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Sep 21 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 NATO chopper crash makes 2010 deadliest year of Afghan war

by Lynne O’Donnell, AFP

51 mins ago

KABUL (AFP) – Nine US troops were killed in a helicopter crash in the insurgent heartland of southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, making 2010 the deadliest year for international forces since the war began.

The Taliban, who have been waging an increasingly deadly insurgency against Afghan government and foreign troops since the 2001 US-led invasion ousted them from power, immediately claimed responsibility.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the cause of the crash was “under investigation”, adding: “There are no reports of enemy fire in the area.”

2 C’wealth Games event in crisis as bridge collapses

by Adam Plowright, AFP

Tue Sep 21, 12:00 pm ET

NEW DELHI (AFP) – The Delhi Commonwealth Games were plunged into crisis Tuesday 12 days from the start after the athletes’ village was described as “uninhabitable” and a footbridge collapsed at the main stadium.

Adding to the sense of chaos that has enveloped an event India hoped would project its new economic power on the international stage, a leading Australian athlete pulled out of the competition because of security fears.

Organisers scrambled to contain the damage, fearful that a pullout by a major team could wreck the October 3-14 multisport showcase that has long been dogged by delays, corruption allegations and anxiety about safety.

3 Italian prosecutors probe Vatican bank for money laundering

AFP

48 mins ago

ROME (AFP) – Italian prosecutors launched an investigation into the Vatican bank’s top executives on Tuesday for allegedly violating anti-money laundering legislation, triggering a quick rebuttal by the Vatican.

Prosecutors ordered the seizure of 23 million euros (30 million dollars) belonging to the the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) and opened an inquiry against chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and another top executive.

The Vatican Secretariat of State, which heads up the administration, denied any wrongdoing by IOR, saying in a statement that it was “perplexed and astonished” at the investigation.

4 Senate blocks move to lift ban on gays in US military

by Emmanuel Parisse, AFP

19 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Senate Tuesday blocked moves to repeal a ban on gays in the military in a procedural vote, indefinitely delaying consideration of the controversial measure.

Known as “Don’t ask, Don’t tell,” the 1993 law has aroused impassioned debate with celebrities such as pop star Lady Gaga calling for it to be lifted and conservatives like Senator John McCain pushing back.

The Senate vote — 56 to 43 — fell short of the 60 votes needed to advance progress on the US defense authorization bill, which contained a call to repeal the law requiring members of the military to hide their homosexuality or be dismissed.

5 Ireland, Greece, Spain pass crucial bond auctions

by Andrew Bushe, AFP

2 hrs 19 mins ago

DUBLIN (AFP) – Ireland, Greece and Spain enjoyed successful bond issues on Tuesday, dampening concern that the eurozone is slipping into a new financial danger zone.

Ireland revealed that it had raised 1.5 billion euros (1.96 billion dollars) as planned, in an oversubscribed bond auction that was seen as a vote of investor confidence in the troubled Irish economy.

At the same time, Greece said it raised 390 million euros or more than planned, while Spain raised a huge 7.04 billion euros ahead of a separate bond sale in neighbouring Portugal on Wednesday.

6 Anti-Islam rant sees far-right fly high across Europe

by Claire Rosemberg, AFP

Tue Sep 21, 12:37 pm ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) – An Internet game targeting minarets and mosques, women in burqas in hot pursuit of an elderly white pensioner; across Europe far-right parties are flying high thanks to anti-immigrant, anti-Islam rants.

The burqa-versus-pensioner TV ad devised by the far-right Sweden Democrats, who scored a maiden entry into parliament this weekend, in the end was modified by law-enforcers, and Austria’s website shootout at Islam was shut down by the authorities.

Yet Sweden and Austria are on a lengthening list of nations where far-right politicians are notching up impressive gains thanks to spin-off from 9/11, and fallout from the global economic crisis.

7 Sarkozy says banks must help meet poverty goals

by Philippe Alfroy, AFP

Mon Sep 20, 4:33 pm ET

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday called for a global tax on financial transactions at a Millennium Goals summit where the UN chief led pleas for a new drive to cut extreme poverty.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the struggling effort to help the most vulnerable populations could still be met if world leaders provide the necessary money, aid and political will.

