Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A U.S. shortage of a key lethal injection drug deepened Wednesday as federal regulators investigated whether Georgia circumvented the law in obtaining its supply and Texas announced it was switching to an alternative.

The Drug Enforcement Administration seized Georgia's entire supply of sodium thiopental, which defense attorneys claim came from a fly-by-night British supplier operating from the back of a driving school in a gritty London neighborhood.

DEA agents have not said exactly why they seized the drug, except that there were questions about how it was imported into the U.S.

The supply issues have delayed executions in several states and forced at least five to turn to England for the drug, a sedative in the three-drug execution cocktail used by most of the nation's 35 death penalty states. Texas on Wednesday announced it is switching to another, stronger sedative that is often used to euthanize animals.

The seizure in Georgia effectively delays any executions until the federal probe is complete, which could take months. That's little comfort to friends of Emmanuel Hammond, a 45-year-old who was executed in January even after his attorneys argued that the state could have illegally obtained the drug.

"There's something terribly wrong when officials charged with enforcing criminal laws break them," said Brian Mendelsohn, an attorney for Hammond, who was put to death for the 1988 slaying of an Atlanta preschool teacher.

Georgia corrections spokeswoman Joan Heath said the state is cooperating with the DEA probe to ensure it is in "regulatory compliance with the DEA over how we handle controlled substances.

Georgia's stockpile of sodium thiopental - believed to be around 20 grams, enough for at least four executions - has been under scrutiny since corrections officials released documents in court that showed the state bought the drug from Dream Pharma, a company in London that has the same address as the Elgone Driving Academy.

The firm hasn't responded to several e-mail and phone calls seeking comment, and a reporter who visited the store Wednesday was told the owner was gone for the day.

The documents also show the drugs were manufactured by Link Pharmaceuticals, a firm purchased five years ago by Archimedes Pharma Limited. Both are British firms. Death penalty opponents say the name of Link Pharmaceuticals hasn't been on labels since May 2007, and since sodium thiopental typically has a shelf life of four years, the state's supply would expire in May of this year.

State corrections officials say the drug won't expire until 2014 and they don't have concerns about its quality.

Sodium thiopental has been in short supply since Hospira Inc., its sole U.S. manufacturer, decided in January to stop making it. An Associated Press review this year found that most of the nation's 35 death penalty states had run out of it or would soon; 17 states had no supply at all.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said Wednesday it was planning to substitute pentobarbital for sodium thiopental in its three-drug cocktail. Agency spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said the state picked the drug partly because it survived court challenges in Oklahoma, where it has been used in recent executions. Ohio has also switched to pentobarbital as the sole drug used for its executions.

In some other states, switching to another drug could prove a difficult, drawn-out process, fraught with legal challenges from death row that could put executions on hold.
A judge says he will ask prospective jurors to answer about 160 questions on a 30-page questionnaire in preparation for the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray.

The judge set an initial round of questioning for March 24 and 25. Candidates will be ordered back in May to undergo in-person questioning about their lives and views of the case involving the death of the pop superstar.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor warned lawyers that he doesn't want questions made public until the questionnaires reach jury prospects.

He also approved a defense request for access to original fingerprints taken from a broken syringe in Jackson's bedroom. The lawyers are seeking to show Jackson injected himself with the powerful anesthetic propofol, causing his death.

Murray has pleaded not guilty.

Davis out at Colgate

Colgate basketball coach Emmett Davis has been released from his contract by athletic director David Roach.

The 51-year-old Davis, who succeeded the late Jack Bruen in 1998, leaves with an overall record in 13 seasons of 165-212 in his only stint as a head coach. His victory total is a school record.

Davis led the Raiders to the Patriot League Championship game in 2008, tying a school record for wins in a season with 18 in 2007-08.

The Raiders finished the 2010-11 season 7-23 overall and 4-10 in the Patriot. They will return all but one player next season.
The White House is recommending that U.S. citizens stay 50 miles away from a stricken nuclear plant, not the 20-mile radius recommended by the Japanese.

The order comes after President Barack Obama met Wednesday with top advisers and the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As late as Tuesday, the U.S. had not issued its own recommendations, advising citizens instead to follow the recommendations of the Japanese.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says the move does not signal a lack of confidence in Japan. He says the NRC is using its own data and making its recommendation on how it would handle the incident if it happened in the U.S.

Carney says the White House consulted with the Japanese government before making the recommendation.
A restaurant in Poland is selling a pizza it describes as a satirical commentary on a scandal centered on Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi.

Some of the ingredient names have sexual double meanings in Italian and Polish, and restaurant owner Walter Busalacchi says he is trying to make people "laugh about what is going on in Italy."

