30 October 2007

Hubble captures two galaxies interacting



A pair of interacting galaxies known as Arp 87 are shown in this photo released today by NASA and the European Space Agency. The Hubble Telescope captured the image of stars, gas and dust from the larger spiral galaxy on the right wrapping an arm around its smaller companion.

Arp 87 is located in the constellation of Leo, the Lion, and is about 300 million light-years away from Earth.  Arp 87 was first cataloged in the 1960s.

The images were taken in February 2007 with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 with an exposure time of 6.3 hours. This image is roughly 2.3 arcminutes (203,000 light-years or 62 kiloparsecs) wide.

--Paul Chavez

INSIDER INSIGHT: The buzz at NowPublic

A tropical storm, a college basketball program and some angry Chinese farmers are dominating the attention of contributors to NowPublic, the "crowd-powered media" site The Associated Press is working with to selectively incorporate citizen journalism -– especially photos and video -– into its news report.

Listen to this audio clip to learn more from NowPublic's Brian Kennedy.

-- Eric Carvin

INSIDER INSIGHT: The world in focus

Robocop(AP Photo/EyePress)
"No, this is not RoboCop."

That's how Michael Feldman, the AP's international photo editor, introduced this photo of a law enforcement officer in Zhengzhou, China. The officer was showing off body armor and a gun that shoots a net to catch dogs.

Meanwhile, a few hundred miles up the road, baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. has some fun during a clinic he's conducting for kids in Beijing.

Ripken (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
See below for more of Feldman's top photo picks.

-- Eric Carvin

Continue reading "INSIDER INSIGHT: The world in focus" »

29 October 2007

Indian police lock landless protesters in fairgrounds


(AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

Police in India chained the gates to vast fairgrounds today where some 27,000 landless demonstrators had gathered in New Delhi, barricading the protesters inside and preventing them from marching to the nation's capital.

Today was supposed to be the end of an 185-mile march north from the city of Gwalior to the nation's capital to highlight the plight of the masses who have been largely untouched by India's economic boom.

DID YOU KNOW?: Of India's 1.1 billion people about 450 million live on less than $1 a day, according to the World Bank.

For more on the demonstrations by the landless, read this report filed today from New Delhi by Gavin Rabinowitz.

--Paul Chavez

Yankees offer manager's job to Joe Girardi


(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Looks like former Yankees star and bench coach Don Mattingly won't be in pinstripes next year. The popular, early favorite to replace longtime manager Joe Torre has been passed over in favor of Joe Girardi, who spent the past season as a Yankees TV announcer after being fired last year by the Florida Marlins.

"Don was extremely disappointed to learn today that he wasn't the organization's choice to fill the managerial vacancy," Mattingly's agent, Ray Schulte, said today in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Instead, he was informed the organization offered the position to Joe Girardi."

Girardi, 43, beat out Mattingly and first-base coach Tony Pena for the job. Mattingly told the Yankees he isn't interested in a coaching position next year and he also extended congratulations to Girardi and offered his best wishes, Schulte said.

Girardi, shown above before Saturday's World Series game, was the first person to interview to replace Torre, who managed the team to the playoffs in each of his 12 seasons.

For more on the Yankees, who also lost star player Alex Rodriguez to free agency, read this report by AP baseball writer Ronald Blum.

--Paul Chavez

INSIDER INSIGHT: The buzz at NowPublic

Baseball, cardboard tubes and the anniversary of a journalist's death are dominating the attention of contributors to NowPublic, the "crowd-powered media" site The Associated Press is working with to selectively incorporate citizen journalism -– especially photos and video -– into its news report.

Listen to this audio clip to learn more from NowPublic's Brian Kennedy.

-- Eric Carvin

Israeli PM Olmert discloses treatable prostate cancer

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Israelis today that he has a treatable form of prostate cancer. Watch the above AP video report for details and for the latest developments, read this story from Jerusalem by Matti Friedman.

--Paul Chavez

Fast Focus: Cristina Fernandez vs. Hillary Clinton

(AP Photos/Eduardo Di Baia/Charles Dharapak)

Nike_price_copy_3 It's not an episode of "Wife Swap." It's Argentina's presidential election. Partial election results indicate that President Nestor Kirchner and first lady Cristina Fernandez will switch roles in December. That would make Fernandez the country's first elected female president. Sound sorta familiar?

In this audio clip, the AP's Niko Price discusses the comparisons between Fernandez and Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Read Price's story about the election here.