About 140 heads of state or government are to speak at the three-day meeting aiming to rejuvenate the campaign to meet the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) first launched at a UN summit in 2000.

8 Intimidation and fraud claims cast shadow over Afghan poll

by Sardar Ahmad, AFP

Mon Sep 20, 3:31 pm ET

KABUL (AFP) – Concerns grew about intimidation and fraud in Afghanistan’s parliamentary election as the Tuesday deadline for complaints about the conduct of Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections approached.

Millions of Afghans voted Saturday in their second parliamentary poll since the 2001 US-led invasion overthrew the Taliban regime, against a backdrop of insurgent threats and attacks.

With counting under way and the first preliminary results expected on Wednesday, the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) was gathering reports of irregularities so that final results can be certified by October 31.

9 Afghanistan says over 3,000 complaints about vote

by Waheedullah Massoud, AFP

Tue Sep 21, 10:41 am ET

KABUL (AFP) – Afghanistan’s electoral watchdog said on Tuesday that it has received over 3,000 complaints about irregularities in the run-up to Saturday’s parliamentary election and on polling day itself.

The Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) said 1,388 complaints had been received specifically about election day irregularities — which could affect the results — ahead of a 4 pm (1130 GMT deadline) deadline for submissions.

ECC commissioner and spokesman Ahmad Zia Rafaat told AFP that on top of those complaints, another 1,700 had been lodged relating to problems ahead of the vote.

10 Pakistan draw level as cricket ‘fix’ row rages

by Julian Guyer, AFP

Mon Sep 20, 5:12 pm ET

LONDON (AFP) – Pakistan beat England by 38 runs to level their one-day international series at 2-2 at Lord’s here on Monday in a match the hosts had thought about giving up on as the ‘fixing’ row escalated.

England captain Andrew Strauss, in a statement issued shortly before the toss, expressed his side’s “outrage and dismay” at comments from Pakistan cricket chief Ijaz Butt that England had received “enormous sums of money” to deliberately lose last week’s third ODI at The Oval.

An angry Strauss said England had decided to play Monday’s match and Wednesday’s fifth and final one-day international at Hampshire’s Rose Bowl despite their “strong misgivings” because of their “responsibilities to the game of cricket”.

11 Lady Gaga rallies opposition to ban on gays in the military

by Marcia Scott Harrison

Mon Sep 20, 6:35 pm ET

PORTLAND, Maine (AFP) – Singing sensation Lady Gaga threw the full weight of her stardom Monday behind efforts to repeal a US ban on gays serving openly in the military, decrying it as “against all that we stand for as Americans.”

The pop provocateur electrified a crowd of several hundred in a park here in the northeast US state of Maine, home to two Republican US senators who Lady Gaga and other gay rights activists hope will break with their party and support ending the ban.

The openly bisexual singer — an icon in the gay community — has urged senators to vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a law that requires gay military personnel to hide their sexual orientation or face dismissal.

12 Father and son tell Syrian tales on the brink of extinction

by Dominique Soguel, AFP

Tue Sep 21, 11:29 am ET

DAMASCUS (AFP) – When Rashid al-Hallak was a boy, all of the coffee shops in the Syrian capital had their own storytellers or hakawatis who would recite tales deep into the night of great deeds and heroes of the past.

But now the age-old art of public storytelling that he keeps alive is dying out, as young people shun a craft that attracts little money.

Hallak bristles with excitement for his subject, and says he has 180,000 stories in his repertoire, including the epic tales of Antarah ibn Shaddad, famous for his pre-Islamic era poetry, adventures and romantic trysts, and renowned King Zahir Baybars who battled the Crusaders and the Mongols.

13 Twitter under attack as hackers exploit security flaw

by Chris Lefkow, AFP

Tue Sep 21, 11:19 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Twitter came under attack on Tuesday as hackers exploited a security flaw to wreak havoc on the microblogging service.

Computer security firms said thousands of users, or more, were affected by the bug, which automatically sent out or “re-tweeted” messages from a user’s account simply by rolling over an infected link with the computer mouse.

The San Francisco-based Twitter said on its status blog that it had patched the security problem at 6:50 am California time (1350 GMT).

