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Occupy Wall Street's center shows some cracks

NEW YORK (AP) — Before the housing, sanitation and nonviolent communication groups had their say, the Occupy Wall Street facilitator began the night meeting with guided meditation. Someone stood up to object, saying all that controlled, deep breathing was oppressive.

In the disorganized democracy that Occupy prides itself on, everything — even the right way to breathe — is up for debate.

The moment exposed the new, more scattered leadership that has crept into the movement since its largest encampments shut down.

Instead of 24-hour base camps, Occupy Wall Street's center of gravity has devolved into dozens of smaller groups with different agendas and objectives. Some want to find other places to occupy. Others want to shut down the ports, march for Egypt, move the downtrodden into foreclosed homes.

Some protesters say the smaller groups are getting in the way of the larger message of bridging the country's gap between the superrich and the poor.

"I'm going to set up a committee to disband all committees," joked Andrea Townsend, who has led general assembly meetings in Portland, Ore.

Key organizers — they don't call themselves leaders, because they say no one person is in charge — say the movement and its protesters are staying true to the mission of embracing and promoting every member's issue.

"I think we're big enough at this point that people can be working on different things," said Sandy Nurse, a member of New York's direct action committee. "I don't think anyone's in competition with anybody."

But experts say that as the presidential campaign season heats up, Occupy could become a powerful force at political conventions if it got on the same page and pushed key issues. Time magazine named "The Protester" its Person of the year on Wednesday, citing Occupy Wall Street as one of many movements "redefining people power" around the world.

"You cannot run a movement as if it's a participatory democracy," said Mitchell Moss, a New York University urban planning professor. "An effective movement is not about being unhappy, but about getting things done."

When Occupy Wall Street encampments in New York and elsewhere were going strong, the decision-making centered on the movement's general assembly and spokescouncil meetings, held daily. But since New York's main camp at Zuccotti Park was shut down on Nov. 15, members say groups are working more separately on pet causes.

"You see kind of new people emerging all the time," said Mario Rodriguez, a union organizer who belongs to New York's direct action group. "Are they all on the same page? In terms of strategy and tactics, I don't think they are."

An email that recently passed through Rodriguez's inbox talked of 101 working groups that were now part of Occupy in New York — direct action and facilitation are a bit more visible than others focused on things such as the principles of solidarity, for example. More than 40 groups had meetings scheduled on one recent day (Music, Earth Summit, Occupy Educated, Yoga), several at the same time.

Occupy members say they're still accomplishing a lot without camping out. On Monday, protesters forced shipping terminals from Washington state to California to halt parts of their operations. New York members sat down in the middle of Wall Street, have marched on the Egyptian consulate and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Portland, Ore., members are protesting in the parks; cities from Seattle to Atlanta reclaimed foreclosed homes and boarded-up properties, moving struggling families into them.

Nurse said her efforts are focused on finding a new encampment in New York to replace Zuccotti Park. A church-owned building in downtown Manhattan — occupied by protesters on the day they were evicted — is a possibility. "Whichever space we find that works for that, we're gonna take," she said.

Nurse said no one is in charge of the group — one member who had been previously referred to as head of finance now says he is a member of the accounting group. The movement is united in its separateness, organizers say.

"There's no one group that is in charge of all the other groups," said New York member Austin Guest. "We're kind of inviting each other to each other's meetings, trying to be autonomous and in coordination with each other."

Without the 24-hour presence of the encampments, however, cracks have crept into the unity. Members in some cities say that the general assembly is where everything is decided.

In Portland, organizer Gina Ronning said, "the (general assemblies) are for the visionary elements, the values," not to decide and plan major actions.

But since the Oregon camp was evicted on Nov. 13, meetings of several subgroups are drawing people away from the formerly well-attended general assemblies. When the camp existed, it had a PR team, a web team, a social media team, an action committee and a finance committee. But now there is also a Women's Caucus, an Elders Council, The Bike Swarm, Unsettle Portland (focused on foreclosures) and Occupy Voices, which seeks to document the people at the city's marches and rallies.

In New York, Rodriguez said a top agenda item of the general assembly is reworking itself. "They're looking a lot at our structure, our spokescouncil and the GA," he said. "How they could make those bodies work more smoothly."

There are rules of conduct. No one can be interrupted. No one can clap to support an idea, because that's an interruption. Supportive members are asked to wave fingers in the air. Some assemblies stop considering big-decision items if the meeting gets too small after several hours, because not enough people are there to represent the group.

"Even though it's inefficient and can be frustrating, I love it," said Meagan Moroney, 24, a San Francisco member. "Because everyone has not only a voice, but an equal voice."

The general assembly still meets every day in San Francisco, where police moved in on Moroney and others sleeping in a downtown park last week. The group has been protesting in different neighborhoods, focusing on marches for human rights, and expanding its membership.

Losing the encampment may be the best thing that ever happened, she said. It forced members to stop thinking about the city's regulations and police actions and start thinking about the issues that got them involved — the income gap between the rich and the poor.

"I told (the police) yesterday, 'Thank you so much for raiding us,'" she said. "We've gotten so bogged down dealing with all the city's concerns that we weren't thinking enough about our movement. It made us kind of clean up our act."

Navajo tops list of Native language speakers in US

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A northeastern Arizona county has the highest number of Native American language speakers in the country.

The U.S. Census Bureau says Apache County in eastern Arizona has 37,000 such speakers. The county encompasses parts of the Navajo Nation, the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and Zuni Pueblo.

The figure is based on five-year estimates from community surveys that allowed the Census for the first time to study small segments of the U.S. population.

The Census found that fewer than a half-million people age 5 and over speak a Native American language at home. About 65 percent of them are in nine counties in Arizona, New Mexico and Alaska.

More people speak Navajo than any other Native American language, with 169,000 people, followed by Yupik and Dakota, each with about 19,000 speakers.

Game Controllers for Android Smartphones and Tablets

According to an infographic published on the Android Developers blog, more than 1 in 4 of the 10 billion applications downloaded on the Android Market have been games. That's roughly 2.5 billion games across all the Android gadgets. Where there are games, though, there are game controls, and compared to game consoles most Android devices are lacking.

