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Aug 07 2010

Evening Edition

News?  What News?

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Gulf seafood industry tries to shake an oily image

By MARY FOSTER and BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writers

2 hrs 18 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS – The rich fishing grounds of the Gulf of Mexico are beginning to reopen more than three months after crude began gushing from the sea floor. But those who harvest, process and sell the catch face a new crisis – convincing wary consumers it’s not only delicious, but also safe.

As BP PLC closed the books on a defining week in its battle to contain the oil, with engineers finally forcing the surging crude underground with a torrent of mud and cement, people along the Gulf Coast began looking to the future – including the fishing industry, which has a tough sell despite tests showing the catch seems safe to eat.

“We have a huge perception problem,” said Ewell Smith, director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. “We have lost markets across the country, and some of them may be lost for good.”

2 Well capping brings relief but fear of abandonment

By ALLEN G. BREED and ADAM GELLER, AP National Writers

Sat Aug 7, 12:27 pm ET

The gusher has finally been beaten back, and from 400 miles up government satellites assure that the oil in the Gulf of Mexico is disappearing. But Dave Marino only wishes he could put that kind of distance between himself and the Deepwater Horizon spill.

As northern breezes drove tides lower in the last few days, temperatures well into the 90s seemed to reliquify the sludge lodged in marshes near Marino’s home of Myrtle Grove, La., releasing a steady, black drip from the high grasses. Walking on the beach at Isle Grand Terre, Marino looked back to see oil oozing from his footprints in the sand.

“There’s still oil out here,” says Marino, a firefighter who runs a charter fishing boat on the side. “It’s all over the place. Not much has changed.”

3 Afghan medical mission ends in death for 10

By KATHY GANNON, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 7 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan – They hiked for more than 10 hours over rugged mountains – unarmed and without security – to bring medical care to isolated Afghan villagers until their humanitarian mission took a tragic turn.

Ten members of the Christian medical team – six Americans, two Afghans, one German and a Briton – were gunned down in a gruesome slaughter that the Taliban said they carried out, alleging the volunteers were spying and trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. The gunmen spared an Afghan driver, who recited verses from the Islamic holy book Quran as he begged for his life.

Team members – doctors, nurses and logistics personnel – were attacked as they were returning to Kabul after their two-week mission in the remote Parun valley of Nuristan province about 160 miles (260 kilometers) north of Kabul. They had decided to veer northward into Badakhshan province because they thought that would be the safest route back to Kabul, said Dirk Frans, director of the International Assistance Mission, which organized the team.

4 A deal to avert BlackBerry ban could be precedent

By ABDULLAH AL-SHIHRI, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 3 mins ago

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – A preliminary agreement between the maker of the popular BlackBerry smart phone and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which government officials say grants them some access to users’ data, will avert a ban on the phone in that country.

The pact involves placing a BlackBerry server inside Saudi Arabia, Saudi telecom regulatory officials said, and that likely will let the government monitor messages and allay official fears the service could be used for criminal purposes.

Bandar al-Mohammed, an official at the Saudi Communications and Information Technology Commission, told The Associated Press that BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. has expressed its “intention … to place a server inside Saudi Arabia.”

5 Beer warehouse shooter long complained of racism

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 7, 12:43 pm ET

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – To those closest to him, Omar Thornton was caring, quiet and soft-spoken. He was excited to land a well-paying job at a beer delivery company a few years ago and his longtime girlfriend says they talked of marrying and having children.

But underneath, Thornton seethed with a sense of racial injustice for years that culminated in a shooting rampage Tuesday in which the Connecticut man killed eight and wounded two others at his job at Hartford Distributors in Manchester before killing himself.

“I know what pushed him over the edge was all the racial stuff that was happening at work,” said his girlfriend, Kristi Hannah.

6 AP Interview: WikiLeaks to publish new documents

Associated Press

16 mins ago

BERLIN – The online whistle-blower WikiLeaks said it will continue to publish more secret files from governments around the world despite U.S. demands to cancel plans to release classified military documents.

“I can assure you that we will keep publishing documents – that’s what we do,” a WikiLeaks spokesman, who says he goes by the name Daniel Schmitt in order to protect his identity, told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday.

Schmitt said he could not comment on any specific documents but asserted that the publication of classified documents about the Afghanistan war directly contributed to the public’s understanding of the conflict.

