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Sep 16 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Seven civilians killed in US-Iraqi raid

by Azhar Shalal, AFP

Wed Sep 15, 11:46 am ET

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AFP) – Seven civilians were among 18 people killed in Iraq on Wednesday, shot dead as US and Iraqi troops tried to nab a top Al-Qaeda leader in Fallujah, sparking public anger in the former rebel base.

Two Iraqi soldiers were also killed in the firefight west of Baghdad, while a roadside bomb in northern Iraq claimed the lives of nine other troops travelling home on leave.

The latest violence comes two weeks after Washington declared an official end to combat operations here, and with no new government having formed since elections in March.

2 US-Iraq raid, roadside bombing kill 18

by Azhar Shalal Azhar Shalal   – Wed Sep 15, 10:08 am ET

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AFP) – Violence killed 18 people in Iraq on Wednesday, including nine in a firefight that broke out during a joint US-Iraq raid in search of a top Al-Qaeda leader in the former rebel base of Fallujah.

Nine soldiers were also killed in a bomb attack in northern Iraq, just two weeks after Washington declared an official end to combat operations here and with no new government yet formed since a March general election.

In Fallujah, seven civilians and two Iraqi soldiers were killed in a gunfight between insurgents and a joint Iraq-US force early on Wednesday morning.

3 US Republicans see Senate takeover hopes dim

by Olivier Knox, AFP

1 hr 21 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama’s Republican foes on Wednesday picked over the results of a shock Tea Party primary win that, analysts said, all but wiped out their thin hopes of retaking the US Senate.

Establishment Republicans once eager to harness the insurgent conservative movement and ride its unbridled energy to a romp in the November 2 elections worried its outsider candidates would now alienate swing voters key to victory.

At issue was the fight over Vice President Joe Biden’s old senate seat, in which Tea Party political novice Christine O’Donnell soundly beat veteran Representative Mike Castle in Tuesday’s Republican party primary.

4 Sarkozy fury over EU attack on Roma round-up

by Dave Clark, AFP

Wed Sep 15, 11:42 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – President Nicolas Sarkozy reacted furiously Wednesday after the European Commission compared France’s expulsion of Roma Gypsies to the tactics of its World War II pro-Nazi regime.

France has been under fire for weeks over Sarkozy’s controversial drive to deport ethnic Roma living in travelling communities in France back to Romania and Bulgaria, and Paris now faces the threat of European legal action.

An EU founder member that boasts of being the homeland of human rights, France was shocked when Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding of Luxembourg Tuesday condemned the clampdown in stark terms.

5 France, Airbus say WTO rules against Boeing in subsidy

by Alexandra Troubnikoff, AFP

2 hrs 33 mins ago

GENEVA (AFP) – France and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus said Wednesday the World Trade Organization had ruled that US subsidies paid to Boeing were illegal, citing an interim finding on a multi-billion dollar complaint brought by the European Union.

Airbus promptly called on its US rival to end the row and negotiate new funding rules for the aerospace industry.

The EU likewise insisted that only negotiations at the highest political levels could resolve the acrimonious spat over US and EU state support, which has dogged the two biggest players in the aerospace industry, Boeing and Airbus, since 2004.

6 BP boss defends safety record to British MPs

by Danny Kemp, AFP

Wed Sep 15, 12:51 pm ET

LONDON (AFP) – Outgoing BP chief Tony Hayward defended the firm’s safety procedures as British MPs grilled him over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill Wednesday, saying the company had never envisaged a disaster of its size.

Hayward said the spill — the worst environmental catastrophe in US history — was “devastating” to him personally but denied that there had been any cost-cutting at the energy giant in the run-up to the accident.

But he admitted to a parliamentary committee that BP was reviewing its risk assessment procedures and also its relationship with contractors, blamed by the firm for problems with the rig and well.