The first Android smartphones lacked multitouch screens and needed a trackball or touchpad to play games. Today's tablets and smartphones let you use two thumbs on the screen at once, plus tilt controls. But the screens give no tactile feedback, and it's easy to lose your place at first since you can't feel where the edges are.

What's the solution? For many, it's a hardware game controller, which allows more responsive gameplay ... or at least lets you see more of the screen while you're playing. Many Android games work with controllers, and more are added all the time.

Here are a few kinds of controllers that are available:

The Xperia Play

Sony's "PlayStation Certified" Android smartphone isn't a separate controller that you can buy. It's a phone with a slider controller, instead of a slider keyboard. Instead of twin analog sticks (like PlayStation Dual Shock controllers), it uses two analog touchpads, but ridges in the plastic help keep your thumbs centered and guide you to them. It also has a D-Pad and shoulder buttons, to allow the Xperia Play to run PSOne games.


"The patented Zeemote controller" bears an uncanny resemblance to the Nunchuk part of a Wii Remote. It's held in a single hand, and has an analog stick on the top plus four thumb- and finger-triggers. It uses Bluetooth to connect to your Android device, and as of this writing there are "about 258" apps listed in the Android Market as being compatible with it.

Existing game console controllers

According to Droidgamers, it's possible to pair a SixAxis PlayStation 3 controller with certain Android devices. It works with "many of your favorite games and applications," according to the SixAxis Controller app's description. The app is unofficial and "not for the faint-hearted!!" but game controller support was added to Android Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich officially according to Brad Molen of Engadget.


Another tutorial on Droidgamers explains how to use your Android phone as a controller, in order to play games on an Android tablet. You need to have the DroidMote app installed on both the phone and the tablet (the tablet app requires root access and costs $2.01), and there's a complex procedure to map out buttons to your games. On the plus side, it supports tilt controls and the Xperia Play's game controller.

'The Help' leads Screen Actors honors with 4 noms

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Deep South drama "The Help" cleaned up with four nominations Wednesday for the Screen Actors Guild Awards, among them honors for Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer.

The adaptation of the best-selling novel also was nominated for best ensemble cast, along with the silent film "The Artist," the wedding comedy "Bridesmaids," the family drama "The Descendants" and the romantic fantasy "Midnight in Paris."

The nominations are among the first major honors on the long road to the Feb. 26 Academy Awards. The SAG list of contenders and Golden Globe nominees that will be announced Thursday help sort out favorites from also-rans for Oscar voters, whose nominations come out Jan. 24.

Davis is up for best actress and Spencer for supporting actress as black maids who agree to share stories of their tough lives with an aspiring white writer at the start of the civil-rights movement in 1960s Mississippi. Chastain also was nominated for supporting actress as Spencer's lonely, needy new boss.

"The Artist" ran second with three nominations, including a best-actor honor for Jean Dujardin as a silent star falling from grace amid the advent of talking pictures and supporting actress for Berenice Bejo, who plays a rising sound-era movie star.

Along with Davis, best-actress contenders are Glenn Close as a woman disguising herself as a male butler in 19th-century Ireland in "Albert Nobbs"; Meryl Streep as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady"; Tilda Swinton as a grief-stricken woman coping with her son's horrible deeds in "We Need to Talk About Kevin"; and Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn."

Joining Dujardin in the best-actor category are Demian Bichir as a hard-working illegal immigrant father in "A Better Life"; George Clooney as a neglectful dad tending his two daughters in "The Descendants"; Leonardo DiCaprio as FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover in "J. Edgar"; and Brad Pitt as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane in "Moneyball."

"Albert Nobbs" star Close was a double nominee, picking up a best-actress honor for a TV drama series for "Damages." Close's co-star Janet McTeer was nominated for supporting actress as a cross-dressing laborer in "Albert Nobbs."

Overlooked for best actor was Gary Oldman, whose performance in the espionage saga "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" has been billed by critics as one of the best in his career.

Also snubbed was Michael Fassbender for his daring role in the sex-addict drama "Shame" and Ryan Gosling for two acclaimed performances in the action tale "Drive" and the political drama "The Ides of March."

Several Oscar best-picture prospects will sit out the SAG ceremony, including Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" and Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," but those are epic tales whose impact comes more from their scope than their performances.

Another Oscar potential that missed out at SAG was David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," which features a blistering break-out performance by Rooney Mara.

"Bridesmaids" was a rare mainstream comedy that has earned critical respect. Along with its ensemble nomination, the film earned a supporting-actress slot for Melissa McCarthy as a crude but caring member of the wedding.

Missing out in the supporting-actress category was Clooney's young "Descendants" co-star Shailene Woodley, who delivers a breakout performance as a troublesome teen.

Up for supporting actor are Kenneth Branagh as Laurence Olivier in "My Week With Marilyn"; Armie Hammer as Hoover's FBI colleague and soul mate in "J. Edgar"; Jonah Hill as an economics whiz kid in "Moneyball"; Nick Nolte as a bad dad trying to make amends in "Warrior"; and Christopher Plummer as an elderly, ailing father who announces he's gay in "Beginners."

Betty White, the guild's lifetime-achievement award winner two years ago, had two TV nominations: comedy-series actress for "Hot in Cleveland" and "Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Lost Valentine."

"Modern Family" led the TV side with five nominations, including best comedy ensemble and individual honors for Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara.

SAG also honors unsung action players with a stunt ensemble prize. The film stunt contenders are "The Adjustment Bureau," ''Cowboys & Aliens," ''Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," ''Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "X-Men: First Class."

TV stunt nominees are "Dexter," ''Game of Thrones," ''Southland," ''Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" and "True Blood."

The 18th annual SAG Awards will be presented Jan. 29.



Afghanistan recalls its ambassador to Qatar

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan is recalling its ambassador to Qatar for consultations amid reports that the Taliban are planning to open an office in the tiny, gas-rich Gulf state.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the government has decided to recall Khalid Ahmad Zakaria from the Qatari capital of Doha for consultations.

