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Girl killed after running onto Calif. freeway

MIRA LOMA, Calif. (iBBC News) — Authorities say a 12-year-old girl was struck and killed on a Southern California freeway as she ran through traffic while attempting to retrieve clothing from the roadway.

The California Highway Patrol tells the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/uMHq3H) that Eunice Flores was hit at about 11 p.m. Sunday on State Route 60 in Mira Loma, about 45 miles east of Los Angeles.

The patrol says suitcases had fallen from the roof rack of the car that Flores was traveling in, scattering the clothes.

John Sullivan was driving about 70 mph when he saw the girl, but it was too late to avoid the collision. The 74-year-old wasn't injured or arrested.

Flores was pronounced dead at the scene.

Japan Azumi: Japan-India in final stages of deciding on dollar

TOKYO (iBBC News) - Japan Finance Minister Jun Azumi said on Tuesday that Japan and India are in the final stages of deciding on a dollar swap agreement.

Further financial cooperation between Japan and India will be a key focus at talks between the leaders of the two countries, Azumi told a news conference after a cabinet meeting.

Philippine Floods Death Toll Jumps to Nearly 1,500

MANILA, Philippines (iBBC News) — The death toll from flash floods that swept away entire villages in the southern Philippines has climbed to nearly 1,500 as authorities widen their search for bodies.

The Office of Civil Defense's latest tally Tuesday listed 891 dead in Cagayan de Oro and an additional 451 in nearby Iligan city. The rest came from several other provinces. Most of the dead are unidentified.

Civil Defense head Benito Ramos says decomposing remains were retrieved floating in the sea as far as 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the two cities where a Dec. 16 tropical storm unleashed more than a month's worth of rainfall in 12 hours, sending walls of water gushing into homes.

Ramos says the search will continue as long as bodies are being recovered.

Asian shares steady in thin holiday trade, U.S. market eyed

OKYO (iBBC News) - Asian shares were steady on Tuesday in thin volume as investors took to the sidelines before U.S. markets reopen later in the day from a long weekend and data which could offer clues over growth prospects in the world's largest economy.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was nearly flat for a second day in a row, while Japan's Nikkei stock average <.N225> opened down 0.43 percent.

The euro was steady around $1.3050, staying well above its 11-month trough of $1.2945 hit earlier this month.

European and some Asian markets, including Hong Kong and Australia, were closed on Tuesday.

"Shares are expected to drift sideways as passive interests prevail in typical year-end fashion, and as many stock markets were closed for the holidays yesterday, providing no dynamic whatsoever," said Lee Kyung-soo, an analyst at Shinyoung Securities.

On Monday, when more markets were closed, Japanese and Indian stocks outperformed the rest of Asia in thin trade, with sentiment partly lifted by signs of U.S. economic recovery.

U.S. holiday season sales were expected to rise 3.8 percent to a record $469.1 billion, the National Retail Federation said, slower than last year's growth but stronger than its preseason forecast.

The potential brisk sales could reinforce emerging views the U.S. economy is strengthening fundamentally, and follows recent data showing improvement the labout market. The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits hit a 3-1/2-year low in the week shortly before Christmas while consumer sentiment scaled a six-month high in December.

Investors will be looking for more positive signs from data this week, including the S&P Case-Shiller house price index for October and consumer confidence for December.

Sentiment has been underpinned by solid performances in U.S. equities, and strong data this week could help global markets end the year in positive tone.

The broad Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> broke through its 200-day moving average after a four-day rally lifted stocks to bring the index into positive territory, and the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose to its highest in five months on Friday.

Persistent worries about progress in resolving the euro zone debt crisis could dampen sentiment when European markets reopen later in the week.

Bank of Japan minutes for its November 15-16 meeting showed on Tuesday BOJ board members were worried that unstable global financial markets were affecting Japan's markets to some extent.

Colombian city gets giant, outdoor escalator

BOGOTA, Colombia (iBBC News) — Officials in Colombia's second-largest city on Monday inaugurated a giant, outdoor escalator for residents of one of its poorest neighborhoods.

For generations, the 12,000 residents of Medellin's tough Comuna 13, which clings to the side of a steep hillside, have had to climb hundreds of large steps authorities say is the same as going up a 28-story building.

Now they can ride an escalator Medellin's mayor says is the first massive, outdoor public escalator for use by residents of a poor area.

"It turned out very well," said Mayor Alonso Salazar, adding that he has not heard of any such project elsewhere in this world.

Salazar said officials from Rio de Janeiro plan to visit Medellin to see if such an escalator would work in that city's favelas, which also cling precariously to hillsides.

Comuna 13 residents came out to celebrate and study the $6.7 million escalator which officials say will shorten the 35-minute hike on foot up the hillside to six minutes. Use of the escalator is free.

"This is a dream come true," homemaker Olga Holguin told RCN television.

Cesar Hernandez, head of projects for Medellin, said the electric stairway is divided into six sections and has a length of 384 meters (1,260 feet). An escalator goes up and a second goes down. Authorities plan to build a covering for inclement whether.

Salazar described Comuna 13 as the city's district that has "suffered the greatest urban violence... but lately this has been receding and we hope this social package will help it move forward."

Latin American women fret over scandal-hit implants

BOGOTA (iBBC News) - Fear and anger are growing among women with breast implants in Latin America, a key market for the bankrupt French firm that used industrial silicone to make cheap prostheses linked to health risks.

The implants at the center of the scandal were made by the now defunct Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) and appear to have an unusually high rupture rate, prompting French authorities to urge women to have them removed.

Some 300,000 PIP implants, used in cosmetic surgery to enhance breast size or replace lost breast tissue, were sold worldwide, tens of thousands of them in Latin America where demand for cosmetic procedures is high.

Colombian television presenter Alexandra Correa is desperate to know if her 10-year old implants are safe or not. She has been seeking an answer from her surgeon for the past few weeks but he hasn't returned her calls. Now he's on holiday.

"I'm so worried," said Correa, 32, who paid about $2,200 for her breast enlargements. "I can't leave my health to chance. Vanity comes at a price, but life is worth much more.

"It's preferable for women to have breasts the size of mosquito bites than larger ones ridden with cancer," she told Reuters on Monday.

In neighboring Venezuela, where implants are so popular they are sometimes even given to girls by their parents as a 15th birthday gift or as prizes in fund-raising raffles, there were frissons of anxiety among the many thousands of surgically enhanced women.

"I've had this prosthesis for nearly 10 years now, since my third child, and until now I'd always felt really good about it. It makes me feel young again, a woman not just a mother," said Martha, 47, a teacher who like many Venezuelans was relaxing at the beach with her family over Christmas.

"But since I've been reading all these stories about the French prostheses bursting and giving you cancer, I must admit it's awakened some fears. I've no idea what make mine are, but I'll be checking with my doctor as soon as I'm back in Caracas after the holiday."

France has been investigating possible links to cancer from the gel used in PIP implants but has found no evidence so far.

RUPTURED IMPLANTS

The PIP implants were banned in South American countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Colombia in 2010.

Argentine lawyer Virginia Luna, 34, is demanding clinics offer women like her replacement implants free of charge.

"I'm representing a group of 50 women, but there are more and more of us all the time," she told Reuters. "In some cases we've already settled out-of-court and the insurance of the surgeons who operated on us paid."

"Among my group, there are girls with ruptured implants, which causes a lot of pain and worry ... One of them had to take out a loan to have surgery again," she added, saying Argentina had imported 13,500 PIP implants.

Health authorities have urged concerned women to see their doctors, but some people are calling for authorities to do more.

Correa is angered by the lack of information available to women like her. Friends and family who have had breast enlargement surgery knew nothing about the problem until she advised them.

"There is a total lack of information in Colombia about this. Look on the Internet and there is virtually nothing there," she said.

"Why is it left to women to find out whether they are at risk? There should be a government campaign to find out who is at risk."

Buenos Aires provincial lawmaker Mauricio D'Alessandro says the state and private health insurance companies should foot the bill for removing the PIP implants.

"Every day, hundreds of women suspect they might have a problem with the prostheses and want them removed but the health insurance schemes refuse to operate if there's no concrete damage or risk, which underestimates the psychological issue," D'Alessandro said in a news report cited on his Twitter account.

"Authorizing the removal free of charge is a preventative measure that makes economic sense, avoiding future problems that could cost the health system millions," he said, adding that he was working on a bill proposing free removal surgery.

According to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, five Latin American countries -- Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina -- rank among the top 20 nations where most surgical procedures were carried out last year.

More than 25,000 PIP units were used in Brazil, which has a huge cosmetic surgery industry. Between 200,000 and 300,000 breast augmentation surgeries are carried out in the country a year, the Brazilian Plastic Surgery Society says.

Jose Carlos Daher, a plastic surgeon and founder of the Daher Hospital Lago Sul in Brasilia, acknowledged concern among women who had undergone surgery to have implants.

"They are very worried about what they are reading," Daher said, adding that he had never used PIP implants.

Surgeon Raul de Leon has been taking calls from worried patients at his clinic in an upscale neighborhood in Panama City, having to reassure them that he never used the PIP prostheses.

"In the last three or four years, I've had to remove two or three (PIP implants) because they've ruptured prematurely ... We've been following the trail of these implants for some time."