14 Somali prime minister announces resignation

by Mustafa Haji Abdinur, AFP

Tue Sep 21, 9:18 am ET

MOGADISHU (AFP) – Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke announced his resignation on Tuesday after a weeks-long dispute with President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

The long-brewing feud between the two principals resulted in Sharmarke’s exit before a fully-fledged political crisis could blow up but left the embattled government in limbo as it struggled to fend off a fierce insurgency.

“I resigned as the prime minister of the transitional federal government of Somalia after being unable to work with the president,” Sharmarke told lawmakers in Mogadishu.

15 Helicopter crash makes 2010 worst year of Afghan war

By Tim Gaynor and Hamid Shalizi, Reuters

Tue Sep 21, 11:37 am ET

KABUL (Reuters) – A helicopter crash killed nine troops from the NATO-led force in Afghanistan’s south on Tuesday, making 2010 the deadliest year of the war for foreign troops.

Violence is at its fiercest across Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001, with military and civilian casualties at record levels.

The crash came soon after one of the bloodiest days of the year on Saturday, when the Taliban launched scores of attacks across the country in a bid to disrupt a parliamentary election that has been tarnished by a growing number of fraud complaints.

16 Fed lays groundwork for possible further stimulus

By Mark Felsenthal and Pedro da Costa, Reuters

19 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve on Tuesday inched closer to fresh steps to bolster a sluggish U.S. recovery, saying it stood ready to provide more support for the economy and expressing stronger concerns about low inflation.

The U.S. central bank’s policy-setting panel opened the door wider to pumping hundreds of billions of new dollars into the economy, although it made no policy shift at the end of a one-day meeting, keeping overnight interest rates near zero.

“The committee … is prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate,” it said in a statement.

17 Senate blocks debate on ending military gay ban

By Phil Stewart and Susan Cornwell, Reuters

47 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attempts to repeal the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the U.S. military stumbled on Tuesday as the Senate voted against starting debate on defense legislation containing the change.

Sixty votes were needed for debate to begin on the bill authorizing defense programs and repeal of the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Just 56 senators voted yes and 43 no. The chamber’s Democratic leaders could try again later this year to pass the legislation.

The Clinton-era policy allows homosexuals to serve in secret but expels them if their sexual orientation becomes known. Repealing the ban was one of President Barack Obama’s promises in his 2008 presidential campaign.

18 Stem cells, obesity finding lead Nobel predictions

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters

47 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Researchers who discovered stem cells and the appetite hormone leptin, who proposed that dark energy is helping the universe expand and who developed “gene chips” are named in the 2010 Thomson Reuters predictions to win Nobel Prizes for medicine, physics and chemistry.

Thomson Reuters expert David Pendlebury’s forecast is made using the company’s “Web of Knowledge” data on how often a researcher’s published papers are used and cited — used as a basis for further research — by other scientists. Every year at least one of the picks from one of his annual lists has won a Nobel prize.

“Some people perform outstandingly differently from so-called ordinary researchers,” Pendlebury, of Thomson Reuters Healthcare & Science division, said in a telephone interview. Thomson Reuters is the parent company of Reuters.

19 Rare North Korea meeting on Sept 28, eye on succession

By Jeremy Laurence and Ju-min Park, Reuters

Tue Sep 21, 5:26 am ET

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea’s ruling party will hold its biggest meeting in decades on September 28 to pick a new leadership, state media reported on Tuesday, and likely anoint an heir to the dynasty as Kim Jong-il’s health deteriorates.

Kim, who is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008, has reportedly accelerated succession plans, and analysts say his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, is likely to be given an official title at the Workers’ Party conference.

The North’s KCNA news agency said the conference would be held in Pyongyang “for electing its supreme leadership body,” but provided no further details of the agenda.

20 China snubs Japan PM over boat row, rules out meeting

By Chisa Fujioka and Chris Buckley, Reuters

Tue Sep 21, 1:27 pm ET

TOKYO/BEIJING (Reuters) – China snubbed Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday, saying a territorial dispute ruled out any meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao in New York this week and adding to the ire dividing Asia’s top two economies.

China’s confirmation that Wen will not meet Kan when they both attend a U.N. meeting marked another swipe at Tokyo after a Japanese court extended the detention of a Chinese skipper whose boat collided with two Japanese coastguard ships earlier this month near islands in the East China Sea claimed by both sides.