Italian prosecutors say Berlusconi paid for sex with a Moroccan minor and used his influence to try to cover it up. They have filed documents identifying 33 women who allegedly prostituted themselves during parties at Berlusconi's villa near Milan. Berlusconi has denied wrongdoing.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed rules on Wednesday that would for the first time regulate toxic air emissions from coal-fired power plants, including limiting mercury, lead, arsenic and acid gas pollution.

Environmental and medical groups praised the move, which came in response to a court-ordered deadline, saying the new regulations will remove toxins from the air that contribute to respiratory illnesses, birth defects and developmental problems in children.

Some industry groups slammed the measure, however, accusing the EPA of inflating the benefits and arguing it would cost billions of dollars annually to comply.

Currently, there are no limits on how much mercury or other toxic pollutants can be released from a power plant's smoke stacks - which emit some 386,000 tons of toxic air pollution annually, by far the largest industrial source of such pollution in the United States. The new rules would require power plants to install technologies that would limit the emissions.

Four New York Times journalists disappeared while reporting on fighting in Libya, the newspaper said Wednesday.

Editors at the newspaper said they last heard from the journalists on Tuesday as they were covering the retreat of rebels from the town of Ajdabiya. Libyan officials told the newspaper they are trying to locate the four, executive editor Bill Keller said in a statement.

"We are grateful to the Libyan government for their assurance that if our journalists were captured they would be released promptly and unharmed," Keller said.

The missing journalists are Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter Anthony Shadid, the newspaper's Beirut bureau chief; Stephen Farrell, a reporter and videographer; and photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario. In 2009, Farrell was kidnapped by the Taliban and later rescued by British commandos.

"Their families and their colleagues at The Times are anxiously seeking information about their situation, and praying that they are safe," Keller said.

The White House on Wednesday urged the Libyan government to refrain from harassing or using violence against journalists. Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the United States is firm in its belief that journalists should be protected and allowed to do their work.

A California startup is making new hit movies such as "The Fighter" available for instant viewing online through a loophole: It lets customers rent a DVD and a player that are actually located in the Silicon Valley.

By doing this, Zediva Inc. appears to circumvent the usual, sometimes lengthy waiting period that movie studios impose on Netflix Inc. and other companies that offer streaming of movies to Internet-connected TVs, laptops and other gadgets.

Companies are legally allowed to rent physical copies of DVDs without permission from the movie studios, the way libraries are allowed to freely lend out books. Internet streaming rights, however, generally require separate payments, and studios have typically been reluctant to license newer movies for fear that would cut into DVD sales.

Zediva believes it can get around those restrictions by tying Internet streaming to a physical DVD kept at the company's data centers.

"We are renting DVDs just like any DVD rental service," said founder Venky Srinivasan, who came up with the idea for Zediva while traveling and missing access to his DVD-by-mail service. "It's the same as what has been done for the past 30 years."

The Transportation Security Administration is defending its privacy policy at airports and the safety of an advanced imaging machine that transmits low radiation doses.

Testifying before skeptical House members on Wednesday, two TSA officials said imaging machines at airports have software that prevents images from being retained, stored or transmitted.

They also insisted a single screening from a "backscatter" machine produces radiation similar to a dose from approximately two minutes of flying on an airplane at 30,000 feet.

The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee, Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, said he isn't convinced privacy is being protected. A Columbia University radiology researcher testified despite a low risk to an individual, it's possible radiation from the machines could cause cancer in 100 people a year.
At the height of the Tunisian uprising, dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali tried hard to silence the young bloggers who were driving the protests against him. His security agents arrested, even tortured, some of them and repeatedly shut down their sites.

But two months after Ben Ali's fall, the caretaker government that is to lead Tunisia to summer elections has embraced the very tools its predecessor tried to destroy. It has lifted web censorship. Key ministries - including the Interior Ministry once in charge of the feared political police - now communicate with citizens through Facebook.

Some of the bloggers, once under threat from Ben Ali's secret agents, are courted as heroes. One serves in the interim government, others have been awarded an online media freedom prize and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is to meet with Internet activists during her first post-revolt visit to Tunisia on Thursday.

The bloggers, many of them university graduates in their 20s, believe they have an important role to play in the new Tunisia, as government watchdogs or political activists. "We're not stopping our fight, and we are the first line of defense of freedom," said blogger Wissem Zghaier, 29, who was beaten and tortured during the uprising.

Social media were key to the Tunisian revolt and the anti-government protests it inspired across the Arab world.

Two Democratic lawmakers are trying to get football helmet companies to make safer helmets for kids.

Their proposal is intended to make sure that helmets address concussion risk for players at the high school level and below.

New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell say legislation they introduced on Wednesday would give companies nine months to improve helmet standards, which are now voluntary.

If companies fail to do that, the bill would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to set mandatory standards.

No helmets in use today can eliminate concussions.

