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Sep 14 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 French parliament adopts ban on full-face veil

by Frederic Dumoulin, AFP

10 mins ago

PARIS (AFP) – The French parliament passed a law Tuesday prohibiting wearing a full-face veil in public, meaning a ban will come into force early next year if it is not overturned by senior judges.

The Senate passed the bill by 246 votes to one and, having already cleared the lower house in July, the bill will now be reviewed by the Constitutional Council, which has a month to confirm its legality.

The text makes no mention of Islam, but President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government promoted the law as a means to protect women from being forced to wear Muslim full-face veils such as the burqa or the niqab.

2 Huge Saudi arms deal aimed at Iran, Yemen troubles: analysts

by Paul Handley, AFP

1 hr 14 mins ago

RIYADH (AFP) – Saudi Arabia’s planned massive arms deal with the United States is aimed at establishing air superiority over rival Iran while also addressing weaknesses bared in border fighting with Yemeni rebels, experts said on Tuesday.

Under the potential 60-billion-dollar (47-billion-euro), 10-year deal, the Saudis would be authorised to buy 84 new F-15 fighters and upgrade 70 more, as well as buy 178 attack helicopters and various missiles.

That should give the oil giant a clear advantage over Iran and any other of its neighbours save Israel, experts said.

3 Police open fire in Indian Kashmir after protest deaths

by Izhar Wani, AFP

1 hr 17 mins ago

SRINAGAR, India (AFP) – Indian police opened fire Tuesday on stone-throwing protesters in Kashmir as small groups took to the streets in defiance of curfew orders, a day after violence in which 18 people died.

Officials said ten people were wounded in fresh police firing in Indian Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar and four other towns in the region.

Three of them were left in a critical condition, police said.

4 EU threatens action over French Roma ‘disgrace’

by Laurent Thomet, AFP

Tue Sep 14, 9:22 am ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) – The European Commission threatened legal action against France on Tuesday over its crackdown on Roma minorities, drawing a parallel between their treatment and World War II-era deportations.

The EU’s top justice official, Viviane Reding, angrily rebuked the French government for sending hundreds of Roma migrants back to Romania and Bulgaria since August in a security sweep ordered by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“I personally have been appalled by a situation which gave the impression that people are being removed from a member state of the European Union just because they belong to a certain ethnic minority,” Reding said.

5 Australian lender terminates $12.4 bln AXA bid

AFP

Tue Sep 14, 7:42 am ET

SYDNEY (AFP) – National Australia Bank on Tuesday said it had terminated its 13.3 billion dollar (12.4 billion US) bid for AXA Asia Pacific after the competition watchdog said it would block the move.

The announcement, which follows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s decision to oppose NAB’s acquisition of AXA’s Australian and New Zealand businesses, opens the way for rival suitor AMP to reenter the picture.

NAB, Australia’s fourth largest bank, said it remained committed to participating in the wealth management industry, which it said was “an important part of the bank’s future”.

6 German investor confidence sinks in September

by William Ickes, AFP

Tue Sep 14, 7:41 am ET

FRANKFURT (AFP) – German investor confidence plunged this month to depths not seen since February 2009 on fears that Europe’s biggest economy is facing stiff headwinds, the ZEW research institute said Tuesday.

Despite strong current economic growth, the ZEW sentiment indicator, based on a survey of analysts and institutional investors, plunged 18.3 points to minus 4.3 points, its fifth monthly drop in a row.

It was also the lowest level since sentiment registered minus 5.8 points in February 2009, and far below a historical average of 27.2 points, ZEW said in a statement.

7 Japan PM survives leadership challenge

by Miwa Suzuki, AFP

Tue Sep 14, 6:49 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan survived a leadership challenge by a party powerbroker Tuesday after just three months in office, but his government could still face new political tumult.

Kan was re-elected by his centre-left Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) as party president, meaning he stays on as premier, after defeating powerful faction boss Ichiro Ozawa, dubbed the “Shadow Shogun”.

“Now the time has come to start taking full-fledged action,” said the 63-year-old, who became Japan’s leader in June when he replaced an outgoing premier, without gaining a popular mandate in a general election.

