Trickle of aid to Haiti quake survivors worries officials as hunger, thirst beset ruined city
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — With food, water and other aid flowing into Haiti in earnest, relief groups and officials are focused on moving the supplies out of the clogged airport and to hungry, haggard earthquake survivors in the capital.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was expected in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, scheduled to confer with President Rene Preval and U.S. and international civilian and military officials on how best to help the recovery effort and Haitian government.
Clinton on Friday cited a “race against time” before anxiety and anger create additional problems. Relief workers warned that unless supplies are quickly delivered, Port-au-Prince will degenerate into lawlessness.
A water delivery truck driver said he was attacked in one of the city’s slums. There were reports of isolated looting as young men walked through downtown with machetes, and robbers reportedly shot one man whose body was left on the street.
“I don’t know how much longer we can hold out,” said Dee Leahy, a lay missionary from St. Louis, Missouri, who was working with nuns handing out provisions from their small stockpile. “We need food, we need medical supplies, we need medicine, we need vitamins and we need painkillers. And we need it urgently.”
Afghan parliament rejects majority of President Hamid Karzai’s Cabinet picks for second time
KABUL (AP) — The Afghan parliament rejected the majority of President Hamid Karzai’s second slate of Cabinet choices Saturday, dealing a new setback to the U.S.-backed leader’s effort to assemble a team that can focus on badly needed reforms.
The U.S. and other countries contributing troops and aid have pushed Karzai to get his second-term administration in place ahead of a Jan. 28 international conference on Afghanistan to be held in London. The mixed results will further delay the process, two weeks after parliament rejected 70 percent of his first Cabinet picks.
The 224 lawmakers present approved just seven of 17 nominees, including Karzai’s longtime national security adviser, Zalmay Rasoul, who will be foreign minister, a new justice minister and a woman who was named to the portfolio of Work and Social Affairs/Martyred and Disabled.
The 10 rejected included two other women nominated for the posts of women’s affairs and public health as well as Karzai’s choices for the ministries of higher education, commerce, transportation, public works, refugee and border and tribal affairs.
Voting took several hours as the yellow paper ballots were tallied one-by-one in a process that was televised nationally.
Unpredictable Massachusetts Senate race gives urgency to health care talks with end in sight
WASHINGTON (AP) — Like a roller-coaster ride on its last twisting turns, President Barack Obama’s campaign to remake health care is barreling into final days of breathless suspense and headlong momentum.
Democrats — led by Obama himself — are deploying this weekend to salvage an unpredictable Senate race in Massachusetts, while senior White House and congressional staffers in Washington hurry to finish work on cost and coverage options at the heart of the sweeping legislation.
A Republican victory in the race to fill the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s seat would deprive Democrats of the 60-vote majority needed to pass the bill in the Senate. Obama and Democratic congressional leaders would have a political window of perhaps days only to try to ram the bill through — at considerable risk of incurring public wrath.
Democrats put on a bold public face Friday, while working behind the scenes with grim determination.
Negotiators are “pretty close,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said at the end of a week of marathon negotiations to reconcile House- and Senate-passed versions.
A year into presidency, Obama has little to show from China outreach
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama came into office talking tough on China. The emerging superpower, he promised, would be treated as a competitor, not coddled as a friend or shunned as an enemy.
The stern words of his presidential campaign, however, faded almost as soon as Obama settled in at the White House one year ago. During his first year, Obama’s administration postponed a meeting with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan monk reviled by Beijing, declined to label China a currency manipulator and was cautious in its criticism of China’s human rights record.
Obama’s China policy has been designed to gain concessions from a country crucial to solving global crises. Yet the United States has seen little benefit on many of its pressing problems, including nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea and tackling climate change and economic worries.
Obama’s top diplomats urge patience as they work to strengthen what they call the world’s most important, and most complex, relationship.
China has loomed large during Obama’s first year, making room for itself at a crowded foreign policy table that included wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That will continue.
AP source: Deal near for O’Brien to leave ‘Tonight’; top NBC Universal executives at table
LOS ANGELES (AP) — In an agreement close to completion, “Tonight” host Conan O’Brien would leave NBC and free Jay Leno to reclaim the late-night show he stewarded for 17 years, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
Top NBC Universal executives and representatives for O’Brien on Friday were close to settling details of his departure, said the person, who lacked authority to discuss the issue and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Universal Studios president and COO Ron Meyer was among those involved in the talks, the person said.
The focus has been on how much O’Brien, who has time left on his NBC contract, would be paid for leaving and what limits NBC may put on his future employment at another network.
The deal under discussion would provide for a settlement of more than $30 million and allow him to start a new show as early as this fall, the person said.
Owner of Denver Post, Salt Lake Tribune plans prepackaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing
DENVER (AP) — The holding company for MediaNews Group Inc. newspapers, including The Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News, says it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Affiliated Media Inc. said Friday it would file a “prepackaged” plan already approved by lenders, which should allow it to emerge from bankruptcy more quickly.
