Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

McIlroy walks off course at Honda Classic

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Rory McIlroy abruptly walked off the course Friday at the Honda Classic, telling reporters who followed him to his car he's "not in a good place mentally." An hour later, he attributed his withdrawal to a sore wisdom tooth.

It raised serious questions about golf's No. 1 player with the Masters just more than a month away.

McIlroy already was 7-over par through eight holes of the second round when he hit his second shot into the water on the par-5 18th at PGA National. He shook hands with Ernie Els and Mark Wilson and was headed to the parking lot before they even finished the hole.

"There's not really much I can say, guys," McIlroy told three reporters before he drove away. "I'm not in a good place mentally, you know?"

He said there was nothing wrong physically. When asked about his swing, the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland replied, "Yeah, I really don't know what's going on."

About an hour after he left, McIlroy released a statement that pinned his withdrawal on dental problems.

"I have been suffering with a sore wisdom tooth, which is due to come out in the near future," McIlroy said. "It began bothering me again last night, so I relieved it with Advil. It was very painful again this morning, and I was simply unable to concentrate. It was really bothering me and had begun to affect my playing partners."

He was seen eating a sandwich on the 18th fairway.

McIlroy apologized to the tournament, saying he had every intention of defending his title at the Honda Classic. He mentioned the wisdom tooth on Twitter and said he was "gutted."

McIlroy, coming off a year in which he won a second major in record fashion, already set himself up for scrutiny when he left Titleist to sign an equipment deal with Nike that was said to be worth upward of $20 million a year.

Nike introduced him with blaring music and a laser show in Abu Dhabi, but it's been all downhill from there.

McIlroy missed the cut in the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship with rounds of 75-75. He took a four-week break, and then was eliminated in the opening round of the Match Play Championship to Shane Lowry in one of the most poorly played matches of the round.

McIlroy played 36 holes with Tiger Woods at The Medalist on Sunday and said Tuesday it was no time to panic.

"Even though my results haven't revealed it, I really felt like I was rounding a corner," McIlroy said. "This is one of my favorite tournaments of the year and I regret having to make the decision to withdraw, but it was one I had to make."

It looked more like McIlroy was sinking than rounding the corner, not difficult to do on a course with so many water hazards. And he found plenty of them.

McIlroy, who opened with a 70, hit two poor chips that led to double bogey on No. 11, and a wild tee shot to the right led to a bogey on the 13th. His round really unraveled on the par-4 16th, when he hit his tee shot to the right and into the water, took a penalty drop, and then came up short of the green and into the water again. He made a 6-foot putt for a triple bogey.

He three-putted from 40 feet, running his first putt about 10 feet by the hole, for a bogey to go 7 over. And then came the approach that found water for the third time of his short day on the 18th.

McIlroy is scheduled to play next week in the Cadillac Championship at Doral, which has no cut, and then the Houston Open. But on the first day of March, he has completed only four rounds of competition.

It was the second straight year one of golf's biggest stars failed to finish a tournament on the Florida swing. Woods withdrew after 11 holes on the final round at Doral last year because of tightness in his Achilles tendon, raising questions about the seriousness of his recurring leg injuries. He won Bay Hill two weeks later.

McIlroy at least drove off from PGA National without a helicopter camera following him.

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Rodman tells Kim Jong Un he has 'friend for life'

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman hung out Thursday with North Korea's Kim Jong Un on the third day of his improbable journey with VICE to Pyongyang, watching the Harlem Globetrotters with the leader and later dining on sushi and drinking with him at his palace.

"You have a friend for life," Rodman told Kim before a crowd of thousands at a gymnasium where they sat side by side, chatting as they watched players from North Korea and the U.S. play, Alex Detrick, a spokesman for the New York-based VICE media company, told The Associated Press.

Rodman arrived in Pyongyang on Monday with three members of the professional Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy and a production crew to shoot an episode on North Korea for a new weekly HBO series.

The unlikely encounter makes Rodman the most high-profile American to meet Kim since the young North Korean leader took power in December 2011, and takes place against a backdrop of tension between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test just two weeks ago, making clear the provocative act was a warning to the United States to drop what it considers a "hostile" policy toward the North.

Kim, a diehard basketball fan, told the former Chicago Bulls star he hoped the visit would break the ice between the United States and North Korea, VICE founder Shane Smith said.

Dressed in a blue Mao suit, Kim laughed and slapped his hands on the table before him during the game as he sat nearly knee to knee with Rodman. Rodman, the man who once turned up in a wedding dress to promote his autobiography, wore a dark suit and dark sunglasses, but still had on his nose rings and other piercings. A can of Coca-Cola sat on the table before him in photos shared with AP by VICE.

"The crowd was really engaged, laughed at all of the Globetrotters antics, and actually got super loud towards the end as the score got close," said Duffy, who suited up for the game in a blue uniform emblazoned with "United States of America. "Most fun I've had in a while."

Kim and Rodman chatted in English, but Kim primarily spoke in Korean through a translator, Smith said after speaking to the VICE crew in Pyongyang.

"They bonded during the game," Smith said by telephone from New York after speaking to the crew. "They were both enjoying the crazy shots, and the Harlem Globetrotters were putting on quite a show."

The surprise visit by the flamboyant Hall of Famer known as "The Worm" makes him an unlikely ambassador at a time when North Koreans are girding for battle with the U.S. Just last week, Kim guided frontline troops in military exercises.

North Korea and the U.S. fought on opposite sides of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953. The foes never signed a peace treaty, and do not have diplomatic relations.

Thursday's game ended in a 110-110 draw, with two Americans playing on each team alongside North Koreans, Detrick said. The Xinhua News Agency first reported on the game, citing witnesses who attended.

After the game, Rodman addressed Kim in a speech before a crowd of tens of thousands of North Koreans, telling him, "You have a friend for life," Detrick said.

At a lavish dinner at Kim's palace, the leader plied the group with food and drinks as the group made round after round of toasts.

"Dinner was an epic feast. Felt like about 10 courses in total," Duffy said in an email to AP. "I'd say the winners were the smoked turkey and sushi, though we had the Pyongyang cold noodles earlier in the trip and that's been the runaway favorite so far."

Duffy said he invited Kim to visit the United States, a proposal met with hearty laughter from the North Korean leader.

"Um ... so Kim Jong Un just got the (hash)VICEonHBO crew wasted ... no really, that happened," VICE producer Jason Mojica wrote on Twitter.

Rodman's trip is the second attention-grabbing U.S. visit this year to North Korea. Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, made a four-day trip in January to Pyongyang, but did not meet the North Korean leader.

Extending an invitation to a man known as much for his piercings, tattoos and bad behavior as for his basketball may seem inexplicable. But Kim is known to love the NBA, and has promoted sports since becoming leader.

"We knew that he's a big lover of basketball, especially the Bulls, and it was our intention going in that we would have a good-will mission of something that's fun," Smith said. "A lot of times, things just are serious and everybody's so concerned with geopolitics that we forget just to be human beings."

Rodman's agent, Darren Prince, said Rodman wasn't concerned about criticism about making a visit to an enemy nation.

"Dennis called me last night and said it's been a great experience and he made this trip out of the love of the USA ," he said. "It's all about peace and love."


Associated Press NBA writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this report from New York. Follow AP's Korea bureau chief Jean Lee at

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Experts: Pistorius violated basic firearms rules

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Even if Oscar Pistorius is acquitted of murder, firearms and legal experts in South Africa believe that, by his own account, the star athlete violated basic gun-handling regulations and exposed himself to a homicide charge by shooting into a closed door without knowing who was behind it.

Particularly jarring for firearms instructors and legal experts is that Pistorius testified that he shot at a closed toilet door, fearing but not knowing for certain that a nighttime intruder was on the other side. Instead of an intruder, Pistorius' girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was in the toilet cubicle. Struck by three of four shots that Pistorius fired from a 9 mm pistol, she died within minutes. Prosecutors charged Pistorius with premeditated murder, saying the shooting followed an argument between the two. Pistorius said it was an accident.

South Africa has stringent laws regulating the use of lethal force for self-protection. In order to get a permit to own a firearm, applicants must not only know those rules but must demonstrate proficiency with the weapon and knowledge of its safe handling, making it far tougher to legally own a gun in South Africa than many other countries where a mere background check suffices.

Pistorius took such a competency test for his 9 mm pistol and passed it, according to the South African Police Service's National Firearms Center. Pistorius' license for the 9 mm pistol was issued in September 2010. The Olympic athlete and Paralympic medalist should have known that firing blindly, instead of at a clearly identified target, violates basic gun-handling rules, firearms and legal experts said.