7 Disgraced HP CEO to get about $28m in cash, stock

By JORDAN ROBERTSON and RACHEL METZ, AP Technology Writers

2 hrs 6 mins ago

SAN FRANCISCO – Lauded for making Hewlett-Packard Co. the world’s biggest technology company, CEO Mark Hurd was in talks for a new contract worth about $100 million, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

Instead, he’s getting almost one-third that much just to go away.

HP said Friday that it ousted Hurd after its investigation of a sexual harassment complaint found he had falsified expense reports and other documents to conceal a relationship with a contractor. Hurd also allegedly helped the woman get paid for work she didn’t do.

8 Space station astronauts fall short on repairs

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

14 mins ago

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A pair of space station astronauts had to hammer loose a stuck connector Saturday during an urgent spacewalk to restore a crucial cooling system, and ran out of time before they could remove a broken pump.

Douglas Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson went into the spacewalk hoping to replace the ammonia coolant pump with a spare at the International Space Station. But they were forced to leave the failed pump in place. What’s more, a fair amount of ammonia leaked out, forcing them to set aside time to get any traces of the toxic substance off their spacesuits.

The job was considered so difficult – one of the most challenging repairs ever attempted at the orbiting lab – that two spacewalks were ordered up by NASA. Saturday was part one. It was not immediately known whether a third spacewalk might be needed.

9 Blasts in Iraqi city of Basra kill 10, wound 35

By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer

14 mins ago

BAGHDAD – Two explosions killed at least 10 people and wounded 35 Saturday in a downtown market in Iraq’s second-largest city.

Officials differed over the cause of the blasts that came within minutes of each other at the al-Ashaar market in Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.

Two police officials said a roadside bomb and a car packed with explosives caused the explosions. A health official confirmed the casualties’ number, which was matched by an Associated Press count of bodies rushed to three different hospitals in Basra.

10 Schwarzenegger: Let same-sex weddings resume now

By PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 52 mins ago

SAN FRANCISCO – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who twice vetoed legislation that would have legalized same-sex marriage, has surprised gay rights supporters by urging a federal judge to allow gay couples to resume marrying in the state without further delay.

Lawyers for Schwarzenegger, Attorney General Jerry Brown, two gay couples and the city of San Francisco all filed legal motions Friday asking Chief U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker to implement his ruling striking California’s voter-approved same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.

“The Administration believes the public interest is best served by permitting the court’s judgment to go into effect, thereby restoring the right of same-sex couples to marry in California,” the Republican governor’s lawyers said on his behalf. “Doing so is consistent with California’s long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect.”

11 What to do about WikiLeaks? Not much can be done

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 7, 1:01 pm ET

WASHINGTON – An online whistle-blower’s threat to release more classified Pentagon and State Department documents is raising difficult questions of what the government can or would do, legally, technically or even militarily to stop it.

Constrained by the global reach of the Internet, sophisticated encryption software and the domestic legal system, the answer seems to be: Not much.

But if the U.S. government believes that the release of classified documents WikiLeaks is preparing to disclose will threaten national security or put lives at risk, cyber and legal experts say the options could expand to include cyber strikes to take down the WikiLeaks website and destroy its files or covert operations to steal or disable the files.

12 US-Vietnam nuke deal will likely allow enrichment

By FOSTER KLUG, Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 7, 7:07 am ET

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration has told U.S. lawmakers that a nuclear cooperation deal with Vietnam is unlikely to include a coveted promise by the Hanoi government not to enrich uranium, congressional aides say.

The United States had sought a no-enrichment pledge, which the State Department promotes as the “gold standard” for civilian nuclear cooperation accords.

It would have been modeled on a deal last year in which the United Arab Emirates pledged, in return for U.S. nuclear equipment and reactors, not to enrich uranium or extract plutonium from used reactor fuel – procedures that would provide material that could be used in a nuclear weapon.

13 AP Exclusive: CIA flight carried secret from Gitmo

By MATT APUZZO and ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press Writers

Sat Aug 7, 2:26 am ET

WASHINGTON – A white, unmarked Boeing 737 landed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before dawn on a CIA mission so secretive, many in the nation’s war on terrorism were kept in the dark.

Four of the nation’s most highly valued terrorist prisoners were aboard.

They arrived at Guantanamo on Sept. 24, 2003, years earlier than the U.S. has ever disclosed. Then, months later, they were just as quietly whisked away before the Supreme Court could give them access to lawyers.

