Friday, March 11, 2011

The updated version of Apple Inc.'s iPad tablet computer was set to go on sale Friday afternoon, after online orders started in the early hours of the morning.

The Cupertino company opened online sales of the iPad 2 at 1 a.m. PST, hours before they will be available in stores nationwide at 5 p.m. local time.

When the original version of the iPad went on sale in April, Apple said it sold more than 300,000 in the first day. It ended up selling more than 15 million in the first nine months, including 7.3 million to holiday shoppers in the October-December quarter.

The new iPad model comes with several improvements over the original version but the same price tag - $499 to $829, depending on storage space and whether they can connect to the Internet over a cellular network - hobbling efforts by rivals at breaking Apple's hold on the emerging market for tablet computers.

The iPad 2 looks much like the first iPad, only with a sleeker, lighter body with a curved back. Among changes is the inclusion of cameras for videoconferencing, one on the front and one on the back.

With the original iPad, Apple proved there is a large market for a tablet that's less than a laptop and more than a smart phone, yet performs many of the same tasks. Competitors including Dell Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. have been trying to lure consumers with smaller tablets, without much success. In February, Motorola Mobility Inc.'s Xoom went on sale with a new version of Google Inc.'s Android software that was designed for tablets, not smart phones.
The Mexican navy says it has detected the first ocean swells related to the tsunami spawned by a magnitude-8.9 earthquake in Japan.

Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara says Pacific monitoring stations off the coast have detected swells of 70 centimeters (2 1/3 feet).

Vergara says that "given the height (of the swells), we won't be affected much." Experts had previously warned of possible waves as high as 6 feet (2 meters).

Vergara said Friday that the outlook was "positive as far as we can see, but we cannot let our guard down."
A massive show of force snuffed out a Facebook-based effort to stage unprecedented pro-democracy protests in the capital of Saudi Arabia on Friday but political unrest and sectarian tensions roiled neighboring Yemen and Bahrain.

Yemen's largest demonstrations in a month were met by police gunfire that left at least six protesters injured and seemed all but certain to fuel more anger against the U.S.-allied but deeply unpopular president.

In Bahrain, a conflict deepened between the island kingdom's Shiite majority and its Sunni Muslim royal family, whose security forces and pro-government mobs attacked demonstrators with tear gas, rocks and swords in the home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the kingdom to reassure its rulers that the U.S. remains committed to their partnership, officials said.

With uprisings threatening allies on its eastern and southern flanks, the Sunni Saudi monarchy appeared to be taking no chances in its effort to keep the popular push for democracy in the Arab world from spreading to the world's largest crude oil exporter.

In the heavily Shiite eastern Saudi city of Qatif, a short drive from Bahrain, armored personnel carriers and dozens of officers in riot gear surrounded several hundred demonstrators shouting calls for reforms and equality between the sects. Police opened fire in the city to disperse a protest late Thursday in an incident that left three protesters and one officer wounded, but there was no repeat of that violence.

Yemen's president of 32 years appeared to be one of the leaders most threatened by the regional unrest inspired by pro-democracy revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in Yemen's four largest provinces, ripping down and burning Saleh's portraits in Sheikh Othman, the most populated district in the southern port city of Aden, witnesses said.

President Barack Obama says he's been assured by the Pentagon that the Army private suspected of giving classified information to the WikiLeaks website is being held in conditions that are "appropriate and meeting our basic standards."

Pfc. Bradley Manning's civilian lawyer disagrees and has said his client's clothing is being taken each night because of sarcastic comments he had made about using underwear to commit suicide. The lawyer has called the treatment degrading.

Amnesty International also says the treatment may violate Manning's human rights. He is being held at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.

Obama said Friday that he had asked and the Pentagon assured him that Manning's confinement was appropriate. He declined to be more specific. Obama spoke at a White House news conference.
The San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is on its way to the northeast coast of earthquake-ravaged Japan to provide assistance.

Cmdr. Greg Hicks said Friday the aircraft carrier was already in the western Pacific on a routine deployment and has been ordered to proceed to the Japanese coast. He says it is expected to arrive in a few days.

The Pentagon has ordered a number of U.S. military ships to move toward Japan.

Hicks says the Reagan has airlift capabilities and can provide medical facilities, fresh water supplies and render other aid if needed.

