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Nov 10 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Gulf oil firms need ‘top to bottom reforms:’ US panel

by Karin Zeitvogel, AFP

36 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A US presidential panel probing the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster on Tuesday slammed the firms involved in the deadly rig accident in April, calling them safety laggards in need of a complete overhaul.

“BP, Halliburton and Transocean are major companies operating throughout the Gulf, and the evidence is that they are in need of top-to-bottom reform,” said William Reilly, co-chair of the presidential oil spill commission.

“Emphatically, there was not a culture of safety on that rig… We know a safety culture must be led from the top and permeate a company,” he said as he opened the second day of a hearing into the April 20 explosion on a BP-leased drilling rig off the Louisiana coast.

2 Cholera outbreak surges, reaches slum in Haitian capital

by Clarens Renois, AFP

35 mins ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Haitian officials Tuesday confirmed the first death from cholera in the ruined capital as the number of sick surged amid fears the outbreak will spread to the city’s teeming refugee camps.

One person was said to have died in the sprawling Cite Soleil slum, badly hit in the January earthquake which left 1.3 million people homeless in the impoverished Caribbean nation of some 10 million people.

For the moment there has been no large scale outbreak of the disease in the capital, but “it’s coming,” warned health ministry chief of staff Ariel Henry.

3 Cholera outbreak reaches Port-au-Prince: officials

by Clarens Renois, AFP

Tue Nov 9, 12:08 pm ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – The first ‘isolated’ cases of cholera were reported in the Haitian capital, amid fears Tuesday that last weekend’s hurricane rains will hasten the spread of the disease in Port-au-Prince’s squalid refugee camps.

Health Ministry chief of staff Ariel Henry told AFP that while there is no widespread infection in the capital so far, a sizeable outbreak here now appears likely.

“It’s coming,” Henry warned, adding that two deaths believed to have been caused by cholera were being probed by health officials, who planned a press conference in Port-au-Prince later Tuesday to discuss the developments.

4 Obama returns to childhood home Indonesia

by Stephen Collinson, AFP

2 hrs 19 mins ago

JAKARTA (AFP) – A “deeply moved” Barack Obama dodged volcanic ash and made a whirlwind return to his boyhood home of Indonesia on Tuesday, saying he would never have believed he could come back as US president.

Obama marvelled at the transformation of the sleepy city of Jakarta he once knew into a bustling metropolis and noted the country’s parallel evolution from authoritarianism to democracy and a burgeoning alliance with Washington.

“It’s wonderful to be here although I have to tell you that when you visit a place that you spent time in as a child, as the president it’s a little disorientating,” he told reporters.

5 EU fines 11 airlines 800 million euros for air cargo cartel

AFP

2 hrs 18 mins ago

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Europe’s competition watchdog hit 11 airlines with nearly 800 million euros in fines Tuesday for running a global cargo cartel that included Air France-KLM, British Airways and Japan Airlines.

“It is deplorable that so many major airlines coordinated their pricing to the detriment of European businesses and European consumers,” said European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

The fines, totalling 799.4 million euros (1.1 billion dollars), were slapped on airlines that span the globe, from Air Canada and LAN Chile in the Americas to Cathay Pacific Airways and Singapore Airlines in Asia and Qantas in Australia.

6 Unapologetic Bush defends legacy

by Olivier Knox, AFP

28 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – An emotional but unapologetic George W. Bush opened up about his tumultuous presidency Tuesday as he released memoirs in which he defiantly defends the Iraq invasion and the use of waterboarding.

“I felt so strongly about the decisions I was making and I felt that history would understand,” Bush, who left office deeply unpopular at home and abroad, said during an hour-long interview with US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey.

The former president, who dubbed himself “the decider” during his eight years in the White House, takes readers of his 500-page “Decision Points” on a backstage tour of his administration and confronts his bitterest critics.

7 Bush defends legacy in new memoir

by Patrick Baert, AFP

Tue Nov 9, 9:12 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – George W. Bush, all but invisible since he left the White House nearly two years ago, reclaimed the spotlight Tuesday with the release of a memoir defending his “war on terror” and the Iraq invasion.

“Decision Points” appears a week after the momentous November 2 US elections saw congressional Republicans make a strong recovery after falling out of favor with US voters following the eight often tumultuous years of Bush’s administration.

Bush will be as ubiquitous over the next few weeks as he has been scarce since handing over the keys to the White House to Barack Obama in January 2009, with a whirlwind schedule of media appearances to promote his book, which has a print-run of some 1.5 million copies.