At Udall's request, the Federal Trade Commission is looking into marketing claims that some helmets can help reduce concussions.
Netflix is trying to buy Internet streaming rights to a 26-episode drama starring Kevin Spacey before the series is shown on a television network.

If the deal is completed, it would mark a bold step in a new direction for Netflix's popular video subscription service. The more than 20,000 titles in Netflix Inc.'s streaming library primarily consist of previously aired TV series and older movies.

The talks were reported earlier by Deadline.com. A person familiar with the negotiations on Wednesday confirmed Netflix's interest in the series "House of Cards." The person spoke on condition of anonymity because a deal hasn't been reached.

Should it win rights to "House of Cards," Netflix would emerge as an even more serious threat to pay-TV channels such as HBO. Netflix has 20 million subscribers.
Moammar Gadhafi's forces closed in on Libyan rebels in the east and shelled holdouts in the last western opposition stronghold Wednesday as the rebels voiced anger and frustration at the West for not coming to their aid.

Charred vehicles and bullet-riddled pickup trucks were piled on the side of the road leading from the strategic eastern cities of Brega to Ajdabiya and an Associated Press Television News cameraman counted at least three bodies, evidence of fierce fighting as the Libyan leader intensified his efforts to retake control of the country he has ruled with an iron fist for more than four decades.

The rebels lashed out at the West as the latest international effort to impose a no-fly zone over Libya faltered. Supporters in the U.N. Security Council were trying to push through a resolution to impose such a move along with other measures aimed at preventing Gadhafi from bombing his people, but Russia and Germany have expressed doubts.

"People are fed up. They are waiting impatiently for an international move," said Saadoun al-Misrati, a rebel spokesman in the city of Misrata, the last rebel-held city in the west, which came under heavy shelling Wednesday.

"What Gadhafi is doing, he is exploiting delays by international community. People are very angry that no action is being taken against Gadhafi's weaponry."

Moments after leading his team to a national championship and being named the tournament's most valuable player, Michigan college basketball player Caleb Simons handed over his trophy to an inspirational 8-year-old who has cancer.

Johnny Teis has an inoperable brain tumor and is a former ball boy for the Cornerstone University Golden Eagles.

The team won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division II national championship in Missouri on Tuesday night, and senior forward Simons was named the tournament's MVP.

As confetti flew during the celebration, Simons dashed toward the boy and presented him with the trophy.

"The real MVP is Johnny," Simons told the Grand Rapids Press. "We wanted to win this for him. He's been our inspiration."

Simons said he was "not really big into individual honors, anyway" and that being on a national championship team was a greater honor.

Cornerstone coach Kim Elders said he was moved by Simons' gesture.

"For Caleb to present his MVP trophy to Johnny, that tells you about the character of the players we have on this team," Elders said.

Cornerstone defeated the University of St. Francis of Fort Wayne, Ind., 80-71, to win the championship.
Line after line, a list on the wall of city hall reveals the dead. Some are named. Others are identified only by a short description.

Female. About 50. Peanuts in left chest pocket. Large mole. Seiko watch.

Male. 70-80 years old. Wearing an apron that says "Rentacom."

One set catches the eye of Hideki Kano, a man who appears to be in his 30s.

"I think that's my mom!" he says. He rushes out into the snow, headed for a makeshift morgue.

The list in Natori, and others along Japan's northeast coast, will only get longer.

Five days after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, the official death toll is more than 4,300. More than 8,000 people are still missing, and hundreds of national and international rescue teams are looking for them.

In the industrial town of Kamaishi, 70 British firefighters in bright orange uniforms clamber over piles of upturned cars to search a narrow row of pulverized homes. They wear personal radiation detectors amid fears of leaks from damaged nuclear plants far to the south.

One woman's body is found wedged beneath a refrigerator in a two-story home pushed onto its side.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi has sat down with the enemy, telling an opposition newspaper that he is too old to have had all the sexual encounters he is accused of by Italian prosecutors.

The 74-year-old faces trial in Milan next month over charges he paid for sex with a Moroccan minor and used his influence to try cover it up. In court documents, prosecutors have identified 33 women, including the Moroccan teenager, who allegedly prostituted themselves during parties at Berlusconi's villa near Milan.

"Even though I am a little mischievous ... 33 girls in two months seems like too much even for a 30 year old," the premier said in an interview published Wednesday in La Repubblica, a leftist newspaper that has led a campaign for his resignation in the wake of the scandal.

"It's too much for anybody," Berlusconi is quoted as saying. He insisted he has a girlfriend, whose identity is secret, who was always with him and would not have allowed what the prosecutors allege.

"She would have ripped my eyes out," he said.

A lawyer for a Camp Pendleton Marine convicted of murder in a major Iraq war crime case has asked the Navy to grant him clemency.