-- Derrik J. Lang

Court to hear Exxon Valdez case

Scotus_exxon_valdez_rumb (AP Photo/John Gaps III, File)

Should Exxon Mobil Corp. have to pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages for the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill

The Supreme Court will decide.

Nearly 20 years after the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled 11 million gallons of oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound and affected 1,200 miles of coastline, the nation's highest court will finally decide if the penalty is fair. In 1994, a federal court cut the $5 billion award in half.

AP Writer Mark Sherman reports the justices will consider if Exxon has to pay any punitive damages at all. The company is arguing that $2.5 billion is excessive under laws governing shipping. Exxon said it should not have to pay any further fines because it already has paid $3.4 billion in clean-up costs and other penalties resulting from the oil spill in 1989.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the damages awarded is "barely more than three weeks of Exxon's net profits."

-- Howie Rumberg

Yankees win! Wait, Yankees win?

Soxfans (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Is there a reason to feel happy for these guys anymore?

When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series back in 2004, there was cause to celebrate outside of New England, too. Who doesn't want to see decades of misery washed away by a scruffy group of self-proclaimed "idiots," including one in blood-soaked hose?

But is the bloom off that rose, now that the high-priced Red Sox are looking less like an underdog and more like, well ... the Yankees? (And let's not forget that just about every team in Boston -- heck, even the Bruins have a winning record -- is enjoying a preposterous level of success right now.)

For some outside perspective, check out AP Sports Columnist Tim Dahlberg's take (below).
--Josh L. Dickey

Continue reading "Yankees win! Wait, Yankees win?" »

INSIDER INSIGHT: The world in focus

Timor (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)
Timor2(AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

Two of the images highlighted by AP International Photo Editor Michael Feldman at the AP global news meeting came from East Timor, where pilgrims traveled to a Christ statue on Matebian Mountain -- formerly the site of a rebel base.

Some claim that, in 1978, thousands of Timorese were killed at the base in fighting with Indonesia forces.

See below for more of the AP photos Feldman chose to highlight at the meeting. (Though Rockies fans might want to cover their eyes.)

-- Eric Carvin

Continue reading "INSIDER INSIGHT: The world in focus" »

28 October 2007

Chargers treat fire-weary San Diego to rout


(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

The San Diego Chargers helped bring some normalcy to a region that's been ravaged by deadly wildfires by whipping the Houston Texans today by a score of 35-10. Philip Rivers tossed three touchdown passes for the Chargers and cornerback Antonio Cromartie had a great game with a fumble recovery for a touchdown and two interceptions, one of which he returned 70 yards for another TD. Cromartie is shown above with the ball celebrating with teammate Barton Siler after recovering a bad snap in the end zone.

The game was played at Qualcomm Stadium just two days after the last fire evacuee left and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and firefighters were on hand for the game.

For more details on the Chargers, read this report by AP sports writer Bernie Wilson.

UNDEFEATED MATCHUP SET: In other developments, the New England Patriots won again, this time thoroughly dismantling the Washington Redskins, 52-7. The Indianapolis Colts also won today with Peyton Manning leading the way to a 31-7 win over the Carolina Panthers. The Colts and Patriots play each other next weekend in a battle of unbeaten teams.

--Paul Chavez

Exit polls show Argentine first lady winning


(AP Photo/Argentina's Presidency)

Exit polls suggest that first lady Cristina Fernandez won the presidential election by a large enough margin to avoid a runoff, which would make her the first woman in Argentina elected to the post.

Official results were due later today and none of the opposition candidates have conceded defeat. Some challengers complained of unprecedented fraud.

Fernandez is shown above, right, with her husband, President Nestor Kircher, after they voted and returned to the capital to await results. Her husband is widely credited for Argentina's rebound from a 2001 economic collapse and much of her support is due to her popularity.

For the latest on the Argentinean elections, read this report that will be updated with the latest results by Bill Cormier from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

--Paul Chavez .

7 college students killed in N.C. beach house fire

Beachhouse_2Seven college students died today after the North Carolina beach house they were staying in erupted in flames. Six survivors were hospitalized, including one student who jumped from the burning structure into a nearby canal.

Six of the students who died were from the University of South Carolina and the seventh victim was from Clemson University. The six who survived also were from USC.

Officials said the fire struck sometime before 7 a.m. and burned through the first and second floors, leaving only the frame intact. The waterfront home was built on stilts and firefighters had to climb a ladder onto the house's deck to reach the first floor.

In the accompanying AP photo by Logan Wallace, firefighters are seen lowering a body out of the burned out beach house.