7 Reinsurers float 20-billion-dollar plan for BP-type blowout

by Thomas Urbain, AFP

Tue Sep 14, 4:16 pm ET

MONACO (AFP) – A scheme floated here at an annual meeting of giants in the insurance industry could come up with a 20-billion-dollar insurance payout if an oil rig blows up, kills people and spreads pollution.

By comparison, British oil group BP estimates that the direct civil costs of dealing with the fatal explosion of its Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico and ensuing pollution could amount to about 32 billion dollars (24.8 billion euros).

BP, in common with some other oil companies, had switched to insuring itself, on the basis that the insurance premiums saved would match any eventual disaster costs.

8 Abuse victims appeal to pope before historic visit

by Guy Jackson, AFP

Wed Sep 15, 11:01 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – Victims of paedophile priests called Wednesday on the eve of a historic visit to Britain by Pope Benedict XVI for the Vatican to hand over information on their treatment.

The pope hopes to improve strained links between Catholics and Anglicans during the four-day trip, but in a sign of the protests he will face, abuse victims demanded he go further than offering an apology for their treatment.

Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said: “We need the Pope to say, ‘I will hand over all the information I have about abusing priests wherever they are in the world. I will hand it over to the authorities of the countries where these people are being protected.'”

9 Insurgent US ‘Tea Party’ scores another upset

AFP

Wed Sep 15, 10:10 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US “Tea Party” conservatives scored another upset Tuesday, as a political novice routed a veteran lawmaker to become the Republican contender for Vice President Joe Biden’s old senate seat.

With all precincts reporting, unofficial results showed Christine O’Donnell had beaten moderate Representative Mike Castle by a 53.1-46.9 percent margin in the Republican primary in the small US East Coast state of Delaware.

“The voters in the Republican primary have spoken and I respect that decision,” Castle said in a somber concession speech after the bitter, weeks-long battle. He did not endorse his rival.

10 Japan moves to weaken yen

by David Watkins, AFP

Wed Sep 15, 9:38 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan on Wednesday stepped into the currency markets for the first time since 2004 in a bid to stem the yen’s appreciation against the dollar and help safeguard a faltering recovery.

The strident move came a day after Prime Minister Naoto Kan reaffirmed his leadership in a ruling party election victory over Ichiro Ozawa, a heavyweight political rival seen as more likely than Kan to take firm action.

The yen fell to as low as 85.52 to the dollar following the yen-selling intervention, which was triggered by the Japanese unit’s earlier surge to a fresh 15-year high of 82.86.

11 Afghans demonstrate over Koran burning

by Massoud Hossaini, AFP

Wed Sep 15, 6:02 am ET

KABUL (AFP) – Hundreds of Afghans poured onto the streets of Kabul Wednesday to protest plans — cancelled days ago — by a US church to burn copies of the Koran, officials and witnesses said.

The demonstrators threw rocks at anti-riot police after the officers prevented them from marching towards the city centre, Zemarai Bashary, the interior ministry spokesman said.

Three police officers were injured by stones and pieces of wood thrown by the protesters, he said, adding that 10 demonstrators were also hurt in the melee.

12 Republicans take stock after Tea Party stunner

By John Whitesides, Reuters

18 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Divided Republicans pointed fingers and vowed to regroup on Wednesday after a stunning Tea Party upset in Delaware dealt a blow to their hopes of recapturing U.S. Senate control in November.

Conservative upstart Christine O’Donnell’s defeat of nine-term U.S. Representative Michael Castle in a Senate primary ended the career of one of the last Republican moderates in Congress and set off a round of Democratic celebrations.

The loss by Castle, who had been expected to cruise to victory in the November 2 election, bolstered Democratic efforts to keep the Senate seat long held by Vice President Joe Biden and made it tougher for Republicans to pick up the 10 Democratic seats they need for a Senate majority.

13 Special Report: Blue-collar, unemployed and seeing red

By James B. Kelleher, Reuters

Wed Sep 15, 8:09 am ET

FERNDALE, Michigan (Reuters) – Scott Stevenson was only 10 years old when he first heard grown-ups voice the gloomy words that, in retrospect, predicted the disappointing arc his life has taken.