De Leon, president of Panama's plastic surgery association, said there might be between 50 and 100 PIP implant recipients in the Central American country, but that the number is difficult to ascertain due to medical tourism.

In Buenos Aires, long a magnet for medical tourists looking for affordable cosmetic surgery, one clinic offered free surgery to patients who want to replace their PIP implants, saying they would only have to pay for alternative implants costing between $500 and $1,000 per pair.

"Due to recent events ... that have caused panic among of dear patients, we've decided to work in solidarity with them," the Centros B y S said in a statement on its website.

But such offers do not go far enough for women like Luna.

"We bought a faulty product that is defective or risky and whoever sold it to us must take responsibility for that," said Luna, who has started a blog for affected women.

For Correa, she just wants peace of mind.

"I need to know if I have poison in my body or not."

Pakistan president hits out at 'conspiracies'

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari said Tuesday the best way to pay tribute to slain premier Benazir Bhutto on the fourth anniversary of her death was to foil anti-democracy "conspiracies".

Tensions between the army and government appear to have soared in recent days over a secret memo that allegedly sought US intervention to prevent a feared coup.

"Today we pay tributes to her. The best way to do it is to defend and protect democracy and democratic institutions in the country and foil all conspiracies against it," the beleaguered Zardari said in a statement.

Bhutto, twice-elected prime minister and wife of Zardari, was killed in a gun and suicide attack on December 27, 2007 in the garrison city of Rawalpindi after addressing an election rally.

"Let us on this day re-dedicate ourselves to the democratic mission of Shaheed (martyr) Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto whose life was dedicated to fighting dictatorship and those seeking to defame and dismantle democratic institutions," the president said.

"I therefore urge all the democratic forces and the patriotic Pakistanis to foil all conspiracies against democracy and democratic institutions," he said.

Pakistan is rife with conspiracy theories and Zardari also termed the assassination of Bhutto a conspiracy.

"Her assassination was a conspiracy to rid the world of its best weapon to combat international violent extremism. It was a conspiracy to rob Pakistan of its best hope to establish a fully functional democracy," he said.

Zardari's remarks came despite denials of a military coup from the powerful army chief and also from the Supreme Court top judge as he examined calls from the army and the opposition to probe the memo scandal last week.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday welcomed a statement by army chief General Ashfaq Kayani ruling out a military takeover.

The military has carried out three coups in Pakistan and is considered the chief arbiter of power in the country of 174 million.

Last week Gilani delivered an unprecedented tirade against the military and accused "conspirators" -- whom he did not name -- of plotting to bring down his government.

But Kayani dismissed those concerns, saying that the army "will continue to support the democratic process in the country".

The leaked memo allegedly sought US intervention to prevent a feared military coup in exchange for overhauling Pakistan's security leadership after US troops killed Osama bin Laden near the Pakistani capital on May 2.

The existence of the document came to light when American-Pakistani businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote in the Financial Times that Zardari feared the military might overthrow his government.

Ijaz accused Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to Washington and a close Zardari aide, of crafting the memo with the president's support.

Haqqani flatly denies the accusations but was forced to resign as ambassador last month.

Tokyo shares open softer in holiday trade

Tokyo shares opened slightly softer Tuesday, as players searched for fresh incentives and waited for foreign markets to reopen after Christmas holiday breaks.

The Nikkei index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell 0.44 percent or 37.10 points to 8,442.24 in early trade. The Topix of all first section shares fell 0.39 percent or 2.81 points to 723.63.

Tokyo shares were expected to stay within a tight range amid dearth of fresh news, with major European and US markets closed Monday for the Christmas holiday. The London bourse will remain closed on Tuesday.

Once international investors return to the market, they will focus on US economic data, including the Case-Shiller home price index to be released later in the day, said Yumi Nishimura, senior market analyst at Daiwa Securities.

"US housing data have been firm lately," she told Dow Jones Newswires.

"More solid data will likely push the Nikkei above 8,500," she said.

The forex market was also quiet with the dollar standing at 78.00 yen, basically unchanged from 77.99 yen in Tokyo Monday.

The euro was also flat at $1.3046 and 101.77 yen, compared with $1.3059 and 101.88 yen in Tokyo.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --

Conn. fire victim was Ky. company's safety chief

STAMFORD, Conn. (iBBC News) — A man who died with his wife and three grandchildren in a Christmas morning house fire in Connecticut spent his career trying to prevent fires as safety chief at a liquor company in Kentucky.

Lomer Johnson is being remembered as a stickler for safety details by a former boss at the Louisville, Ky.-based liquor maker Brown-Forman Corp., where he retired as director of safety and security several years ago.

Former Brown-Forman executive Robert Holmes Jr. said Monday it was Johnson's job to keep plant workers safe. He says Johnson's responsibilities included planning fire drills.

The victims in the Christmas fire in Stamford, Conn., included a 10-year-old girl and 7-year-old twin girls.

Johnson's daughter is a New York advertising executive who escaped the fire with a male acquaintance. Her burned house has been torn down.

Taxfreepremium POP Plan Nondiscrimination Due Date is Almost Here

My Compliance Solution is reminding employers currently utilizing a Taxfreepremium POP to complete their nondiscrimination testing before end of the year. Taxfreepremiums provides free nondiscrimination testing software, so subscribing employers should be well equipped to meet all necessary testing requirements.

South Jordan, Utah  December 26, 2011
December 31 is nearly upon us, and for employers currently utilizing a Taxfreepremium premium only plan (POP), the due date for nondiscrimination testing is almost here. Employers failing to correctly complete their nondiscrimination testing face a barrage of relatively stiff financial penalties; in order to maintain their POP and continue to accrue the tax savings they provide, employers must file their nondiscrimination testing before the end of the plan year.

Nondiscrimination testing ensures that highly compensated and key employees, as defined by the IRS, are not provided an unfair portion (25% or more) of the nontaxable benefits offered through a POP plan. Highly compensated employees include those individuals within a company who are:


        Officers

        Are 5% shareholders

        Accrue an annual compensation of more than $110,000

        Are a spouse or benefiting dependent of a highly compensated employee

Employees falling under the IRS Key Employee classification include any employee who has within the last 4 years were:


        Officers who earned a gross annual compensation of over $160,000

        Employees owning at least 5% of the company

        employees owning at least 1% of the company with gross annual compensation over $150,000

Taxfreepremiums provides free nondiscrimination testing software with every POP plan purchased, so employers currently utilizing their services should be more than equipped to complete all necessary nondiscrimination testing. Concerned employers with any questions concerning nondiscrimination as well as other annual POP requirements should visit Taxfreepremiums.com.

As a technology driven industry leader, My Compliance Solution, inventor of Taxfreepremiums.com, helps employers, insurance advisors, CPAs, attorneys, and payroll providers get in and stay in POP compliance. They are the industry leader in Section 125 POP Plan Documents and provide a compliance package through an annual subscription service. This service provides a virtual toolkit with all required documents and a step by step process designed to get an employer in compliance with IRS and DOL requirements. The service provides automated compliance updates, archived documents, and now, Non-Discrimination Testing Software at a low annual fee. Learn more at http://www.taxfreepremiums.com.

Fla. crash kills doc getting heart for transplant

MIAMI (iBBC News) — A heart that a Mayo Clinic surgeon was on his way to pick up when he died in a helicopter crash cannot be transplanted.

The Mayo Clinic says Dr. Luis Bonilla and procurement technician David Hines were on their way to a University of Florida hospital in Gainesville to retrieve a heart for a transplant in Jacksonville when the helicopter went down early Monday.

Mayo Clinic spokesman Layne Smith says the heart cannot be used in another transplant because its viability expired. Smith says the patient who had been scheduled to receive the heart continues to wait for a new organ.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen says the helicopter crashed about 12 miles northeast of Palatka. The pilot also was killed.

The National Transportation Safety Board also was investigating.

Pakistan urged to share border-post map

WASHINGTON (iBBC News) - The head of the U.S. Central Command is urging Pakistan to share a map of its facilities and installations near the Afghan border to help avert episodes like the one that killed 24 Pakistani forces last month.

U.S. Marine Corps General James Mattis, the commander, said in a statement on Monday that the strike's chief lesson was that "we must improve border coordination and this requires a foundational level of trust on both sides of the border."

Separately, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has held off for about six weeks on drone missile strikes in Pakistan against low-ranking militants suspected of mounting cross-border raids.

The undeclared suspension, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, reflects a mix of factors, apparently including a lack of immediate high-value targets.

The strikes themselves are covert actions that the CIA does not acknowledge publicly. The New York Times said they had been on hold since November 16, calling this the longest pause since 2008.

Mattis told the allied commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, to take steps to prevent "friendly fire" incidents and share them with Pakistan's military "if possible," an apparent reference to continuing strains.

The latest U.S. military thinking on repairing the damage was disclosed on the Central Command's website along with a 30-page report of the U.S. military's findings on the November 25-26 nighttime airstrike that deeply angered Pakistan.

The incident has derailed already uneasy Pakistan-U.S. cooperation in the American-led fight against Islamic militants who zig-zag the border, known as the Durand line, to destabilize the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai.

Pakistan closed routes used to supply U.S. forces in Afghanistan in response to the air strike and booted the United States from an air base used to launch drones.