14 Pasadena school dogs chronic dropouts

By CHRISTINA HOAG, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 25 mins ago

PASADENA, Calif. – School has long since started for the day when Jose Ramirez pulls up to a small bungalow and yells out to a tardy student. Anthony Gonzalez limps to the door, shirtless with a head of bed-tousled hair.

“It’s after nine, man, you got to be in school,” Ramirez tells the 19-year-old, who dropped out of school after a gang shooting four years ago left him paralyzed on one side. Ramirez helps pull a T-shirt over Gonzale’s frozen arm and playfully scolds him.

“I got to dress you, too, sleeping beauty? The day you graduate I’m going to let you sleep in.” Gonzalez smiles sheepishly, grabs his cane and gets in the car.

15 More choices alter college textbook landscape

BY ERIC GORSKI, AP Education Writer

Sat Aug 7, 12:15 pm ET

On Friday afternoons between work and rugby practice, Brittany Wolfe would rush to the campus library hoping copies of her advanced algebra textbook had not all been checked out by like-minded classmates.

It was part of the math major’s routine last quarter at the University of California, Los Angeles: Stand in line at the reserve desk in the library’s closing hours with the goal of borrowing a copy for the weekend.

The alternative was to buy a $120 book and sell it back for far less. If she could sell it back at all.

16 Judge’s personal life debated after gay ruling

By LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer

Fri Aug 6, 8:52 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker has always been characterized as a conservative with libertarian leanings. But after he struck down California’s voter-approved gay marriage ban this week, he was accused by some of being something else entirely: a gay activist.

Rumors have circulated for months that Walker is gay, fueled by the blogosphere and a San Francisco Chronicle column that stated his sexual orientation was an “open secret” in legal and gay activism circles.

Walker himself hasn’t addressed the speculation, and he did not respond to a request for comment by The Associated Press on Thursday. Lawyers in the case, including those defending the ban, say the judge’s sexuality – gay or straight – was not an issue at trial, and they have no definitive plans for it to be a factor on appeal.

17 Camden, NJ, preparing to close all its libraries

By GEOFF MULVIHILL, Associated Press Writer

Fri Aug 6, 7:15 pm ET

CAMDEN, N.J. – The library board in Camden, one of the nation’s poorest cities, is preparing to close all three of its libraries by the end of the year, saying its funding has been slashed so drastically that it cannot afford to keep operating.

Library officials are hoping enough money surfaces to save the system, but they’re preparing for a shutdown and say they’re not just threatening it as a ploy.

Budget cuts across the country have caused local officials to close library branches, reduce hours and spend less money on books, computers and other materials. But officials at the American Library Association believe Camden’s library system would be the first in the U.S. with multiple branches to check out entirely.

18 Eight foreign medics shot dead in Afghanistan

by Karim Talbi, AFP

1 hr 1 min ago

KABUL (AFP) – Gunmen shot dead eight foreign medical aid workers in the remote forests of north Afghanistan, their charity said Saturday as the Taliban claimed it killed them for being “Christian missionaries”.

The bullet-riddled bodies of five men, all Americans, and three women, an American, a German and a Briton, were found in the northeastern province of Badakhshan on Friday, said the provincial police chief.

Two Afghans were also killed and two survived. They were part of a 12-member team of volunteer medics returning from a medical camp in neighbouring Nuristan province, said International Assistance Mission (IAM) director Dirk Frans.

19 Residents flee as acrid smog blankets Moscow

by Stuart Williams, AFP

56 mins ago

MOSCOW (AFP) – Residents began fleeing Moscow Saturday as the worst smog in living memory smothered the city and forced people to don protective masks against pollution over six times higher than safe levels.

The wildfires that have killed 52 people were still spreading in central Russia, with 290 new fires in the last 24 hours as weather forecasters said Russia’s worst heatwave in decades would continue for the next days.

“Unfortunately the number of fires have doubled in the Moscow region in the past 24 hours because of people playing with firecrackers near forests,” said Vladimir Stepanov, a senior official with the emergency situations ministry.

20 BlackBerry in deal to avert Saudi ban: telecoms official

AFP

Sat Aug 7, 10:37 am ET

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) – BlackBerry has “virtually” sealed a deal with Saudi Arabia on its encrypted messenger services to avert a ban on the smartphone, a Saudi telecoms company official told AFP on Saturday.