"You can't shoot through a closed door," said Andre Pretorius, president of the Professional Firearm Trainers Council, a regulatory body for South African firearms instructors. "People who own guns and have been through the training, they know that shooting through a door is not going to go through South African law as an accident."

"There is no situation in South Africa that allows a person to shoot at a threat that is not identified," Pretorius added. "Firing multiple shots, it makes it that much worse. ...It could have been a minor — a 15-year-old kid, a 12-year-old kid — breaking in to get food."

The Pistorius family, through Arnold Pistorius, uncle of the runner, has said it is confident that the evidence will prove that Steenkamp's death in the predawn hours of Feb. 14 was "a terrible and tragic accident."

In an affidavit to the magistrate who last Friday freed him on bail, Pistorius said he believed an intruder or intruders had gotten into his US$560,000 (€430,000) two-story house, in a guarded and gated community with walls topped by electrified fencing east of the capital, Pretoria, and were inside the toilet cubicle in his bathroom. Believing he and Steenkamp "would be in grave danger" if they came out, "I fired shots at the toilet door" with the pistol that he slept with under his bed, he testified.

Criminal law experts said that even if the prosecution fails to prove premeditated murder, firing several shots through a closed door could bring a conviction for the lesser but still serious charge of culpable homicide, a South African equivalent of manslaughter covering unintentional deaths through negligence.

Johannesburg attorney Martin Hood, who specializes in firearm law, said South African legislation allows gun owners to use lethal force only if they believe they are facing an immediate, serious and direct attack or threat of attack that could either be deadly or cause grievous injury.

According to Pistorius' own sworn statement read in court, he "did not meet those criteria," said Hood, who is also the spokesman for the South African Gun Owners' Association.

"If he fired through a closed door, there was no threat to him. It's as simple as that," he added. "He can't prove an attack on his life ... In my opinion, at the very least, he is guilty of culpable homicide."

The Associated Press emailed a request for comment to Vuma, a South African reputation management firm hired by the Pistorius family to handle media questions about the shooting.

The firm replied: "Due to the legal sensitivities around the matter, we cannot at this stage answer any of your questions as it might have legal implications for a case that still has to be tried in a court of law." Vuma said on Monday it referred the AP's questions to Pistorius' legal team, which by Tuesday had not replied.

Culpable homicide covers unintentional deaths ranging from accidents with no negligence, like a motorist whose brakes fail, killing another road user, "to where it verges on murder or where it almost becomes intentional," said Hood. Sentences — ranging from fines to prison — are left to courts to determine and are not set by fixed guidelines.

The tough standards for legally acquiring a gun were instituted in part because of a wave of weapons purchases after the end of racist white rule in 1994, said Rick De Caris, a former legal director in the South African police. Under South Africa's white-minority apartheid regime, gun owners often learned how to handle firearms during military service. Many of the new gun owners had little or no firearms training, which brought tragic results, De Caris said.

"People were literally shooting themselves when cleaning a firearm," said De Caris, who helped draft the Firearms Control Act of 2000.

Prospective gun owners must now take written exams that include questions on the law, have to show they can safely handle and shoot a gun and are required to hit a target the size of a glossy magazine in 10 of 10 shots from seven meters (23 feet), said Pretorius of the Professional Firearm Trainers Council.

In his affidavit, Pistorius said he wasn't wearing his prosthetic limbs "and felt extremely vulnerable" after hearing noise from the toilet.

"I grabbed my 9 mm pistol from underneath my bed. On my way to the bathroom, I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch-dark in the bedroom and I thought Reeva was in bed," he testified.

Legal experts said they are puzzled why Pistorius apparently didn't first fire a warning shot to show the supposed intruder he was armed. Also unanswered is why, after he heard noise in his bathroom that includes the toilet cubicle, Pistorius still went toward the bathroom — toward the perceived danger — rather than retreat back into his bedroom.

"He should have tried to get out of the situation," said Hood, the attorney.

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Indiana stays No. 1 in AP Top 25, Gonzaga No. 2

Indiana is No. 1 in The Associated Press' Top 25 for the fourth straight week, while Gonzaga moved to No. 2 for the first time in school history.

While the West Coast Bulldogs made some news at the top of the poll Monday, Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs from Down South, moved into the rankings for the first time since a 13-week run in 1984-85, their only appearance in the poll.

Louisiana Tech, which is 25th this week, was led back then to a ranking as high as No. 7 by a forward named Karl Malone. Gonzaga at that time had a point guard named John Stockton. They went on to become one of the greatest combinations in NBA history with the Utah Jazz, were members of the Dream Team and both were inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Hoosiers, who have been ranked No. 1 for a total of 10 weeks this season, received all but one first-place vote from the 65-member national media panel.

Gonzaga, which got the other No. 1 vote, was ranked third last week. The Bulldogs were also that high in the poll for the final two weeks of 2003-04.

Duke moved up three spots to third and is followed by Michigan and Miami, which dropped from second after falling to Wake Forest, the Hurricanes' first Atlantic Coast Conference loss this season.

Kansas is sixth, followed by Georgetown, Florida, Michigan State and Louisville.

Saint Louis, which beat Butler and VCU last week, moved into 18th in the poll, the Billikens' first ranking since being in for one week last season.

Colorado State, which was 22nd and lost twice last week, and VCU, which was 24th, dropped out.

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Daytona ready for race, willing to relocate fans

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Fans feeling unsafe after the horrific crash at Daytona International Speedway can change seats for NASCAR's biggest race.

Track President Joie Chitwood said Sunday workers successfully repaired a section of fence — 54 feet wide and 22 feet high — that was shredded Saturday when Kyle Larson's car went airborne on the final lap of a second-tier race and crashed through the barrier that separates cars from fans. Large pieces of debris, including a tire, sprayed into the upper and lower section of the stands.

The crash injured more than 30 people, raising more questions about fan safety at race tracks.

Halifax Health spokesman Byron Cogdell said seven people with crash-related injuries remained hospitalized Sunday in Daytona Beach in stable condition. The six people brought to a different Halifax hospital in Port Orange with crash-related injuries had all been discharged by Sunday morning, Cogdell said.

A spokeswoman at Florida Memorial Medical Center would not release information Sunday on the patients brought to that hospital.

Chitwood, meanwhile, said if any fans are uncomfortable with their up-close seating for Sunday's Daytona 500, officials will work to move them.

"If fans are unhappy with their seating location or if they have any incidents, we would relocate them," Chitwood said Sunday. "So we'll treat that area like we do every other area of the grandstand. If a fan is not comfortable where they're sitting, we make every accommodation we can."

Larry Spencer of Nanticoke, Pa., said Sunday he's not sure he wants to ever sit that low again after his 15-year-old brother, Derrick, needed three stitches in his cheek after being hit by metal debris flying from the crash. They sat close to the fence Saturday, but returned for the Daytona 500 with tickets dozens of rows farther away from the track.

"I thought it was just neat to see the cars going by that close," Spencer said. "After yesterday, though, I definitely will reconsider sitting lower ever again."

The tire that flew into the stands landed a couple of rows above where they had been standing. After the crash, looking around at the people seriously injured, Spencer said he decided to take his brother to a hospital himself so that speedway crews and paramedics could focus on the people who needed more help.

"The only way to describe it was like a bomb went off, and the car pretty much exploded," Spencer said.

Track workers finished repairs about 2 a.m. Sunday, having installed a new fence post, new metal meshing and part of the concrete wall.

Officials decided not to rebuild the collapsed cross-over gate, which allows fans to travel between the stands and the infield before races.

Daytona has a grandstand remodel planned. Chitwood said the injuries could prompt a redesign that might include sturdier fences or stands further away from the on-track action.

"It's tough to connect the two right now in terms of a potential redevelopment and what occurred," Chitwood said. "We were prepared yesterday, had emergency medical respond. As we learn from this, you bet: If there are things that we can incorporate into the future, whether it's the current property now or any other redevelopment, we will.

"The key is sitting down with NASCAR, finding out the things that happened and how we deal with them."

Daytona reexamined its fencing and ended up replacing the entire thing following Carl Edwards' scary crash at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama in 2009. Edwards' car sailed into the fence and spewed debris into the stands.

"We've made improvements since then," Chitwood said. "I think that's the key: that we learn from this and figure out what else we need to do."

NASCAR plans to take what remained of Larson's sheared car along with debris back to its research and development center in Charlotte, N.C., for testing.

"We'll bring in the best and brightest," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR's senior vice president for racing operations. "Anything we can learn will be put in place. ... Fans are our first priority. Obviously we want everybody to be safe at an event. We've talked to the speedway. We're confident in what's in place at today's event. Certainly still thinking about those affected, but we're confident to move forward for this race."

