Thursday, February 17, 2011

A German university on Thursday gave the country's defense minister two weeks to respond to allegations that he plagiarized part of his doctoral thesis.

Bayreuth University, which accepted his thesis in 2007, said it notified Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg of the deadline in a letter, German news agency DAPD reported.

Guttenberg was out of the country Thursday on a previously unannounced visit to German troops in Afghanistan. Polls regularly rate him Germany's most popular politician, and the plagiarism flap has prompted opposition figures to cast doubt on his political future.

Guttenberg on Wednesday dismissed as "absurd" the allegations of plagiarism first reported by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. However, the minister said in a written statement that he is willing to check whether there were any omissions or errors among the 1,200 footnotes in the 475-page thesis.

Paris Hilton's boyfriend, Cy Waits, has an Aug. 22 court date to fight criminal charges stemming from a Las Vegas Strip traffic stop with the celebrity socialite.

The 35-year-old Waits didn't appear Thursday in Las Vegas Justice Court.

His attorney, Richard Schonfeld, told a judge that he intends to challenge the constitutionality of Waits' felony charge of being under the influence of marijuana.

The former nightclub mogul also faces misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and driving under the influence following his Aug. 27 arrest.

Hilton pleaded guilty in September to misdemeanor cocaine possession and obstruction charges. She's serving a year of probation.

Police stopped the couple in a black Cadillac Escalade after an officer reported a "vapor trail" of marijuana smoke wafting from the vehicle.
Jurors in the murder case surrounding a motivational speaker's death in New York City are hearing an unusual story: an apparent street crime that the accused man says was actually an assisted suicide.

Opening statements began Thursday in Kenneth Minor's trial.

Manhattan prosecutors acknowledge there's evidence to support his claim that self-help expert Jeffrey Locker offered to pay to be killed in an apparent robbery so his family could collect insurance money. The 52-year-old Locker was found stabbed in the chest in his car in July 2009, with his hands tied behind his back.

The 36-year-old Minor says he held a knife while Locker lunged into it. Minor offered to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. Prosecutors say Minor's conduct amounts to murder.
Mariano Rivera has arrived at the Yankees' spring training camp after missing the first two days to be with his sick children.

New York's ace closer says it's getting tougher each year to leave his family for the start of the new season.

The 41-year-old Rivera agreed to a $30 million, two-year contract in December.

He said Thursday that "one of my kids, he was crying," adding that he and his family have to "find a way to work it out and have that balance."

The right-hander was 3-3 with a 1.80 ERA and 33 saves in 38 chances last season. The 11-time All-Star has 559 regular-season career saves, second to Trevor Hoffman's 601, and a record 42 in the postseason.
A former University of Tulsa football player who was recognized for the courage and optimism he showed while battling cancer has died.

Tulsa athletics department spokesman Don Tomkalski says 22-year-old offensive tackle Wilson Holloway died Wednesday in Oklahoma City. Holloway, of Edmond, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in March 2008.

Holloway redshirted in 2007 and played in six games in 2008 after undergoing cancer treatments. The cancer reappeared in September 2008 and Holloway underwent a second round of chemotherapy treatments.

The Football Writers Association of America voted him the 2008 FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award winner.

Tulsa Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham says Holloway's smile was "contagious" that says Holloway "fought the disease with a tireless and enthusiastic spirit."
An official in Cameroon says the 13 kidnapped government officials have been released.

Cornelius Edonde, the mayor of Kombo Itindi, said Thursday that the hostages were freed Wednesday and have left for the capital, Yaounde.

The hostages were ambushed earlier this month by unidentified armed men.

No one has claimed responsibility but officials believe the attack was the work of the Bakassi Freedom Fighters, a militant faction disputing Cameroon's ownership of the oil-rich piece of land.

Areas around Cameroon's nearby Bakassi Peninsula remain prone to piracy and attacks. Militias have been fighting with government troops since Nigeria ceded the land to Cameroon in 2006.
Bahraini police stormed a protest camp in central Manama on Thursday, killing three people in a swift move to prevent protesters from emulating Egyptians whose Tahrir Square protests helped to topple Hosni Mubarak.

"Police are coming, they are shooting teargas at us," one protester said by telephone as police swooped at 3 a.m.. Another said: "I am wounded, I am bleeding. They're killing us."

