EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 6, 2013

Around the World & Nation


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — McChrystal accepts blame for Rolling Stone article, but questions fairness, accuracy in memoir

WASHINGTON (AP) — Speaking out for the first time since he resigned, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal takes the blame for a Rolling Stone article and the unflattering comments attributed to his staff about the Obama administration that ended his Afghanistan command and army career.

“Regardless of how I judged the story for fairness or accuracy, responsibility was mine,” McChrystal writes in his new memoir, in a carefully worded denouncement of the story.

The Rolling Stone article anonymously quoted McChrystal’s aides as criticizing Obama’s team, including Vice President Joe Biden. Biden had disagreed with McChrystal’s strategy that called for more troops in Afghanistan. Biden preferred to send a smaller counterterrorism and training force — a policy the White House is now considering as it transitions troops from the Afghan war.

McChrystal adds the choice to resign as U.S. commander in Afghanistan was his own.

“I called no one for advice,” he writes in “My Share of the Task,” describing his hasty plane ride back to Washington only hours after the article appeared in 2010, to offer his resignation to President Barack Obama. McChrystal was immediately replaced by his then-boss, Gen. David Petraeus.

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Some guns shows limiting displays, canceling in wake of scrutiny after Conn. school shooting

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Several gun shows, all about an hour’s drive from Newtown, Conn., have been canceled.

A show in White Plains, N.Y. — brought back a few years ago after being called off for a decade because of the Columbine shooting — is off because officials decided it didn’t seem appropriate now, either. In Danbury, Conn. — about 10 miles west of Newtown — the venue backed out. Same with three other shows in New York’s Hudson Valley, according to the organizer.

Gun advocates aren’t backing down from their insistence on the right to keep and bear arms. But heightened sensitivities and raw nerves since the Newtown shooting have led to toned-down displays at gun shows and prompted some officials and sponsors to cancel the well-attended exhibitions altogether.

Some of the most popular guns will be missing from next weekend’s gun show in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., after show organizers agreed to bar the display and sale of AR-15 military-style semiautomatic weapons and their large-clip magazines.

“The majority of people wanted these guns out of the city,” said Chris Mathiesen, Saratoga Springs’ public safety commissioner. “They don’t want them sold in our city, and I agree. Newtown, Conn., is not that far away.”

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Veteran Alaska marine salvager doubts crews can move aground Shell drill ship before spring

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Responders on Saturday prepared to hook a main tow line to an oil-drilling ship grounded on rocks near a remote Alaska island.

Officials overseeing the response to the grounding of Royal Dutch Shell’s Kulluk barge said they could use the line to “test capabilities” as they prepare to recover the ship.

But the plans were subject to tides and weather, which can be fierce in the North Pacific during winter.

Officials also hoped to deploy oil-soaking booms around nearby Kodiak Island, especially near any salmon streams. They say there’s no sign the hull has been breached or that oil has spilled from the vessel.

The Kulluk ran aground during a fierce year-end storm, and more than 600 people are working on its recovery.

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Son of Missoni fashion patriarch among 6 aboard small plane missing off Venezuela

ROME (AP) — Rescue crews used boats and aircraft on Saturday to search for a small plane that disappeared in Venezuela carrying the CEO of Italy’s iconic Missoni fashion house and five other people.

But 24 hours after the BN-2 Islander aircraft disappeared from radar screens on its short flight from Venzuela’s coastal resort island of Los Roques to Caracas, the capital, no sign of the plane had been found, officials said.

“We have no other news” about the plane carrying Vittorio Missoni, the head of the company; his wife, Maurizia Castiglioni; two of their Italian friends; and two Venezuelan crew members, said Paolo Marchetti, a Missoni SpA official. He spoke briefly to reporters as he left company headquarters in the northern Italian town of Sumirago on Saturday afternoon.

Missoni’s younger brother, Luca, who is active in the family-run business, was reportedly traveling to Venezuela on Saturday to monitor search efforts.

“We’re holding onto a glimmer of hope,” said Oswaldo Scalvenzi , a relative of Elda Scalvenzi, one of the Missoni friends aboard the flight. “Until we can see the wreckage” hope will remain, Scalvenzi told Italian state TV on Saturday night.

Son of Missoni fashion patriarch among 6 aboard small plane missing off Venezuela

ROME (AP) — Rescue crews used boats and aircraft on Saturday to search for a small plane that disappeared in Venezuela carrying the CEO of Italy’s iconic Missoni fashion house and five other people.