U.S. military investigators said American forces had failed to verify the location of Pakistani units before ordering the attack but blamed Pakistani forces for firing first. The findings were outlined by the Pentagon on Thursday.

An allied operation had been getting under way against militants when, according to Brigadier General Stephen Clark, who headed the probe, the NATO forces came under mortar and machinegun fire from a ridge on the Pakistan side of border.

Mattis directed Allen, commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, to seek full disclosure of all facilities and installations on both sides of the frontier as soon as possible.

This should include "systematic updates based on a common data base and map, and incorporating periodic reciprocal coordination visits," he said.

The U.S. investigators said a climate of deep mutual distrust was partly to blame for the incident.

Pakistan did not participate in the U.S. investigation and rejected its findings as "short on facts," as Major General Athar Abbas, an Army spokesman, put it on Thursday.

Police search for suspect in soldier shooting

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (iBBC News) — Police are searching for a 19-year-old man wanted in a shooting that wounded a soldier who was home on leave after surviving a suicide attack in Afghanistan.

San Bernardino police have identified Ruben Ray Jurado as a suspect in the Friday night shooting of 22-year-old Christopher Sullivan at a welcome home party in the soldier's honor.

Family members say Sullivan suffered two gunshot wounds to his back, which shattered his spine and left him paralyzed.

Police said Sullivan's brother got into an argument over football. When Sullivan intervened, a man pulled a gun and opened fire.

Sullivan suffered a cracked collar bone and brain damage while serving last year with the 101st Infantry Division in Kandahar. He was awarded a Purple Heart and had been recovering in Kentucky.

Mexican actor Pedro Armendariz Jr. dies at age 71

MEXICO CITY (iBBC News) — The Mexican government news agency and arts council say character actor Pedro Armendariz Jr. has died in New York City at the age of 71.

Armendariz's most famous roles are sly, cynical characters endowed with wit and charisma. Armendarizplayed Gov. Riley in the 2005 movie "The Legend of Zoro," and acted in 1989's "Old Gringo" and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" in 2003.

Government news agency Notimexsaid Monday he died of cancer. He acted in more than 100 films, including the Mexican hit "The Crime of Father Amaro."

The president of Mexico's National Arts Council lamented the death of Armendariz in her twitter account.

Armendariz' father bore the same name and was a star of Mexican films in the 1940s and 50s.

Van Halen Unveils New Tour With Roth Aboard

LOS ANGELES (iBBC News) - Veteran rockers Van Halen unveiled plans on Monday for a tour with original lead singer David Lee Roth returning to the stage.
In a video posted on the band's website, http://www.van-halen.com, Eddie Van Halen, brother Alex and son Wolfgang play the hit "Panama" while Roth runs around on stage. Underneath reads "Van Halen On Tour 2012" with tickets going on sale January 10.

No other details were announced, but the video confirms music industry buzz that the band is together again with Roth. An album is said to be in the works, too, after Van Halen signed a record deal in November.

A separate posting on the Van Halen News Desk website said the video was shot at the Roxy Theatre along Los Angeles' Sunset Strip while the band performed "a brand-new song."

The news site speculated about a possible February release date for a new song or album, and said the record was produced by Ross Hogarth. It is the band's first full album with Roth since the CD "1984," which was released on December 31, 1983.

Van Halen's relationship with Roth has been a stormy one over the years. Roth left the band in a bitter breakup in 1985, only to rejoin for a performance at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1996, then quickly depart in another bitter split. He returned to Van Halen for a tour in 2007-2008.

The band, whose early hits include "Runnin' With the Devil" and "Dance the Night Away," was among the leading rock acts of the late 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s when Sammy Hagar replaced Roth as singer.

Michael Anthony was the original bassist, but alongside Hagar he has joined another band, Chickenfoot. Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie's son, took over on bass.

Ind vs Aus: Haddin, Siddle resume first innings on Day 2 in Boxing Day Test

NEW DELHI: Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle resumed the Australian first innings against India on the second day of the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday.

Scorecard

Australia ended Day 1 at 277/6 after being 205/5 at one stage.

Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, both playing under the shadow of recent injuries and lay-offs, struggled with their line and length under an overcast sky on a moisture-laden pitch that aided lateral movement when the ball was pitched up.

The hosts opened with debutant Ed Cowan and the belligerent David Warner who were off to a steady start after skipper Michael Clarke won the toss and surprised many by choosing to bat first.

Cowan betrayed no nerves and displayed a fine defensive technique and the right temperament to succeed in Test cricket.

Warner made a sketchy 37 that included a breath-taking pull for six off Umesh Yadav and several airy-fairy shots. He was out off the first ball after a brief rain-induced stoppage at the stroke of the first hour of play when he top-edged a Yadav bouncer that ballooned up to Dhoni behind the stumps.

Shaun Marsh, who has usurped Ricky Ponting's No. 3 position, hardly did justice to the promotion when his intended off-drive off Yadav flew to point, where Virat Kohli held a low catch.

Ponting received a warm welcome from the fans and a hot one from Yadav. The Indian pacer tested the Aussie great with a well-directed bouncer. Ponting, who was late in reacting, was struck just above his elbow and on the grille of his helmet before he regained his bearings and managed to kick the ball away from close to his stumps.

The former Australian captain struggled right through his innings of 62 in the course of which he got beaten several times, overbalanced on a couple of occasions but hung in there to raise 113 runs for the third wicket with the dormant Cowan.

The duo made the Indian pacers pay for their lack of length in the post-lunch session that was delayed by around 40 minutes because of yet another spell of light rain. Just when frustration was creeping into the Indian ranks, Ponting departed much like he had started: a touch shakily. Yadav, having softened him up with a snorter that Ponting somehow managed to evade, got his next delivery to move away late and the batsman edged it to Laxman at second slip.

Clarke, who looked fluent in making a sparkling 31 with five crisply struck boundaries, added a further 46 runs in association with Cowan, but gifted Zaheer his wicket dragging a short ball on to his stumps.

Two umpiring errors - one each by Marias Erasmus and Ian Gould - saw Australia slip to 214/6. While the former adjudged Michael Hussey caught behind off Zaheer, the latter upheld R Ashwin's appeal for a caught-behind verdict against the persevering Cowan. TV replays clearly showed no contact between bat and ball in both cases.

It was a sad end to Cowan's maiden innings in Test cricket that produced 68 runs.

Vikings expect Peterson back for start of 2012

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (iBBC News) — The athletic abilities of star running back Adrian Peterson led the Minnesota Vikings to give him a seven-year, $100 million contract extension before the season started.

Now, they hope his recuperative abilities are just as good and he is able to live up to being the highest-paid running back in the NFL.

Minnesota expects Peterson to be recovered from left knee surgery for two torn ligaments in time to start the 2012 season.

"We expect most people to recover from this injury in eight to nine months and instead of comparing Adrian to any other player at any level that's had an anterior cruciate ligament, and they happen every day, I would really like Adrian to stand on his own merit because Adrian, I feel, is very unique," Vikings head trainer Eric Sugarman said Monday.

"Adrian has a great work ethic. Adrian has the DNA to heal quickly, which he has shown in the past. He certainly will have the desire and the mental toughness to be able to get through the rehab process, which will take months and months, as you know. So, I think if anyone can get better quickly and safely in that time period, it would be Adrian Peterson."

Peterson tore his ACL and MCL when he was hit in the side of the knee by Washington Redskins safety DeJon Gomes in the third quarter of Saturday's 33-26 win at Washington. An MRI on Saturday evening revealed the ligament tears and meniscus damage, and Peterson will undergo surgery within the next seven to 10 days.

Backup Toby Gerhart, who started three games earlier this season when Peterson was out with a high ankle sprain, will start Sunday in the season-finale against the Chicago Bears. A second-round pick in 2010, Gerhart has filled in well for Peterson and notched the first 100-yard rushing game of his career with 109 yards on 11 carries Saturday. But the Vikings expect Gerhart's time as the starter to be short-lived.

"He sets his goals extremely high and he's one of those guys who, when he puts his mind to it, there's no reason to ever doubt that he can achieve what he sets his mind to," Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said of Peterson. "We're looking forward to his attacking this rehab like he's attacked every offseason, to come back and play and be even better than he was before. I know with Eric and our medical staff, they're going to do everything they can to get him back on the field and ready to go when we line up in that first football game next season."

Gerhart's emergence over the past month at least offers optimism if Peterson has to miss extended time next season.

Gerhart has had the top three rushing days of his career in the past four weeks. On his first carry after Peterson left Saturday's game, Gerhart showed some big-play ability of his own, busting free for a 67-yard run, the longest of his short career.

Believing Peterson will be ready for the first game of 2012 and knowing Gerhart is available if needed, Frazier said the team wouldn't change its run-first offensive approach.

"One of things about Adrian's absence earlier in the season, we had a chance to get Toby some extended snaps and we really haven't altered the offense by any means," Frazier said. "Toby has done a very good job in Adrian's absence. Did a great job (Saturday) of stepping in and performing and rushing for over 100 yards. So we really haven't had to alter things. We really don't plan to. We look forward to eventually getting Adrian back on the field, but we don't think we have to really alter the offense."

