Monday, January 24, 2011

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Human Rights Watch singled out U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for especially harsh criticism Monday as it took world leaders to task for what it called their failure to be tougher on rights offenders.

Ban's office rejected the criticism, insisting that the U.N. chief employs both quiet diplomacy and public condemnation with abusive governments after determining which method will prove most effective in each case.

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth also lambasted the European Union; the E.U.'s first high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Catherine Ashton; President Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

"The use of dialogue and cooperation in lieu of public pressure has emerged with a vengeance at the U.N., from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to many members of the Human Rights Council," Roth wrote in the introduction of the group's annual report.

Ban "has been notably reluctant to put pressure on abusive governments," Roth wrote.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Christina Aguilera will sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl in Texas on Feb. 6.

The five-time Grammy award winning singer will be making an encore at the NFL championship. She was part of the halftime show during the 2000 Super Bowl.

The NFL and Fox made the announcement Monday.

Other stars to have sung the national anthem at the Super Bowl include Carrie Underwood, Billy Joel, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Mariah Carey and Beyonce Knowles.

The previously announced halftime show will feature The Black Eyed Peas.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers at Cowboys Stadium for the NFL title.
NEW YORK (AP) -- The price of oil fell on Monday after the Saudi oil minister hinted that his country, the world's biggest oil producer, may raise supplies to put the brakes on higher oil prices.

Benchmark crude for March delivery lost $1.36 at $87.75 per barrel in afternoon trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price of oil has fallen more than 3 percent since Thursday, when it was close to $92 a barrel.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said he expected world oil demand will increase this year to between 1.5 million and 1.8 million barrels per day. That's higher than forecasts from the Energy Information Administration and the International Energy Agency. JP Morgan analysts point out that al-Naimi's prediction of stronger demand probably means the Saudis are willing to raise production.

"It would seem more oil is on the way, which will reduce the supply deficit and will moderate the price gain," JP Morgan said.

Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research, said al-Naimi's comments imply that he thinks oil prices are too high, and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would take steps to bring them down.

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) -- Authorities say gunmen have killed six people at a park in the besieged border city of Ciudad Juarez.

Chihuahua state prosecutors' spokesman Carlos Gonzalez says the gunmen arrived at the park in the Francisco I. Madero neighborhood and opened fire Sunday afternoon. He says four people were wounded and are in critical condition.

Gonzalez said Monday that police have not yet identified the perpetrators or a motive, but they found 180 bullet casings from the sort of assault weapons typically used by drug gangs.

The park was inaugurated four months ago as part of a government program to reduce violence and boost the quality of life.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Firefox, the world's second most popular browser, is developing more tools to help protect Web surfers' privacy.

The browser will give users the opportunity to block advertisers from collecting information about them. Firefox's parent company, Mozilla Inc., made the announcement in a blog post.

Alex Fowler, Mozilla's technology and privacy officer, says the "Do Not Track" tool will be the first in a series of steps designed to guard privacy. He writes, "When the feature is enabled and users turn it on, websites will be told by Firefox that a user would like to opt-out of online behavior advertising."

The next version of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer browser will include a similar feature, though people will have to create or find their own lists of sites they want to block.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Oprah Winfrey recently learned she has a half-sister - a Milwaukee woman who was put up for adoption by Winfrey's mother nearly 50 years ago.

On "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that aired Monday, a sometimes-emotional Winfrey introduced a woman she identified only as Patricia, explaining how the woman's years-long search for her family culminated in a meeting with Winfrey on Thanksgiving Day of last year.

The discovery is "the miracle of all miracles," Winfrey told her audience.

Winfrey said she was stunned to learn about the sibling, telling her audience that when Patricia was born in 1963, Winfrey was 8 years old and living with her father. She did not even know her mother was pregnant.

Patricia said she had tried years ago to learn the identity of the woman who gave her up for adoption, and only started to try again a few years ago at the insistence of her two adult children, who also appeared on Monday's show.

Patricia said she feared her search would be fruitless after she got a telephone call from the state adoption agency, which reported that her birth mother had been contacted and did not wish to meet her.

But, coincidentally, on the local news that day, she saw a story about Winfrey's mother, who described how two of her children had died. Those details matched information Patricia had seen in adoption papers, which indicated she had two sisters and a brother, and that only the older sister was alive.

MOSCOW (AP) -- A spokeswoman for Moscow's busiest airport says 35 people have been killed by an explosion in its international arrivals hall.

Domodedovo Airport spokeswoman Yelena Galanova made the statement Monday on Russia's NTV television.

Other officials put the death toll at 31 and said about 130 people were injured in the explosion Monday afternoon. President Dmitry Medvedev said it looked like a terror attack and the state RIA Novosti news agency said the blast may have been set off by a suicide bomber.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

MOSCOW (AP) - An explosion ripped through the international arrivals hall at Moscow's busiest airport on Monday, killing 31 people and wounding about 130, officials said. The Russian president called it a terror attack.

The state RIA Novosti news agency, citing law enforcement sources, said the mid-afternoon explosion at Domodedovo Airport may have been caused by a suicide bomber.

Amateur video posted on YouTube showed the terminal engulfed by smoke, with a pile of bodies in one section and other bodies scattered around the floor. Luggage lay strewn across the ground and there were several small fires. A dazed man in a suit pushed a baggage cart through the carnage.

"From the preliminary information we have, it was a terror attack," President Dmitry Medvedev told officials in a televised briefing.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- Chip maker Intel Corp. said Monday its board increased its stock buyback authorization by $10 billion less than a week after reporting strong quarterly results.

The buyback increase brings the total authorization to $14.2 billion.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company also declared a regular quarterly dividend of 18.12 cents, reflecting a previously announced increase of 15 percent.

