AP News in Brief at 5:58 p.m. EST

AP News
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Posted: Nov 15, 2009 6:18 PM

Walking a fine line: Obama seeks Chinese help on global problems while supporting human rights

SHANGHAI (AP) _ President Barack Obama is walking a tightrope on his first trip to China, seeking to enlist help in tackling urgent global problems while weighing when and how _ or if _ he should raise traditional human rights concerns.

Obama arrived in Shanghai late at night, in a driving rain, hustling through a phalanx of umbrella-holding dignitaries to reach his limousine. On Monday, the president is holding talks with local politicians and, in one of the marquee events of his weeklong Asian trip, conducting an American-style town hall discussion with Chinese university students.

Thirty years after the start of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the ties are growing _ but remain mixed on virtually every front.

The two nations are partnering more than ever on battling global warming, but they still differ deeply over hard targets for reductions in the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause it. China has supported sterner sanctions to halt North Korea's nuclear weapons program, but it still balks at getting more aggressive about reining in Iran's uranium enrichment.

China is a huge and lucrative market for American goods and services, and yet it has a giant trade deficit with the U.S. that, like a raft of other economic issues, is a bone of contention between the two governments. The two militaries have increased their contacts, but clashes still happen and the U.S. remains worried about a dramatic buildup in what is already the largest standing army in the world.

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French, Afghan troops push into hostile valley to secure area for bypass road around Kabul

TAGAB VALLEY, Afghanistan (AP) _ Hundreds of French and Afghan troops on Sunday pushed into a hostile valley in eastern Afghanistan where militants launch quick attacks, then disappear into hillside villages. The mission: secure the area for a planned bypass road around the Afghan capital to move supplies from neighboring Pakistan.

About 700 French troops, joined by 100 Afghan soldiers, moved into the Tagab valley before dawn with more than 100 armored vehicles. U.S. and French attack helicopters roared overhead as insurgent snipers fired from the roofs of houses onto the advancing column of vehicles, according to a reporter for The Associated Press traveling with the French troops.

NATO forces have bases in the wide-bottomed valley, but they have had difficulty securing the mountainous area connected by small footpaths. Just 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Kabul, the valley is seen as a launching pad for attacks in the capital. In a neighboring valley last year, militants killed 10 French troops.

"The objective is to clear the valley to be able to build the road, and checkpoints financed by the European Union," said Col. Francis Chanson, head of France's 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment.

Construction has already begun in one of the safer parts of eastern Kapisa province.

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After years of waiting, dozens of Guantanamo detainees are getting their day in court

WASHINGTON (AP) _ In courtrooms barred to the public, dozens of terror suspects are pleading for their freedom from the Guantanamo Bay prison, sometimes even testifying on their own behalf by video from the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

Complying with a Supreme Court ruling last year, 15 federal judges in the U.S. courthouse here are giving detainees their day in court after years behind bars half a world away from their homelands.

The judges have found the government's evidence against 30 detainees wanting and ordered their release. That number could rise significantly because the judges are on track to hear challenges from dozens more prisoners.

Scooped up along with hard-core terrorist suspects in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere, these 30 detainees stand in stark contrast to the 10 prisoners whom the Obama administration targeted for prosecution Friday for plotting the Sept. 11 and other terrorist attacks. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the professed mastermind of 9/11, and four of his alleged henchmen are headed for a federal civilian trial in New York; five others, including a top suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole, will be tried by a military commission.

More detainees are expected to soon be added to the prosecution list. But there will still be plenty of cases left among the 215 detainees now at Guantanamo to keep the judges here busy as they work to clear a legal morass the Bush administration created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

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Giuliani, GOP, criticize NY trials of alleged terrorists while Democrats defend decision

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Bringing those accused in the Sept. 11 attacks to New York for trial would increase the security threat to the city and give radical Islamists a platform to propagate their ideology, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Sunday.

Giuliani's view that the Obama administration is erring in trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others near the site of the World Trade Center was echoed by other Republicans on the Sunday news programs.

Democrats defended the decision of Attorney General Eric Holder to try the five in New York where more than 2,000 civilians were killed on Sept. 11. If someone murders Americans in this country, they should be tried in the U.S., said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"I don't think we should run and hide and cower. Let's use our system," Leahy said.

Republicans argued that the five are war criminals and should be tried in the military tribunals where other Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainees will be judged. They disputed administration arguments that these five were conspirators to a crime committed on American soil.

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Britain, Australia apologize for mistreatment of child migrants sent to 'better life' overseas

LONDON (AP) _ As many as 150,000 poor British children were shipped off to the colonies over three and a half centuries, often taken from struggling families under programs intended to provide them with a new start _ and the Empire with a supply of sturdy white workers.

Forty years after the program stopped, Britain and Australia are saying sorry to the child migrants, who were promised a better life only to suffer abuse and neglect thousands of miles from home.

The British government said Sunday that Prime Minister Gordon Brown would apologize for child migrant programs that sent boys and girls as young as 3 to Australia, Canada and other former colonies. Many ended up in institutions where they were physically and sexually abused, or were sent to work as farm laborers.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will offer his own apology Monday to the child migrants, as well as to the "forgotten Australians," children who suffered in state care during the last century.

Sandra Anker, who was 6 when she was sent to Australia in 1950, said the British government has "a lot to answer for."

