AP News in BriefBy AP
Thursday, December 24, 2009
AP News in Brief
Bomb scare interrupts flight carrying 273 people, but may have been a hoax
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Canadian police are investigating whether a phoned-in hoax caused a Pakistani jet to be diverted to Stockholm for several hours Saturday for fear that one of its passangers was carrying explosives.
Police evacuated 273 people from the jet, and briefly detained a Canadian man, after an anonymous caller in Canada tipped-off authorities that the suspect was carrying explosives.
However, no explosives were found on the man, who was released after questioning by police, or on the Boeing 777 from Pakistan International Airlines, which had been bound from Toronto to Karachi, Pakistan.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it was investigating whether the incident was a “terrorism hoax.”
“If the information is deemed to be a hoax, the person who passed along that information can be charged for public mischief,” said spokeswoman Sgt. Julie Gagnon in Ottawa.
Obama calls GOP ‘Pledge’ to cut taxes and spending a step back that the nation can’t afford
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says Republicans’ plan to slash taxes and cut spending if the GOP retakes the House in November is no more than “an echo of a disastrous decade we can’t afford to relive.”
Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to skewer House Republicans over the “Pledge to America” they unveiled this week. It also promised to cut down on government regulation, repeal Obama’s health care law and end his stimulus program.
“The Republicans who want to take over Congress offered their own ideas the other day. Many were the very same policies that led to the economic crisis in the first place, which isn’t surprising, since many of their leaders were among the architects of that failed policy,” Obama said.
“It is grounded in same worn-out philosophy: cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; cut the rules for Wall Street and the special interests; and cut the middle class loose to fend for itself. That’s not a prescription for a better future.”
Republicans used their own radio address to defend the plan.
AP Poll: Americans who want health law to go further outnumber those who want govt to stay out
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul has divided the nation, and Republicans believe their call for repeal will help them win elections in November. But the picture’s not that clear cut.
A new AP poll finds that Americans who think the law should have done more outnumber those who think the government should stay out of health care by 2-to-1.
“I was disappointed that it didn’t provide universal coverage,” said Bronwyn Bleakley, 35, a biology professor from Easton, Mass.
More than 30 million people would gain coverage in 2019 when the law is fully phased in, but another 20 million or so would remain uninsured. Bleakley, who was uninsured early in her career, views the overhaul as a work in progress.
The poll found that about four in 10 adults think the new law did not go far enough to change the health care system, regardless of whether they support the law, oppose it or remain neutral. On the other side, about one in five say they oppose the law because they think the federal government should not be involved in health care at all.
BP fund czar, responding to criticism from Gulf residents, promises bigger, faster claims
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill should start getting bigger payments faster, the administrator of the fund set up to help them said Saturday.
Kenneth Feinberg said he was responding to criticism from residents and businesses.
“Over the past few weeks, I have heard from the people of the Gulf, elected officials, and others that payments remain too slow and not generous enough,” Feinberg said in a news release. “I am implementing new procedures that will make this program more efficient, more accelerated and more generous.”
Claims from now on also will be sorted by industry to allow those reviewing the claims to apply a more specific, uniform set of standards when deciding how much a person or business will be paid, he said.
Claims still will be reviewed individually but they will be clustered so they are easier to compare, he said.
AP IMPACT: Vatican probes cult-like group linked to tainted order amid charges of brainwashing
VATICAN CITY (AP) — It’s a life regimented in excruciating detail, down to the way they eat an orange. Silence is the norm, information is limited, e-mail is screened, close friendships are discouraged and family members are kept at bay — all in the name of God’s will.
Known as consecrated women, they are lay Catholics affiliated with a conservative religious order who dedicate their lives to the church, making promises of chastity, poverty and obedience similar to the vows taken by nuns.
But the cult-like conditions they endure so alarmed Pope Benedict XVI that in May he ordered an extremely rare full Vatican investigation of the obscure group, which operates in the U.S., Mexico, Spain, the Philippines and a dozen other countries. The inquiry is expected to begin in the coming weeks.
The alleged abuses came to light during an eight-month Vatican investigation into the Legionaries of Christ, a secretive religious order beloved by Pope John Paul II but now discredited because of revelations that its charismatic founder sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least three children.
The women belong to the order’s lay wing, Regnum Christi, a global community of some 70,000 Catholics in more than 30 countries who have families and regular jobs yet participate in the mission of bringing people closer to Christ.
China rises and rises, yet still gets hefty foreign aid, and some donors are wondering why
BEIJING (AP) — China spent tens of billions of dollars on a dazzling 2008 Olympics. It has sent astronauts into space. It recently became the world’s second largest economy. Yet it gets more than $2.5 billion a year in foreign government aid - and taxpayers and lawmakers in donor countries are increasingly asking why.
