pass spending legislation to try to stop Obama's effort. One lawmaker has raised the specter of impeachment.
Associated Press writers Julie Pace, Jim Kuhnhenn, Erica Werner, Donna Cassata and Alicia A. Caldwell contributed to this report.News Topics: General news, Government and politics, Immigration, Immigration policy, Legislature, Presidential elections, United States Presidential Election, Elections, Legislation, Impeachments, Social issues, Social affairs, Government policy, National elections, Events, Political issues
People, Places and Companies: Barack Obama, John Boehner, Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, United States, District of Columbia, North America
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
MACAU (AP) — Bob Arum learned something about Chinese boxing fans earlier this year at the promoter's first fight card in Shanghai, where the crowd yelled and cheered for the home country boxers all the way up until the main event.
Then, with no Chinese fighter in the ring, they suddenly went quiet.
"There was nothing," Arum said. "Halfway through the fight half the crowd walked out."
That they stayed that long is an indication that Chinese fans are at least beginning to understand a sport once banned in the country. That wasn't the case in April last year when two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming made his pro debut and professional boxing made its debut in the gambling enclave of Macau.
"The first show we did with Zou you could have heard a pin drop," the longtime promoter said. "They didn't know how or when to cheer or seem to understand much about it."
They will be much louder Sunday morning when Zou is the featured undercard fighter as Manny Pacquiao returns to the ring in the main event against New York's Chris Algieri. Hotel officials expect the arena at the massive Venetian resort will be filled with bleary-eyed gamblers long before the main event.
"The fact it's on Sunday is a little inconvenient. The fact it's on in the morning doesn't seem to matter," said Ed Tracy, president and CEO of the Venetian. "Most of them have been up all night anyway."
On the state sanctioned CCTV network, a staggering 300 million people are expected to tune in to a broadcast that, unlike in the U.S., will be free of charge.
If boxing isn't exactly exploding in China, there's little doubt it's beginning to find its own niche. Pacquiao and Algieri are being counted on to fill hotel rooms this weekend and bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in extra revenue from visitors who are as eager to spend money in the resort's lavish shopping mall as they are in the crowded casinos.
It's welcome money at a time Macau's gaming revenues are in a five-month slump that casino executives attribute to a government crackdown on corruption and conspicuous consumption among the wealthy.
Macau may not be Las Vegas, but the concept is the same. Just like the casinos here began as copies of Vegas resorts, the fights follow the same pattern of appealing to sports fans with deep pockets who enjoy a wager or two.
And Chinese fans are not only learning when to cheer, but how long to stay.
"They're beginning to know boxing," Arum said. "It's a relatively easy sport to understand, which is part of its beauty. But it's really a universal thing. The Chinese people are becoming boxing fans."
Zou is the biggest reason for that. He won Olympic gold medals in 2008 at home in Beijing and in 2012 in London, becoming a national hero in the process and introducing the sport to millions of Chinese more accustomed to martial arts contests.
Still, when Arum was first presented with the idea of paying big money to a 112-pounder making his pro debut, he had to think twice about it. With a chance to enter the potentially lucrative Chinese market, he ponied up $300,000 for Zou to fight in a four-rounder.
Zou has fought all five of his pro fights at the Venetian, and reportedly has drawn the attention of Chinese president Xi Jimping. Should Zou win as expected on Sunday, the plan is to have him fight Thailand's Amnat Ruenroeng for a title as a headliner Feb. 14 in the same arena.
"You can look for a very, very different event then that is going to be very Asian centric," Tracy said. "It's a hell of an opportunity for us to put on a very good show."
Zou isn't the only home-grown fighter on Sunday's card. Rex Tso from neighboring Hong Kong is 14-0 as a super flyweight, while 154-pounder Kuok Kun Ng is a Macau native. The Chinese boxing roster isn't exactly deep, but it's growing relatively fast.
Pacquiao also seems quite at home here, where he doesn't have to battle the effects of jet lag to Las Vegas. His 350-member entourage managed to cram on two planes Monday for a short flight from the Philippines to watch their own national hero, who is guaranteed more than $20 million and won't have to pay millions in taxes that would come due from a fight in the U.S.
That doesn't mean Macau will get the biggest fights. It won't, even if they involve Pacquiao, who Tracy envisioned fighting three of his last five fights in Macau when he made the deal with Arum.