The largest earthquake in Japan's history - measured at a magnitude of 8.9 - slammed Japan's eastern coast Friday, accompanied by a towering tsunami. Hundreds are dead or missing.
Authorities in Aspen say two Michigan State football players were arrested after a reported disturbance at a bar.

Nineteen-year-old Max Bullough and 23-year-old Brian Linthicum were arrested shortly after midnight Thursday morning at the Regal Watering Hole.

Officials at the Pitkin County Jail said that the two were released later that morning.

They are scheduled to appear in court in Aspen on April 19.
Moammar Gadhafi's regime gained momentum Friday, showing off its victory over rebels in Zawiya, a key city near Tripoli as it strengthened its hold on the capital and surrounding areas.

The government had claimed victory on Wednesday, but the rebels who are seeking to oust Gadhafi said fighting was ongoing.

An Associated Press reporter, who was escorted with other journalists into the city on Friday, said the main square that had been the center of resistance was clearly in government control after nearly a week of fierce fighting.

Tanks manned by Gadhafi loyalists and trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns were stationed in the middle of the square and supporters of the longtime leader were rallying in the area. The nearby mosque has been destroyed, its dome and minaret smashed, and the facades of other buildings overlooking the square were devastated.

Rubble and shattered glass covered the streets. A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the government had used bulldozers to raze a rebel graveyard in the area, although that could not be confirmed. A death toll also was not immediately available.
President Barack Obama said Friday that a no-fly zone over Libya to keep Col. Moammar Gadhafi from attacking rebels remains a possibility as "we are slowly tightening the noose" around the Libyan leader. But he stopped short of moving toward military action.

"The bottom line is: I have not taken any actions off the table at this point," Obama told a White House news conference.

He cited actions already taken, including new sanctions and the freezing of tens billions of dollars of Gadhafi's assets.

'It is in the United States' interest, and in the interests of the people of Libya that Gadhafi leave," Obama said. "We're going to take a wide range of actions" to try to accomplish that goal, he added.

Obama said he wanted to make it clear to the longtime Libyan leaders "that the world is watching" his brutal response to the rebellions in his country.

The president brushed off a comment on Thursday in congressional testimony by U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that Gadhafi's military was stronger than has been described and that "in the longer term ... the regime will prevail."
The FBI's Cold Case Initiative is investigating the 46-year-old case of a Massachusetts minister who was beaten to death in Alabama while doing civil rights work, a spokesman said Friday.

The Rev. James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, was among a group of ministers who traveled to Alabama in response to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s invitation to join the Selma-to-Montgomery march.

The FBI launched an initiative in 2007 to investigate unsolved murders from the civil rights era. A spokesman with the agency, Chris Allen, said Reeb's case is one that is currently open.

The lead state prosecutor for Selma, District Attorney Michael Jackson, said he has met with FBI agents at least twice about the case. He said the agency is actively investigating.

Reeb and two other white ministers had just finished dinner at a historically black restaurant in downtown Selma when they were attacked by a gang of whites on March 9, 1965. The city was a center for voting rights demonstrations by blacks and white supporters at the time.

Waves from a tsunami caused surges along California's coast that shook some boats loose from docks, as beach-area residents evacuated to higher ground.

The tide began rising shortly after 7:30 a.m. in Crescent City, near the Oregon border, where the tsunami was expected to hit the hardest in California.

By midmorning, waves crashed against the bluffs, as residents gathered on the overlooks to watch. The California Highway Patrol estimated about 35 boats in the harbor were damaged.

On the central coast in Santa Cruz, loose fishing boats crashed into one another and chunks of wooden docks broke off. The water rushed out as quickly as it poured in, leaving the boats tipped over in mud.

Some surfers ignored evacuation warnings and took advantage of the waves ahead of the tsunami.
The Texas Rangers abruptly announced Friday that CEO and managing partner Chuck Greenberg is leaving the organization three weeks before the AL champions open the season and just seven months after leading the half-billion-dollar purchase of the team in a dramatic bankruptcy court showdown.

In a statement released by the Rangers, Greenberg indicated that he was leaving because of differences between he, team president Nolan Ryan and board co-chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson.

"Unfortunately, Nolan Ryan, the co-chairman and I have somewhat different styles. While I am disappointed we did not work through our differences, I remain wholeheartedly committed to doing what's right for the franchise," Greenberg said. "Together we concluded it is best for all concerned for me to sell my interest back to Rangers Baseball Express and move on. I do so with a heavy heart."