Slain women linked by website:Detroit police

DETROIT (iBBC News) — Detroit police say three of four women recently found dead in car trunks had promoted themselves as escorts through the same website.

Chief Ralph Godbee said Monday the deaths could be connected but cautioned that police were "stopping short" of calling it the work of a serial killer.

Police discovered the badly burned bodies of two women in a car trunk early Sunday. The bodies of two other women were found just blocks away in another car trunk on Dec. 19. All four women were in their 20s. The causes of death remain under investigation.

Godbee said three of the four victims had profiles on a website used to buy and sell things but that also carries personal ads.

Police have said they don't yet have any suspects.

Man charged in Atlanta rapper's killing surrenders

ATLANTA (iBBC News) — A man charged with killing an Atlanta rapper at a recording studio has turned himself in to police.

WSB-TV reports (http://bit.ly/sRwHlA ) that Vinson Hardimon, known as rapper Young Vito, surrendered to Atlanta police Monday afternoon. He was handcuffed and taken to the Fulton County jail.

Police say the 28-year-old shot and killed 24-year-old Mario Hamilton, known as rapper Slim Dunkin, on Dec. 16 at an Atlanta recording studio.

Detective David Quinn says police still need more information in the case. Quinn says Hardimon's attorney called police and said Hardimon wanted to surrender.

French breast implant maker faced US lawsuits

Breast implants made by troubled French firm PIP have been at the heart of multiple lawsuits in the United States, where they were sold up until 2000, documents filed with the US government show.

Tens of thousands of women worldwide have been fitted with the implants worldwide, which were made from industrial rather than medical grade silicone.

France's health ministry recommended last week that the 30,000 women in the country with the implants have them taken out, saying that while there is no proven cancer risk, they could rupture dangerously.

In the United States, PIP implants were sold through Heritage Worldwide until May 2000, when the US Food and Drug Administration launched a moratorium on silicone implants.

At the time, the US market accounted for 40 percent of Heritage Worldwide's revenues, or $4 million, according to corporate documents filed in 2009 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The firm posted significant losses in subsequent years, especially starting in 2007, as both users and distributors filed complaints against the company.

Between 1996 and 2009, PIP was the target of several dozen lawsuits in the United States, filed not only by women using the implants but also by its business partners, claiming breach of contract or unmet payments.

A February 2009 document cites three complaints in Florida -- filed in October 1999, June 2000 and July 2003 by five members of the Kwartin family against PIP, its affiliates and founder Jean-Claude Mas.

The plaintiffs said they were shareholders of PIP distributor PIP/USA, Inc. and were seeking unspecified damages from PIP and other stakeholders "arising out of alleged tortious and other purported wrongful acts," the document added.

The complaints were later consolidated into a class action lawsuit in 2005.

Dozens of women began filing lawsuits against PIP, mainly for product liability, starting in 2003, including in Illinois and Texas. But as of 2009, no trial date had yet been set. Many of the lawsuits were later dismissed.

The complaints cited defective merchandise not suited for its intended purpose and violations of local consumer legislation.

Colleges and suicide threats: when to call home?

The email that arrived at Virginia Tech's health center in November 2007 was detailed and unmistakably ominous. It concerned a Tech senior named Daniel Kim and came from an acquaintance at another college.

"Daniel has been acting very suicidal recently, purchasing a $200 pistol, and claiming he'll go through with it," the email read, adding details of a reported previous suicide attempt with pills. "This is not a joke."

By the time Virginia Tech told Daniel's father, William Kim, about that email, it was too late.

A few weeks after it was sent to the school, he spoke with his son for the last time, Daniel indicating all was well and after final exams he'd be home for the holidays.

A few days after that, parked in his car outside a Target store near campus, Daniel fatally shot himself in the head.

"If I'd known, I could have taken him to doctors, get him on medication, make him normal again," William Kim, who owns a Washington, D.C., convenience store, said in a recent telephone interview, grief still echoing in his voice four years after the fact.

Virginia Tech's actions were all the more confounding coming just months after the murder-suicide rampage on the same campus by another student, Seung Hui Cho, which had supposedly prompted campuses nationwide to rethink their previous emphasis on confidentiality in treating troubled students.

"Who is going to take better care of him than his parents?" Kim said. "I never had the chance to do anything for him. That's a terrible feeling."

In an agreement finalized by a judge last month in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit brought by the family, the Kims settled with Virginia Tech for $250,000, plus an endowed scholarship in Daniel's name. But William Kim also insisted that the agreement include language requiring Virginia Tech to notify parents of a potentially suicidal student unless it documents a reason not to do so.

The university, which admits no fault, maintains the language reflects policies already in place there under a 2008 state law, and wouldn't have made a difference for Daniel Kim anyway. It continues to insist that, after sending local police to check on the student, and despite the detailed email, it had no reason to believe he was actively suicidal and thus didn't need to notify his family.

But the family's attorney, Gary Mims, insists the settlement goes further than the state law, which applies only to students treated by university mental health services. Now, he says, Virginia Tech must at least consider notifying parents if it receives an indication from any source a student may be suicidal. Several experts described it as among the strongest such policies in the country.

The issue of when colleges should notify parents their adult children may be suicidal remains fraught with legal, medical and ethical dilemmas. College policies, state laws and professional codes of conduct vary widely — and occasionally conflict.

Some mental health professionals call the Virginia Tech settlement the latest step in a trend they welcome: Threats to safety increasingly take precedence over preserving confidentiality. They emphasize that in many cases, involving parents is not only right, but helpful.

"There's some good evidence if someone is really sick, that involving family in their treatment planning, the medication, helping them stay on track, are really good things to do," said Greg Eells, director of counseling and psychological services at Cornell University in New York, which has changed several policies to make notifying parents more common. "I think the (Virginia Tech settlement) is kind of affirming that."

But many remain wary of top-down pressure on counselors to notify parents as the default option, even if such policies are well-intentioned and allow exceptions. Many students have just passing thoughts of suicide. Also, relationships with parents may be part of the problem. Involving them too readily might discourage some people from getting help, or complicate treatment once they do.

"The less flexibility we have, it actually compromises care," said Mary-Jeanne Raleigh, director of counseling services at St. Mary's College in Maryland and president of ACCA, the American College Counseling Association. Overly rigid policies mean, she said, "I can't review what is best for the individual standing in front of me because the law is saying you have to x, y and z."

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, behind automobile accidents. A 2010 survey of counseling center directors found at least 133 college students had taken their lives in the previous year. The better indicator is probably the rate, estimated at about 6 to 7.5 per 100,000 — though that's only about half the suicide rate for similarly aged people not in college.

But while the research highlights the danger, it also sheds light on why these are tough calls for colleges. Warning signs aren't always as black and white as they were at Virginia Tech. A milder form of suicidal ideation — fleeting hopelessness or thoughts about death —is common among college-age students.

A 2009 survey of 26,000 students at 70 colleges found that roughly half reported having had at least occasional suicidal thoughts. But more than half of those said such thoughts lasted a day or less. Roughly 6 percent of undergraduates reported they had "seriously considered attempting suicide" in the last 12 months. Colleges must determine who's most at risk — typically those who have made detailed plans and acquired means such as a weapon or pills.

"Someone who's seeking help but says, 'I have to admit I have these thoughts five or six times a day and they're kind of scary' — that's someone I wouldn't necessarily feel compelled to call the parents right away," Raleigh said. "That's very different from the person I get a call from at 3 o'clock on a Saturday morning who's been drinking and has immediate plans to kill themselves."

The 2010 survey of counseling directors found that when a client was considered a "suicidal risk" but didn't meet the state-law criteria for involuntary hospitalization, 41 percent wouldn't notify anyone else without a signed release from the student. Only 13 percent said they would notify family; 22 percent said they would notify a superior, and 19 percent said it would depend on the situation.

Why the hesitation to involve family? The data also show why colleges worry so much about any action that might discourage troubled students from seeking help: 80 percent of students who commit suicide, like Kim, never participated in campus counseling services.

"I'm in favor of notifying parents," said Carolyn Wolf, a mental health lawyer who advises college officials. "These are kids who are 18, 19, 20 years old, they're legally adults, but I don't think they're developmentally adults at that point. Parents are much more involved in kids' lives these days for a longer period of time." Still, she said, "you need to give some amount of flexibility to those people who are in the trenches."

Wolf advises parents to remember that FERPA, the federal education privacy law, has clear exceptions for risks to health and safety, as do state laws. HIPPA, the federal medical privacy law, generally doesn't apply to colleges. And while counselors and psychiatrists may be unable to discuss a student they are treating, those rules don't apply to anyone else on campus; faculty and administrators can call home about behavioral issues.

And, Wolf points out, nothing forbids counselors from listening.

Parents "can call a counseling center and say, 'I think this meets one of the (confidentiality) exceptions, but even if you can't tell me things, you need to listen to me give you history, give you information,'" Wolf said.

William Kim's lawsuit against Virginia Tech contends the school broke its own protocol, which called for any student who had made even a gesture about suicide to see a psychologist on call immediately. Instead, officials discussed the email the morning they received it, and dispatched a local police officer to Kim's off-campus residence.

The officer reported Kim "appeared to be OK" and that Kim said he didn't know the student who had sent the email. That student appeared to know Kim through online gaming. The university also checked to see if Kim had purchased a gun. Apparently he had not, but did so a few weeks later.

