Saturday, April 3, 2010

Archbishop 'Regrets' Irish Church Conflict

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has expressed his "deep sorrow" for any difficulties caused by his comments about the Catholic Church in Ireland. His claim that the Church had lost all credibility because of its handling of child abuse by priests was criticized by both Catholic and Anglican clergy.

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said he was "stunned". Dr. Williams later telephoned Archbishop Martin to insist he meant no offence to the Irish Catholic Church.

Afghan Soldiers Killed By Germans

German troops have killed at least five Afghan soldiers in the northern province of Kunduz, Nato says. The Afghans were in two cars and did not heed warnings to stop as they drove up to German troops, Nato said.

Afghan officials says six soldiers were killed. It is unclear why they were in unmarked vehicles. Hours earlier, militants killed three Germans nearby.

Meanwhile, President Karzai has sought to allay concern about his criticism of Western involvement in his country. Karzai had accused foreign officials in Kabul of seeking to weaken him and his government, and blamed them for fraud in Afghanistan's 2009 presidential election. The White House said his comments were "troubling".

But on Friday, Mr Karzai telephoned US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and told her Afghans were grateful for the international community's help.

Red-Shirts Occupy Central Bangkok

Tens of thousands of Thai protesters have occupied central Bangkok in their latest push to topple the government.

Crowds defied warnings to leave or face arrest and settled in for the night. The government says the rally is illegal and is negotiating with them.

The anti-government protesters, known as the red-shirts, are calling on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and hold early elections.

The red-shirted demonstrators have been holding regular protests for weeks. Saturday's demonstrations saw central roads in the capital blocked, traffic halted and at least two of Thailand's biggest shopping malls forced to close.

US Delays China Currency Report

The US Treasury is delaying by several months a report on whether China manipulates its currency, the yuan. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said he would delay the report, which was due out on 15 April, until after a series of high-level international meetings.

The decision may improve US relations with China but could upset some American lawmakers. It is no secret that the US believes China keeps the yuan artificially low, harming the US economy. But saying that in an official report is a different matter.

It would set off a chain of events that could eventually result in unilateral US sanctions against Chinese products and could damage relations between the two countries.

Geithner justified pushing back his report to the US Congress by saying he would use upcoming events, including a G20 meeting and a US-China summit, to try to encourage the communist superpower to change its currency position.

Branding China as a currency manipulator at this stage would cause headaches for the Obama administration.

South Korea Ends Search For Sailors

South Korea has called off a rescue operation for more than 40 sailors missing since a warship sank last week.

A navy spokesman said the operation will now focus on salvaging the wreck, Yonhap news agency reported. Earlier, the South Korean military said that it had recovered the body of one of the crew.

The corvette Cheonan exploded and sank in unexplained circumstances off Baengnyeong Island, near the disputed maritime border with North Korea.

Families of the lost sailors asked the military to suspend the operation for fear of additional casualties, Yonhap reported.

"We called off a rescue operation... at 11pm [1400 GMT Saturday] following the request from the relatives," the navy spokesman said.

"From Sunday we will focus on salvaging the wreckage."

Rescue teams had hoped survivors could have been trapped in watertight sections of the vessel. Officials have said the salvage effort could last a month.

A total of 58 people were rescued from the bow of the ship soon after it started sinking but efforts to find the missing 46 have been hampered by bad weather and strong currents.

In a subsequent tragedy, one person has died and eight others are missing after a fishing boat taking part in the search sank late on Friday, officials said.

5 Arrests Made In NJ Child Gang-Rape Case

Two adults and three juveniles have been charged with gang-raping a 7-year-old girl who police say was sold by her 15-year-old stepsister during a party at a crime-ridden New Jersey apartment building.

Details on the arrests were announced at a Saturday night news conference at police headquarters in Trenton, the state's capital city.

The arrested people include a 20-year-old man who already had been charged Friday with having sex with the 15-year-old. The other four are a 19-year-old Trenton man and three boys ages 13, 14 and 17. Each is charged with aggravated sexual assault and child endangerment.