Last week Intel, the world's biggest maker of PC processors, reported a 48 percent jump in fourth-quarter net income driven by strong corporate spending. Results surpassed analysts' expectations, and Intel also predicted revenue for the first quarter and 2011 ahead of the average estimates.

Intel said the dividend is payable March 1 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 7. Intel had about 5.58 billion shares outstanding as of Oct. 22, 2010, according to a regulatory filing.

Shares of Intel rose 24 cents to $21.06 in morning trading. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $17.60 to $24.37.

TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota sold 8.42 million vehicles globally in 2010, narrowly remaining the world's top automaker ahead of General Motors amid recall woes in the key North American market.

GM also released a new tally Monday for its global 2010 sales, at 8.39 million vehicles, slightly fewer than Toyota's number, but a dramatic 12 percent rebound from 7.48 million vehicles the year before.

The race between the two giants appears to be getting close, with the chance the tables could be turned, seeing GM once again rising to the top.

"General Motors is going strong, and it's a sure sign of its re-emergence," said Yasuaki Iwamoto, auto analyst with Okasan Securities Co. in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Toyota wasn't showing much growth in North America - and growing slower in China than GM - partly because it lacks the U.S. automaker's extensive model lineup such as large-size sedans, he said.

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's leading medical association is calling on the nation's pharmaceutical companies to refrain from selling a key drug for lethal injections to the United States.

Frank Ulrich Montgomery, vice president of the German Medical Association, told The Associated Press on Monday the nation's doctors are throwing their support behind a call by the health ministry for German drug companies and distributors to reject U.S. requests for the drug sodium thiopental.

Montegomery says German doctors oppose the death penalty and are urging pharmaceutical companies to "acknowledge their ethical responsibility" and not sell the drug to the U.S. He says the issue "is not about money, but ethical principles."

Last week the sole U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental said it was ceasing production.

Colonel Imam, AKA Sultan Amir Tarar
ISLAMABAD (AP) -- A senior government official says a former Pakistani spy who helped the Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan has died of a heart attack nearly a year after being kidnapped by militants.

Tariq Hayat, the top official in Pakistan's northwest tribal region where Sultan Amir Tarar was kidnapped last March, said Monday that authorities haven't seen the body but have received confirmation of his death.

Hayat says militants are asking for more than $200,000 to return Tarar's body.

Tarar - known as Col. Imam - worked for Pakistan's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency and cultivated close ties with the Taliban.

His kidnapping reflects the complexity of Pakistan's tribal areas, where militants with alleged government ties and those fighting the state often coexist.

Palawan, Philippines
Palawan radio commentator, Dr. Gerardo Ortega is the latest media person to be murdered in the crime-prone country of Philippines. Ortega, who hosted a daily radio show on RMN Palawan on the western island of Palawan, died on the spot after being shot in the head at a clothing store. The shooting happened at 10:30 am just after Ortega's latest broadcast, said Inspector Rafael Roxas, head investigator of the Scene of Crime Operatives. The attacker has been identified as Marlon Dicamata, 31, from Pagbilao, Quezon. Dicamata has been arrested, though the motive hasn't been known yet.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines described Ortega as "staunch critic" of a powerful local politician and of mining operations on Palawan. Ortega is the second journalist to be slain since President Benigno Aquino III took office last year, the union said. Aquino has said he intends to make the Philippines safer for journalists.

Naso-not even solve the case of Dong Batul, here again a case of murder of another journalist in Palawan!

We call for justice!

Our condolences to the family of Ge Doc.

Thanks to Weng (Rowena PAR) & Kuya Ton (Antony Badilla) for the info.

By the way, here's the official news report from GMA

"A gunman supposedly on a" mission "a broadcaster shot dead Monday morning in Palawan province in the latest incident of violence against media in the country.

The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines said the victim - Gerry Ortega of Radio Mo Nationwide (RMN) 's Palawan dwAR station - was the 142nd journalist killed since 1986.

A culture of impunity has made the Philippines one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a judge, journalist, or activist.

Radio dzBB's Palawan affiliate reported that a gunman shot before Ortega was Monday at a congested area in San Pedro village in Puerto Princesa City.

Police managed to arrest the suspected gunman, who was not named Immediately. Initial police reports described the suspect as from Taguig City.

Ortega, a veterinarian, anchored a morning program on the RMN station, the dzBB report said. "
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Health care is Shannon Taylor's "big, big hot button" and no wonder. She is a nurse in Tennessee who examines hospital bills for a health insurance company, and a mother who saw President Barack Obama's health care law come just in time for her family.

In the State of the Union speech Tuesday night, she will be looking for Obama to stand firm against Republicans who want to take the law apart. Health insurance for her daughter, who has lifetime medical problems, could hang in the balance.

Many other Americans feel a personal stake in what Obama will say Tuesday and do later - and what Republicans do in response. The hunger for jobs and economic growth stood out in interviews with more than 1,000 people, part of an Associated Press-GfK poll asking Americans what one thing they most want the government to accomplish this year.

It is apparent, too, that health care is still very much on people's minds, that spending has reached frightening proportions for many and that a notable share of Americans wants nothing more than to see partisan bickering end.

In upstate New York, Donald Dixon puts his faith in Republicans to restrain Democratic spending and bring down a debt that he believes makes every economic problem worse - and robs his grandsons, each with a master's degree, of good jobs.

It's enough to make the retired Baptist preacher invoke the fire and brimstone rhetoric of the pulpit, even as he renders his judgment in a cheerful tone.

Obama "tells us we are going in the right direction," Dixon says, "which to me is over the precipice of hell."