Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread
|From Yahoo News Top Stories|
1 Over 300 killed in DR.Congo massacre: rights group
Sun Mar 28, 8:38 am ET
|KINSHASA (AFP) – Ugandan LRA rebels killed at least 321 civilians in a previously unreported “well-planned” four-day attack on villages in the DR Congo last December, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday.
In a report released in Kampala, HRW said 250 others, including at least 80 children, were abducted in the December 14-17 Lord’s Resistance Army attack in the remote Makombo area of northeastern Haut Uele district.
A Catholic clergyman at Isiro-Niangara in the same district, speaking before the report was issued, confirmed that 30 members of the rebel LRA attacked a dozen villages of Haut Uele, which is in Orientale province.
2 Thailand’s televised protest talks end without resolution
by Thanaporn Promyamyai, AFP
1 hr 38 mins ago
|BANGKOK (AFP) – Live televised talks between Thailand’s embattled Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and anti-government protesters ended Sunday without resolution, failing to end two weeks of street demonstrations.
The premier refused to bow to the red-shirted demonstrators’ demand to call snap elections, but both sides agreed to meet the next day at 6:00 pm (1100 GMT) to continue discussions.
“House dissolution can only happen if we see it is not only the way out for the Reds but for the whole country also,” Abhisit told three Red Shirt leaders across a meeting table as he sat flanked by two of his senior staff.
3 No end in sight to BA strike as row becomes political
1 hr 44 mins ago
|LONDON (AFP) – British Airways (BA) cabin crew entered the second day of a four-day strike Sunday, bringing further travel disruption with no end in sight for a dispute that has become increasingly political.
The Unite trade union, which represents 12,000 BA cabin crew, is staging its second walkout in a week and says there are likely to be more strikes ahead unless BA makes them an acceptable offer.
Amid conflicting reports about the impact of the walkout, Unite claimed more than 130 flights had been cancelled by mid-morning. BA has said it expects 75 percent of passengers booked during the strike period to fly.
4 China’s Geely seals Volvo Cars takeover
by Marc Preel, AFP
2 hrs 34 mins ago
|GOTHENBURG, Sweden (AFP) – Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding sealed a 1.8-billion-dollar deal on Sunday to buy Volvo Cars as the Chinese company unleashed its global ambitions with what it called a Swedish “tiger”.
The deal ends more than a decade under the ownership of Ford Motor Co. which saw the up-market Swedish carmaker become a loss-making thorn in the side of the US giant, burdened with its own woes.
Geely chairman Li Shufu said he saw huge untapped potential for Volvo in international markets and especially in China, which has not only the biggest but also one of the fastest growing car markets in the world.
5 Irish museum gives leprechauns their due, to be sure
by Guy Jackson, AFP
Sun Mar 28, 11:58 am ET
|DUBLIN (AFP) – Ireland is hoping to reclaim the leprechaun from Hollywood with a new museum that, with a twinkle in its eye, places the fabled little figures back in their mythological context.
If you are expecting to find leprechauns nestling in a mock Irish valley, you are likely to be disappointed — instead the ultra-modern museum in Dublin aims to give visitors a view of the world from a leprechaun’s eye-level.
You are cut down to size in a living room complete with a giant armchair and table and chairs and “shrunk” in a visual trick inside a long tapered tunnel.
6 McLaren’s Button wins back-to-back Australian GPs
by Robert Smith, AFP
2 hrs 43 mins ago
|MELBOURNE (AFP) – An early switch to dry tyres reaped spectacular rewards as Jenson Button raced away with the Australian Grand Prix to clinch his first victory for his new McLaren-Mercedes team on Sunday.
Button, who switched from Brawn GP as the reigning world champion, seized on brake failure for Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel mid-race to storm to a 12-second victory in a highly eventful second GP of the season.
The 30-year-old Briton comfortably held off Polish Renault driver Robert Kubica and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa of Brazil to claim his eighth win in 172 GPs and back-to-back Australian victories.
7 Obama in Afghanistan, meets Karzai on surprise visit
by Jim Watson, AFP
1 hr 19 mins ago
|KABUL (AFP) – President Barack Obama landed in Afghanistan Sunday for a surprise first visit as US commander-in-chief and as his huge surge of 30,000 troops, designed to end the eight-year war, gathers pace.
The trip, shrouded in secrecy until his arrival amid security concerns, opened with talks with President Hamid Karzai at his Kabul palace, which Obama used to press for a stepped up fight against corruption and the drugs trade.