8 Nuclear waste battle shows German feelings run deep

by Frederic Happe, AFP

Tue Nov 9, 12:52 pm ET

GORLEBEN, Germany (AFP) – German activists claimed victory Tuesday after huge delays to a radioactive waste convoy that showed the depth of unease over nuclear power as Berlin moves to keep its reactors for longer.

“(The shipment) may have arrived but the government is further than ever from its aim of getting people in Germany to accept nuclear power,” Florian Kubitz from protest group Robin Wood said.

“We are going to draw new strength from these protests and feel we have been supported by a broad and decisive movement.”

9 Study links painkillers to male fertility problems

AFP

Tue Nov 9, 11:37 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – Could mild painkillers, taken by women during pregnancy, be linked to male fertility problems?

The question is raised by a new study which suggests that these over-the-counter analgesics may be a greater risk than hormone-disrupting chemicals and plastics that are most blamed for causing reproductive problems in later life.

Researchers pored over data from 834 women in Denmark and 1,463 in Finland who were questioned during their pregnancy about their health and use of medication.

10 Oceania’s seafaring ancients make journey to Paris

by Emma Charlton, AFP

Tue Nov 9, 10:05 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – Ancient seafarers who launched one of the world’s swiftest migrations, settling the virgin islands of remote Oceania 3,000 years ago, have brought their story to Paris for an unprecedented new exhibit.

The Lapita, as the ancient Oceanic people are known, were all-but-unheard of just a few decades ago.

But since the mid-1990s the discovery of a body of highly-distinctive potteries, spread across some 250 sites, has shed light on how the Lapita set out over uncharted waters, bringing their language and culture with them.

11 Barclays bank profits slump in third quarter

AFP

Tue Nov 9, 9:40 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – British bank Barclays said Tuesday that underlying profits slumped 76 percent in the third quarter, hit by its poorly-performing investment unit and despite a sharp drop in bad debts.

Pre-tax earnings collapsed to 327 million pounds (379 million euros, 528 million dollars) in the three months to September, compared with 1.362 billion pounds in the same part of 2009.

However, the figure included a huge 947-million-pound charge against the rising value of the group’s debts at its Barclays Capital investment division.

12 Army-backed party claims victory in Myanmar vote

by Hla Hla Htay, AFP

Tue Nov 9, 8:40 am ET

YANGON (AFP) – The Myanmar military’s political proxy claimed an overwhelming victory Tuesday in an election condemned as a sham by the West, as fresh fighting erupted between ethnic rebels and government forces.

Pro-democracy parties urged the authorities to act against “cheating” during Sunday’s poll, in which the junta-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) had already enjoyed major financial and campaigning advantages.

“We have won about 80 percent of the seats. We are glad,” said a senior USDP member who did not want to be named.

13 New drugs, materials unveiled at nanotech conference

by Sara Hussein, AFP

Tue Nov 9, 6:31 am ET

TEL AVIV (AFP) – A material just one atom thick that is stronger than steel but flexes like rubber. A “mini-submarine” that can trick the immune system and deliver a payload of chemotherapy deep inside a tumour.

They sound like the fantasies of science fiction writers, but they are among the discoveries being presented at Nano Israel 2010, a nanotech conference in Tel Aviv that has attracted researchers from across the science world, united by their work with the very, very small.

The 1,500 participants at the two-day meeting which ends on Tuesday include chemists, physicists and medical researchers, all working with tiny structures around the thickness of a cell wall.

14 Obama arrives in Indonesia

by Stephen Collinson, AFP

Tue Nov 9, 6:16 am ET

JAKARTA (AFP) – US President Barack Obama finally made a much-delayed homecoming of sorts to Indonesia on Tuesday, seeking to engage Muslims and cement strategic relations on the second leg of his Asia tour.

Obama arrived in Jakarta under stormy skies on Air Force One from India, as his nine-day Asian odyssey took him from the world’s largest democracy to its most populous Muslim-majority nation.

The president spent four years in Indonesia as a boy with his late mother, though he will have little time for tourism on the 24-hour visit in which he will attempt to renew his outreach to the Muslim world while courting new markets and business opportunities for US companies.

15 Company errors, complacency preceded oil spill: panel

By Ayesha Rascoe, Reuters

53 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A co-chair of the White House Oil Spill Commission took square aim at mistakes by BP and its partners that led to the Gulf oil spill, saying on Tuesday that they illustrate the need for a better safety culture in the oil drilling sector.

Complacency at BP, as well as at Transocean Ltd and Halliburton, led to serious missteps prior to the rig explosion that unleashed millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the summer, said Commission co-chair Bill Reilly, in comments more critical than Monday’s Commission statements that rig workers did not place cost cutting over safety.