For the latest information on this tragic story, read this report by Estes Thompson.

--Paul Chavez

8 dead in Iraq suicide bombing; sheiks kidnapped

Watch the above AP video for a report on a suicide bombing in Kirkuk, Iraq, that left eight dead and dozens wounded. For the latest developments in Iraq, read this dispatch from Baghdad by Kim Gamel, which has details on the broad daylight abduction today of 10 Sunni and Shiite tribal sheiks.

--Paul Chavez

Report: Gap uses child labor in India


(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

An investigation by a British newspaper found children as young as 10 making clothes for Gap Inc. in a sweatshop in New Delhi, India, and the good were destined for sale in the West.

The Observer reported today that the children said they had been sold to the sweatshop by their families and they could not leave until they had repaid that fee. The paper quoted on boy identified only as Jivas as saying that child employees who cried or did not work hard enough were hit with a rubber pipe or had oily cloths stuffed into their mouths.

Gap officials told The Associated Press today that the sweatshop was run by a subcontractor hired in violation of company policies and none of the goods made there will be sold in stores.

For more, read this report filed today out of London.

--Paul Chavez

Israel cuts fuel supplies to Gaza Strip


(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

Israel promised to cut fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip if the area's Hamas rulers didn't put an end to months of Palestinian rocket attacks. They kept that promise today and ordered Dor Alon, the Israeli energy company that sells fuel to Gaza, to reduce shipments.

Palestinians in Gaza rely on Israel for nearly all their fuel and gasoline and more than half of their electricity. The Israeli plan has drawn harsh criticism from human rights groups and the international community, which believe the sanctions amount to collective punishment.

In the photo above, Palestinians examine the rubble of a house after an explosion yesterday in the southern Gaza Strip that killed two women and a 4-year-old girl. The Israeli military denies carrying out an operation in the area and Palestinian police believe explosives being handled by militants accidentally exploded.

For more on the fuel crunch in the Gaza Strip, read this report by Sarah El Deeb from Gaza City, Gaza Strip.

--Paul Chavez

In the news Sunday


(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

California firefighters work to hold gains

Astronauts conduct second spacewalk

Vatican beatifies 498 martyrs

Report: 15 Kurds dead in clashes with Turkey

Rookies lead Red Sox to brink of sweep

Caption: Boston Red Sox player Jacoby Ellsbury watches his RBI double against the Colorado Rockies in the eighth inning in Game 3 of the baseball World Series Saturday at Coors Field in Denver. Boston's Julio Lugo scored on the hit.

--Paul Chavez

27 October 2007

College football: No. 5 Oregon tops No. 9 USC


(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Oregon is still a contender for the national title after the fifth-ranked Ducks beat No. 9 USC 24-17 today in front of a raucous crowd at Autzen Stadium.

Southern California, ranked No. 1 in many polls before the season, suffered their second Pac-10 defeat with the loss and winning the conference will be a long shot at this point. Jonathan Stewart, shown above, ran for 103 yards and scored two touchdowns. Oregon's Dennis Dixon also passed for 157 yards and ran for another 76 yards and a touchdown. The Ducks (7-1) came into the game ranked second nationally in offense.

For more on the game, read this report by AP sports writer Anne M. Peterson.

--Paul Chavez

VIDEO: Astronomy village in Georgia

There's a simple rule at the astronomy village in eastern Georgia: now white light. Watch the AP video above for more details and for an even more on the village, read this report by Dorie Turner.

--Paul Chavez

Astronauts open new space station addition


(AP Photo/NASA TV)

Astronauts floated into the newest addition to the international space station today and formally christened the sparkling white room known as Harmony.

Space station commander Peggy Whitson and Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli -- shown above with an unidentified astronaut -- were the first ones in.

The chamber was named by schoolchildren in America and was made in Italy.

For more on the space station, read this report filed today by AP aerospace writer Marcia Dunn.

Chinese tech firm raises $1.5 billion in IPO


(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Chinese technology company Alibaba.com Ltd. reached its goal today of raising $1.5 billion in its initial public offering, sources told The Associated Press.

The  e-commerce portal, sold 858.9 million shares, or a 17 percent stake, at roughly $1.75 each, a source told Dow Jones Newswires on condition of anonymity. The shares will debut on the Hong Kong stock market on Nov. 6.

Interested investors are shown above receiving copies of the prospectus and brochures for the IPO.

For more on Alibaba.com, read this report filed today from Hong Kong.

