News

Swimming rivals Park, Sun top list of athletes to watch at the Asian Games in South Korea

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 06:26
by  Associated Press Athletes to watch at the South Korea Asian Games by CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 01:26-04:00

INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — With one of the hottest rivalries in swimming, South Korea's Park Tae-hwan and China's Sun Yang will be hogging the spotlight at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. But with nearly 10,000 athletes competing in 42 sports, the list of world champions and Olympic gold medalists is lengthy.

Here is a short rundown on just a few of the athletes to watch at Incheon:

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PARK TAE-HWAN

A star in his native South Korea, Park will attempt a second straight sweep of the Asian Games 100-, 200- and 400-meter freestyle events. The 24-year-old Park, nicknamed "Marine Boy," launched his competitive swimming career at seven and attended his first Olympics at age 14, when he was disqualified after falling off the starting block in his 400-meter heat. He found success in the 400 at the Beijing Games in 2008, becoming the first South Korean man to win an Olympic medal in swimming. That success was followed by a slump in form, but Park battled back to take two silvers — including a dead-heat with Sun Yang in the 200 freestyle — at the 2012 London Olympics. He set the fastest time of the year in the 400 last month at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia. Most South Korean men are required to complete almost two years of military service, but Park's success in the pool won him a reprieve and he fulfilled the national service with just four weeks of basic training after the London Games. He has also come up with some novel ways of financing his career, using crowdsourcing to raise $60,000 last year to train in Australia.

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SUN YANG

Sun is the other, considerably taller, half of the biggest rivalry in Asian swimming and has been doing a little bit of trash talking ahead of the 2014 Games. Speaking through the Chinese media, he reminded Park that he's come a long way since being outshone by his rival at the 2010 Asian Games by winning gold in the 400 and 1,500 at the London Olympics — and finishing equal with Park for silver in the 200 — then winning the 400, 800 and 1,500 at last year's world championships. Sun also holds the 1,500 world record. Ahead of Incheon, he filmed a series of television commercials for a Chinese sportswear company in which he takes good natured jabs at Park's celebrity, thanking the Korean in one scene for not having left swimming for pop music or acting and ending with: "Don't let me win too easily." At 22, Sun has already built up a reputation as something of a bad boy, having been suspended by the Chinese federation in December after being detained for 7 days for driving without a license, an oversight he put down to his hectic training schedule. He'd already been publicly criticized for missing training to spend time with his air hostess girlfriend and take part in commercial endorsements. Sun's parents were both professional athletes and that pedigree shows in his hulking, nearly 2-meter (6-foot-6) frame.

_____

SAORI YOSHIDA

One of Japan's biggest sporting stars and most successful wrestlers in history, Yoshida claimed three consecutive Olympic golds and holds an unprecedented 12 consecutive world titles in her 55-kilogram freestyle class. At 31, she'll be bidding for her fourth straight gold medal at the Asian Games. Yoshida was Japan's flag-bearer at the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympics in 2012 and is also known in Japan as the face of one of the country's biggest private security companies. Her late father was a Japanese national champion and encouraged her to take up the sport at age three. Having won virtually every major tournament since her 2002 debut, Yoshida recently hinted at an acting career following retirement — she made a cameo appearance in a Japanese television drama in May.

_____

ABHINAV BINDRA

Abhinav Bindra is aiming to add Asian Games gold to his long list of Olympic, Commonwealth and world championship titles. Bindra became the only Indian competitor to win an individual Olympic gold medal with his victory in the 10-meter air rifle title at Beijing in 2008, making him an instant sporting hero in a country that reveres its cricket stars. His best Asian Games result was a silver medal in the team event at the last edition in Guangzhou, China. The competition at Incheon comes as the 31-year-old begins to wind down his long career, having already announced that the recently completed Commonwealth Games in Glasgow — where he won a gold medal — would be his last. Bindra made his Olympic debut in Sydney 2000 at the age of 17, four years after taking up the sport. Born into a wealthy family in Chandigarh, he benefited from having a home shooting range and the ability to independently finance his training and competition schedule.

_____

LIN DAN

Lin burst onto the men's badminton scene with the first of his five world titles in 2006, going on to win gold at the last two Olympics and the singles title at the last Asian Games in his native China four years ago. Lin, married to fellow badminton Olympian Xie Xingfang, has at times been known as much for his fiery temper as his devastating overhead smashes, particularly in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he was accused by the local media of disrespecting his own coach and publicly clashed with South Korea's Chinese-born coach during a match. In the latter case, China's federation backed him up after her refused to apologize for shouting and raising his racket in a threatening manner. As a member of the People's Liberation Army team, Lin holds the title of lieutenant colonel in China's military, although he's rarely seen in uniform. One of China's best known athletes, the 30-year-old Lin is also something of a style icon due to his collection of tattoos and a variety of spikey haircuts.

News Topics: Sports, Men's shooting, 2014 Asian Games, Asian Games, Men's badminton, Shooting, Swimming, Men's swimming, Summer Olympic games, 2012 London Olympic Games, Olympic games, Women's badminton, Badminton, Men's sports, Events, Aquatics, Men's aquatics, Women's sports

People, Places and Companies: Park Tae-Hwan, Saori Yoshida, Abhinav Bindra, Lin Dan, Xie Xingfang, South Korea, Japan, East Asia, Beijing, China, Australia, Asia, Greater China, Oceania

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Asian stock markets mostly lower after Fed raises 2015 rate forecast

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 06:09
by  Associated Press Asian stocks mostly down after Fed meeting by YOUKYUNG LEE, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 01:09-04:00

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets mostly fell Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve increased its estimate for the level of the central bank's benchmark interest rate by the end of 2015, surprising investors who expected a slower pace of rate hikes.

KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.7 percent to 24,199.87 and South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.8 percent to 2,046.53. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.1 percent to 5,399.60. Stocks in New Zealand and mainland China also fell but Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.3 percent to 16,099.30 as the yen weakened.

FED WATCH: The Fed statement kept its "considerable" wording in reference to how much time would elapse before it starts raising interest rates but raised its estimate of what the Fed's benchmark interest rate should be at the end of 2015: to 1.38 percent from 1.13 percent decided at its June meeting. The Fed has kept its benchmark rate at a record-low level near zero since the 2008 financial crisis to support economic recovery; the super-easy monetary policy has also boosted stock markets. Most economists expect the first rate increase to happen by the middle of next year. Before the Fed's meeting, there was speculation the Fed might signal an earlier start to rate hikes.

THE QUOTE: "The 2015 median rate forecast suggests that the Fed will have to hike by June at the latest, with a hike in every meeting thereafter," Mizuho Bank said in a daily commentary. "This was a marked surprise to markets, which was looking to a slower pace of hikes."

SONY, SAMSUNG WOES: Asian tech giants were among the biggest losers of the day. Sony Corp. dived 10 percent after forecasting its annual loss would swell to $2.15 billion, citing a writedown of its mobile business amid intense competition from Chinese rivals. The once iconic Japanese company cancelled dividends for the first time in more than five decades. Samsung Electronics Co. fell as much as 2 percent in Seoul even though it pushed forward the launch schedule for the Galaxy Note 4 smartphone in its home market.

HYUNDAI PLUNGE: Shares of Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's top automaker, and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. plunged about 9 percent each after a Hyundai Motor-led consortium outbid Samsung Electronics Co. for real estate in Seoul's Gangnam district. Seller Korea Electric Power Corp. said Hyundai Motor-led consortium offered 10 trillion won ($9.6 billion) for 800,000 square meters of land in the high-end district.