“I remember them actually telling us that our generation would be the first not to be better off than our parents,” said the 39-year-old Stevenson. “It was fifth grade and I remember thinking, ‘How do you know?'”

Three decades later, the pessimistic prognostication he was so quick to dismiss as a boy now seems, as he put it, “like a prophecy.”

14 Japan intervenes to drag down yen, warns of more

By Charlotte Cooper and Shinji Kitamura, Reuters

2 hrs 6 mins ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan intervened in global currency markets on Wednesday to sell yen for the first time in six years in a bid to stop its relentless rise from threatening a fragile economic recovery.

After this week’s victory in a party leadership contest, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan appeared to be stepping up efforts to wrench the country out of deflation by targeting the yen’s strength which has weighed on stock prices and corporate profits.

But Japan’s solo move could complicate delicate efforts to encourage China to let its currency float freely. European officials said coordinated action was a more effective means of adjusting exchange rates and a U.S. lawmaker called Japan’s action “deeply disturbing”.

15 U.S. industry, lawmakers urge action on China’s yuan

By Doug Palmer and Paul Eckert, Reuters

14 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. industry and senior Democrats ratcheted up pressure on Congress on Wednesday for a tough new trade law to punish China for what they see as an undervalued currency that threatens American jobs and profits.

The chorus of complaints is part of a renewed drive for a bill that would slap duties on Chinese imports to force Beijing to let its yuan currency rise, an election-year bid by U.S. lawmakers to show voters they are serious about reviving the struggling economy.

While congressional efforts to pressure China over its currency have yielded little in the past, U.S. anger over the issue is now so strong that political analysts are not ruling out action before the November 2 congressional elections.

16 BP CEO defends BP safety record under MP grilling

By Tom Bergin and Dan Fineren, Reuters

2 hrs 1 min ago

LONDON (Reuters) – BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward defended the oil giant’s safety culture under a grilling from British members of parliament as UK regulators released dozens of documents questioning the company’s record.

Cost cuts were not behind the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the accident highlighted industry failings rather than flaws particular to BP, Hayward told a UK parliamentary committee on Wednesday

“It’s been easy for some parties to suggest that this is a problem with BP. I emphatically do not believe that that is the case,” Hayward told the Energy and Climate Change Committee.

17 Tea Party Republican has big lead in Florida

By Steve Holland, Reuters

32 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican candidate Marco Rubio has opened a clear lead in a Florida Senate race, becoming the latest Tea Party favorite to benefit from voter anger at Washington, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Wednesday.

Six weeks before November 2 congressional elections, Rubio leads state Governor Charlie Crist, an independent, by 40 percent to 26 percent among likely voters, the poll found. Democrat Kendrick Meek trails at 21 percent.

The conservative Tea Party roiled Republican politics when a little-known candidate backed by the movement beat a veteran lawmaker in Delaware on Tuesday in the race to decide the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in November.

18 Protests raise security stakes before Afghan poll

By Hamid Shalizi and Tim Gaynor, Reuters

Wed Sep 15, 10:56 am ET

KABUL (Reuters) – At least one person was killed when police fired into the air to disperse angry anti-U.S. protesters in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, highlighting security concerns three days before a parliamentary election.

The Taliban have threatened to disrupt the poll and Western observers also fear fraud will tarnish the vote. Afghanistan’s own election watchdog warned of a “disputatious” process.

The election for 249 seats in the wolesi jirga, or lower house, is a test of stability in Afghanistan ahead of President Barack Obama’s strategy review in December, a review that will likely examine the pace and scale of U.S. troop withdrawals.

19 Special Report: Has Roche got the right medicine?

By Ben Hirschler and Katie Reid, Reuters

Wed Sep 15, 11:49 am ET

BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) – Last summer, the leaders of some of the world’s top drugmakers buttonholed Roche Chief Executive Severin Schwan and tried, unsuccessfully, to get him to change his mind.