Confidentiality laws would not have prevented Virginia Tech from contacting Kim's parents because he was not a patient of the university counseling center. But university officials decided not to reach out. Having received no other unsolicited indications from family, acquaintances or teachers that Kim might be suicidal, they concluded he was not a danger.

Ed Spencer, Virginia Tech's vice president for student affairs, acknowledged that the university has wide latitude to contact family if a student is suicidal, and said it would do so if it made that determination.

But, he said in a telephone interview, Daniel Kim "was never found to be suicidal by anyone here at Virginia Tech or by the Blacksburg police."

Regardless of the detailed plans reported in the email, altogether "there was nothing that added up that he was at all suicidal," Spencer said. He added experts the university consulted backed up that view and "were surprised we went the extra mile" of checking on the gun.

But Mark Mills, a Columbia University psychiatrist retained by Kim's attorneys, found the email alone represented clear evidence of a "psychiatric emergency" and that it was "irresponsible and reckless" that Virginia Tech failed to take further action to see if Daniel needed help.

When William Kim asked university officials why they hadn't told him about the email, he says they told him it was "unnecessary."

Kim responded: "It was unnecessary? My son's life was in danger, and you didn't think it was necessary?"

"They didn't call his teachers, other students, they didn't call me," said Kim, who emphasized he was not angry at Virginia Tech as a whole. "Nothing was done whatsoever to save him."

Daniel Kim was a happy kid, said his father, who only later learned his son had agonized about his perceived resemblance to Cho and experienced anti-Korean slurs after the shootings on campus the April before he took his own life.

Only later did William Kim learn his son had secluded himself for two weeks in his dorm — the same building where Cho killed his first two victims.

"When somebody's life is in danger, all the privacy, that should go out the window," he said. "No matter how bad your relationship with your parents, when something like that happens you want to know."

He added: "He was suffering at that school. We had no idea.""

Bolivia's Morales hopes to build railway to Peru

LIMA, Peru (iBBC News) — Bolivia's president said Monday that he hopes to build a new railway linking his country to Peru that would facilitate exports to Asia.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said he has discussed the plan with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala. Morales told the Peruvian radio station RPP that the railway would run from Puerto Suarez, on Bolivia's border with Brazil, to the Pacific port of Ilo in Peru.

"It's my great dream," Morales said, adding that Brazil and Peru would also gain from having a railway link. He said it would carry agricultural products as well as other commodities to Asian countries.

Morales said in August after a visit to China that Chinese officials expressed interest in making the railway project a priority. It's not immediately clear how much the railway would cost, or how much financial support China might provide.

Bolivia and Peru currently export minerals to China including zinc and lead. Bolivia currently uses roads to truck shipments to Pacific ports in Chile.

Morales made the remarks Monday in the Peruvian city of Cusco, where he spent Christmas after meeting with Peru's president.

Humala also reiterated his support last week for Bolivia in its long-standing request that Chile provide the landlocked country with a corridor of land to access the Pacific coast.

Sadr bloc calls for early elections in Iraq

BAGHDAD (iBBC News) - The head of the political bloc of anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on Monday for new elections in Iraq after the biggest crisis in a year saw Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki move against two senior Sunni rivals.

Tensions are rising after Maliki, a Shi'ite, sought the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi - accused of running death squads. Maliki also asked parliament to fire Sunni Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.

The head of Sadr's bloc, part of the ruling Shi'ite-led government, said parliament should be dissolved to try resolve the spat, which has raised concerns about a return to sectarian strife since U.S. troops withdrew a week ago.

Seven people were killed earlier on Monday when a suicide car bomber attacked Iraq's interior ministry in Baghdad. It followed a series of explosions on Thursday in the capital in which 72 people were killed.

"We are in a new phase and have found a lot of problems which give no stability to Iraq... so we will discuss this subject with the National Alliance because we are part of it," Bahaa al-Araji, the head of Sadr's bloc, said in a statement in which he also called for "new and early elections."

Support from Sadr's bloc helped Maliki to a second term following nine months of wrangling after an inconclusive election in March 2010. The National Alliance is the powerful bloc formed when Maliki's party linked with the Sadrists and other Shi'ite groups.

The latest turmoil threatens to scupper Iraq's fragile power-sharing deal that splits posts among the Shi'ite National Aliance, the mainly Sunni-backed Iraqiya party and a bloc representing Kurds.

Hashemi and Mutlaq are two of the most senior figures in Iraqiya, which announced a boycott of parliament ten days ago.

EARLY VOTE

Two senior Sadrist lawmakers said early elections were just one of the possible actions being considered in efforts to try resolve the crisis.

"It is one of the solutions that was presented in case the crisis continues and political blocs fail to reach a solution and Iraqiya insists on continuing to boycott parliament and cabinet sessions," said senior Sadrist lawmaker Amir al-Kinani.

Iraqiya will give an important signal about the future of the power sharing agreement on Tuesday when its members decide whether or not to attend a cabinet meeting.

The party, which is led by secularist Shi'ite former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi but is supported by many Sunnis, said in a statement on Sunday it was willing to participate in talks to resolve the crisis.

"We have received many positive signs from the Iraqiya leaders," said Mushriq Naji, a senior Sadrist lawmaker. "They said they are willing to end this crisis but asked for more time to talk to their top leaders. They asked for two more days."

Violence in Iraq has dropped since the sectarian civil war of 2006-07, when Shi'ite militia and Sunni insurgents often killed thousands of civilians a month.

Many Iraqis fear that the latest political dispute - on clear-cut sectarian lines - could reignite the slaughter, without the buffer of U.S. troops to separate the sides.

Turmoil in Iraq would have a larger impact on the region, where a crisis in Syria is taking on a more sectarian tone and Shi'ite Iran, Sunni Turkey and Sunni Arab Gulf states are looking to increase their influence.

Iraq's Sunni minority has felt marginalized since the rise of the Shi'ite majority after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia once fought U.S. and Iraqi troops, said in a statement on Sunday that the crisis may lead to one-party rule and hurt Maliki's reputation as a statesman.

Sadr ordered his militia to disarm when he joined mainstream politics in recent years, but splinter groups have continued attacks.

On Monday, an Iraqi official said Asaib al-Haq, the biggest Mehdi Army militant splinter group, had offered to lay down arms and form a political movement to take part in the next election.

"They are willing to lay down their weapons and join the political process after the bilateral security agreement was executed and U.S. troops completed their withdrawal," said Mohammed al-Hamed, spokesman for Maliki's National Reconciliation Advisor. The group could not be reached for comment.

Utah woman, son rescued after Facebook post

SALT LAKE CITY (iBBC News) — Utah police say a woman used Facebook to get help after she and her 17-month-old son were held hostage at a residence for nearly five days.

Salt Lake County Jail documents say the woman posted on Saturday that she and her son would be "dead by morning" if they were not rescued. That prompted a welfare check at the home by Sandy police.

Officers arrested 33-year-old Troy Reed Critchfield and booked him into jail for investigation of aggravated kidnapping, forcible sodomy, aggravated assault, domestic violence, child abuse, animal cruelty and other charges.

He remained in jail on Monday.

It was not immediately clear whether Critchfield had an attorney.

Police say the woman hid in a closet and used a laptop to post the Facebook message.

Giants coach downplays injury, ready for Dallas

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (iBBC News) — Walking into his news conference to kick off an NFC East showdown week with the Dallas Cowboys, Tom Coughlin couldn't hide the injury.

There was a noticeable limp in his left leg, one that seemingly will bother the 65-year-old New York Giants coach for weeks and might require medical intervention down the road.

Coughlin didn't care. He wasn't going to discuss the extent of the injury sustained in Saturday's game with the Jets when he was slammed into by D.J Ware after the Giants running back was hit out of bounds.

All that was important was that the Giants (8-7) are playing Dallas (8-7) Sunday night at MetLife Stadium for the NFC East title and a playoff berth. The loser goes home.

"Never better. I may not be able to run for a while," Coughlin said of his health, adding later that he doesn't discuss injuries.

Still, Coughlin had some fun. When asked about Ware, he joked Ware was no longer with the team.

He blamed himself for not paying attention and taking his eye off the play, even though he admitted the late push that resulted in a penalty came 10 yards out of bounds. He even noted he was in for treatment Sunday, just to check up on his players who were hurt in Saturday's 29-14 win that gave the Giants bragging right over Rex Ryan and the brash Jets, the team that co-owns the stadium where they play.

The man who also led the Giants to a Super Bowl title in 2008 and missed the playoffs the past two seasons added he has no intention of coaching from the press box Sunday night. He will be on the field with his players in this all-or-nothing game.

"This is a long and storied rivalry, no doubt about it," Coughlin said of the Giants-Cowboys series. "There have been some great, great games between the two franchises. The one a couple of weeks ago was an outstanding game and example of that. We prepare ourselves for just that type of high intensity, outstanding, high level of performance on both sides."

The Giants rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final 5:41 to beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Dec. 11. However, Coughlin reminded his team Monday that Dallas beat the Giants in the Meadowlands last season after losing in Texas.

Defensive end Dave Tollefson said Coughlin has been the one person the players can count on in what has been an inconsistent year.