WALL STREET: Wall Street finished higher Wednesday as the Fed statement relieved investors who had fretted about the timing of first rate hike. The Dow gained 0.2 percent to a record high of 17,156.85 and the S&P 500 edged up 0.1 percent to 2,001.57, falling short of its own closing high of 2,007.71 from Sept. 5. The Nasdaq composite finished higher by 0.2 percent to 4,562.19, still well below its dot-com era peak.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 65 cents to $93.77 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 46 cents to settle at $94.42 on Wednesday. The price of oil fell after the Energy Department reported a 3.7 million barrel increase in U.S. crude inventories last week. Most analysts had expected a decline, which is typical for this time of year.

CURRENCIES: The euro rose to $1.2861 from $1.2840 late Wednesday. The dollar rose to 108.74 yen from 108.63 yen.

News Topics: Business, General news, Stock prices, Central bank interest rates, Financial crisis, Currency markets, Japanese yen, South Korean won, Stock indices and averages, Financial markets, Stock markets, Leading economic indicators, Economy, Monetary policy, Economic policy, Government business and finance, Government and politics, Government policy, Euro

People, Places and Companies: Sony Corp, Hyundai Motor Co, Kia Motors Corp, Korea Electric Power Corp, South Korea, Seoul, East Asia, United States, Asia, North America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Modi, Xi to focus on trade and investment, as tensions flare up along their disputed border

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 06:08
by  Associated Press India, China leaders to discuss trade, investment Associated Press - 18 September 2014 01:08-04:00

NEW DELHI (AP) — Visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold talks aimed at boosting trade and Chinese investment even as their troops face-off along their disputed border in the Himalayas.

Xi was given a ceremonial welcome Thursday at the presidential palace in New Delhi. Later, Xi visited a memorial to Mohandas Gandhi to pay homage to India's independence leader.

But while XI and Modi meet, Chinese and Indian troops were involved in a face-off along their border in the Ladakh region in northern India.

Indian spokesman Syed Akbaruddin says India will raise the border problems with the Chinese leader during the talks.

India and China have held several rounds of talks to resolve their differences over the border.

News Topics: General news, International trade, Economy, Business, Government and politics

People, Places and Companies: Xi Jinping, Narendra Modi, Mahatma Gandhi, India, China, South Asia, Asia, Greater China, East Asia

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Obama hosting Poroshenko at White House in show of support for fledgling Ukraine government

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 06:03
by  Associated Press Obama, Ukraine president to meet at White House by JULIE PACE, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 01:03-04:00

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a symbolic show of support for Ukraine's fledgling government, President Barack Obama is to host Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the Oval Office on Thursday after the leader of the former Soviet republic speaks to a rare joint session of Congress.

Poroshenko arrives in Washington seeking more robust U.S military assistance to help his country in its fight against Russian-backed rebels. Obama so far has resisted Ukraine's request for lethal assistance, though the U.S. has provided about $60 million in nonlethal aid to Ukraine's military.

White House officials made clear that Poroshenko's visit — his first to the U.S. since being elected this summer — was aimed in part at sending a message to Russia about the West's backing for the embattled former Soviet republic.

"The picture of President Poroshenko sitting in the Oval Office will be worth at least a thousand words — both in English and Russian," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Ukraine and Kremlin-backed separatists have been locked in a monthslong fight for control of eastern Ukrainian cities that sit on Russia's border, aggression that followed Russia's annexation of the strategically important Crimean Peninsula. The U.S. and Western allies have condemned Russia's provocations, levying a series of economic sanctions and restricting President Vladimir Putin's involvement in some international organizations.

But the penalties have done little to shift Putin's calculus. In recent weeks, the West has accused Russia of moving troops and equipment across its border with Ukraine, though the Kremlin denies such involvement.

Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists inked a cease-fire agreement on Sept. 5, though the deal has been violated repeatedly. On Wednesday, shelling in rebel-held parts of the east killed at least 12 civilians, as a top leader of pro-Russian rebels rejected Ukrainian legislation meant to end the unrest by granting self-rule to large swaths of the east.

Poroshenko, a billionaire businessman, won Ukraine's presidential election in May after his country's Russian-backed leader fled amid popular protests. Western leaders have praised Poroshenko's commitment to reform, and Obama will press him Thursday for more aggressive political and economic actions that can stabilize the fragile nation.

At the heart of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia is the former Soviet republic's desire to strengthen ties with Europe. Poroshenko has only deepened those efforts, making a high-profile appearance at the NATO summit this month and overseeing the backing of a deal this week to strengthen economic and political ties with Europe.

The deal lowers trade tariffs between Europe and Ukraine, requires Ukrainian goods to meet European regulatory standards and forces the Kiev government to undertake major political and economic reforms.

Following a vote by Ukrainian lawmakers, Poroshenko called the deal "a first but very decisive step" toward bringing Ukraine fully into the European Union.

___

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

News Topics: General news, Government and politics, National governments, Legislature, Economy, Business

People, Places and Companies: Barack Obama, Petro Poroshenko, Josh Earnest, Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, Russia, United States, District of Columbia, Europe, Eastern Europe, North America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Should we stay or should we go? Scottish voters make the ultimate decision in referendum on UK

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 06:02
by  Associated Press Scotland's independence vote puts UK union on edge by DANICA KIRKA, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 01:02-04:00

LONDON (AP) — Breaking up is hard to do, especially after 307 years. The entire United Kingdom will find out just how hard if Scotland chooses independence in Thursday's vote.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

A Yes vote will trigger 18 months of negotiations between Scottish leaders and London-based politicians on how the two countries will separate their institutions ahead of Scotland's planned Independence Day of March 24, 2016. The issues range from whether Scotland will use the pound as its currency to how much U.K. debt it should take on to how the military will be split up — and the results will affect all of the U.K.'s 64 million people, not just the 5.3 million in Scotland. A Yes vote will also ripple across the 28-nation European Union and NATO and boost independence movements around the world, including in Spain's Catalonia region or Flanders in Belgium.

CENTURIES OF UNION

The parliaments of Scotland and England passed the Acts of Union that led to the creation of Great Britain in 1707 after centuries of conflict, which saw the rise of Scottish heroes like William "Braveheart" Wallace and Robert the Bruce. The union grew to become a great empire in which Scots took a leading role as inventors, artists, doctors, missionaries, engineers and intellectuals — producing luminaires such as economist Adam Smith, author Sir Walter Scott and poet Robert Burns. The global empire thrived on shipbuilding and manufacturing but fell apart after World War II as nations outside the British Isles demanded independence. Scotland has had its own parliament since 1999, although the U.K. government retains control of issues such as foreign policy, defense, immigration, trade and industry.

TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES

Now, after 307 years of union, voters are being asked the following question: Should Scotland be an independent country? Only Scottish residents are eligible to vote but people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will find that the outcome changes their lives as well. It could alter the balance of power in British politics, weaken the nation's economy and ultimately trigger a separate vote on whether the U.K. should leave the European Union.

NO DOES NOT MEAN THE STATUS QUO

Britain's political leaders have promised Scotland's government more powers if voters opt to stay. As opinion polls tightened in recent days, the leaders of the three main political parties in Westminster issued a statement guaranteeing "extensive new powers" to the Scottish parliament, promising to share the nation's resources "equitably," and pledging that Scottish leaders would control funding for the National Health Service in Scotland.

