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Aug 10 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 BP moves to well kill, kicks off compensation fund

By Pascal Fletcher and Anna Driver, Reuters

1 hr 41 mins ago

MIAMI/HOUSTON (Reuters) – BP advanced on Monday on the final lap toward permanently killing the source of the world’s worst offshore oil spill and kicked off a $20 billion compensation fund with a first $3 billion deposit.

A relief well being drilled by BP is on track to start this week a definitive “bottom kill” shutdown of the crippled Gulf of Mexico well, unless an approaching weather system disrupts the timing, the top U.S. oil spill response chief said.

The biggest environmental response operation ever launched in the United States passed a critical milestone last week by subduing the blown-out deepwater well with injections of heavy drilling mud, followed by a cement seal.

2 Iraq arms traffic cops against insurgent attacks

By Muhanad Mohammed, Reuters

Mon Aug 9, 11:29 am ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq is arming some of its traffic police in the capital with AK-47 assault rifles after two dozen of the “easy targets” have been killed and wounded recently in militant assaults, authorities said.

In the latest attack, a bomb planted at the traffic police department in the Ghazaliya district of western Baghdad exploded early Monday, killing a traffic policeman and a bystander, and wounding 10 other people, including seven traffic officers.

Insurgent attacks against Iraq’s usually unarmed traffic police have previously been rare since the reconstruction of the Iraqi security forces following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

3 Afghan police probe foreign medic killings

by Claire Truscott, AFP

Sun Aug 8, 4:11 pm ET

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.

4 Onus shifts to US Fed after jobs slump

by Andrew Beatty, AFP

Sun Aug 8, 7:56 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Federal Reserve’s rate-setting panel will meet Tuesday amid pressure to resume crisis-era spending to restart a stalled recovery.

The 10-member body is expected to keep interest rates at historic lows, but Fed watchers will be looking for any hint of a return to stimulus spending.

After planing to reel in crisis measures, the Labor Department reported US economy shed 131,000 jobs in July, thrusting the Fed’s policies back into the spotlight.

5 Saudis hold breath on BlackBerry ban

AFP

Mon Aug 9, 9:12 am ET

RIYADH (AFP) – Hundreds of thousands of BlackBerry users were awaiting Monday a decision by the Saudi telecoms watchdog on banning the smartphone’s messenger service after tests aimed at allaying security concerns.

The regulator had postponed the suspension due to come into force on Friday, allowing time until Monday evening to test suggested technical solutions that would give authorities access to BlackBerry’s encrypted data.

More 700,000 people subscribe to BlackBerry in the kingdom, most reportedly purchasing the device for personal use. But the birthplace of Al-Qaeda chief, Osama bin Laden, fears the popular device could jeopardise its security.

6 Battered Balkan men struggle to overcome social stigma

by Suzana Markovic, AFP

Sun Aug 8, 6:46 pm ET

CUPRIJA, Serbia (AFP) – “I must be the first man in the Balkans to admit that I have been battered by my wife,” Dusan Stojkovic said with a wry smile, speaking from Serbia’s first safe house for battered men.

It took a lot for the man who is in his fifties to reach out and get help, breaking a taboo in a country where men still cling to a fierce macho image.

Stojkovic has been in the safe house for abused men in central Cuprija, the first in Serbia, since it was founded in July 2009 by the Safety for Men non-governmental organisation.

7 Campbell contradicted in court over diamonds

by Mariette le Roux, AFP

Mon Aug 9, 12:03 pm ET

THE HAGUE (AFP) – Naomi Campbell accepted a late-night gift of diamonds Charles Taylor had promised her over dinner and boasted about it the next day, actress Mia Farrow and the supermodel’s ex-agent told judges Monday.

Farrow and Campbell’s then agent, Carole White, both contradicted the model’s own evidence to the Liberian ex-president’s war crimes trial that she did not know who sent the parcel of gems.

According to White, Campbell and Taylor had flirted throughout a charity dinner hosted by South Africa’s then president Nelson Mandela in September 1997.

8 Kagame set for landslide win in Rwanda poll

by Helen Vesperini, AFP

Mon Aug 9, 8:36 am ET

KIGALI (AFP) – Rwandans voted Monday in a presidential election that incumbent Paul Kagame is poised to win, following a tense run-up marred by arrests and killings.

His supporters credit the former rebel leader with ending the genocide and ushering in stability and growth but critics accuse him of undermining democracy and cracking down on opponents.