The lights of the Las Vegas Strip still shine brightly when it comes to the biggest events. Pacquiao's fight here last year against Rios was a pay-per-view disappointment in the U.S., partly because Rios was not considered a credible opponent by many in boxing and partly because few bought in on paying money for it because of the mystique of a fight coming from China.
There's increased talk about Pacquiao finally fighting Floyd Mayweather Jr. next year in what could be boxing's richest bout ever. But no matter who he fights, his next bout will not be in Macau.
"Manny's next fight will be in the states," Arum said. "To be relevant in the states you want him to train in California for at least one fight a year."News Topics: Sports, Boxing, Men's boxing, Men's sports, Gambling industry, Casino operators, Consumer services, Consumer products and services, Industries, Business, Hospitality and leisure industry
People, Places and Companies: Zou Shiming, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr., China, Macau, Las Vegas, United States, Greater China, East Asia, Asia, Nevada, North America
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
SANTA BARBARA, Honduras (AP) — Maria Jose Alvarado expected some difficult questions about her country at the Miss World pageant in London, so the 19-year-old beauty queen enlisted a teacher to help her prepare.
They reviewed the history of Honduras, including the military-backed coup in 2009 that sent the president into exile. They went through the daily newspapers to discuss politics and the gang and drug violence that makes this small Central American republic one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
The odds of winning the Miss World crown were long, Alvarado knew, but she practiced her English in the weeks ahead of the pageant, just in case she needed an acceptance speech, said Jose Eudaldo Diaz, the philosophy professor who was coaching her.
"She knew that the questions would be about the insecurity and violence because that is what the world knows about Honduras," Diaz said. "Her goal was to explain that she wanted to contribute to a Honduras in which children could walk the streets without fear of being murdered."
No one ever got to hear Alvarado's speech, and she didn't get to the pageant. She was shot to death along with a sister, their bodies discarded on a riverbank. They were laid to rest in a rain-soaked cemetery Thursday.
The senseless murder of Miss Honduras along with the older sister, Sofia, is both a family tragedy and a national outrage in a country that had seemed to be sleepwalking through a homicidal bloodbath. While many of the daily dead are gangsters, drug traffickers and police officers, many others are taxi drivers, journalists, abused women and other nameless innocents caught in the line of fire.
Alvarado would have fallen into the last group were it not for the fact she was unusually beautiful, and rose from humble roots in the hinterlands to represent Honduras on a world stage.
"If she had been any other girl, if she hadn't been Miss Honduras, this would have been one more crime amid the impunity of Honduras," said Jose Luis Mejia, director of the Technological University campus in Santa Barbara, where Alvarado studied. "They would have said what they always do: that this was the settling of accounts between drug traffickers, and they wouldn't even have bothered to investigate."
Most South American cocaine headed for the United States passes through Honduras, and Santa Barbara is on a main corridor from the brutal city of San Pedro Sula to the Guatemalan border. Officially, the killing of Miss Honduras and her 23-year-old sister isn't related to drug trafficking. Police say Sofia's suitor, Plutarco Ruiz, confessed to shooting the sisters in a jealous rage after she danced with another man at his birthday party. He killed Sofia first and then shot Maria Jose twice in the back as she tried to flee.
But to Alvarado's friends and family, the killings are the result of a traditional machismo made worse by the wealth and muscle of drug traffickers.
"This region is imbued with narco-culture represented by the image of a man who moves in a big car, drinks, takes drugs, walks around armed and is bad," Mejia said. "The culture of violence and death."
Santa Barbara is a Spanish colonial town of one-story houses with wood posts holding up clay-tiled roofs. Its parents are, for the most part, conservative Roman Catholics who walk their daughters to and from high school in the belief that unaccompanied young women should not be on the streets. Smoking and drinking in public are scorned, if not prohibited, and beauty pageants in this region don't allow contestants in bikinis.
The town is surrounded by fog-shrouded mountains and coffee farms, its dirt streets muddied by days of heavy rain. A house once owned by 19th century Honduran President Luis Bogran serves as the private high school and university where Alvarado was enrolled and planned to study international relations. In a covered patio, her friends held a candlelight vigil with a slideshow of pictures from Alvarado's pageant and modeling career.
Nusly Casana, a classmate of Alvarado's since kindergarten, described what a tough town Santa Barbara is for women.
