Saturday, February 5, 2011

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- Belgian runner Stefaan Engels set a Guinness World Record after crossing the finish line of his 365th consecutive marathon on Saturday.

Engels, dubbed the "Marathon Man," began the extreme physical challenge a year ago in Barcelona. He competed a race a day in seven countries: Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S.

Engels told The Associated Press that he did it as a personal challenge and to be an example for others.

"After running 20 triathlons in one year, I was not ready to go back to normal life," he said. "I also wanted to inspire people by showing that if I could run a marathon a day for an entire year, that anyone could run or bike a little each day or do something about their weight problem."

The 49-year-old Engels ran a total of 9,569 miles. He said the key was a slow pace over the 26.2 miles.

Jordan Williams had 27 points and 15 rebounds, and Maryland defeated lowly Wake Forest 91-70 Saturday to provide coach Gary Williams with a milestone victory.

Coming off an 18-point home loss to Duke, the Terrapins were in desperate need of a feel-good win. That's exactly what they got against Wake Forest, the last-place team in Atlantic Coast Conference.

Maryland (15-8, 5-4) took control before halftime with a pair of 11-point runs, then pulled away in the second half by scoring 13 straight points.

Williams led the Terps with his NCAA-best 20th double-double of the season and Adrian Bowie chipped in with 13 points.

It was the 664th win for Gary Williams, tying him with Hall of Fame coach John Wooden for 22nd on the career list among those who have coached in Division I for at least 10 years.

C.J. Harris led Wake Forest with 17 points and Carson Desrosiers added 11. The Demon Deacons (8-15, 1-7), who have lost 10 of 12 overall, are 0-7 on the road and have lost seven games by at least 20 points.

The injury news just keeps getting worse for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sidney Crosby is out with a concussion. His return date is unknown. Mark Letestu has a meniscus injury. He's out four to six weeks.

Now, Evgeni Malkin - who had just returned from a five-game absence - has joined the list. And from the looks of it, he won't be getting off it anytime soon.

According to coach Dan Bylsma, Malkin, the All-Star center who has 15 goals and 22 assists this season, has two torn ligaments in his right knee, and it's not clear if he'll need surgery.

Malkin was injured during Friday night's 3-2 home win over Buffalo. He had an MRI on Saturday, which showed the tears to both the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments. Bylsma said treatment options are being discussed.

"You're talking about Evgeni Malkin and the quality of player that he is. He's a guy that's won a scoring title and a Conn Smythe (trophy)," Bylsma said. "We were anticipating getting him back in the lineup and healthy back in the lineup. This is a difficult injury for him."

Malkin nursed a knee problem as well as a sinus infection over this latest absence, which included him skipping All-Star Weekend in Raleigh, N.C. But he practiced with the team this week, and managed three shots vs. the Sabres. However, he had just 6:03 of playing time, before colliding with defenseman Tyler Myers in the second period.

"It was kind of a fluke situation going into the boards with a guy," Bylsma said. "That's a tough injury for Geno. We have dealt with games without him. We've managed to find our way without him. That's what we're going to have to look at now."

Prince's Super Bowl-weekend concert was a Super Bust.

The superstar was supposed to perform Friday night at TheEvent, a concert with Erykah Badu that was to be a fundraiser for The Goss-Michael Foundation, the art group founded by George Michael and his longtime partner, Kenny Goss.

But the performance never happened, and the circumstances surrounding the cancellation were as mysterious as the Purple One himself.

Things started falling apart early Friday, when a statement of disappointment was sent by the foundation saying the concert was canceled.

"It is our understanding that River Alexander Group, the event organizer, was unable to fund and produce the evening," the statement said. "The organizer came to The Goss-Michael Foundation, invited us to be the beneficiary and receive some of the proceeds which would have gone to our high school scholarship program."

Then the statement was rescinded by the foundation shortly after that, with another saying the concert was back on: "Prince has arrived in Dallas and will perform this evening."

But the concert, recently moved from a tent in downtown Dallas to a hotel just north of the city, never materialized Friday night, and a source close to Prince, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the source was not authorized to speak publicly, told The Associated Press on Saturday that he never came to Dallas.