Some 5.2 million Rwandans are eligible to vote. Polling stations in the capital Kigali opened at 6:00 am (0400 GMT), an AFP correspondent reported.

9 Crabs provide evidence oil tainting Gulf food web

By JOHN FLESHER, AP Environmental Writer

34 mins ago

BARATARIA, La. – To assess how heavy a blow the BP oil spill has dealt the Gulf of Mexico, researchers are closely watching a staple of the seafood industry and primary indicator of the ecosystem’s health: the blue crab.

Weeks ago, before engineers pumped in mud and cement to plug the gusher, scientists began finding specks of oil in crab larvae plucked from waters across the Gulf coast.

The government said last week that three-quarters of the spilled oil has been removed or naturally dissipated from the water. But the crab larvae discovery was an ominous sign that crude had already infiltrated the Gulf’s vast food web – and could affect it for years to come.

10 Gulf relief well down to final, tricky 100 feet

By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press Writer

19 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS – The relief well being drilled to ensure crude never again spills into the ocean from BP’s paralyzed well in the Gulf of Mexico has been dubbed the ultimate solution to the drama that’s unfolded over the past three months.

It’s the final, suspenseful act as one man guides a drill more than two miles beneath the sea floor and three miles from the surface, trying to hit a target less than half the size of a dartboard. The drill is about as wide as a grapefruit, and the target now lies less than 100 feet away.

If John Wright misses, BP engineers will pull the drill bit up, pour concrete in the off-track hole and then try again. Wright is 40-for-40 , though, having helped capped wells across the world in four decades of work. And he seemed confident in a June video put out by BP that he could make it 41-for-41.

11 Officials: Belt-tightening will cut major command

By ANNE GEARAN and ANNE FLAHERTY, AP National Security Writer

1 hr 20 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Robert Gates says tough economic times require that he shutter a major command that employs some 5,000 people in Norfolk, Va., and eliminate other jobs throughout the military.

Gates told reporters at a press conference on Monday that getting rid of Joint Forces Command and other job cuts were necessary so that the military has enough money to repair itself after several years of war.

He said that among his biggest priorities was trimming by 10 percent the number of contractors that support the military.

12 Chrysler sees smaller loss but tough work remains

By DEE-ANN DURBIN, AP Auto Writer

1 hr 2 mins ago

DETROIT – Chrysler is stanching its losses, seeing increased demand for its cars and trucks and preparing for a major product rollout 14 months after emerging from bankruptcy protection.

But the automaker is far from healthy, and its CEO says Chrysler has more tough work ahead as it tries to make a profit and pay off government loans.

Chrysler Group LLC narrowed its second-quarter loss to $172 million, a $25 million improvement from the first quarter, it said Monday. Revenues climbed 8.2 percent to $10.5 billion. U.S. market share is rising. The company, which was in Chapter 11 for most of the second quarter last year, has made steady progress since being taken over by Italian automaker Fiat SpA in June 2009.

13 Sorting when early memory loss signals big threat

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

2 hrs 9 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Doctors can’t tell if Leif Utoft Bollesen’s mild memory loss will remain an annoyance or worsen, but experimental checks of the Minnesota man’s aging brain may offer clues.

About 1 million people a year begin a mental slide called mild cognitive impairment, or MCI, with forgetfulness that’s somewhere between healthy aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Now this gray zone is undergoing an evolution, with growing study of techniques to help predict which MCI patients may be on a path to later dementia – and who shouldn’t worry.

Many doctors aren’t waiting. A study published in the journal Neurology last week found 70 percent of neurologists say they prescribe Alzheimer’s medications to at least some of their MCI patients, hoping the drugs will slow their decline. That’s a startling number considering there’s no proof yet the drugs can do that even if doctors knew who’s most at risk.

14 Farrow, Campbell draw spotlight to war-crime trial

By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press Writer

21 mins ago

LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands – Naomi Campbell flirted with Liberia’s former president across the dinner table at Nelson Mandela’s presidential mansion in 1997 and boasted the following morning that Charles Taylor had given her a huge diamond during the night, Mia Farrow and another witness testified at Taylor’s war crimes trial Monday.

Prosecutors hope testimony from the actress-turned-human rights activist and from Campbell’s estranged former modeling agent will help tie Taylor to the illicit “blood diamond” trade that fueled Sierra Leone’s civil war. Both contradicted Campbell’s account from the witness stand last week that she did not know the nature or value of what she had received.