The 12-car crash began as the front-runners approached the checkered flag. Leader Regan Smith attempted to block Brad Keselowski for the win, triggering a pileup that could have been much worse.

Larson's burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence. Parts and pieces of his car sprayed into the stands, including a tire that cleared the top of the fence and landed midway up the spectator section closest to the track.

The 20-year-old Larson stood in shock a few feet from his car as fans in the stands waved frantically for help. Smoke from the burning engine briefly clouded the area, and emergency vehicles descended on the scene.

Ambulance sirens could be heard wailing behind the grandstands at a time the race winner would typically be doing celebratory burnouts.

"It was freaky. When I looked to my right, the accident happened," Rick Harpster of Orange Park said. "I looked over and I saw a tire fly straight over the fence into the stands, but after that I didn't see anything else. That was the worst thing I have seen, seeing that tire fly into the stands. I knew it was going to be severe."

In 1987, Bobby Allison's car lifted off the track at Talladega while running over 200 mph, careening into the steel-cable fence and scattering debris into the crowd. That crash led to the use of horsepower-sapping restrictor plates at Talladega and its sister track in Daytona, NASCAR's fastest layouts.

As a result, the cars all run nearly the same speed, and the field is typically bunched tightly together — which plenty of drivers have warned is actually a more dangerous scenario than higher speeds.

"That's one of the things that really does scare you," Allison said Sunday. "But it's always a possibility because of the speeds, where they are."


Associated Press writer Jennifer Kay in Miami contributed to this report.

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Jeter resumes on-field running drills in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Yankees captain Derek Jeter has practiced on-field running and agility drills for the first time since breaking his ankle last fall.

Jeter worked out at Steinbrenner Field on Saturday with players that didn't travel for the Yankees' spring training opener against Atlanta.

The 38-year-old broke his left ankle lunging for a grounder in the AL championship series opener against Detroit on Oct. 1 and had surgery a week later. He expects to be ready for opening day against Boston on April 1.

Jeter had a resurgent season in 2012, leading the American League with 216 hits and batting .316 with 15 homers and 58 RBIs. He first injured his ankle in mid-September and fouled balls off his foot several times after that.

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Pistorius granted bail pending murder trial

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A South African magistrate allowed Oscar Pistorius to go free on bail Friday, capping hearings that foreshadow a dramatic trial in the Valentine's Day killing of the star athlete's girlfriend.

Pistorius' family members and supporters shouted "Yes!" when Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair made his decision after a more than 1 hour and 45 minute explanation of his ruling to a packed courtroom.

Radio stations and a TV news network in South Africa broadcast the audio of the decision live, and even international channels like the BBC and CNN went live with it, underscoring the huge global interest in the case.

Nair set the bail at 1 million rand ($113,000), with $11,300 in cash up front and proof that the rest is available. The magistrate said Pistorius must hand over his passports and also turn in any other guns that he owns. Pistorius also cannot leave the district of Pretoria, South Africa's capital, without the permission of his probation officer, Nair said, nor can he take drugs or drink alcohol.

The double-amputee Olympian's next court appearance was set for June 4. He left the courthouse in a silver Land Rover, sitting in the rear, just over an hour after the magistrate imposed the bail conditions. The vehicle, tailed by a motorcycle with a TV cameraman aboard, later pulled into the home of Pistorius' uncle.

The magistrate ruled that Pistorius could not return to his upscale home in a gated community in the eastern suburbs of Pretoria, where the killing of Reeva Steenkamp took place.

Pistorius' uncle, Arnold Pistorius said: "We are relieved at the fact that Oscar got bail today but at the same time we are in mourning for the death of Reeva with her family. As a family, we know Oscar's version of what happened on that tragic night and we know that that is the truth and that will prevail in the coming court case."

Nair made the ruling after four days of arguments from prosecution and defense in Pistorius' bail hearing. During Friday's long session in Pretoria Magistrate's Court, Pistorius alternately wept and appeared solemn and more composed, especially toward the end as Nair criticized police procedures in the case and as a judgment in Pistorius' favor appeared imminent.

Nair had banned cameras from Friday's dramatic bail hearing and complained about cameras constantly "flashing" in Pistorius' face the previous three days of hearings, saying the spectacle made the athlete look like "some kind of species the world has never seen before."

Nair said Pistorius' sworn statement, in which he gave his version of the events of the shooting during the predawn hours of Feb. 14 in a sworn statement, had helped his application for bail.

"I come to the conclusion that the accused has made a case to be released on bail," Nair said.

Pistorius said in the sworn statement that he shot his girlfriend — a model and budding reality TV contestant — accidentally, believing she was an intruder in his house.

Prosecutors say he intended to kill Steenkamp and charged him with premeditated murder, saying the shooting followed a loud argument between the two.

Sharon Steenkamp, Reeva's cousin, had said earlier that the family wouldn't be watching the bail decision and hadn't been following the hearing in Pretoria.

"It doesn't make any difference to the fact that we are without Reeva," she told The Associated Press.

Despite the bail decision, prosecution spokesman Medupe Simasiku said: "We're still confident in our case," outside court.

Pistorius faced the sternest bail requirements in South Africa because of the seriousness of the charge, and his defense lawyers had to prove that he would not flee the country, would not interfere with witnesses or the case, and his release would not cause public unrest.

Nair questioned whether Pistorius would be a flight risk and be prepared to go "ducking and diving" around the world when he stood to lose a fortune in cash, cars, property and other assets. Nair also said that while it had been shown that Pistorius had aggressive tendencies, he did not have a prior record of offenses for violent acts.

He criticized Hilton Botha, the previous lead investigator in the case, for not doing more to uncover evidence that the Olympian had violent tendencies.

"There is ample room and ample time to do that by looking at the background of the accused," he said.

But while Nair leveled harsh criticism at former lead investigator Botha for "errors" and "blunders," he said one man does not represent the state's case and that the state could not be expected to put all the pieces of its puzzle together in such a short time.

Anticipating the shape of the state's case at trial, he said he had serious questions about Pistorius' account: Why he didn't try to locate his girlfriend on fearing an intruder was in the house, why he didn't try to determine who was in the toilet and why he would venture into perceived "danger" - the bathroom area - when he could have taken other steps to ensure his safety.

"There are improbabilities which need to be explored," Nair said, adding that Pistorius could clarify these matters by testifying under oath at trial.


AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray and AP writer Carley Petesch contributed to this report from Johannesburg.

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Top detective appointed new Pistorius investigator

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — South Africa's top detective was appointed lead investigator in the Oscar Pistorius case Thursday, replacing a veteran policeman who was charged with attempted murder in the latest shock development to hit a case being watched closely by the nation.

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega promised that a team of "highly skilled and experienced" officers would investigate the killing of Pistorius' 29-year-old girlfriend. Pistorius, 26, has been charged with premeditated murder in the case.

The decision to put police Lt. Gen. Vinesh Moonoo in charge came soon after word emerged that the initial chief investigator, Hilton Botha, is facing attempted murder charges, and a day after he offered testimony damaging to the prosecution in Pistorius' bail hearing.

Pistorius, an Olympic runner whose lower legs were amputated when he was less than a year old, killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in the predawn hours of Valentine's Day. He claims he mistook her for an intruder when he shot her through a locked door in a bathroom in his home. Prosecutors say the shooting happened after the couple got into an argument and allege the killing was deliberate, carried out with no mercy.

Botha acknowledged Wednesday in court that nothing in Pistorius' version of the fatal shooting of Steenkamp contradicted what police had discovered, even though there have been some discrepancies. Botha also said that police had left a 9 mm slug in the toilet and had lost track of allegedly illegal ammunition found in Pistorius' home.

"This matter shall receive attention at the national level," Phiyega told reporters soon after the end of proceedings in the third day of Pistorius' bail hearing. The case has riveted South Africa and much of the world and has placed the country's judicial system under close scrutiny.

Bulewa Makeke, spokeswoman for South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority, said the attempted murder charges had been reinstated against Botha on Feb. 4. Police say they found out about it after Botha testified in Pistorius' bail hearing Wednesday.

Botha and two other police officers had seven counts of attempted murder reinstated against them in relation to a 2011 shooting incident. Botha and his two colleagues allegedly fired shots at a minibus they were trying to stop.

Asked about Botha's court performance and handling of the investigation, Phiyega said South Africa's police force "can stand on its own" compared to others around the world.

Makeke, the spokeswoman for the national prosecution office, had said before Botha was dismissed from the Pistorius case that he should be taken off, but added that it was up to the police force to make that decision.

