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Nov 04 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 ECB, Britain hold rates steady as Fed pumps up funds

by William Ickes, AFP

Thu Nov 4, 1:15 pm ET

FRANKFURT (AFP) – The European Central Bank parted ways with the US Federal Reserve on Thursday, keeping interest rates unchanged and giving no hint of any easing after the Fed launched a fresh round of costly stimulus measures.

“Separate ways in the central bankers’ brotherhood,” ING senior economist Carsten Brzeski commented.

“Just one day after the Fed launched a new round of quantitative easing (QE), the ECB stressed that it has no intention to follow,” he said.

2 Fed resumes massive spending to spur recovery

by Andrew Beatty, AFP

Wed Nov 3, 7:28 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Federal Reserve on Wednesday agreed to pour an additional 600 billion dollars into the US economy, a bold but risky move aimed at keeping a fragile recovery moving and easing high unemployment.

The Fed’s top policy panel cast aside its long-held reluctance to micro-manage the economy, as members faced down the prospect of a lost decade of growth.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said it would buy up new Treasury debt at a rate of around 75 billion dollars a month, a scale not seen since the depths of the economic crisis of 2008-2009.

3 China, France sign major energy, aviation deals

by Roland Lloyd Parry, AFP

1 hr 6 mins ago

PARIS (AFP) – France and China signed major industrial deals worth 20 billion dollars Thursday at the start of a lavish state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao, cementing previously strained ties.

The signings kicked off a three-day visit by Hu that France hopes will result in a massive boost to its high-tech manufacturing exports and get China onside during the upcoming French presidency of the G20 power grouping.

China’s deputy foreign minister Fu Ying revealed the scale of the deals to reporters after talks between the two presidents and the signing ceremony at the Elysee Palace, where a state dinner was laid on for Hu on Thursday evening.

4 Norway the best place to live: UN

AFP

Thu Nov 4, 1:13 pm ET

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – The United Nations on Thursday named oil-rich Norway as the country with the best quality of life, while Asia has made the biggest strides in recent decades.

The UN’s annual A-to-Z of global wealth, poverty, health and education highlighted however that it is becoming ever more difficult to break into the rich club of nations.

Norway — with its 81.0 years of life expectancy and average annual income of 58,810 dollars — has now topped the Human Development Index (HDI) for all but two years since 2001.

5 Greece charges two as 14th parcel bomb surfaces

by Helene Colliopoulou, AFP

Thu Nov 4, 10:30 am ET

ATHENS (AFP) – A Greek judge charged two men with terrorism Thursday as police announced that a 14th parcel bomb had been dealt with after delivery at the French embassy in Athens.

A court official said that Panayotis Argyrou, 22, a chemistry student, and Gerassimos Tskalos, 24, had refused to speak when brought before the judge, saying they did not recognise the procedure, a court source said.

They were charged with committing acts of terrorism, belonging to a criminal organisation, possession and use of bombs and explosives, as well as lesser offences including refusing to give their identities and fingerprints.

6 Republicans, Democrats talk of compromise after US vote

by Stephen Collinson, AFP

Thu Nov 4, 9:54 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Republicans and Democrats were seeking a new way forward Thursday, one day after a chastened President Barack Obama admitted he had suffered a “shellacking” in this week’s US mid-term elections.

Obama refused to see the vote result as a repudiation of his transformative domestic agenda, instead blaming the loss of the House of Representatives to opposition Republicans and their gains in the Senate on frustration at the sluggish recovery and his failure to clean up the “ugly mess” in Washington.

“It feels bad,” Obama said, digesting his defeat in a White House news conference Wednesday.

7 NASA greenlights shuttle Discovery launch

by Jean-Louis Santini, AFP

Thu Nov 4, 5:11 am ET

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AFP) – NASA cleared the Shuttle Discovery to launch Thursday to the International Space Station, but the US space agency warned of another delay if weather did not improve.

Mission experts agreed on the launch attempt after a close study of the latest electrical glitch found that a circuit-breaker was the origin of a cockpit problem, not the main engine controller which would have been more serious.

But after three postponements so far to Discovery’s final flight before it is retired, NASA experts said poor weather could push back efforts again.

8 Serbian leader apologises at Croatia massacre site

by Lajla Veselica, AFP

Thu Nov 4, 11:11 am ET

VUKOVAR, Croatia (AFP) – Serbian President Boris Tadic Thursday apologised for war crimes in Vukovar, the site of the bloodiest episode of the 1990s war in Croatia, on an historic reconciliation visit to the town.