The episode was a surreal interlude of glamour in a grim case focused on murder and mutilation in the jungles of West Africa.

15 House members scurry back to pass jobs bill

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer

Mon Aug 9, 9:04 am ET

WASHINGTON – House members are giving up a couple of days reconnecting with folks in their districts this week to pass a jobs bill that Democrats say is crucial to the nation’s well-being.

The unusual in-and-out session was called because the Senate waited until last Thursday, after the House had already recessed for its summer break, to pass a $26 billion bill to prevent tens of thousands of teachers and an equal number of other state and local government workers from being laid off before the November election.

With the new school year just weeks away, election season fast approaching and the overall job picture still bleak, Democrats had no choice but to act quickly. Many of those whose jobs are being saved belong to teacher unions or the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, two key components of the Democrats’ political base whose get-out-the-vote efforts in November could determine whether they hold or lose control of Congress.

16 Charity plans to stay in Afghan despite murders

By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer

29 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan – A Christian charity said Monday it had no plans to leave Afghanistan despite the brutal murders last week of 10 members of its medical aid team, six of them Americans.

Police were holding the lone Afghan survivor for questioning, insisting he is not a suspect although authorities have lingering questions about his account of the horrific massacre in northern Afghanistan.

The attack, far from the main theaters of the war in the east and south, underscored the growing insecurity in the region.

17 Victims of Afghan massacre gave years of service

KRISTEN WYATT and ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writers

Sun Aug 8, 5:58 pm ET

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.

18 First woman to head major US intelligence agency

By KIMBERLY DOZIER, Associated Press Writer

Mon Aug 9, 11:17 am ET

FORT BELVOIR, Va. – The United States has had three female secretaries of state – but until now has never had a woman lead one of its 16 major intelligence agencies.

Letitia A. Long, 51, was praised by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, as the right person for the job, as she took up her post as director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in a ceremony Monday at the agency’s half-built, high-tech campus in Springfield, Va.

Long, in turn, saluted what the NGA work force has already accomplished, from aiding troops on the battlefield, to helping draw together intelligence from across the national security spectrum.

19 Wealthy political newcomers are spending big

By JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer

Mon Aug 9, 11:55 am ET

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In the midst of one of the worst recessions in decades, a host of former corporate leaders are spending millions in their quest for elective office, using their personal wealth to push past the political machinery and their own lack of experience.

In California, billionaire former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman has bankrolled more than $91 million of the nearly $100 million her Republican quest for governor has cost so far. Her outsized spending has bought her some of the nation’s best-known GOP strategists and chartered planes offering “white glove service.” It’s also helped her target traditionally Democratic voters.

In Connecticut, footage of stage explosions and wrestlers flying through the air has filled the TV airwaves in ads for former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, who has said she’s willing to spend up to $50 million of her own money in her bid to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd.

20 Briton first known man to walk Amazon River

By FILIPE ALMEIDA, Associated Press Writer

18 mins ago

MARAPANIM, Brazil – He fought tropical disease and deadly snakes, was held captive at one point and collapsed just short of his goal.

Still, Ed Stafford ended his 2 1/2-year journey Monday as he planned – leaping into the sea as the first man known to walk the length of the Amazon River.

“I’ve been told I was going to be killed so many times,” the 34-year-old former British army captain told The Associated Press. “But I’m not dead. I’m here now and … I’ve proved that if you want something enough, you can do anything!”

21 From humble to rumble: Sturgis turns 70

By JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press Writer

Mon Aug 9, 3:54 am ET

STURGIS, S.D. – Greg Pike seems unfazed as his “chopper” putts past thousands of rumbling motors in western South Dakota’s Black Hills, cruising the souped-up riding lawn mower into the world’s largest motorcycle rally with his own gang: Booger the dog, Kitty the cat and Mousey the rat.

Pike is among the eclectic mix of people flooding this normally sleepy town for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The six-day event officially kicks off Monday and is expected to attract as many as 750,000 people, likely making it home to the highest concentration ever of chrome, leather and tattoos.

But these days, you’re more apt to run into a hog-riding orthodontist than a motorcycle outlaw. After seven decades, the rally has morphed from a small race to a rowdy gathering of biker gangs to a weeklong party of biking enthusiasts from across the globe. Some come for the concerts – Bob Dylan and Ozzy Osbourne are among the scheduled performers – while others simply want to gawk at expensive toys.