Ryan will add the title of CEO and oversee all baseball and business operations for the organization, reporting directly to the team's board of directors. He joined the team as team president in February 2008.

Ryan was scheduled to join Davis and Simpson, the largest investors in the ownership group, in a news conference at Rangers Ballpark later Friday to discuss Greenberg's departure.

In a joint statement, Davis and Simpson touted Greenberg's hard work and "unwavering commitment" to the team and what was accomplished in their short time owning the club.

"We thank Chuck for his many contributions to the organization, and wish him well in his future endeavors," the statement read. "At the same time, we are very confident in the continued success and further development of the Texas Rangers under Nolan's leadership."

Greenberg, a Pittsburgh attorney, didn't return messages left by The Associated Press.

Greenberg and Ryan were the most visible figures during the prolonged process of purchasing the Rangers from Tom Hicks. After entering into exclusive negotiations with Hicks in December 2009, an initial agreement was reached the following month.

But the acquisition was delayed and then ended up in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The team's May filing included a plan to sell to the Greenberg-Ryan group, but angry creditors successfully argued to reopen the bidding. The messy court fight dragged on for 11 weeks and included an auction showdown with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban last August.

The Greenberg-Ryan group won with a bid valued at $590 million.

"Chuck's determination during an extremely long and complicated sales process was crucial in delivering a positive outcome for our ownership group last August," Ryan said in the team's release. "We owe him a great deal of thanks for those efforts and I wish him only the best."
New figures show the U.S. approved $40 billion in private arms sales in 2009, with more than $7 billion to Mideast and North African nations that are struggling with political upheaval.

From 2008 to 2009, the U.S. authorized increasing sales of military shipments to the now-toppled Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak and the embattled kingdom of Bahrain. But the U.S. reduced such sales to Moammar Gadhafi's Libyan government.

The $40 billion total during the first year of the Obama administration reflects a rise in approved arms sales over the final year of the Bush administration in 2008, when the State Department licensed $34.2 billion in defense sales.

The latest figures describe sales that the State Department authorized from private U.S. defense companies to other countries. The figures don't include direct U.S. military aid to other nations.
Egypt has jailed four top security officials accused of ordering police to shoot and kill protesters during country's 18-day uprising, which ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, officials said Friday.

Rights activists welcomed the move as a step toward ending the culture of impunity in Egypt's massive security forces, which are hated and feared in Egypt. More than 300 people were killed during the uprising.

The suspects jailed are the former Cairo security chief, the head of the State Security agency and the heads of General Security and riot police. They are the most senior security officials to be interrogated in the violence that marred the early days of the protests.

The men are accused of "inciting, assisting and agreeing to the killing" of protesters under instructions from their superior, said Adel al-Said, deputy General Prosecutor. They allegedly obeyed directives that "contradict government orders to preserve public order."

"This is the beginning of the process of healing from those abuses we faced for years and the first step in getting rid of the culture of impunity," said Soha Abdelati, a lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

Egypt's security forces number at least 500,000, slightly more than the armed forces. Loathed for their heavy handedness and rampant corruption, the security forces are accused of some of the worst human rights abuses in the suppression of dissent against Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule.

The Cabinet member in charge of the police at the time of the protests, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, has blamed his subordinate for the violence. El-Adly is on trial on unrelated charges of corruption and money laundering, but he is being interrogated on charges connected to the protests.

A ferocious tsunami unleashed by Japan's biggest recorded earthquake slammed into its eastern coast Friday, killing hundreds of people as it carried away ships, cars and homes, and triggered widespread fires that burned out of control.

Hours later, the waves washed ashore on Hawaii and the U.S. West coast, where evacuations were ordered from California to Washington but little damage was reported. The entire Pacific had been put on alert - including coastal areas of South America, Canada and Alaska - but waves were not as bad as expected.

In northeastern Japan, the area around a nuclear power plant was evacuated after the reactor's cooling system failed and pressure began building inside.

Police said 200 to 300 bodies were found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai, the city in Miyagi prefecture, or state, closest to the epicenter. Another 151 were confirmed killed, with 547 missing. Police also said 798 people were injured.