“I am here to pay respects to the victims and to express words of apology and regret,” Tadic said at Ovcara memorial, a notorious site where around 200 people were gunned down and buried in a mass grave in 1991.

“By admitting the crimes, apologising for them and regretting them we are creating possibilities for forgiveness and reconciliation,” he added.

9 Myanmar’s Internet ‘under attack’ ahead of election

AFP

Thu Nov 4, 8:56 am ET

YANGON (AFP) – A massive cyber attack has crippled Internet services in Myanmar ahead of Sunday’s election, IT experts and web service providers say, raising fears of a communications blackout for the vote.

Internet users in the military-ruled country have reported slow connections and sporadic outages for more than a week, and some suspect the junta may be intentionally disrupting services to block news flowing out.

Web service providers have blamed the troubles on outside attacks.

10 Cholera-hit Haiti braces for looming storm

AFP

Thu Nov 4, 7:08 am ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Haiti reeled from a spike in cholera deaths as authorities planned mass evacuations from squalid tent cities ahead of a major storm set to lash the Americas’ poorest nation beginning Thursday.

Tropical Storm Tomas was barreling toward Haiti, threatening a direct hit early Friday as a hurricane bringing “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides over mountainous terrain,” according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC).

A hurricane warning was issued, which means hurricane conditions are expected in the affected area within 24 to 36 hours, while tropical storm-force winds and rain were expected to buffet the Caribbean nation from late Thursday.

11 Obama rues election ‘shellacking’

by Stephen Collinson, AFP

Thu Nov 4, 6:00 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A chastened President Barack Obama admitted he had suffered a “shellacking” in this week’s US mid-term elections, but refused to see it as a repudiation of his transformative domestic agenda.

He instead blamed the loss of the House of Representatives and Republican gains in the Senate on deep voter frustration at the sluggish recovery and his failure to clean up the “ugly mess” in Washington.

“It feels bad,” Obama said, digesting his defeat in a White House news conference.

12 Two airlines ground A380s after emergency landing

By Harry Suhartono and Sanjeev Miglani, Reuters

Thu Nov 4, 12:55 pm ET

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Qantas Airways and Singapore Airlines suspended flights of Airbus A380 superjumbos on Thursday after an engine appeared to break apart in flight, forcing a Qantas jet to make an emergency landing in Singapore.

Indonesian TV showed pictures of debris on a nearby island which it said belonged to the Qantas Airways plane, and one passenger aboard flight QF32 reported hearing a “massive bang.” Qantas described it as a “significant” engine failure.

Authorities said none of the 459 people on board were hurt.

13 Republicans to attack healthcare law funding

By Richard Cowan, Reuters

2 hrs 2 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. congressional Republicans will try to repeal President Barack Obama’s healthcare law next year but their leader in the Senate acknowledged on Thursday they will likely have to settle for far more modest changes.

Two days after Republicans scored big victories in congressional elections, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took a hard line against Obama’s landmark law and showed no sign of compromise when the new Congress opens for business in January. “We can and should propose and vote on straight repeal repeatedly” of the healthcare law, he said.

McConnell’s remarks, in a speech delivered to the conservative Heritage Foundation, acknowledged that Obama would veto such legislation, which probably would be blocked by the president’s fellow Democrats in the Senate anyway.

14 In book, Bush strongly defends use of waterboarding

By Steve Holland, Reuters

1 hr 17 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When then-President George W. Bush was asked to approve a tough interrogation technique known as waterboarding on September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he wasted little time in deciding.

“Damn right,” he said.

Bush’s approval of waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning condemned by human rights activists as torture, to try to wrench information from captured al Qaeda operatives was among the most controversial decisions he made during eight years in the White House.

15 GM $13 billion IPO to cut Treasury stake to 43 percent

By Soyoung Kim and Clare Baldwin, Reuters

Wed Nov 3, 11:47 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – General Motors on Wednesday finalized terms for a stock offering of about $13 billion to repay a controversial taxpayer-funded bailout and reduce the Treasury to a minority shareholder.

GM’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is the final step before it begins marketing what is expected to be one of the largest-ever IPOs. The investors are expected to span the globe and include sovereign wealth funds.