China has repeatedly demanded the captain’s release.

21 Dementia costs hit $604 billion in 2010

By Kate Kelland and Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters

Tue Sep 21, 5:45 am ET

LONDON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – The worldwide costs of dementia will reach $604 billion in 2010, more than one percent of global GDP output, and those costs will soar as the number of sufferers triples by 2050, according to a report on Tuesday.

To show the scale of the problem, an Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) report said that if the costs of caring for an estimated 35.6 million people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias were seen as a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy, ranking between Turkey and Indonesia.

“World governments are woefully unprepared for the social and economic disruptions this disease will cause,” said Daisy Acosta, ADI’s chairman, describing dementia as “the single most significant health and social crisis of the 21st century.”

22 Obama, facing tough questions, says times still hard

By Alister Bull and Caren Bohan, Reuters

Tue Sep 21, 10:19 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Monday said times were still tough for many Americans, as he defended his policies during aggressive questioning after the worst U.S. recession since the 1930s was declared over.

As audience members at a townhall-style meeting voiced exasperation and disappointment at his administration, and one woman said she was “exhausted” from defending him, Obama stressed he understood that people were frustrated.

“Even though economists may say the recession officially ended last year, obviously for the millions of people who are still out of work … it is still very real for them,” Obama told the meeting, hosted by CNBC television.

23 Ex-city manager among 8 arrested in Calif. scandal

By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press Writer

7 mins ago

LOS ANGELES – The mayor and ex-city manager of the Los Angeles suburb of Bell were among eight current and former city officials arrested Tuesday in a corruption scandal that authorities said cost the blue-collar city more than $5.5 million in excessive salaries and illegal personal loans.

The district attorney’s office said several former and current City Council members were taken into custody along with ex-city manager Robert Rizzo and Mayor Oscar Hernandez.

“This, needless to say, is corruption on steroids,” District Attorney Steve Cooley said at a news conference, standing next to a display of pictures of the suspects.

24 Fed signals it will take further steps if needed

By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

1 hr 1 min ago

WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve signaled Tuesday that it’s worried about the weakness of the recovery and is ready to take further steps to boost the economy if needed.

Fed officials said they are also concerned that sluggish economic growth could prevent prices from rising at a healthy rate.

But at the end of its meeting, the Fed announced no new steps to try to rejuvenate the economy and drive down unemployment. Instead, it hinted that it’s prepared to see if the economy can heal on its own.

25 New tea party: energy, money and detente with GOP

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer

3 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Tea party activists and the Republican establishment are quickly joining forces for the fall elections as fresh cash and energy flow to the upstarts.

Separate tea party groups still squabble over roles for Republican insiders within the movement, but the conservative activists and GOP stalwarts have reached a truce for the common goal of defeating Democrats, heeding calls for unity from Republicans including Sarah Palin.

One group – the nonprofit Tea Party Patriots – on Tuesday announced a $1 million donation from an anonymous donor, a shot of cash to be spent before the election on voter mobilization efforts. The Tea Party Express is preparing to assist specific candidates, building on its targeted advertising campaigns during primary races in Delaware, Alaska and Nevada.

26 Italian police seize $30 mln from Vatican in probe

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 21, 1:28 pm ET

VATICAN CITY – Italian authorities seized euro23 million ($30 million) from a Vatican bank account Tuesday and said they have begun investigating top officials of the Vatican bank in connection with a money-laundering probe.

The Vatican said it was “perplexed and surprised” by the investigation.

Italian financial police seized the money as a precaution and prosecutors placed the Vatican bank’s chairman and director general under investigation for alleged mistakes linked to violations of Italy’s anti-laundering laws, news reports said.

27 APNewsBreak: 3rd woman says Wis. DA harassed her

By RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press Writer

33 mins ago

MADISON, Wis. – A law student said Tuesday that a Wisconsin prosecutor accused of abusing his power to seek relationships with two other women also sent her sexually harassing text messages in 2008 while helping her seek a pardon for a drug conviction.

Maria Ruskiewicz said she believes Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz wanted sexual favors after agreeing to support her pardon. She said she met Kratz in his office and that afterward he sent her texts that soon turned harassing – including one that asked how she would impress him in bed.