Makeke indicated the charges were reinstated against Botha because more evidence had been gathered. She said the charge against Botha was initially dropped "because there was not enough evidence at the time."

Pistorius' main sponsor Nike, meanwhile, suspended its contract with the multiple Paralympic champion, following eyewear manufacturer Oakley's decision to suspend its sponsorship. Nike said in a brief statement on its website: "We believe Oscar Pistorius should be afforded due process and we will continue to monitor the situation closely."

The judge is still trying to decide whether to grant Pistorius bail, and under what conditions.

During Thursday's bail hearing, Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair asked the defense of Pistorius' bail application: "Do you think there will be some level of shock if the accused is released?"

Defense lawyer Barry Roux responded: "I think there will be a level of shock in this country if he is not released."

Opposing bail, prosecutor Gerrie Nel painted a picture of a man "willing and ready to fire and kill," and said signs of remorse from Pistorius do not mean that the athlete didn't intend to kill his girlfriend.

"Even if you plan a murder, you plan a murder and shoot. If you fire the shot, you have remorse. Remorse might kick in immediately," Nel said.

As Nel summed up the prosecution's case opposing bail, Pistorius began to weep in the crowded courtroom, leading his brother, Carl Pistorius, to reach out and touch his back.

"He (Pistorius) wants to continue with his life like this never happened," Nel went on, prompting Pistorius, who was crying softly, to shake his head. "The reason you fire four shots is to kill," Nel persisted.

Earlier Thursday, Nair questioned Botha over delays in processing records from phones found in Pistorius' house following the killing of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and budding reality TV contestant.

"It seems to me like there was a lack of urgency," Nair said as the efficiency of the police investigation was questioned.

Botha is himself to appear in court in May to face seven counts of attempted murder. Botha was dropped from the case but not suspended from the police force, Phiyega said, and could still be called by defense lawyers at trial.

Pisatorius' behavior Thursday reflected the change of mood in the courtroom as his defense lawyers attacked police procedures and maintained his innocence.

Pistorius, in the same gray suit, blue shirt and gray tie combination he has worn throughout the bail hearing, stood ramrod straight in the dock, then sat calmly looking at his hands. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the athlete had been slumped over and sobbing uncontrollably at times as detail was read out of how Steenkamp died in his house.

"The poor quality of the evidence offered by investigative officer Botha exposed the disastrous shortcomings of the state's case," Roux said Thursday. "We cannot sit back and take comfort that he is telling the truth."

Roux also raised issue of intent, saying the killing was not "pre-planned" and referred to a "loving relationship" between the two.

He said an autopsy showed that Steenkamp's bladder was empty, suggesting she had gone to use the toilet as Pistorius had claimed. Prosecutors claim Steenkamp had fled to the toilet to avoid an enraged Pistorius.

"The known forensics is consistent" with Pistorius' statement, Roux said, asking that bail restrictions be eased for Pistorius.

But the prosecutor said Pistorius hadn't given guarantees to the court that he wouldn't leave the country if he was facing a life sentence. Nel also stressed that Pistorius shouldn't be given special treatment.

"I am Oscar Pistorius. I am a world-renowned athlete. Is that a special circumstance? No." Nel said. "His version (of the killing) is improbable."

Nel said the court should focus on the "murder of the defenseless woman."

Botha testified Thursday that he had investigated a 2009 complaint against Pistorius by a woman who claimed the athlete had assaulted her. He said that Pistorius had not hurt her and that the woman had actually injured herself when she kicked a door at Pistorius' home.

The hearing is to continue Friday morning.


AP Sports Writer Gerald Imray contributed to this report from Johannesburg.

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Armstrong facing Wednesday deadline with USADA

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong is facing a Wednesday deadline to decide whether he will meet with U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials and talk with them under oath about what he knows about performance-enhancing drug use in cycling.

The agency has said Armstrong's cooperation in its cleanup effort is the only path open to Armstrong if his lifetime ban from sports is to be reduced.

Armstrong has given mixed signals about whether he plans to talk with USADA officials. Armstrong attorney Tim Herman previously suggested Armstrong would not meet with USADA before the agency's original Feb. 6 deadline. The two sides then agreed to give Armstrong another two weeks to work out an interview with investigators.

Armstrong previously denied using performance-enhancing drugs, but in January admitted doping to win seven Tour de France titles.

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Pistorius: Thought lover an intruder in shooting

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius wept Tuesday as his defense lawyer read the athlete's account of how he shot his girlfriend to death on Valentine's Day, claiming he had mistaken her for an intruder.

Prosecutors, however, told a packed courtroom that the double-amputee known as the Blade Runner intentionally and mercilessly shot and killed 29-year-old Reeva Steenkamp as she cowered inside a locked bathroom.

Pistorius told the Pretoria Magistrate's Court at a bail hearing he felt vulnerable in the presence of an intruder inside the bathroom because he did not have his prosthetic legs on, and fired into the bathroom door.

The Valentine's Day shooting in Pistorius' home in Pretoria shocked South Africans and many around the world who idolized him for overcoming adversity to become a sports champion, competing in the London Olympics last year in track besides being a Paralympian. Steenkamp was a model and law graduate who made her debut on a South African reality TV program that was broadcast on Saturday, two days after her death.

In a major point of contention emerged even during Tuesday bail hearing, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said Pistorius took the time to put on his prostheses, walked seven meters (yards) from the bed to the enclosed toilet inside his bathroom and only then opened fire. Three of the bullets hit Steenkamp of the four that were fired into the door, Nel said.

Pistorius said in his sworn statement that after opening fire, he realized that Steenkamp was not in his bed.

"It filled me with horror and fear," Pistorius said. The 26-year-old Olympian said he put on his prosthetic legs and tried to kick down the door before finally bashing it in with a cricket bat. Inside, he said he found Steenkamp, slumped over. He said he lifted her bloodied body into his arms and tried to carry her downstairs to seek medical help.

But by then, it was too late.

"She died in my arms," the athlete said.

Nel charged Pistorius with premeditated murder and said the athlete opened fire after the couple engaged in a shouting match and she fled to the bathroom.

"She couldn't go anywhere. You can run nowhere," Nel said. "It must have been horrific."

A conviction of premeditated murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in jail.

Chief Magistrate Desmond Nair ruled that Pistorius must face the harshest bail requirements available in South African law. That means Pistorius' lawyers must offer "exceptional" reasons for the athlete to be free before trial, besides simply giving up his two South African passports and posting a cash bond.

Pistorius sobbed softly as his lawyer, Barry Roux, insisted the shooting was an accident and that there was no evidence to substantiate a murder charge.

"We submit it is not even murder," he said. "There is no concession this is a murder."

Pistorius' emotional outbursts again played a part in how the hearing progessed, as it did during an initial hearing Friday. At one point, Nair stopped the hearing after Pistorius wept as Roux read a portion of the athlete's statement describing how Steenkamp bought him a Valentine's Day present, but wouldn't let him open it the night before.

"Maintain your composure," the magistrate said. "You need to apply your mind here."

Pistorius' voice quivered when he answered: "Yes, my lordship."

Affidavits from friends of Pistorius and Steenkamp described the two as a charming, happy couple. The night before the killing, they said, Pistorius and Steenkamp had canceled separate plans in order to spend the night before Valentine's Day together at his home, in a gated neighborhood.

Outside the court, several dozen singing women protested against domestic violence and waved placards urging that Pistorius be refused bail. "Pistorius must rot in jail," one placard said.

As details emerged at the dramatic court hearing in the capital, Steenkamp's body was being cremated Tuesday at a memorial service in the south-coast port city of Port Elizabeth. Six pallbearers carried her coffin, draped with a white cloth and covered in white flowers, into the church for the private service.

South Africa has some of the world's worst rates of violence against females and the highest rate in the world of women killed by an intimate partner, according to a study by the Medical Research Council. Professor Rachel Jewkes of the council said at least three women are killed by a partner every day in this country of 50 million.

Steenkamp campaigned actively against domestic violence and had tweeted on Twitter that she planned to join a "Black Friday" protest by wearing black in honor of a 17-year-old girl who was gang-raped and mutilated two weeks ago.

What "she stood for, and the abuse against women, unfortunately it's gone right around and I think the Lord knows that statement is more powerful now," her uncle Mike Steenkamp, the family's spokesman, said after her memorial.

He said the family had planned a big get-together at Christmas but that had not been possible. "But we are here today as a family and the only one who's missing is Reeva," he said, breaking down and weeping.

Pistorius has lost several valuable sponsorships estimated to be worth more than $1 million a year.

