Monday, March 30, 2009

Moats accepts Powell's apology

An NFL player said Monday he accepts the apology offered by a Dallas police officer who stopped him with a drawn gun in a hospital parking lot while his mother-in-law was dying inside.

Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that he hopes Officer Robert Powell was sincere in his apology.

Powell stopped Moats' SUV outside Baylor Regional Medical Center in suburban Plano on March 18 after the vehicle rolled through a red light. Moats' wife, Tamishia, and other relatives were also in the car.

The officer pulled out his gun and threatened Moats with jail as the player pleaded to be allowed to go inside the hospital. Moats' mother-in-law died before he got there while Powell write Moats a ticket and lectured him.

Powell, who has been placed on paid leave pending an investigation, issued a statement Friday through his attorneys.

"I wish to publicly and sincerely apologize to the Moats family, my colleagues in the Dallas Police Department, and to all those who have been rightfully angered by my actions on March 18, 2009. After stopping Mr. Moats' vehicle, I showed poor judgment and insensitivity to Mr. Moats and his family by my words and actions," Powell's statement said.

Tamishia Moats said she'd like to hear the apology personally, but that she, too, would definitely accept it.

According to video from a dashboard camera inside the officer's vehicle, Tamishia Moats and another woman disregarded Powell's order to get back inside their vehicle, and they rushed into the hospital. She was by the side of her mother, 45-year-old Jonetta Collinsworth, when she died a short time later from breast cancer.

Powell yelled at Tamishia Moats to stay in the SUV.

"Excuse me, my mom is dying," Tamishia Moats said. "Do you understand?"

Ryan Moats later said the officer pointed his gun at his wife and then at him.

He explained that he waited until there was no traffic before continuing through the red light. When Powell asked for proof of insurance, Moats grew more agitated and told the officer to go find it.

Stampede kills 22 at Ivory Coast qualifier

At least 22 supporters have died and 132 were injured after a wall collapsed following a stampede prior to Ivory Coast's World Cup qualifier against Malawi.

Ticketless fans had gathered outside the gates of the 35,000-capacity Houphouet-Boigny arena in the West African country's main city, Abidjan. There was a crush inside the stadium and a wall collapsed.

A rush by spectators caused the collapse of a wall, officials said. Police then fired tear gas to clear the crowd, causing a stampede which also left many people injured.

"We have 22 dead and many seriously injured," a military source at the stadium told Reuters.

The incident occurred before kick-off, however the game was allowed to proceed.

"Spectators who did not buy tickets were jostling before the match," Sports Minister Dagobert Banzio said on state television. "They smashed one of the main gates of the stadium. They were trampled."

Interior Minister Desire Tagro told state television: "Lots of fans showed up," reported AP news agency.

"They started pushing to get in because the match was about to start and each and every one of them wanted to get in."

The country's interior and sports ministers held emergency talks with leaders of the Ivory Coast Football Federation (FIF), FIF president Albert Kakou Anzouan told AFP.

The tragedy followed similar incidents which have marred international matches in Africa in the last decade, including two separate ones in Zambia and the death of 13 people in Zimbabwe nine years ago.

FIFA instigated a programme of stadium inspections across Africa before the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and Abidjan's Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium was passed as safe for international matches.

8 killed in attack on Police Training School in Lahore

LAHORE: Eight people were killed and several wounded when some unknown persons attacked the Police Training School with hand grenades here in Manawan early in the morning on Monday.

According to sources, unkown attackers threw away hand grenades at the Police Training School in Manawan after which exchange of firing began between the armed attackers and the police which still continues.

Reports said that eight persons were killed and several were injured and they are being shifted to hospital.

Massive Chinese Cyberspy Network Discovered

Canadian researchers at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies in conjunction with the SecDev Group and the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory have discovered a huge cyberspy network based in China and say it’s infiltrated more than 1,000 computer networks in over 100 countries. The investigation initially began as a look into whether the office of the Dalai Lama had been hacked and led to the shocking discovery of a malicious attack that has infiltrated more than 1,000 computer networks in over 100 countries.

In addition to the Dalai Lama’s office, infected computer systems were found at NATO headquarters, several embassies, the Associated Press, and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs in Indonesia, Iran, and the Philippines, and the office of the Prime Minister of Laos among others.

Dubbed GhostNet by the researchers, the cyberspying malware is able to completely control any computer it infects. It can search and download files, turn webcams and microphones on and off, and more. The suspicion that such a network existed and that China was behind it began when the Dalai Lama’s office sent a foreign diplomat an email inviting him to meet with the spiritual leader. Before the staff could follow up their invitation with a phone call, the diplomat received a warning from the Chinese government warning him not to accept the invite.

While China is denying any and all knowledge of such a network and claiming cybercrime is strictly forbidden by their government, they aren’t saying how they found out about the diplomat’s invitation or why they warned him to stay away.

