Nock-Ten Passes Over Hainan In S. China

HAIKOU, China, July 30 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Nock-Ten, which killed at least 50 people in the Philippines, did little damage in Hainan in South China, officials said.

The storm hit the island province Friday afternoon, Xinhua, the official news agency, reported. By Saturday morning, Nock-Ten was over Beibu Bay and expected to come ashore again just north of the Vietnamese border.

Almost 190,000 people were evacuated from their homes, the State Flood Control and Drought Relief agency reported. But only 148 homes were reported damaged and one person was injured.

In the Philippines, where the storm was given the name Juaning, authorities said 50 deaths had been confirmed in Luzon province by Saturday morning and 25 people were missing, the Philippine Daily Star reported. Most of the dead drowned or were hit by mudslides with some fatalities reported from falling trees and flying debris, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

Nock-Ten is the most powerful of the eight tropical storms that have hit China so far this year.

Syrian Oil Pipeline Bombed

TALKALAKH, Syria, July 30 (UPI) — Saboteurs exploded a bomb on an oil pipeline near the town of Talkalakh, near Syria’s border with Lebanon, leaving a deep crater, officials said.

The explosion left a crater about 30 feet deep and 50 feet across, causing an undetermined amount of raw oil to spill into the environment, Xinhua reported Saturday.

Officials speculated the saboteurs wanted the oil to leak into a reservoir that provides irritation water so it would destroy nearby agricultural crops.

Xinhua said the small town of Talkalakh has been a focal point of anti-government protests.

Syrian officials blame the unrest in the country on armed gangs and religious extremists.

No one was injured in the blast.

U.K. Tabloids Fined Over Reporting Style

LONDON, July 30 (UPI) — Two British tabloid newspapers have been fined for contempt for their reports on a murder suspect who was acquitted.

A London court fined The Daily Mirror $24,500 and the Sun $29,500 for their reporting earlier this year on Christopher Jefferies, who was a suspect in the 2010 murder of landscape architect Joanna Yeates.

Jefferies, a retired school teacher, was released and all charges were dropped, The Guardian reported.

The ruling against the newspaper said the Sun’s reporting created a “very serious risk” of biasing future prosecution, while The Daily Mirror was chastised for publishing “substantial risks to the course of justice.”

The judges left an option available for the newspapers to appeal the fines, the report said.

Their decision follows an admission by eight national newspapers they had unfairly castigated Jefferies as a killer. He has been paid undisclosed financial damages by the Sun, Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Record, Daily Mail, Daily Star, the Scotsman and Daily Express, the report said.

Israeli Students Angry About Economy

TEL AVIV, Israel, July 30 (UPI) — Israeli student protests over rising tuition and the economy have spread from Tel Aviv to at least a half-dozen other cities, officials said.

The protests started small about two weeks ago in Tel Aviv, the Israel capital, but the number of tents along the city’s Rothschild Boulevard is growing, and protests are popping up in other cities, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Thousands of people marched in Tel Aviv Saturday in support of protesters calling for the Israeli government to take action.

Housing prices in Tel Aviv jumped nearly 50 percent from 2008 to 2010, government figures said, with rents increasing nationwide by 20 percent. Rents in Tel Aviv climbed by 30 percent in the first three months of 2010. Education costs have risen dramatically as well, students said.

Income hasn’t kept pace and the situation is seen by many as one of the major issues faced by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“There’s no quick, populist solution,” said government spokesman Mark Regev. “The challenge of the government is to create a larger supply in a short period of time.”

He said Netanyahu’s plan is to free up more land for private development.

“The prime minister believes competition will drive down prices,” Regev said.

Haaretz said tent cities have sprung up in several cities across the country in recent weeks. Protests were scheduled Saturday for several cities, including Tel Aviv.

Police: Oslo Suspect Planned Other Attacks

OSLO, Norway, July 30 (UPI) — The man who admitted to killing more than 70 people in two attacks in Norway planned to attack the royal palace and other government locations, officials said.