On Tuesday, the athlete was ousted from a pro-gay campaign being launched in Cape Town, organizers said. In a video axed from the campaign, Pistorius says: "You don't have to worry. You don't have to change. Take a deep breath and remember, 'It will get better.'"

And Clarins Group, which owns Thierry Mugler Perfumes, said in an email that "out of respect and compassion for the families involved in this tragedy, Thierry Mugler Perfumes have taken the decision to withdraw all of their advertising campaigns featuring Oscar Pistorius."

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Jerry Buss, Los Angeles Lakers' owner, dies at 80

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers' playboy owner who shepherded the NBA franchise to 10 championships from the '80s Showtime dynasty to the Kobe Bryant era, died Monday, his assistant said.

Buss died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Bob Steiner, his assistant. He was 80.

He'd been hospitalized for cancer, but the immediate cause of death was kidney failure, Steiner said.

Under Buss' leadership since 1979, the Lakers became Southern California's most beloved sports franchise and a worldwide extension of Hollywood glamour. Buss acquired, nurtured and befriended a staggering array of talented players and basketball minds during his Hall of Fame tenure.

Few owners in sports history can even approach Buss' accomplishments with the Lakers, who made the NBA finals 16 times through 2011 during his 32 years in charge, winning 10 titles between 1980 and 2010. The Lakers easily are the NBA's winningest franchise since he bought the club.

Few owners have ever been more beloved by their players than Buss, who always referred to the Lakers as his extended family. Working with front-office executives Jerry West and Mitch Kupchak, Buss spent lavishly to win his titles despite lacking a huge personal fortune, often running the NBA's highest payroll while also paying high-profile coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.

Always an innovative businessman, Buss paid for the Lakers through both their wild success and his own groundbreaking moves to raise revenue. He co-founded a basic-cable sports television network and sold the naming rights to the Forum at times when both now-standard strategies were unusual, adding justification for his induction into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

Magic Johnson and fellow Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy formed lifelong bonds with Buss during the Lakers' run to five titles in nine years in the 1980s, when the Lakers earned a reputation as basketball's most exciting team with their glamorous Showtime style.

Jackson then led Shaquille O'Neal and Bryant to a threepeat from 2000-02, rekindling the Lakers' mystique, before Bryant and Pau Gasol won two more titles under Jackson in 2009 and 2010.

Although Buss was proudest of his two hands full of NBA title rings, he also was a scholar, Renaissance man and bon vivant who epitomized California cool — and a certain Los Angeles lifestyle — for his entire public life.

The father of six rarely appeared in public without at least one attractive, much younger woman on his arm at USC football games, boxing matches, poker tournaments — and, of course, Lakers games from his private box at Staples Center, which was built under his watch.

Buss earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at age 24 and had careers in aerospace and real estate development before getting into sports. With money largely from his Santa Monica real-estate ventures, Buss bought the then-struggling Lakers, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and both clubs' arena — the Forum — from Jack Kent Cooke in a $67.5 million deal that was the largest sports transaction in history at the time.

In January 2011, Forbes estimated the Lakers were worth $643 million — the second-most valuable NBA franchise.

Buss also helped change televised sports by co-founding the Prime Ticket network in 1985, even receiving a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006 for his work in television. Breaking the contemporary model of subscription services for televised sports, Buss' Prime Ticket put beloved broadcaster Chick Hearn and the Lakers' home games on basic cable.

Buss also sold the naming rights to the Forum in 1988 to Great Western Savings & Loan — another deal that was ahead of its time.

Born in Salt Lake City, Gerald Hatten Buss was raised in Wyoming and attended USC for graduate school, eventually becoming a chemistry professor and working as a chemist for the Bureau of Mines before his life took an abrupt turn into wealth and sports.

The former mathematician claimed his fortune grew out of a $1,000 real-estate investment in a West Los Angeles apartment building with partner Frank Mariani, an aerospace engineer.

Buss purchased Cooke's entire Los Angeles sports empire in 1979, including a 13,000-acre ranch in Kern County. Buss' love of basketball was the motivation for his purchase, and he immediately worked to transform the Lakers — who had won just one NBA title since moving west from Minneapolis in 1960 — into a star-powered endeavor befitting Hollywood.

"One of the first things I tried to do when I bought the team was to make it an identification for this city, like Motown in Detroit," he told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. "I try to keep that identification alive. I'm a real Angeleno. I want us to be part of the community."

Buss' plans immediately worked: Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and coach Paul Westhead led the Lakers to the 1980 title. Johnson's ball-handling wizardry and Abdul-Jabbar's smooth inside game made for an attractive style of play evoking Hollywood flair and West Coast cool.

Riley, the former broadcaster who fit the L.A. image perfectly with his slick-backed hair and chiseled good looks, was surprisingly promoted by Buss early in the 1981-82 season after West declined to co-coach the team. Riley became one of the best coaches in NBA history, leading the Lakers to four straight NBA finals and four titles, with Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and A.C. Green playing major roles.

Overall, the Lakers made the finals nine times in Buss' first 12 seasons while rekindling the NBA's best rivalry with the Boston Celtics, and Buss basked in the worldwide celebrity he received from his team's achievements. His womanizing and partying became Hollywood legend, with even his players struggling to keep up with Buss' lifestyle.

Johnson's HIV diagnosis and retirement in 1991 staggered Buss and the Lakers, the owner recalled in 2011. The Lakers struggled through much of the 1990s, going through seven coaches and making just one conference finals appearance in an eight-year stretch despite the 1996 arrivals of O'Neal, who signed with Los Angeles as a free agent, and Bryant, the 17-year-old high schooler acquired in a draft-week trade.

Shaq and Kobe didn't reach their potential until Buss persuaded Jackson, the Chicago Bulls' six-time NBA champion coach, to take over the Lakers in 1999. Los Angeles immediately won the next three NBA titles in brand-new Staples Center, AEG's state-of-the-art downtown arena built with the Lakers as the primary tenant.

After the Lakers traded O'Neal in 2004, they hovered in mediocrity again until acquiring Gasol in a heist of a trade with Memphis in early 2008. Los Angeles made the next three NBA finals, winning two more titles.

Through the Lakers' frequent successes and occasional struggles, Buss never stopped living his Hollywood dream. He was an avid poker player, frequently participating in high-stakes tournaments, and a fixture on the Los Angeles club scene well into his 70s, when a late-night drunk-driving arrest in 2007 — with a 23-year-old woman in the passenger seat of his Mercedes-Benz — prompted him to cut down on his partying.

Buss owned the NHL's Kings from 1979-87, and the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks also won two league titles under Buss' ownership. He also owned Los Angeles franchises in World Team Tennis and the Major Indoor Soccer League.

Buss' children moved into leadership roles with the Lakers in their father's later years. Jim Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel and the second of Buss' six children, has taken over much of the club's primary decision-making responsibilities in the last few years, while daughter Jeanie is a longtime executive on the franchise's business side — and Jackson's longtime companion.

Yet Jerry Buss served two terms as President of the NBA's Board of Governors, and was actively involved in the 2011 lockout negotiations, developing blood clots in his legs attributed to his extensive travel during that time

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Hirscher wins worlds slalom at home in Austria

SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) — Overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher won the men's slalom title Sunday on the last day of the skiing world championships for his first individual gold medal at a major event.

Cheered loudly by a home crowd of 35,000, the Austrian overcame the pressure of expectation to earn the host nation its second gold of the worlds, after the mixed team event.

Hirscher held onto his first-run lead to finish in a combined time of 1 minute, 51.03 seconds. Felix Neureuther of Germany was 0.41 seconds back in second. Hirscher and Neureuther are also 1-2 in the World Cup discipline standings.

Two-time former champion Mario Matt of Austria took third, 0.65 behind.

"It's awesome," Hirscher said. "I forced myself to think, 'There's nothing at stake, it's just ski racing, it's just a game.' That helped me to handle the pressure. The atmosphere was sensational, super. I had to be careful not to blow it all for them."

Hirscher missed the 2011 worlds because of a broken foot. On Thursday, he injured his back and neck during training but finished second to Ted Ligety in GS the next day and followed it up with Sunday's win. It was the 14th gold in slalom for Austria.

His father and coach, Ferdinand Hirscher, called it "a wonderful day."

"It was very tense as we had to change something on the setup of his boots this morning," Ferdinand said. "But Marcel always stays cool. He tries not to think about titles and championships. He just concentrates on the information the coaches are giving him before a run."

Italian great Alberto Tomba said the Austrian's achievement was "super, super."

"I said three days ago, Marcel is going to win," said Tomba, the 1996 world slalom champion. "It's super he's done it. Felix and Mario were also great."