Upwards of 40 army trucks and armored vehicles, including at least one tank, later deployed in and around Pearl square, a road junction demonstrators had tried to turn into a protest base like Cairo's Tahrir, a Reuters photographer said.

The crackdown by the Bahraini authorities appeared designed to snuff out the protests before they could gather momentum, unlike the sustained unrest that unseated Egypt's Mubarak.

The main Shi'ite bloc Wefaq, which holds 17 of parliament's 40 seats, planned to quit the assembly in protest. "We feel there was a decision to hurt people," MP Ibrahim Mattar said.

Messages and videos posted on social media sites Thursday signaled that anti-government protests in Libya were gathering steam in several cities, with some turning violent on a "Day of Rage."

There were reports of 16 deaths, but they could not be independently confirmed.

A text message sent out earlier on mobile phones had threatened Libyans planning to take to the streets, activists and bloggers said.

"From Libya's youth to anyone who dares to cross any of the four red lines come and face us in any street on the ground of our beloved country," the Short Message System dispatch said, referring to a speech by Saif el-Islam Gadhafi, Moammar Gadhafi's son, in which he described the lines as Islamic law, the Quran, Libyan security and his father.

They apparently did little to deter demonstrators. Protests in the isolated North African nation broke out this week, part of a larger anti-government movement sweeping the region.

CNN does not have journalists in Libya and was unable to confirm the extent of the demonstrations unfolding there.

Human rights groups have reported gradual moves toward freedom of expression in Libya, but Gadhafi's government retains control over most of the media in Libya and monitors and censors the fledgling private media outlets.

The Obama administration is considering proposals to increase the size of the Afghan security forces by between 45,000 and 70,000, amid worries about how much Afghanistan can absorb and what the U.S. can afford.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells a Senate committee that the U.S. will spend $12.8 billion in 2012 to train and equip the Afghan forces, a sum that can't be carried indefinitely.

U.S. commanders have said it is critical to increase the size of the Afghan forces beyond the goal of 305,000 by the end of this year. This is the first time officials have disclosed totals for the proposed increase under debate.

Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, say that a decision is expected soon.
A restaurant shut down by police last week for repeatedly violating Spain's tough new anti-smoking law will reopen next month smoke-free, the owner of the establishment said Thursday.

Jose Antonio Arias, the owner of El Asador Guadalmina, defiantly vowed a week ago that no one would close his business. But Thursday he said he had decided to obey the law out of concern for his 16 employees and their families.

"I have decided to accept the law," Arias told reporters at a news conference at his restaurant, hours after regional health authorities said he had written to them, agreeing to adhere to the law that prohibits smoking in all indoor bars and restaurants.

Authorities said he still faces a nearly $200,000 fine for allowing smokers in his locale for nearly six weeks after the new law took effect January 2.

A helicopter carrying tourists to a high-altitude ski run in western Switzerland crashed Thursday, injuring six, the company operating the flight said.

The helicopter pilot and five of the twelve passengers on board suffered light to medium injuries, the director of Heli Suisse, Alex Baechlin, told The Associated Press.

He was unable immediately to provide details such as nationality and ages of those injured.

Baechlin said the crashed happened on the Tsanfleuron glacier - also known as Glacier 3,000 - near the Les Diablerets ski resort 30 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of the capital Bern.

Heli skiing and sightseeing flights over the Alps are popular at this time of year.

Last week five French nationals died when a private plane crashed in the mountains near Switzerland's southern border with Italy.
The 10th Cricket World Cup has been launched following a $30m (£18.6m) opening ceremony in Bangladesh.

All 14 captains were paraded in rickshaws around the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka as 3,500 performers demonstrated local cultures.

Indian singer Sonu Nigam, Bangladesh-based Runa Laila and Canadian Bryan Adams provided further entertainment.

The more modern stadium in Mirpur hosts Saturday's tournament opener, in which Bangladesh host favourites India.

The 49-match, six-week tournament is spread across cricket-crazy south Asia, with Sri Lanka and India also hosting matches. Of the original four host nations, Pakistan was forced to withdraw over security fears.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who announced Jan. 17 that he would take a medical leave of absence for the second time in two years from the company he co-founded and manages, is receiving treatment at a cancer clinic, reports indicate.

According to, Jobs, 55, has been attending the Stanford Cancer Center in Palo Alto, California, the same cancer clinic where screen star Patrick Swayze sought radical chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer before his death in September, 2009.