The Swiss company — arguably the world’s most admired pharmaceuticals group, with an enviable list of drug successes — had just announced it was quitting the U.S. industry lobby group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) to join the biotechnology association BIO.

It was a startling move by the youthful Schwan, a softly spoken lawyer by training with a background in economics. In effect, the boss was ditching Roche Holding AG’s century-old identity as a traditional drugmaker and declaring it different from the rest of the industry.

20 Obama eyes options for naming Warren as regulator

By Caren Bohan and Dave Clarke, Reuters

Tue Sep 14, 8:23 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama edged closer to naming Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren as his new top consumer financial watchdog on Tuesday, but lawmakers were split over how he should do it.

Obama is deciding whether to pick Warren, a Harvard law professor and outspoken consumer advocate backed by liberals but reviled by bankers, as interim chief of the new consumer financial protection agency or risk a full-blown Senate confirmation battle.

However he does it, the choice of Warren, which could be announced as early as this week, would set up a messy fight with Republicans before the November 2 congressional elections.

21 One for the establishment: Ayotte wins NH GOP nod

By NORMA LOVE and DAVID ESPO, Associated Press Writers

51 mins ago

In the last turn of a tumultuous primary season, former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte narrowly won her state’s Republican Senate primary, to the relief of party officials in Washington who were struggling to adjust to the demise of their preferred candidate in another big race in Delaware.

Seven weeks before Election Day, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that “turnout and enthusiasm are off the charts” across the nation and would benefit a resurgent GOP on Nov. 2.

But at the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs said “intraparty Republican anger” – most recently evident in Christine O’Donnell’s defeat of veteran Rep. Michael Castle in Delaware – would help President Barack Obama’s Democratic allies in their quest to retain their majorities in Congress.

22 Feds probe time it took to shut down gas pipe

By JASON DEAREN and JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press Writer

54 mins ago

SAN BRUNO, Calif. – Federal investigators are examining whether Pacific Gas & Electric workers followed proper emergency procedures after a gas transmission line exploded into an inferno that killed at least four people and destroyed nearly 40 homes in a San Francisco suburb.

National Transportation Safety Board vice chairman Christopher Hart said that constructing a timeline of how PG&E crews reacted would be important to determining why it took the utility nearly two hours to turn off the gas that fueled last week’s devastating blaze.

“We will be looking at how quickly and effectively they responded, and that’s one of the reasons the timeline is so important to us,” Hart said.

23 CA files lawsuit against leaders of troubled city

By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press Writer

11 mins ago

LOS ANGELES – The California attorney general’s office sued eight former and current Bell city officials on Wednesday, accusing them of fraud, conspiracy and wasting taxpayers money by approving huge salary increases for themselves.

The suit demands city officials, including former City Manager Robert Rizzo and three current council members, return hundreds of thousands of dollars from the bloated salaries.

The legal action also calls for a reduction of pension benefits that were based on the high salaries.

24 APNewsBreak: Wis. prosecutor ‘sexted’ abuse victim

By RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press Writer

12 mins ago

CHILTON, Wis. – A prominent Wisconsin district attorney sent repeated text messages trying to spark an affair with a domestic abuse victim while he was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend, a police report shows.

The 26-year-old woman complained last year to police after receiving 30 texts from Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth Kratz in three days, according to the report obtained by The Associated Press.

“Are you the kind of girl that likes secret contact with an older married elected DA … the riskier the better?” Kratz, 50, wrote in a message to Stephanie Van Groll in October 2009. In another, he wrote: “I would not expect you to be the other woman. I would want you to be so hot and treat me so well that you’d be THE woman! R U that good?”

25 BP well could be pronounced dead within days

By HARRY R. WEBER and MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press Writers

30 mins ago

KENNER, La. – The blown-out well at the bottom of Gulf of Mexico could be pronounced dead in a matter of days.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man for the oil spill, said Wednesday that the relief well BP has been drilling all summer long should intersect the ruptured well within 24 hours. He said mud and cement will then be pumped in, sealing the hole once and for all by Sunday.