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Law enforcement officials acting on tip search area for missing North Carolina girl

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ Authorities acted on a tip Sunday and searched a wide area in south-central North Carolina trying to find a 5-year-old girl reported missing by her mother, who has been charged with human trafficking and child abuse involving prostitution.

Capt. Charles Kimble of the Fayetteville Police Department said several agencies were looking for signs of Shaniya Davis between Spring Lake and Sanford, which are about 25 miles apart. Kimble would not elaborate on what information officers had received. The area includes woods and some homes, police said.

"We're following up on a tip. It seems to be good, so we're out there looking," Kimble said.

The N.C. Highway Patrol sent a helicopter to aid in the search, Lt. Everett Clendenin said. Shaniya hasn't been seen since Tuesday, when a surveillance camera recorded the man charged in her kidnapping carrying the girl into a hotel room.

Earlier Sunday, authorities arrested Antoinette Nicole Davis, Shaniya's mother. Police did not say whether the charges against Davis, which also include filing a false police report, were related to her daughter's disappearance, but The Fayetteville Observer reported that arrest records indicated they were.

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NASA invites 100 geeky space fans to Monday's shuttle liftoff, 1st ever 'tweetup' for a launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ Fingers will be flying when space shuttle Atlantis blasts off Monday: About 100 of NASA's geekiest fans will be on hand, pecking away at iPhones, BlackBerrys, laptops and other Twittering gadgets.

They plan to let loose with electronic messages _ provided they aren't so swept away by the afternoon liftoff that they fall uncharacteristically silent for a moment or two.

"I'll be uploading stuff as it happens," promised Steve Wake, 38, a computer programmer who flew in from Denver. "On launch day, who knows? I may be too excited about everything else to even think about doing that stuff. When it's over with, I'm sure I will."

Laura Burns already has a strategy. She figures she'll have the words typed in and her finger hovering over the button so she can send a tweet at the moment of liftoff.

"I'll have to be like juggling my iPhone and my camera and my eyes, and trying to get everything all at once," said Burns, 33, a software systems engineer from Columbia, Md. She's using the Twitter name "moonrangerlaura" to chronicle her entire trip _ including the drive to Cape Canaveral and a pit stop for MoonPies.

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Lou Dobbs says departure from CNN was 'amicable,' expresses interest in running for office

NEW YORK (AP) _ Lou Dobbs says he doesn't feel like he was pushed out of CNN, the news organization where he worked for all but two years of its existence until last Wednesday.

"Not at all," he said in a weekend interview. "I don't know if people will believe it, but we had a very amicable parting on the best of terms. I spent 29 years there building that company, and I wish everyone there nothing but the best, and they have reciprocated with me."

He announced his resignation on "Lou Dobbs Tonight," finished the newscast and walked out of CNN.

It's hard to know whether the abruptness or the lack of rancor surrounding the exit was more noteworthy. Dobbs' outspokenness had made him a political target _ so much so that there were parties celebrating the departure over the weekend _ and an uncomfortable contradiction to what CNN says it wants to be.

Dobbs said he plans to take time deciding what he wants to do, beyond his daily radio show. He promised to reach out to groups who criticized him, most prominently because he advocated stern measures to halt illegal immigration. A petition campaign seeking his ouster took root in recent months after Dobbs gave attention on his show to questions about President Barack Obama's place of birth.

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'2012' has worldwide box-office bang of $225M, opens at No. 1 domestically with $65M

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Doom spelled dollars at the box office as the global-disaster tale "2012" opened at No. 1 domestically with $65 million and pulled in $225 million worldwide.

The Sony Pictures action saga tells the story of a scramble to save remnants of humanity aboard giant arks as the earth's crust shifts and flood waters pour over most of the planet. With a cast led by John Cusack, Danny Glover and Chiwetel Ejiofor, "2012" was directed by doomsday specialist Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow").

Overseas, "2012" did $17.2 million in France, $15.3 million in Russia, $9.9 million in South Korea and $8.1 million in Spain.

Domestically, "2012" came in just shy of the $68.7 million opening weekend for "The Day After Tomorrow." But Sony reported that its global total was the best ever for an original movie not based on an established franchise, brand or best-selling novel.

"Roland is that type of filmmaker that casts his net really wide," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. "The story is something people could really relate to. It's a story of the survival of humanity."

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Reggie Bush's first 2-TD game of season helps Saints overcome mistakes in 28-23 win over Rams

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Reggie Bush helped the New Orleans Saints overcome another bundle of mistakes to stay unbeaten for the best start in team history.

Bush scored twice for the first time in more than a year and Drew Brees compensated for two interceptions with two touchdown passes that allowed the Saints to escape with a 28-23 victory Sunday over the St. Louis Rams.

Courtney Roby opened the second half with a 97-yard kickoff return and Robert Meachem's 27-yard grab early in the fourth quarter gave New Orleans (9-0) just enough breathing room to tie the franchise record with nine straight wins.

"You're not going to blow everyone out," said cornerback Randall Gay, who played on the Patriots' 16-0 team in 2007. "It's a lot harder to blow teams out when for a lot of teams, this is like their playoff game."

Marc Bulger's 19-yard pass to Donnie Avery made it a five-point game with 2:44 to go and the Rams (1-8) made it to the New Orleans 32 before Bulger threw incomplete into the end zone on the final play.