The ministry did not give a reason for recalling Zakaria, but said Kabul values ties with Qatar and that diplomatic communications would continue.

An Indian newspaper quoted Indian diplomatic sources on Wednesday as saying that work was being finalized on a Taliban office.

The Afghan Foreign Ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A roadside bombing has killed a local government official who was prominent in battling drug smuggling and two of his bodyguards in southern Afghanistan.

A spokesman for Helmand province, Daoud Ahmadi, says the Reg district chief was returning from a visit to a neighboring district when his vehicle struck the bomb.

The chief, Massoud Khan, had been meeting tribal elders and other officials of the Dishu district on efforts to curb drug trafficking,

Ahmadi says Wednesday's blast also wounded three other bodyguards who were traveling with Khan.

Midday Glance: Airlines companies

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of some top airlines companies are up at 1 p.m.:

vjAMR rose $.06 or 10.0 percent, to $0.67.

DeltaAir rose $.06 or .8 percent, to $8.05.

JetBlue rose $.23 or 4.7 percent, to $5.15.

Southwest rose $.07 or .9 percent, to $8.23.

US Airways rose $.31 or 6.0 percent, to $5.50.

UtdContl rose $.31 or 1.6 percent, to $19.87.

Midday Glance: Beverages companies

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of some top beverages companies are down at 1 p.m.:

Coca-Cola fell $.17 or .3 percent, to $66.31.

Molson Coors fell $.01 or percent, to $40.58.

PepsiCo fell $.09 or .1 percent, to $64.19.

Midday Glance: Autos companies

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of some top autos companies are down at 1 p.m.:

Ford Motor fell $.25 or 2.4 percent, to $10.23.

Honda Motors fell $.64 or 2.1 percent, to $29.56.

Toyota Motor fell $.49 or .7 percent, to $65.15.

Midday Glance: Commercial Banks companies

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of some top commercial banks companies are up at 1 p.m.:

First Horizon rose $.06 or .7 percent, to $7.51.

Zions Bancorp rose $.13 or .9 percent, to $15.17.

Midday Glance: Computer companies

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of some top computer companies are down at 1 p.m.:

Apple Inc. fell $8.65 or 2.2 percent, to $380.16.

Dell Inc. fell $.14 or 1.0 percent, to $15.05.

Hewlett Packard fell $.59 or 2.2 percent, to $26.21.

IBM fell $2.07 or 1.1 percent, to $189.08.

Lexmark fell $.30 or .9 percent, to $32.22.

Tension simmers in blockaded China village after land protest

HONG KONG- Thousands of residents of a south China village rallied on Wednesday in defiance of police who sealed off the area to contain a long-running feud over land grabs and anger over the death of a village leader in police custody.

The death of Xue Jinbo, 42, fanned tension in the small pocket of export-dependent Guangdong province and came after riot police fired water cannons and tear gas on Sunday to disperse thousands of stone-throwing villagers on the coast of the booming province.

Residents of Wukan village say hundreds of hectares of land have been acquired unfairly by corrupt officials in collusion with developers.

Anger in the village finally boiled over this year after repeated appeals to authorities over recent years to do something.

Relatives of Xue said he was the victim of police brutality and his body showed heavy bruising and other signs of abuse. They have rejected official accounts that he died of a cardiac arrest after being interrogated on December 9 and 10.

"The case is under further investigation," Zheng Yanxiong, the Communist Party boss of Shanwei city, which oversees Wukan village, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

"The government will strive to settle all related problems and hopes that the village will not be instigated into staging further riots."

Human rights group Amnesty International called for an immediate and independent investigation into Xue's death, adding that China was failing to protect citizens from forced eviction.

"Contrary to international human rights law and standards, Chinese citizens rarely have an opportunity for genuine consultation before eviction, rarely receive adequate information on the nature or purpose of the eviction and often receive little or no compensation," the group said in a statement.

The term "Wukan" was blocked on China's Twitter-like microblogging service Weibo on Wednesday.


China's Communist Party leaders face thousands of small protests and riots every year that chip away at its authority at the grassroots. Land disputes are a widespread source of discord.

One expert on unrest, Sun Liping of Beijing's Tsinghua University, estimates there may have been more than 180,000 such "mass incidents" in 2010, nearly double the number often cited by academics and government experts.

According to a witness, villagers at the Wukan rally gathered in front of a poster of Xue and chanted slogans denouncing corrupt officials.

They also pressed for Xue's body to be returned for proper funeral rites, a request that authorities have refused.

"They clearly have something to hide," one resident told Reuters by telephone. "We will continue to fight for justice for Xue's death and we won't back down."

Riot police maintained a tight cordon around the village on Wednesday and barred almost all access to and from the area, while blocking some supplies of food.

Villagers have built makeshift defenses including cooking gas canisters and nail boards on roads leading into the village to guard against what many fear will be another imminent police crack down and wave of arrests.

"We beg the central government to save us," said another villager by phone. "Everything is black now."

India Olympic body wants London Games to cut Dow

NEW DELHI (AP) — The head of India's Olympic committee called Wednesday for the 2012 London Games to end Dow Chemical's sponsorship because of the company's ties to the deadly 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India.

The Indian Olympic Association is holding a two-day meeting beginning Thursday to decide what to do about the issue. Top officials have ruled out calling for a boycott of the games.

The U.S.-based chemical manufacturer will pay for a curtain-style wrap to encircle the Olympic Stadium in east London under a deal announced in August.

"Olympics are about love, brotherhood and transparency and this company (Dow) is linked with another which was responsible for killing thousands of Indian people," acting association President Vijay Malhotra said, according to the Press Trust of India. "It's unacceptable that such a company is a sponsor in the Olympics. So we will ask the London organizers to remove the company from being a sponsor."

Victims of the gas leak that killed an estimated 15,000 people say they were never properly compensated. At the time of the leak in 1984, the plant was run by Union Carbide. Dow bought Union Carbide in 2001 and says legal claims were resolved when Union Carbide paid $470 million as compensation for those killed or injured.