“We are within a 96-hour window of killing the well,” Allen said nearly five months after the disaster unfolded with an explosion aboard an offshore drilling rig April 20 that killed 11 workers.

26 Bans on fake pot do little to deter business

By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 31 mins ago

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Authorities in 13 states thought they were acting to curb a public health threat when they outlawed a form of synthetic marijuana known as K2, a concoction of dried herbs sprayed with chemicals.

But before the laws took effect, many stores that did a brisk business in fake pot had already gotten around the bans by making slight changes to K2’s chemical formula, creating knockoffs with names such as “K3,” “Heaven Scent” and “Syn.”

“It’s kind of pointless,” said University of Missouri sophomore Brittany May after purchasing a K2 alternative called “BoCoMo Dew” at a Columbia smoke shop. “They’re just going to come up with another thing.”

27 AP-GfK Poll: Climate for GOP keeps getting better

By LIZ “Sprinkles” SIDOTI, AP National Political Writer

24 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Tilted toward the GOP from the start of the year, the political environment has grown even more favorable for Republicans and rockier for President Barack Obama and his Democrats over the long primary season that just ended with a bang.

With November’s matchups set and the general election campaign beginning in earnest Wednesday, an Associated Press-GfK poll found that more Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction than did before the nomination contests got under way in February. Also, more now disapprove of the job Obama is doing. And more now want to see Republicans in control of Congress rather than the Democrats who now run the House and Senate.

The country’s pessimism benefits the out-of-power GOP, which clearly has enthusiasm on its side. Far more people voted this year in Republicans primaries than in Democratic contests, and the antiestablishment tea party coalition has energized the GOP even as it has sprung a series of primary surprises.

28 Firefight involving US-Iraq forces leaves 6 dead

By REBECCA SANTANA, Associated Press Writer

30 mins ago

BAGHDAD – For the second time in less than a week, U.S. forces were drawn into deadly fighting against insurgents – a reminder of the ongoing dangers American forces face well after President Barack Obama declared a formal end to combat.

With a persistent insurgency, ongoing sectarian tensions and no agreement on a new government after six months of wrangling, stabilizing Iraq before all American forces leave still seems a distant dream.

Wednesday’s raid, in which at least six people were killed, was in the former insurgent stronghold of Fallujah – highlighting the persistent danger that al-Qaida-linked militants still pose despite years of efforts by both Iraqi and U.S. forces to root them out.

29 More House Democrats call for tax cuts for all

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer

1 min ago

WASHINGTON – More Democrats joined Republicans on Wednesday in calling for the preservation of tax breaks for Americans of every income level, bolting this election season from President Barack Obama’s plan to preserve cuts for those who earn less than $200,000 and let taxes for the wealthy rise.

“We should not be raising taxes in the middle of a recession,” Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., who’s facing tough odds in his bid for a fourth term, wrote in a terse letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“It is essential that we keep things as they are in the short term,” said Rep. Travis W. Childers, D-Miss., another conservative incumbent in a tight race, whose district, like Marshall’s, voted for Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.

30 BP’s Hayward defends safety record to UK lawmakers

By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press Writer

Wed Sep 15, 12:18 pm ET

LONDON – Outgoing BP CEO Tony Hayward defended his company’s safety record Wednesday in the face of questions from British lawmakers, and said the Gulf of Mexico oil spill should not lead to a universal ban on deepwater drilling.

Hayward gave evidence to a British parliamentary committee, months after he offered few explanations for the accident at a testy hearing in Washington.

The head of the British committee eschewed the confrontational tone adopted by U.S. legislators, but gently pressed Hayward and BP’s head of safety Mark Bly – author of the company’s internal report into the spill – for specifics on the mistakes that contributed to the accident.