The skeletal-looking Apple boss was photographed outside the clinic in images set to be published in the next edition of The National Enquirer, Radar reported.

In one photo, Jobs is seen getting out of his car at the clinic -- a day after he turned in a full day's work when he was spotted on Apple's Cupertino campus.

Neither Apple nor Jobs has not officially stated whether Jobs' current health battle is related to his liver transplant from 2009, or whether the pancreatic cancer he previously defeated has returned, or if there is a new problem.

The Apple chief is reportedly attending a meeting a with President Barack Obama later today, Reuters reported. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Eric Schmidt will also attend, as well as General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt, a source told the news agency.

In 2004, the computer genius took time off to recover from surgery to treat a very rare form of pancreatic cancer -- called an islet cell neuroendocrine tumor.

Jobs, who will turn 56 on February 24, announced on January 17 that he was going on a medical leave.

"At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health," Jobs said in an e-mail to employees. "I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company."
Two months after they tie the knot at Westminster Abbey, Prince William and Kate Middleton will be celebrating Canada Day in Ottawa as part of a whirlwind tour of this country.

It will be the first overseas trip as a married couple for the pair, who are set to be wed April 29.

The tour by the future heir to the throne and his bride will take place June 30 to July 8 and will cross Canada, including a stop in the Arctic.

Canadian taxpayers will end up footing the bill for the trip, although the costs will be split between Ottawa and the provinces and territories being visited. Federal officials would not estimate the cost, saying the final bill will be released afterward.

The prince and Ms. Middleton will make stops in Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ottawa’s National Capital Region, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Wednesday.

Ambushes are not uncommon in the World Cup. Favourites fall by the wayside and new forces emerge. The best side does not always triumph. The team that handles the big moments capably is often the winner. As the competition develops, teams evolve.

Sides lacking consistency but possessing serious ability become a distinct threat once they grow in confidence. Not burdened by expectations, they play a fearless brand of cricket. In fact, these teams can go all the way. They are called the Dark Horses.

When it bucked the odds to emerge victorious in the Summer of '83 in the Old Blighty, India was a rank outsider. Few gave Imran Khan's Pakistan a chance in the '92 World Cup when the cornered tigers staged a comeback of the believe-it-or-not variety to emerge on top down under. And co-host Sri Lanka, marshalled admirably by the canny Arjuna Ranatunga, triumphed in '96.

Subsequently, Australia swept to three successive titles on the biggest stage of them all. Yet this, the most open World Cup since '96, could be very different.

England, Pakistan and the West Indies could be the dark horses in this edition. Fancied teams might be wary when they take on these sides, particularly in the knock-out stages. 

Feb 17 (Reuters) - Never mind the players or fans, it is the security chiefs responsible for the safety of the teams and hundreds of thousands of spectators who so far sound most confident ahead of the Cricket World Cup.

The six-week festival of cricket in the subcontinent begins in Dhaka on Saturday with a meeting between joint hosts Bangladesh and India and will be followed by 48 matches culminating in the final in Mumbai on April 2.

The tournament is also being played in Sri Lanka.

International Cricket Council (ICC) chief Haroon Lorgat, the man ultimately responsible for the safe delivery of the World Cup, described security as a "non issue". He said the ICC had all the necessary arrangements with governments and police forces in place.

"We have gained enormous amounts of experience over the last few years. In fact, safety and security does not seem to be an issue for anyone," he told Reuters this week.

(Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed supports the sweeping Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul and is moving swiftly to put its provisions into action.

"Dodd-Frank is a major step forward for financial regulation in the United States," Bernanke said in congressional testimony obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

Bernanke is due to speak about regulation before the Senate Banking committee on Thursday. His prepared text made no mention of the outlook for the economy or monetary policy.

The European Space Agency's second Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) yesterday blasted off en route to the International Space Station.

The Johannes Kepler rose heavenwards atop an Ariane 5 rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana at 21:50 GMT. The launch had previously been knocked back a day due to a minor technical glitch.

On the pad, ATV-2 weighed in at 20.06 tonnes, "the heaviest payload ever launched by Europe". It's carrying "4,534kg of propellant for International Space Station reboost and attitude control", "1,600kg of dry cargo, 850kg of propellant for Russia’s Zvezda module and 100kg of oxygen".

President Barack Obama called Wednesday for a series of steps to help Americans conserve and get in touch with nature, including full funding of the $900 million Land and Water Conservation Fund for only the third time in its existence.