Views and News From Norway reported Anders Behring Breivik, who confessed to a car bombing in Oslo and shooting deaths on a nearby island, planned to attack other locations that would “hit the government.”

Investigators said Breivik had no individual targets at the royal palace, saying it was a symbolic target. Investigators said Breivik also planned to attack the Labor Party’s headquarters in central Oslo but was thwarted by logistical problems.

At a news conference Saturday, police described Breivik as “more than willing to explain himself” during interrogations Friday. Investigators said Breivik was “very taken up with details” in his explanations about the attacks and sees himself “as a great general that is at war against the Muslim’s invasion of Europe.”

A friend of one of the young people killed when Breivik allegedly opened fire on the island, Utoya, said Breivik would pay for his actions.

“We would rather strengthen our trust and love rather than fall victim to his degeneration,” said Roland E. Goksoyr, 18, a friend of Bano Rashid, 18, who was killed on the island. “We will punish him, not by killing him or torturing him, but by defying his every wish.”

Senate To Vote On Reid Debt Plan

WASHINGTON, July 30 (UPI) — The stalemate over raising the debt ceiling continued Saturday in Washington as the U.S. Senate prepared to vote on a Democratic plan for deficit reduction.

The vote on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill was scheduled for early Sunday because Reid, D-Nev., only introduced it Friday night, The New York Times reported. New Senate rules require a 24-hour waiting period.

The Republican leaders in the House planned to vote on the Reid bill Saturday afternoon, rejecting it before it passes the Senate, the Times said. The Senate voted down a bill introduced by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, late Friday.

Reid’s bill would raise the federal debt ceiling until after the next election.

President Barack Obama is open to extending the country’s Tuesday debt default date if Republicans show willingness to compromise, The Hill reported Saturday.

Unidentified Democratic sources told the Washington newspaper there had been little communication between the Republican-majority House of Representatives and the White House Friday night as the clock wound down to a financial default on Tuesday.

Obama reportedly was willing to use executive authority to briefly extend the debt-ceiling deadline if he saw progress in the partisan stalemate, the newspaper said.

Boehner has taken a hardline approach at capping the U.S. debt, cutting government spending and enacting legislation forcing a balanced budget.

In the Democratic-led Senate, Reid was reportedly working on legislation Saturday that could pass in the House.

Since winning the House majority last year, Republicans have focused on the country’s $14 trillion debt and unemployment that’s risen to 9.2 percent.

Woman Learns Of Daughter’s Death Online

PHOENIX, July 30 (UPI) — An Iola, Kan., woman says she was mortified to read about the death a 10-year-old daughter she left behind after fleeing an abusive relationship.

Shirley Deal said she fled an abusive household in Midland, Texas, several years ago, leaving behind her daughter Ame, who was found dead July 12, stuffed into a small footlocker in Phoenix, The Arizona Republic reported.

Deal, 38, who didn’t say why she didn’t take the child with her when she fled, said a friend directed her to an online report in the Arizona Republic, describing her daughter’s death.

“I read the newspaper, and it made me so upset,” Deal said. “They just need to go to jail for life or get lethal injection. That’s what they need because of what they did to my 10-year-old baby.”

Four people were arrested in Ame’s death, which police have said is a homicide; Deal said she knows three of the suspects. By all accounts, Ame was regularly abused and lived in a trash-strewn household with several adults and a dozen other children.

Phoenix police arrested John Allen, and his wife, Sammantha, both 23, and Cynthia Stoltzmann, 44, and Judith Deal, 72. The Allens were expected to be charged with first-degree murder; the other two face kidnapping and child-abuse charges.

The entire group lived in a Phoenix house rented to David Deal, 51, who is listed as Ame’s father on her birth certificate.

Investigators said the Allens stuffed the 59-pound girl into a small footlocker after she took a frozen treat from the refrigerator. The footlocker was then padlocked and the Allens feel asleep; Ame was found dead the next morning.

Shirley Deal said she was “honestly unsure” if Ame was the daughter of her former husband, David, who she married in Punxsutawney, Pa., in 1996. Deal said she was having a relationship with another man when Ame was conceived.