Maj. Babu Kaza argued during a hearing Wednesday before the Naval Clemency and Parole Board that Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins should be granted his freedom because of an error at his 2007 trial that led to a lower court overturning his conviction last year.

A higher court then reinstated the conviction and sent Hutchins back to jail last month for the 2006 murder of an Iraqi man.

Hutchins led a squad accused of kidnapping Hashim Ibrahim Awad from his home in April 2006.

Kaza says Hutchins proved to be an outstanding Marine after he was released and allowed to work at Camp Pendleton.
Emergency workers forced to retreat from a tsunami-stricken Japanese nuclear power plant when radiation levels soared prepared to return Wednesday night after emissions dropped to safer levels.

The pullback cost precious time in the fight to prevent a nuclear meltdown, further escalating a crisis spawned by last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami that pulverized Japan's northeastern coast and likely killed more than 10,000 people.

It was unclear what happened in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's overheating reactors after late morning, when the workers stopped pumping in seawater trying to cool their fuel rods. Officials gave only sparse information about the reactors.

But conditions at the plant appeared to be worsening. White steam-like clouds drifted up from one reactor which, the government said, likely emitted the burst of radiation that led to the workers' withdrawal. The plant's operator reported a fire at another reactor for the second time in two days.

At one point, national broadcaster NHK showed military helicopters lifting off to survey radiation levels above the complex, preparing to dump water onto the most troubled reactors in a desperate effort to cool them down. The defense ministry later said it said it had decided against making an airborne drop because of the high radiation levels.

Officials are facing increasing criticism over poor communication and coordination.

In Nigeria's young democracy, the major debate over the coming presidential election appears to be whether to have a debate at all.

Televised debates have yet to take hold in Nigeria, where political discourse often simply amounts to rowdy rallies and stern-faced posters of politicians plastered to bridge pillars. The last memorable debate that aired across the oil-rich nation involved candidates in an annulled 1993 election widely perceived as the country's most credible poll in its 50 years of independence.

Now, there's an effort to change that as a crucial presidential election looms. A youth-oriented group on Wednesday called for a debate between presidential contenders. A satellite television news channel plans a debate for later this week while others also consider the idea.

"The time for frivolous rhetoric has long passed," said Amara Nwankpa, a 32-year-old activist associated with the youth debate group called What About Us?

"I think it is now time for us to soberly and seriously look at each of the candidates," he said.

Nigerians will vote for a new president April 9 in the middle of three weeks of elections for state and federal positions. The leading candidate is President Goodluck Jonathan, the nominee of the ruling People's Democratic Party. Jonathan's face can be seen on billboards, buses and advertisements everywhere in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, a sign of the ruling party's muscle and money.

But policy often takes a back seat at the rallies Jonathan flies off to across Nigeria's 36 states. The same can be said for candidates of other regional opposition parties challenging Jonathan, as politics comes down to personality and the promise of lucrative government contracts bankrolled by the nation's oil revenues.

While the ruling party candidate, Jonathan still remains something of an enigma to some Nigerians. The marine biologist, who is fond of traditional black caftans and bowler hats, took over the presidency after the May 2010 death of elected leader Umaru Yar'Adua. Jonathan is soft-spoken and an academic, very different from former military ruler and President Olusegun Obasanjo, whose verbal antics still make headlines.

Singer Nate Dogg, whose near monotone crooning anchored some of rap's most seminal songs and helped define the sound of West coast hip-hop, has died at age 41.

Attorney Mark Geragos said Nate Dogg, whose real name was Nathaniel D. Hale, died Tuesday of complications from multiple strokes.

Nate Dogg wasn't a rapper, but he was an integral figure in the genre: His deep voice wasn't particularly melodic, but its tone - at times menacing, at times playful, yet always charming - provided just the right touch on hits including Warren G's "Regulate," 50 Cent's "21 Questions," Dr. Dre's "The Next Episode" and countless others.

While Nate Dogg provided hooks for rappers from coast to coast, the Long Beach, Calif., native is best known for his contributions to the West Coast soundtrack provided by the likes of Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Tha Dogg Pound and more. Nate Dogg was even part of a "supergroup" featuring Snoop Dogg and Warren G, called 213.

Nate Dogg, who had suffered strokes in recent years, also put out his own solo projects but was best known for his collaborations with others.

Last year, Warren G said Nate Dogg was in therapy but needed help.

"Everybody just gotta keep him in their prayers, cause he had two strokes and that's real dangerous. And a lot of people don't come back from that," he said in an interview to HipHollywood. "Cause the game needs him, I need him."

After word of his death spread, tributes poured in on Twitter.

James Taylor says a broken leg won't keep him off the slopes.