WILL THE POUND TAKE A POUNDING?

One of the most contentious issues has been whether an independent Scotland would retain the pound as its currency. U.K. leaders have said there will be no currency union. Independence leader Alex Salmond argues this is simply a campaign tactic and that politicians in Westminster will eventually agree to a currency union because it is best for both countries. Major employers such as Standard Life and the Royal Bank of Scotland have said they will move their headquarters to England if independence passes because of economic concerns.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist for IHS Global Insight, said there's likely to be a major market reaction either way: "A vote for independence is likely to result in a further appreciable sterling sell-off; a vote for Scotland to remain in the UK is likely to lead to a significant relief rally for the pound."

A BOON FOR CONSERVATIVES?

Critics have called for Prime Minister David Cameron's head if the U.K. loses Scotland — but Britain's left-leaning Labour Party would also pay a high price. Scottish voters elected 41 Labour members of Parliament in the 2010 election and only one Conservative. Eliminating those Scottish votes would give the Conservatives a 37-seat majority in Parliament and allow them to form the next government without a coalition. In the long term, the loss of Scotland would make it more difficult for Labour to win future elections, potentially ushering in an era of conservative, pro-business government in Britain.

ANOTHER HIGH STAKES VOTE IN THE MAKING

A Conservative victory in 2015 would also drag Britain into yet another high-stakes vote. Cameron has promised a referendum on EU membership to appease voters who are concerned about immigration and meddling by bureaucrats in Brussels. Scotland has been very pro-EU, so losing those votes would weaken the camp that wants Britain to stay. Any British exit from the EU would have huge consequences for its economy. The EU guarantees freedom of movement for people, goods and money, making it simpler to do business across the bloc and its 500 million people.

NORTH SEA OIL — RICHES OR NO?

Salmond, the independence leader, has argued that Scotland should receive as much as 94 percent of the tax revenue generated by North Sea oil and gas production, which would help fund day-to-day government spending, with any surplus going to a fund for future generations. The independence campaign estimates that there are more than 21 billion barrels of oil equivalent in its portion of the North Sea with a market value of almost 1.3 trillion pounds.

But the windfall may not be as great as independence advocates hope, according to analysis by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. While Scotland's share of North Sea revenue would have been as much as 7.4 billion pounds in recent years, an independent Scotland would lose 7.1 billion pounds a year in transfer payments it gets from the rest of the U.K., according to NIESR. In addition, North Sea revenues are likely to decline in coming years as production slows, meaning Scotland may receive as little as 2.8 billion pounds in 2016-17.

NATO AND NO NUKES

The independence campaign supports continued membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, provided it isn't required to base nuclear weapons in Scotland. The country's strategic location would make it a "key partner in NATO's air and naval policing arrangements for northern Europe," independence advocates say. Still, if Scotland is nuclear-free, the U.K. would have to move its Trident nuclear missiles away from Faslane in western Scotland.

News Topics: General news, Government and politics, Economy, Referendums, Parliamentary elections, Legislature, Fourth of July, Business, Elections, Holidays, Occasions, Lifestyle

People, Places and Companies: Alex Salmond, David Cameron, United Kingdom, Scotland, England, London, Europe, North Sea, Western Europe

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

APNewsBreak: Border Patrol to test body cameras amid questions about agents' use of force

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:57
by  Associated Press APNewsBreak: Border Patrol to test body cameras by ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:57-04:00

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol purchased body cameras and will begin testing them this year at its training academy, two people briefed on the move said, as new leadership moves to blunt criticism about agents' use of force.

R. Gil Kerlikowske, who has led the Border Patrol's parent agency since March, announced the plans Tuesday to a small group of activists who have pressed for cameras, according to a person who attended the briefing and spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussion was intended to be private. Testing will occur at the Border Patrol academy in Artesia, New Mexico.

The Customs and Border Protection commissioner didn't tell activists how many cameras were bought or discuss when or whether they would be introduced to any of the roughly 21,000 agents in the field, the person said. The meeting in Detroit was the latest discussion that Kerlikowske has held with some of his most vocal critics of the Border Patrol's use of force.

Another person briefed on the plans said testing will occur from October and December and that it was unclear if or when they would be introduced in the field.

Kerlikowske scheduled a news conference Thursday in Washington to discuss what his office said were "developments toward CBP's commitment to increase transparency and accountability." Michael Friel, a Customs and Border Protection spokesman, declined to comment on body cameras or the nature of Thursday's announcement.

The measure is a first step toward satisfying activists who have long demanded cameras as a way to keep a check on potential abuses. It is likely to meet opposition from the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing more than 17,000 agents, which has said cameras would be expensive and may cause agents to hesitate when their lives are threatened.

Shawn Moran, a spokesman for the agents' union, said the development came as no surprise after the White House said this week that requiring police officers to wear body cameras was a potential solution for bridging mistrust between law enforcement and the public.

The camera proposal gained traction under Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief who has moved more aggressively than his predecessors to address complaints that Customs and Border Protection is slow to investigate incidents of deadly force and alleged abuses by agents and inspectors and lacking in transparency.

In May, Kerlikowske ordered the release of a highly critical Customs and Border Protection-commissioned report that raised questions about the deadly force. The agency's internal affairs head was replaced in June with a longtime FBI official who said last week that an initial review of cases involving use of force and alleged misconduct by agents and inspectors since 2009 found 155 that merit further investigation.

Kerlikowske told activists Tuesday that he wanted to change how authorities investigate possible criminal misconduct by Customs and Border Protection employees, a person who attended the briefing said. Under a longstanding arrangement within the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigates before Customs and Border Protection gets a turn.

News Topics: General news, Border security, Border patrols, Law enforcement agencies, Political activism, Military and defense, Government and politics, Armed forces, Political issues

People, Places and Companies: Gil Kerlikowske

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

BC-AP Americas Digest

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:36
by  Associated Press BC-AP Americas Digest Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:36-04:00

TOP STORIES:

CONGRESS-ISLAMIC STATE

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's request for congressional backing to train and arm rebels battling Islamic State militants in Syria is halfway home after its easy approval by the Republican-controlled House sent the issue to the Senate, where leaders in both parties say approval is ensured. By Andrew Taylor.

AP Photos.

CANADA-TORONTO MAYOR

TORONTO — Doctors say Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will undergo 40 days of chemotherapy treatment for a rare and difficult-to-beat cancer that forced him to drop his bid for re-election. By Rob Gillies.

AP Photos.

US IRAN ISLAMIC STATE

NEW YORK — Iran's foreign minister rules out cooperating with the United States in helping Iraq fight Islamic State militants and warned that the terrorist group poses a much broader global threat that needs new thinking to eradicate. By Edith M. Lederer.

AP Photo.

TEXAS EXECUTION

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A woman convicted of the starvation and torture death of her girlfriend's 9-year-old son a decade ago is executed. By Michael Graczyk.

AP Photo.

UNITED STATES-NORTH KOREA

WASHINGTON — North Korea is not accepting American offers to send a high-level envoy to seek the release of three detained Americans, a senior U.S. official says. By Matthew Pennington. +

TROPICAL WEATHER

SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico — After a day of widespread looting of stores, police step up patrolling overnight in the resort area of Los Cabos, where thousands are still without water or electricity in the aftermath of Hurricane Odile. By Alba Mora Roca and Victor Caivano.

AP Photos, video.