Prince's camp said the organizers never arranged for transportation for him and his band. Prince was also worried that the disorganization meant the organizers would not have the technical aspects necessary for him to put on his performance, the source said.

 The symbols are simple yet haunting: a pair of X's painted in the middle of Elm Street, marking each spot where a bullet struck the handsome young president, bringing a crashing halt to Camelot and leaving many to wonder if Big D would forever be stained.

Then along came "America's Team," led by the father-figure coach in a fedora and the clean-cut quarterback who served in the Navy, teaming up to win a pair of championships and give Dallas a reason to feel proud about itself again.

That lasted for a while, until the scheming oil tycoons and big-haired women of "Dallas" hit the airwaves, leaving us to ponder such probing questions as, "Who shot J.R.?"

These are the images of Dallas, the Super Bowl city that has been shaped for the rest of the nation - and the world - largely by the three T's: tragedy, triumph and television.

The Nigerian government's top law enforcement official sought to stymie an investigation into a powerful politician with ties to late President Umaru Yar'Adua, according to diplomatic cables released Saturday by the WikiLeaks website.

Former Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa demanded evidence against former Delta state Gov. James Ibori be returned from the U.K. to Nigeria as it had come by "inappropriate channels," a cable claims. Ibori has faced charges over stealing $292 million in state funds while in office. U.K. investigators claim Ibori, who now faces extradition from Dubai to the U.K., put much of the money in English banks.

The cables also show that as Britain investigated Ibori, it tried to negotiate with Nigerian officials to send more than 1,000 Nigerians now held in U.K. prisons back to their home country.

Ibori served as governor in a state in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta, where foreign firms pump out the millions of barrels of oil that fuel Nigeria's government coffers. Much of that money sloshes into politician's pockets in a nation routinely described by analysts as being one of the world's most corrupt countries.

Three Pakistan cricketers have been found guilty of corruption and banned for five years from the sport.

International Cricket Council tribunal on Saturday announced its punishment for former captain Salman Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir.

Butt was given a 10-year ban with five years suspended, Asif a seven-year suspension with two suspended, while Amir was banned for five years.

The players have been suspended since Sept. 3 after a British tabloid alleged they bowled no-balls at prearranged times during a test in August against England at Lord's to fix spot betting markets.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said Friday that the players and their agent will face criminal charges.
Egypt's foreign minister has told Iran to mind its own business after Iran's top leader praised the Egyptian uprising as an appropriate response to dictatorial rule.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters Saturday that Iran's Ali Khamenei seems to have forgotten about the crushing of widespread protests in Iran two years ago.

Aboul Gheit said Khamenei should be more attentive to calls for freedom in Iran rather than "distracting the Iranian people's attention by hiding behind what is happening in Egypt."

The Egyptian foreign minister said that "Iran's critical moment has not come yet, but we will watch that moment with great anticipation and interest."

Egypt has been rocked by two weeks of protests seeking the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
His beloved Chicago Bears aren't in the big game, but President Barack Obama is swallowing hard and throwing a Super Bowl party anyhow, in a bipartisan celebration of the nation's biggest sporting event.

But it's hard to know which part of the evening will give him more heartburn - seeing the Bears' archrivals, the Green Bay Packers, clashing with the Pittsburgh Steelers for football's crown, chewing on the Wisconsin sausage the mayor of Milwaukee is bringing or sitting for a pregame interview with Fox's Bill O'Reilly.

The conservative show-host and pundit has been granted the interview since Fox is broadcasting this year's game from Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas. It's certainly not out of love for Fox, which has been denounced by Obama aides as a vitriolic mouthpiece for his foes. Last year, when CBS had the game, Obama was interviewed by Katie Couric.

Ahead of his interview, O'Reilly forecast it'll be "the most watched . that's ever been done in the history of mankind."

Despite the sometimes hard feelings, it's hardly Obama's first interview with Fox, and not even his first with O'Reilly. The two faced off in September 2008 when he was a candidate.

Tu Holloway scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half on Saturday, rallying Xavier from a four-point deficit to a 76-68 victory over Saint Louis that extended the Musketeers' home winning streak in Atlantic 10 play.