Obama landed in Afghanistan amid a spike in deaths of foreign troops in the escalating war, and as the first big offensive of his new strategy unfolds in Helmand province, with Taliban strongholds in Kandahar among future targets.
8 Vatican defensive as pope targeted in child abuse scandal
by Michele Leridon, AFP
Sat Mar 27, 5:29 pm ET
|VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI will not be weakened by abuse scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said Saturday, amid mounting criticism of his handling of predator priests.
The Vatican, which dismissed a New York Times report Friday that Benedict had failed in 1980 to stop a priest accused of sexually abusing children, put up a brave front amid mounting criticism in newspapers and magazines.
“The recent media attacks have without doubt caused damage,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told Italy’s ANSA news agency.
9 Meat-cutting robot at Germany’s 1st doner kebab fair
by Richard Carter, AFP
Sun Mar 28, 1:38 am ET
|BERLIN (AFP) – It goes by the uninspiring name “FFDR-V1004”, but Ahmet Kalyoncu is convinced his meat-cutting robot will transform the doner kebab industry, which held its first conference in Berlin this weekend.
“It’s going to change the market,” said the 34-year-old Cypriot, while crowds gathered around the machine as it sliced the meat off a huge doner kebab spit, at tremendous speed, and, as he put it, “without ever getting bored.”
The robot has a digital camera to sense the changing thickness of the meat, producing a perfect, tasty, wafer-thin slice every time. FFDR-V1004 is also phenomenally efficient, creating as many as 120 portions of kebab in an hour.
10 Pope signals won’t be intimidated by abuse critics
By Philip Pullella, Reuters
1 hr 59 mins ago
|VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict, facing one of the gravest crises of his pontificate as a sexual abuse scandal sweeps the Church, indicated Sunday that his faith would give him the courage not to be intimidated by critics.
The 82-year-old pontiff led tens of thousands of people in a sunny St. Peter’s Square in a Palm Sunday service at the start of Holy Week events commemorating the last days in Jesus’s life.
While he did not directly mention the scandal involving sexual abuse of children by priests, parts of his sermon could be applicable to the crisis he and the Roman Catholic Church are facing.
11 Thai PM holds talks with protest leaders
By Ploy Ten Kate, Reuters
Sun Mar 28, 10:04 am ET
|BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva held talks with protest leaders on Sunday in an effort to defuse growing tension and avert possible confrontation after protesters intensified their drive to topple the government.
Abhisit held almost three hours of televised talks with leaders of the movement, who broadly support twice-elected former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, but there was no sign of progress toward ending the deadlock.
The embattled premier, who has spent much of the past two weeks at a military base, has refused to bow to demands for a new election, arguing that the country is too divided to go to the polls.
12 Haiti, donors face huge task to "build back better"
By Pascal Fletcher and Joseph Guyler Delva, Reuters
Sun Mar 28, 10:30 am ET
|PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – “Retou ala Vi. Ayiti Pap Peri” (Back to life, Haiti will not die) reads the banner in Creole stretched up beside a crowded camp of earthquake survivors in the heart of the wrecked capital Port-au-Prince.
Life, in the form of bustling pedestrians, chaotic traffic and teeming street markets, has indeed bounced back in the city after the devastating January 12 quake that killed maybe more than 300,000 and turned streets into jumbles of rubble.
But a massive task of reconstructing the quake-shattered capital and its dependent nation — a small Caribbean state that was already a byword for poverty in the Western Hemisphere — now faces Haiti’s government and donors when they meet in New York on Wednesday to pledge funds and agree to strategies.
13 AP INVESTIGATION: Cautionary tale from CIA prison
By ADAM GOLDMAN and KATHY GANNON, Associated Press Writers
32 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – More than seven years ago, a suspected Afghan militant was brought to a dimly lit CIA compound northeast of the airport in Kabul. The CIA called it the Salt Pit. Inmates knew it as the dark prison.
Inside a chilly cell, the man was shackled and left half-naked. He was found dead, exposed to the cold, in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002.
The Salt Pit death was the only fatality known to have occurred inside the secret prison network the CIA operated abroad after the Sept. 11 attacks. The death had strong repercussions inside the CIA. It helped lead to a review that uncovered abuses in detention and interrogation procedures, and forced the agency to change those procedures.
14 Health overhaul likely to strain doctor shortage
By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer
31 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – Better beat the crowd and find a doctor.
Primary care physicians already are in short supply in parts of the country, and the landmark health overhaul that will bring them millions more newly insured patients in the next few years promises extra strain.
The new law goes beyond offering coverage to the uninsured, with steps to improve the quality of care for the average person and help keep us well instead of today’s seek-care-after-you’re-sick culture. To benefit, you’ll need a regular health provider.