The head of the Olympic organizing committee, Sebastian Coe, has defended the sponsorship, saying Sunday that Dow had not owned or operated the plant when the leak occurred or when the settlement was reached.

British opposition Labor Party legislator Barry Gardiner said the Indian committee's opposition should lead organizers to rethink the sponsorship plans.

Obama marking end of Iraq war

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) — President Barack Obama saluted returning troops returning from Iraq Wednesday, declaring that the nearly nine-year conflict is ending honorably, "not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home."

Marking the conclusion of the war at this military base that's seen more than 200 deaths over nearly nine years of fighting in Iraq, Obama never tried to declare victory. It was a war that he opposed from the start, inherited as president and is now bringing to a close, leaving behind an Iraq still struggling.

But he sought to declare a noble end to a fight that has cost nearly 4,500 American lives and left about 32,000 wounded.

"The war in Iraq will soon belong to history, and your service belongs to the ages," he said, applauding their "extraordinary achievement."

All U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq Dec. 31, though Obama has pledged the U.S. will continue civilian assistance for Iraq as it faces an uncertain future in a volatile region of the world. Even as majorities in the U.S. public favor ending the war, some Republicans have criticized Obama's withdrawal, arguing he's leaving behind an unstable Iraq that could hurt U.S. interests and fall subject to influence from neighboring Iran.

Obama, appearing with first lady Michelle Obama, highlighted the human side of the war, reflecting on the bravery and sacrifices of U.S. forces now on their way back home. He recalled the start of the war, a time when he was only an Illinois state senator and many of the warriors before him were in grade school.

"We knew this day would come. We have known it for some time now," he said. "But still, there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long."

Obama, who became president in part because of his opposition to the Iraq war, said the war faced twists and turns amid one constant: the patriotism and commitment of U.S. troops.

"It is harder to end a war, than to begin one," he said.

Still, he made only passing mention of the enormous soul-searching the war caused in America, saying it "was a source of great controversy here at home, with patriots on both sides of the debate." He did not mention that he had opposed it.

He noted the early battles that defeated and deposed Saddam Hussein and what he called "the grind of insurgency" -- roadside bombs, snipers and suicide attacks.

"Your will proved stronger than the terror of those who tried to break it," he said.

Upon his arrival in Fort Bragg Wednesday, Obama met with five enlisted service members who had recently returned from combat. He also met with the family of a soldier killed overseas.

Obama has on several occasions addressed his reasons for ending the war, casting it as a promise kept after he ran for president as an anti-war candidate and speaking of the need to refocus U.S. attention on rebuilding the troubled economy at home.

Obama's approval rating on handling the situation in Iraq has been above 50 percent since last fall, and in a new Associated Press-GfK poll, has ticked up four points since October to 55 percent. Among independents, his approval rating tops 50 percent for the first time since this spring.

With the economy foremost on people's minds, fewer now consider the war a top issue. Fifty-one percent said it was extremely or very important to them personally, down from 58 percent in October, placing it behind 13 of 14 issues tested in the poll.

It's the president's first visit to Fort Bragg, which is home to Army Special Operations, the 18th Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne, among others. Special Forces troops from Fort Bragg were among the first soldiers in Iraq during the 2003 invasion and its paratroopers helped lead the 2007 troop increase.

North Carolina, which Obama narrowly won in 2008, also is an important state for the 2012 presidential election and will host the Democratic convention.

To underscore the political significance, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, one of the leading GOP presidential contenders, addressed an open letter to Obama and sent it to the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer decrying the unemployment rate for veterans.

Unemployment for veterans who served after Sept. 11, 2001, was 11.1 percent in November, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Romney called such a statistic a "disgrace."

"In the face of such economic hardship, fine words welcoming veterans home are insufficient," he wrote. "It is time for a fundamental change of direction. If you won't or can't lead our country out of the economic morass you've deepened, then I would suggest that it's time for you to go."

In his speech, Obama said that Iraq "is not a perfect place."

But he added that "we are leaving behind a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We are building a new partnership between our nations."

Brig Gen Norman Ham, commander of the 440th Airlift Wing, said in an interview that the end of the Iraq war "means a lot of things."

"For me personally, I served my country and I'm proud of what we've done, what we've accomplished," Ham said. "We set out on a mission and we accomplished that mission."

Ham reflected on the mixed outcome in Iraq.

"The world isn't a perfect place. We try to help where we can and do the best we can," Ham said. "We have limited resources to go everywhere and do everything for everyone, but we do the very best we can and that's what we've done in Iraq — the very best we can."

Satellite gets pic of Chinese carrier

DENVER (AP) — A commercial U.S. satellite company said it has captured a photo of China's first aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea off the Chinese coast.

DigitalGlobe Inc. said Wednesday one of its satellites photographed the carrier on Dec. 8. A DigitalGlobe analyst found the image on Tuesday while searching through photos.

Stephen Wood, director of DigitalGlobe's analysis center, said he's confident the ship is the Chinese carrier because of the location and date of the photo. The carrier was on its second round of sea trials at the time.

A Pentagon spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

DigitalGlobe, based in Longmont, Colo., sells satellite imagery and analysis to clients that include the U.S. military, emergency response agencies and private companies. DigitalGlobe has three orbiting satellites and a fourth is under construction.

The aircraft carrier has generated intense international interest because of what it might portend about China's intentions as a military power.

The former Soviet Union started building the carrier, which it called the Varyag, but never finished it. When the Soviet Union collapsed, it ended up in the hands of the Ukraine, a former Soviet republic.

China bought the ship from the Ukraine in 1998 and spent years refurbishing it. It had no engines, weaponry or navigation systems when China acquired it.

China has said the carrier is intended for research and training, which has led to speculation that it plans to build future copies.

Beijing is believed to be years away from being able to launch and recover aircraft from it as part of a carrier battle group.


Follow Dan Elliott at



Woman dies in freak NYC elevator accident

NEW YORK (AP) — A woman was killed in a freak elevator mishap Wednesday at a Madison Avenue office building, police and fire officials said.

The accident happened at around 10 a.m. in a 26-story office tower near Grand Central Terminal that has been the longtime home of advertising agency Y&R, formerly known as Young & Rubicam.

