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Sep 03 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Disasters show ‘screaming’ need for action – climate chief

by Alexandra Troubnikoff and Richard Ingham, AFP

Thu Sep 2, 1:19 pm ET

GENEVA (AFP) – UN climate chief Christiana Figueres on Thursday warned that a string of weather calamities showed the deepening urgency to forge a breakthrough deal on global warming this year.

Speaking before some 40 countries were to address finance, an issue that has helped hamstring UN climate talks, Figueres said floods in Pakistan, fires in Russia and other weather disasters had been a shocking wakeup call.

“The news has been screaming that a future of intense, global climate disasters is not the future that we want,” Figueres, newly-appointed executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told reporters.

2 NATO air strike kills 10 civilians: Afghan president

AFP

Thu Sep 2, 11:56 am ET

KABUL (AFP) – Ten Afghan civilians were killed Thursday in a NATO air strike on three vehicles carrying election campaign workers in northern Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai said in a statement.

Karzai strongly condemned the incident in his statement, confirming earlier reports of an air strike that killed election workers in Takhar province.

“Three vehicles carrying the members of a parliamentary election candidate’s team was targeted by NATO aircraft twice while travelling towards the Kiwan area in Rustaq district of Takhar province this morning, during which 10 campaign members were martyred (killed) and two others injured,” the statement from the presidential palace said.

3 Samsung, Toshiba take on Apple with ‘iPad killers’

by Simon Sturdee, AFP

Thu Sep 2, 12:23 pm ET

BERLIN (AFP) – Competition to Apple’s highly successful iPad hotted up on Thursday as Samsung and Toshiba unveiled rival tablet PCs that they hope will steal some of the Californian giant’s thunder.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, presented at the IFA electronics trade fair in Berlin, Germany, has a seven-inch (17.8-centimetre) touchscreen, slightly smaller than the iPad’s 9.7 inches, and uses Google’s Android 2.2 operating system.

“Samsung recognizes the tremendous growth potential in this newly created market and we believe that the Samsung Galaxy Tab brings a unique and open proposition to market,” said mobile communications unit head JK Shin.

4 Oil rig blast forces 13 workers into Gulf of Mexico

by Matt Davis, AFP

2 hrs 39 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – An explosion ripped through an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday forcing 13 people into the water, one of whom was injured, the US Coast Guard said.

There was no immediate sign of an oil spill and everything “appears to be” contained “at this time” Patrick Cassidy, a spokesman for Texas-based rig owner Mariner Energy told CNN.

“In an initial flyover by company personnel over the site, there was no hydrocarbon spill that was reported,” Cassidy said.

5 IMF, World Bank step up aid to Pakistan

AFP

Thu Sep 2, 12:01 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The IMF and the World Bank have stepped up aid to flood-hit Pakistan to help the country cope with its worst-ever humanitarian disaster, officials said Thursday.

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn said the fund “will provide around 450 million dollars in immediate emergency financing” to Pakistan to help manage the aftermath of devastating floods that have affected 18 million people.

Pakistani and IMF officials have been holding talks in Washington for more than a week after Islamabad warned they would not be able to meet key IMF targets on inflation and budget deficit levels.

6 ECB extends emergency funding, ups growth forecast

by William Ickes, AFP

Thu Sep 2, 11:57 am ET

FRANKFURT (AFP) – The European Central Bank bought extra insurance Thursday against the economic recovery running out of steam by extending emergency funds for commercial banks even as it hiked its growth and inflation forecasts.

Analysts said the decision to extend the loan programme was widely expected given growing concerns that the economy, and the banks, may face a harder time over the balance of the year following robust growth into the second quarter.

After keeping its benchmark interest rate at a record low 1.0 percent, ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet said the bank would continue to offer exceptional three-month funding up to December 23.

7 ECB holds rate as investors await bank measures

by William Ickes, AFP

Thu Sep 2, 8:34 am ET

FRANKFURT (AFP) – The European Central Bank held its main interest rate at 1.0 percent on Thursday as investors waited for more news on ECB funding measures for banks and its forecasts for eurozone growth.