The automaker plans to sell 365 million common shares at $26 to $29 each, raising about $10 billion at the midpoint, according to updated initial public offering papers filed with the SEC.

16 "Spiral" CT scans reduce smoker deaths: U.S. study

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters

1 hr 49 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Screening smokers and former smokers for lung tumors using three-dimensional X-rays reduced their risk of dying from lung cancer by 20 percent, researchers said on Thursday.

The study sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute is the first to show that people can be screened for lung cancer, akin to mammograms for breast cancer and tests for colon and prostate cancer.

“Nothing has ever shown a 20 percent decrease in mortality in this disease ever before. This is huge,” said Regina Vidaver, executive director of the National Lung Cancer Partnership.

17 WikiLeaks urges U.S. to fully examine abuses

By Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters

Thu Nov 4, 10:23 am ET

GENEVA (Reuters) – The founder of WikiLeaks called on the United States on Thursday to fully examine abuses by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and to halt its “aggressive investigation” into his whistle-blowing organization.

Julian Assange said WikiLeaks would release thousands of documents this year concerning not only the United States, but other countries including Russia and Lebanon.

It has made public nearly 500,000 classified U.S. files on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, drawing ire from the Pentagon. Some U.S. secret documents contained accounts of Iraqi forces torturing Iraqi prisoners and the failure of the U.S. military to investigate those instances.

18 Fed takes bold, risky step to bolster weak economy

By Pedro da Costa and Mark Felsenthal, Reuters

Wed Nov 3, 11:28 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve launched a fresh effort to support a struggling U.S. economy on Wednesday, committing to buy $600 billion in government bonds despite concerns the program could do more harm than good.

The decision takes the Fed into largely uncharted waters and is aimed at further lowering borrowing costs for consumers and businesses still suffering in the aftermath of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

The U.S. central bank said it would buy about $75 billion in longer-term Treasury bonds per month through the end of June 2011 and could adjust purchases depending on the strength of the recovery.

19 Obama’s India visit may be more style than substance

By Alistair Scrutton, Reuters

Thu Nov 4, 10:51 am ET

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – A weakened President Barack Obama visits India this week to counter perceptions he has relegated the Asian power behind rivals China and Pakistan, but he may struggle to seal deals to help usher in billions of dollars of business.

Economic ties are booming but Obama’s visit from Saturday to Monday may fail to live up to President Bill Clinton’s 2000 trip that helped break the diplomatic ice, or President George W. Bush’s visit in 2006 when a civil nuclear deal was hailed as a landmark in ties.

Obama’s drubbing in the mid-term elections may also tie his political hands when it comes to bold policy moves on India as growing worries emerge that outsourcing in cities such as IT hub Bangalore is worsening mass unemployment in the United States.

20 Republicans vow to roll back Obama agenda

By John Whitesides, Reuters

Wed Nov 3, 9:23 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Exuberant Republicans vowed on Wednesday to exercise their new power in Congress to roll back some of President Barack Obama’s key accomplishments, but a somber Obama said voters wanted both parties to work harder to find common ground.

“It’s pretty clear the American people want a smaller, less costly and more accountable government,” Republican John Boehner, in line to become the next House of Representatives speaker, told reporters. “Our pledge is to listen to the American people.”

Voters, anxious about the economy and unhappy with Obama’s leadership, punished Democrats in an election rout on Tuesday that gave House control to Republicans and weakened the Democratic majority in the Senate.

21 Special Report: Frappuccino flippers?

By Lisa Baertlein, Reuters

Thu Nov 4, 8:56 am ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Four years ago, generous benefits and opportunities for advancement convinced Leigh Swanson to use her new master’s degree in human resources to manage a Starbucks cafe. She called it one of the best workplaces she had ever experienced.

Then, in 2007, with the coffee chain in the midst of a building binge, the worst downturn since the Great Depression hit, hammering Starbucks’ bottom line. Sharp cost-cuts, the introduction of corporate efficiency tools like scheduling software and an increased emphasis on pushing product sales have helped the company return to record profitability.

They also led Swanson to quit in May. The disappearing perks and the financial fixes dampened her enthusiasm for recruiting potential new partners, as Starbucks calls its employees. “I found it really sad. I was really invested,” said Swanson, who was in charge of a Starbucks in the Florida Panhandle. “I just didn’t feel proud anymore. I wasn’t in it to manage a McDonald’s.”