"They tell you: 'Don't' dress like that. Don't go out. What are you doing, where are you going? Who are you going with, what will people say?" Casana said.
"A man is free, a woman not; a man may choose and a woman not. And along with this is the violence that begins at home from childhood and continues throughout life. ... To call the murder of a woman by a man a crime of passion, to talk of jealousy, is to avoid the daily reality of violence against women," she said.
Casana recalled how she and Alvarado used to carry their Barbie dolls to school in their book bags. Alvarado loved beauty and fashion and talked of wanting to grow up to be like Barbie.
The youngest of three sisters, Alvarado began competing in pageants at age 13. She won Miss Northwest Honduras, Miss Teen Honduras and, finally, Miss Honduras, the stepping stone to the Miss World pageant.
After each competition, she would come back to Santa Barbara and share the details of her experiences with friends, who described her as generous and innocent to the point of naivete. She still wore braces on her lower teeth.
"Her successes were our successes," said Ludin Reyes, another schoolmate. "We were friends and fans."
While Alvarado pursued her dream, and her oldest sister married and moved away, Sofia was not so lucky, friends and officials said. She was a teacher until the school where she worked closed, and in love with a married man who left his wife to be with her, but was murdered in October 2013.
Then Sofia took up with Ruiz, who confessed to killing the sisters. Ruiz was known about town as a man to be feared from a family deeply involved in drug trafficking, officials say. Although he had no police record, he was seen as someone who could offer protection or eliminate enemies.
"This is a drug trafficking corridor," said Lt. Col Ramon Castillo, an army officer in charge of security in Santa Barbara. "David Ruiz, Plutarco's brother was 'the bull' and when he was killed in February, Plutarco took his place. ... Plutarco is a violent person with a bad character and he solves everything with a pistol in his hand."
Casana said everyone warned Sofia that Ruiz was dangerous, but she wouldn't listen.
"The worst machismo is the one in the head of women who think that a drug trafficker is a powerful man who gives her what she doesn't have, protects her and makes her look good in a society that values money and power," Casana said.
It's a mystery to Alvarado's friends why she went with her sister to the rundown "spa," or riverfront restaurant, that was believed to be a place that Ruiz used to conduct illegal business. But Alvarado looked up to her big sister and, after baking a cake together, apparently wanted to join Sofia to celebrate Ruiz's birthday.
Ruiz had six security guards at the Nov. 13 party, Castillo said. According to police, Sofia and Ruiz got into a heated argument over her dancing with another man. He shot the two women and with the help of a friend buried them by the river, spreading lime to make the bodies decompose more quickly.
The next day, Ruiz told Alvarado's family the women had left the party with someone else, and he invited them for lunch. Later, he even went with them to file a missing persons report with police. But eventually investigators wrested a confession from Ruiz and, nearly a week after they disappeared, he led police to their bodies. Ruiz and three alleged accomplices were arrested.
Mayor Juan Alvarado says most of the town's 29,000 residents know who's who and what they do. He says it is widely believed police waited days to interrogate Ruiz to give him a chance to escape. But in a country where impunity prevails, he didn't run.
"He felt so immune that he didn't flee because he trusted they would never detain him," said the mayor, who is not related to the beauty queen's family.
Now that Ruiz is behind bars, the army should round up the rest of the drug traffickers in the area, Alvarado said. "As mayor, I receive threats for any little thing and I have to provide my own security so someone doesn't come put a bullet in me."
At her modest home on an unpaved road, Alvarado's distraught mother is left to grapple with the loss of her beauty queen daughter and the sister who led her to her death.
"Poor Sofia," said the mother, Teresa Munoz. "I forgive her because she was responsible for what they did to her sister, for the fact that Maria Jose died, too."News Topics: General news, Drug trafficking, Shootings, Drug-related crime, Beauty pageants, Abuse of women, Municipal governments, Crime, Violence, Smuggling, Violent crime, Entertainment, Arts and entertainment, Human welfare, Social issues, Social affairs, Women's rights, Human rights and civil liberties, Local governments, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Maria Jose, Honduras, Latin America and Caribbean, Central America
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jason Zucker scored with 45.4 seconds left to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
Nino Niederreiter had a goal and an assist, and Marco Scandella also scored for the Wild, who won their fourth straight. Darcy Kuemper stopped 37 shots.