Ligety, a three-time champion, failed to finish when the American lost his balance and his left boot clicked out of the bindings 15 seconds into his run.

Olympic winner Giuliano Razzoli of Italy skied out on the bottom part in his first run, and defending world champion Jean-Baptiste Grange of France finished 2.43 off the lead in 12th place.

Neureuther, who trailed Hirscher by 0.28 after the first run, won his first individual medal at a major competition.

"It's fantastic," Neureuther said. "I usually try to hide my emotions but I can't do that now. I've finally done what I've tried to do many times before at big events. I am really happy and proud."

Neureuther helped Germany win bronze in the team event. Maria Hoefl-Riesch, who won the women's super-combined title, added two more medals for Germany.

"Everybody was talking about this duel: Marcel vs. Felix — and that's what it was," Neureuther said. "I just tried to avoid the mistakes I made at other championships."

Matt won the world slalom title in 2001 at home and again in 2007. He led the race briefly after a strong second run but was overtaken by both Neureuther and Hirscher.

"You have to fully attack but avoid making it a useless run," Matt said. "I lost a bit of time with a small mistake on the bottom, but I have to be satisfied with bronze."

The course caused many racers problems as mild temperatures softened the top layer of snow.

"The snow felt weird," Hirscher said, and Neureuther added it was "extremely difficult to gain speed on this course. You just don't get the right feeling on it."

Ligety's attempt to win a fourth medal failed shortly after starting his first run.

"I just kind of made a mistake," Ligety said. "I wanted to go really hard forward on the ski and I just peeled it right out of the back of the binding."

Ligety, who also captured the super-G and super-combined titles, could have equaled the 45-year record held by French great Jean-Claude Killy, who won four golds in 1968.

Ligety helped the United States top the medals table, even without Lindsey Vonn, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opening race. Mikaela Shiffrin added another gold in the women's slalom, and Julia Mancuso took bronze in super-G.

"It was an awesome world champs," Ligety said. "Of course it was a bummer to go out in the slalom. I just had the ski peel off again, which has been happening this year ... I feel pretty good for the most part. I'm not at the level of consistency of Hirscher or Felix, but I still feel like I have good speed relative to those guys. I just don't put together runs like those guys do."

Ligety's teammates David Chodounsky and Will Brandenburg also failed to finish the opening run.

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Beckham must wait before making PSG debut

SAINT-GERMAIN-EN-LAYE, France (AP) — David Beckham will have to wait at least one more week to make his debut for Paris Saint-Germain because his coach says he needs to get in better shape.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti ruled out the 37-year-old former England captain for Sunday's match against Sochaux in the French league.

"He will stay here and work," Ancelotti said Saturday. "He will stay here and improve his physical condition. He still needs to work, and with a week's work he will be ready the following week against Marseille."

PSG hosts title rival Marseille on Feb. 24 and again three days later in the French Cup.

"I think he can play easily against Marseille after one week more training, no problem," Ancelotti said. "I will make the decision whether he starts or not."

Beckham, looking to win a league championship in a fourth country, started full training with PSG this week and has not played since his last appearance for the Los Angeles Galaxy on Dec. 1. He worked out last week in London with personal fitness trainers.

"The level of French football is high, there is a lot of rhythm, a lot of intensity," Ancelotti said, adding he plans to use Beckham either in a defensive central midfield role or out wide on the right.

"He brings his experience, his quality, his professionalism. These are the things we need from David," said Ancelotti, who is close to Beckham after coaching him at AC Milan. "I'm not just keeping him for the Cup or the Champions League. He can play in every match."

Entering this weekend's matches, PSG leads Lyon by six points and Marseille by eight.

"We are in very good form at the moment," Ancelotti said, referring to PSG's unbeaten start to the year.

PSG took a step toward reaching the Champions League quarterfinals by winning 2-1 at Valencia this week.

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Ligety wins GS for 3rd gold medal at worlds

SCHLADMING, Austria (AP) — Ted Ligety became the first man in 45 years to win three gold medals at a skiing world championships by blowing away the field in winning his favored giant slalom on Friday.

The American can match French great Jean-Claude Killy, who earned four golds in 1968, if he wins Sunday's slalom.

"I am super pumped. This is such a cool feeling," Ligety said. "I am glad I've done it ... it's been a dream for sure. It's been a really cool experience."

Defending champion Ligety, who also took the super-G and super-combined titles, built on his big first-run lead of 1.31 seconds with a fast start but cautious finish in the second.

Marcel Hirscher of Austria was 0.81 behind in second, and Manfred Moelgg of Italy took third, trailing Ligety by 1.75.

"This has been a crazy and unbelievable week. It's definitely far exceeded my expectations," Ligety said. "To win three gold medals here is awesome. It's a really cool feeling to join some of the legends of our sports."

Ligety is the first American to win two world GS titles, and has equaled Bode Miller's American record of four golds at the worlds.

"It's been pretty surreal," Ligety said. "I knew I had good chances of medals in those other two events but I didn't think the chances were gold-medal chances. So to achieve that this week it's been unbelievable. It's been by far the best week of ski racing in my life. So hopefully I can continue that streak and step up in those other events on a more regular basis.

"I definitely had a lot of pressure in the GS being the defending champion. With these gold medals it added a little bit of extra pressure for sure, so to live up to that is awesome."

Ligety, who smiled and closed his eyes several times while listening to the American anthem during the flower ceremony in the finish area, was widely praised by rivals and coaches.

"Ted is the man. He's the best in the world," Aksel Lund Svindal said. The Norwegian was second after the opening run but had only the 13th fastest time in the final run and was edged for third place by Moelgg by 0.04.

"It's not possible to beat Ted, I think," added Svindal, who won gold in downhill and bronze in super-G. "With two golds already in his pocket I bet he was fairly confident in the start."

Stephen Eberharter, the Austrian who won the 2002 Olympic GS, called Ligety's GS skiing "sensational."

"He completes these turns to perfection," Eberharter said. "He is unbelievably steady. And if he gets in trouble, he knows how to correct them immediately."

According to Alpine sport director Hans Pum of the Austrian ski federation, Ligety was "flying, not skiing. He goes from one victory to another."

"He's in very good form, he has a very good setup with the materials and he skis well," Pum said. "He got his first super-G win in the first race and then he just carried on. He's doing (whatever) he wants to."

After sunshine in the morning, grey clouds moved in and worsened visibility for the final run. In front of 35,000 visitors, Ligety increased his 1.31-second advantage over Hirscher from the first run to 1.68 before slowing down to avoid further risks.

"I wasn't easy. I took some risks but it was very difficult," Ligety said. "It was pretty dark and bumpy. I had several mistakes but I could afford them being 1.3 ahead."

Hirscher, the defending overall World Cup champion, posted the fastest time in the final run to win his second medal of the worlds after taking gold in the team event.

Hirscher hurt his lower back while GS training in nearby Haus on Thursday and had more treatment after his first run. The Austrian said he even considered skipping the race when he woke up at two in the morning.

"I wasn't sure if would make sense to race but I mobilized all energy in my body," Hirscher said. "Normally you would stay in bed. I had only had four or five hours of sleep. My neck also hurts ... it was difficult with the expectations. It was difficult to race and I am extremely happy with silver."

Hirscher was regarded as Ligety's closest challenger after beating the American in Val d'Isere, France, in December, Ligety's only loss in five World Cup giant slaloms this season. Most of the wins were by huge time differences.

"I've just had a good feeling on this hill and snow and I have high confidence," Ligety said, "so I think that helps me right now."

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Pistorius' girlfriend was a model, law graduate

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The leggy blonde model tweeted that Valentine's Day should be "a day of love for everyone."

Instead Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead in the home of her boyfriend, paralympian superstar Oscar Pistorius, who was charged with her murder.

Steenkamp, South African model with a law degree, campaigned against rape and violence against women. Thursday morning, Reeva Steenkamp was to give an inspirational talk at a Johannesburg school. The next day she was going to wear black to protest the brutal rape and mutilation of a 17-year-old.

But the glamorous South African celebrity was found dead in the early hours from four bullet wounds in the Pretoria home of Pistorius. The two had been dating for only a few months.

She was one of FHM magazine's 100 Sexiest Women in the World for the past two years, appeared in international and South African advertisements and was to make her debut next week as a celebrity contestant on the reality TV show "Tropika Island of Treasure" filmed in Jamaica. She was also the South African face of Avon cosmetics. Police said the model was 30.

The freckled blonde who appeared in scanty bikinis on magazine covers and sashayed down fashion ramps was "continuously breaking the model stereotype," said her publicist Sarit Tomlinson.

Steenkamp was "the sweetest, kindest, just angelic soul" and at the same time "a very inspiring individual, very passionate about speaking about women and empowerment."