22 Subdued Obama says suffered a voter "shellacking"

By Matt Spetalnick and Steve Holland, Reuters

Wed Nov 3, 10:28 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A chastened President Barack Obama on Wednesday pledged to seek compromise with Republicans who won big in congressional elections and admitted he had lost touch with voters who delivered a “shellacking” to him and his Democrats.

But on issue after issue, Obama gave little ground on his positions as the two sides gear up for negotiations over how to tackle the sluggish economy, the main reason the electorate has soured on his leadership.

At a White House news conference, Obama confessed to having suffered a long night on Tuesday as Republicans seized control of the House of Representatives and made gains in the Senate, handing him the biggest defeat of his career and threatening to block his agenda for the second half of his term.

23 ECB to maintain exit focus after Fed stimulus push

By Marc Jones, Reuters

Wed Nov 3, 8:07 pm ET

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The ECB is expected to show no sign of veering off the crisis exit path at its meeting later on Thursday, amid escalating fears about debt-choked euro zone members and a renewed push by the Federal Reserve to kick-start the U.S. economy.

All 80 economists in a recent Reuters poll predicted the ECB will leave rates at a record low 1 percent for the 18th consecutive meeting this month.

With policymakers likely to wait until December to decide if they can continue to reel in the ECB’s crisis support measures, economists expect the bank to stick to its view that the euro zone’s recovery has enough momentum to ride out any bumps.

24 Emerging market policymakers slam Federal Reserve move

By Ana Nicolaci da Costa and David Chance, Reuters

Thu Nov 4, 12:52 pm ET

BRASILIA/SEOUL (Reuters) – Policymakers from the world’s new economic powerhouses in Latin America and Asia on Thursday criticized the U.S. Federal Reserve’s move to inject billions of dollars into the U.S. economy to boost growth.

Emerging market economies said the Fed’s move made any substantive deal on cutting global economic imbalances less likely at next week’s Group of 20 meeting in Seoul.

Developing countries also threatened fresh steps to curb capital inflows which are pushing up their currencies against the U.S. dollar.

25 U.S. dollar printing is huge risk: China central bank adviser

AFP

Thu Nov 4, 7:12 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – Unbridled printing of dollars is the biggest risk to the global economy, an adviser to the Chinese central bank said in comments published on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve unveiled a new round of monetary easing.

China must set up a firewall via currency policy and capital controls to cushion itself from external shocks, Xia Bin said in a commentary piece in the Financial News, a Chinese-language newspaper managed by the central bank.

“As long as the world exercises no restraint in issuing global currencies such as the dollar — and this is not easy — then the occurrence of another crisis is inevitable, as quite a few wise Westerners lament,” he said.

26 Navy seeks to buy warships from both bidders

By Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters

Wed Nov 3, 7:51 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Navy said it is in talks with lawmakers and industry about buying 10 new warships from each Lockheed Martin Corp and Australia’s Austal instead of buying just 10 ships from one company, a move that would expand the U.S. naval fleet faster.

Navy spokesman Commander Danny Hernandez, confirming reports by sources familiar with the plan, said the new approach would help stabilize the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program and the shipbuilding industrial base, while also expanding prospects for sales to foreign countries.

He said the Navy would proceed with its current plan to buy a single design of the new ships if Congress or industry were unwilling to support the new approach, adding: “Either approach will ensure the Navy procures affordably priced ships.”

27 Election doesn’t end major discord for GOP, Obama

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

11 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Barely an hour after President Barack Obama invited congressional Republicans to post-election talks to work together on major issues, the Senate’s GOP leader had a blunt message: His party’s main goal is denying Obama re-election.

In a sign that combat and the 2012 elections rather than compromise could mark the next two years, Sen. Mitch McConnell on Thursday called for Senate votes to repeal or erode Obama’s signature health care law, to cut spending and to shrink government.

“The only way to do all these things it is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things,” McConnell said in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

28 Haiti homeless caught between eviction and storm

By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press

27 mins ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The sky over Port-au-Prince’s tarp cities grew dark, the winds picked up and rain began to fall as Tropical Storm Tomas headed for the quake-stricken Haiti on Thursday. Police with megaphones told hundreds of thousands to seek safety, but the homeless had nowhere to go.

An estimated 1.3 million homeless faced their hardest decision since the earthquake: Do they follow the government’s advice and leave their slapped together shelters ahead of the storm and risk never being allowed to return? Or do they risk their lives and stay?