31 Pakistani printers make fake Afghan voting cards

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer

Wed Sep 15, 8:57 am ET

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Printers in this city near the Afghan border say they have produced thousands of fake voter registration cards at the request of Afghan politicians for use in that country’s parliamentary elections on Saturday.

The cards, some shown to The Associated Press, add to evidence that fraud could undermine the elections and further destabilize the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

A fraud-marred presidential election last year threatened the credibility of the Afghan administration at home and with the Western nations waging war on the country’s resurgent Taliban.

32 States cutting benefits for public-sector retirees

By GEOFF MULVIHILL and SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press Writers

1 hr 56 mins ago

TRENTON, N.J. – William Liberty began as a trash collector in Lindenwold 37 years ago and worked his way up to public works supervisor. Until recently, he figured he would hold on to the job until he turned 65.

But last week, at 62, he was preparing his retirement papers, joining a rush among New Jersey public employees.

Liberty’s reason for getting out now: He is feeling the sting of a campaign by Republican Gov. Chris Christie and a growing number of other public officials across the U.S. to balance their budgets by making government employment – and retirement – less lucrative.

33 Dems gamble by shifting fire from Bush to Boehner

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press Writer

Wed Sep 15, 6:30 am ET

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama has frequently reminded Americans that the nation’s economic crisis began under George W. Bush, a largely unpopular and universally known foil. Now all but ignoring Bush, Obama is criticizing a Republican most voters have never heard of: House Minority Leader John Boehner.

The shift represents a gamble for Democrats, and a tacit acknowledgment that bashing Bush – doing so helped them win big victories in 2006 and 2008 – has basically lost its magic.

The risk for Obama and fellow Democrats is that millions of Americans will scratch their heads when they hear Boehner’s name (pronounced BAY’-nur). Democratic strategists, however, say the White House has few choices.

34 Democrat Brown releases 1st ads attacking Whitman

By SAMANTHA YOUNG, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 9:55 pm ET

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Democrat Jerry Brown on Tuesday released his first attack ads against rival Meg Whitman, portraying the Republican candidate as the notoriously lying Pinocchio with her attacks against him in the close race for California governor.

The ads signify a shift by the Brown campaign to respond to a barrage of ads the billionaire Whitman has aired since June, including her most recent negative ad which features 1992 footage of former President Bill Clinton criticizing Brown’s record during the Democratic presidential primary.

“I think it’s a very graphic reminder that Ms. Whitman is telling lies,” Brown told reporters before heading into a fundraiser in Sacramento. “It’s a way of saying, ‘Don’t believe what she says.'”

35 Study: To save tigers, protect key breeding areas

By ROBIN McDOWELL, Associated Press Writer

Wed Sep 15, 2:01 am ET

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Conservationists must protect tiger populations in a few concentrated breeding grounds in Asia instead of trying to safeguard vast, surrounding landscapes, if they want to save the big cats from extinction, scientists said.

Only about 3,500 tigers are left in the wild worldwide, less than one third of them breeding females, according to one of the authors of the study, John Robinson of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Much has been done to try to save the world’s largest cat – threatened by over-hunting, habitat loss and the wildlife trade – but their numbers have continued to spiral downward for nearly two decades.

36 Chicago police officers rally against dept. head

By DON BABWIN, Associated Press Writer

23 mins ago

CHICAGO – Several hundred officers rallied outside Chicago police headquarters on Wednesday and called for the city’s top police official to step down, saying initiatives he pushed through after joining the force three years ago have put their lives in danger and the community at risk.

The police unions and many among the force’s rank-and-file have been suspicious of Superintendent Jody Weis since he was asked by Mayor Richard Daley in 2007 to leave the FBI to lead the police force in the nation’s third largest city.

In a show of force Friday, more than 300 officers marched in the city’s South Side neighborhood, with many carrying signs with slogans such as “More Police, No Weis,” and, simply, “Resign.” Several on-duty officers drove by waving and holding up their fists in support.