The Deals have three children, a son, now 13, and another daughter, now 12, and Ame, who was 10.

Marines Counter Nudist Beach Invasion

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif., July 30 (UPI) — The Marines say the beach at Camp Pendleton in San Diego is off limits to civilians whether they are wearing clothes or not.

The Los Angeles Times said the Corps has found itself in the middle of a beef between civilian nude sunbathers who say California state park rangers have crossed on to federal land to order them to cover up.

Gold Beach at the San Diego-area base is used for amphibious training purposes, but it has become a haven for nudists who use the unpopulated stretch of sand to soak up rays au naturel. But sunbathers say rangers from neighboring San Onofre State Beach have intruded on Gold Beach to write tickets.

Base officials have posted a sign telling civilians to keep out. A spokesman told the Times non-Marines aren’t allowed on their side of the beach “regardless of their beach use intentions.”

The Times noted the sunbathers plan to fight their citations in court.

Amazon Capitulates On State Taxes

SEATTLE, July 30 (UPI) — U.S. Internet giant Amazon said it would support an even-handed approach to online businesses collecting state sales taxes.

In a letter to Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Amazon said, “a simple nationwide system of state and local sales-tax collection, evenhandedly applied to all sellers no matter their business model, location of level of remote sales,” would be acceptable, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Durbin in the Senate and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., in the House are planning to introduce legislation to overturn the 1992 Supreme Court ruling that allows businesses to avoid paying state taxes if they have no physical presence in that state.

Several states, including New York and California, have passed laws to try to force online companies to pay state and local taxes. Amazon is suing New York State over its law.

But companies may see the writing on the wall. California’s law stretches the definition of a physical presence in a state by including Internet firms in the state that have links that feed customers to out of state companies.

By extension, Amazon is in California, because firms that run Web sites that refer customers to Amazon are in California, according to the statute that took effect July 1.

Amazon has also started lobbying in California to have that law reversed.

The argument from Main Street is that a store selling the same item that an out-of-state Internet firm is selling is at a disadvantage. By law, the Internet firm is afforded a built-in discount equal to the state’s sales tax.

Katherine Lugar, vice president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, a group that represents Walmart Stores, Inc., Target Corp. and other national retailers, said, “Government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers by giving a handful of companies a competitive advantage over everyone else.”

Gossip Rich On Libyan Rebel Leader’s Death

TRIPOLI, Libya, July 30 (UPI) — Speculation and accusations were flying in Libya Saturday as a slain leader of the civil war rebels was buried in Benghazi.

The country’s former interior minister who defected to the rebel movement in February, Abdel Fattah Younis, was killed Thursday, although who was responsible wasn’t clear.

Local and international media reported various theories, most of which leaned to his shooting death as a rebellion among his own militia or an ordered assassination by Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

Three bodies were found on the outskirts of Benghazi Friday — those of Younis and two of his militant aides, all of whom had been shot multiple times and set afire, the BBC said.

Libyan Oil Minister Ali Tarhouni told reporters Younis had been killed by his own followers who were unhappy with his leadership of the rebellion.

However, the rebels’ Radio Misurata claimed Younis was killed by government forces during an interrogation in a Benghazi hotel room, The Guardian reported.

In the midst of the distraction from the civil war, NATO reported Saturday its aircraft had bombed three state TV transmitter sites, although the broadcaster was still operating, the BBC said.

Britons Detained In Afghanistan Sent Home

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, July 30 (UPI) — A British couple detained in Afghanistan on suspicion of terrorist-related activities was expected to be returned to Britain, officials said.

The couple, detained by British special police forces in Herat, was to be returned to the United Kingdom Saturday, where they could be placed under surveillance or arrested, The Guardian reported.

Officials in the United Kingdom declined comment on the pair’s return. They were detained by British special forces last week and transferred to what Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense said was a “secure facility” in Kandahar, where they have been held since.

The unnamed couple was captured in what British defense officials said was a joint operation with the Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security.