Scores of tributes were posted online. Fellow model Mashadi Motsogi tweeted: "You will be missed my sister. I can't hold the tears back. Love you always. RIP."

Thursday morning, Steenkamp had been scheduled to give a motivational speech to school students in Johannesburg. "It was about empowerment and inspiration and what inspires you and how to follow your dreams," said Tomlinson, who had Steenkamp's notes for the speech.

Steenkamp was born in Cape Town then moved with her family as a child to Port Elizabeth. There she attended the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Law degree.

"She had a fantastic character and we all were very fond of her," said Hilda Fisher, secretary to the dean of law.

Six years ago, Steenkamp moved to Johannesburg, South Africa's commercial capital, after she won the contract to represent Avon.

On Twitter, Steenkamp tweeted messages urging women to stand up against rape as well as her excitement about Valentine's Day.

"What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow?" she tweeted. "It should be a day of love for everyone."

Her last tweet was an enthusiastic acceptance of a friend's invite to celebrate the day with chocolate cupcakes topped with red hearts.

She also used her Twitter account to encourage her thousands of followers to fight sexual abuse.

"WEAR BLACK THIS FRIDAY IN SUPPORT AGAINST (hash)RAPE," she re-tweeted just hours before she was killed.

Steenkamp urged followers to stand up against violence against women, tweeting four days ago as South Africa was outraged by the particularly brutal rape and murder of a 17-year-old: "I woke up in a happy safe home this morning. Not everyone did. Speak out against the rape of individuals in SA (South Africa). RIP Anene Booysen (hash)rape (hash)crime (hash)sayNO."

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IOC President Rogge to meet with wrestling leader

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — IOC President Jacques Rogge will meet with the head of wrestling's governing body to discuss ways the sport can fight to save its place in the 2020 Olympics.

The IOC executive board removed wrestling from the program of the 2020 Games on Tuesday, cutting it from the list of 26 sports at last year's London Olympics.

The decision, which still must be ratified by the full IOC in September, has been widely criticized by wrestling organizations around the world.

Rogge said Wednesday he's been contacted by Raphael Martinetti, the president of international wrestling federation FILA, and was encouraged by the sport's determination to remain in the games.

"We agreed we would meet at the first opportunity to have discussions," Rogge said at a news conference at the close of a two-day board meeting. "I should say FILA reacted well to this disheartening news for them.

"They vowed to adapt the sport and vowed to fight to be eventually included in the 2020 slot."

Wrestling, which remains on the program for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, still has a chance to stay on the list for 2020 — if it manages to convince the IOC to reverse the board's decision.

Wrestling now joins seven other sports in applying for one opening on the 2020 program: a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and the martial art of wushu.

The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

IOC officials said it's possible the board could decide to put forward three sports for consideration, including wrestling.

"The vote of yesterday is not an elimination of wrestling from the Olympic Games," Rogge said. "Wrestling will participate in the games in Rio de Janeiro. To the athletes who train now, I say, 'Continue training for your participation in Rio. Your federation is working for the inclusion in the 2020 Games.'"

Rogge was asked whether Tuesday's decision marked an end to wrestling in the Olympics.

"I cannot look into a crystal ball into the future," he said. "We have established a fair process by which the sport that would not be included in the core has a chance to compete with the seven other sports for the slot on the 2020 Games."

Rogge said he was fully aware of the backlash to the decision against wrestling, a sport which dates back to the ancient Olympics and featured in the inaugural modern games in 1896.

The head of the Russian Olympic Committee said Wednesday he would write to Rogge to appeal the IOC board's decision. Wrestling has been one of Russia's strongest sports: Soviet and Russian wrestlers have won 77 gold medals.

"We knew even before the decision was taken whatever sport would not be included in the core program would lead to criticism from the supporters of that sport," Rogge said.

The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission that analyzed 39 criteria, including TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board may have included political and sentimental factors.

Modern pentathlon — a five-sport discipline dating back to the 1912 Games — had been widely expected to face removal from the program but lobbied successfully to save its status.

Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of the former IOC president, is a vice president of the International Modern Pentathlon Union and a member of the IOC board.

FILA said Tuesday it was "greatly astonished" by the decision, adding that the federation "will take all necessary measures to convince the IOC executive board and IOC members of the aberration of such decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic Games."

The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio.

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Wrestling body reacts to Olympic rejection

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The governing body of wrestling says the IOC's move to drop the sport is an "aberration" against a founding event of the Olympics.

Known by its French initials FILA, the organization says it is "greatly astonished" by the IOC executive board decision.

FILA says it will take "all necessary measures" to convince IOC members to maintain wrestling's Olympic status when they meet in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in September.

Still, FILA President Raphael Martinetti faces criticism when his ruling board meets this weekend in Thailand.

Russian federation leader Mikhail Mamiashvili says FILA is the problem, and Martinetti's tasks include defending "wrestling's place before the IOC."

German official Jannis Zamanduridis says "a piece of the Olympic idea is dying with this decision."

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Eagles, QB Vick agree to restructured deal

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Quarterback Michael Vick, who was slated to earn $16 million next season, has agreed to a restructured deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Vick, who was injured and inconsistent last season, eventually giving way to rookie Nick Foles, now has a three-year contract, and will compete with Foles to see who runs new coach Chip Kelly's offense this season.

Vick, who returned to start the season finale vs. the New York Giants in December because Foles was injured, finished the season with 2,362 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The Eagles finished 4-12 and in last place in the NFC East.

Andy Reid was fired as coach the day after the season ended, and Kelly was hired last month. Vick, who will be 33 when next season begins, is still elusive when healthy, and seems equipped to run Kelly's aggressive, up-tempo offense that he is bringing to the Eagles from Oregon.

Either way, Kelly was noncommittal at his opening press conference on Jan. 17 on the quarterback situation.

"I'm going to look at everybody," he said. "If you can throw the ball and run, I'm going to take you out there. We're going to look at everything we can do to put the best product on the field and that's what it's all about. I've followed Michael's career and I understand what a talent he is. But there is nothing that's on the board right now, there's nothing that's off the board right now.

Vick was signed by Philadelphia in 2009, and became the starter in 2010. He led the Eagles that season to an NFC East title, and a memorable 38-31 December win over the Giants in which he rallied the team from a 21-point deficit.

"Our sole focus and goal is that we're going to put an offense on the field that's going to score points," Kelly said. "That's basically what we're going to do and whoever that is, I don't know that. There's nobody ruled in, there's nobody ruled out."

All told, Vick has started 35 games for Philadelphia over the last three seasons. Foles has started six. The Eagles scored just 280 points last season as they endured an eight- and a three-game losing streak. Only Arizona (250) scored fewer in the NFC.

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Paternos issue report, challenge Freeh's findings

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — A report commissioned by Joe Paterno's family says the late coach did nothing wrong in his handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal and portrays the late Hall of Fame coach as the victim of a "rush to injustice" created by former FBI director Louis Freeh's investigation of the case for Penn State.

The family's critique, released Sunday, argues that the findings of the Freeh report published last July were unsupported by the facts.

Former U.S. Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, one of the experts assembled by the family's lawyer to review Freeh's report last year to Penn State, called the document was fundamentally flawed and incomplete.

Freeh's report reached "inaccurate and unfounded findings related to Mr. Paterno and its numerous process-oriented deficiencies was a rush to injustice and calls into question" the investigation's credibility, Thornburgh was quoted as saying.

In a statement released Sunday through a spokesman, Freeh defended his work.

"I stand by our conclusion that four of the most powerful people at Penn State failed to protect against a child sexual predator harming children for over a decade," he said.

Paterno's family released what it billed as an exhaustive response to Freeh's work, based on independent analyses, on the website

"We conclude that the observations as to Joe Paterno in the Freeh report are unfounded, and have done a disservice not only to Joe Paterno and the university community," the family's report said, "but also to the victims of Jerry Sandusky and the critical mission of educating the public on the dangers of child sexual victimization."

Freeh's findings also implicated former administrators in university president Graham Spanier, athletic director Tim Curley and retired vice president Gary Schultz. Less than two weeks after the Freeh report was released in July, the NCAA acted with uncharacteristic speed in levying massive sanctions against the football program for the scandal.

"Taking into account the available witness statements and evidence, it is more reasonable to conclude that, in order to avoid the consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State University — Messrs. Spanier, Schultz, Paterno and Curley — repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to Sandusky's child abuse" from authorities, trustees and the university community, Freeh wrote in releasing the report.

The former administrators have vehemently denied the allegations. So, too, has Paterno's family, though it reserved more extensive comment until its own report was complete.