Officials said the woman was stepping onto the elevator on the first floor when either her foot or leg became caught in the closing doors. The car then rose abruptly, dragging her body into the shaft and killing her, officials said.

The elevator then became stuck between the first and second floors. Two people who were on the elevator were taken to a hospital to be evaluated for psychological trauma but weren't physically injured, Fire Department officials said.

Investigators with the fire department, the police department and the city's buildings department were on the scene in midtown Manhattan. The name of the victim was not immediately released. Fire and police officials said she was 41.

A spokeswoman for Y&R, which announced just days ago that it planned to vacate the building for a new headquarters, confirmed that there had been a fatality but said she couldn't yet provide additional information.

The company is among a number of tenants in the building.

Officials initially said they thought the elevator had fallen two floors.

FACT SHEET: Toyota Prius v

2012 Toyota Prius v Five

BASE PRICE: $26,400 for Two model; $27,165 for Three model, $29,990 for Five model.


TYPE: Front-engine, front-wheel-drive, five-passenger, mid-size wagon.

ENGINE: 1.8 liter, double overhead cam, Atkinson cycle, inline four-cylinder engine mated to 60-kilowatt, AC electric motor and nickel metal hydride battery pack.

MILEAGE: 44 mpg (city), 40 mpg (highway).

TOP SPEED: 103 mph.

LENGTH: 181.7 inches.

WHEELBASE: 109.4 inches.

CURB WEIGHT: 3,274 pounds.

BUILT AT: Japan.

OPTIONS: Advanced technology package (includes navigation system with 7-inch touch screen and backup camera, NavTraffic, NavWeather, voice recognition, dynamic radar cruise control, pre-collision system, panoramic moonroof) $5,580; carpeted floor and trunk mats $225; emergency kit $70; wheel locks $67.


US returns stolen Saddam Hussein plates to Iraq

NEW YORK (AP) — Authorities in New York City say the United States is giving the Iraqi government stolen dinnerware once used by Saddam Hussein.

Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that stolen china that belonged to King Faisal II also was turned over to Iraqi diplomats.

U.S. authorities had learned in November that the items had been smuggled into the country and sold on eBay to an art group in New York City.

The group had been using some of the plates in an art exhibit. It agreed to voluntarily turn over the items to the U.S. government to be returned to Iraq.

The Iraq dictator was captured by U.S. forces in 2003 and executed in 2006.

Toyota grows the Prius

Toyota sold more than a million Prius gasoline-electric hybrid cars in the United States, but anyone who needed more room than the mid-size hatchback could provide was left out.

Not anymore.

Toyota's biggest Prius, the 2012 Prius v, has arrived as a minivan-styled vehicle with 58 percent more cargo space than the current Prius and more room for passengers (though the new car keeps seating to five, which is the same number of seats in the Prius with no "v'').

Bumper to bumper, the Prius v is 8 inches longer, a tad wider and 3 inches taller than the current Prius.

Better yet, with a federal government fuel economy rating of 44 miles per gallon in city driving and 40 mpg on the highway, the Prius v jumps to the top of the fuel-efficiency list among all 2012 minivans and station wagons.

The Prius v has a higher fuel mileage rating in the city than on the highway because the onboard electric motor is able to engage more often in slower-speed city driving, thereby boosting the city gasoline mileage.

The starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $27,160 for the base Prius v Two model that includes a 98-horsepower, four-cylinder engine mated to a 60-kilowatt electric motor, continuously variable transmission, fabric-covered seats, backup camera and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

This compares with the starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $24,280 for a 2011 Prius hatchback with the same engine and electric motor and a federal government fuel mileage rating of 51/48 mpg. (Toyota has not released pricing for the 2012 Prius.)

There are no other gas-electric minivans or wagons on the U.S. market. But people might cross-shop the Prius v with the similarly sized Mazda5 minivan that starts at $21,140 with 157-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, automatic transmission and seating for six. The Mazda5 is rated at 21/28 mpg by the federal government.

The starting retail price for the Prius v is just $500 above the starting retail price of $26,660 for a 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid sedan. The Camry Hybrid's trunk space, however, is 13.1 cubic feet, while the Prius v has 34.3 cubic feet to 67.3 cubic feet of cargo space, depending on whether the rear seats are in use or folded. And with a larger, more powerful gasoline engine and more robust electric motor than the Prius v, the five-passenger Camry Hybrid is rated at 43/39 mpg.

For the record, the "v'' in the name stands for versatility. But it could stand for "van," too, because that's the lasting impression I had after driving this new Prius model. From easy access to seats and good headroom in front and back seats to level rear floor, the Prius v felt like a minivan with high-tech flair.

If you like the Prius styling, you'll like the looks of the Prius v. Toyota designers didn't stray far from the now-familiar Prius look.

The extra passenger space is welcome. The test Prius v felt spacious, in part due to its panoramic moonroof that was part of a $5,580 option package.

I liked that I turned and just sat on the fabric seats without having to climb upward or drop downward to get inside.

Views out of the Prius v were good for all passengers; side door rear windows are large and we all sat up a good bit from the pavement. Note the rear doors open as car doors do; they don't slide like minivan doors.

The pillar around the Prius v windshield is sizable, so I had to watch carefully for pedestrians when making turns. A backup camera that helps drivers see what's behind them is standard equipment.

For anyone who hasn't been in a regular Prius, the Pruis v dashboard gauges and displays might seem otherworldly, but they all provide understandable information once a driver learns where to look. There is no typical gauge cluster in front of the steering wheel. Everything, including speedometer, is over toward the center of the dashboard.

Of course, the item I looked at most was the average fuel mileage.

While the government said the city/highway average should be 42 mpg, I never got above 37.5 mpg.

I admit I tested all modes, including the "power" setting; it was about the only time the Prius v didn't feel stodgy. But in the power mode, the electric motor didn't kick in much, and fuel mileage decreased.

In power mode, the 1.8-liter, double overhead cam four cylinder took on responsibility more willingly, even in city driving, and there was a noticeable improvement in acceleration from when I drove in the "eco" mode.