With the cost of borrowing for commercial banks locked at a record low for the 16th month running, economists want to know if the central bank will extend unlimited loans for up to three months through the end of the year.

“Market events over the last month suggest the potential cost of an early exit from full allotment liquidity probably exceeds the risks from being more patient,” Deutsche Bank analysts suggested in a research note.

8 Pakistan cricketers claim innocence in betting scam

by Julian Guyer, AFP

Thu Sep 2, 11:21 am ET

TAUNTON, England (AFP) – The three Pakistan cricketers accused of involvement in an illegal betting scam protested their innocence Thursday as they formally withdrew from the scandal-tainted tour of England.

Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif vowed to clear their names in a meeting in London with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt and Wajid Shamsul Hasan, Pakistan’s ambassador to Britain.

Speaking after meeting the players at his London office, Hasan said in a statement the players had insisted they were innocent of wrongdoing but were pulling out of the tour because of the “mental torture” of the scandal.

9 Pakistan mourns triple bombing as death toll rises

by Waqar Hussain, AFP

Thu Sep 2, 11:10 am ET

LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP) – The death toll from suicide attacks that targeted a busy procession in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore rose to 31 on Thursday as six people succumbed to their injuries, officials said.

Three suicide bombers targeted a Shiite mourning procession made up of thousands of people on Wednesday at the moment of the breaking of the fast in the holy month of Ramadan, wounding hundreds.

It was the first major attack in Pakistan since devastating floods engulfed a fifth of the volatile country over the past month in its worst disaster yet.

10 Oil sheen spreads from Gulf platform after fire

By Erwin Seba and Bruce Nichols, Reuters

1 hr 26 mins ago

HOUSTON (Reuters) – An oil and gas platform operated by Mariner Energy burst into flames on Thursday and unleashed a mile-long oil sheen into the Gulf of Mexico, in the region’s first major offshore disaster since BP’s oil spill began in April.

All 13 crew members were rescued with no injuries from the ocean near the burning platform and were taken to another offshore platform, the U.S. Coast Guard said. The fire has been contained but is not yet extinguished.

It is not known whether the oil sheen came from the damaged platform or the well, which is in relatively shallow water at 340 feet deep.

11 EPA to issue more rules in climate fight

By Timothy Gardner, Reuters

1 hr 23 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Environmental Protection Agency will roll out more regulations on greenhouse gases and other pollution to help fight climate change, but they will not be as strong as action by Congress, a senior administration official said.

The agency “has a huge role to play in continuing the work to move from where we are now to lower carbon emissions,” said the official, who did not want to be named as the EPA policies are still being formed.

President Barack Obama, looking to play a leading role in global talks on greenhouse gas emissions, has long warned that the EPA would take steps to regulate emissions if Congress failed to pass a climate bill.

12 Justice Department sues Arizona sheriff in immigration probe

By Jeremy Pelofsky and David Schwartz, Reuters

47 mins ago

WASHINGTON/PHOENIX (Reuters) – The Justice Department on Thursday sued an Arizona sheriff for refusing to cooperate with its investigation into allegations he and his police force discriminate against Hispanics in his program to crack down on illegal immigrants.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has conducted regular arrest sweeps to try to round up illegal immigrants and smugglers in the state that has borne the brunt of people trying to sneak into the United States illegally from Mexico.

Arpaio’s crackdown on illegal immigrants has helped thrust the issue to the forefront nationally. The Obama administration is in a legal wrangle with Arizona over a strict new law against illegal immigration that the state passed in April.

13 Pakistan gets IMF relief, tightens security

By Mubasher Bukhari, Reuters

Thu Sep 2, 11:33 am ET

LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund will give Pakistan $450 million in emergency flood aid, providing some relief for a government overwhelmed by the disaster and facing renewed militant violence.

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in Washington on Thursday that the funds would be dispersed in “coming weeks.”

Strauss-Kahn said discussions with a delegation led by Pakistan’s Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on how to “reorganize” an $11 billion IMF loan program would continue.

14 Burger King agrees to $3.3 billion sale to 3G Capital

By Lisa Baertlein, Reuters

30 mins ago

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Burger King Holdings Inc agreed to sell itself to investment firm 3G Capital for $3.26 billion, giving the No. 2 U.S. fast-food chain breathing room to fix its business and close the gap with leader McDonald’s Corp.