Ruskiewicz, an Oklahoma City University law student, is the third woman in the past week to allege that Kratz acted inappropriately as district attorney.

28 Kim Jong Il may promote son at NKorea party meet

By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 21, 11:18 am ET

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea’s ruling communist party has finally set a date for its biggest convention in decades, an apparent indication that the regime may be ready to give the aging leader’s son a key position that will pave the way for his succession.

Delegates to the ruling Workers’ Party will meet in Pyongyang on Sept. 28 to select their “supreme leadership body,” the official Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday.

The conference will be the party’s first major gathering since the landmark 1980 congress where then 38-year-old Kim Jong Il made his own political debut with an appearance that confirmed he was in line to succeed his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, as his nation’s leader.

29 Summit calls for reduction in distracted driving

By KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 40 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Making sure drivers keep their eyes on the road will require a network of tough laws, enforcement by police and personal responsibility, the government said Tuesday.

Obama administration officials said during a second summit on distracted driving that it had made progress in pushing states to target drivers who send text messages and use mobile devices from the road, but too many people are being killed because of inattentive motorists.

“Every time someone takes their focus off the road – even if it’s just for a moment – they put their lives and the lives of others in danger,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

30 AP Investigation: Calif. pension bonuses examined

By CATHY BUSSEWITZ, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 21, 8:59 am ET

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As its investment portfolio was losing nearly a quarter of its value, the country’s largest public pension fund doled out six-figure bonuses and substantial raises to its top employees, an analysis by The Associated Press has found.

Board member Tony Olivera said the California Public Employees’ Retirement System tried to reduce the bonuses but was under contractual obligations to pay them.

CalPERS’ plunging value came as stock values tumbled around the world, the state’s economy suffered its worst decline in decades and basic state services faced severe budget cuts.

31 AT&T to sell satellite-enabled smart phone

By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer

7 mins ago

NEW YORK – AT&T Inc. has weathered plenty of complaints about spotty cell phone coverage. On Tuesday, it will start selling its first phone that includes a backstop for AT&T’s own network, over a satellite. That means blanket coverage of the U.S., even in the wilderness or hundreds of miles offshore.

The new phone, the TerreStar Genus, could be an important tool for boaters, fishermen, forest rangers, emergency crews and others who go outside regular cellular coverage.

There are a number of caveats, though. To use the phone, it has to have a clear view of the southern sky, where the satellite hovers, with no intervening trees, buildings or hills. That restricts its use to the outdoors. The satellite is aimed at the U.S. and doesn’t provide global coverage in the same way Iridium Communications Inc.’s satellite constellation does.

32 9 NATO troops die in Afghan chopper crash

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 40 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan – A helicopter carrying international troops crashed in a rugged section of southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing nine service members in the deadliest such incident in four years for coalition forces.

A “large number” of Americans were among the dead, according to a senior military official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity because not all relatives had been notified.

One other coalition service member, an Afghan National Army soldier and a U.S. civilian were wounded.

33 Report: Obesity hurts your wallet and your health

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

Tue Sep 21, 3:49 am ET

WASHINGTON – Obesity puts a drag on the wallet as well as health, especially for women.

Doctors have long known that medical bills are higher for the obese, but that’s only a portion of the real-life costs.

George Washington University researchers added in things like employee sick days, lost productivity, even the need for extra gasoline – and found the annual cost of being obese is $4,879 for a woman and $2,646 for a man.

34 Obama backs economic effort, asks for voters’ help

By LIZ “Sprinkles” SIDOTI and JULIE PACE, Associated Press Writers

Tue Sep 21, 12:37 am ET

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama reached out fervently Monday to skeptical voters who are still hurting long after the declared end of the recession, imploring them to stick with him in elections that could inflict catastrophic losses on Democrats in just six weeks.

Recognizing the economy is the campaign’s Issue No. 1 – and a peril for his party – Obama vigorously defended his recovery efforts and challenged tea party activists as well as the Republicans who are clamoring to take over Congress to spell just how they would do better.

Republicans said that’s just what they intended to do, on Thursday. House Republicans said they would roll out a roughly 20-point agenda – on jobs, spending, health care, national security and reforming Congress – at a hardware store in suburban Virginia.