The Musketeers (16-6, 8-1) have won their last 37 A-10 home games, the league record. They relied on their guards to keep it going after falling behind by four early in the second half.

Guard Mark Lyons added 15 points, 10 of them in the second half. Center Kenny Frease had 12 points, all in the first half.

Saint Louis (8-14, 3-6) has the league's worst offense but made its first nine shots to open the second half, taking the lead before Holloway turned it around. Forward Brian Conklin led the Billikens with a career-high 24 points, going 11 of 15 from the field. Rob Loe added 18.

The Billikens lost sophomore forward Cody Ellis to a shoulder injury with 57 seconds left in the first half. He dived for a loose ball and drove his right shoulder into Xavier's Dante Jackson before hitting the floor. Ellis lay on the floor for several minutes holding the shoulder, then went directly to the locker room.

Ellis, who is the Billikens' second-leading rebounder, sat on the bench with his arm in a sling during the second half.

GENEVA (AP) -- Organizers have canceled a visit next week by former U.S. President George W. Bush to Switzerland because of security concerns.

Bush's spokesman David Sherzer says the two-term president was informed Friday by the United Israel Appeal that his Feb. 12 dinner speech in Geneva had been called off.

Saturday's edition of Swiss daily Tribune de Geneve cited the Jewish charity's lawyer, Robert Equey, saying the visit was canceled because of the risk that protests by left-wing groups could result in violence.

Several human rights groups including Amnesty International were also planning to ask Swiss prosecutors to open a criminal investigation of Bush over his admission that he personally authorized the waterboarding of terrorism suspects.
MUNICH (AP) -- Russia's foreign minister is indicating that he opposes slapping more international sanctions on Iran in the standoff over its nuclear program.

Iran has been hit with several rounds of U.N. sanctions over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment. Tehran again rebuffed U.N.-drafted proposals at talks in Istanbul in January, generating speculation about more economic pressures.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday that "any new proposals ... would basically be aimed at suffocating the Iranian economy."

He says that "was not part of the agreement" when the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members and Germany started trying to allay doubts over Iran's nuclear intentions with a combination of incentives and pressure.

Lavrov argues the Istanbul meeting was "not a total failure."
CAIRO (AP) - Leaders of unprecedented wave of anti-government protests Egypt held talks with the Prime Minister on ways to ease out President Hosni Mubarak of Office. Under one proposal, the 82-year-old leader of the hand of his powers to his vice president, but not his title immediately, give him a graceful exit.

Mubarak has refused to leave faith, insist on serving the remainder of his term until September, and his aides have repeatedly said in recent days that the country's leader of nearly 30 years may be dumped in a humiliating way.

The protesters say they can not turn their huge rallies to stop or to enter into substantive negotiations on democratic reform Mubarak concluded. Thousands continued to gather Saturday in downtown Cairo Tahrir Square, one day after some 100,000 demonstrators are demanding massive Mubarak immediately leave power.

Once a year, a lot of people are forced to pretend to care about football.

Some friend or partner with them drag them to a Super Bowl party, and although it may be worth it just to experience the expensive commercials, unhealthy eating, excess alcohol, the hilariously stupid halftime show, the Puppy Bowl or drunk people wear unattractive props, many people would rather spend three hours passing a stone than watching the actual game.

It's no wonder. Soccer lacks the artful, accessible flow of football or basketball, it's an inscrutable sport of course, hampered by sharp short game action comic (s according to the Wall Street Journal, only about 11 minutes of actual football is played during a football game, while a full 67 minutes airtime spent on the players stand around). The constant stoppages, mysterious and baffling terminology penalties (eg, "without prejudice to the quarterback") make this game one pain in the ass to watch for anyone who has not been taking for years.

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI insisted Saturday on his exclusive right to ordain bishops as he consecrated a Chinese prelate in an implicit challenge to attempts by China's official church to ordain bishops without his approval.

Monsignor Savio Hon Tai-Fai, a 60-year-old Salesian prelate from Hong Kong recently named to the No. 2 spot in the Vatican's missionary office, was one of five bishops ordained by Benedict in St. Peter's Basilica.