Still, in eco or even power modes, the Prius v could feel like it was struggling if the vehicle was loaded with passengers and cargo. It felt taxed, too, with a couple passengers on board as it traveling a long uphill grade on the highway, and we heard the four cylinder droning loudly.

The Prius v handled competently. But the electric power steering had an artificial feel.

Standard safety equipment includes traction control, antilock brakes, stability control and curtain air bags.

More new Prius models are coming. A Prius Plug-In Hybrid should be available in 14 states come March and elsewhere in 2013, and a Prius c city car is due next year.

UK's unemployment at highest level in 17 years

LONDON (AP) — Austerity measures, prolonged economic weakness and a eurozone crisis have taken their toll on Britain's work force, with figures published Wednesday showing that unemployment has reached a 17-year high.

Britain's government has staked its reputation on a strategy of cutting costs and jobs in the public sector while trying to boost private sector growth. Today's unemployment data, which show that unemployment is rising and that women and young people are hardest hit, raise doubts over whether that strategy is working, and leave Prime Minister David Cameron open to criticism that he is taking away opportunities for some parts of society.

The highest level since 1994, 2.64 million people were unemployed in Britain at the end of October — 128,000 more than in the previous quarter, according to government statistics.

Britain's unemployment rate is now 8.3 percent, up 0.4 percent on the quarter and at its highest level since 1996.

In particular, unemployment among 16 to 24 year olds has reached the highest level since records of youth employment began to be kept in 1992 with 1.03 million young people out of work.

"I've applied for hundreds and hundreds jobs and not got anything," said 17-year-old Tamika Dodd of North London. "I keep getting told I don't have experience, but they won't let me get any."

Tamika, who left college because she "wanted to earn her own money" is convinced her youth is against her in the sales assistant and receptionist jobs she has applied for. "I keep being told I don't suit the job," she said. "What does that mean? They don't even know me."

This section of society — labeled NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) — was held widely responsible for the riots and looting across Britain in the summer and is now finding it hard to get work.

"Young people do get a very bad press at the moment, and employers are getting reluctant to take them on," said Emma Aeppli, who works for Camden Jobtrain, a north London charity that helps young people find work.

"There are also simply not as many apprenticeships and training schemes for young people as there once were, and they don't have the experience to just walk into a job," she said.

The figures open old wounds — unemployment under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher hit 3 million in the early 1980s and gave the Conservative party a reputation for not caring about joblessness.

Statistics show that in the third quarter of the year, 67,000 jobs were cut in the public sector, while only 5,000 private sector jobs were created. The public sector cuts also hit women hard because they are more likely than men to work in the public sector, pushing the number of women unemployed up by 45,000 to 1.1 million, the highest since 1988.

Dave Prentis, leader of the public sector union Unison, said the figures showed the government strategy is failing.

"The government continues to ignore the human cost and push ahead with its hard and fast cuts, clinging to the hope that a struggling private sector can pick up the pieces," he said. "These figures deliver a cold hard dose of reality."

Cameron was careful this time to describe the unemployment figures as "bad news and a tragedy for all those involved" and promised to help people find work.

The youth unemployment figures have allowed opposition leader Ed Miliband of the Labour Party to repeat his accusation the government is "betraying a whole generation of young people."

But Tim Leunig, an economic historian at the London School of Economics, said youth unemployment is a worldwide problem, not unique to Britain.

"People just don't want to employ people without any skills, and if you are 16 or 17 and job hunting, the chances are you are doing that with very few qualifications," he said.

Leunig pointed to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that showed that Britain's young people are actually more likely to be employed than youths in other countries, including Germany, Sweden and France.

The organization said unemployment across the eurozone had risen to 10.3 percent in October, but there are wide variations between Spain, the hardest hit, and Germany, the best off. The U.S. had an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent.

"British unemployment is not that bad compared to other countries but it is still a tough thing to live with," Leunig said. "We had hoped we would be coming out of recession by now. In any other era we would be close to improving. We certainly wouldn't be expecting unemployment to be rising the rate it is."

The danger appears to be that the longer it takes to find work, the harder it becomes.

"When I go for a job, people ask me what I've been doing in the last few months and if I tell them I've been looking for a job I can see they don't believe me," said 16-year-old Asharani Kaur, who has been seeking work since the summer. "They ask why I don't get a job in a shop or something when that's what I'm trying to do."

A look at recent tech-industry earnings

Here is a summary of recent earnings and reports for selected technology companies and what they reveal about the state of spending and the overall economy:

Oct. 13: Google Inc. says third-quarter earnings grew 26 percent and revenue grew 33 percent from last year. It's the latest reminder of how the company has used its dominance on the Internet to build a business that weathers economic turbulence better than most companies. Mounting worries about another global recession haven't shaken the Internet's search and advertising leader so far.

Oct. 17: IBM Corp. raised its full-year guidance again, offering fresh evidence of the company's ability to wring profit from technology services and software contracts. However, IBM slightly missed on the revenue forecast, reviving questions about the company's ability to bring in enough new business to fuel its expected growth.

Oct. 18: Apple Inc. failed to set a new sales record, and its financial results came in below expectations — a rare miss for the company. After several record quarters, the period saw Apple biding its time, with no new iPhone or iPad releases. Still, earnings and revenue rose from last year at rates that would be the envy of any large company.

Intel Corp. topped Wall Street's targets as net income rose 17 percent and revenue rose 29 percent. Intel CEO Paul Otellini credited stronger sales of processors for laptop PCs and servers. The results offered some comfort for investors jittery about the weak state of the global computer market. Intel also offered strong revenue guidance for the all-important holiday fourth quarter.

Yahoo Inc.'s third-quarter results showed little evidence of ending the financial funk that got former CEO Carol Bartz fired last month. Yahoo's net income fell 26 percent from last year. The performance may increase pressure on Yahoo to sell itself in parts or as a whole.

EMC Corp., the world's largest maker of data storage computers, says its third-quarter net income grew 28 percent, thanks to strong worldwide demand for its cloud computing and data storage products and services.

