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Aug 09 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 US urges focus on clean-up, sea damage after BP spill

by Kerry Sheridan, AFP

Sun Aug 8, 12:46 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US officials on Sunday urged further study of the damage done to the environment by BP’s broken well, and said clean-up efforts must continue despite claims that much of the oil had vanished from the Gulf of Mexico.

“I think what we need to understand is there’s a lot of oil that’s been taken care of. There’s a lot of oil that’s still out there,” said Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen on CNN.

“You need to keep a steady hand at the tiller here, keep this cleanup going,” he said, describing it as a “catastrophe for the people of the Gulf” and calling for a close study of the damage done to the environment.

2 Afghan police probe foreign medic killings

by Claire Truscott, AFP

6 mins ago

KABUL (AFP) – Police on Sunday were investigating the killing of eight foreign medics, including six Americans, shot dead in remote northern Afghanistan, as US authorities flew the bodies back to the capital.

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, according to the provincial police chief.

Two Afghans were also killed in the attack and one survived.

3 Moscow chokes under smog as travellers trapped

by Stuart Williams, AFP

1 hr 1 min ago

MOSCOW (AFP) – Thousands of air travellers were stranded Sunday as Moscow choked in the worst smog in living memory from spreading wildfires that threatened a second Russian nuclear facility.

Iconic buildings like the Kremlin towers and the city’s wedding-cake Stalin-era skyscrapers were obscured by the acrid smoke, while Saint Petersburg and neighbouring Finland were also starting to feel the effects.

The wildfires have sparked a major crisis in western Russia, killing 52 people and sending authorities scrambling to protect strategic sites, including the country’s main nuclear research facilities.

4 Actress, agent set to challenge Campbell diamonds testimony

AFP

Sun Aug 8, 12:28 pm ET

THE HAGUE (AFP) – Supermodel Naomi Campbell’s testimony at Charles Taylor’s war crimes trial is likely to be challenged on Monday when a Hollywood film star and a modelling agent take the stand.

Both Mia Farrow and Carole White are liable to contradict Campbell when they take the stand at the “blood diamonds” trial of the former Liberian president at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague.

Court documents suggest that White will testify that Campbell knew in advance she would get diamonds from Taylor after a dinner in South Africa in 1997 — and that she seemed disappointed with the “pebbles” she had received.

5 Third spacewalk needed to fix station cooling system: NASA

AFP

Sat Aug 7, 7:57 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Astronauts need to conduct an extra, third spacewalk outside the International Space Station after their efforts Saturday to repair a failed cooling system on the orbiter fell short, NASA said.

“I really think we’re going to end up with three EVAs,” or extra vehicular activities, ISS manager Michael Suffredini said after US astronauts completed a first spacewalk in which they ran into trouble trying to unhook and remove the busted module that has caused the cooling problem.

A second spacewalk has already been scheduled for no earlier than Wednesday, but NASA said it was clear that a third walk was now needed.

6 Washington vows no slack-off in Gulf oil cleanup

By Todd Eastham, Reuters

59 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The government vowed on Sunday that operations to completely clean up BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill and compensate those affected would not slacken off despite the success in halting the leak.

Some Gulf Coast beaches and fisheries were reopening after the world’s worst offshore oil accident, as optimism grew for a final kill of the blown-out BP well this month, the top U.S. spill response official said on Sunday news shows.

But in comments aimed at reassuring anxious Gulf Coast residents worried about their future livelihoods, response chief retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, and White House Energy Adviser Carol Browner, acknowledged that much still remained to be done to restore the oil-hit coastal region.

7 Group denies Afghan Taliban claims over dead workers

By Paul Tait, Reuters

2 hrs 33 mins ago

KABUL (Reuters) – An international Christian aid group denied on Sunday Taliban accusations that its team of foreign medical workers killed in Afghanistan’s remote northeast had been proselytizing.

The bodies of 10 medical aid workers, eight foreigners and two Afghans, were flown by helicopter from Badakshan province back to Kabul on Sunday, the U.S. embassy in the Afghan capital said, confirming that six of the dead were American.

The International Assistance Mission (IAM) had said the victims were members of its 12-strong eye care team that had been working in Badakshan and neighboring Nuristan.