8 BP and partners say most victims not yet entitled to sue

By Tom Hals, Reuters

Tue Sep 14, 9:33 am ET

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) – BP and its partners in the blown-out Gulf well said on Monday that thousands of fishermen, seafood processors, restaurants, hotel owners and others may not yet have the right to sue over the spill, according to court papers.

BP and its partners such as Transocean Ltd and Halliburton Co said the majority of alleged victims who have brought about 400 lawsuits must first take their claims to a $20 billion fund established by BP.

The document was part of the defense team’s proposal for managing the case, which could become one of the largest and most costly in U.S. history.

9 Obama edges toward decision on Warren as regulator

By Caren Bohan and Kim Dixon, Reuters

57 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawmakers pressed President Barack Obama on Tuesday to seek Senate confirmation for his new consumer financial regulator instead of making a temporary appointment as he edged toward naming Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren to the post.

Obama is considering picking Warren, an outspoken consumer advocate backed by liberals but reviled by bankers, to run the new consumer financial protection agency as interim chief, a move that would avoid a messy confirmation battle.

The choice of Warren, which could be announced as early as this week, would set up a new fight with Republicans in the heat of the November congressional election campaign.

10 Nevada eyes big political gamble

By Peter Henderson, Reuters

7 mins ago

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Like many Nevadans, hairdresser Helen Elgas is trying to decide between the devil she knows and the devil she doesn’t, and the future of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, hangs in the balance.

Sitting in the shade of a strip mall on West Sahara Avenue, miles from the casino towers that symbolize Las Vegas, Elgas is not happy with Reid. But she isn’t sure she can bring herself to vote for his challenger, former state assemblywoman Sharron Angle, either.

“I think Harry Reid should be taken out. I’m not sure Sharron Angle could do any better,” said Elgas, 47, a registered Republican.

11 North Korea "succession" meeting could start soon

By Yoko Kubota and Jeremy Laurence, Reuters

Tue Sep 14, 7:41 am ET

TOKYO/SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea’s ruling party could meet to choose a new leadership on within the next day, media reports said on Tuesday, dismissing reports of a delay because of “dear leader” Kim Jong-il’s health.

Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper cited a source close to the issue as saying the Workers’ Party conference, which brings together the secretive state’s ruling elite for the first time in 30 years, could have been held up by severe flooding.

It said the meeting could start as early as Wednesday. Radio Free Asia, quoting sources in North Korea, said it could start as early as Tuesday.

12 Japan PM wins party vote but faces more challenges

By Linda Sieg and Chisa Fujioka, Reuters

Tue Sep 14, 6:38 am ET

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan will keep his job after an unexpectedly decisive victory in a ruling party leadership vote Tuesday, but must now unify his party and forge deals with the opposition in a divided parliament.

Kan, 63, who has pledged to curb spending and borrowing, is struggling with a strong yen, a fragile recovery and public debt that is twice the size of Japan’s $5 trillion economy.

Markets had been braced for a shift toward aggressive spending if Kan lost the party leadership contest to Ichiro Ozawa, a scandal-tainted powerbroker who had said he would consider issuing more debt if the economy worsened.

13 Pentagon cost-cutting drive faces uphill battle

By Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters

Tue Sep 14, 1:09 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon will unveil new rules later on Tuesday aimed at ending years of massive cost overruns on major weapons programs, but congressional efforts to protect home-district jobs may turn Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ cost-cutting drive into his toughest battle yet.

Gates and chief weapons buyer Ashton Carter are due to announce the next steps in a major drive to cut overhead costs by $100 billion over the next five years while ensuring real growth in defense spending of at least one percent.

Gates has won the grudging admiration of many watchdog groups, impressed with the Obama administration’s victory in finally halting the Lockheed Martin Corp F-22 fighter and its continuing drive to hold contractors accountable for budget overruns and schedule delays.

14 GOP establishment vs tea party in primary showdown

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

29 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Establishment Republicans vied with challengers favored by tea party activists one last time Tuesday in a multistate finale to a primary election season marked by economic recession and political upheaval.