An assistant for the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter says Taylor fractured his left fibula and injured his left shoulder in a fall Monday on an expert trail while on a family vacation in Park City, Utah.

The accomplished skier was treated at a hospital and had a doctor fashion a movable splint he hopes will fit in his boot and allow him to ski later in the week.

Taylor, who lives in Massachusetts, says given all the problems in the world, his mishap was "nothing."

Taylor was among 20 people honored by President Barack Obama earlier this month in a salute to the arts and humanities.

He is scheduled to host and perform at a Carnegie Hall benefit next month.
Scientists say they have discovered the first fossil of a dinosaur in Angola, and that it's a new creature, heralding a research renaissance in a country slowly emerging from decades of war.

A paper published Wednesday in the Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences describes a long-necked, plant-eating sauropod, among the largest creatures ever to have walked the earth. The international team that found and identified the fossilized forelimb bone say it is from a previously unknown dinosaur, citing unique skeletal characteristics.

The fossil was found along with fish and shark teeth in what would have been a sea bed 90 million years ago, leading its discoverers to believe the dinosaur might have been washed into the sea and torn apart by ancient sharks.

The new dinosaur has been dubbed Angolatitan adamastor - Angolatitan means "Angolan giant" and the adamastor is a sea giant from Portuguese sailing myths.

Matthew F. Bonnan, a sauropod expert at Western Illinois University, was not involved with the Angolan research. But after reading the report, he said he expected their claim to have found a new dinosaur to hold up.

"I think they've been very careful," he said, adding the find could add to knowledge about how sauropods adapted to different environments

Bonnan also said it was "really cool" to see such research coming out of Angola.

There's a Curry in the NCAA tournament again.

Only this time, he's not the underdog.

Seth Curry, the younger brother of 2008 tournament darling and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, had to sit out as a transfer during Duke's run to the national title last year.

Now he's headed to his hometown of Charlotte to start what he hopes will be a deep postseason run of his own, beginning Friday when the top-seeded Blue Devils (30-4) play 16th-seeded Hampton in a West Regional opener full of Curry-related subplots.

"It's like a dream come true," Curry said. "I can't wait to get out there in the NCAA tournament and play my first game. I've seen it from all angles. Now I'm just ready to get out there and be a part of it."

In his first season on the court with the Blue Devils, Curry has proven to be an indispensible member of coach Mike Krzyzewski's rotation, leading the team with 61 3-pointers despite starting only half the time.

And during Duke's run to a third straight Atlantic Coast Conference championship last weekend, he scored in double figures in all three games despite what coach Mike Krzyzewski said was a hip pointer. It didn't stop him from showing a knack for hitting big shots; he swished a critical 3 in the title game after North Carolina had cut the Blue Devils' lead to single digits.

He has the same sweet, familiar stroke that his father - NBA veteran Dell Curry - developed while becoming one of the league's top 3-point shooters, and that his big brother flashed while busting so many brackets three years ago and carrying tiny Davidson to within a shot of the Final Four.

"His experience in the tournament is something he'll never forget," Seth Curry said, "so I'm just trying to cherish that."

The father of a Washington man charged with leaving a bomb along the route of Spokane's Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade has provided a possible alibi for his son.

Bill Harpham (HAHR'-pum) told KHQ-TV and KXLY-TV on Tuesday that he was being cared for by Kevin HarPham in Kettle Falls when the bomb was found Jan. 17.

Bill Harpham is recovering from a stroke and said he and his son watched news reports that morning of the discovery of the backpack bomb. He says it would have been impossible for Kevin Harpham to make the 90-minute trip each way from Kettle Falls to downtown Spokane to plant the bomb.

But he says his son does have racist beliefs and he wouldn't be surprised if he helped build the bomb.
Soldiers and riot police expelled hundreds of protesters from a landmark square in Bahrain's capital on Wednesday, using tear gas and armored vehicles to try to subdue the growing movement challenging the 200-year-old monarchy. At least five people were killed as clashes flared across the kingdom, according to witnesses and officials.

The unrest that began last month has increasingly showed signs of a sectarian showdown: The country's Sunni leaders are desperate to hold power, and majority Shiites are calling for an end to their dynasty. A Saudi-led force from Gulf allies, fearful for their own regimes and worried about Shiite Iran's growing influence, has grown to more than 1,000 soldiers.

Wednesday's full-scale assault was launched at dawn in Pearl Square, the center of the uprising inspired by Arab revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. Hours later, security forces were picking through burned debris and other remains of the protest camp.

In another area of Bahrain, one witness described police in a village "hunting" Shiites in what could be part of a wider campaign of intimidation.

The king's announcement Tuesday of a three-month emergency rule and the crackdown on Pearl Square sent a message that authorities will strike back with overwhelming force in the strategic island nation, which hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

Security forces barred journalists and others from moving freely around Manama and other areas of the country a day after emergency rule was declared. A 4 p.m to 4 a.m. curfew was imposed in most of the country.