8 BlackBerry in bid to address Saudi security concerns

By Souhail Karam and Diana Elias, Reuters

Sun Aug 8, 12:11 pm ET

RIYADH/KUWAIT (Reuters) – BlackBerry maker and Saudi mobile firms are testing three servers to send communications and data through Saudi Arabia before Canada to address Riyadh’s concerns over security, a Saudi official said on Sunday.

Pressed by security authorities, the Saudi telecom regulator has given the kingdom’s three mobile carriers until Monday to fulfill unspecified requirements before it proceeds with a threat to shut down the BlackBerry’s Messenger.

The ban was meant to be enacted on Friday and would have affected some 700,000 users in the kingdom.

9 Afghanistan says to "deal with" security firms

By Sayed Salahuddin, Reuters

Sun Aug 8, 8:46 am ET

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan security forces will be more than capable of safeguarding the country, the government said on Sunday, repeating in some of its strongest criticism yet that troublesome Western private security units should be disbanded.

Siyamak Herawi, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said the push to scrap firms employing tens of thousands of private security guards was linked to Karzai’s 2014 timetable for Afghan forces to take over all security and operational responsibilities from U.S. and NATO-led forces.

“The government wants to deal thoroughly with the companies and now that the capacity of the Afghan government is gradually increasing those entities in need of security individuals can use organized and educated Afghan soldiers,” Herawi told Reuters.

10 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 – Those who rely on the Gulf of Mexico’s rich fishing grounds say there’s a new crisis brewing – convincing skeptical consumers that the seafood they harvest and sell is safe to eat.

The Gulf’s fisheries are beginning to reopen more than three months after the oil began gushing from the sea floor, but those in the seafood industry say that doesn’t mean everything has returned to normal.

“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.”

11 Gulf shrimpers pray for good season amid oil spill

By KEVIN McGILL, Associated Press Writers

44 mins ago

THERIOT, La. – Docked boats were bedecked with fluttering red, white and blue streamers and rainbows of balloons in a bayou-country, pre-shrimp season tradition known as the “Blessing of the Boats.”

On the menu? Heaping trays of barbecued chicken, smoked sausage and potato salad – but no crabs or shrimp.

Blame the BP oil spill. The company has plugged the leak and announced Sunday that cement sealing the busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico had hardened, clearing the path for the final phase of drilling a relief well.

12 Victims of Afghan massacre gave years of service

KRISTEN WYATT and ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writers

14 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan – One gave up a lucrative practice to give free dental care to children who had never seen a toothbrush. Others had devoted whole decades of their lives to helping the Afghan people through war and deprivation.

The years of service ended in a hail of bullets in a remote valley of a land that members of the medical team had learned to love.

The bodies of the 10 slain volunteers – six Americans, two Afghans, a German and a Briton – were flown Sunday back to Kabul by helicopter, even as friends and family bitterly rejected Taliban claims the group had tried to convert Afghans to Christianity.

13 Slain doctors brought medical care to Afghanistan

By KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 26 mins ago

DENVER – Members of a medical team gunned down in Afghanistan brought some of the first toothbrushes and eyeglasses villagers had ever seen and spent no time talking about religion as they provided medical care, friends and aid organizations said Sunday.

Dr. Thomas Grams, 51, quit his dental practice in Durango, Colo., four years ago to work full-time giving impoverished children free dental care in Nepal and Afghanistan, said Katy Shaw of Global Dental Relief, a Denver-based group that sends teams of dentists around the globe. He was killed Thursday, Shaw said, along with five other Americans, two Afghans, one German and a Briton.

“The kids had never seen toothbrushes, and Tom brought thousands of them,” said Khris Nedam, head of the Kids 4 Afghan Kids in Livonia, Mich., which builds schools and wells in Afghanistan. “He trained them how to brush their teeth, and you should’ve seen the way they smiled after they learned to brush their teeth.”

14 AP source: Ousted HP CEO settles with accuser

By JORDAN ROBERTSON, AP Technology Writer

46 mins ago

SAN FRANCISCO – Ousted Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Mark Hurd has settled allegations of sexual harassment lodged against him by a female contract worker for HP, a person with knowledge of the case told The Associated Press.

The harassment accusation set off a chain of events that led to the discovery of allegedly falsified expense reports for dinners Hurd had with the woman and culminated in Hurd’s forced resignation Friday from the world’s largest technology company.