Mark Streit and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers, who lost their fourth straight. Ray Emery had 27 saves.
The Wild improved to 4-6 on the road and earned just their second win in 10 visits to Philadelphia (2-7-1).
MAPLE LEAFS 5, LIGHTNING 2
TORONTO (AP) — James van Riemsdyk scored two goals to lead Toronto to a much-needed victory over Tampa Bay.
David Clarkson, Richard Panik and Roman Polak added goals for Toronto, which scored early in the first period and three times in the second to snap a three-game losing streak.
Alex Killorn and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, which has dropped two straight after beating the Rangers in New York 5-1 on Monday.
The usually high-scoring Lightning couldn't break through Jonathan Bernier, who redeemed himself after being pulled from Tuesday's 9-2 loss to Nashville after allowing three goals on 12 shots in 20 minutes.
Bernier recorded his sixth win of the season, stopping 26 shots.
CANADIENS 4, BLUES 1
MONTREAL (AP) — Max Pacioretty scored twice as Montreal beat St. Louis. Dale Weise and Lars Eller also scored, and Carey Price made 31 saves.
Vladimir Tarasenko had the lone goal for St. Louis. Jake Allen stopped 26 shots in defeat.
Pacioretty netted the winner at 7:32 of the second — his team-leading ninth goal. He got the better of Allen on a breakaway after taking a stretch pass from linemate Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau from his own zone.
The Canadiens (15-5-1) stretched their lead atop the Eastern Conference to three points. The Blues have lost consecutive games after winning 10 of 11.
SENATORS 3, PREDATORS 2
OTTAWA (AP) — Bobby Ryan, Alex Chiasson and Jared Cowen all scored in the second period, Robin Lehner stopped 33 shots, and Ottawa topped Nashville.
Shea Weber and Olli Jokinen scored for Nashville, and Carter Hutton — playing for just the third time this season — stopped 16 shots.
Ryan's power-play goal tied it 1-1 at 6 minutes of the second period. Chiasson put Ottawa ahead with 6:42 remaining in the period, scoring his fifth of the season.
Cowen made it 3-1 just 2:06 later.
Jokinen made it a one-goal game in the opening minutes of the third period, getting his first point with the Predators. Nashville outshot Ottawa 16-3 in the third period.
RED WINGS 4, JETS 3
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Tomas Tatar scored two goals and added an assist as Detroit defeated Winnipeg.
Justin Abdelkader had the tying goal and an assist for the Red Wings, and Johan Franzen scored his sixth of the season.
Dustin Byfuglien, Adam Lowry and Mathieu Perrault had goals for Winnipeg. Ondrej Pavelec made 23 saves.
Detroit rested Jimmy Howard after he was in net for the Red Wings' 5-0 victory over Columbus on Tuesday. With backup Jonas Gustavsson out because of a dislocated shoulder, Petr Mrazek played in his 12th career game and first this season, and made 28 saves.
STARS 3, COYOTES 1
DALLAS (AP) — John Klingberg, Cody Eakin and Jason Spezza all scored in the third period, rallying Dallas past Arizona.
Ales Hemsky had two assists as Dallas ended a seven-game, home-losing streak (0-5-2). The Stars won for just the second time in 11 home games (2-5-4).
Arizona has lost its last five games in Dallas.
Klingberg and Eakin scored 33 seconds apart in the opening minute of the third period. Klingberg's goal from the slot was his first in the NHL, in his sixth game, and it tied it 19 seconds into the period.
Spezza made it 3-1 with 4:18 remaining.
Lauri Korpikoski scored for the Coyotes with 5:39 left in the first period.
Arizona's Mike Smith and Dallas' Kari Lehtonen both had 24 saves.
CAPITALS 3, AVALANCHE 2
DENVER (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored late in the third period, Braden Holtby stopped 27 shots, and Washington outlasted Colorado.
Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist, Jason Chimera also scored, and Ovechkin added an assist for the Capitals. Washington won the last two games of its three-game trip.
Ovechkin broke a 2-all tie when he poked his own rebound over the goal line with 5:56 left. It was his ninth of the season and first in four games.