--Paul Chavez

Heavy fighting erupts in Somalia's capital


(AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor)

The heaviest fighting in months hit Somalia's capital today as insurgents and government-backed troops fired machine guns, mortars and rocket-proplled grenades, leaving at least seven dead and dozens wounded, officials told The Associated Press.

Islamic fighters briefly took over a police station in south Mogadishu and chanted "God is great" before heading back out of the area.

At least 35 people, including the woman shown above, were being treated at Mogadishu's Medina Hospital.

MORE HARDSHIP: Some 1.5 million Somalis are now in need of food and protection -- 50 percent more than at the start of the year -- due to inadequate rains, continuing internal displacement and a potential cholera epidemic, the U.N. says.

For more on the fighting in Somalia, read this report by from Mogadishu by Salad Duhul.

--Paul Chavez

In the news Saturday


(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

SoCal wildfire pollution poses health threat

Auto workers OK 4-year pact with Chrysler

Democrats lash out at GOP over children's health program

Turkish prime minister vows fight with Kurds 'when needed'

Red Sox a mile high in Denver with 2-0 lead

Caption:The Colorado Rockies take batting practice at Coors Field in Denver on Friday The Rockies will face the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 today of baseball's World Series. Boston leads the best-of-seven games series 2-0.

--Paul Chavez

26 October 2007

Wildfire headlines

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

From phony press conferences to evacuees returning home, there was plenty of news today about the wildfires in Southern California. Here's a round-up of the latest headlines from the AP:

-- Derrik J. Lang

INSIDER INSIGHT: The buzz at NowPublic

The latest reports on the California wildfires -- including an AP story on the impact of red tape on response times -- are dominating the attention of contributors to NowPublic, the "crowd-powered media" site The Associated Press is working with to selectively incorporate citizen journalism -– especially photos and video -– into its news report.

NowPublic contributors are also debating the new route for the next Tour de France, and some are salivating over a new Honda motorcycle.

Listen to this audio clip to learn more from NowPublic's Brian Kennedy.

-- Eric Carvin

INSIDER INSIGHT: The world in focus

Iraq(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

This photo, of a child at play -- with a toy rocket-propelled grenade launcher -- is one of several images highlighted at this morning's AP global news meeting by AP Photo Supervisor Jim Collins.

The picture was taken in Sadr City, a Shiite enclave of Baghdad.

Collins also pointed out the photo below, shot outside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' headquarters in the West Bank City of Ramallah. The boy in the image is holding up a portrait of relatives jailed by Israel, as part of a demonstration calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Ramallah(AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

See below for more of Collins' top-photo picks of the moment.

-- Eric Carvin

Continue reading "INSIDER INSIGHT: The world in focus" »

High price of oil

Crude oil prices spiked above $92 a barrel Friday.

Why? Tensions in the Middle East and renewed concerns about supply.

The United States announced new sanctions against Iran on Thursday, and a confrontation between the world's largest oil consumer and its fourth largest oil producer could upend markets.

Also, a threatened incursion by Turkish armed forces into Iraq would cut oil supplies out of northern Iraq. Turkey has warned it will decide whether to cross into Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish guerrillas regardless of U.S. objections.

On Thursday, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Secretary General Abdalla el-Badri told The Wall Street Journal Asia the cartel is not in discussions to boost production by 500,000 barrels.

For more, check out this AP story by Pablo Gorondi.

-- Jaime Holguin

Fashion designer charged

Anand (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg, File)

He made the rounds at parties and fashion events, working with celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Michelle Rodriguez and Mary J. Blige. He was even deemed an up-and-coming industry player by Newsweek in 2003.

But today, celebrity fashion designer Anand Jon Alexander is being held without bail in Los Angeles, charged with  sexually assaulting 20 teenage girls and young women allegedly lured with promises of modeling jobs.

Alexander has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

For more, check out this AP story.

-- Jaime Holguin

Che's tress

Che_hair (AP Photo/Amy Conn-Gutierrez)

A Houston-area collector became the proud owner of a 3-inch hair lock that was snipped from Ernesto "Che" Guevara before his burial in 1967.

Bill Butler, who bid over the phone, said he was a collector of 1960s items and the hair lock would fit in well.

Butler paid $100,000 for the tress, which sold at auction Thursday.

To find out the story behind the lock of hair, check out this AP story by Paul J. Weber.

For a look at Guevara's final days, check out this asap audio slideshow by yours truly highlighting some post-mortem photographs of the revolutionary.

-- Jaime Holguin