The person familiar with the case told the AP late Satuday that Hurd agreed to pay the woman but would not reveal the size of the payment. The deal was reached Thursday, a day before Hurd’s resignation. The settlement was between Hurd and his accuser and did not involve a payment from HP, this person said.

15 Forced to retire, some take Social Security early

By MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 8, 12:30 pm ET

MIAMI – Paul Skidmore’s office is shuttered, his job gone, his 18-month job search fruitless and his unemployment benefits exhausted. So at 63, he plans to file this week for Social Security benefits, three years earlier than planned.

“All I want to do is work,” said Skidmore, of Finksburg, Md., who was an insurance claims adjuster for 37 years before his company downsized and closed his office last year. “And nobody will hire me.”

It is one of the most striking fallouts from the bad economy: Social Security is facing its first-ever shortfall this year as a wave of people like Skidmore opt to collect payments before their full retirement age. Adding to the strain on the trust are reduced tax collections sapped by the country’s historic unemployment – still at 9.5 percent.

16 Far from ground zero, opponents fight new mosques

TRAVIS LOLLER, Associated Press Writer

26 mins ago

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Muslims trying to build houses of worship in the nation’s heartland, far from the heated fight in New York over plans for a mosque near ground zero, are running into opponents even more hostile and aggressive.

Foes of proposed mosques have deployed dogs to intimidate Muslims holding prayer services and spray painted “Not Welcome” on a construction sign, then later ripped it apart.

The 13-story, $100 million Islamic center that could soon rise two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks would dwarf the proposals elsewhere, yet the smaller projects in local communities are stoking a sharper kind of fear and anger than has showed up in New York.

17 Afghan commission: Civilian deaths up in 2010

HEIDI VOGT and RAHIM FAIEZ, Associated Press Writers

47 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan – Civilian war deaths in the first seven months of 2010 rose by 6 percent over the same period last year, Afghanistan’s human rights commission said Sunday. The modest increase suggested that U.S. and NATO efforts to hold down civilian casualties were having some success.

Also Sunday, the bodies of 10 members of a medical team – six Americans, two Afghans, one German and a Briton – were flown to Kabul from the northern province of Badakhshan, where they were gunned down three days ago at the end of a humanitarian mission. The Taliban claimed responsibility and accused the group of spying and seeking to convert Muslims to Christianity.

The Taliban and their allies were responsible for 68 percent of the at least 1,325 civilian deaths recorded by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, the organization said in a report. Twenty-three percent were ascribed to NATO or Afghan government forces.

18 Former enemies US, Vietnam now military mates

By MARGIE MASON, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 8, 8:56 am ET

ABOARD THE USS GEORGE WASHINGTON – Cold War enemies the United States and Vietnam demonstrated their blossoming military relations Sunday as a U.S. nuclear supercarrier cruised in waters off the Southeast Asian nation’s coast – sending a message that China is not the region’s only big player.

The visit comes 35 years after the Vietnam War as Washington and Hanoi are cozying up in a number of areas, from negotiating a controversial deal to share civilian nuclear fuel and technology to agreeing that China needs to work with its neighbors to resolve territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The USS George Washington’s stop is officially billed as a commemoration of last month’s 15th anniversary of normalized diplomatic relations between the former foes. But the timing also reflects Washington’s heightened interest in maintaining security and stability in the Asia-Pacific amid tensions following the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, which killed 46 sailors. North Korea has been blamed for the attack, but has vehemently denied any involvement.

19 Medicare’s private eyes let fraud cases get cold

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 8, 9:07 am ET

WASHINGTON – They don’t seem that interested in hot pursuit. It took private sleuths hired by Medicare an average of six months last year to refer fraud cases to law enforcement.

According to congressional investigators, the exact average was 178 days. By that time, many cases go cold, making it difficult to catch perpetrators, much less recover money for taxpayers.

A recent inspector general report also raised questions about the contractors, who play an important role in Medicare’s overall effort to combat fraud.

20 AP Interview: WikiLeaks to publish new documents

Associated Press

Sun Aug 8, 6:01 am ET

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.

21 3 women on high court: Historic but impact unclear

By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 8, 1:34 am ET

WASHINGTON – At least once a term for 13 years, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recalled, some lawyer arguing before the Supreme Court would mistake her for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, or vice versa.

No matter that Brooklyn-born Ginsburg and O’Connor, raised on a ranch in Arizona, look and sound nothing alike.