At $24 per share, the offer represents a 46 percent premium to Burger King’s price before news of the negotiations emerged on Wednesday.

“It was a call out of the blue,” Burger King Chairman and Chief Executive John Chidsey told Reuters in an interview when asked about how the talks started. He declined to give additional details.

15 Putin says no grain exports before 2011 harvest

By Gleb Bryanski and Denis Dyomkin, Reuters

Thu Sep 2, 11:46 am ET

MOSCOW/SARATOV, Russia (Reuters) – Russia abruptly signaled Thursday it would extend a grain export ban until late 2011 and ordered authorities to prevent speculators driving up food prices after the worst harvest in years.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s surprise statement on the export ban — which had been due for review after December 31 — puzzled analysts and helped send benchmark Chicago wheat prices higher.

“I would like to note that the lifting of the export ban can only be considered after next year’s crops have been harvested,” Putin told a government meeting. Amid speculation that he might have misspoken, his spokesman confirmed the statement.

16 U.S. to start NATO talks on Afghan transition: Petraeus

By Phil Stewart, Reuters

1 hr 57 mins ago

KABUL (Reuters) – The United States will start preliminary talks with its allies in Afghanistan soon on next year’s planned “transition,” expected to include withdrawal of some U.S. forces, the top NATO commander in the country said on Thursday.

General David Petraeus said he would discuss in mid-September an initial assessment with allies based on input from low-level military commanders and their Afghan counterparts. This would be continuously updated in the run-up to a NATO summit in Lisbon in November.

NATO allies, which are increasingly uneasy about the unpopular, nine-year-old war, are eager to shift security responsibilities to Afghan forces.

17 Afghan leader condemns air strike as Gates arrives

By Phil Stewart and Sayed Salahuddin, Reuters

2 hrs 13 mins ago

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned on Thursday an air strike by NATO-led forces which he said killed 10 election campaign workers, although U.S. officials maintained it was aimed at an Islamist leader.

Civilian casualties caused by foreign forces hunting militants have caused major tension between Karzai and his Western allies. The latest incident came at a bad time as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates landed for unannounced talks.

Gates’s arrival was also overshadowed by renewed worries about corruption, one of Washington’s biggest concerns in Afghanistan, after two officials from the country’s top private bank left their positions amid allegations of graft.

18 Oil platform explodes off La. coast; crew rescued

By ALAN SAYRE, Associated Press Writer

13 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS, La. – An oil platform exploded and caught fire Thursday off the Louisiana coast, the second such disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in less than five months. All 13 crew members were rescued from the water in protective “Gumby suits.”

The Coast Guard initially reported that an oil sheen a mile long and 100 feet wide had begun to spread from the site of the blast, about 200 miles west of the site of BP’s massive spill. But hours later, Coast Guard Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesau said crews were unable to find any spill.

The company that owns the platform, Houston-based Mariner Energy, did not know what caused the blast.

19 Temporary cap that stopped oil gusher removed

By HARRY R. WEBER, Associated Press Writer

1 min ago

NEW ORLEANS – Engineers have removed a temporary cap that stopped oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s blown-out well in mid-July.

More oil is not expected to leak into the sea, but crews are on standby with collection vessels just in case.

The cap was removed Thursday as a prelude to raising the massive piece of equipment underneath that failed to prevent the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

20 Discounts spur surprising Aug. retail sales gains

By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO, AP Retail Writer

12 mins ago

NEW YORK – This year’s back-to-school season isn’t as big a bust for retailers as they feared – or as last year’s – but it’s not great either.

Americans are spending only when the item and price are just right, according to August reports from major chains released Thursday that showed shoppers bought a little more than a year ago.

Analysts expect stores will need to keep discounting to get shoppers to spend this fall and for the holiday season while they grapple with job worries and tight credit.

21 More Dems buck plan to let taxes increase for rich

By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 53 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Congress seems increasingly reluctant to let taxes go up, even on wealthier Americans.