22 US military judge seals sentence for Gitmo inmate

By MIKE MELIA, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 40 mins ago

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba – A U.S. military judge on Monday ordered that a plea agreement capping the sentence of an Osama bin Laden aide be sealed, shrouding in secrecy the first Guantanamo conviction under President Barack Obama.

The judge, Air Force Lt. Col. Nancy Paul, said the deal limiting how much more time detainee Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi spends in confinement will not be revealed until after his release. She said that condition of the plea bargain was requested by the government and agreed to by the detainee’s lawyers.

The sealing of the sentence is a first for the military commissions system, which the Obama administration has pledged to make more transparent.

23 Woman in HP scandal "saddened" by CEO’s ouster

By JORDAN ROBERTSON, AP Technology Writer

Sun Aug 8, 11:13 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – The woman at the center of the sexual harassment claim that forced the resignation of Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Mark Hurd revealed her identity Sunday and said she is “surprised and saddened” that Hurd lost his job.

Jodie Fisher, 50, an actress and businesswoman, knew Hurd through her contract jobs with HP’s marketing department from 2007 to 2009. HP paid her up to $5,000 per event to greet people and make introductions among executives attending HP events that she helped organize.

Fisher echoed Hurd’s statement that the two never had a sexual relationship, but neither she nor her lawyer, celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, would discuss details of the harassment claim.

24 Mayor of poor NJ city offers library rescue plan

By BETH DeFALCO, Associated Press Writer

32 mins ago

CAMDEN, N.J. – The mayor of one of the nation’s poorest cities is working on a plan to keep the city’s three libraries open and available to residents after the library board announced last week they would be closed due to budget cuts.

Camden Mayor Dana Redd said Monday that city officials will look to join the county library system and allow patrons to check out books from the library at Rutgers University’s Camden campus.

The City Council must approve joining the county system, and there is no guarantee that in doing so the libraries will remain open. There is also no guarantee that the 21 city library employees will keep their jobs.

25 UN chief defends his record fighting corruption

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer

47 mins ago

UNITED NATIONS – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lashed back Monday at the stinging criticism leveled by two former senior U.N. officials, saying it was “unfair” to raise questions about his record on battling internal fraud and corruption.

Ban, in his first public response to the lengthy criticisms of his former oversight chief and former head of a U.N. white collar fraud unit, said at a news conference that he has pushed accountability and ethics “from day one” since becoming the U.N. chief in January 2007.

“If anybody, or any member state within the U.N. system, or any colleague of mine in the U.N. secretariat accuses me on the issue of accountability, or ethics, then I regard it as unfair. It was I who have taken this accountability, and the highest standard of ethics by the U.N. secretariat has been held from day one,” Ban said.

26 Gold thefts prompt police to monitor sellers

By CARRIE ANTLFINGER, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 29 mins ago

MILWAUKEE – Law enforcement and local governments are scrambling to shut down a shadow industry that has grown up around the booming cash-for-gold business nationwide: thieves are snatching jewelry, then converting it into a quick payday at the shops.

Thousands of shops have opened to take advantage of high gold prices and hard economic times, and police in some cities have noticed an uptick in burglaries and thefts.

“Law enforcement is just swamped,” said Maureen Walter of the State Police in Maryland. “Business is booming. I guess that’s a good indication of how bad the economy is; for the most part these dealers are very, very busy.”

27 Alabama’s biggest casino closes as raid looms

By PHILLIP RAWLS, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 34 mins ago

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama’s largest electronic bingo operation closed Monday as its owner tried to prevent a raid by the governor’s anti-gambling task force on the last non-Indian casino still doing business in the state.

Victoryland owner Milton McGregor was awaiting word on a court ruling that could clear the way for a raid similar to those in recent months, when Gov. Bob Riley’s task force and its commander, John Tyson, shut down the casinos and authorities hauled out dozens of the bingo machines.

Many of the casinos were in poor, mostly black areas of the state, and the raids have spurred protests in the past.

28 Statue of Liberty to get new staircase for safety

By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer

Mon Aug 9, 6:09 am ET

NEW YORK – A set of 354 narrow steps spirals all the way up to the Statue of Liberty’s crown, and it’s the only escape route for tourists in an emergency.

On a recent summer day, one tourist put his hands on his knees and gasped for air as a few others funneled down the tightly twisting staircase to the statue’s pedestal. They were covered in sweat.

“It was hot up there,” said Lucie Munier, visiting from France. “I think I would be scared in an emergency, but it is already pretty scary even when it is calm.”

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