Oct. 19: eBay Inc.'s third-quarter net income climbed 14 percent, as its namesake site and PayPal online payment service continued to show healthy growth — more of which is coming from consumers shopping and transferring funds using the company's smartphone and tablet apps.

Oct. 20: Microsoft Corp.'s earnings for the latest quarter increased 6 percent. The results for the July-September period were highlighted by revived growth in the division that includes the software maker's Windows franchise. It's the first time that Microsoft has posted a year-over-year gain in Windows revenue since the end of 2010.

Nokia Corp. narrowed its losses even though its smartphone sales continued to suffer in the face of stiff competition from Apple Inc.'s iPhone. Finland's biggest company reported a third-quarter net loss of €68 million ($94 million). Though that's a big reverse from last year's equivalent profit of €529 million, it represented an improvement on the second quarter's €368 million loss.

Oct. 24: Netflix Inc.'s third-quarter earnings rose 65 percent, but it suffered the biggest customer losses in its history. Netflix triggered a backlash by raising prices as much as 60 percent in the U.S. and bungling an attempt to spin off its DVD-by-mail rental service. The company ended September with 23.8 million U.S. subscribers, down about 800,000 from June. Management expects to gain U.S. subscribers in the current quarter, although Netflix didn't set a specific target.

Texas Instruments Inc. reports a 30 percent drop in net income as demand weakened. The company says it incurred costs from using its factories less because of reduced production, and it had charges for out-of-date inventory. The company says the fourth quarter will also be weak because of economic uncertainty. The company also had expenses related to its purchase of National Semiconductor.

Oct. 25: Inc.'s third-quarter net income fell 73 percent despite revenue growth as Amazon built sales fulfillment centers at a rapid clip. That spending on expansion will eventually help its bottom line, but right now it's costing the online retailer on Wall Street.

Xerox Corp. saw a 28 percent increase in net income, thanks to higher revenue from services such as document outsourcing. The company bought outsourcer Affiliated Computer Services for $6 billion last year so it could expand lucrative service offerings. Its traditional printer and copier business had suffered during the recession as companies cut back on spending.

Oct. 27: Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., which makes cellphones and cable set-top boxes, says its third-quarter loss narrowed as it shipped more phones than it did a year earlier. The company shipped 11.6 million phones during the quarter, 27 percent more than a year earlier. The latest quarter included 4.8 million smartphones, up 26 percent.

Motorola Solutions Inc., which sells communications equipment to government and corporate customers, reports results that beat analyst expectations as revenue rose in its two main businesses.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. reports a third-quarter profit, reversing a loss, thanks to strong demand for its chips in laptops and from emerging markets such as China and India.

Coinstar Inc.'s says its quarterly earnings nearly doubled as its Redbox kiosks for renting DVDs attracted movie lovers irked by recent price increases at Netflix's video subscription service. The company announced its own price increase effective Oct. 31 — to $1.20 per day, instead of $1.

Nov. 2: Qualcomm Inc., a chip-maker for mobile phones, reports stronger-than-expected quarterly results driven by rising smartphone demand. The company says it benefited particularly from demand in emerging markets and in third-generation, or 3G, phones — the common type available today.

Nov. 9: Cisco Systems Inc. shows signs of pulling a turnaround, exceeding analyst sales expectations for the second quarter in a row. Sales growth was broad and included a recovery in orders from U.S. government customers that had held off during the debt stand-off this summer. Cisco says orders grew through the quarter, just as it had in previous years, hinting at an economic environment that was relatively healthy. For the quarter that just started, Cisco expects revenue growth of 7 percent to 8 percent over last year. Analysts were expecting 7 percent rate.

Nov. 15: Dell Inc. says its net income for the latest quarter rose 9 percent although revenue remained flat from last year as the computer maker continued pruning less profitable parts of its business. The company also predicted that full-year revenue will come in near the low end of the guidance it issued in August. Dell blames in part a shortage in hard drives resulting from heavy flooding in Thailand.

Nov. 17: Web-based software maker Inc. reports net income and revenue that was better than expected, but it warns that fourth-quarter earnings may fall short of estimates. That hinted to some industry analysts that momentum is slowing. Salesforce is one of the leading service providers of cloud computing, which allows companies to subscribe to software services over the Internet rather than buying expensive programs for installation on individual machines.

Nov. 21: Hewlett-Packard Co. says its net income fell 91 percent, mostly because of write-downs and charges for former CEO Leo Apotheker's decision to kill off HP's fledgling tablet and smartphone lines. Its forecast for the current quarter and fiscal year was lower than most analysts' targets. HP says it was being cautious, citing turmoil in Europe amid the debt crisis there, soft consumer spending and weakening spending by businesses.

Coming up:

Thursday: Research in Motion Ltd., Adobe Systems Inc.

Dec. 20: Oracle Corp.

Survey: CEOs foresee no pickup in hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two-thirds of chief executives of the largest U.S. companies don't plan to hire in the next six months, mainly because of sluggish growth in the United States and financial turmoil in Europe.

The Business Roundtable says that about one-third of its member CEOs expect to add employees and spend more on large equipment in the next six months. That's little changed from three months ago.

The group forecasts that the economy will expand 2 percent next year. That's not enough to produce job growth. Instead, existing employees will be expected to handle any increased business.

"We're right at the point where the economy is growing, but not enough to offset productivity and create jobs," said the group's chairman, Jim McNerney, CEO of the Boeing Co. "Everybody's doing things more efficiently."

Novell's case against Microsoft goes to jury

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A jury began deliberations Wednesday in a Utah company's $1 billion federal antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft Corp.
Novell Inc. sued Microsoft in 2004, claiming the Redmond, Wash., company violated U.S. antitrust laws through its arrangements with other software makers when it launched Windows 95. Novell said it was later forced to sell WordPerfect for a $1.2 billion loss.

The company claims Microsoft duped it into developing the once-popular WordPerfect writing program for Windows 95 only to pull the plug so Microsoft could gain market share with its own product.

"It was purely a predatory action," Novell Inc. attorney Jeff Johnson told jurors a day earlier.