BRAZIL-ELECTION

RIO DE JANEIRO — Front-running presidential candidate Marina Silva tells the AP in an exclusive interview that she taps into deep voter discontent over a broken political system by understanding that reform must come from the ground up. Silva also says she would seek better relations and bilateral trade deals with the U.S. and Europe. By Brad Brooks.

AP Photos.

PERU-UNEARTHING THE BODIES-PHOTO ESSAY

PACCHA, Peru — This remote Andean hamlet was a ghost town for three decades, inhabited only by the buried bodies of nearly two dozen villagers slain by security forces who considered them rebel sympathizers. Forensic investigators recently came to dig up those the remains. By Rodrigo Abd and Franklin Briceno. Photo essay by Rodrigo Abd.

COLOMBIA-URIBE GRILLED

BOGOTA, Colombia — Former President Alvaro Uribe is grilled by lawmakers over allegations of ties to drug traffickers and right-wing paramilitaries, accusations that have dogged him over decades in Colombia's politics. By Joshua Goodman.

AP Photos.

BUSINESS & FINANCE:

FACEBOOK-DRAG QUEENS

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco drag queens are sparring with Facebook over its policy requiring people to use their real names, rather than drag names such as Pollo Del Mar and Heklina. But the world's biggest social network is not budging from its rules. By Barbara Ortutay and Paul Elias.

TEC-DIGITAL IFE-REVIEW APPLE iOS 8 SOFTWARE

NEW YORK — The scores of new features in Apple's software update for mobile devices can be boiled down to one word: unity. By Anick Jesdanun.

AP Photo.

ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT:

MUSIC-AMERICANA AWARDS

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell sweeps the major awards night at the Americana Honors & Awards, creating another special moment with his wife, Amanda Shires. By Chris Talbott.

AP Photos.

NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS

NEW YORK — Novels by Marilynne Robinson, Jane Smiley and Richard Powers were among the 10 nominees announced for the fiction longlist of the National Book Awards. By Hillel Italie.

News Topics: General news, Literary awards, Religion and politics, Government and politics, Folk music, Literary events, Books and literature, Entertainment, Arts and entertainment, Religious issues, Religion, Social affairs, Social issues, Music

People, Places and Companies: Barack Obama, Rob Ford, Marina Silva, Alvaro Uribe, Jason Isbell, Marilynne Robinson, Jane Smiley, United States, Colombia, Toronto, San Francisco, Queens, Middle East, North America, South America, Latin America and Caribbean, Ontario, Canada, California, New York City, New York

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Prosecutors, defense lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect due in court for hearing

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:33
by  Associated Press Lawyers due in court in marathon bombing case Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:33-04:00

BOSTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors and lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were due in court for a status hearing on motions that include defense requests to move the trial outside of Massachusetts and delay the trial's start by at least 10 months.

U.S. District Judge George O'Toole Jr. was expected to discuss the motions during the hearing on Thursday.

Tsarnaev, 21, has pleaded not guilty in the 2013 attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. He could face the death penalty.

Prosecutors allege that Tsarnaev and his older borther, Tamerlan, detonated two pressure-cooker bombs near the marathon's finish line. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout with police several days after the bombings.

Tsarnaev's trial is currently scheduled to begin in November. His attorneys have argued that they need more time to review the large volume of evidence turned over by prosecutors. They say the November trial date would give them about half the median preparation time allowed other defendants facing a federal death sentence over the past decade.

The defense argues that the trial should be moved outside the state, citing the emotional impact the bombing had on many local residents.

Tsarnaev's lawyers have also filed motions to suppress physical evidence and electronically stored evidence. Prosecutors have filed a motion asking the judge to order the defense to disclose "mitigating factors" it intends to cite in arguments against the death penalty if Tsarnaev is convicted.

News Topics: General news, Legal proceedings, Boston Marathon bombing, Crime, Bombings, Law and order, Events

People, Places and Companies: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Boston, Massachusetts, United States, North America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Some things to consider on whether to upgrade to iOS 8 now or wait

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:23
by  Associated Press Upgrade to iOS 8 now or wait? Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:23-04:00

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple's iOS 8 software update for iPhones and iPads is worth getting — but not necessarily right away.

Those with an older device, such as an iPhone 4s or an iPad 2, might want to wait to see whether others have difficulties using iOS 8 with slower processors. Some of the new features won't be available on those three-year-old devices anyway. It might be time to get a new phone or tablet instead.

Even for newer devices, some apps might not be fully functional at first. Dropbox, for instance, says there's a problem with a camera backup feature. Specialized apps you have for work might also be affected.

And a new feature for tracking health and fitness data isn't working because of a software bug, so Apple has been removing affected apps from its app store. Apple says it hopes to fix the problem by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, some Mac integration features from the past might not work until Yosemite comes out. That is especially true if you activate Apple's new storage service, iCloud Drive. Even if you get iOS 8, you might want to wait on activating iCloud Drive on your device. Your phone or tablet will warn you before you activate it.

Once you upgrade, it's very difficult to go back.

And when you do, be sure to back up your photos and other data first.

News Topics: Business, General news, Personal finance, Technology, Consumer electronics, Software, Computing and information technology

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Review: Apple devices, apps start to act like one with iOS 8 software update

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:21
by  Associated Press Review: Devices, apps act like one under iOS 8 by ANICK JESDANUN, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:21-04:00

NEW YORK (AP) — The scores of new features in Apple's software update for mobile devices can be boiled down to one word: unity.

Many iPhone owners also have iPads and Mac computers, and family members are likely to have Apple devices, too. With the new iOS 8 software for iPhones and iPads, those devices start to act like one. Apps on those devices start to unite, too.

Google's Android software can't compete with iOS' evolving unity because so many different companies manufacture Android devices, and each adds its own variables. Apple knows what goes into the few products it makes and can break down the walls between them.

The free update is available to owners of iPhone and iPad models going back to 2011, though older devices won't get all the new features. The new software will also come with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which come out Friday.

Here's a look at those "unity" features — and why iOS 8 is worth installing:

___

— You can start tasks on one device and finish on another.

Let's say you're typing an email reply on your iPhone when you realize the message will be quite lengthy. You can pick up your iPad and finish there. With the upcoming Yosemite update for Mac computers, liking coming next month, you'll be able to use the Mac's physical keyboard, too.

Picking up a task on a second device is easy. Just slide up the small app icon on that device's lock screen, be it an iPhone or an iPad. On Macs with Yosemite, click the icon on the bottom left.

For now, this capability is limited to a handful of apps, including Apple's Maps, Calendar, Mail, Messages and the Safari Web browser. And when you try to open a Web page on a second device, you still have to scroll down to where you were. With Maps, on the other hand, it takes me to the location I was viewing on the other device.

This feature, known as Handoff, will be more useful once outside developers take advantage of it. LG and Samsung have offered similar integration of their phones and tablets, but neither does it as extensively.

___

— You'll be able to use your iPad or Mac to send texts or make phone calls.

Currently, you can send text-like messages from iPads and Macs with the Messages app, but the recipient also needs Messages. That excludes Android users. With iOS 8, those iPad and Mac messages will get relayed through the iPhone, so you can reach any other phone. The texting capabilities won't be coming until next month, though.

What you can do now is use the iPad and the Mac to make and receive calls. The devices have to be on the same Wi-Fi network, so this won't help if you left your phone at work. But it's useful if the phone is charging in another room. Call quality was about what I'd expect from a speakerphone.

___

— You'll be able to do more without switching from app to app.