15 Pope opens solemn Holy Week amid sex abuse crisis
By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 19 mins ago
|VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI opened Holy Week on Sunday amid one of the most serious crises facing the church in decades, with protesters in London demanding he resign and calls in Switzerland for a central registry for pedophile priests.
Benedict made no direct mention of the scandal in his Palm Sunday homily. But one of the prayers, recited in Portuguese during Mass, was “for the young and for those charged with educating them and protecting them.”
Jesus Christ, Benedict said in his homily, guides the faithful “toward the courage that doesn’t let us be intimidated by the chatting of dominant opinions, towards patience that supports others.”
16 Live on TV: Thai PM vs. anti-government protesters
By JOCELYN GECKER, Associated Press Writer
Sun Mar 28, 9:30 am ET
|BANGKOK – Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and leaders of anti-government protests failed to reach an agreement Sunday in nationally televised talks on how to solve the country’s political crisis and said they would try again the next day.
The talks marked a civilized pause after weeks of demonstrations and fiery rhetoric that prompted Abhisit to seek refuge at an army base.
The two sides sat across a conference table from each other and shook hands. With strained smiles, they reiterated their sharply different stances and adjourned three hours later no closer to a resolution. They agreed to meet again Monday evening.
17 Bombs kill 5 at house tied to Iraq Sunni candidate
By SINAN SALAHEDDIN, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 3 mins ago
|BAGHDAD – Several bombs exploded Sunday near a house linked to a prominent Sunni figure who ran in this month’s parliamentary elections in Iraq, killing five people and wounding 26 others, a police official said.
The attack adds to fears of postelection violence as the bitter election rivals enter what are expected to be drawn out talks on forming the next government that will rule Iraq as U.S. troops leave by the end of 2011.
Sunday’s blasts took place in the town of Qaim, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) west of Baghdad and on the border with Syria, the police official said.
18 In surprise visit to war zone, Obama prods Afghans
By JENNIFER LOVEN, AP White House Correspondent
47 mins ago
|KABUL – President Barack Obama has told American forces during his surprise visit to Afghanistan that U.S. lives would be at risk if the Taliban retake control of the country.
Obama says difficult days lie ahead in the 8-year-old war and he says there will be setbacks. But he says the U.S. doesn’t quit and will prevail.
The president spoke to about 2,500 U.S. forces at Bagram Air Field after talks earlier Sunday in Kabul with Afghan leaders.
19 Moore scores 25 to lead UConn to 75th straight win
By RUSTY MILLER, AP Sports Writer
50 mins ago
|DAYTON, Ohio – The first time Maya Moore touched the ball on offense she hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The second time, she hit one from the left corner. And so began another Connecticut rout.
Moore scored 16 of her 25 points in the opening 9 minutes and seemingly invincible UConn took it from there to roll over Iowa State 74-36 in a regional semifinal Sunday.
“Connecticut is certainly as good as advertised,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “I don’t think I’ve had a whipping like that since I was a little kid and I broke something of my mom’s.”
20 Angry families visit site of sunken SKorean ship
By SI-YOUNG LEE and HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press Writers
Sun Mar 28, 12:49 pm ET
|BAENGNYEONG ISLAND, South Korea – Weeping, angry relatives of 46 crew members missing after a mysterious explosion sank a South Korean navy ship sailed around the site Sunday while others criticized the government for lack of results as rescue teams struggled to search for survivors.
No one has been found since an initial rescue of 58 sailors from the 1,200-ton Cheonan that sank early Saturday near the tense border with North Korea. No bodies have been discovered either. Still, President Lee Myung-bak refused to give up hope.
The ship had been on a routine patrol with other vessels in the Yellow Sea off South Korea’s western coast. The exact cause of the explosion – one of South Korea’s worst naval disasters – remained unclear and officials said it could take weeks to determine.
21 Obama announces 15 recess appointments, scolds GOP
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer
Sun Mar 28, 6:30 am ET
|WASHINGTON – Fed up with waiting, President Barack Obama announced Saturday he would bypass a vacationing Senate and name 15 people to key administration jobs, wielding for the first time the blunt political tool known as the recess appointment.
The move immediately deepened the divide between the Democratic president and Republicans in the Senate following a long, bruising fight over health care. Obama revealed his decision by blistering Republicans, accusing them of holding up nominees for months solely to try to score a political advantage on him.
“I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government,” Obama said in a statement.