Worried about the fragile economy and their own upcoming elections, a growing number of Democrats are joining the rock-solid Republican opposition to President Barack Obama’s plans to let some of the Bush administration’s tax cuts expire.

Democratic leaders in Congress still back Obama, but the willingness to raise taxes is waning among the rank and file as the stagnant economy threatens the party’s majority in the House and Senate.

22 Google, Skype targeted in India security crackdown

By ERIKA KINETZ, AP Business Writer

2 hrs 26 mins ago

MUMBAI, India – India has widened its security crackdown, asking all companies that provide encrypted communications – not just BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion – to install servers in the country to make it easier for the government to obtain users’ data. That would likely affect digital giants like Google and Skype.

“People who operate communication services in India should (install a) server in India as well as make available access to law enforcement agencies,” Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told reporters. “That has been made clear to RIM of BlackBerry but also to other companies.”

On Monday, India withdrew a threat to ban BlackBerry service for at least two more months after RIM agreed to give security officials “lawful access” to encrypted data.

23 Can home cooking be hazardous to your health?

By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

Thu Sep 2, 1:54 pm ET

ATLANTA – Could your kitchen at home pass a restaurant inspection?

New researcher suggests that at least one in seven home kitchens would flunk the kind of health inspection commonly administered to restaurants.

The small study from California’s Los Angeles County found that only 61 percent of home kitchens would get an A or B if put through the rigors of a restaurant inspection. At least 14 percent would fail – not even getting a C.

24 Feds sue Arizona sheriff in civil rights probe

By PAUL DAVENPORT and AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press Writer

20 mins ago

PHOENIX – The Justice Department sued the nation’s self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” on Thursday, calling Joe Arpaio’s defiance of an investigation into his office’s alleged discrimination against Hispanics “unprecedented.”

It’s the first time in decades a lawman has refused to cooperate in one of the agency’s probes, the department said.

The Arizona sheriff had been given until Aug. 17 to hand over documents the federal government first asked for 15 months ago, when it started investigating alleged discrimination, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and jail policies that discriminate against people with limited English skills.

25 Bernanke: Shut down banks if they threaten system

By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer

Thu Sep 2, 1:50 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a panel investigating the financial crisis that regulators must be ready to shutter the largest institutions if they threaten to bring down the financial system.

“If the crisis has a single lesson, it is that the too-big-to-fail problem must be solved,” Bernanke said Thursday while testifying before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

Bernanke also said it was impossible for the Fed to rescue Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy in 2008 because the Wall Street firm lacked sufficient collateral to secure a loan. Lehman’s former chief executive told the panel a day earlier that the firm could have been saved, but regulators refused to provide help.

26 US Def Sec: Afghans should lead corruption fight

By ANNE GEARAN, AP National Security Writer

2 hrs 39 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that while the fight against corruption must be led by Afghans, the U.S. is working on new ways to prevent millions of American dollars flowing into the nation from underwriting bribery and graft.

Gates spoke to reporters in the Afghan capital with President Hamid Karzai, who complained about the tactics of two Western-backed anti-corruption units that recently arrested one of his top aides on suspicion of bribery, likening them to heavy-handed Soviet tactics.

The U.S. views the arrest of Mohammed Zia Salehi as a test of Karzai’s willingness to take on graft in his government.

27 Chicago gangs to top cop: You’re not playing fair

By MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 52 mins ago

CHICAGO – Several current and ex-gang members lashed out at Chicago’s police chief on Thursday, calling his so-called “gang summit” initiative to crack down on crime a wasted effort that will have little effect on the streets of the county’s third largest city.

After calling a news conference outside a park district building, gang members complained to assembled TV cameras about the ultimatum police Superintendent Jody Weis gave them at a recent meeting – that if gangs resort to violence, police will go after their leaders.

In response, they offered their own message to police: You’re not playing fair.

28 Democrats fight to stay in office amid backlash

By ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press Writer

Thu Sep 2, 11:04 am ET

McGREGOR, Texas – Rep. Chet Edwards, an imperiled Democrat deep in the heart of Republican territory, finds exiting American Legion Post No. 273 slow going. Supporters and well-wishers keep stopping him.