With the global economic slowdown crimping government budgets, many countries are finding such generosity politically and economically untenable. China says it’s still a developing country in need of aid, while some critics argue that the money should go to poorer countries in Africa and elsewhere.
Germany and Britain have moved in recent months to reduce or phase out aid. Japan, long China’s biggest donor, halted new low-interest loans in 2008.
“People in the U.K. or people in the West see the kind of flawless expenditure on the Olympics and the (Shanghai) Expo and it’s really difficult to get them to think the U.K. should still be giving aid to China,” said Adrian Davis, head of the British government aid agency in Beijing, which plans to wrap up its projects in China by March.
“I don’t think you will have conventional aid to China from anybody, really, after about the next three to five years,” he said.
NJ cops: Man denied access to party near Seton Hall leaves, returns with gun; 5 shot
EAST ORANGE, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey police say a man who was denied access to a private party at an apartment near Seton Hall University left and returned with a handgun, shooting five people.
East Orange Police Sgt. Andrew Di Elmo says a 19-year-old female student from Seton Hall University is hospitalized in critical condition after the shooting just after midnight Saturday. The other four were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, but one has since been released, according to Di Elmo.
Di Elmo says the victims did not know the shooter, who fled from the apartment on foot. Police are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s capture.
Police say in addition to the student in critical condition, two of the other victims are both 19-year-old female students at Seton Hall, and one is a 25-year-old male student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The fifth victim is a 20-year-old man from New York City who is not a student.
Police are not releasing the victim’s names because the shooter remains at-large, Di Elmo said. The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to any arrests and convictions in the shooting.
Powered by paddle and peddle, canoeist completes Portland-to-Portland journey
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — An extreme paddler who launched a cross-country canoe trip in Portland, Ore., has completed the journey 4,300 miles later in Portland, Maine.
Alexander Martin paddled the final stretch down the Presumpscot River Friday and arrived at Portland’s East End Beach, where family waited.
The 24-year-old from Kensington, Conn., completed the trip in three two-month segments starting in April 2009. He says it included using a bicycle to haul the canoe 800 miles over land to cover parts of the country that aren’t connected by water.
And he’s thinking about his next waterborne adventure, possibly Siberia’s Lena River. He says it’s described as one of the longest rivers in the world that’s not obstructed by dams.
Chris Stec of the American Canoe Association says it’s unclear if Martin’s feat represented a record because there are no comprehensive records for cross-country paddles.
Paint misbehavin’: Wyoming man tries to avoid Taser by dousing himself with paint
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Cheyenne man who doused himself with white latex paint in hopes of avoiding a police Taser was hit with the stun gun anyway.
The Taser chase happened Sept. 16, when Cheyenne police went to Brian Mattert’s house on a domestic violence call. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that when police arrived, Mattert thought they’d use a Taser on him, so he hastily covered himself in paint and told officers that if they shot him with the stun gun, he’d die.
Officers told him the paint wouldn’t affect the Taser’s capability. According to police, Mattert scuffled with officers and was hit with a Taser twice before officers handcuffed him.
He faces several criminal charges. Police say the officers’ uniforms had to be cleaned.
___By The Associated Press
Despite INTs on consecutive passes, trailing early in 2nd half, No. 4 TCU outlasts SMU 41-24
DALLAS (AP) — Andy Dalton bounced back from interceptions on consecutive throws by leading three straight touchdown drives, lifting No. 4 TCU to a 41-24 victory over longtime rival SMU on Friday night.
Playing on the road for the first time this season, the Horned Frogs were in a bit of trouble when Dalton’s second interception set up a touchdown that gave the Mustangs a 17-14 lead early in the third quarter. Then Jeremy Kerley returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards and TCU was back in control.
Dalton capped that drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Bart Johnson. Dalton completed a pair of third-down conversions on the way to a 9-yard touchdown run by Waymon James on the next series, then ran 14 yards on a third-and-7 to set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Luke Shivers at the start of the fourth quarter. That put TCU ahead 35-17 and entire sections in the Ford Stadium-record crowd of 35,481 began heading home.
The Horned Frogs (4-0) won their seventh straight road game, although this was far from a hostile environment. About a quarter of that record crowd was wearing purple, either folks displaced from the Fort Worth campus or who made the hourlong drive.
Although this was a convincing win, the TCU defense wasn’t as dominant as it likes to be. The Horned Frogs allowed their most points, most yards (361), most yards rushing (192) and had their fewest sacks (one).
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