The magnitude-8.9 offshore quake triggered a 23-foot (seven-meter) tsunami and was followed for hours by more than 50 aftershocks, many of them more than magnitude 6.0.

It shook dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) stretch of coast, including Tokyo, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the epicenter. A large section of Kesennuma, a town of 70,000 people in Miyagi, burned furiously into the night with no apparent hope of being extinguished, public broadcaster NHK said.

A new study shows stricter travel document requirements adopted in 2009 haven't clogged traffic along one of the busiest stretches of the U.S.-Canada border, as many had feared.

But the study focusing on the western New York-southern Ontario corridor did find that Americans are making fewer day trips to Canada.

The study's authors say the perception that crossing the border is difficult and a lack of knowledge about things to do on the other side are combining to keep them home. Canadians continue to shop and gamble in the U.S.

The study was commissioned by a consortium led by the Binational Economic & Tourism Alliance. Preliminary findings were released Friday in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Alliance director Arlene White says Canadian tourism officials need to market the country better to Americans.
CEO Dirk Meyer got a pay raise in 2010 for his work helping to revive Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s performance. Two weeks into the new year, however, he was bumped from the job mainly because the board felt the chip maker wasn't moving fast enough into tablet computers and smart phones markets.

Meyer's compensation package last year totaled $5.5 million, up from $4.5 million the year before, according to calculations by The Associated Press of AMD's annual executive compensation filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The value of his salary and stock and option awards increased.

Due to his ouster, Meyer also received an $8.6 million cash severance payment, and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD accelerated the vesting of all of his outstanding equity awards - in total, $2.3 million in options and $5.7 million in stock.
A Secret Service audiotape 30 years old sheds light on the chaotic aftermath of Ronald Reagan's shooting when neither the president nor his guardians realized he'd been shot, and an agent's snap decision to get him to a hospital might have saved his life.

"Let's hustle," agent Jerry Parr is heard barking as Reagan's limousine suddenly changed course, the sight of the president's blood signaling there was more wrong with him than a bruised rib or two, as everyone thought right after the March 30, 1981, attack. The car, which had been spiriting Reagan back to the security of the White House after the spray of gunfire, sped to George Washington University Hospital instead. Reagan lost about half his blood and came closer to death that day than Americans realized for years later.

The Secret Service released the tape Friday in response to a public-records request from Del Wilber, a Washington Post reporter whose book, "Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan," comes out next week.

Just over 10 minutes, the tape captures the urgent, confused yet coolly methodical radio communications among agents on the scene and the Secret Service command post, starting when the president and his entourage walked out of the Washington Hilton while John Hinckley Jr., with a pistol, stood waiting.

Hinckley opened fire, wounding press secretary James Brady in the head, police officer Thomas Delahanty in the back and Secret Service agent Timothy McCarthy in the abdomen before his last bullet ricocheted off the limousine, grazing Reagan's rib and lodging in his lung. As has been known, Reagan and his protectors at first thought he'd merely hurt his ribs from being shoved into the vehicle by Parr.

President Barack Obama pledged U.S. assistance to earthquake-ravaged Japan Friday following what he called a potentially "catastrophic" disaster.

"Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region, and we're going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy," Obama said during a White House news conference.

Obama said one U.S. aircraft carrier is already in Japan, and a second is on its way. A U.S. ship was also heading to the Marianas Islands to assist as needed, the president said.

Hundreds were dead or missing in Japan following Friday's 8.9 magnitude earthquake - the largest in Japan's history - and the accompanying tsunami.

Tsunami waves also swamped Hawaii's beaches and grazed the West Coast. Obama said that while there have been no reports of major damage in the U.S., his administration is taking the situation seriously and monitoring developments closely.

Obama urged residents in the affected areas to take warnings from local officials seriously and evacuate if told to do so.

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

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been told that she was shot. Her ability to walk and talk is improving. And doctors say there's a good chance she'll be able to attend her husband's space shuttle launch next month.

Doctors provided the new details about Giffords' condition Friday, describing several milestones in her recovery in recent weeks. The developments include the removal of her breathing tube and her improving ability to walk with assistance and talk in complete sentences such as "I'm tired and want to go to bed."

Dr. Imoigele Aisiku called the breathing tube removal a "fist-pump" moment.

"I'm very happy to report that she's making leaps and bounds in terms of neurological recovery," Dr. Dong Kim added.