If a text message comes in as you're browsing the Web, you can pull down the notification and reply right there. You don't need to leave the Web browser and launch Messages first. You can also delete an email or accept a calendar invite that way.

There are some limitations, though: You get only one reply for text messages. You then have to wait for another message to come in or open the full app. With email, you can mark a message as read or delete it, but you can't reply. Like Handoff, this will be more useful once more apps take advantage of it and let you do more.

Meanwhile, if you're chatting with a bunch of friends, you can see their locations (as long as they've shared it) without having to leave Messages to open a separate Find My Friends app.

___

— Members of the same households can share calendars and music more easily.

You pick up to five family members to join your network, for a total of six. These need to be people you trust, as they'll be using your credit card to make purchases. You can require approval for purchases, such as for kids' accounts.

Family members will be able to share each other's books, music, video and apps, so Mom, Dad and Junior won't need to buy separate copies of the "Frozen" movie. A family calendar and a shared photo album also get set up. The individual still gets to decide which photos and videos show up there for other family members to see.

___

— And there's more ...

The walls between Apple apps and third-party apps are breaking down. For example, outside developers will be able to use Apple's fingerprint authentication system with iOS 8. Before, it was limited to a few Apple services.

Beyond these "unity" features, owners of the new iPhones will be able to pay for goods simply by holding their device near a credit card terminal at retail stores. All iOS 8 users get quicker ways to type messages and reach favorite and recent contacts.

Although you don't need to rush out to upgrade your devices right away, it'll eventually be worthwhile to do so, especially if you have a recent device or multiple Apple devices. While last year's iOS 7 offered cosmetic changes and new gesture controls, this year's update comes with plenty of new functionality.

News Topics: Business, General news, Personal finance, Technology, Tablet computers, Consumer electronics manufacturing, Consumer electronics, Software, Mobile phones, Smartphones, Mobile phone manufacturing, Tablet computer manufacturing, Mobile media, Personal computers, Computer hardware, Consumer product manufacturing, Consumer products and services, Industries, Computing and information technology, Mobile telecommunications equipment manufacturing, Telecommunications equipment manufacturing, Telecommunications, Personal computer manufacturing, Computer hardware manufacturing, Information technology, Media

People, Places and Companies: Apple Inc, Google Inc

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

APNewsBreak: NKorea rejects US offer to send envoy amid concern over detained Americans

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:16
by  Associated Press NKorea rejects US offer to send high-level envoy by MATTHEW PENNINGTON, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:16-04:00

WASHINGTON (AP) — North Korea is not accepting American offers to send a high-level envoy to seek the release of three detained Americans, a senior U.S. official said.

Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that freeing the detainees could provide a diplomatic opening in ties, also snared by Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons. But he said that Washington would not give into attempts to "extort" political gain from the detentions.

North Korea this week sentenced 24-year-old Matthew Miller to six years hard labor, deepening U.S. concern over the cases. Miller, who according to the court tore up his visa on arrival in Pyongyang in April, was convicted of entering the country illegally to commit espionage. Another trial is expected soon for Jeffrey Fowle, who was arrested in May for leaving a Bible at a sailor's club.

The administration has previously offered to send King, initially to seek a pardon for Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American missionary who is serving out a 15-year sentence for alleged "hostile acts." Pyongyang has rejected that.

King would not specify whom the Obama administration was now willing to send. But Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, said he has been told by the administration that it has offered in recent weeks to send Glyn Davies, who leads U.S. diplomacy on North Korea's nuclear weapons program and Pyongyang has not responded favorably.

North Korea often accuses the U.S. of refusing to talk with it. Davies has not met with North Korean officials since an agreement on a nuclear freeze in exchange for food aid collapsed in the spring of 2012 after the North tested a long-range rocket. Since then, relations have frayed further, with North Korea conducting a nuclear test and objecting strongly to U.S.-South Korean military exercises.

"The issues that are hampering contact are fundamental issues about, in particular, North Korea's nuclear weapons program. But certainly, releasing the American citizens that are held there is an important step that might lead broader discussions and contacts in other areas. The real question is whether the North Koreans want anything other than trying to create problems," King said.

King criticized North Korea's treatment of the detainees and the way they had been placed in front of the international media for what he said appeared to be staged interviews. Fowle suggested that former presidents Bill Clinton or George W. Bush could help resolve their cases, and Miller expressed disappointment in the U.S. government.

"By the way they glance frigidly to the side, you can tell somebody has coached them to say this," King said.

He said Sweden, which handles U.S. consular affairs in Pyongyang as the U.S. and North Korea don't have formal diplomatic relations, has not been allowed to see Miller for more than three weeks despite requests to do so.

North Korea could indeed be holding out for a former U.S. president to visit, which would be something of a diplomatic coup for young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who has yet to meet a world leader but has faced international condemnation over the nation's human rights abuses and development of weapons of mass destruction.

Clinton went to Pyongyang in 2009 to free a couple of jailed journalists. Former President Jimmy Carter made the trip in 2010 to secure the release of Aijalon Gomes, who had been sentenced to eight years of hard labor for illegally crossing into the country to do missionary work.

King wouldn't be drawn on whether that would be appropriate in these circumstances, but did not rule it out.

"We are not ruling anything out. These are American citizens. We try our best to do everything we can to aid and assist them when they are in situations like this. And we want to be as supportive and helpful to them and their families as we can be," he said.

Carter on Tuesday criticized what he characterized as a refusal by President Barack Obama to hold direct talks with the North Korean government.

"I think they use these three hostages," Carter said at the Carter Center in Atlanta, "to try to get the United States to talk to them diplomatically."

Carter said that he can go to North Korea if he wants to — he's been three times — but in the past, North Korea has required he travel as official U.S. government representative to bring back an American detainee.

"There's no need for me to go unless I can get a designation from the U.S. government that I'm speaking officially for the U.S. government — which I cannot do. That's the truth of the matter," he said.

____

Associated Press writer Alex Sanz in Atlanta contributed to this report.

News Topics: General news, Diplomacy, Nuclear weapons, Human rights and civil liberties, Treatment of prisoners, Government and politics, International relations, Weapons programs, Weapons of mass destruction, Social issues, Social affairs, Human welfare, Weapons administration, Military and defense

People, Places and Companies: Matisyahu, Glyn Davies, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, North Korea, United States, Pyongyang, East Asia, Asia, North America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

After series of spats, North Korean team welcomed to athletes village for Asian Games

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:15
by  Associated Press North Korean team welcomed to Asian Games village by ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:15-04:00

INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — The proper flag was raised, there were smiles for the South Korean break dancers on stage and gifts were warmly exchanged as North Korea's team was officially welcomed into the athlete's village at the Asian Games after a series of controversies that nearly scuttled their trip.

The ceremony took place at Incheon on Thursday for members of North Korea's 273-strong delegation to the regional mini-Olympics being hosted this year by rival South Korea.

The mere presence of the North Korean team is politically fraught — animosity is high between the Koreas, which are separated by the world's most heavily armed border and are technically in a state of war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

News Topics: General news, Sports, 2014 Asian Games, Asian Games, Events

People, Places and Companies: South Korea, North Korea, East Asia, Asia

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Senate next after House backs Obama on aid to Syrian rebels fighting Islamic State militants

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:11
by  Associated Press Senate next after House backs Obama on rebel aid by ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:11-04:00

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's request for congressional backing to train and arm rebels battling Islamic State militants in Syria is halfway home after its easy approval by the Republican-controlled House sent the issue to the Senate, where leaders in both parties say approval is ensured.