The wife of a World War II veteran hugs him. Several men line up to shake his hand. Another woman talks to him for about 10 minutes, thanking him for his work on military issues, bringing jobs to this farm and ranching town of about 4,700 and, in her words, thinking for himself.

“You’ve done a good job,” said Donna Smith, 50, an office manager and a Republican who says she will vote for Edwards again this year. Later, she said Edwards “has proven himself and shown that he can get things done.”

29 Fired aide to ex-Mo. gov runs for gov’s dad’s seat

By CHRIS BLANK, Associated Press Writer

Thu Sep 2, 11:57 am ET

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – It’s been three years since Scott Eckersley was fired after asserting that his then-boss, former Gov. Matt Blunt, and others in Blunt’s administration should not be deleting certain e-mails because they belonged to the public record.

Now after a $500,000 settlement for a wrongful termination and defamation lawsuit against the state, the former legal adviser in the governor’s office is using some of that money to run for a seat long held by Blunt’s father, outgoing U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt.

Eckersley, 33, is a long shot running as a Democrat in one of the country’s most Republican districts, where voters for more than a decade have elected Roy Blunt with about two-thirds of the vote or greater. But he’s betting he can tap into the electorate’s anti-Washington sentiments by showing he stood up to a top elected official.

30 Botox maker to pay $600M to resolve investigation

By MATTHEW PERRONE, AP Health Writer

Thu Sep 2, 4:01 am ET

WASHINGTON – Allergan Inc., the maker of wrinkle-smoothing Botox, has agreed to pay $600 million to settle a yearslong federal investigation into its marketing of the top-selling, botulin-based drug.

The Justice Department and the company said Wednesday in a statement it will plead guilty to one misdemeanor charge of “misbranding,” in which the company’s marketing led physicians to use Botox for unapproved uses. Those included the treatment of headache, pain, spasticity and cerebral palsy in children.

Companies are prohibited from promoting drugs for unapproved, or “off-label,” uses.

31 Is the tea party becoming the new Grand Old Party?

By LIZ “Sprinkles” SIDOTI, AP National Political Writer

Thu Sep 2, 1:42 am ET

WASHINGTON – Is the tea party the new Republican Party? The grass-roots network of fed-up conservative-libertarian voters displayed its power in its biggest triumph of the election year: the toppling of Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska’s GOP primary. Political novice Joe Miller is the fifth tea party insurgent to win a GOP Senate nominating contest, an upset that few, if any, saw coming.

With the stunning outcome, the fledgling tea party coalition and voters who identify with its anti-tax, anti-spending sentiments proved that democracy is alive and well – within the Republican Party. Don’t like who is representing you? Rise up, fire them and choose someone new.

The tea party has taken hold in the Grand Old Party, unseating lawmakers, capturing nominations for open seats and forcing Republicans to recalibrate both their campaign strategy and issues agenda. Out is talk of delivering federal dollars back home; in is talk of fiscal discipline.

32 US forces still in fight at end of combat mission

By LARA JAKES and MAYA ALLERUZZO, Associated Press Writers

Thu Sep 2, 1:42 am ET

HAWIJA, Iraq – Even as President Barack Obama was announcing the end of combat in Iraq, American soldiers were sealing off a northern village early Wednesday as their Iraqi partners raided houses and arrested dozens of suspected insurgents.

While the Obama administration has dramatically reduced the number of troops and rebranded the mission, the operation in Hawija was a reminder that U.S. forces are still engaged in hunting down and killing al-Qaida militants – and could still have to defend themselves against attacks.

That reality was front and center at a change-of-command ceremony in one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces outside Baghdad that the American military now uses as its headquarters. Officials warned of a tough road ahead as the U.S. moves into the final phase of the 7 1/2-year war.

33 Number of illegal immigrants in US now declining

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer

Thu Sep 2, 1:42 am ET

WASHINGTON – The number of illegal immigrants living in the U.S. has dropped for the first time in two decades – decreasing by 8 percent since 2007, a new study finds. The reasons range from the sour economy to Mexican violence and increased U.S. enforcement that has made it harder to sneak across the border.

Much of the decline comes from a sharp drop-off in illegal immigrants from the Caribbean, Central America and South America attempting to cross the southern border of the U.S., according to the Pew Hispanic Center, which based its report on an analysis of 2009 census data.