“BP, Halliburton and Transocean are major respected companies operating throughout the Gulf and the evidence is they are in need of top-to-bottom reform,” Reilly, a former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said at the start of the second session of commission’s two-day meeting on the root causes of the spill this week.

16 Myanmar army-backed party sweeps election

By Aung Hla Tun, Reuters

Tue Nov 9, 7:36 am ET

YANGON (Reuters) – Myanmar’s biggest military-backed party won the country’s first election in 20 years by a landslide on Tuesday after a carefully choreographed vote denounced by pro-democracy parties as rigged to preserve authoritarian rule.

Opposition parties conceded defeat but accused the military junta of fraud and said many state workers had been forced to support the army-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) in advance balloting ahead of Sunday’s vote.

U.S. President Barack Obama told a news conference in Indonesia Myanmar’s election was neither free nor fair and called on Burmese authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners.

17 Special report: For U.S. veterans, the war after the wars

By Nick Carey, Reuters

Tue Nov 9, 9:01 am ET

FOREST CITY, Iowa (Reuters) – Deep in America’s heartland, this small town is a world away from the heat of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan.

But it is here in Forest City and communities across the country that families like the Jordals will battle the legacy of both conflicts for decades to come.

Surrounded by red, white and blue Americana in their powder blue Midwestern home, family matriarch Rhonda Jordal says she can deal with most of the fallout of her son Steven’s two tours in Iraq.

18 Obama speaking to Muslims, shortens Indonesia trip

By Alister Bull and Patricia Zengerle, Reuters

10 mins ago

JAKARTA (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will make a major speech addressed to the Islamic world on Wednesday, before an erupting volcano forces him to make an early departure from the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

The U.S. leader cut short his long-delayed visit to Indonesia, where he lived for four years as a child, by concern that an ash cloud from the deadly Mount Merapi volcano would prevent his taking off in time to attend a G20 summit in South Korea.

But his curtailed schedule will still allow time for a visit to Jakarta’s national Istiqlal Mosque, the largest in southeast Asia, and to make the speech at the University of Indonesia.

19 Bush seeks legacy, but will Americans read?

By Mark Egan, Reuters

2 hrs 13 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – President George W. Bush may hope his memoir will help shape his legacy, but after the glow of being on Oprah and the media blitz wears off, few Americans who buy “Decision Points” are likely to read it, experts say.

“Most people do not read presidential memoirs because they get bored,” said Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. “People just like to have the presidential memoir sitting on the coffee table.”

Readers are wary of such memoirs, Gelb said, noting the most honest accounts typically come from journalists or aides, not from the official account. He said that in Bush’s case, four books from Bob Woodward, starting with the favorable “Bush at War” and then growing more critical with each volume over Bush’s eight-year presidency from 2001-2009, had the gossip Americans want.

20 Private security firms sign global code of conduct

By Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters

Tue Nov 9, 12:59 pm ET

GENEVA (Reuters) – Nearly 60 private security firms deployed in war zones, including the former Blackwater, pledged on Tuesday to curb their use of force, vet and train personnel, and report any breaches, officials said.

An international code of conduct setting down the first set of standards was sparked by concerns over alleged abuses committed by the Pentagon’s private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan amid virtual impunity from criminal prosecution.

Neutral Switzerland initiated the landmark code, drawn up over the past year with the help of Britain and the United States, home to most private security companies.

21 China raises expectations of more rate rises

By Jason Subler and Aileen Wang, Reuters

Tue Nov 9, 11:03 am ET

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – China signaled its intention on Tuesday to drain excess cash from its financial system by unexpectedly raising the yield on bills at a central bank auction and announcing new rules to curb hot money inflows.

One of the measures directed against inflows — requiring banks to hold a minimum amount of dollars overnight — sparked a day of unprecedented yuan volatility, with the Chinese currency ending sharply up against the dollar.

Taken together, the moves flagged China’s increasing concern about a surge in liquidity after the U.S. Federal Reserve launched another round of quantitative easing, prompting some analysts to say monetary tightening may be closer than thought.

22 U.S. says it will tackle discrimination, prisons

By Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters

Tue Nov 9, 10:23 am ET

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United States promised on Tuesday to tackle racial discrimination and treat prisoners humanely in its jails at home and abroad, in line with recommendations by the U.N. Human Rights Council.

A U.S. delegation, responding to 228 recommendations made by other countries during a U.N. debate last Friday, said that the Obama administration was working to close its detention center for foreign terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and would not tolerate torture anywhere.