Her memory is also improving, although she does not recall the tragic event in Tucson that wounded her and 12 others and killed six people.

"She has been told both by her husband and by us, and I think she understands," Kim said. However, it's still not clear if Giffords knows if people were killed at the event.

Doctors also said she is showing emotion at times, including smiles when she makes key progress.

"She has a personality that's already showing through," Kim said. "She's very upbeat, focused on getting better. She hasn't shown us depression, and she's just been very forward-looking and even with the speech she's not showing much frustration."

Jeff Koons' porcelain sculpture of a pink panther hugging a bare-breasted blonde is coming to a New York City auction. It's estimated to bring $20 million to $30 million.

Sotheby's is selling "Pink Panther" on May 10. There were three editions made of the work; the one up for auction is the artist's proof.

One was sold at Christie's in 1999 for $1.8 million, reportedly to the newsprint magnate Peter Brant. The others are in the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Sotheby's didn't identify the seller of the artist's proof. But The New York Times says it's the publisher Benedikt Taschen.

Koons' "Balloon Flower Magenta" sold for $25.7 million in 2008 at Christie's. It set a record for the artist.
The Japanese yen climbed Friday in New York, recovering from a brief tumble just after a massive earthquake and tsunami shook the Asian country.

Japan's quake and the resulting tsunami reverberated throughout the world Friday. Hundreds of deaths were reported, the area around a Japanese nuclear power plant was evacuated, tsunami waves struck Hawaii and warnings remained around the Pacific.

The yen dove briefly after the quake, but then recovered as investors expect the Japanese to buy back their home currency.

In midday trading, the dollar fell to 81.91 Japanese yen from 83.02 yen. The dollar had spiked to a three-week high of 83.30 yen in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.

"The typical expectation, based on past experience, is for Japanese investors to repatriate funds" after a disaster, wrote Brown Brothers Harriman analysts in a research note. That means they would sell off any bets they had placed on other currencies, or bets on stocks and bonds overseas, and bring their funds back home in yen.

After another huge earthquake in Japan, in 1995, the yen gained about 20 percent against the dollar in three months.

A British lawyer charged with helping a former Halliburton Co. subsidiary bribe Nigerian officials has pleaded guilty in the case.

Jeffrey Tesler's plea Friday before U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison was to two counts related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He faces up to five years in prison on each count.

The 62-year-old was arrested in London in February 2009 on charges he helped steer bribe money from Houston-based Kellogg, Brown & Root LLC to Nigerian officials to win more than $6 billion in construction contracts. A grand jury indicted him on 11 counts.

Attorneys for the dual British and Israeli citizen had unsuccessfully argued he shouldn't be extradited because the crimes had no substantial link to the U.S. and that the delay could prevent a fair trial.
Shani Davis of the United States and Irene Wust of the Netherlands have won gold medals at the speedskating world championships.

Davis won at 1,000 meters Friday, bouncing back from his loss in the 1,500 a day earlier. He captured his sixth world title by beating two Dutchmen, Kjeld Nuis and Stefan Groothuis.

Wust grabbed her second title in two days, leading a Dutch medal sweep in the 1,500. Wust won the 3,000 on Thursday. Diane Valkenburg was second and Jorien Voorhuis third.

There was another victory for the Netherlands when Bob de Jong took the 5,000. The World Cup champion was more than two seconds ahead of Olympic champion Lee Seung-hoon of South Korea. Ivan Skobrev of Russia took the bronze.
More than 1 in 5 young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans was unemployed last year, the Labor Department said Friday.

Concerns that Guard and Reserve troops will be gone for long stretches and that veterans might have mental health issues or lack civilian work skills appear to be factors keeping the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans at 20.9 percent, a slight drop from the year before, but still well over the 17.3 percent rate for non-veterans of the same age group, 18-24.

"The employers out there, they are military-friendly and veteran-friendly, and they love us and thank us and everything, but when you go apply for a job, it's almost like they are scared to take a risk for you. I don't get it. It doesn't make sense," said Iraq veteran Christopher Kurz, 28, who just moved back in with his parents in Arizona after spending two years looking for law enforcement work in New York.

Kurz said his time as a military police officer in Iraq and aboard a nuclear aircraft carrier didn't seem to translate into a job.