Thursday, January 27, 2011

QUANTICO, Va. (AP) -- The lawyer for an Army private suspected of passing thousands of classified U.S. documents to WikiLeaks says he hopes a new brig commander will ease the soldier's confinement conditions.

Attorney David Coombs of Fall River, Mass., said in a blog posting late Wednesday that his hopes were raised by the change of command Monday at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va. Pfc. Bradley Manning is being held there for a possible trial.

Manning, who worked as an intelligence analyst in Iraq, has been confined to his cell at least 23 hours a day as a maximum-security detainee since he arrived July 29.

Coombs says he hopes the new commander, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise Barnes, will reassign Manning to medium-security after reviewing his classification.
PHARR, Texas (AP) -- An American missionary couple who were allegedly attacked by gunmen in a dangerous part of Mexico may have been targeted for their expensive pickup truck, because drug gangs covet the vehicles, police said Thursday.

Damage to the 2008 Chevrolet pickup truck that Sam Davis frantically drove against traffic across a border bridge Wednesday with his bleeding wife next to him suggests that another vehicle tried to run the couple off the road, Pharr police Chief Ruben Villescas said Thursday.

Nancy Davis was pronounced dead at a McAllen, Texas, hospital more than an hour after her husband reached the Pharr International Bridge border checkpoint. Her husband told investigators that that he and his wife were driving near the city of San Fernando, about 70 miles south of the Mexican border city of Reynosa, when gunmen in a pickup truck tried to stop them. When the Davises sped up, the gunmen fired, shooting Nancy Davis in the head.

Pharr said Nancy Davis was struck in the head by a bullet that shattered her vehicle's back window.

Authorities say the couple's heavy-duty truck is the kind prized by criminal organizations in Mexico, and similar to ones Pharr police say they can often single out as stolen before the vehicles are driven across the border.

"Driving that type of truck is an eye-catcher," said Pharr police Sgt. Ray Lara, who routinely patrols bridge traffic. "We figure maybe they don't bother the church people. But they want those trucks."

BELGRADE, Serbia The Balkans' biggest TV mogul announced Thursday that he has been intentionally poisoned, and Serbian police said they are investigating the claim.

The 44-year-old Zeljko Mitrovic, a former ally of late Serbian autocratic leader Slobodan Milosevic, has been hospitalized in Germany for four weeks. Earlier he was hospitalized in Belgrade for some time, sparking intense speculation about what was wrong with his health.

On Thursday, his TV Pink station, the biggest in the Balkans, gave some answers. It reported that arsenic, lead and benzene had been found in Mitrovic's blood by the hospital near Hamburg and said he suffers from aplastic anemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder in which the body's bone marrow doesn't produce enough new blood cells.

The station and the mogul said he has been poisoned for a protracted period, but did not elaborate on when or where it happened - or who they suspect did it.

"I suspect everyone, except my wife and children," Mitrovic told Belgrade B-92 radio, adding that "someone had poured" poisonous substances into his food and drink.

SAN FRANCISCO Google Inc. is getting closer to releasing a version of the Android software meant for tablet computers, one that will include a fresh look and updated Web browser and keyboard.

The online search leader said Wednesday that it released a preview version of the software development kit for Honeycomb, also known as Android 3.0. It's for developers to test out their applications on the software and learn about its new capabilities.

In a post Wednesday on Google's Android Developers blog, Xavier Ducrohet, the Android SDK tech lead, said a final version of the kit will be available "in the weeks ahead." That will enable developers to publish Honeycomb applications to Google's Android Market app store.

Tablet computers are expected to be popular this year, spurred by the release of Apple Inc.'s iPad last April. At the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month, companies including Motorola Mobility Inc. and AsusTek Computer Inc. showed off tablet computers that will run Honeycomb. Plenty are expected in the coming months as companies try to compete with the popular iPad.

Google, which is based in Mountain View, outlined a variety of Honeycomb's features on its Android Developers site, many of which were shown in presentations at CES.

RIFFA, Bahrain  Johan Edfors of Sweden shot an 8-under 64 Thursday in the first round of the Volvo Golf Champions, giving him a two-stroke lead in the European Tour's debut in Bahrain.

Four players were at 66 - Peter Hanson, Pablo Larrazabal, Francesco Molinari and Graeme Storm. Sergio Garcia was tied with seven others at 67.

Padraig Harrington, who was disqualified last week when his ball moved after picking up his mark, and European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal both shot 70. Colin Montgomerie, who designed the course, was two strokes further back along with Ian Poulter.

Edfors had nine birdies at Royal Golf Club.

"Hit a lot of fairways, which are a bit wider than last week in Abu Dhabi, so it suits my game a bit better. And my distance control with irons was really good," Edfors said. "I gave myself a lot of good chances within 15 feet and holed a few of those and made a couple of birdies on the par 5s."

Garcia, back on the tour after some time off, was pleased with his round.

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Army says Dugway Proving Ground, where military weapons are tested, was locked down for hours because a small amount of a nerve agent was unaccounted for.

The military said in a statement Thursday the amount missing was less than one fourth of a teaspoon of VX nerve agent, which affects the body's ability to carry messages through the nerves.

The missing vial prompted a lockdown late Wednesday afternoon that lasted until the agent was found early Thursday.

The Army says no one was in danger and the lockdown was ordered as a precaution. Between 1,200 and 1,400 people were inside the facility at the time.

Dugway is about 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.

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

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Dugway Proving Grounds, where military weapons are tested, has reopened after it was locked down for hours to resolve a "serious concern," officials said.

JOHANNESBURG -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela was hospitalized for a second straight day Thursday for what his office described as routine tests but which drew concern over the health of the 92-year-old anti-apartheid icon.

Mandela undergoes regular hospital checkups, but his latest visit starting Wednesday stretched into an unusually long stay. Journalists camped outside the hospital Thursday as Mandela's relatives and friends entered for visits. President Jacob Zuma, attending the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, is being updated on developments by the defense minister, whose department is responsible for current and former presidents' health care, Zuma's office said.

The presidency cautioned reporters not to put pressure on Mandela's doctors and to give "a national hero" dignity and respect.

Children at a school next door to Milpark Hospital made cards and posters wishing Mandela well and put them up on the school grounds Thursday. Head teacher Nicky Humphries said students and teachers prayed for South Africa's most famous and beloved citizen before classes started.

Zuma's office said Mandela "is comfortable and is well looked after by a good team of medical specialists."

HELSINKI -- Nokia Corp. on Thursday said net earnings fell 21 percent in the fourth quarter as competitors clawed market share away from the world's top cell phone maker.

The company gave a meager outlook, saying that it expects flat or little growth in phone sales in the first quarter. Its share price fell 1 percent to euro7.71 ($10.55) in late afternoon trading in Helsinki.

Net profit was euro745 million ($1.02 billion), down from euro950 million in the last quarter of 2009. Sales rose 6 percent to euro12.6 billion ($17.2 billion), but the Finnish company's profit margins were down - meaning it earns proportionally less from every sale - and its market share shrank to 31 percent from 35 percent a year earlier.

The company's new CEO, Stephen Elop, said growth trends in the market remain encouraging but acknowledged that "Nokia faces some significant challenges in our competitiveness and our execution."

Nokia - once on the cutting edge of the mobile industry - has increasingly faced fierce competition, particularly in the market for more expensive smart phones. Apple Inc.'s iPhone has set the standard for smart phones for many design-conscious consumers, while Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerrys have been the favorite of the corporate set.