“A deal has been virtually reached and we are in the process of adding the final touches,” said the official of one of Saudi Arabia’s three licensed mobile operators, asking not to be named.

The official declined to go into details.

21 India lends Bangladesh one billion dollars as ties warm

By Shafiq Alam, AFP

Sat Aug 7, 12:24 pm ET

DHAKA (AFP) – India gave Bangladesh a billion-dollar soft loan Saturday, the biggest credit package New Delhi has ever earmarked for any nation, highlighting warming ties between the neighbours, officials said.

Ties were chilly between the South Asian neighbours from 2001 to 2006 when Bangladesh was ruled by an Islamist-allied government and New Delhi regularly accused Dhaka of harbouring Indian insurgents and fostering militancy.

“This one-billion-dollar line of credit is the largest ever given by India to any country,” said Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Dhaka.

22 US astronauts begin key ISS repair spacewalk

AFP

Sat Aug 7, 7:41 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Two International Space Station astronauts set out Saturday on the first of two spacewalks to fix a cooling pump that dramatically failed last week.

ISS astronauts will need at least two spacewalks to remove the failed ammonia pump unit and replace it with a new one after the device failed a week ago.

Doug Wheelock and Tracy Caldwell Dyson slept in the Quest airlock module overnight to accommodate their bodies to a different pressure and were awakened at about 2:00 am (0600 GMT) to begin final preparations for their work.

23 Hewlett-Packard boss resigns after sex probe

AFP

Sat Aug 7, 4:41 am ET

NEW YORK (AFP) – Hewlett-Packard chief executive Mark Hurd resigned Friday after an accusation of sexual harassment uncovered subterfuge with company expenses, the computer giant announced.

“Chief Executive Officer and President Mark Hurd has decided with the board of directors to resign his positions effective immediately,” the company said in a statement.

HP had brought in outside counsel to investigate allegations that Hurd had violated HP’s sexual harassment policy in his dealings with a former marketing contractor.

24 Eight foreign medical workers killed in Afghanistan

By Hamid Shalizi and Yousuf Azimi, Reuters

40 mins ago

KABUL (Reuters) – Gunmen killed 10 medical workers, including eight foreigners, in Afghanistan’s remote northeast, police and officials said on Saturday, and the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

A Christian aid group said those killed matched descriptions of members of one of its mobile eye clinics who had been traveling in northeastern Nuristan province and were heading back to Kabul after providing medical care for local Afghans.

Dirk Frans, executive director of the International Assistance Mission (IAM), said the group had been told the bodies of eight foreigners — five men and three women — and two Afghans had been recovered.

25 HP CEO resigns after sex harassment investigation

By Gabriel Madway and Alexei Oreskovic

Fri Aug 6, 10:15 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Hewlett-Packard Co CEO Mark Hurd resigned on Friday after an investigation found that he had falsified expense reports to conceal a “close personal relationship” with a female contractor.

The shocking announcement from the world’s top personal computer maker sent its shares plunging 10 percent, as Hurd is one of the most admired executives in Silicon Valley, credited with reviving HP after the tumultuous reign of Carly Fiorina.

The unnamed contractor, who did marketing for HP from late 2007 to fall 2009, contacted the firm’s board in June this year and alleged that Hurd had sexually harassed her, HP said.

26 Russian troops dig canal to bar fire from atom site

By Vladimir Soldatkin, Reuters

Sat Aug 7, 11:28 am ET

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian troops dug a 8-km (5-mile) long canal to keep fires caused by a record heatwave away from a nuclear arms site, local media said on Saturday as air pollution from the crisis rose to more than six times above normal.

Forest and peat fires caused by the hottest weather ever recorded in Moscow have killed at least 52 people, made more than 4,000 homeless, diverted many flights and forced Muscovites to wear surgical masks to filter out foul air.

“The fire situation in the Moscow region is still tense, but there is no danger either for residential areas or for economic sites,” an Emergencies Ministry spokesman said.

27 Weak private hiring shows recovery on the ropes

By Lucia Mutikani, Reuters

Fri Aug 6, 4:54 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. private employers added fewer workers to their payrolls in July than expected and hiring in June was much weaker than had been thought, a big blow to an already feeble economic recovery.

The dismal news on jobs poses a challenge to officials at the Federal Reserve who are debating whether more needs to be done to foster growth, as well as to Democrats hoping to retain their congressional majorities in November elections.

The Fed’s policy-setting committee meets on Tuesday.

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