Highlighted by GOP-tea party showdowns in New Hampshire and Delaware, six states chose candidates for governor and five featured contests for nominations to the Senate.

In New York, 40-year veteran Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel faced the voters for the first time since the House ethics committee accused him of 13 violations, most of them relating to his personal finances.

15 French Senate passes ban on full Muslim veils

By ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press Writer

16 mins ago

PARIS – The French Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a bill banning the burqa-style Islamic veil on public streets and other places, a measure that affects less than 2,000 women but that has been widely seen as a symbolic defense of French values.

The Senate voted 246 to 1 in favor of the bill in a final step toward making the ban a law – though it now must pass muster with France’s constitutional watchdog. The bill was overwhelmingly passed in July in the lower house, the National Assembly.

Many Muslims believe the legislation is one more blow to France’s No. 2 religion, and risks raising the level of Islamophobia in a country where mosques, like synagogues, are sporadic targets of hate. However, the law’s many proponents say it will preserve the nation’s values, including its secular foundations and a notion of fraternity that is contrary to those who hide their faces.

16 Corn syrup producers want sweeter name: corn sugar

By EMILY FREDRIX, AP Marketing Writer

50 mins ago

NEW YORK – The makers of high fructose corn syrup want to sweeten its image with a new name: corn sugar. The Corn Refiners Association applied Tuesday to the federal government for permission to use the name on food labels. The group hopes a new name will ease confusion about the sweetener, which is used in soft drinks, bread, cereal and other products.

Americans’ consumption of corn syrup has fallen to a 20-year low on consumer concerns that it is more harmful or more likely to cause obesity than ordinary sugar, perceptions for which there is little scientific evidence.

However, some scientists have linked consumption of full-calorie soda – the vast majority of which is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup – to obesity.

17 Aging gas pipes at risk of explosion nationwide

By GARANCE BURKE and JASON DEAREN, Associated Press Writers

Tue Sep 14, 6:46 am ET

SAN BRUNO, Calif. – The tragic explosion of a gas pipeline in a San Francisco suburb has shed light on a problem usually kept underground: Communities have expanded over pipes built decades earlier when no one lived there.

Utilities have been under pressure for years to better inspect and replace aging gas pipes — many of them laid years before sprawling communities were erected around them — that now are at risk of leaking or erupting.

But the effort has fallen short. Critics say the regulatory system is ripe for problems because the government largely leaves it up to the companies to do inspections, and utilities are reluctant to spend the money necessary to properly fix and replace decrepit pipelines.

18 Forces told to shoot anyone defying Kashmir curfew

By AIJAZ HUSSAIN, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 10:11 am ET

SRINAGAR, India – Indian police patrolled the streets of Kashmir on Tuesday, threatening to shoot anyone defying a round-the-clock curfew a day after 19 people died in battles between troops and protesters in the disputed region.

Still, hundreds of anti-India protesters took to the streets of the region’s main city of Srinagar and more than a dozen other places in the region. Government forces responded by firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse them, police said. At least 14 people were wounded, according to police and a resident.

The Himalayan region has been wracked by anti-India protests throughout the summer, but the chaos Monday – exacerbated by reports of a Quran desecration in the United States – was the deadliest since large-scale demonstrations began in June.

19 US considers terror charges for cleric al-Awlaki

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 10:28 am ET

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is considering filing the first criminal charges against radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in case the CIA fails to kill him and he is captured alive in Yemen.

The decision continues the White House’s strategy of fighting terrorism both in court and on the battlefield.

Al-Awlaki, a U.S. and Yemeni citizen born in New Mexico, has inspired a wave of attempted attacks against the U.S. and has become al-Qaida’s leading English-speaking voice for recruiting and motivating terrorists. Counterterrorism officials said al-Awlaki, since mid-2009, has become a key operational figure who selects targets and gives orders.

20 Stocks edge lower, breaking 4-day winning streak

By STEPHEN BERNARD, AP Business Writer

13 mins ago

NEW YORK – A September rally is faltering on the stock market as worries return about Europe’s economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 Index both closed with slight losses, breaking a four-session winning streak. Stocks had been up slightly earlier in the day.