“I’m scared that if I leave they’ll tear this whole place down. I don’t have money to pay for a home somewhere else,” said Clarice Napoux, 21, who lives on a soccer field behind the St. Therese church in Petionville.

29 Obama heads to Asia after rebuke by voters

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press

16 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Rebuked by voters, President Barack Obama is turning overseas, heading to Asia for 10 days of diplomacy, tourism and dealmaking that could boost the battered chief executive and highlight his political skills on the world stage.

Obama risks criticism he’s fleeing the Democrats’ midterm election wreckage for friendlier territory as sets out Friday on the longest foreign trip of his presidency, a sojourn through India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan aimed at highlighting America’s increasing engagement with Asia.

The trip is anchored by must-attend gatherings of world leaders in South Korea and Japan, timing unconnected to Tuesday’s midterm elections. The abbreviated stop in Indonesia, where Obama spent four years as a boy, was already canceled and rescheduled twice.

30 Cantor says House will focus on overseeing govt

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press

3 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The Virginia congressman expected to be the next House majority leader says Republican-led committees will devote more time investigating and exposing lapses by the Obama administration and problems with its programs, including bringing critical oversight reports to the House floor for very public debates.

Rep. Eric Cantor wants every committee chairman to investigate administration programs to make sure taxpayers are getting their money’s worth. He’s proposing a featured “oversight” hearing of the week. He’s even ready to limit naming of post offices to one day a month, so that committees can spend their time on investigations.

Cantor, in a letter to fellow Republicans outlining his plans for running the House next year, said President Barack Obama “is now actively working to enact his agenda through agency regulations.” He proposed using committee investigations and the “congressional power of the purse” to stop wasteful spending and programs that don’t create jobs.

31 Conn. election official says vote count incomplete

By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press

4 mins ago

HARTFORD, Conn. – Connecticut’s top election official said Thursday she did not have the final vote totals yet in the disputed governor’s race because of a delay in the state’s largest city. Both Democrat Dan Malloy and Republican Tom Foley have claimed victory in Tuesday’s closely contested election.

Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz had intended to announce the final unofficial tally Thursday afternoon. Instead, she said she still had not received the final count from Bridgeport, which was due by 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

“We don’t know when we’re going to receive their numbers,” Bysiewicz said.

32 Delaware politicians bury the hatchet — really

By RANDALL CHASE, Associated Press

12 mins ago

GEORGETOWN, Del. – After their bruising U.S. Senate battle, Democratic senator-elect Chris Coons and his defeated Republican opponent Christine O’Donnell made nice Thursday in a time-honored Delaware ritual where political foes bury a hatchet as a symbol of making amends.

Coons and O’Donnell rode together in a parade of horse-drawn carriages and old-time automobiles that ended with party leaders burying a hatchet in a box of sand. Coons sat by his wife, Annie, while O’Donnell was accompanied by a bodyguard.

Coons gave a thumbs-up signal when asked how he and O’Donnell were getting along.

33 Haiti homeless caught between eviction and storm

By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press

34 mins ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The sky over Port-au-Prince’s tarp cities grew dark, the winds picked up and rain began to fall as Tropical Storm Tomas headed for the quake-stricken Haiti on Thursday. Police with megaphones told hundreds of thousands to seek safety, but the homeless had nowhere to go.

An estimated 1.3 million homeless faced their hardest decision since the earthquake: Do they follow the government’s advice and leave their slapped together shelters ahead of the storm and risk never being allowed to return? Or do they risk their lives and stay?

“I’m scared that if I leave they’ll tear this whole place down. I don’t have money to pay for a home somewhere else,” said Clarice Napoux, 21, who lives on a soccer field behind the St. Therese church in Petionville.

34 Study: CT scans modestly cut lung cancer deaths

By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

30 mins ago

WASHINGTON – A major study shows giving heavy smokers special CT scans can detect lung cancer early enough to modestly lower their risk of death – the first clear evidence that a screening test may help fight the nation’s top cancer killer.

Now the hurdle is deciding who should get these spiral CT scans and how often, because the tests carry their own risks, including repeated radiation exposure and a lot of false alarms that trigger unnecessary repeat testing and even surgery.