His elevation comes amid a new low point in relations between the Holy See and Beijing over the Chinese state-backed church's ordination of bishops without papal consent.

Benedict didn't refer specifically to China in his homily but insisted in general on the duty and need for the pope to name bishops to ensure apostolic succession. He said one of the key jobs of a bishop is to ensure that there is an "uninterrupted chain of communion" with the apostles.

"You, my dear brothers, have the mission to conserve this Catholic communion," Benedict said. "You know that the Lord entrusted St. Peter and his successors to be the center of this communion, the guarantors of being in the totality of the apostolic communion and the faith."

China forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951 shortly after the communist seizure of power. Although only state-backed Catholic churches are recognized, millions of other Chinese belong to unofficial congregations loyal to Rome.

Dialogue has been used to ease tensions, but a main sticking point has been the Chinese church's insistence that it - not the pope - has the right to appoint bishops. It maintains that Rome's position amounts to interference in its internal affairs.

MUNICH (AP) -- The U.S. and Russia finalize a nuclear arms treaty Saturday, a key foreign policy goal of President Barack Obama that will limit the number of atomic warheads the two former Cold War foes are allowed to possess.

The New START treaty was approved by the U.S. Senate in December after Obama pressed strongly for its passage, and Russia ratified the deal last month.

The treaty goes into effect when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton exchanges the ratification papers with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

New START is a cornerstone of Obama's efforts to "reset" U.S. relations with Russia.

Clinton said that the treaty is "another example of the kind of clear-eyed cooperation that is in everyone's interests."

In addition to New START, she said the U.S. is in talks with Russia about how the two countries can work together to address issues that affect their common security, while maintaining strategic stability.

Before becoming Egypt's vice president in late January,
Omar Suleiman was known for his strong-arm tactics as one
of the region's most feared and revered intelligence chiefs.
A failed assassination attempt on Egypt's vice president in recent days left two of his bodyguards dead, sources tell Fox News.

Such an attempt on the life of Omar Suleiman would mark an alarming turn in the uprising against the government of President Hosni Mubarak, who only recently named Suleiman as vice president in an effort to quell the unrest and possibly line up a successor.

A senior Obama administration official confirmed that the attack happened soon after Suleiman was appointed, on Jan. 29. The official described it as an organized attack on Suleiman's motorcade.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declined to address the assassination reports when asked earlier by Fox News.

"I'm not going to ... get into that question," Gibbs said.

MUNICH (Reuters) - The Middle East faces a "perfect storm" of unrest and regional leaders must quickly enact real democratic reforms or risk even greater instability, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday.

Clinton, speaking at a security conference in Munich, said lack of political reform, coupled with a growing young population and new Internet technologies, threatened the old order in a region crucial to U.S. security.

"The region is being battered by a perfect storm of powerful trends," Clinton said. "This is what has driven demonstrators into the streets of Tunis, Cairo, and cities throughout the region. The status quo is simply not sustainable."

Clinton's speech did not discuss in detail the political unrest in Egypt, which many analysts say is dominating discussions behind the scenes at the Munich conference which brings together a number of leaders, lawmakers and analysts.

But she underscored Washington's new public push for speedy political reform among its Middle East allies, which include not only Egypt and Jordan but global oil giant Saudi Arabia and Yemen, an impoverished state now central to the U.S.-led war against al Qaeda.

"This is not simply a matter of idealism; it is a strategic necessity. Without genuine progress towards open and accountable political systems, the gap between people and their governments will grow, and instability will only deepen. All of our interests will be at risk," she said.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Government has a responsibility to make the U.S. the best place in the world to do business, but companies have a responsibility to invest in the nation's future by keeping jobs here, hiring American workers and paying decent wages, President Barack Obama says.

Obama devoted his weekly radio and Internet message Saturday to ideas from his State of the Union address, specifically a plan to put the U.S. on a more competitive footing globally by spending scarce dollars on innovation, education and the nation's infrastructure.

"In today's global, competitive economy, the best jobs and newest industries will take root in countries with the most skilled workers, the strongest commitment to research and technology and the fastest ways to move people, goods and information," the president said, previewing a speech he is giving to the influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce early next week.