The fourth-quarter injury on Saturday was yet another example.

Player after player was amazed at Coughlin's toughness after taking the hit, which looked nasty. Trainers forced him to go to the bench to be examined, but he fought them all the way and quickly limped back to his coaching position along the sideline.

"You know his actions, obviously, Saturday was a great example to the public," Tollefson said. "He would never ask us to do anything that he himself would (not) be willing to do, though he is twice the age of our youngest guy. Seriously, he means what he says and he says a lot of things that he does say, there is conviction in his voice. So you can really tell he means it."

And that he led to loyalty toward a coach who let his players know where they stand.

"You don't want to let him down because he is willing to do anything he can to not let us down," Tollefson said.

Coughlin's message to the team Monday was simple: Forget about the win over the Jets. If you want to get into the postseason, win on Sunday.

"We are all all-in," said defensive captain Justin Tuck, who seemingly shook off all his injuries and played his best game of the season against the Jets. "Coach Coughlin is the same as all of us. I know that leg is banged up a little bit, but he wasn't showing any ill effects today and came in excited about the opportunity that we have this week."

Outspoken safety Antrel Rolle went home to Miami for Christmas, and texted his coach to see how he was feeling Sunday.

"Some of our toughness definitely rubbed off on him," Rolle quipped before getting serious. "He is a tough guy. He kept it going. If our coach is strong enough to go out there and fight and keep it going and hang through a situation like that, we're younger. Why can't we do it?" That's the mentality I have."

Some of the players could not help but tease Coughlin a little bit. One of the things he always says to them is: no toughness, no championship."

The coach heard that a couple of times after being hurt.

His age also was a target.

"I don't think he has taken a hit like that since World War II," Tollefson said of Coughlin, who was born a year after the hostilities ended. "For him to bounce back is impressive."

He'll tape it up if he has to," added guard Chris Snee, the coach's son-in-law. "It didn't look very good but I guess it could have been a lot worse."

NOTES: Coughlin hopes to have WR Mario Manningham (knee) back for the regular-season finale. ...DE Osi Umenyiora (ankle) is a little more iffy. ... Rolle, CB Corey Webster and DE Jason Pierre-Paul all played over 100 plays against the Jets.

Online shopping jumps 16.4 pct on Christmas Day

NEW YORK (iBBC News) — A growing number of shoppers apparently need only the briefest of breaks before diving back in, especially if they can log in to shop.

IBM found that online shopping jumped 16.4 percent on Christmas Day over last year, and the dollar amount of those purchases that were made using mobile devices leaped 172.9 percent.

IBM tracks shopping at more than 500 websites other than Amazon.com, which is the largest. It found a huge increase in the number of shoppers making their purchases with iPhones, iPads and Android-powered mobile devices.

In fact, nearly 7 percent of all online purchases were made using iPads, just 18 months after the tablet computers were released by Apple Inc., said John Squire, chief strategy officer for IBM's Smarter Commerce unit.

The online uptick was continuing on Monday. As of 3 p.m. Eastern time, shopping was up 10 percent over Dec. 26, 2010. And the expectation was that the pace of buying would increase as the day wore on and consumers clicked on sales at various retailers.

Squire said consumers were chasing sales on both Sunday and Monday. The data did not show what portion of purchases was made using gift cards.

English Football Results

    LONDON (iBBC News) -- Results Monday in English football (home team listed first):
Premier League
       Bolton 0, Newcastle 2
       Chelsea 1, Fulham 1
       Liverpool 1, Blackburn 1
       Manchester United 5, Wigan 0
       Sunderland 1, Everton 1
       West Bromwich Albion 0, Manchester City 0
       Stoke 0, Aston Villa 0
League Championship
       Barnsley 1, Blackpool 3
       Burnley 3, Doncaster 0
       Coventry 1, Bristol City 0
       Derby 1, Leeds 0
       Leicester 1, Ipswich 1
       Middlesbrough 1, Hull 0
       Millwall 1, Portsmouth 1
       Nottingham Forest 0, Peterborough 1
       Reading 3, Brighton 0
       Southampton 2, Crystal Palace 0
       Watford 1, Cardiff 1
       Birmingham vs. West Ham
League One
       Brentford 1, Bournemouth 1
       Colchester 1, Stevenage 6
       Huddersfield 1, Chesterfield 0
       Leyton Orient 0, MK Dons 3
       Oldham 0, Hartlepool 1
       Preston 3, Carlisle 3
       Scunthorpe 1, Bury 3
       Tranmere vs. Rochdale
       Walsall 2, Sheffield Wednesday 1
       Wycombe 3, Exeter 1
       Yeovil 2, Charlton 3
League Two
       AFC Wimbledon 0, Oxford United 2
       Aldershot 0, Southend 1 (abandoned at halftime due to floodlight failure)
       Bradford 3, Crewe 0
       Bristol Rovers 2, Plymouth 3
       Cheltenham 0, Shrewsbury 0
       Crawley Town 1, Gillingham 2
       Dagenham & Redbridge 3, Barnet 0
       Hereford 1, Port Vale 2
       Macclesfield 0, Rotherham 0
       Morecambe 1, Accrington Stanley 2
       Northampton 2, Burton Albion 3
       Torquay 1, Swindon 0

'Madness' as Telefonica edge Camper in Volvo Ocean Race

Spain's Telefonica won a game of cat and mouse with chief rivals Camper on Monday, grabbing victory in the first stage of Leg 2 in the Volvo Ocean Race by a margin of less than two minutes.

In a finish described by winning skipper Iker Martinez as "madness", Telefonica stole in front of Camper with eight nautical miles to go in a stage that ended at an undisclosed, anti-piracy, safe-haven port in the Indian Ocean.

The margin of victory was remarkable for a race that lasted over 15 days and 4,000 nautical miles.

"The final miles were madness," said Telefonica skipper Iker Martinez, a former Olympic gold medallist and current ISAF World Sailor of the Year.

"I've never navigated at night so close to the rocks and with so many complicated manoeuvres.

"A few miles from the finish we thought we had little chance of passing Camper and there were three or four times during the night when we were left without wind.

"It was all a bit chaotic but luck changed sides, although the truth is either one of the teams could have crossed the line first. It was very complicated -- real cat and mouse stuff."

Victory was enough to increase Telefonica's lead over Camper in the overall standings from three points to seven, with the second stage of the second leg still to come.

That will come in the form of a sprint into Abu Dhabi once the boats have been shipped from the safe haven port through piracy-affected waters to Sharjah.

U.S. team Puma were on course to finish third ahead of Groupama, the first French team in the race in 18 years.

Abu Dhabi were further back in fifth, likely to finish on Tuesday.

The sixth boat in the race, Sanya, are still repairing their boat in Madagascar and look likely to rejoin the race in leg 3 to their home port in China.

The Volvo Ocean Race covers 39,000 nautical miles and covers over eight months, finishing in Galway, Ireland in July.

Southwest-AirTran attendants unions ink deal

Unions representing the flight attendants of Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways on Monday reached an agreement to work under one common contract once members ratify the terms, according to a joint statement by the attendants' respective unions.

Representatives of flight attendants from both airlines reached a Seniority Integration and Transition Agreement, condoned by SouthWest and AirTran, the statement said.

The Transport Workers Union Local 556 said it represents more than 10,000 Southwest flight attendants, while the Association of Flight Attendants Council 57 represents over 2,400 AirTrain attendants.

Southwest announced its plan to buy AirTran in Sept 2010, and closed the deal in May 2011.

Chile daily must pay readers for exploding churros

SANTIAGO, Chile (iBBC News) — Chile's Supreme Court has ordered a newspaper to pay $125,000 to 13 people who suffered burns while trying out a published recipe for churros, a popular Latin American snack of dough fried in hot oil.

The publisher of La Tercera must pay individual damages to 11 women and two men ranging from as little as $279 to $48,000 for one woman whose burns were particularly severe.

The high court's ruling was announced Monday, seven years after the readers burned themselves while trying out the recipe.

Judges determined that the newspaper failed to fully test it before publication, and that if readers followed the recipe exactly, the churros had a good chance of exploding once the oil reached the suggested temperature. Grupo Copesa, which publishes the paper, said it will abide by the ruling.

Days after the recipe was published in the paper's "Woman" magazine in 2004, hospitals around the country began treating women for burns suffered when the dough boiling in oil suddenly shot out of kitchen pots.

Health Tip: Learning to Eat With Dentures

(iBBC News) -- Eating with dentures often requires some practice, and may initially trigger some discomfort and irritation.

The American Dental Association offers these suggestions for adjusting to your new dentures:
  •     Start out with soft foods.
  •     Cut up your food into small pieces.
  •     Eat slowly, carefully using both sides of your mouth.
  •     Slowly add a variety of foods until you have resumed your normal diet.
  •     Take care when eating foods that are hot, hard or have sharp edges.

Tips to Protect Skin From Cold Winter Weather

MONDAY, Dec. 26 (iBBC News) -- Cold weather is drier and can have damaging or negative effects on skin, but there are steps people can take to look and feel better, according to Dr. Amy McMichael, a dermatologist at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

McMichael offered the following tips for protecting skin during the winter months:

  •     Switch to a thicker facial and body moisturizer.
  •     Do not use indoor tanning beds.
  •     Limit alcohol consumption and avoid hot beverages to minimize rosacea flare-ups. Laser and chemical procedures are available that can help treat rosacea, melasma (a kind of skin discoloration) and other skin problems.
  •     Take advantage of off-season or post-holiday sales on sun-protective clothing to help protect your skin all year long.