The Avalanche played half the game without Alex Tanguay after he was hit in the face on a shot by Ovechkin. Tanguay skated off the ice and didn't return because of a jaw injury.News Topics: Sports, Athlete injuries, Men's sports, NHL hockey, Athlete health, Professional hockey, Hockey, Men's hockey
People, Places and Companies: Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, Marco Scandella, Darcy Kuemper, Mark Streit, Claude Giroux, Ray Emery, James van Riemsdyk, David Clarkson, Richard Panik, Roman Polak, Alex Killorn, Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Bernier, Max Pacioretty, Dale Weise, Lars Eller, Carey Price, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jake Allen, P.A. Parenteau, Bobby Ryan, Alex Chiasson, Jared Cowen, Robin Lehner, Shea Weber, Olli Jokinen, Carter Hutton, Tomas Tatar, Justin Abdelkader, Johan Franzen, Dustin Byfuglien, Adam Lowry, Ondrej Pavelec, Jimmy Howard, Jonas Gustavsson, Petr Mrazek, John Klingberg, Cody Eakin, Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Lauri Korpikoski, Mike Smith, Kari Lehtonen, Alexander Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera, Alex Tanguay, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Ontario, Canada, North America, Pennsylvania, United States, Manitoba, Quebec
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Officials say an All Nippon Airways flight bound for Tokyo has turned back to Manila for an emergency landing after smoke billowed from its cockpit.
The Manila airport's media office said Friday that flight NH950 landed safely some 35 minutes after it departed.
Eric Apolonio, spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, says two investigators have been dispatched to the aircraft.
A staffer who answered the phone at ANA's office in Manila says there are no injuries.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Ana Holdings Inc, Philippines, Manila, Japan, Tokyo, Southeast Asia, Asia, East Asia
TOKYO (AP) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has dissolved the lower house of Japan's parliament, paving the way for a general election next month.
Friday's dissolution will lead to elections expected on Dec. 14.
The vote is widely seen as an attempt by Abe to shore up support for his government after a series of finance-related scandals hit his newly named Cabinet this fall.
His ruling Liberal Democratic Party may lose some seats but is likely to retain a solid majority with its coalition partner in the 480-seat lower house.
The election follows Abe's decision this week to postpone a planned increase in the consumption tax after the economy slipped into recession. He is portraying the election as a referendum on his economic revitalization policies and the postponing of the tax increase.News Topics: Business, General news, Parliamentary elections, Government and politics, Elections
People, Places and Companies: Shinzo Abe, Japan, East Asia, Asia
BEIJING (AP) — A court has upheld the separatism conviction and life sentence for a noted scholar from China's Muslim Uighur minority who frequently criticized the government while advocating ethnic pride and greater economic opportunity.
Ilham Tohti was accused of fomenting unrest in the far western region of Xinjiang during a closed-door trial in September in the regional capital of Urumqi. His supporters have portrayed him as a moderate intent on mediating conflicts between Xinjiang's native Uighurs and China's ethnic Han majority.
His lawyer, Li Pangping, said Ilham Tohti's appeal against his conviction was rejected Friday by the Xinjiang High Court.
Li says the verdict upholding the sentence was delivered at a hearing in an Urumqi jail, which he says is a violation of normal judicial procedure.News Topics: General news, Race and ethnicity, Social issues, Social affairs
People, Places and Companies: China, Greater China, East Asia, Asia
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's prime minister dissolves lower house of parliament, paving way for December election.News Topics: General news, Parliamentary elections, Government and politics, Legislature, Elections
People, Places and Companies: Japan, East Asia, Asia
NEW DELHI (AP) — An Indian guru at the center of a deadly standoff with police was set to appear in court Friday after he was arrested at his sprawling ashram for refusing to answer murder charges.
Nearly 15,000 supporters of the 63-year-old Sant Rampal were evacuated from his compound in Haryana state before police took him away in an ambulance Wednesday. Previous attempts by riot police to enter the fortified estate, about 175 kilometers (110 miles) from New Delhi, had resulted in deaths and injuries as Rampal's followers, some of whom were armed, fought back.
The self-styled guru was taken to Chandigarh, the state capital, to appear before a court Friday.
He has repeatedly ignored orders to answer a 2006 murder charge against him. Police have filed additional charges against him and some of his supporters, including sedition, murder, criminal conspiracy and detaining people illegally in his fortress, said Jawahar Yadav, a Haryana state government spokesman.
More than 400 people have been arrested and about 200 others injured, including security forces, during the dayslong standoff.