An Ohio judge says Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco dropped the ball when it came to paying clothes bills.

Hamilton County Municipal Judge Bernie Bouchard ordered Ochocinco to pay Exclusive Wear $11,717 for clothing the Cincinnati store says he never paid for.

The store, which is owned by AMM One Inc., says that on shopping trips in late 2008 and early 2009, the player took items including a $575 Al Wissam Bomber coat, $400 Mauri alligator shoes and $350 Laguna beach jeans but never paid for them.

Attorney Joseph Honerlaw said Wednesday the store reminded Ochocinco repeatedly that he needed to pay up before filing legal action in December. Bouchard ordered the default judgment Tuesday after Ochocinco didn't appear in court.

A message was left for his agent.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says Bahrain and its Persian Gulf neighbors are "on the wrong track" with the use of regional troops to help the kingdom's forces maintain order.

Clinton tells CBS News during a trip to Egypt that the situation in Bahrain is "alarming" and the use of force against peaceful demonstrators isn't an alternative to negotiations toward greater democracy.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have sent hundreds of troops to assist security forces in Bahrain, where Shiite-led protesters are protesting against the Sunni monarchy.

Officials say at least five people were killed in clashes across the kingdom.

Clinton says the U.S. has demanded that Bahrain's government exercise restraint and keep medical facilities open so the injured can be treated.
Higher energy costs and the steepest rise in food prices in nearly four decades drove wholesale prices up last month by the most in nearly two years. Excluding those categories, inflation was tame.

The Producer Price Index rose a seasonally adjusted 1.6 percent in February, the Labor Department said Wednesday. That's double the rise from the previous month and the biggest increase since June 2009.

Food prices soared 3.9 percent last month, the biggest gain since November 1974. Harsh winter freezes in Florida, Texas and other southern states sent fresh vegetable prices soaring, representing 70 percent of the increase. Tomatoes, green peppers and lettuce all more than doubled in price.

Meat and dairy costs also rose, reflecting higher prices for corn and soybean that are used in animal feed. Economists expect food prices to keep increasing for the rest of this year. Earlier this month, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said world food prices have risen to their highest point since 1990, when the agency first began tracking them.

Gas prices also spiked in February and are even higher now. The national average price was $3.55 a gallon Wednesday, up 42 cents from a month earlier, according to the AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge.

Sharper prices for basic necessities are limiting consumers' ability to spend on more discretionary goods. There was little sign of inflationary pressures outside of food and energy. Core prices have increased 1.8 percent in the past 12 months.

A White House task force on Puerto Rico says it favors a system under which the island would hold two votes to determine its future relationship with the U.S. Puerto Rico is exploring the possibility of voting this summer on its future status.

The first vote would ask voters whether they want to remain part of the U.S. or become independent. They would then choose from a list of options depending on the outcome of the first vote.

The island voted on the issue in 1967, 1993 and 1998 and each time chose to remain a U.S. territory.

A bill outlining a similar two-vote process stalled in Congress last year.

Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, meaning it is under the federal government's jurisdiction.
Australia and Germany advised their citizens in Japan on Wednesday to consider leaving Tokyo and earthquake-affected areas, joining a growing number of governments and businesses telling their people it may be safer elsewhere.

The advisories came as the crisis at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in the northeast deepened in the wake of last week's earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Surging radiation forced Japan to order workers to temporarily withdraw from the plant Wednesday, a setback to efforts to cool its overheating reactors.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, however, said its advice to Australians had nothing to do with the threat of nuclear contamination from the damaged plant.

"We are providing this advice because of the continuing disruption to major infrastructure, its impact on the welfare of people on the ground and continuing aftershocks," its notice said.

Tokyo, which is about 170 miles (270 kilometers) from the stricken nuclear complex, reported slightly elevated radiation levels Tuesday. Officials said the increase was too small to threaten the 39 million people in and around the capital, but some countries have relocated their embassies or suggested their citizens leave the area.

Germany's Foreign Ministry advised its citizens living near the nuclear plant or in the capital region to either leave the country or move to the Osaka area west of Tokyo.

Widespread fear that Japan's nuclear crisis could send radioactive fallout Russia's way is proving a nightmare to public officials in the Pacific regions, but a bonanza for merchants selling everything from face masks and iodine to vodka and wine.

Residents also are stocking up on dosimeters, a device for measuring the total absorbed dose from exposure to ionizing radiation, and seaweed, which contains natural iodine.

Health experts are insisting the radiation threat is minimal and warning that an excessive intake of iodine is not only useless but could even be harmful.

No increase in exposure levels in the region has been reported since the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant began releasing radiation. The plant is about 950 kilometers (600 miles) east of Vladivostok, a major port and the largest city in the Russian Far East.