Officials familiar with the case told The Guardian it was “terrorism-related.”

Spanish Leader Calls For Early Elections

MADRID, July 30 (UPI) — Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, bowing to pressure calling for his departure, has called for early elections to choose his successor.

Zapatero Friday said he decided to move the March 2012 elections to Nov. 20 so a new government “can take charge of all the economic decisions for 2012,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Spain is wracked by high unemployment and rising prices and Zapatero said the early elections could reduce the uncertainty surrounding Spanish politics at a dangerous time for the country’s economy and finances.

Spain’s financial woes have sparked fear of a debt crisis. The seriousness of the situation was underscored Friday when Moody’s Investors Service warned it might downgrade Spain’s credit rating for the second time this year.

Moody’s cited Spain’s challenge of cutting a budget deficit that is about 9 percent of its 2010 gross domestic product, partly caused from fallout from the debt crisis in Greece, the report said.

Spain is the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy, but suffers from an unemployment rate of more than 20 percent, the highest rate in the developed world.

Obama, Bush To Attend Sept. 11 Ceremony

NEW YORK, July 30 (UPI) — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush will be part of a ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.

Bloomberg, in a CNN report, said efforts have been taken to make sure the event doesn’t become a political platform for the small group of politicians invited to participate in the ceremony in New York.

In his weekly radio address Friday, Bloomberg said the names of all the victims would be read aloud at the ceremony and there would be “no speeches whatsoever.”

Also invited and expected to attend are New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former New York Gov. George Pataki, who was in office when the attacks were launched, and Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor of New York on Sept. 11, 2001.

“There’s an awful lot of people who would like to participate, and you can’t do that,” Bloomberg said.

Each speaker will read a passage or recite a poem and the readings will be timed to mark each of the day’s tragedies, including the moment the planes hit each tower of the World Trade Center and when the buildings collapsed, Bloomberg said.

Bloomberg said the event would be the most “solemn” of all the Sept. 11 ceremonies announced to date.

“We’re going to read all the names for the first time, including those people who died in Washington and in Pennsylvania,” Bloomberg said.

Phone Hacking Investigation Hits U.S.

NEW YORK, July 30 (UPI) — The British phone hacking scandal, which forced the closure of London’s News of the World, has reached the United States, officials said.

News Corp.’s legal department Friday issued a memo to the New York Post to save any information related to phone hacking or payments to government officials, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp owns the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal.

In a memo to staff, Post editor Col Allan said the measure wasn’t taken because there is evidence of improprieties at U.S. papers, and “not because any recipient has done anything improper or unlawful.”

The U.S. Justice Department said last week it was preparing subpoenas into reports related to foreign bribery and the hacking of voice mail of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. It didn’t provide any further details.

A News Corp. official declined to say if the company has received any subpoenas related to the investigations or whether News Corp. would widen its order to other News Corp. newspapers, the Journal reported.

Tropical Storm Don Fizzles In Texas

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas, July 30 (UPI) — Tropical Storm Don has made landfall just south of Corpus Christi, Texas, and it quickly fizzled out, weather forecasters said.

KRIS-TV, Corpus Christi, said dry air from the west was “sucked” into the tropical storm, quickly killing its rain and wind.

The Accuweather.com hurricane center said Don came ashore near Baffin Bay, just south of Corpus Christi Friday night. It warned residents higher than normal tides and dangerous rip currents are possible because of the storm.

Most of the rain generated by the storm fell near Brownsville, Texas and by late Friday most of the rain had ended, the report said.

“While the tropical storm is relatively small, clusters of heavy, gusty thunderstorms extend outward up to 100 miles,” Accuweather.com hurricane expert Dan Kottlowski said.

The storm did bring some badly needed rain to the area, said Alex Sonowski, Accuweather.com’s expert senior meteorologist.

Sonowski said all of drought-stricken South Texas desperately needs the moisture.

Rainfall totals near and just north of where Don moved ashore was expected to be about 4 inches.