“This finding has important implications for public health, with the potential to save many lives among those at greatest risk for lung cancer,” said National Cancer Institute Director Dr. Harold Varmus, who released the study results Thursday. But, “we don’t know the ideal way yet to do this screening.”

35 EU wants tighter online privacy

By GABRIELE STEINHAUSER, AP Business Writer

1 hr 35 mins ago

BRUSSELS – The European Union wants companies such as Google Inc. or Facebook Inc. to give people more control over how their online habits are tracked, requirements that could crimp Internet firms’ ability to target advertising.

Internet companies, privacy activists and the EU’s executive commission are likely to wrestle over the specifics of the rules, which cut to the heart of funding models not only for technology firms but also for many online news sites and blogs.

“People should be able to give their informed consent to the processing of their personal data,” the European Commission said Thursday in a new strategy paper.

36 No clear path for GOP on health care repeal

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press

Thu Nov 4, 12:31 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Republicans say they’ll repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law, but tinker and tweak is as far as they’re likely to get.

And that might not be a bad thing if you’re a GOP strategist. It keeps the issue Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell calls the “tipping point” in the midterm elections alive for 2012, when they’ll try to unseat Obama himself.

Republicans will control the House in January, but they don’t have the votes to overcome a Senate filibuster, much less Obama’s veto on repeal. Plan B, denying funds to carry out the law, could backfire if it escalates to a government shutdown.

37 Obama challenges Cabinet, sets bipartisan talks

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press

2 hrs 59 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama sought Thursday to retake the political initiative after a bruising election, inviting Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to meet with him on the economy and jobs. The White House said Obama would consider extending Bush-era tax cuts even for upper income Americans for a year or two.

The Nov. 18 meeting will be closely watched, in particular, for any signs of cooperation between Obama and his two frequent Republican antagonists, incoming House speaker-in-waiting John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. They will be joined by the top Democrats in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Four other lawmakers will attend: Republicans Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia and Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, and Democrats Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.

38 Applications for jobless aid rise sharply

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer

Thu Nov 4, 11:33 am ET

WASHINGTON – The number of people seeking jobless benefits jumped sharply last week, after two straight weeks of declines.

The increase undermines hopes that unemployment claims, after falling four times in the previous five weeks, were on a sustained downward trend. That would signal layoffs were slowing and hiring was picking up. Instead, claims remain stuck at an elevated level.

The report comes a day before the Labor Department is scheduled to release the jobs figures for October. With claims dropping only modestly over the past month, economists aren’t expecting much progress. They forecast that the jobs report will show employers added a net total of 60,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate remained 9.6 percent for the third straight month.

39 Retailers’ modest October may spur holiday deals

By ANNE D’INNOCENZIO, AP Retail Writer

2 hrs 16 mins ago

NEW YORK – Shoppers took a breather in October, resulting in lackluster gains for retailers and raising the stakes on what is sure to be a competitive holiday season.

For Christmas shoppers, that means that heavy discounts will be coming early and often.

“The deals will be so attractive that shoppers may not want to wait,” said John Long, retail strategist at Kurt Salmon Associates. “This is going to be a great (time) to be a consumer.”

40 Top-ranked Westwood, Woods near lead in Shanghai

By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer

Thu Nov 4, 1:14 pm ET

SHANGHAI – Lee Westwood spent his career trying to be No. 1. The way he played Thursday in the HSBC Champions, it doesn’t look as though he wants to give up his prized ranking after just one week.

Even as Francesco Molinari of Italy made a charge to a 7-under 65 for a one-shot lead, the focus in the final World Golf Championship of the year quickly shifted to what could be a prolonged and fascinating battle for No. 1.

In his debut as golf’s top-ranked player, Westwood birdied some of the toughest holes at Sheshan International and showed hardly any signs of rust from playing in his second stroke-play tournament in three months. He finished with back-to-back birdies for a 66.

41 ‘Hobbit’ money sought as MGM files for bankruptcy

By RYAN NAKASHIMA, AP Business Writer

Thu Nov 4, 7:37 am ET

LOS ANGELES – Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., the home of James Bond, filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday in a plan that had the backing of its lenders and put funding of its half of “The Hobbit” back on track.

The “prepackaged” bankruptcy plan, more than a year in the making, should go quickly. MGM is to restructure and be managed by the co-CEOS of Spyglass Entertainment.

MGM lenders will trade about $4 billion in debt for stock in the new company, valued at around $2 billion.