Obama won support from staunch Republicans who typically are reflexively against him and lost the votes from some of his most loyal Democratic allies in the 273-156 House tally. Republicans backed Obama by a more than 2-1 margin; Democrats backed him as well, but to a lesser degree.

Top leaders of both parties stood with the president despite reservations that his strategy of arming moderate rebel groups could backfire or won't be enough to blunt the advance of Islamic State forces. Obama has pledged airstrikes as well but is adamant that he won't send U.S. combat troops to battle the Islamic extremists.

"We must pursue a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy, and a bipartisan coalition in the House voted to support a critical component of that strategy," Obama said after the vote.

The Senate was to vote Thursday on the measure, which was added to a must-pass, stopgap spending bill to keep government agencies operating into December.

The measure is the last major business on Capitol Hill before lawmakers depart this week to return to their districts and states to campaign for re-election.

The new authority is part of $500 million that Obama requested in May to train and equip rebels. The cost, to be covered by leftover war funding from this year, generated virtually no discussion among lawmakers, who focused instead on the possible consequences of a new military mission not long after a war-exhausted nation largely pulled out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Testifying before a Senate committee Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry said the forces seeking to create an Islamic caliphate "must be defeated. Period. End of story."

On that there was agreement. The question now is whether Obama's plan will work. Republican Party hawks called the president's approach too little, too late, even as many of them supported it as a first step in a broader campaign against Islamic State extremists, who have taken large swaths of Iraq and Syria and shocked the world by beheading two American journalists and a British aid worker.

"Committing insufficient force in any conflict is self-defeating, and airstrikes alone cannot win a war," said Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, who voted "nay."

Despite their doubts, top House Republicans saw little choice but to back the president.

"I am not convinced this train-and-equip effort will change the balance of power on the ground anytime soon, and I believe this approach comes with great risks," Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said. But he also said "voting against this request would send a terrible message" about America's determination and willingness to stand with its allies.

Democrats proved to be a harder sell, backing Obama 114-85.

"We simply don't know if somewhere down the line it will turn our guns back against us," said Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., giving voice to a fear that rebels seeking the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad would prove unreliable allies eventually.

"It's hard to see how putting weapons in the hands of folks whose primary objective is to defeat Assad advances the cause of defeating ISIS," said Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, usually a staunch Obama ally. "Assad is an obstacle to ISIS," he added, using a moniker commonly attached to the militants.

In the Senate, backing from the top Democratic and Republican leaders ensures swift passage, even as some in the rank and file were lining up against the effort.

"I have seen no evidence that the Syrian rebels we plan to train and arm will remain committed to American goals or interests," Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said. "Further, the opposition fighters that we will train care more about overthrowing Assad than they do about defeating ISIS. Assad is evil, but he is not a threat to America."

The underlying spending bill prevents a government shutdown at month's end and also renews the charter of the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance purchases of U.S. exports. That postpones until June a battle between tea party forces opposing the bank and business-oriented Republicans who support it.

The legislation also includes $88 million to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The underlying bill passed on a vote of 319-108.

News Topics: General news, Government and politics, Religion and politics, Militant groups, Government budgets, Legislature, War and unrest, Bills, Legislation, Religious issues, Religion, Social affairs, Social issues, Government finance, Government business and finance, Business

People, Places and Companies: Barack Obama, John Kerry, Tom McClintock, Kevin McCarthy, Loretta Sanchez, Bashar Assad, Chris Van Hollen, Joe Manchin, United States, Syria, North America, Middle East

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Iran rules out cooperating with US in helping fight Islamic State militants in Iraq

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:09
by  Associated Press Iran rules out cooperating with US in Iraq by EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:09-04:00

NEW YORK (AP) — Iran's foreign minister ruled out cooperating with the United States in helping Iraq fight Islamic State militants and warned that the terrorist group poses a much broader global threat that needs new thinking to eradicate.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said Wednesday that Iran has serious doubts about the willingness and ability of the United States to react seriously to the "menace" from the Islamic State group "across the board" and not just pick and choose where to confront it as it has just started doing in Iraq.

"This is a very mobile organization," he told the Council on Foreign Relations. "This is not a threat against a single community nor a threat against a single region. It was not confined to Syria, nor will it be confined to Iraq. It is a global threat."

The U.S.-Iranian relationship is at a delicate moment, with a new round of talks on a deal to rein in Iran's nuclear program set to begin on Thursday, which Zarif said is his top priority. Leaders of the two countries — who talked a year ago — are also arriving next week for the annual ministerial meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.

Iran was the first country to provide help to neighboring Iraq when the Islamic State group swept across the border from Syria in July. France wanted Iran to attend an international conference in Paris on Monday aimed at coordinating actions to crush the Islamic State extremists in Iraq, but the United States said "no."

Zarif called the 24 participating nations at the Paris conference "a coalition of repenters" because most supported the Islamic State group "in one form or another" from its inception following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

At the end of the day, he said, they created "a Frankenstein that came to haunt its creators."

Zarif said Iran's assistance — without any troops — helped Iraq prevent the Islamic State group from taking over Baghdad and the Kurdish capital Irbil.

Zarif said it's now time for the international community "and particularly the coalition of the repenters" to stop providing financing, military equipment and safe passage for the group and its fighters.

He didn't name any coalition members, but Saudi Arabia and Qatar provided financing to the al-Qaida breakaway group, and Turkey has not stopped thousands of foreign fighters from crossing into Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State group.

Zarif said the international community must begin to deal with the resentment and disenfranchisement that allows the Islamic State group to attract young people from the Middle East to Europe and the United States.

The international community, he said, must also recognize that in a globalized world problems can't be solved through coercion, exclusion or imposing solutions.

Zarif agreed with U.S. President Barack Obama that the group is neither Islamic nor a state so he referred to it by a previous name, ISIS. But he was critical of the U.S. approach to dealing with the threat from the group.

In Iraq, where the U.S. is carrying out airstrikes, Zarif said, "it will not be eradicated through aerial bombardment."

In Syria, where the U.S. is beefing up military support for the moderate opposition to confront the extremists and step up opposition to President Bashar Assad's government, he said, "you cannot fight ISIS and the government in Damascus together."

When Zarif was asked what circumstances could lead the two countries to collaborate or even discuss the threat posed by the Islamic State group in Iraq, he said he told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Iran has two fundamental principles — "it should be for the Iraqis to decide and we should not be rewarding terrorists."

He also implicitly criticized the U.S. for supporting Iraq's new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to replace Nouri al-Malaki, saying Iraqis must be allowed to determine their own politics.

"And that was one of the problems we had in the initial approach by the United States, and that is why we turned it down," Zarif said.

News Topics: General news, Terrorism, Government and politics, International relations, War and unrest

People, Places and Companies: Barack Obama, Bashar Assad, John Kerry, Syria, United States, Middle East, Iran, Iraq, France, North America, Western Europe, Europe

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Doctor says Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to undergo 40 days of chemotherapy to battle rare cancer

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:06
by  Associated Press Doctor: Ford to undergo 40 days of chemotherapy by ROB GILLIES, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:06-04:00

TORONTO (AP) — Doctors say Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will undergo 40 days of chemotherapy to treat a rare and difficult-to-beat cancer that forced him to drop his bid for re-election.