Clashes In Yemen Leave At Least 16 Dead

SANAA, Yemen, July 30 (UPI) — Clashes between Yemeni government forces and militants have left at least 16 people dead and scores injured, officials said Saturday.

The incidents occurred when government troops fought with tribes outside the capital in Sanaa and elsewhere in the country Friday and Saturday, CNN reported.

Fighting between government troops and militants has increased in the days before the start of Ramadan, a Muslim holy fast that starts Monday and runs through Aug. 29.

A senior official, who spoke anonymously, said five members of a terrorist network and six security forces were killed in Friday clashes in Wadi Dofas. The dead included three soldiers and an officer who led field operations in Zinjibar, Abyan.

The “al-Qaeda militants were killed in the clashes when they were seen trying to secretly enter Wadi Dofas,” the official said. “We are fighting extremists in nine different fronts in Abyan. The militants are witnessing strong blows … at least 100 al-Qaida fighters have been killed in July.”

Fighting in Abyan has been ongoing since May, when suspected al-Qaida militants took control of the province and declared it an Islamic emirate.

A Republican Guard air raid outside the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, left five tribesmen dead and wounded 11 others, tribal leaders said.

Yemen has been the scene of anti-government demonstrations and militant activity for several months. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is in a Saudi Arabian hospital, recovering from wounds he received in an attack last month.

Shiite Group Gunned Down In Pakistan

QUETTA, Pakistan, July 30 (UPI) — Gunmen sprayed a van with bullets Saturday in the southwestern Pakistan city of Quetta killing 11 people and injuring three others, police said.

The victims were all Shiite Muslims, a minority in the province of Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan, the BBC said.

The attack was carried out by gunmen on motorcycles and was the third incident targeting Shiites in 24 hours, The Nation newspaper reported. Suspected sectarian violence has killed 21 people in Quetta since Thursday night, the newspaper said.

A militant group with known ties to the Sunni Muslim al-Qaida terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the latest attack, the BBC said. Its leader was recently freed from prison after completing a 10-year sentence on terror-related convictions, the report said.

While police and local authorities visibly stepped up security patrols and made statements pledging to fully investigate the attacks, locals reacted violently to Saturday’s bloodshed.

Angry residents took to the streets and blocked a major road with a stack of burning tires as they threw stones at police and passing cars, The Nation said.

Jet Breaks In Half In Crash Landing

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 30 (UPI) — A Caribbean Airlines plane broke in half in a crash landing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana, but no deaths were reported, officials said.

Flight BW523, with 154 passengers and eight crew members, originated in the United States, The (Kingston) Jamaica Gleaner reported.

It wasn’t immediately known what caused the accident, which happened about 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, Guyana’s health minister, said the most serious injuries were broken legs. The injured were treated at the Diamond Diagnostic Hospital before being taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corp. for further treatment.

Uninjured passengers and crew fled the wreckage without their luggage, the report said.

The Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Transport and airline officials were expected to hold a news conference Saturday to provide further information about the accident.

Ramadan: More Syrian Protests Expected

DAMASCUS, Syria, July 30 (UPI) — The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which starts Monday and runs through Aug. 29, is likely to take on a different attitude this year, Syrian officials said.

Usually a month of quiet reflection and prayer, Ramadan is anticipated this year as an opportunity to focus protests against embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, who many Syrians want out of power, The Guardian reported Saturday.

“It’s become a cliche to say it will be like Friday every day as people gather for prayer, but it will be,” said a former political prisoner with links to the Sunni community, speaking in his house in Damascus. “Pressure on the regime will increase from more frequent protests and more people coming out.”

Anxious protesters in some areas haven’t waited for the official start of Ramadan to call for Assad’s overthrow. In the city of Hama Friday they were chanting, “Our God, help us to fast and pray … and topple the regime.”

Assad’s security forces, forcing some dissidents to remain unseen during the day and become active at night, have killed an estimated 1,600 protesters since the uprising against Assad started.