Police say further arrests may be made.

Mom Says Baby Saved Family From House Fire

A mother said her newborn baby saved her family from a house fire by waking them up with its cries. Police told WKYT-TV they suspect a drunken neighbor burned down the home south of Hyden, in Leslie County, on Friday.

Kelley Wooton had just brought home her 10-day-old daughter, Arizona. She said the baby's cries woke the family. Still they were not sure they were going to be able to escape.

Leslie County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Short saw the flames as he was driving by and helped the family escape.

Police arrested the neighbor after the fire. He was charged with wanton endangerment, arson, disorderly conduct, and public intoxication.

UPDATE: Police: Notre Dame Recruit 'Drunk' On Fatal Fall

A "drunk and belligerent" 17-year-old Notre Dame football recruit was killed in a fall from a fifth-floor hotel balcony during his senior-year spring break in Florida, authorities said Saturday.

Matt James died Friday around 6:30 p.m. at the Days Inn Motel in Panama City Beach. Police said he was dead when officers arrived.

"It appears to be a tragic accident," Panama City Beach police Maj. David Humphreys said.

James' former teammates at St. Xavier High School gathered for a private prayer service in the school's chapel, mourning the second death of an athlete this school year. James, an all-state offensive lineman, had been the first top signing for new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

James was part of a group of about 40 St. Xavier students and a half-dozen parents on the trip.

"Witnesses and friends indicate he had become drunk and belligerent," Humphreys said. "He had leaned over the balcony rail, was shaking his finger at the people in the next room over. He fell over."

Humphreys said the railing at the hotel met the standards for proper height. He said police would be interested in pursuing charges if they learn who provided the underage teen with alcohol.

Police said an autopsy on James would be done later. Toxicology results were pending.

Body Found In Brush Fire

A body was found in a brush fire in Forsyth County Saturday, investigators said. Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers confirmed to WSB-TV in Atlanta that a body was found as firefighters battled a brush and structure fire near Chamblee Gap Road.

Officials said the victim was a 64-year-old neighbor. One home was destroyed in the fire. The Forsyth County Fire Department and the Georgia Forestry were both fighting the fire that covers 5- 8 acres.

4-Year-Old Twins From Gwinnett Killed In Crash

Authorities have identified the six people killed in a Nassau County fatal car crash, including four children. Those who died were identified Saturday as Melissa L. Mitchell, 39, Miya Mitchell, 11, and 4-year-old twin brothers Christian and Keyshawn Perry, all of Lawrenceville, Ga. The others who died were Brenda Mitchell Edwards, 57, and Dhanja Mitchell, 16, both of Jacksonville.

Lt. Bill Leeper, a spokesman for the Florida Highway Patrol, was unable to say how the victims were related.

According to police, Pedro Juan Ocasio Alcazar, 38, of Jacksonville was speeding Friday when his car hit another vehicle on a major highway. That car then went into the median and hit a pickup truck.

Alcazar, who was not injured, was charged Saturday with six counts of vehicular homicide in connection with the deaths. Online jail records show he was being held at the Nassau County jail on $300,000 bond. He was assigned a public defender, but jail records did not list the attorney's name.

Apple iPad Hits American Stores

Apple's latest product, the iPad tablet computer, has gone on sale in here in the U.S..

The first generation model has wi-fi but not 3G connectivity, and unlike other tablet devices, it is not yet available outside the US. The New York Apple store in Manhattan opened its doors to a 500-strong crowd at 0900 EST.

Queues for the new iPad were considerably smaller than the crowds which gathered for the launch of the iPhone in 2007, according to reports. However people had traveled to the US from around the world to purchase a device.

Apple took pre-orders online but some early adopters began queuing outside stores the day before its release. The company's co-founder Steve Wozniak joined a queue outside an Apple store in California on Friday evening.

He said he had pre-ordered the device, which is retailing in the US at $499 - $829. European prices have not yet been announced.

AP; Spiegel; Reuters; US Treasury; WKYT-TV, Lexington Kentucky; WSB-TV, Atlanta; Apple, Inc.

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