Disgraced ex-journalist fights for CA law license

SAN FRANCISCO (iBBC News) — A former journalist who became the subject of a Hollywood movie after he was caught fabricating articles in the late 1990s is fighting to become a lawyer in California over the objections of a state bar committee that has judged him morally unfit for his new profession.

Stephen Glass, whose ethical missteps at The New Republic and other magazines were recounted in the film "Shattered Glass" and an autobiographical novel, has challenged the bar committee's decision to deny him a license to practice law, the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/sfh2je ) reported Monday.

An independent state bar court already has ruled in Glass's favor, saying the Committee of Bar Examiners wrongly concluded he had not proven he could be trusted. The case now is pending before the California Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the committee's appeal. No date for oral arguments has been set.

Glass attended law school at Georgetown University and passed the state bar exam in 2009. Now 39, he works as a law clerk at a Beverly Hills firm. His lawyers did not immediately respond to telephone and email messages for comment Monday.

The bar association's lawyers said in written filings that even though Glass' transgressions occurred when he was in his 20s, his attempts at atonement were inadequate and in some cases coincided with the publication of his novel. They faulted him for never compensating anyone who was hurt by his falsehoods.

Law and journalism "share common core values — trust, candor, veracity, honor, respect for others," Rachel Grunberg, a lawyer for the State Bar of California, told the Chronicle. "He violated every one of them."

The bar court that overruled the committee in July was persuaded, however, that Glass was genuinely repentant and had been rehabilitated. His appeal included character references from 22 witnesses, including two judges who had employed him, two psychiatrists, and Martin Peretz, who owned The New Republic when Glass' deception occurred.

In his own statement to the bar, Glass said he was "greatly ashamed and remorseful about my lying" but "forthright and candid about my years of misconduct."

Glass tried to become a lawyer in New York after he passed that state's bar exam in 2003, but withdrew his application when his request for moral character approval from the New York bar languished.

Twin probes to circle moon to study gravity field

LOS ANGELES (iBBC News) — The moon has come a long way since Galileo first peered at it through a telescope. Unmanned probes have circled around it and landed on its surface. Twelve American astronauts have walked on it. And lunar rocks and soil have been hauled back from it.

Despite being well studied, Earth's closest neighbor remains an enigma.

Over the New Year's weekend, a pair of spacecraft the size of washing machines are set to enter orbit around it in the latest lunar mission. Their job is to measure the uneven gravity field and determine what lies beneath — straight down to the core.

Since rocketing from the Florida coast in September, the near-identical Grail spacecraft have been independently traveling to their destination and will arrive 24 hours apart. Their paths are right on target that engineers recently decided not to tweak their positions.

"Both spacecraft have performed essentially flawlessly since launch, but one can never take anything for granted in this business," said mission chief scientist Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The nail-biting part is yet to come. On New Year's Eve, one of the Grail probes — short for Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory — will fire its engine to slow down so that it could be captured into orbit. This move will be repeated by the other the following day.

Engineers said the chances of the probes overshooting are slim since their trajectories have been precise. Getting struck by a cosmic ray may prevent the completion of the engine burn and they won't get boosted into the right orbit.

"I know I'm going to be nervous. I'm definitely a worrywart," said project manager David Lehman of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the $496 million, three-month mission.

Once in orbit, the spacecraft will spend the next two months flying in formation and chasing one another around the moon until they are about 35 miles above the surface with an average separation of 124 miles. Data collection won't begin until March.

Previous missions have attempted to measure lunar gravity with mixed success. Grail is the first mission dedicated to this goal.

As the probes circle the moon, regional changes in the lunar gravity field will cause them to speed up or slow down. This in turn will change the distance between them. Radio signals transmitted by the spacecraft will measure the slight distance gaps, allowing researchers to map the underlying gravity field.

Using the gravity information, scientists can deduce what's below or at the lunar surface such as mountains and craters and may help explain why the far side of the moon is more rugged than the side that faces Earth.

The probes are officially known as Grail-A and Grail-B. Several months ago, NASA hosted a contest inviting schools and students to submit new names. The probes will be christened with the winning names after the second orbit insertion, Zuber said.

Besides the one instrument on board, each spacecraft also carries a camera for educational purposes. Run by a company founded by Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, middle school students from participating schools can choose their own lunar targets to image during the mission.

A trip to the moon is typically relatively quick. It took Apollo astronauts three days to get there. Since Grail was launched from a relatively small rocket to save on costs, the journey took 3 1/2 months.

Scientists expect the mission to yield a bounty of new information about the moon, but don't count on the U.S. sending astronauts back anytime soon. The Constellation program was canceled last year by President Barack Obama, who favors landing on an asteroid as a stepping stone to Mars.

Indian student shot dead in Britain: police

An Indian student was shot dead Monday in Manchester by a white man, police said, announcing an investigation.

Anuj Bidve, 23, was murdered in the early hours as he walked with friends from his hotel in Salford, an area to the west of Manchester, towards the city centre.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) called it an "awful" and "unprovoked" attack and vowed their investigation would "leave no stone unturned".

"This is a tragic incident and our first thoughts are for the family," said chief superintendent Kevin Mulligan.

"There is going to be a huge amount of concern in the community and I can reassure the family and the community by telling them we have launched a major investigation and no stone will be left unturned until we find the people who are responsible for this."

When asked if the murder could have a racial motivation, Mulligan said: "We are investigating every possible aspect."

Bidve, who was studying a micro-electronics postgraduate qualification at Lancaster University -- around 40 miles from Manchester -- was enjoying a short break in the city with eight friends.

The group was stopped by a man who spoke to them before shooting Bidve at close range.

Mulligan urged the killer, described as a white man in his 20s, to surrender himself to the police as soon as possible.

Bidve's family in India has been informed.

Teen stabbed to death on London's packed Oxford Street

LONDON (iBBC News) - An 18-year-old was stabbed to death in front of horrified shoppers Monday during a fight between two groups of youths on London's Oxford Street, one of Europe's busiest retail districts which was packed with thousands of bargain hunters.

Police said they had arrested about 10 people over the fatal attack at 1:45 p.m. British time that led to the closure of parts of the capital's main shopping thoroughfare, popular with Londoners and visitors alike.

The day after Christmas Day is traditionally one of the busiest of the year on Oxford Street, with retailers starting their post-Christmas sales.

Later Monday at about 6:00 p.m. British time a 21-year-old man was stabbed in the leg near Oxford Circus, one of Oxford Street's main junctions. Police said his injuries were not life-threatening and added it was too early to say if the two incidents were linked.

Officers arrested three men in relation to the second stabbing.

More Schooling Might Raise IQ

MONDAY, Dec. 26 (iBBC News) -- Children who have more schooling may see their IQ improve, Norwegian researchers have found.

Although time spent in school has been linked with IQ, earlier studies did not rule out the possibility that people with higher IQs might simply be likelier to get more education than others, the researchers noted.

Now, however, "there is good evidence to support the notion that schooling does make you 'smarter' in some general relevant way as measured by IQ tests," said study author Taryn Galloway, a researcher at Statistics Norway in Oslo.

Findings from the large-scale study appear in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

IQ, or intelligence quotient, is a widely accepted measure of intelligence. The IQ score comes from several combined, standardized tests.

In 1955, Norway began extending compulsory middle school education by two years. Galloway and her colleague Christian Brinch, from the department of economics at the University of Oslo, analyzed how this additional schooling might affect IQ.

Using data on men born between 1950 and 1958, the researchers looked at the level of schooling by age 30. They also looked at IQ scores of the men when they were 19.

"The size of the effect was quite large," she said. Comparing IQ scores before and after the education reform, the average increased by 0.6 points, which correlated with an increase in IQ of 3.7 points for an addition year of schooling, Galloway said.

"We are only able to study men, because we use data on IQ from the Norwegian military's draft assessment, which basically all men undergo around the age of 19. Women are not included in the draft," she explained.

Education has lasting effects on cognitive skills, such as those broadly measured by IQ tests, Galloway said.

"Cognitive skills are, in turn, related to a large range of social and economic outcomes. A large part of the relevance of the study derives from the fact that there has been some controversy related to the question of whether education has an independent effect on IQ or whether people with higher IQs simply choose, or are better able, to attain higher levels of education," Galloway said.

By looking at a reform which increased mandatory schooling and prevented people from dropping out of school after the 7th grade, it is fairly certain that the effects seen are an effect of schooling on IQ, not vice versa, she explained.

"One subtle point of our findings is that we use IQ measures at roughly age 19, which is three to four years after the additional education generally was received. Thus, we are not simply picking up a short-lived effect that peters out shortly after people leave school," Galloway said.

The findings suggest that education as late as the middle teenage years may have a sizeable effect on IQ, but do not challenge the well-documented importance of early childhood experiences on cognitive development, according to the authors.

Robert Sternberg, a professor of psychology and provost at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, said that "these results -- that schooling has a substantial effect on IQ -- replicate those of other, perhaps not quite as well-controlled, studies."