Microsoft lawyers have argued that Novell's loss of market share was its own doing because the company didn't develop a compatible WordPerfect program until long after the rollout of Windows 95. WordPerfect once had nearly 50 percent of the market for word processing, but its share quickly plummeted to less than 10 percent as Microsoft's own Office programs took hold.

"Novell was late. It was always behind. It was playing catch-up," Microsoft attorney David Tulchin said during closing arguments.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates testified last month that he had no idea his decision to drop a tool for outside developers would sidetrack Novell. Gates said he was acting to protect Windows 95 and future versions from crashing.

Novell could have worked around the problem but failed to react quickly, he said.

Gates also said Novell couldn't deliver a compatible WordPerfect program in time for the rollout, and that Microsoft's own Word program was actually better. He said that by 1994, the Word writing program was ranked No. 1 in the market, above WordPerfect.

Novell has argued that Gates ordered Microsoft engineers to reject WordPerfect as a Windows 95 word processing application because he feared it was too good.

Novell's lawsuit is the last major private antitrust case to follow the settlement of a federal antitrust enforcement action against Microsoft more than eight years ago. The trial began in October in federal court in Salt Lake City.

Novell is now a wholly owned subsidiary of The Attachmate Group, the result of a merger that was completed earlier this year.

Investigators say they've uncovered fraud at FAMU

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida authorities investigating the death of a Florida A&M University drum major say they have uncovered possible employee fraud and misconduct.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement sent letters Tuesday to the head of the FAMU board and the head of the state university system, telling them investigators had uncovered potential violations of law as part of the probe into what is believed to be the hazing death of a Marching 100 band member.

An FDLE spokesman would not discuss details of the investigation, but confirmed it will now be handled separately from Robert Champion's death. He died Nov. 19.

The letter from FDLE said the possible fraud and misconduct involves employees at the school as well as "persons associated" with the university.

Bristol-Myers and NeurOp extend deal through 2012

ATLANTA — Drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has agreed to pay for an additional year of research by NeurOp Inc. into a potential treatment for major depression and neuropathic pain.

A brief statement Wednesday from NeurOp, a privately held Atlanta company, did not detail the funding.

Bristol-Myers, based in New York, originally agreed in December 2009 to fund a two-year research collaboration. NeuroOp said Wednesday that they were extending the deal through December 2012, with an option for another extension.

Bristol-Myers paid NeurOp a $1.5 million licensing fee under the original deal, and NeurOp said it could receive up to $74 million in milestone payments and royalties.

NeurOp CEO Barney Koszalka said in the statement that the extension allows his company to continue driving the research program toward human clinical studies.

NeurOp focuses on developing treatments for central nervous system disorders that also include schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease.

Shares of Bristol-Myers climbed 19 cents to $33.72 in afternoon trading.

Barclays Costs ICB Reform at Over 1 Billion Stg/year-CEO

LONDON (Reuters) - Tougher regulations proposed for British banks could cost Barclays more than 1 billion pounds a year, the bank's Chief Executive Bob Diamond said on Wednesday.

Diamond told MPs the regulatory changes proposed by the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) would cost his bank "north of 1 billion pounds," but he was unsure if it would reach 2 billion.

Survey: 1 in 4 US Women Victims of Severe Violence

ATLANTA (AP) — A U.S. government survey reports that 1 in 4 women say they were hit hard, kicked or otherwise violently attacked by their intimate partners.

The telephone survey, conducted last year, offers some startling new numbers about domestic violence.

One expert called the report's estimate than 1 in 5 U.S. women had been raped or the victim of attempted rape "extremely high." But advocates say rape has been vastly under-reported in the past and the new numbers are plausible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study Wednesday. It's based on a survey of about 9,000 women.

OPEC Maintains Production Target

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed on Wednesday to increase its production target for the first time in three years in a move that appeared to signal that Saudi Arabia and Iran had put aside their differences on oil policy for the time being.     

The move should have little lasting impact on oil prices since the production target of 30 million barrels a day is closely in line with current output. But the agreement had symbolic value, coming six months after a meeting of OPEC ministers ended in disarray as they failed to reach a consensus to raise production levels.     

“We have an agreement to maintain the market in balance,” said Rafael Ramirez, the Venezuelan energy minister. His country had aligned with Iran at the last meeting to oppose a move pushed by Saudi Arabia to raise production to help the ailing global economy.       

In recent years, OPEC’s 12 members have increasingly followed their own production and export policies. Saudi Arabia ramped up its production during the past 10 months when the outbreak of revolution in Libya halted 1.3 million barrels a day of exports.

With Libya production quickly ramping back up over the last two months, the Saudis have signaled that they will ease production in the coming months regardless of the results of Wednesday's OPEC meeting in Vienna.       

Saudi Arabia, which produces about a third of OPEC’s total production and is the only member with significant spare capacity, has been working hard behind the scenes to restore the organization’s credibility after the June meeting ended with no agreement.

Iranian representatives appeared to be in no mood to challenge the Saudis, despite rising tensions between the two countries in recent months over the Saudi military intervention in Bahrain and allegations of an Iranian-backed plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States.       

Rostam Ghasemi, the Iranian petroleum minister, gave a conciliatory speech before OPEC ministers in which he appeared to agree with the Saudi position that OPEC should accommodate world markets with ample supplies to keep oil prices from rising too high.     

“The big challenge facing the oil market at the present time is coming with the tremendous uncertainty affecting world economic growth,” Mr. Ghasemi said. “This uncertainty about economic growth translates into uncertainty about oil demand.”      

The new quota replaces a previous target of 24.5 million barrels, which was set three years ago when the global economy and oil prices slumped badly. The target has been largely ignored by members that could produce more than their allotted quotas.

The new quota does not set targets for individual members. But the total production target will include Iraq and Libya, two countries expected to ramp up production in coming months.      

Iran, which held the rotating presidency of the OPEC this year, proposed that Iraq hold the seat next year. The ministers agreed, signaling that Iraq would again be a major player in the organization for the first time since the United States-led invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
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