37 Mass. bullying suspect seeks dismissal of charges

By STEPHANIE REITZ, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 23 mins ago

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Grand jury evidence doesn’t support the charges against a Massachusetts teen accused of bullying a 15-year-old classmate who committed suicide, her attorney said Wednesday.

Michael Jennings said he will ask a judge to review the grand jury minutes and dismiss the charges against Kayla Narey, 17. An attorney for Sean Mulveyhill, another teen charged in the case, said he might file a similar motion.

Narey and Mulveyhill appeared briefly Wednesday in Hampshire Superior Court, where both are charged in connection with events before the January suicide of South Hadley High School freshman Phoebe Prince.

38 O’Donnell hopes for GOP unity after bitter primary

By RANDALL CHASE, Associated Press Writer

Wed Sep 15, 1:41 pm ET

DOVER, Del. – Surprise GOP Senate primary winner Christine O’Donnell called on fellow Republicans to rally around her Wednesday, but she can count out at least one – respected longtime Rep. Michael Castle, her opponent in the nasty primary fight.

The tea party-backed O’Donnell sounded upbeat as she made the rounds of morning talk shows to discuss her stunning upset of Castle, a former two-term governor who is the longest-serving congressman in state history and had never lost an election.

“We have to rise above this nastiness and unify for the greater good, because there’s a lot of work to be done, and there are a lot of people who want to get involved if the Republican Party would,” O’Donnell told The Associated Press in an interview.

39 Ford Super Duty truck has awesome "pull"

By ANN M. JOB, For The Associated Press

Wed Sep 15, 11:05 am ET

Get ready to retrieve your jaw from the floor. The 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty pickup trucks generate a jaw-dropping 735 foot-pounds of torque – enough to tow more than 20,000 pounds of trailers, heavy-duty equipment and the biggest, most impressive fifth-wheel campers around.

This is 85 more foot-pounds than the previous Power Stroke diesel in Ford’s brawniest F-Series trucks.

The revamped-for-2011 heavy-duty Ford pickups also are more refined and have more electronics to tailor them to personal tastes than does any competitor. Even Internet connectivity and computer workstation capability, complete with printer, are available in the Super Duty trucks.

40 ‘Appalled’ Pa. gov. shuts down reports on protests

By MARC LEVY, Associated Press Writer

Wed Sep 15, 3:02 am ET

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Information about an anti-BP candlelight vigil, a gay and lesbian festival and other peaceful gatherings became the subject of anti-terrorism bulletins being distributed by Pennsylvania’s homeland security office, an apologetic Gov. Ed Rendell admitted.

Rendell, who claimed he’d just learned about the practice, said Tuesday that the information was useless to law enforcement agencies and that distributing it was tantamount to trampling on constitutional rights. In recent weeks, several acts of vandalism at drilling sites spurred the inclusion of events likely to be attended by environmentalists and the bulletins began going to representatives of Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry.

A Philadelphia rally organized by a nonprofit group to support Rendell’s push for higher spending on public schools even made a bulletin, as did drilling protests at a couple of Rendell’s news conferences this month as he toured the state to boost support for a tax on the natural gas industry.

41 Who’s a family? New study tracks shifting US views

By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

Wed Sep 15, 12:01 am ET

NEW YORK – As much as Americans revere the family, they differ sharply on how to define it.

New research being released Wednesday shows steadily increasing recognition of unmarried couples – gay and straight – as families. But there’s a solid core resisting this trend who are more willing to include pets in their definition than same-sex partners.

How “family” is defined is a crucial question on many levels. Beyond the debate over same-sex marriage, it affects income tax filings, adoption and foster care practices, employee benefits, inheritance rights and countless other matters.

42 Texas panel ready to end disputed arson inquiry

By JEFF CARLTON, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 8:51 pm ET

DALLAS – A state commission that planned last year to review a report finding fault with an arson investigation that led to a Texas man’s execution – until Gov. Rick Perry reshuffled the panel – is now considering a report with a much different conclusion.