The guru's followers on Wednesday handed over to police the bodies of four women who apparently died inside the 12-acre (5-hectare) complex. Another woman and an 18-month-old child died in a hospital after leaving the ashram.
The circumstances of the deaths were not clear and autopsies were being conducted.
Gurus and Hindu holy men are immensely popular in India, with millions of followers. People often consult gurus before making important personal decisions. But the enormous power wielded by the self-styled holy men has led to scandals in which they have been accused of exploiting devotees.
Shriniwas Vashisht, director-general of police in Haryana, said many of the thousands of people holed up with Rampal were held against their will or were used as human shields to prevent police action.
Authorities had tried to flush out Rampal by cutting off electricity and water to the compound.
"They closed and locked the gates inside the compound and would not let us out," said Birender Satya, who had traveled from central India with his mother to listen to Rampal's preaching.
Rampal and 38 others have been charged with murder and other offenses after a clash between his supporters and another group killed one person in July 2006. He was freed on bail, which was canceled after his followers entered a courtroom and threatened lawyers in July.
Since 2010, Rampal, a former engineer, has ignored 43 court summonses, seeking exemptions each time. The court set a final deadline for him to appear in court on Monday, which he ignored.
His supporters said he was too ill to make the 250-kilometer (155-mile) journey from his ashram to the court in the state capital, Chandigarh.News Topics: General news, Violent crime, Homicide, Legal proceedings, Arrests, Crime, Law and order
People, Places and Companies: India, South Asia, Asia
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City's Metropolitan Opera says it has ended its 2014 fiscal year with a $22 million shortfall in its budget.
But the opera company said in a statement Thursday that steps including new labor contracts are expected to bring in enough savings to balance the budgets in the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years.
The Met says its cost controls also include cutting 22 administrative staff jobs and reducing departmental budgets by $11.25 million. Its statement didn't reveal the size of the overall budget.
The Met, the nation's largest performing arts organization, ran a $2.8 million deficit last season on a budget of $327 million.
Fifteen unions representing about 2,500 workers reached labor agreements with the Met over the summer.News Topics: Arts and entertainment, Music, Entertainment, Government budget deficits, Opera, Government budgets, Government finance, Government business and finance, Business, Government and politics, Classical music, Performing arts
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — An elderly dementia patient in South Korea has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for setting a fire at a hospital for the elderly that killed 22 people.
Gwangju District Court spokesman Han Ji-hyeong says the 81-year-old man was convicted of arson and manslaughter on Friday.
Han says the man denied responsibility for the fire at a hospital in southern South Korea in May.
He says the court gave weight to security camera footage and the testimonies of hospital employees to establish that he set fire in a hospital room.
The incident raised concerns about lax fire regulations because it happened when the country was undergoing soul searching over public safety following April's ferry sinking that killed more than 300 people.News Topics: General news, Arson, Sentencing, Fires, Crime, Legal proceedings, Law and order, Accidents and disasters
People, Places and Companies: South Korea, Seoul, East Asia, Asia
BEIJING (AP) — A veteran journalist who is one of the best-known intellectuals to have been imprisoned for supporting the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests has gone on trial in closed-door proceedings in Beijing on new accusations of leaking state secrets.
Gao Yu, 70, was detained for illegally obtaining a secret Communist Party document and providing it to a website for publication, according to previous state media reports.
Those reports did not identify the document, but it appeared to refer to reports outside the mainland last year about a high-level, internal circular seen as outlining the party's strategy of attacking Western democratic ideals and crushing dissent to protect its rule.
Gao previously was imprisoned on state secrets charges for more than a year after the 1989 crackdown.News Topics: General news, Journalists, News media, Media
People, Places and Companies: China, Beijing, Greater China, East Asia, Asia
NEW YORK (AP) — Whoever has to restock and refill the onstage bar at the new Broadway revival of Edward Albee's "A Delicate Balance" has their work cut out for them.
In this still-stunning Albee play with a cast to stand up and toast, a full glass seems always being drained. There's cognac, anisette, brandy, whiskey, screwdrivers, gin and martinis, all disappearing at an alarming rate.
Albee's 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winner, which takes an upper class, suburban WASP family to the breaking point over a weekend, is superbly directed by Pam MacKinnon and so well performed by a trans-Atlantic ensemble that each actor manages to convince you that they are the focus of the show.