At a White House event, Obama also proposed creating a Conservation Service Corps to help young people find work in the outdoors, and extending the tax deduction for donating private land for conservation.

The proposals are part of an action plan by the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, which Obama launched last year to promote community conservation efforts to protect the nation's natural heritage and help people experience it.

After Nokia's software surrender, the five-way struggle for mobile dominance heats up 

It's been a big couple of weeks in mobile. Verizon Wireless finally got the iPhone. Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) unveiled the first fruits of its Palm purchase last year. Nokia (NOK), the world's biggest handset maker, abandoned its once-dominant Symbian mobile software system and demoted itself to a kind of glorified contract manufacturer of Microsoft (MSFT)-powered devices.

The struggle for mobile dominance has entered a new phase. Why would Nokia throw out Symbian, with its 37 percent market share, in favor of software with less than one-seventh of that? Because recently hired Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop is convinced that Microsoft has better odds of going up against the four other mobile powers—Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), Research In Motion (RIMM), and HP—and making its new Windows Phone 7 software a center of gravity for the world's programmers, manufacturers, and consumers. "The game has changed from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems," Elop told investors at a London press conference on Feb. 11.

Security forces in Bahrain's capital stormed an encampment of protesters in the dead of night Thursday, killing at least three people and injuring about 200.

The charge occurred early Thursday in the Pearl Roundabout, a landmark city circle located in the center of Manama, and the clampdown swiftly drew local and international condemnation.

Witnesses described a blunt show of force, with police firing pellets, rubber bullets and tear gas to force protesters out of the square.

One 15-year-old boy who said he and others were sleeping when police swooped and he had buckshot wounds to his arm and abdomen, and one reporter attacked while he was describing the melee said the security forces weren't "screwing around."

Three people were killed and at least 195 others were injured, the country's health minister, Dr. Faisal Ben Yacoub Al Hamar, said on state television.

Human rights advocates sharply criticized the security forces.

A series of blasts levelled several arms depots at a Tanzanian army base and killed at least 17 people, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said Thursday, in the second such incident in two years.

The blasts, which the prime minister said also left 145 people wounded, went off inside the Gongola Mboto army base in Dar es Salaam late Wednesday and destroyed several arms and ammunition depots.

"By this morning, there were 13 bodies at Amana hospital, two at Temeke hospital and two more at Muhimbili national hospital," he told parliament in a session aired live on state radio.

Pinda said he had convened an emergency security meeting over the blasts and added that the country's armed forces were investigating the incident.

There was no indication of foul play and such incidents have happened before in Tanzania.

In April 2009, 26 people were killed and hundreds wounded by a string of powerful blasts at an arms depot in Dar es Salaam, which officials said were accidental.

The series of explosions showered the entire city with debris and shrapnel, causing a panic among the population and bringing back memories of the 1998 bombing of the US embassy.

The 2009 blasts in the Mbagala district, located around 13 kilometres (eight miles) from the city centre, set off rockets, artillery and mortar shells, and displaced thousands of people.
A Pakistani court on Thursday postponed a hearing until March 14 for a captured American diplomat accused of shooting and killing two men, a government official said.

Thursday hearing was postponed after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested that given three weeks to respond to questions from the Lahore High Court on whether Raymond Davis is entitled to diplomatic immunity, according to Khawaja Haris, a senior government official lawyer.

Davis was not in court, nor was his lawyer or a representative of the U.S. Embassy, Haris said.

Last week, a Pakistani court Davis remain in custody for 14 days. Another hearing on a separate issue will be held on the matter later this month. Davis' attorney has filed a petition, challenging jurisdiction of the Court on the case. A judge will hear arguments on Feb. 25.

Davis said he was attacked by two men when he drove through a busy district of Lahore, according to the American Embassy in Pakistan.

Lahore Police Chief Aslam has Taren Davis' claim is rejected, the men he shot in self-defense, told reporters, "It was clearly murder."

Taren acknowledged that the two men were armed and that one of them pointed his gun at Davis. However, he said, the man not to shoot because "all the bullets were in their room."

A police report in the court appears to contradict that assertion, saying that the Boards of both the victims' guns were empty.

The report quotes witnesses said Davis first fired at the victims of the inside of his car, got out and shot twice in the back of one of the victims.

On Wednesday, an American official who has seen the first report of the Lahore police after the shooting incident, the report indicates that it was an attempted robbery.