At least nine people were killed across Syria Friday as thousands took to the streets, defying a heavy security presence, the report said, including in the city of Deir Ezzor, where deaths were also reported earlier this week.

GOP: ‘Surely’ Debt Agreement Can Be Struck

WASHINGTON, July 30 (UPI) — With the United States on the brink of an unprecedented financial failure, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said Saturday partisanship has to be toned down.

After Tuesday, the country will be in financial limbo and unable to pay some of its debts unless President Barack Obama’s Democrats that control the Senate and the Republicans, who have a House majority, can reach accord on raising the nation’s debt limit.

In the GOP’s weekly media address, Kyl sounded less adamant than other Republicans in recent weeks about the crisis.

“No one will get everything they want, and we can’t solve all of our problems at once, but surely we can reach an agreement that will increase the debt ceiling, impose accountability, and begin reducing the size of our federal government,” the senator said.

Kyl said Republicans remain “united in the belief that raising the debt ceiling without making significant spending reductions would be irresponsible.”

He also gave a fleeting warning to aging citizens about the consequences of a debt default.

“Markets would likely respond, dropping in value and hurting the retirement savings of millions of Americans,” he said.

For his part, President Obama said in his weekend address “the parties are not that far apart” on crafting an economic bill to avoid default.

Jetliners Bump Wings In Chicago

CHICAGO, July 30 (UPI) — Two Delta Airlines aircraft were out of commission in Chicago Saturday after a wing-to-wing collision while they were maneuvering for takeoff, officials said.

Around 7:30 p.m. Friday, two planes were being pushed back from a passenger terminal at O’Hare International Airport when their wings clipped one another, the Chicago Tribune said.

No injuries were reported and there was no leakage of fuel from the planes’ wing tanks, fire officials said.

A Delta spokeswoman said both jets were taken out of service to be checked.

The aircraft were bound for Atlanta and Minneapolis. Passengers had to wait while their luggage was removed from the planes and Delta staff made alternate flight arrangements, the newspaper said.

Obama: Parties ‘not That Far Apart’

WASHINGTON, July 30 (UPI) — President Barack Obama says Republicans and Democrats are not “far apart” but must resolve their differences quickly to keep the United States out of default.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said the bill passed in the House Friday — on a vote of 218-210, with 22 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting no — “wouldn’t solve our fiscal problems, but would force us to re-live this crisis in just a few short months.”

“It would hold our economy captive to Washington politics once again,” he said. “If anything, the past few weeks have demonstrated that’s unacceptable.”

Obama said avoiding default after the federal government’s borrowing authority expires Aug. 2 will require a bipartisan solution.

“It must have the support of both parties that were sent here to represent the American people — not just one faction of one party,” he said. “There are multiple ways to resolve this problem. Congress must find common ground on a plan that can get support from both parties in the House. And it’s got to be a plan that I can sign by Tuesday.

“Look, the parties are not that far apart here,” the president said. “We’re in rough agreement on how much spending we need to cut to reduce our deficit. We agree on a process to tackle tax reform and entitlement reform. There are plenty of ways out of this mess. But there is very little time.”

Obama once again suggested the debt limit must be raised so the federal government can access funds to pay obligations including “Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and contracts we’ve signed with thousands of American businesses. If we don’t, for the first time ever, we could lose our country’s Triple A credit rating.”

“The time for putting party first is over,” he said. “The time for compromise on behalf of the American people is now.”

Home Invasion Robbers Posed As FBI Agents

BURBANK, Calif., July 30 (UPI) — Police in Southern California said they were searching for three men who robbed a family of $20,000 by posing as FBI agents.

Burbank police said the men forced their way into a home just after midnight Wednesday while a couple and their teenage son were inside, The Burbank Leader reported Friday.

The invaders identified themselves as FBI agents.

Sgt. Robert Quesada said the men, who were armed, forced the family onto the floor and demanded cash.

Quesada said the robbers fled with $20,000 in a briefcase and drove off in a dark-colored sedan.

The sergeant said the family members sustained only minor bumps and bruises and they were treated at the scene by paramedics.