John Lithgow plays the soft center as Tibias, the somewhat coolly aloof patriarch, in name only. He would like nothing more than being left in a comfortable chair with a good book and maybe an after-dinner digestif.
Instead, his calm is constantly interrupted by his sister-in-law, Claire (played by Lindsay Duncan), a hard-boiled alcoholic who trades snipes and snarls with his wife, Agnes (Glenn Close), the morally superior fulcrum of the family.
"There is a balance to be maintained, after all, though the rest of you teeter, unconcerned, or uncaring, assuming you're on level ground," Agnes says.
Add to this potent cocktail the arrival of Julia (Martha Plimpton), the much-married daughter of Tobias and Agnes, who has fled her latest husband but can't reclaim her old bedroom because it's being occupied by Harry and Edna (Bob Balaban and Clare Higgins), two old friends of her parents who have fled their own home, filled with unexplained dread.
The house is full. The bar is stocked. Let the insults fly.
"A Delicate Balance" first arrived on Broadway four years after Albee's blistering "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" also plumbing the often papered-over resentments lurking beneath very civilized people.
This revival of "A Delicate Balance," which opened Thursday at the Golden Theatre, comes just a year after MacKinnon won a Tony for directing a stunning revival of "Virginia Woolf." Albee has clearly found a soul mate in the examination of how life gets compromised and calcified.
MacKinnon has an equally blistering cast this time, with Lithgow as a terribly good ineffective peacemaker, trying to avoid verbal land mines, counseling "let it be," and constantly fetching drinks. His story about an old house cat becomes an aria and his eventual collapse into a barking puddle of honesty is gorgeous.
Close's Agnes perfectly navigates the role's twin dangers of barking self-righteousness, on the one hand, and nasty bitchiness on the other. She's able to switch from soft and loving to arch and noble to pounce like an alley cat. Duncan, who actually balances a glass on her head, is a nasty, truth-telling drunk; she hovers like a hawk to look for weakness and then flashes her talons.
Plimpton consummately conjures an immature, needy daughter, equal parts smug, put-upon and damaged. And Balaban and Higgins are perfectly in synch as a couple who seem clueless and oddly obtuse, but can suddenly flash their fangs.
Santo Loquasto's gorgeous, elegant sitting room and Ann Roth's comfy, elegantly chic costumes for the women and proper country club menswear give the play a polished look that makes the eventual savagery all the more painful. It is truly a revival where everyone does great work, but keep your eye on that busy bar. Imagine taking care of that each day.
People, Places and Companies: Edward Albee, Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Martha Plimpton, Bob Balaban, Virginia Woolf, Santo Loquasto
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — South Africa captain A.B. de Villiers has won the toss and elected to bat in the fourth limited-overs international against Australia, chasing a win to save the series.
Australia, leading the five-match series 2-1, batted first in the previous three matches, winning the first and third games in Perth and Canberra.
Allrounder Mitchell Marsh was released from the Australia squad Friday so he can play for Western Australia in the domestic Sheffield Shield.
Imran Tahir did not start for South Africa because of a knee injury sustained in the Canberra match, while Morne Morkel was also left out of the staring XI.
The last match is scheduled for Sunday at the Sydney Cricket Ground.News Topics: Sports
People, Places and Companies: Australia, Oceania
NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) — Bill Cosby has taken his comedy show on the road in the Bahamas as controversy surrounds him at home.
The 77-year-old entertainer performed Thursday in a small theater at the Atlantis resort in a benefit for a women's service organization.
Cosby made no mention of the allegations of sexual assault by several women that have resurfaced in recent days. He stuck to his routine, including stories about his childhood growing up in the projects of Philadelphia.
There were few empty seats in the house and a few people gave him an ovation when he finished his set.
Some in the audience said the allegations against Cosby remain unproven and they added that his performance was a benefit for what they felt was a good cause.News Topics: Arts and entertainment, General news, Celebrity, Entertainment
People, Places and Companies: Bill Cosby, Bahamas, Caribbean, Latin America and Caribbean
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Devin Williams had 16 points and 10 rebounds as West Virginia dominated George Mason 91-65 in the first round of Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Thursday.
Johnathan Holton added 16 points and seven rebounds. As a team the Mountaineers (3-0) finished with 16 steals and forced 24 turnovers by the Patriots (1-2)
For Williams it was his third straight double-double. It was the 11th of the sophomore's career.