The weakness came after German investor confidence fell sharply and industrial production stagnated in the countries that use the euro.

21 Japan PM wins party vote; bigger challenge to come

By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 8:31 am ET

TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan may have fended off a challenge Tuesday from a powerful politician in his own party, but now he faces the more daunting task of reviving an economy that has sputtered under five premiers over the past four years.

Kan, who took office just three months ago, vowed to use the victory over Ichiro Ozawa, a party veteran and savvy powerbroker, to push ahead with efforts to cap spending, create jobs and build unity within the often fractious ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

The former finance minister won the vote for party chief by a 721-491 margin, garnering strong support among the rank-and-file membership. The victory means he remains prime minister because of the party’s superior numbers in the lower house of parliament.

22 AP-CNBC Poll: Investors wary of stock trading

By ALAN ZIBEL, AP Business Writer

Tue Sep 14, 12:27 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Wild gyrations on Wall Street have made U.S investors leery of buying individual stocks and skeptical that the market is a fair place to park their money.

In an Associated Press-CNBC poll of investors, 61 percent said the market’s recent volatility has made them less confident about buying and selling individual stocks. And the majority of those surveyed – 55 percent – said the market is fair only to some investors.

The survey confirms that average investors have been growing more concerned about the stock market as a safe place to invest for retirement. And news about the market has been unsettling for ordinary investors of late: More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they had paid attention to news reports about swings in the stock market.

23 US man’s healing prompts Newman’s beatification

By JAY LINDSAY, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 2:33 am ET

MARSHFIELD, Mass. – The pain overwhelmed every drug Jack Sullivan’s doctors gave him to fight it, coursing through his back in vicious bursts that made sleep impossible.

The aspiring Roman Catholic deacon had hoped for a quick recovery from spinal surgery to keep his ordination on track. But five days later, he was hunched over in agony beside his hospital bed, trying to walk but unable to stand. That’s when he prayed to 19th century cardinal John Henry Newman.

“Please, Cardinal Newman, help me to walk so I can go back to classes and be ordained,” pleaded the retired county magistrate from south of Boston.

24 Senate Republicans say they’ll block tax increase

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press Writer

Mon Sep 13, 9:27 pm ET

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s plan to raise taxes on wealthier people while preserving cuts for everyone else appears increasingly likely to founder before Election Day.

Senate GOP leaders declared on Monday that Republicans are, to a person, opposed to legislation that would extend only middle-class tax relief – which Obama has repeatedly promised to deliver – if Democrats follow through on plans to let tax rates rise for the wealthiest Americans. The GOP senators forcefully made their case one day after House Republican leader John Boehner suggested he might vote for Obama’s plan if that ends up the only option.

Both Republicans and Democrats are using the looming expiration of Bush-era tax cuts as a defining battle in elections to determine control of Congress.

25 Obama children’s book `Of Thee I Sing’ out Nov. 16

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer

Mon Sep 13, 11:29 pm ET

NEW YORK – Coming two weeks after Election Day, a book from President Barack Obama for some of the nation’s nonvoters: inspirational stories for children about American pioneers.

“Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters” is a tribute to 13 groundbreaking Americans, from the first president, George Washington, to baseball great Jackie Robinson to artist Georgia O’Keeffe. It will be released Nov. 16 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, which will officially announce the new work Tuesday. Knopf declined to identify the other 10 subjects.

Obama is not the first president to write for young people. Jimmy Carter’s “The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer” was published in 1995, more than a decade after he left office. More in line with Obama’s effort, Theodore Roosevelt collaborated with Henry Cabot Lodge on “Hero Tales from American History,” released in 1895, before Roosevelt was president.

26 Imam says NYC mosque site is not ‘hallowed ground’

By JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press Writer

Mon Sep 13, 9:27 pm ET

NEW YORK – It is two blocks from ground zero, but the site of a proposed mosque and Islamic center shouldn’t be seen as “hallowed ground” in a neighborhood that also contains a strip club and a betting parlor, the cleric leading the effort said Monday.