22 As economy sours, vendors crowd into Venice Beach
By CHRISTINA HOAG, Associated Press Writer
36 mins ago
|LOS ANGELES – Sand and surf are the least of the attractions making Venice Beach one of Los Angeles’ top tourist draws.
On summer weekends, some 150,000 exhibitionists and gawkers flock to the neighborhood to see and be seen in a Bohemian rhapsody of bongo-bangers, dreadlocked artists and acrobatic gymnasts.
In recent months, though, that freewheeling hippie circus has gotten edgy thanks to a stubbornly sour economy heightening competition for the 200 peddler spaces along the 1.5-mile long asphalt strip bordering the beach.
23 Foster parents would get less cash under Ind. cuts
By CHARLES D. WILSON and CARLY EVERSON, Associated Press Writers
1 hr 45 mins ago
|INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana is trying to shift hundreds of foster children with medical, emotional or behavioral problems into cheaper care for children without special needs, a move that cuts payments to families who care for the state’s most challenged children.
The change would give foster families less money to pay for therapy, food and clothing and other costs. And some fear that fewer families could volunteer for the job in the future because they’d have to cover the bills themselves.
Foster parents who provide homes for special-needs children are paid up to $100 a day. Under the state’s new plan, many would receive $25 or less.
24 Mass. schools for blind gear up for fencing match
By MARK PRATT, Associated Press Writer
2 hrs 5 mins ago
|WATERTOWN, Mass. – Cory Kadlik has never let being blind stop him from golfing, skating, learning martial arts or riding a dirt bike. He had his doubts when it came to fencing.
“I never even knew this was possible,” said Kadlik, 19, of Medway as epees clanged, his teammates whooped in triumph, and coaches barked out instructions in the gym of Perkins School for the Blind.
“I’m on Twitter, and I mentioned to my followers and friends that I was going to be in a fencing tournament and I had ten replies saying ‘Blind people can fence? Really? No way!’ Yeah, anything is possible.”
25 Many felony pot cases getting tossed out of court
By PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 34 mins ago
|SAN FRANCISCO – Police in a northern California town thought they had an open-and-shut case when they seized more than two pounds of marijuana from a couple’s home, even though doctors authorized the pair to use pot for medical purposes.
San Francisco police thought the same with a father and son team they suspected of abusing the state’s medical marijuana law by allegedly operating an illegal trafficking operation.
But both cases were tossed out along with many other marijuana possession cases in recent weeks because of a California Supreme Court ruling that has police, prosecutors and defense attorneys scrambling to make sense of a gray legal area: What is the maximum amount of cannabis a medical marijuana patient can possess?
26 Christian faith: Calvinism is back
By Josh Burek, The Christian Science Monitor
Sat Mar 27, 12:00 pm ET
|Washington – Snow falls resolutely on a Saturday morning in Washington, but the festively lit basement of a church near the US Capitol is packed. Some 200 female members have invited an equal number of women for tea, cookies, conversation – and 16th-century evangelism.
What newcomers at Capitol Hill Baptist Church (CHBC) hear is hardly “Christianity for Dummies.” Nor is it “Extreme Makeover: Born-Again Edition.” Instead, a young woman named Kasey Gurley describes her disobedience and suffering in Old Testament terms.
“I worship my own comfort, my own opinion of myself,” she confesses. “Like the idolatrous people of Judah, we deserve the full wrath of God.” She warns the women that “we’ll never be safe in good intentions,” but assures them that “Christ died for us so we wouldn’t have to.” Her closing prayer is both frank and transcendent: “Our comfort in suffering is this: that through Christ you provide eternal life.”
27 Defending due process for Guantánamo detainees
By Jina Moore, The Christian Science Monitor
Sat Mar 27, 1:05 pm ET
|New York – At first, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan didn’t know whether his client was a terrorist. Jumah al-Dossari had been rumored to work with Al Qaeda and to have fought for Islamic causes around the world. His name was familiar to anyone following the news after 9/11.
But Mr. Colangelo-Bryan, a Manhattan corporate litigator doing pro bono work for Mr. Dossari, needed more: “Certainly I’m not going to conclude that someone is a terrorist on the basis of Google,” he said. He’d faced accused war criminals before, working with the United Nations on the prosecution of war crimes in Kosovo. But Guantánamo, the US naval station in Cuba where detainees in the war on terror are held, was new territory.
“This kind of offshore penal colony is not something that we do very often,” he says. He was drawn initially to the legal challenge – “the novelty and cutting-edge aspect of it. There was also what seemed like the fundamentally unfair notion that the government was holding people just because it said they should be held, without any form of due process … so there were important principles at stake.”