It’s more crucial than ever to have the best security software you can buy and to make sure it is properly updated and maintain. The researchers said it’s not a question of, if, but when, businesses will face similar attacks:

The computer systems of businesses are almost certain to be hacked by similar means, if they have not been already, the experts claim.

“Social malware will be used for fraud, and the typical company really has no defense against it,” since it is so expensive and inconvenient, for example, to keep sensitive information or processes on computers with no Internet access. “We expect that many crooks will get rich before effective countermeasures are widely deployed.”

In this case, such inconvenience may be well more that worth it. You simply can not be too careful with your company’s data!

Obama Announces New Strategy for Afghanistan, Pakistan

Heavy emphasis on training additional Afghan security forces

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.

03/30/09- — Saying it is an international security challenge of the highest order, President Obama announced a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan that aims to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban.

In addition to 17,000 U.S. troops and Marines that are being deployed to Afghanistan in the coming months to join the 38,000 already there, Obama said he also is ordering 4,000 more troops who will act as trainers for the Afghan army. That training force will come from the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, which is stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and will be in place early this fall.

“We will shift the emphasis of our mission to training and increasing the size of the Afghan security forces, so that they can eventually take the lead in securing their country,” Obama said at a briefing March 27 in Washington. “For the first time, this will fully resource our effort to train and support the Afghan army and police.”

Every American combat unit in Afghanistan will be partnered with an Afghan unit, and more trainers will be requested from NATO allies to ensure that every Afghan unit has a coalition partner, Obama said. The goal, the president said, is to build the Afghan army from about 80,000 troops to 134,000 and expand the national police force from 78,000 to 82,000 officers. Currently, the total number of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan is 70,140 troops, according to the Pentagon and NATO.

The announcement comes as Obama prepares to attend the 60th anniversary NATO summit in Strasbourg, France, and Kehl, Germany, April 3–4. NATO leads the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and the alliance’s future course there will be a central topic at the summit. The summit has added significance because it will be Obama’s first trip to Europe since becoming president January 20.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend a United Nations conference on Afghanistan March 31 in The Hague, Netherlands. She will join representatives from more than 80 nations.

While the new strategy sets the terms for helping Pakistan enhance its own security as well as that of Afghanistan, the president has set no timetable for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. He previously set a timetable to withdraw the majority of U.S. combat brigades from Iraq by August 2010 and all remaining forces there by the end of 2011.

Obama said achieving stability on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border eventually will allow the United States and its allies to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan. Members of the al-Qaida terrorist group and the Taliban, which controlled Afghanistan before being routed by a U.S.-led coalition in late 2001, are believed to be hiding in the tribal regions of northwestern Pakistan in the Hindu Kush mountain range that straddles eastern and central Afghanistan, northwestern Pakistan and northwestern India.

In addition, Obama said he has asked the U.S. Congress to approve legislation authorizing $1.5 billion in direct support to Pakistan every year over the next five years. The funds would be used to build schools, roads and hospitals as well as to strengthen Pakistan’s democracy. The legislation is being sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and the committee’s ranking Republican, Senator Richard Lugar.

Obama is also calling on Congress to pass legislation to create opportunity zones in the Afghan-Pakistan border region to develop the economy and bring stability in areas plagued by continual violence.

Obama said he is increasing civilian support to Afghanistan in the form of specialists in agriculture, education, engineering, the law and economics. “That’s how we can help the Afghan government serve its people and develop an economy that isn’t dominated by illicit drugs,” the president said.

Obama also said the United States will not be acting alone. It will include a new contact group for Afghanistan involving the United Nations, NATO allies and other partners from the Central Asian states, the Gulf nations, Iran, Russia, India and China, he said.

“None of these nations benefit from a base for al-Qaida terrorists and a region that descends into chaos,” he said. “The United States of America did not choose to fight a war in Afghanistan.”

The conflict in Afghanistan was thrust on the United States because of the al-Qaida-led terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001, Obama said. But there have been al-Qaida-inspired attacks on other countries of the world since that time. Most of the blood on al-Qaida’s hands is that of Muslims, and the future the terrorist group offers to the Muslim world is one without hope or opportunity, and a future without justice or peace, the president said.

The president spoke by telephone March 26 with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to brief them on his plans. The new strategy has been under development from the day Obama took office. Consultations have been held with U.S. national security officials, the armed forces, NATO, both the Afghan and Pakistani governments, international organizations and donors, and members of Congress, the president said.

Eight dead in North Carolina nursing-home shooting

Eight people died in North Carolina Sunday after a gunman started shooting people randomly:

A lone gunman burst into a North Carolina nursing home Sunday morning and started “shooting everything,” barging into the rooms of terrified patients, sparing some from his rampage without explanation while killing seven residents and a nurse caring for them.

Authorities said Robert Stewart also wounded three others, including the Carthage police officer who confronted him in a hallway of Pinelake Health and Rehab and stopped the brutal attack.