Making an ardent case for the compatibility of Islam and American values, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf reiterated that he is searching for a solution to the furor the project has created. But he left unanswered exactly what he had in mind.

If anything, Rauf only deepened the questions around the project’s future, telling an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank that he was “exploring all options” – but declining to specify them – while also arguing that a high-profile site is necessary to get across his message of moderate Islam.

27 New Medicare chief speaks out against rationing

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer

Mon Sep 13, 9:28 pm ET

WASHINGTON – The nation’s health system can’t be transformed by rationing medical care, President Barack Obama’s new Medicare chief said Monday in his first major speech.

Dr. Donald Berwick’s appointment earlier this summer without Senate confirmation was contentious because some Republicans accused him of being willing to deny care to save on costs. Since then, the administration has kept Berwick out of the limelight, turning the otherwise well-known medical innovation guru into something of a mystery man in Washington.

Berwick broke his silence Monday, telling an audience of health insurance industry representatives that pushing back against unsustainable costs cannot and should not involve “withholding from us, or our neighbors, any care that helps” or “harming a hair on any patient’s head.”

28 Dead Sea Scrolls debate spurs NY criminal trial

By JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 2 mins ago

NEW YORK – The dispute was about ancient history. But the tactics someone used to cast aspersions on a prominent Judaic studies scholar couldn’t have been more modern.

New York University professor Lawrence Schiffman’s students and colleagues started getting panicked and confessional e-mails, in his name, that pointed them to blog posts accusing him of plagiarism. Prosecutors say the e-mails and website posts were a hoax created by a lawyer on an idiosyncratic mission: to champion his father and discredit Schiffman in a debate over the origin of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The attorney, Raphael Golb, went on trial Tuesday on criminal charges of online impersonation and harassment for the sheer sake of coloring opinion. The case is a rarity: While impersonation claims have generated civil lawsuits, prosecutions are few unless phony identities are used to steal money, experts have said.

29 Years after floods, homeowners still wait for FEMA

By KEN KUSMER, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 24 mins ago

SEELYVILLE, Ind. – Karen Niece loves her idyllic bungalow in the Indiana countryside, but when storms dumped nearly a foot of rain on her 19-acre property in 2008, flash floods left mold in the foundation – and gave Niece a lung infection she will have the rest of her life.

After the water receded, Niece and thousands of other flood victims around the Midwest stayed in their damaged homes, despite health risks, because they had pinned their hopes on a federal program that helps buy flood-damaged properties. Two and even three years later, many are still waiting for relief.

“I really don’t want to leave, but I don’t want to get sicker,” the 66-year-old homemaker said, sitting at her kitchen counter about 60 miles southwest of Indianapolis. “But I haven’t heard anything. I don’t know what they’ll do or if they’ll do anything.”

30 Former British PM Tony Blair gets Liberty Medal

By KATHY MATHESON, Associated Press Writer

Mon Sep 13, 10:01 pm ET

PHILADELPHIA – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair received the Liberty Medal on Monday for his global human rights work and commitment to international conflict resolution.

The Philadelphia-based National Constitution Center gives the medal annually to individuals or organizations whose actions strive to bring liberty to people worldwide.

Blair was honored for his work with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which promotes religious tolerance; for his initiative to improve governance in Africa; and for advancing peace in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, among other efforts.

31 Former colleagues testify for lesbian flight nurse

By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer

Mon Sep 13, 8:25 pm ET

TACOMA, Wash. – A lesbian flight nurse discharged under the government’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military was an excellent officer whose sexuality never caused a problem in her unit, former colleagues told a federal judge Monday.

Former Maj. Margaret Witt is seeking reinstatement to the Air Force Reserve in a closely watched case that “don’t ask, don’t tell” critics hope will lead to a second major legal victory this month. The trial began just days after a federal judge in California declared the policy unconstitutional.

Witt was suspended in 2004 and honorably discharged after the Air Force received a complaint from a civilian about her sexuality.

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