But 24 hours after the BN-2 Islander aircraft disappeared from radar screens on its short flight from Venzuela’s coastal resort island of Los Roques to Caracas, the capital, no sign of the plane had been found, officials said.

“We have no other news” about the plane carrying Vittorio Missoni, the head of the company; his wife, Maurizia Castiglioni; two of their Italian friends; and two Venezuelan crew members, said Paolo Marchetti, a Missoni SpA official. He spoke briefly to reporters as he left company headquarters in the northern Italian town of Sumirago on Saturday afternoon.

Missoni’s younger brother, Luca, who is active in the family-run business, was reportedly traveling to Venezuela on Saturday to monitor search efforts.

“We’re holding onto a glimmer of hope,” said Oswaldo Scalvenzi , a relative of Elda Scalvenzi, one of the Missoni friends aboard the flight. “Until we can see the wreckage” hope will remain, Scalvenzi told Italian state TV on Saturday night.

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John Sheardown, Canadian diplomat who sheltered Americans during Iran hostage crisis, dies

TORONTO (AP) — John Sheardown, a former Canadian diplomat who hid fugitive American Embassy staffers during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, has died. He was 88.

His wife Zena said Saturday that Sheardown passed away in an Ottawa hospital on Dec. 30. She says he had been treated for Alzheimer’s disease for the past four years but also suffered from other ailments.

Sheardown played a key role in the events depicted in Ben Affleck’s Oscar-contender film “Argo,” although he was not portrayed in the film because of time constraints.

Sheardown, the second-ranking diplomat in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran, housed four American Embassy employees in his home for more than 2 1/2 months during the hostage crisis. Two other American diplomats hid in the home of the Canadian ambassador, Ken Taylor, until their rescue by a fake film crew.

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Officials: Tsunami warning canceled following strong earthquake off coast of Alaska, Canada

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A powerful earthquake sparked a tsunami warning for hundreds of miles of Alaskan and Canadian coastline, but the alert was canceled when no damaging waves were generated.

The magnitude 7.5 quake and tsunami warning that followed caused concern in some coastal communities, with alarms sounding and people rushing to higher ground for safety.

But the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center later said the waves were too small to pose a threat, reaching just six inches above normal sea level in places such as Sitka and Port Alexander.

“Initially, in the first 15 to 20 minutes, there might have been a bit of panic,” Sitka Police Chief Sheldon Schmitt told The Associated Press in a phone interview. But he said things calmed down as the town waited for the all clear.

The temblor struck at midnight Friday (1 a.m. PST Saturday) and was centered about 60 miles west of Craig, Alaska, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

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Maker of Wonder Bread, in the midst of liquidation, looking to sell bread brands, report says

NEW YORK (AP) — The makers of Thomas’ English muffins and Tastykake snacks are emerging as the two of the bidders for Wonder Bread and other Hostess bread brands as the company tries to sell off its assets under bankruptcy-court oversight, a newspaper reported Saturday.

The Wall Street Journal said Hostess Brands Inc. could reveal as early as next week that Flowers Foods Inc. and Grupo Bimbo SAB are in discussions to acquire the bread brands, which also include Nature’s Pride. The report said the brands could command $350 million.

Grupo Bimbo’s brands include Arnold breads, Thomas’ English muffins and Entenmann’s cakes. Flowers Foods Inc.’s brands include Nature’s Own breads and Tastykake snacks.

Hostess sells Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, along with Dolly Madison cakes, which includes Coffee Cakes and Zingers. Hostess also sells Devil Dogs, Funny Bones, and Yodels under the Drake’s brand.

Hostess, which is based in Irving, Texas, announced in November that it was shutting down its business and selling its bread, snacks and cakes brands along with its 33 bakeries and other operations.

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Report says Armstrong may confess to doping, though move could have cons and benefits

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong is reportedly considering a change in course, dropping his years of denials and admitting that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

The New York Times, citing anonymous sources, reported late Friday that Armstrong has told associates he is thinking about the move.

However, Armstrong attorney Tim Herman says that the cyclist hasn’t reached out to USADA chief executive Travis Tygart and David Howman, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

USADA stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles last year and issued a report portraying the cyclist as the leader of a sophisticated doping operation on his winning teams.

A USADA spokeswoman declined comment on Saturday while Howman was quoted by the Sunday Star-Times in New Zealand, where he is vacationing, saying Armstrong has not approached his group.