The findings come amid bitter debate over Arizona’s strict new immigration law, which was passed earlier this year but is on hold for now as it is challenged in federal court. The Obama administration contends the state law usurps federal authority and promotes racial profiling, while Arizona leaders say states are justified to step in if federal enforcement falls substantially short.

34 Embattled Illinois prisons chief resigns

By DEANNA BELLANDI, Associated Press Writer

30 mins ago

CHICAGO – Illinois’ prison chief, who became a political liability to Gov. Pat Quinn during an election year because of a secret prisoner release program he oversaw, is stepping down, the governor said Thursday.

Corrections Director Michael Randle is resigning as of Sept. 17. He will return to Ohio, where he had been assistant director of the state prison system, to run a community correctional facility in Cleveland for a not-for-profit agency. He will be taking a huge pay cut.

Randle’s departure comes after a review last month of the early release program that found the corrections department didn’t consider possible dangers to the public when it tried to save money by letting prisoners out early, including some who were violent.

35 NH GOP Sen candidates debate AZ immigration law

By NORMA LOVE, Associated Press Writer

Thu Sep 2, 2:43 pm ET

CONCORD, N.H. – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bill Binnie knows a little something about immigrating to the United States.

The 52-year-old multimillionaire businessman is a naturalized citizen who immigrated legally to the U.S. with his parents from Scotland when he was 5 years old.

He has been running a television ad calling for English to be the country’s official language and advocates having the government do more to ensure immigrants learn it. The ad has moved fighting illegal immigration, an issue that plays well with Republicans, to the center of the campaign.

36 Senate upset erases Alaska seniority

By RACHEL D’ORO, Associated Press Writer

Thu Sep 2, 4:43 am ET

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The defeat of Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski by an upstart fiscal conservative in Alaska’s GOP primary could mark a significant shift for a state that has so long relied on federal pork to survive. The outcome was also an unexpected blow to the seniority Alaska has enjoyed in the Senate.

Even as the far northern state stubbornly adheres to its reputation for independence, it relies more heavily on federal spending than any other state, thanks largely to congressional powerhouses such as the late Republican Sen. Ted Stevens.

But a shift in that approach could come in the form of Joe Miller, who defeated Murkowski with the strong backing of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express as he campaigned against runaway government spending.

37 Facebook page leads search for loved ones in Haiti

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, Associated Press Writer

Thu Sep 2, 12:00 am ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The desperate quest to find loved ones started just minutes after the quake, as cell phones rang unanswered from beneath the rubble of Haiti’s best hotel.

A few hours later, the search went online with a Facebook page dedicated to the Hotel Montana, created by three siblings in Long Island looking for their missing uncle. Strangers immediately began to post the names and photographs of their relatives. By the next morning, the site had received more than 50 messages from frantic families.

As the days passed and the death toll climbed, the number of members on the page grew until it reached 17,427 people from around the world. They called themselves “the family.” They adopted a profile picture of a rock inscribed with the word “Hope.” And they vowed to stick together until every last member of their online tribe was brought home, alive or dead.

38 NY Muslim groups decry hostile atmosphere

By CRISTIAN SALAZAR, Associated Press Writer

Wed Sep 1, 9:51 pm ET

NEW YORK – It is “unethical, insensitive and inhumane” to oppose the planned mosque near ground zero, more than 50 leading Muslim organizations said Wednesday as they cast the intense debate as a symptom of religious intolerance in America.

The imam behind the project, meanwhile, was preparing to return to the U.S. after a taxpayer-funded good will tour to the Mideast, where he said the debate is about much more than “a piece of real estate.” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf sidestepped questions about whether he would consider moving the $100 million mosque and Islamic community center farther from where Islamic terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center. Instead, he stressed the need to embrace religious and political freedoms in the United States.

Leaders of the Majlis Ash-Shura of Metropolitan New York, an Islamic leadership council that represents a broad spectrum of Muslims in the city, gathered on the steps of City Hall to issue a statement calling for a stop to religious intolerance and affirming the right of the center’s developers to build two blocks north of the site of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

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