Dr. Zane Cohen, a colorectal surgeon at Mount Sinai hospital, said Wednesday Ford has a malignant liposarcoma. Ford has been hospitalized for a week with a tumor in his abdomen and the news of the cancer comes just days after Ford's dramatic announcement that he was pulling out of a re-election campaign.

Cohen said the cancer is spreading and that they have found "a small nodule in the buttock" near the left hip. He said the mayor will be treated with fairly intensive chemotherapeutic agents within the next two days.

"The plan will be, initially, chemotherapy," Cohen said. "We think it's fairly an aggressive tumor."

He said Ford had a CT scan in 2011 and there was no sign of the tumor then. "But we're treating this very aggressively in order to eradicate the tumor."

The doctor said Ford's cancer makes up only about one percent of all cancers but said he was optimistic about Ford's treatment because they have many experts in sarcoma at the hospital. He said Ford will get two cycles of chemotherapy over the next 40 days in an effort to shrink the tumor, and then they'll assess. He said surgery may or may not be necessary.

"We are optimistic about treatment. This particular liposarcoma is more sensitive to chemotherapy than most sarcomas," Cohen said.

Cohen said the tumor is about 12 centimeters (5 inches) by 12 centimeters (5 inches) and is about two or three years old. It hasn't spread to organs, he said.

Liposarcoma is a type of soft tissue cancer that begins in fat cells, or fatty tissue, and occurs most often in older adults. A sarcoma is a soft-tissue cancer that can occur anywhere in the body and that often is encapsulated, or contained within a pouch of tissue. Soft tissue includes muscles, tendons, fat and blood vessels, and treatment varies depending on the size, stage and location of the tumor, among other things.

The mayor withdrew his re-election bid Friday, dramatically ending a campaign he had doggedly pursued despite calls for him to quit amid drug and alcohol scandals and a stint in rehab.

Doug Ford, who is running for mayor in his brother's place, said the mayor is crushed.

"My brother has been diagnosed with cancer and I can't begin to share how devastating this has been for Rob and our family," Doug Ford said in a statement. "He is an incredible person, husband, father, brother and son and he remains upbeat and determined to fight this."

Doug said the kind words and well wishes mean a lot to his brother.

"Rob will beat this," Doug Ford said.

Neither the mayor nor his family were with the doctor when the announcement was made.

"We have a lot of faith in the doctors and we have a lot of faith in God," Ford's wife Renata said before the public announcement.

The mayor, who has two kids under the age of 10, checked himself into a hospital last week after complaining of stomach pain while eating breakfast with his brother. Cohen said he remains in pain but they are managing it.

"He may be able to work through it. I think that he will be able to be functional, but he's going to have some rough days," Cohen said.

He said the initial biopsy came back inconclusive but a second biopsy revealed the cancer.

Ford's father, Doug Ford Sr., died in 2006 at of colon cancer at the age of 73 three months after he was diagnosed with the disease.

Ford, 45, gained international notoriety last year when the Toronto Star and the U.S. website Gawker reported the existence of a video apparently showing the mayor inhaling from a crack pipe. He denied the existence of the video for months but finally admitted to using crack in a "drunken stupor" after police announced they had obtained a copy. When reports emerged this year of a second video showing him apparently smoking crack, Ford entered rehab for two months and returned to work and campaigning in June.

The Fords announced last week that Doug Ford will now run for mayor and Rob will seek a City Council seat representing a district in his home suburb of Etobicoke, where Rob's brash everyman style and conservative fiscal policies first gained a faithful following that became known as Ford Nation.

Doug Ford hasn't started campaigning for the Oct. 27 election since he announced he would run for mayor.

Olivia Chow, who is running to replace Ford, said she wished Ford and his family well and said she knows Rob is strong.

"Since he's so strong and he's such a good fighter I hope he can win this battle," said Chow, who is a cancer survivor.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that he was "deeply saddened today to learn that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and that he will have to undergo chemotherapy."

"The thoughts and prayers of all Canadians are with Mr. Ford and his family at this difficult time," Harper said. "We wish him a speedy and complete recovery and are certain that he will take on this fight with all of his characteristic tenacity and energy."

News Topics: General news, Tumors, Cancer, Chemotherapy, Mayoral elections, Health, Diagnosis and treatment, Campaigns, Government and politics, Municipal governments, Diseases and conditions, Municipal elections, Local elections, Elections, Local governments

People, Places and Companies: Rob Ford, Olivia Chow, Stephen Harper, Canada, Toronto, North America, Ontario

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

AP Interview: Brazil candidate Silva says reform of broken political system comes from bottom

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 05:05
by  Associated Press AP Interview: Silva seeks grassroots Brazil reform by BRAD BROOKS, Associated Press - 18 September 2014 00:05-04:00

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Front-running presidential candidate Marina Silva says the key to her support among millions of Brazilians who joined in anti-government protests last year is her understanding that reforming a broken political system will come from the ground up.

Silva spoke exclusively with The Associated Press on Wednesday in her first interview with a foreign media outlet since being thrust into a hotly contested campaign just a month ago, after her Socialist Party's first candidate died in a plane crash Aug. 13.

In a wide-ranging, hour-long interview, Silva said that as president she would seek bilateral trade deals and better relations with the U.S. and Europe, and would push for improved human rights in allies such as Cuba.

Asked what she would do to lessen Brazilians' frustrations with an inefficient political system widely viewed as corrupt, Silva said real change won't come from the top.

"It's neither the parties nor the political leaders who will bring about change," she said. "It's the movements who are changing us."

A former Amazon activist and environment minister who pushed policies that helped Brazil slash the rate of jungle destruction, Silva is in a dead-heat presidential race with incumbent Dilma Rousseff. Rousseff represents the Workers Party, which Silva herself helped found three decades ago.

"Brazil has a great opportunity to become a global leader by leading by example," Silva said in talking about human rights and environmental protections. "Our values cannot be modified because of ideological or political reasons, or because of pure economic interest."

Asked whether she would continue Brazil's strong investment in and political support for regimes like Cuba, Venezuela, China and Iran, Silva said that dialogue is essential with each — but that her personal convictions mean Brazil would be more vocal in pushing human rights.

"The best way to help the Cuban people is by understanding that they can make a transition from the current regime to democracy, and that we don't need to cut any type of relations," she said. "It's enough that we help through the diplomatic process, so that these (human rights) values are pursued."

Brazil's relationship with the U.S. has been chilly since revelations more than a year ago that the National Security Agency's espionage programs targeted Rousseff and other Brazilian officials.

After the revelation, Rousseff cancelled her earlier acceptance of President Obama's invitation for a formal state visit — the first time in memory a foreign leader rejected the honor.

Silva said the U.S. spying was a grave and intolerable error, but she added that it is time to move on.

"Both nations need to improve this situation, to repair the ties of cooperation," she said. "The Brazilian government has the absolute right to not accept any such interference. But we also cannot simply remain frozen with this problem."

The presidential vote is Oct. 5, but the contest likely will go into a second-round ballot between Rousseff and Silva three weeks later since neither is expected to win an absolute majority in the first round of eight candidates.

Silva, who could become Brazil's first black leader, has deep roots in Brazilian politics but has tapped into an anti-establishment mood, a roiling frustration with government that erupted in huge street protests in hundreds of cities last year demanding top-to-bottom change.

Silva's life story connects with millions struggling to keep modest advances made as Brazil boomed in the first decade of this century.

Born to an impoverished rubber tapper in the remote Amazon jungle state of Acre, Silva grew up illiterate and collected latex from trees from dawn to dusk. She nearly died as a child and said her family often had virtually nothing to eat.