42 GM expects to earn up to $2.1B as IPO approaches

By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer

Thu Nov 4, 7:35 am ET

DETROIT – General Motors Co. took a huge step forward Thursday in ending its ownership by the government, filing paperwork that gave the price range and other details of a planned initial public offering.

The company also forecast that it earned as much as $2.1 billion from July through September, a strong financial performance as the company prepares for an initial stock offering on Nov. 18.

The third-quarter earnings, which GM will report next week, bolster the automaker’s contention that it is leaner and more profitable since restructuring under a government-funded bankruptcy last year.

43 ACLU sues over ‘stop and frisk’ searches in Philly

By PATRICK WALTERS, Associated Press

1 hr 28 mins ago

PHILADELPHIA – A civil liberties group filed a federal lawsuit Thursday challenging the use of “stop and frisk” searches by Philadelphia police, alleging that the policy is violating the rights of blacks and Latinos who have done nothing wrong.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania filed the lawsuit on behalf of eight men – including a state lawmaker – it says were subjected to illegal searches since the city started using “stop and frisk,” a controversial element of first-term Mayor Michael Nutter’s 2007 mayoral campaign.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU cites city data showing that 253,333 pedestrians were stopped last year, compared with 102,319 in 2005. More than 70 percent of the people stopped last year were black and only 8.4 percent of the total stops led to an arrest, the ACLU said.

44 Prosecutors imply DeLay PAC had funding problems

By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press

Thu Nov 4, 2:12 pm ET

AUSTIN, Texas – Prosecutors in Tom DeLay’s money laundering trial implied to jurors on Thursday that the former House majority leader’s political action committee became desperate for donations and focused its efforts on getting corporate dollars, some of which authorities say ended up illegally going to Texas candidates.

DeLay, charged with money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering, is being accused of using his PAC to illegally funnel $190,000 in corporate donations into Texas legislative races eight years ago. DeLay, who faces up to life in prison if convicted, has denied any wrongdoing.

While questioning Warren Robold, the PAC’s fundraiser, prosecutors showed jurors a series of e-mails which indicated that in the weeks leading up to the 2002 elections in Texas, the political group was having great difficulty raising money from individuals donors, the only type of funds that could be given to candidates under Texas law.

45 CAPITAL CULTURE: Valerie Plame, in spotlight again

By JOCELYN NOVECK, AP National Writer

Thu Nov 4, 11:33 am ET

NEW YORK – She’s posed on the red carpet at Cannes in a flowing designer gown, at Deauville in a sleek black bustier and palazzo pants. She exchanges e-mails with Naomi Watts. Sean Penn hung out at her house. Not for nothing have they called Valerie Plame Wilson the Glamorous Spy.

And yet for years, she lived a life of secrecy that most of us would have trouble fathoming, unable to tell her best friends what she actually did for a living, or her own husband where she was flying off to in the middle of the night.

How do you go from one life to the other? Not very easily – still, she says, as she prepares for another round in the spotlight with the release Friday of “Fair Game,” the movie based on her infamous 2003 “outing” as a CIA agent.

46 Victories in hand, governors face vast deficits

By CHRISTOPHER WILLS, Associated Press Writer

Thu Nov 4, 9:03 am ET

CHICAGO – When stumping on the campaign trail, the nation’s new slate of governors could afford to make sweeping but vague promises about how they’d solve their states’ massive looming budget deficits.

Now as winners, they’re faced with the hard reality of having to make unpopular decisions about who will feel the pain of layoffs, service cuts or even tax increases.

Some of the newly elected leaders got started right away, naming their budget directors and meeting with legislative leaders. But others immediately began tempering voters’ expectations by acknowledging that tough decisions and hard work lie ahead.

47 Report: Flight delays in NYC region bad as ever

By CHRIS HAWLEY, Associated Press

Thu Nov 4, 4:18 am ET

NEW YORK – A new government report criticizes attempts to reduce airport chaos in New York, saying scheduling rules continue to put too many planes in line when weather is the worst, disrupting air travel across the United States.

The limits imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration at John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports in 2008 are too generous and are based on good weather conditions, resulting in a glut of flights when the weather turns ugly, according to the report by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General. To maintain safety, air traffic controllers must hold flights on the ground or add spacing between planes.

“These delays not only affect aircraft traveling to and from the region but can also create a ripple effect as those aircraft fly throughout the nation,” the report said.

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