Underscoring his points, Obama referenced his visit this week to Penn State University, where researchers are designing more energy-efficient buildings. He also spoke about next Thursday's trip to Marquette, Mich., a place the White House says illustrates how increased Internet access can help businesses grow. Obama has called for expanding high-speed, wireless Internet access to 98 percent of Americans within five years.

English Defence League protests are attracting an increasing number of young people.
Photograph: KeystoneUSA-Zuma/Rex Features
Extreme-right activists from across Europe will join thousands of English supporters Defense League tomorrow for the biggest rally in 20 months history of the group. Police expect about 7,000 protesters will be at Luton, Bedfordshire the city where the EDL began in spring 2009, fall amid evidence of the growing influence of the youth group.
The organization has staged more than 30 protests since it was formed, many of which were marred by Islamophobia, racism and violence.
This rally will see more than more than 25 buses to transport members to Luton from across the UK, with thousands more activists due to their way to by car or train. One activist said EDL 800 far-right supporters was meeting at Kings Cross station in north London before departure.
UK-based members will be joined by activists from recently formed copycat "defense leagues" in Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands - and the more established fans of extreme-right groups from France, Germany and Denmark. 

Egypt gas pipeline attacked

Unknown attackers have blown up a pipeline that runs through El-Arish area in northern Sinai region of Egypt and supplies gas to Jordan and Israel, according to the present state of Egyptian television.

The Jordanian route that runs from El-Arish to Aqaba to Amman and then damaged by an explosion Saturday.

But it has been reported that the pipeline running to Ashkelon in Israel is not affected.

The explosive material was placed in or adjacent to the checkpoint of the gas supply. There were no immediate reports of casualties as a result of the explosion.

"Saboteurs took advantage of the security situation and blew up the pipeline," a correspondent reported state television, saying there was a big explosion.

State television quoted an official as saying that "the situation is very dangerous and explosions were continued from one place to another" along the pipeline.

"It's a major terrorist operation," a state television reporter said.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) -- America is on a "road to ruin" because of misguided policies in Washington and needs to get back in step with the values of Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin said at an event honoring the former president's legacy.

The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee delivered a stinging critique of Washington during her speech Friday, part of the national celebration marking the centennial of Reagan's birth on Feb. 6.

Revisiting themes familiar from her 2008 campaign, she said the nation was being shackled by high debt and taxes, dense government regulation and rising spending, often for programs that don't work. She said a rush toward green energy was overlooking the nation's oil and natural gas reserves, a choice that will cost jobs and drive up pump prices.

She blamed Washington leaders - an apparent reference to the Obama administration - for doing "everything in their power to stymie responsible domestic drilling."

"This is dangerous. This is insane," she said. "This is not the road to national greatness, it is the road to ruin."

NEW YORK (AP) -- The computer network that runs the Nasdaq Stock Market has been penetrated by hackers multiple times during the past year, according to a newspaper report.

The Wall Street Journal reported on its website late Friday that federal investigators are trying to identify the perpetrators and their motive.

People familiar with the investigation say the exchange's trading platform, the system which executes trades, was not compromised, according to the report.

A person involved in the Nasdaq investigation told the newspaper that so far the perpetrators "appear to have just been looking around."

Nasdaq officials declined to comment.

Possible motives include financial gain, theft of trade secrets or a national security threat designed to damage the exchange, the newspaper said.

The Secret Service initiated the probe involving New York-based Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. last year. The FBI is also investigating the breach and White House officials have been informed.

Investigators have not yet been able to track the cyber break-ins to any specific individual or country, but people with knowledge of the case told the newspaper some evidence points to Russia. However, they point out that hackers could be just using Russia as a conduit.

In 1999, a group of hackers calling itself "United Loan Gunmen" infiltrated the computer that runs the websites for Nasdaq and the American Stock Exchange.

The hackers left a taunting message and also claimed to have briefly created for itself an e-mail account on Nasdaq's computer system, suggesting a broader breach in security. But at the time, Nasdaq officials said there was no evidence they manipulated financial data.