Even if a reactor at Fukushima explodes, "there is no danger for Russia's Far East," the head of Russia's atomic energy agency, Sergei Kirienko, told Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. Prevailing winds would likely send fallout from a blast out over the Pacific Ocean.

Japanese auto companies are extending shutdowns of plants affected by the country's devastating earthquake and tsunami, but some parts factories in Japan will resume production later this week.

Toyota Motor Corp. says it will extend production halts at Japanese plants through March 22, affecting about 95,000 vehicles. The company suspended production beginning March 14.

But the world's biggest automaker is resuming production Thursday at factories that make replacement parts for vehicles already on the road.

Nissan Motor Co. is resuming production at two plants on Thursday and Friday for as long as its inventory of parts lasts. Three other Nissan plants are halting production until Sunday.

Automakers in Japan have shut production to assess damage at factories, ports and roads.
What to get the couple who has everything? How about a donation to a rhino sanctuary - or an offer of help for earthquake victims in New Zealand.

Prince William and Kate Middleton on Wednesday requested charitable gifts in lieu of wedding presents, seeking to pre-empt the tide of extravagant - and unusual - offerings that typically flood in for a royal engagement.

The palace said the couple was "touched by the goodwill shown them," and selected 26 charities to benefit from a special charity gift fund.

Their decision to forego toasters, gravy boats and candlesticks sets William and Middleton apart from other soon-to-be newlyweds and even the prince's parents, whose use of a wedding gift registry, replete with items such as a gourmet barbecue set and pair of Cockatoos, was slammed by the press as "a vulgar, middle-class custom."

While Charles and Diana did get some gifts in the form of charitable donations, William and his bride-to-be are said to be determined to make sure their April 29 wedding is not seen as overly ostentatious at a time when the British economy is hurting.

The charities they have selected - including some based in Canada, Australia and New Zealand - represent a range of issues, from support for army widows to local community foundations and the arts.

The list does not include any charities focused on relief efforts around last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. William and Middleton are "obviously very shocked and saddened by the events in Japan," but the list of charities has been in the works for weeks and is focused on countries the prince has visited, a spokeswoman for his office said. She spoke on condition of anonymity under palace rules.

"They are charities that have a particular resonance with Prince William and Miss Middleton and reflect issues in which the couple have been particularly interested in their lives to date," the palace said in a statement.

Organizers of an all-white, separatist community in South Africa say the town's founder, Carel Boshoff, has died. He was 83.

Lida Strydom, spokeswoman for the community of Orania, said Wednesday that Boshoff died of cancer. Despite the town's right-wing ideals, Nelson Mandela, current President Jacob Zuma and other political leaders within mostly black South Africa have visited Orania. In 1990, Mandela traveled to Orania to have coffee with the widow of Hendrik Verwoerd, the prime minister who was apartheid's chief architect.

Boshoff founded the privately owned community of 900 people, located in South Africa's northern province, in 1991 as South Africa transitioned from a white-ruled apartheid government to a democracy.
Johnson & Johnson lowered Chief Executive William Weldon's total compensation by 9 percent last year, as revenue declined and an unprecedented string of recalls continued to batter the reputation of company medicines like Tylenol and other household brands.

The New Brunswick, N.J.-based company awarded Weldon a package worth $23.2 million. The company disclosed the pay Wednesday in a regulatory filing.

The maker of Band-Aids, baby shampoo and biologic drugs saw its revenue fall in 2009 and 2010. Previously the company had seen steady sales growth every year since the Great Depression.

The AP's executive pay calculation aims to isolate the value the company's board placed on the CEO's total compensation package. The figure includes salary, bonus, incentives, perks and the estimated value of stock options and awards.
The dollar has fallen to a 15-year low - briefly touching below 80 yen - amid the nuclear crisis in Japan, debt woes in Europe, tension in the Middle East and weak economic reports at home.

The dollar is close to its lowest point of the post-World War II era: 79.75 yen struck in April 1995. Analysts have said they expect the Bank of Japan to try to weaken the yen if the dollar drops below 80 yen. A strong yen hurts the Asian country's exporters.

Leaks of radioactivity from a stricken Japanese nuclear plant have deepened the Asian country's crisis following last week's massive earthquake and tsunami. The yen is climbing as investors expect the Japanese to close down overseas bets and bring their money home.

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

The dollar traded near its lowest point of the post-World War II era against the yen Wednesday amid nuclear troubles in Japan, debt woes in Europe, tension in the Middle East and weak economic reports at home.

In late morning trading in New York, the dollar slid to 80.45 Japanese yen from 80.83 yen, closing in on its post-war low of 79.75 yen struck in 1995. It sank to as low as 80.28 yen Wednesday, its weakest level since a 15-year low of 80.25 yen reached in November 2010.

A CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistani men was freed from prison on Wednesday after the United States paid $2.34 million in "blood money" to the victims' families, Pakistani officials said, defusing a dispute that had strained ties between Washington and Islamabad.

In what appeared to be carefully choreographed end to the diplomatic crisis, the U.S. Embassy said the Justice Department had opened an investigation into the killings on Jan. 27 by Raymond Allen Davis. It thanked the families for "their generosity" in pardoning Davis, but did not mention any money changing hands.
Davis left the country immediately on a U.S. flight, Pakistani and American officials said.

The killings and detention of Davis triggered a fresh wave of anti-American sentiment in Pakistan and were testing an alliance seen as key to defeating al-Qaida and ending the war in Afghanistan.
Antagonism was especially sharp between the CIA and Pakistan's powerful Inter Services Intelligence, which says it did not know Davis was operating in the country. One ISI official said the agency had backed the "blood money" deal as way of soothing tensions.

Small groups of protesters took to the street in major cities after nightfall, briefly clashing with police outside the U.S. consulate in Lahore, where officers fired tear gas at men burning tires and hurling rocks. Some called for larger protests Friday after noon prayers.

Davis, a 36-year-old Virginia native, claimed he acted in self-defense when he killed the two men on the street in the eastern city of Lahore. The United States initially described him as either a U.S. consular or embassy official, but officials later acknowledged he was working for the CIA, confirming suspicions that had aired in the Pakistani media.
The United States had insisted Davis was covered by diplomatic immunity, but the weak government here, facing intense pressure from Islamist parties, sections of the media and the general public, did not say whether this was the case.

The payment of "blood money," sanctioned under Pakistani law, had been suggested as the best way to end the dispute.

Given the high stakes for both nations, few imagined either side would allow it to derail the relationship. The main question was how long it would take to reach a deal.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said Davis was charged with murder Wednesday in a court that was convened in a prison in Lahore, but was immediately pardoned by the families of the victims after the payment.

Reporters were not allowed to witness the proceedings.

"This all happened in court and everything was according to law," he said. "The court has acquitted Raymond Davis. Now he can go anywhere."

U.S. officials said Davis left the country soon after his release from jail.

Raja Muhammad Irshad, a laywer for the families, said 19 male and female relatives appeared in court to accept the $2.34 million. One Pakistani official said the sum was just under twice that, while other media outlets reported the amount was between $700,000 and $1.4 milion.

He said each told the court "they were ready to accept the blood money deal without pressure and would have no objection if the court acquitted Raymond Davis."

Representatives of the families had previously said they would refuse any money.

Asad Mansoor Butt, who had earlier represented the families, accused Pakistan's government of pressuring his former clients; he gave no details.

Some media reports said the some of the families had been given permission to live in the United States.
Irshad said that was not discussed in court.

The case dominated headlines and television shows in Pakistan, with pundits using it to whip up hatred against the already unpopular United States. While the case played out in court, many analysts said that the dispute was essentially one between the CIA and the ISA, and that they would need to resolve their differences before Davis could be freed.

One ISI official said CIA director Leon Panetta and ISI chief Gen. Shuja Pasha talked in mid-February to smooth out the friction between the two spy agencies. A U.S. official confirmed that the phone call took place.

Pasha demanded the U.S. identify "all the Ray Davises working in Pakistan, behind our backs," the official said.

He said Panetta agreed "in principle" to declare such employees, the official said, but would not confirm if the agency had done so.

A second ISI official said as a result of that conversation the ISI - which along with the army is a major power center in the country - then backed an effort to help negotiate the "blood money." The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not allowed to give their names to the media.

CIA Spokesman George Little said the two agencies had had "a strong relationship for years."

"When issues arise, it is our standing practice to work through them. Thats the sign of a healthy partnership, one that is vital to both countries, especially as we face a common set of terrorist enemies," he said.

Davis' wife, Rebecca, outside her home in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, said she had heard of the release of her husband but did not have time to speak.
Silvio Berlusconi has inspired a restaurant in Poland to create a "bunga bunga" pizza - a concoction as spicy and wild as the Italian leader's alleged sex parties.

Topped with anchovies, figs, prosciutto and a lot of black pepper, the pizza at the Warsaw pizzeria, A Modo Mio, has been a hot seller since owner Walter Busalacchi put in on the menu several weeks ago.

The Italian-Polish chef said Wednesday he created the pizza to "laugh about what is going on in Italy." Berlusconi goes on trial in Milan next month on charges he paid for sex with a minor.

He has denied wrongdoing and maintained his parties were dignified.

The pizza's flavor is heightened by figs and black pepper, words with sexual connotations in Italian and Polish slang, respectively.