A revamped Texas Forensic Science Commission, led by a Perry appointee, meets Friday in Dallas to debate a report that finds fire investigators did not commit professional negligence or misconduct. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report through an open records request.

If approved, the report would end the commission’s inquiry into the Cameron Todd Willingham case. Willingham was put to death in 2004 on Perry’s watch 12 years after being convicted of deliberately setting a fire that killed his three young children.

43 Mass. doc gets 6 months in abortion patient death

By DENISE LAVOIE, AP Legal Affairs Writer

Tue Sep 14, 7:52 pm ET

BARNSTABLE, Mass. – A doctor was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the case of a woman who died after he performed an abortion on her.

Dr. Rapin Osathanondh was sentenced in the 2007 death of 22-year-old Laura Hope Smith. He pleaded guilty in a Massachusetts court Monday, just as his trial was about to begin.

Smith was 13 weeks pregnant when she went to see Osathanondh for an abortion in his Cape Cod office. She was pronounced dead later that day.

44 Dead Sea Scrolls debate spurs NY criminal trial

By JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 7:32 pm ET

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 say.

45 Voting machines face tough 1st test in NY primary

By SARA KUGLER FRAZIER, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 7:17 pm ET

NEW YORK – In New York, the last state to comply with a federal law calling for simpler voting, the switch to a fill-in-the-dot ballot fed into machines had a bumpy start, with scattered reports of delays caused by flustered poll workers and malfunctioning equipment.

Instead of pulling levers – as New Yorkers had done for 80 years – polling sites presented voters Tuesday with the new ballots and two scanners at each polling station. Where the machines worked, voters shrugged and mostly agreed the new system was easy to use. But problems elsewhere caused backups and frustration.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who did not vote Tuesday because he is not registered with any party, called the reports “disturbing.”

46 Years after floods, homeowners await FEMA buyouts

By KEN KUSMER, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 7:14 pm ET

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.”

47 Blagojevich asks judge to nullify conviction

By MICHAEL TARM, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 6:31 pm ET

CHICAGO – Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has asked a judge to nullify the lone conviction in his mostly deadlocked corruption trial, saying the jury’s decision was underpinned by errors at trial and misconduct by prosecutors.

Trial Judge James Zagel should override jurors’ verdict and acquit Blagojevich of lying to the FBI or set it aside and try him again on that charge, defense attorneys said in a motion filed at the U.S. District Court in Chicago.

“The fact is that the government knew – and knows – that Blagojevich was not lying to the FBI,” says the motion, filed late Monday. “The conviction in this case is not legally sound.”

48 Defense: Marine Corps helped Haditha prosecution

By JULIE WATSON, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 5:36 pm ET

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Defense lawyers for a Marine whose squad killed 24 Iraqis in Haditha alleged Tuesday that the Marine Corps unfairly allowed the prosecution’s team of military lawyers to remain on active duty, but denied the same request for the defense.

The Marine Corps refused to postpone the retirement in 2008 of former Marine Haytham Faraj and retired Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey as the case dragged on for five years. They continued to represent Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich as a civilian lawyers but say they were limited in their abilities.

“We just don’t have the resources that we had when we were in uniform,” Faraj told a military judge at Camp Pendleton.

49 Judge weighs gov’t terror case witness testimony

By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 14, 5:00 pm ET

NEW YORK – A Tanzanian man who admitted he provided explosives used in attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa wanted to “clear his heart” by testifying against the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court, an FBI agent said Tuesday.

The agent, Philip Swabsin, described his interviews with the Tanzanian man, Hussein Abebe, during a hearing to determine whether Abebe can testify at the trial of detainee Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. Ghailani is charged in the 1998 bombings, which killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Defense lawyers oppose the government’s plan to call Abebe as a witness on the grounds that prosecutors coerced him into testifying. Authorities learned about Abebe only after Ghailani made statements when he was subjected to “enhanced interrogation” at a CIA-run camp overseas after his 2004 arrest, the defense attorneys say. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the CIA used 10 harsh methods, including waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning.

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