Williams played sparingly in the final 20 minutes being sent to the floor after a collision underneath the basket. But he was able to walk off under his own power.
Patrick Holloway led the Patriots with 17 points.
West Virginia plays Boston College in second round on Friday. George Mason falls to the consolation bracket where it will meet New Mexico.News Topics: Sports, Men's college basketball, Men's basketball, College basketball, Basketball, College sports, Men's sports
People, Places and Companies: Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Caribbean, Latin America and Caribbean, United States, North America
PEBBLE BEACH, California (AP) — PGA Tour rookie Tony Finau shot a 9-under 63 at Del Monte and had a two-stroke lead over Billy Andrade and Lee Janzen of the Champions Tour after Thursday's opening round of the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational.
Finau, one of the longest drivers in golf, had nine birdies, one bogey and eagled the 331-yard par-4 11th after hitting his tee shot six feet from the pin.
"I've been working on my whole game," he said. "I'm controlling it better and I've 100 percent polished off my game."
Andrade, a four-time PGA Tour winner who just completed his first Champions Tour season, had a 65, also at Del Monte. Janzen, a two-time U.S. Open winner, tallied his 65 at Spyglass Hill.
"It was a nice relaxing day," Andrade said. "I didn't have a bogey. It was a pretty easy day and I was happy with it. But a 65 at Del Monte is one thing, a 65 at Spyglass is remarkable. My hat's off to Lee."
Janzen, beginning on the back nine, had five birdies and eagled the seventh.
"Well, hitting off the different tees helped," said Janzen, who turned 50 in August. "I was able to take out of play all the bunkers I usually have trouble with. I hit every green."
The 72-hole tournament has different tee placements for the varying tours' players. It includes 82 pros from the four major tours and mini tours as well.
PGA Tour players James Hahn, Matt Bettencourt and Kyle Reifers all had 67s. Champions Tour veteran Bobby Clampett, who won the event in 1979 as a 19-year-old amateur, was among three players trailing Finau by five strokes after a 68 at Pebble Beach.
Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam had a 73 at Del Monte and shared low scoring honors among the nine LPGA entrants with Stephanie Meadow, who also played at Del Monte.News Topics: Sports, Golf, Men's golf, Women's golf, Men's sports, Women's sports
People, Places and Companies: Tony Finau, Billy Andrade, Lee Janzen, James Hahn, Matt Bettencourt, Kyle Reifers, Bobby Clampett, Stephanie Meadow
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kelsey Grammer's daughter Greer is the new Miss Golden Globe.
Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Theo Kingma made the announcement Thursday night at a party in her honor.
The 22-year-old actress says she's honored and thrilled to have been chosen.
Kingma says it's been tradition for 50 years to have the son or daughter of a past Golden Globe winner help hand out statuettes during the ceremony.
Kelsey Grammer has been nominated for nine Golden Globes and won three.
Greer Grammer is best known for playing Lissa in TV's "Awkward."
Previous Miss Golden Globes have included Laura Dern, Melanie Griffith and "Fifty Shades of Gray" star Dakota Johnson.News Topics: Arts and entertainment, Television programs, Entertainment, Celebrity children, Celebrity, Golden Globe Awards, Events, Award shows
People, Places and Companies: Kelsey Grammer, Greer Grammer, Laura Dern, Melanie Griffith, Dakota Johnson
SAO PAULO (AP) — Cruzeiro overcame a first-half deficit to beat Gremio 2-1 and move within a victory of clinching its second consecutive Brazilian league title.
Midfielder Ricardo Goulart and forward Everton Ribeiro scored second-half goals Thursday as the defending champion won its fourth game in a row and set up a seven-point lead over second-place Sao Paulo with three rounds to go.
Sao Paulo played its 35th-round match a week ago, drawing Internacional 1-1 at home.
Paraguay midfielder Cristian Riveros opened the scoring for Gremio in the 14th minute in Porto Alegre, but Goulart equalized from close range in the 66th and Ribeiro scored the winner after a breakaway in the 76th.
Cruzeiro can clinch its fourth league title with a home victory against Goias on Sunday.News Topics: Sports, Soccer, Men's soccer, Men's sports
People, Places and Companies: Cristian Riveros, Brazil, Sao Paulo, South America, Latin America and Caribbean