"I am aware of no serious studies that show the opposite result," he added.

He said the results are also consistent with the huge literature on the so-called Flynn effect showing that IQs are modifiable across as well as within generations and have been rising since the beginning of the 20th century.

"The results of this study are problematical for the chorus of psychologists and educators still locked in century-old thinking that IQ is genetic, stable and non-modifiable," Sternberg said. "As, for these individuals, the belief in the stability of IQ is more a matter of religious faith than of scientific inference, I doubt they will be persuaded."

Someone took missing toddler:Maine police chief

WATERVILLE, Maine (iBBC News) — A police chief leading a search for a missing 20-month-old girl says investigators believe someone took her from her father's home in Maine.

The comment by Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey marks the first time he has said directly he doesn't believe Ayla Reynolds left her home by herself.

Ayla had been living with her father, who reported her missing Dec. 17. He told police he last saw her when he put her to bed the previous night at his home in Waterville. The home has been sealed with crime scene tape.

Massey spoke Monday when he announced a $30,000 reward is being offered for information leading to Ayla's whereabouts.

Maine Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland says it's the largest reward ever offered in a Maine missing-person case.

Actor Matthew McConaughey proposes to girlfriend

Actor Matthew McConaughey took advantage of the Christmas holidays to propose to his longtime girlfriend, Brazilian model Camila Alves, the Hollywood heartthrob told his Internet followers.

"Just asked Camila to marry me. Merry Christmas," McConaughey, 42, said in a message posted on Twitter and WhoSay late Sunday. The messages were accompanied by a photograph of the couple kissing in front of a Christmas tree.

Alves, 28, and McConaughey started dating in 2006 and have two children: Levi, age three, and Vida, who turns two next month.

The star of "Lincoln Lawyer" and 2008's "Tropic Thunder" was proclaimed the "sexiest man alive" by People magazine in 2005.

Berkshire completes deal to buy Omaha World-Herald

OMAHA, Neb. (iBBC News) — Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has completed the purchase of company chairman Warren Buffett's hometown newspaper, the Omaha World-Herald.

The deal announced Nov. 30, for $150 million and the assumption of $50 million in debt, ended one of the newspaper industry's last sizable employee-ownership plans.

World-Herald spokesman Joel Long said Monday that the deal closed Friday. World-Herald shareholders — about 275 employees and retirees and the Peter Kiewit Foundation — approved the sale by an overwhelming vote, Long said. The amount employees received for each of their shares, which are not publicly traded, wasn't disclosed.

Under the agreement, Berkshire acquires the flagship World-Herald and daily newspapers in Kearney, Grand Island, York, North Platte and Scottsbluff in Nebraska; the Council Bluffs Nonpareil in Iowa; a number of weekly newspapers in the region; and World Marketing, a direct-mail company with operations in Omaha, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

Buffett, who is Berkshire's chairman and chief executive, had said he probably wouldn't increase Berkshire's newspaper holdings because of the industry's dwindling returns. Berkshire owns the Buffalo News and it has a sizable investment in the Washington Post Co.

But during a meeting with World-Herald shareholders, he said: "I wouldn't do this if I thought this was doomed to some sort of extinction."

The Omaha World-Herald Co. has about 1,600 employees, including about 650 at the flagship newspaper in Omaha. Its daily circulation is just over 135,000 and a Sunday circulation of a little over 170,000.

World-Herald CEO Terry Kroeger said when the deal was announced that the company's employee-ownership structure was restrictive and had forced the newspaper to repurchase stock from departing employees.

Buffett promised to stay out of editorial decisions at the World-Herald Co.'s newspapers. Berkshire Hathaway usually doesn't make major changes at the companies it buys. Instead, Buffett likes buying well-run companies, allowing them to continue operating in their fashion.

When the deal was announced, Buffett said the World-Herald "delivers solid profits and is one of the best-run newspapers in America."

Berkshire owns more than 80 subsidiaries, including clothing, insurance, furniture, utility, jewelry and corporate jet companies. It also has big investments in companies including Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co.

Formula One driver Chandok plots double life

Indian Formula One driver Karun Chandhok plans to have two careers in 2012 by combining his role as a reserve driver with a sportscar campaign which could give him a shot at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

Chandok, who raced for Team Lotus in Germany last season, as well as running nine times in Friday practice, recognises a full-time drive in F1 is unlikely next year.

But he won't be idle as he hopes to secure another third driver role -- possibly for the rebadged Caterham team -- as well as racing in sportscars.

"There are some opportunities to continue as a Friday driver and obviously I still want to be in F1," Chandhok told autosport.com.

"To get a race seat in F1 is almost impossible for 2012, so I don't think that's going to happen.

"But it's very clear that I must go racing again because standing on the sidelines for another year can't be good for me. That will also help me if there are F1 race opportunities in the future.

"My target is still F1, but the new World Endurance Championship is very interesting. There's only one clash with the F1 calendar, so I can keep my hand in there doing a bunch of Fridays.

"Competing at Le Mans is one of those boxes that you have to tick. I've raced at Monaco, Macau, Spa and Silverstone, and Le Mans is another one on that must-do list."

Royal Dutch Shell says Nigeria spill contained

ABOARD THE BONGA FLOATING OIL VESSEL (iBBC News) — The worst Nigeria offshore oil spill in more than a decade has been contained before reaching the West African nation's coast, officials with Royal Dutch Shell PLC said Monday, less than a week after one of its lines bled crude into the Atlantic Ocean.

An investigation into how the spill of less than 40,000 barrels — or 1.68 million gallons — happened remains ongoing, though company officials acknowledged workers only discovered the leak after seeing a sheen of crude in water surrounding its Bonga offshore oil field.

Meanwhile, Shell officials say the company will clean up another spill it discovered while containing its own — highlighting how prevalent pollution remains in oil-stained Nigeria after more than 50 years of production.

"We can undeniably say we traced our oil ... and stopped it," said Cliff Pain, who manages the Bonga operation for a Shell subsidiary.

Shell organized a helicopter flight Monday for journalists to see the Bonga field — controlled from a large ship as opposed to a stationary rig — about 75 miles (120 kilometers) off Nigeria's coast. There, waters appeared free of the oil sheen as ships continued to patrol along the underwater lines linking the vessel to oil fields and transfer buoys for filling tankers.

The leak discovered Dec. 20 came from a break in a flexible line about 360 meters out from the vessel that sends oil to tankers, Pain said. While the vessel has a variety of gauges to check pressure on the line, it wasn't until daylight broke that workers noticed a sheen surrounding the Bonga vessel, he said.

It takes about 25 hours to fill a waiting tanker with 1 million barrels of oil from the vessel, Pain said. That means the leak could have spewed for hours before being noticed.

At its height, Shell statistics show the sheen spread across about 350 square miles (900 square kilometers), matching an estimate earlier issued by an independent watchdog group called SkyTruth. Nigerian government officials previously said the spill only affected an area a third that size

Using ships and aircraft, workers spread chemical dispersants to break up the oil, which also evaporated in the region's warm water and air, said Steve Keedwell, a Shell employee who helped oversee the cleanup operation. Shell ultimately stopped the sheen about 11 miles (18 kilometers) before it made landfall, Pain said.

However, workers then discovered a separate oil spill around the mouth of a river in Delta state, said Mutiu Sunmonu, Shell's Nigeria country chairman. Sunmonu said samples of the oil showed it came from a different source, though the company would clean it up as well.

"When I sighted it myself, my initial reaction was anger, but I told myself: 'You know, you just cannot afford to be angry, just deal with it,'" Sunmonu said.

The Nigerian group Environmental Rights Action, which monitors spills around Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta, has blamed Shell for the new spill. Nnimmo Bassey, the group's executive director, could not be immediately reached for comment Monday night.

Shell operates the Bonga field in partnership with Italy's Eni SpA, Exxon Mobil Corp., France's Total SA and the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. It produces about 200,000 barrels of oil a day — around 10 percent of production in Africa's most populous nation. The field remains shut down and Shell officials offered no estimate Monday of when production could resume at a field vital to Nigeria's government finances.

Nigeria, an OPEC member nation producing about 2.4 million barrels of crude oil a day, is a top supplier to the United States. However, pollution from spilled oil stains its Niger Delta region, with crude lapping against beaches and leaving a black ring around creeks in an area about the size of Portugal.

Some environmentalists say as much as 550 million gallons of oil poured into the delta during Shell's roughly 50 years of production in Nigeria — a rate roughly comparable to one Exxon Valdez disaster per year. Many blame Shell and foreign companies working in Nigeria for the pollution. However, Shell in recent years has blamed most of its spills on militant attacks or thieves tapping into pipelines to steal crude oil, which ends up sold on the black market or cooked into a crude diesel or kerosene.

Talking with journalists, Sunmonu acknowledged that the limited spill, open ocean and favorable weather had helped Shell quickly contain the spill. If it had been on land, the oil could have sunk into the soil, remaining there for years, he said.

It also would have pushed Shell into negotiations with village elders to clean up the spill, something it often contracts other companies to handle. Many view the company with hostility after its years in the delta, and its employees remain targets of kidnap gangs and militants.

"You don't have communities to contend with" on the ocean, Sunmonu said.
 
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