“He acted in nothing short of a heroic way today, and but for his actions, we certainly could have had a worse tragedy,” said Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger. “We had an officer, a well-trained officer, who performed his job the way he was supposed to and prevented this from getting even worse than it is now.”

By late Sunday afternoon, Krueger had charged Stewart, 45, of Moore County, with eight counts of first-degree murder and a single charge of felony assault of a law enforcement officer. Authorities offered few other details, allowing only that Stewart was not a patient or an employee at the nursing home and isn’t believed to be related to any of the victims.

Investigators are still in the dark about Stewart’s motives for killing eight innocent people. His ex-wife told journalists he has “anger management problems.” Sue Griffin said she was married to Stewart for 15 years.

“He would get mad because of things that didn’t go his way. He never really hurt me, but he would get mad and blow up,” Griffin said.

A bad temper, that much is clear. But how does one change from an explosive man into an outright killer? What happened to Stewart? Why did he go into a nursing home?

We hear increasingly more about mass murders like the one in North Carolina yesterday. Something has to change: these things didn’t happen so regularly 20 years ago. Why do we hear about them every couple of weeks / months now? What is happening to Western societies that man turn into killers within the blink of an eye?

[Update]: Police are now saying that the ex-wife of the killer worked at the home, though at present there are no reports that she was his target. Claudia

Dick Jerardi: Think Villanova has no chance in Final Four? Think again

WHEN THE 61 games were done, the Final Four was not unpredictable, but, nevertheless, consists of a combination of four teams that was far from obvious. Nationally, Villanova probably was given less consideration than by those locally who had seen enough to understand the essence of Jay Wright's team. And Michigan State, under the radar in the Big Ten, played a near-perfect game yesterday to take out Louisville, the overall No. 1 seed.

North Carolina and Connecticut were no surprise. And nobody will be terribly surprised if they meet a week from tonight in the championship game at Ford Field in Detroit.

Carolina and UConn will be solid favorites. Anybody who does not think 'Nova has a chance just has not been paying attention. Are the Wildcats likely to beat UNC in the second game on Saturday? No. Is it possible? With this team, almost anything has to be considered, including a national championship.

Michigan State does not appear to have the firepower to hang with UConn, but the Spartans do have some serious athletes. Will that be enough to beat UConn? Again, unlikely.

UNC (32-4), UConn (31-4), Michigan State (30-6) and Villanova (30-7) are a combined 123-21.

Pope AIDS virus by discouraging condom use

The Pope recently claimed that condom use exacerbates the spread of the AIDS virus. While medical professionals are making a large hoo-haa about his statement, it appears to be consistent with the Pope’s other beliefs. After all, if you use a condom, you’re not abstaining and therefore are by default at increased risk of contracting HIV.

Rumour has it that President Kgalema ’seat-warmer’ Motlanthe will be naturalising the Pope as an honourary South African and including him as a member of the prestigious International Dumb Things to Say about HIV/AIDS hall of fame. Current members include ex-South African president Thabo Mbeki, Mr Jacob ‘I took a shower’ Zuma and ex-South African health minister Manto ‘rub my nice herbs on your genitals’ Tshabalala-Msimang.

McCain pleased with Obama’s Afghanistan plan

Washington, Mar.30 (ANI): Former Republican presidential candidate and Arizona Senator John McCain has welcomed President Barack Obama’s strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

“I think the outlines of this proposal are good. The best way to get out of Afghanistan fast is people to think we’re staying,” Politico quoted McCain, as saying.

“The main thing I would have done in that speech, I’m sorry to say, is to tell the American people that it’s going to be long and hard and tough. We’ve got to prepare the American people for a significant expenditure of American blood and treasure,” he added. (ANI)

General Motors Appoints Frederick “Fritz” Henderson As CEO

Rick Wagoner’s chair has barely cooled, but General Motors has already named current GM president and Chief Operating Officer Frederick “Fritz” Henderson as its new CEO.

Henderson will take over the helm of the troubled company from March 31 onward, with the 50 year-old GM veteran the first of a number of new executive appointments.

Kent Kresa has also been named interim non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors, and had this to say about GM’s corporate restructuring:

“The Board has recognised for some time that the Company’s restructuring will likely cause a significant change in the stockholders of the Company and create the need for new directors with additional skills and experience.”

“The Board intends to work to nominate a slate of directors for the next annual meeting that will include a majority of new directors.”

Outgoing CEO Rick Wagoner was also positive about Henderson’s appointment, and expressed his approval in an internal company memo.

“Fritz Henderson is an excellent choice to be the next CEO of GM,” Wagoner said.

“Having worked closely with Fritz for many years, I know that he is the ideal person to lead the company through the completion of our restructuring efforts.

“His knowledge of the global industry and the company are exceptional, and he has the intellect, energy, and support among GM’ers worldwide to succeed.”

“GM is a great company with a storied history. Ignore the doubters because I know it is also a company with a great future.”

A prophetic announcement, or famous last words? Time will tell.