It would be at least the 13th bankruptcy filing by a U.S. newspaper publisher in the past 13 months. The owners of dozens of newspapers have been pushed into bankruptcy protection as the recession and competition from the Internet have sapped advertising revenue.
MediaNews’ management and newspaper operations, employees and vendors won’t be affected by the holding company’s restructuring, MediaNews Group Chairman and CEO William Dean Singleton said. He is the chairman of The Associated Press board of directors.
A date for the filing hasn’t been announced, but the company said it would be in the near future. The reorganization plan was expected to be filed in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware.
Survivors of miraculous Hudson landing gather on anniversary of flight to celebrate life
NEW YORK (AP) — They looked like they were posing for an eclectic class picture: dozens of smiling faces, everyone carefully lined up. As cameras clicked, the survivors of US Airways Flight 1549 cheered and laughed loudly enough to remind everyone that they had made it.
From the plane’s youngest passenger to the frail woman edging along carefully with the help of a walker, many of the 155 survivors gathered Friday to mark the anniversary of their harrowing water landing with a return to the place their crippled jet hit the Hudson River.
Crying, cheering and embracing, they raised a toast to life at 3:31 p.m., the moment of impact, on one of the ferries that plucked them shivering from the water just minutes after they splashed down.
With the sun gleaming on the Hudson and festive sprays of colorful water shooting into the sky behind them, they made the toast at the approximate place where the plane went down after a half-day of gatherings to mark their miraculous survival.
In the extra year that no one expected they would have, the survivors have been coping with the trauma of their terrifying crash, but also discovering new gifts. One passenger, Jennifer Doyle, is pregnant. Karin Hill became Karin Hill Rooney when she married her boyfriend, who was sitting next to her as the plane went down. Another two, Ben Bostic and Laura Zych, strangers at the time of the crash, have fallen in love and begun dating.
‘Inglourious Basterds,’ ‘Avatar’ win Critics’ Choice Awards, but ‘The Hurt Locker’ takes prize
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Iraq war drama “The Hurt Locker” and its director took top honors at the Critics’ Choice Awards, while Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds” and James Cameron’s “Avatar” won the most awards.
Director-producer Kathryn Bigelow was named best director at Friday’s ceremony for “Locker,” winner of the best picture prize.
Accepting the best picture award, screenwriter-producer Mark Boal said the award belongs to Bigelow “for her singular vision, for her endless inspiration and for never taking no as an answer.”
Bigelow had thanked Boal when she accepted the director’s honor, saying, “I stand here really because of one man, and that’s Mark Boal.”
“It’s wonderful to have this honor,” she continued, “but the recognition should also go to the men and women who are in the field to this day.”
AP Exclusive: Alarming network glitch makes the Internet lose track of who is who on Facebook
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Georgia mother and her two daughters logged onto Facebook from mobile phones last weekend and wound up in a startling place: strangers’ accounts with full access to troves of private information.
The glitch — the result of a routing problem at the family’s wireless carrier, AT&T — revealed a little known security flaw with far reaching implications for everyone on the Internet, not just Facebook users.
In each case, the Internet lost track of who was who, putting the women into the wrong accounts. It doesn’t appear the users could have done anything to stop it. The problem adds a dimension to researchers’ warnings that there are many ways online information — from mundane data to dark secrets — can go awry.
Several security experts said they had not heard of a case like this, in which the wrong person was shown a Web page whose user name and password had been entered by someone else. It’s not clear whether such episodes are rare or simply not reported. But experts said such flaws could occur on e-mail services, for instance, and that something similar could happen on a PC, not just a phone.
“The fact that it did happen is proof that it could potentially happen again and with something a lot more important than Facebook,” said Nathan Hamiel, founder of the Hexagon Security Group, a research organization.
Wizards star Gilbert Arenas faces uncertainty in NBA future, sentencing on felony gun charge
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas will have to wait until March to learn if he will be sent to prison for a felony gun conviction, while his future with the NBA sits in limbo.
The charismatic player known as “Agent Zero” was straight-faced and subdued when he pleaded guilty Friday to the charge connected to a locker-room argument with a teammate last month.
Arenas won’t know whether he must serve jail time until his March 26 sentencing and remains free until then. The government indicated it will not seek more than six months, although the judge can give Arenas anywhere from probation to the charge’s maximum term of five years. Guidelines call for six to 12 months.
Arenas did not speak to reporters on the way into D.C. Superior Court — only shaking his head when asked if he wanted to tell fans anything — or when he walked down the block to police headquarters after his 20-minute hearing.
In court, Arenas was barely audible, offering mostly terse answers such as “Yes, your honor” or “No, sir.” Those hands that have made so many shots and earned Arenas millions of dollars were shoved into the pockets of his gray, pinstriped suit. His demeanor stood in stark contrast to the gregarious, blog-writing, jersey-tossing persona that made him a fan favorite. It also contrasted with the player who cracked jokes with reporters and on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the Dec. 21 confrontation with a teammate that ended with guns being displayed.