35 Consumer groups push for label for modified salmon

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 21, 2:08 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Consumer advocates urged the Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday to ensure that salmon engineered to grow twice as fast as the conventional variety are labeled in the grocery store as genetically modified.

The FDA conducted a hearing on how the salmon, if approved for sale by the agency, should be labeled. According to federal guidelines, the fish would not be labeled as genetically modified if the agency decides it has the same material makeup as conventional salmon.

Consumer advocates say it is the public’s right to know that genetic modification has occurred. AquaBounty, the company that has developed the fish and is applying to the FDA to market it, says that genetically modified salmon have the same flavor, texture, color and odor as the conventional fish.

36 Surprise Del. primary winner seeks GOP support

By RANDALL CHASE, Associated Press Writer

Mon Sep 20, 9:45 pm ET

DOVER, Del. – Some members of a GOP establishment that once shunned tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell are getting behind her now that she has won the Republican Senate primary, offering help in the form of cash and experienced staffers.

A young spokeswoman who has been thinking of going back to college is no longer handling media calls. Instead, reporters are referred to a public relations firm run by longtime GOP operative Craig Shirley, who has done communications work for the Republican National Committee and a political action committee that spent $14 million to help re-elect Ronald Reagan.

O’Donnell is also getting help from Tom Sullivan, a health care industry executive who worked for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee in 1990 and later as a political consultant, with clients such as former Republican congressman Dick Armey.

37 Study: Teacher bonuses fail to boost test scores

By DORIE TURNER, Associated Press Writer

53 mins ago

ATLANTA – Offering big bonuses to teachers failed to raise students’ test scores in a three-year study released Tuesday that calls into question the Obama administration’s push for merit pay to improve education.

The study, conducted in the metropolitan Nashville school system by Vanderbilt University’s National Center on Performance Incentives, was described by the researchers as the nation’s first scientifically rigorous look at merit pay for teachers.

It found that students whose teachers were offered bonuses of up to $15,000 a year for improved test scores registered the same gains on standardized exams as those whose teachers were given no such incentives.

38 Moonshine still a popular drink with hobbyists

By MICHELLE LOCKE, For The Associated Press

2 hrs 10 mins ago

White lightning, mountain dew, firewater – you know it as the illicit substance made in secret by tax-dodging mountain men and drunk by people looking to alter their reality in a serious way.

But hooch is being infused with a whole new spirit thanks to a new generation of home and professional distillers.

“Moonshine is multifaceted these days,” says Max Watman, who researched the underground liquor industry for his book, “Chasing the White Dog.”

39 ACLU sues Pittsburgh police over post-G-20 conduct

By JOE MANDAK, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 49 mins ago

PITTSBURGH – City police wrongly arrested 25 people – and used unnecessary force against some – to “punish” them for participating in or being near an anti-police brutality protest after the Group of 20 summit ended in the city last year, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a lawsuit.

The ACLU filed a 42-page federal lawsuit Tuesday alleging police created most of the problems themselves by surrounding about 100 people with officers in riot gear and then ordering them to disperse. Many who tried to leave couldn’t and were instead pingponged between groups of advancing police, the ACLU said. Five people not even at the protest were arrested blocks away, the ACLU contends.

“It appears that these police were simply looking for anybody who was young and maybe looked like a demonstrator and then rounded them up,” Witold “Vic” Walczak, the ACLU’s legal director in Pennsylvania, said at a news conference Tuesday.

40 Calif. utility stumbles on 1.4M years old fossils

By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press Writer

Tue Sep 21, 3:01 am ET

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A utility company preparing to build a new substation in an arid canyon southeast of Los Angeles has stumbled on a trove of animal fossils dating back 1.4 million years that researchers say will fill in blanks in Southern California’s history.

The well-preserved cache contains nearly 1,500 bone fragments, including a giant cat that was the ancestor of the saber-toothed tiger, ground sloths the size of a modern-day grizzly bear, two types of camels and more than 1,200 bones from small rodents. Other finds include a new species of deer, horse and possibly llama, researchers affiliated with the project said.

Workers doing grading for the substation also uncovered signs of plant life that indicate birch, pine, sycamore, marsh reeds and oak trees once grew in the area that is now dry and sparsely vegetated.

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