She was infected with malaria five times and suffered from leishmaniasis, a disease that causes skin ulcers and other ailments. When she was 15, her mother died. At 16, she was sent to the state capital, Rio Branco, for hepatitis treatment — and to finally learn to read and write.

Deeply religious and now an evangelical Christian, Silva at that age wanted to become a nun. She went to study in a convent, and there met priests adhering to liberation theology, a Latin American-inspired movement that advocates for the poor.

It was her political awakening. She joined the Workers Party in its early days and was elected a Rio Branco city council member in 1989. Two years later, she moved into the state legislature before becoming a federal senator in 1995. President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, who is no relation, made her the environment minister when he took office Jan. 1, 2003.

"If elected, she has such a remarkable personal story that she'd come to the presidency with a lot of legitimacy, tremendous excitement and high expectations," said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue.

___

Brad Brooks on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bradleybrooks

News Topics: General news, Human rights and civil liberties, Presidential elections, Government and politics, Social issues, Social affairs, National elections, Elections

People, Places and Companies: Marina Silva, Dilma Rousseff, Barack Obama, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Cuba, United States, South America, Latin America and Caribbean, Caribbean, North America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Bangladesh lawmakers give parliament power to impeach Supreme Court judges

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 04:53
by  Associated Press Bangladesh empowers parliament to impeach judges by JULHAS ALAM, Associated Press - 17 September 2014 23:53-04:00

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh's parliament now has the authority to impeach Supreme Court judges after lawmakers late Wednesday voted to approve a much-debated amendment to the constitution.

The amendment passed unanimously in a voice vote of 327-0, with support coming from the ruling Awami League.

Critics of the amendment, including senior jurists, said it was a thinly veiled way for the ruling party to keep the judiciary under control. But Law Minister Anisul Hoque, who proposed the change, said the amendment allows parliament to impeach judges on grounds of "misbehavior or incapacity."

Previously a council of senior judges led by the chief justice was assigned to deal with any case of misconduct by judges.

Bangladesh's judiciary, often riddled with corruption, enjoys relative freedom but the appointment of senior judges is often influenced by authorities. Major opposition parties opposed the government's move to amend the constitution, saying authorities will systematically influence the judiciary, especially when it comes to politically sensitive cases.

The law minister has denied the allegation and said with the changes will not undermine the judiciary's independence.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League has three-fourths of the seats in the parliament. A two-thirds majority is needed to pass any bill.

News Topics: General news, Political corruption, Constitutions, Constitutional amendments, Government and politics, Legislature, Impeachments, Judiciary, Supreme courts, Political issues, National courts, National governments, Courts

People, Places and Companies: Bangladesh, South Asia, Asia

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Focus on team strategies in field hockey's new 4-quarter format at Asian Games

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 04:39
by  Associated Press Focus on team strategies infield hockey format by C.RAJSHEKHAR RAO, Associated Press - 17 September 2014 23:39-04:00

INCHEON, South Korea (AP) — Tacticians will be put to the test in Incheon from Saturday when the field hockey competition commences at the Asian Games under a new format introduced in a bid to make the game faster.

Four 15-minute quarters will replace the previous format of two 35-minute halves, bringing coaches and game management more into focus.

The new system has been tested in friendly matches and tournaments like the Hockey India League, but the blue turf at the Seonhok Stadium will see it for the first time in the international arena.

The change in rules will be a challenge for India and Pakistan, which have found it difficult to adjust to the increasing pace of hockey.

News Topics: Sports, 2014 Asian Games, Asian Games, Field hockey, Events

People, Places and Companies: South Korea, East Asia, Asia

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Categories: News

Jason Isbell cleans up at Americana Awards, with the help of his wife Amanda Shires

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 04:16
by  Associated Press Jason Isbell cleans up at Americana Awards by CHRIS TALBOTT, Associated Press - 17 September 2014 23:16-04:00

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell swept the major awards Wednesday night at the Americana Honors & Awards, creating another special moment with his wife, Amanda Shires.

Isbell won artist, album and song of the year during the 13th annual awards show Wednesday night at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. Though surprisingly ignored by Grammy Awards voters, Isbell's album of the year winner "Southeastern" reverberated through the Americana community and made many of 2013's best-of lists.

He performed song of the year "Cover Me Up" with Shires, a significant figure on the album as muse and collaborator.

"I wrote this song for my wife," Isbell said. "I've had a lot of people ask me to dedicate it to their wives, girlfriends or cousin's wife or something strange like that. This was probably the hardest song I ever had to write because I wrote it for her and then I played it for her. It was very difficult. Do the things that scare you. That's the good stuff."

Isbell was one of this year's top nominees along with Rosanne Cash and Robert Ellis. Each had three nominations and all were up for artist, album and song of the year.

Many of the top nominees and honors recipients performed, including all five emerging artist nominees. Former couple Patty Griffin and Robert Plant made a surprise appearance and sang their collaboration "Ohio."

Sturgill Simpson, something of a modern cosmic cowboy, earned emerging artist of the year and the Milk Carton Kids took group/duo of the year. And Buddy Miller, now executive music producer for the television show "Nashville" and the Americana's winningest performer, won his fifth instrumentalist of the year award.

The Americana Music Association also honored several pioneering musicians. Loretta Lynn received the lifetime achievement award for songwriting from Kacey Musgraves and Angaleena Presley.

"The truth is we both might cry giving out this award," Musgraves said.

Lynn, writer of some of country music's most important female empowerment songs, accepted the award in a sparkly lavender dress and her usual humble manner.

"When they told me I was going to get this award," she told the crowd, "I said, 'Naw, you got the wrong one.'"

Jackson Browne received the Spirit of Americana-Free Speech in Music award, Flaco Jimenez received the lifetime achievement award for instrumentalist and Taj Mahal earned the lifetime achievement award for performance.

"I was affected deeply by American music, near and far — my mother's interest in Southern music and my dad's interest in jazz and bebop and classical, all that kind of stuff," Mahal said in an interview. "But this music here, if you get this music, you can go anywhere in the world with it. For me, I play for the goddess of music. People ask me what I do and I go, deep Americana."

News Topics: Arts and entertainment, Music, Entertainment, Country music, Music awards, Folk music, Celebrity, Celebrity relationships, Award shows

People, Places and Companies: Jason Isbell, Rosanne Cash, Patty Griffin, Robert Plant, Buddy Miller, Loretta Lynn, Kacey Musgraves, Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal, Nashville, Tennessee, United States, North America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Japan, neighbors agree to cut hauls, other moves to protect endangered eels

New Europe News - Thu, 18/09/2014 - 03:33
by  Associated Press Japan, neighbors agree to moves to protect eels Associated Press - 17 September 2014 22:33-04:00

TOKYO (AP) — Japan has agreed to cut purchases of eel fry from neighboring East Asian countries by 20 percent as part of moves to protect the endangered species.

The agriculture ministry reported the agreement with China, South Korea and Taiwan, reached Wednesday at the end of a meeting on conservation measures for eels. It calls for reducing eel hauls by 20 percent for one year, beginning in November.

The countries also agreed to take other measures to try to save the species and limit eel catches.

The Japanese eel is a popular summertime delicacy, served roasted with a sweet and savory sauce over rice. It was put on the international conservation "red list" earlier this year, indicating it faces a very high risk of extinction due to overfishing.

News Topics: General news, Fish, Animals

People, Places and Companies: Japan, East Asia, Asia

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News