The confusion arose because, even at the dawn of the 21st century, women on the court were “one- or two-at-a-time curiosities,” Ginsburg said.

22 Bahrain says no plans to ban BlackBerry services

By ADAM SCHRECK, AP Business Writer

12 mins ago

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Bahrain’s foreign minister said Sunday the country has no plans to follow its Persian Gulf neighbors in banning some BlackBerry services because security fears do not outweigh the technological benefits.

His comments come as device maker Research in Motion Ltd. is facing opposition by a number of countries around the world, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf, to the way its encrypted e-mail and messenger services are managed.

Bahrain’s Sheik Khaled bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told The Associated Press the handheld devices raise legitimate concerns, but that his nation has decided that banning some of the phones’ features is “not a way of dealing with it.”

23 Beer warehouse shooter long complained of racism

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press Writer

Sat Aug 7, 10:43 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.

24 Difficult task to lower risk of workplace violence

By BEN DOBBIN, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 37 mins ago

Criminologists call it murder by proxy – rampages by employees who go after their boss, supervisors and even co-workers they link to the source of their outrage. The message is: Look who’s doing the firing now.

These eruptions of workplace violence often occur in similarly brutal ways. But experts say they rarely come with a warning, making them hard to stop.

Employers can reduce the risk of on-the-job attacks, especially in cases where employees are about to get axed; if there have been signs of distress or aggression, they can move the conversation away from the main work space or have security present. Patdown searches and the use of metal detectors are also options for some companies but have the drawback of raising tension.

25 US immigrant’s dream ends with genocide allegation

By LYNNE TUOHY, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 18 mins ago

CONCORD, N.H. – Beatrice Munyenyezi brought her three daughters to the United States from war-ravaged Rwanda in 1998 and focused on the American Dream: private schooling for her girls, a home with a swimming pool, a sport utility vehicle.

Before long, she had a $13-an-hour job at Manchester’s Housing Authority in New Hampshire, her children were enrolled in Catholic school, and she was on her way to financing a comfortable American lifestyle through mortgages, loans and credit cards.

Now the 40-year-old mother sits behind bars, held without bond while she awaits trial on federal citizenship fraud charges for allegedly lying about involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when at least 500,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

26 Immigration issue boosts Brewer in Arizona race

By PAUL DAVENPORT, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 8, 1:36 pm ET

PHOENIX – As the year began, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer faced a competitive field of fellow Republicans who wanted her job, with some GOP critics sensing she was particularly vulnerable as she sought voter approval of a sales tax increase she’d proposed to shore up the state budget.

All of that began to change in April, when she signed a tough new state law cracking down on illegal immigrants, which soon put Arizona at the heart of a rabid national debate on immigration. Now, with Arizona’s Aug. 24 GOP primary just two weeks away, not only she is riding high, but she can confidently boast of an enviable reputation among conservatives across the country.

“She essentially flipped the whole election,” said Matthew Jette, the only candidate still actively campaigning against Brewer. “She was pretty much dead last, except if you count me.”

27 Years later, politicians tripping over ‘trackers’

By KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 8, 1:35 pm ET

DENVER – They’re as common at campaign stops as colorful banners: hand-held cameras wielded by politicians’ opponents to catch them making a stupid mistake.

So how come candidates keep getting tripped up by “trackers” who record their every move?

Trackers have been credited for spoiling campaigns from Virginia to Nevada. And this year, amateur video clips could make the difference in Colorado’s hotly contested GOP Senate primary on Tuesday.

28 Marine accused of killing colleague to go on trial

By KEVIN MAURER, Associated Press Writer

Sun Aug 8, 12:37 pm ET

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. – Investigators said Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean had an obvious motive to kill his pregnant Marine colleague: She accused him of raping her and fathering her unborn baby.

However, Naval investigators said they have no physical evidence or eyewitnesses to corroborate Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach’s claims, and Laurean denied they ever had sexual contact. It will be up to a jury to decide what happened when Laurean goes on trial Tuesday in Goldsboro on first-degree murder and a litany of other charges.

Onslow County District Attorney Dewey Hudson has said the case is one of the most perplexing he’s seen in three decades as a prosecutor. And the accounts of how Lauterbach died aren’t any less tricky. Her charred remains were found in a fire pit behind Laurean’s white, ranch-style home, which remains a curiosity for passers-by.

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