The counter-offensive began in earnest this weekend. The family's findings said that Paterno:

— Never asked or told anyone not to investigate an allegation made against Sandusky 12 years ago, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2001.

— Never asked or told former administrators not to report the 2001 allegation.

— And never asked or told anyone not to discuss or hide information reported by graduate assistant Mike McQueary about the 2001 allegation.

"Paterno reported the information to his superior(s) pursuant to his understanding of university protocol and relied upon them to investigate and report as appropriate," the family's analysis said.

Paterno's widow, Sue, broke her silence Friday in a letter to hundreds of former players informing them of the report's impending release. "The Freeh report failed and if it is not challenged and corrected, nothing worthwhile will have come from these tragic events," she wrote.

"I had expected to find Louis Freeh had done his usual thorough and professional job," Thornburgh said in a video posted on "I found the report to be inaccurate in some respects, speculative and unsupported to the record compiled ... in short, fundamentally flawed as to the determinations made to the role — if any — Mr. Paterno played in any of this."

Freeh was brought in to conduct an independent investigation of the school's response to allegations and find any shortcomings in governance and compliance to make sure failures don't happen again, Penn State said in a statement Sunday. Freeh made 119 recommendations to strengthen policies, and the majority have been implemented, according to the school.

University trustees and leaders have been criticized by some dissatisfied alumni, ex-players and community residents for their handling of Paterno's dismissal, the Freeh report and the sanctions.

"It is understandable and appreciated that people will draw their own conclusions and opinions from the facts uncovered in the Freeh report," the school said.

Freeh, in his report, said his team conducted 430 interviews and analyzed over 3.5 million emails and documents. The former federal judge said evidence showed Paterno was involved in an "active agreement to conceal" and his report cited email exchanges, which referenced Paterno, between administrators about allegations against Sandusky in 1998 and 2001.

According to Thornburgh's findings, Freeh's report relied on about 30 documents, including three notes authored by Paterno, and 17 emails. Four emails referenced Paterno — none sent by the octogenarian coach who notoriously shunned modern electronic technology.

Sandusky, 69, was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison in October after being convicted last summer of 45 criminal counts. Prosecutors said assaults occurred off and on campus, including the football building.

His arrest in November 2011 triggered the turmoil that led to Paterno's firing days later. Under pressure, Spanier left as president the same day. Curley was placed on administrative leave, while Schultz retired.

Spanier, Curley and Schultz are awaiting trial on obstruction and conspiracy, among other charges. They have maintained their innocence.

Critics have said that Freeh's team didn't speak with key figures including Curley, Schultz and Paterno, who died in January 2012 at age 85. The authors of the emails referenced in Freeh's report, which included Curley and Schultz, were not interviewed by Freeh, the family's analysis said.

Spanier spoke to Freeh six days before the report was released July 12.

"They missed so many key people. They didn't interview most of the key players, with the exception of President Spanier, who at the last minute we brought in and interviewed at a time when frankly the report ... was pretty well all prepared," Thornburgh said on the video.

Freeh said he respected the family's right to conduct a campaign to "shape the legacy of Joe Paterno," but called the critique self-serving. Paterno's attorney was contacted for an interview with the coach, he said, and Paterno spoke with a reporter and biographer before his death but not Freeh's team.

Curley and Schultz also declined numerous requests for interviews, Freeh said. They have been facing criminal charges since November 2011.

Freeh on Sunday cited grand jury testimony by Paterno in 2011 in which Paterno said a graduate assistant relayed to him the 2001 allegation against Sandusky of a "sexual nature" with a child.

He referred to a key point in the July report in which he said Spanier, Schultz and Curley drew up a plan that called for reporting Sandusky to the state Department of Public Welfare in 2001. But Curley later said in an email that he changed his mind "after giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe," according to Freeh's findings.

Said Freeh on Sunday: "These men exhibited a striking lack of empathy for Sandusky's victims by failing to inquire as to their safety and well-being, especially by not even attempting to determine the identity of the child" in the 2001 allegation.

The Paterno family report said Freeh chose not to "present alternative, more plausible, conclusions" about Paterno's actions. Their attorney, Wick Sollers, responded Sunday that Freeh didn't take the time to read the family's critique, or address accusations of procedural shortcomings.

"A failure to consider the facts carefully is exactly the problem our expert analysis highlights," Sollers said. "Everyone, including Mr. Freeh, should take the time to study this report."

Sue Paterno had directed Sollers, to review Freeh's report and her husband's actions. Sollers brought in Thornburgh, as well as former FBI profiler and special agent Jim Clemente, described as a child molestation and behavioral expert.

Also brought in was Dr. Fred Berlin, a psychologist from Johns Hopkins Hospital and School of Medicine whose profile lists him as the founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic.

The analysis included interviews, including of Paterno before his death, as well as a review of documents and testimony and "information from our access to the lawyers for other Penn State administrators."

The Paterno family's analysis said Freeh's report turned into a platform for scapegoating Paterno rather than seizing on an opportunity to educate about identifying child sex abuse victims, and ignored "decades of expert research and behavioral analysis regarding the appropriate way to understand and investigate a child victimization case."

It said expert analysis showed Sandusky "fooled qualified child welfare professionals and law enforcement, as well as laymen inexperienced and untrained in child sexual victimization like Joe Paterno." The coach respected Sandusky as an assistant, but knew little about Sandusky's personal life, the analysis said, though Freeh's report "missed that they disliked each other personally, had very little in common outside work, and did not interact much if at all socially."

Actions by entities outside of Penn State were not a focus for Freeh's review. "This was an internal investigation into Penn State's response ... and that is how the University has utilized the report," the school said.

Penn State removed a bronze statue of Paterno outside Beaver Stadium on July 22. The next day, the NCAA in levying sanctions said Freeh's report revealed "an unprecedented failure of institutional integrity leading to a culture in which a football program was held in higher esteem."

The NCAA improperly relied on that report and never identified a rules infraction "based on Sandusky's crimes, much less an infraction by Penn State that implicated the NCAA's jurisdiction and core mission of ensuring competitive balance," the Paterno family report said.

An NCAA spokeswoman said the organization stood by its previous statements and declined comment Sunday.

A four-year bowl ban and steep scholarship cuts were included among the sanctions, while 111 wins between 1998 and 2011 under Paterno were vacated. It meant Paterno no longer holds the record for most wins by a major college coach.



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Northeast storm disrupts travel for sports teams

Several professional and college sports teams were forced to rearrange their travel plans as a massive storm swept through the Northeast, dumping a few feet of snow in some areas.

The NBA's New York Knicks were stuck in Minnesota after playing the Timberwolves on Friday night, hoping to try to fly home sometime Saturday. The San Antonio Spurs were also staying overnight in Detroit after seeing their 11-game winning streak fall to the Pistons, awaiting word on when they might be able to fly to New York for their game Sunday night at Brooklyn.

"We can't get there tonight — we know that," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "So we're going to stay here tonight and try to get there (Saturday). Hopefully, we will be able to get there, but at this point, we don't know."

Airlines canceled more than 5,300 flights through Saturday, and New York City's three major airports and Boston's Logan Airport closed.

The Brooklyn Nets planned to take a train home instead of flying from Washington D.C. after losing to the Wizards on Friday night.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson said before a 100-94 victory that his team initially planned to fly home after the game, but the flight had already been postponed. New York is scheduled to play the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

The NHL's Boston Bruins pushed back the start of Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning by six hours because of the blizzard. The game originally slated for 1 p.m. was rescheduled for 7 p.m., but Boston was expected to be one of the cities hit hardest by the storm.

The storm had dumped more than 2 feet of snow on New England by early Saturday and knocked out power to 650,000 customers. The National Weather Service said up to 3 feet of snow is expected in Boston, threatening the city's 2003 record of 27.6 inches.

The Bruins and Lightning each already had road games scheduled for Sunday night.

The New Jersey Devils were still scheduled to host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 1 p.m., while the New York Islanders were slated to play at home against the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m.

Two Ivy League men's college basketball games that were scheduled for Saturday night were moved back to Sunday because of treacherous travel conditions.

Dartmouth will play at Cornell at noon on Sunday in Ithaca, N.Y., and Harvard will visit Columbia at 2 p.m. Sunday in New York. Dartmouth played at Columbia on Friday night, and Harvard played at Cornell. Two other Ivy League games were still scheduled to be played Saturday night, with Yale visiting Princeton and Brown playing at Pennsylvania.

Aqueduct also called off Saturday's card because of the storm. The track and Belmont Park were expected to remain open for wagering on out-of-town races, with racing scheduled to resume Sunday.

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