But it rejected as “political provocations” recommendations about some judicial cases handled by U.S. courts. These had been raised by ideological foes including Cuba, which called for the release of five Cuban agents convicted of spying.

23 Business is business in Japan’s Chinatown

By Yoko Kubota and Chris Buckley, Reuters

Tue Nov 9, 4:17 am ET

YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) – Even with festering strains between China and Japan, business is business, and in the Japanese city hosting a regional summit the bonds binding Asia’s top two economies can be counted in pork buns and chestnuts.

Yokohama will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting this weekend, giving Japanese and Chinese leaders another chance to grapple with tensions over territorial claims. The port city is also home to Japan’s biggest Chinatown.

On alleys crammed with Chinese restaurants, shops and stalls selling roasted chestnuts, Japanese and ethnic Chinese vendors and visitors said the political rancor could not crowd out the more pressing business of making a living.

24 BP, firms did not shirk safety for money: panel

By Ayesha Rascoe, Reuters

Mon Nov 8, 6:39 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House oil spill commission said on Monday it found no evidence to support accusations that the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history happened because workers for BP Plc and its partners cut corners to save money, mostly blaming the accident on a series of on-site misjudgments.

“To date we have not seen a single instance where a human being made a conscious decision to favor dollars over safety,” the commission’s Chief Counsel Fred Bartlit said at a meeting exploring the causes of the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Bartlit said the panel agreed with about 90 percent of the findings of BP’s internal investigation of the accident released this summer. BP’s report assigned much of the blame for the accident to its drilling partners.

25 No charges for destroying CIA interrogation videos

By PETE YOST, Associated Press

28 mins ago

WASHINGTON – A special prosecutor cleared the CIA’s former top clandestine officer and others Tuesday of any charges for destroying agency videotapes showing waterboarding of terror suspects, but he continued an investigation into whether the harsh questioning went beyond legal boundaries.

The decision not to prosecute anyone in the videotape destruction came five years to the day after the CIA destroyed its cache of 92 videos of two al-Qaida operatives, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri, being subjected to waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning. The deadline for prosecuting someone under most federal laws is five years.

The part of the nearly 3-year-old criminal investigation that examines whether U.S. interrogators went beyond the legal guidance given them on the rough treatment of suspects will continue, a Justice Department official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that part of the probe is still under way.

26 Bad news Democrats – 2012 could be worse than 2010

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

29 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Last week’s election was bad for Democrats. The next one could be worse. Senate Democrats running in 2012 will be trying to hold their jobs in states where Republicans just scored major congressional and gubernatorial victories – Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Virginia.

The Democrats’ problems don’t end with senators.

President Barack Obama carried those states in 2008, and he will need most of them to win re-election in two years. But this time they all will have Republican governors. These GOP governors can try to inhibit the president’s policies and campaign operations. They also can help steer next year’s once-a-decade House redistricting process in the GOP’s favor.

27 GOP investigators take aim at health care overhaul

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press

31 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Republicans plan to use the investigative powers of Congress to go after President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, and they’re focusing on questions uppermost in the minds of consumers:

What’s it going to cost me? Can I keep the coverage I have if I like it?

Republicans can call hearings and compel testimony, and Obama has no veto power to stop them. In the House, they’ll control three major committees with a mandate to poke around on health care, subpoenas available if needed. In the Senate, they’ll have added leverage on two key panels, so their demands can’t be easily ignored.

28 At home in Indonesia, Obama reaches out to Muslims

By BEN FELLER, AP White House Correspondent

32 mins ago

JAKARTA, Indonesia – From the most Muslim nation on earth, President Barack Obama is reaching out to the Islamic world, declaring that efforts to build trust and peace are showing promise but are still clearly “incomplete.”

Obama on Wednesday will deliver one of the most personal and potentially consequential speeches of his presidency, reflecting on his own years of upbringing in Indonesia and giving an update on America’s “new beginning” with Muslims that he promised last year in Cairo.

At the same time, the path to lasting peace in the Middle East was hardly looking smoother. A reminder of that difficult road was waiting for Obama when he landed here Tuesday on a steamy afternoon in southeast Asia. Israel’s decision to build more apartments in east Jerusalem, a disputed territory claimed by Palestinians, had already earned a rebuke from American diplomats before a tired, traveling president weighed in himself.

29 Fate of Alaska race hinges on write-in count

By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press

33 mins ago

JUNEAU, Alaska – Election workers will begin scrutinizing tens of thousands of ballots in the Alaska Senate race on Wednesday in a scene reminiscent of the 2000 Florida recount. There will be no hanging chads this time around – just lots of scribbled names.

The vote count could help determine whether Sen. Lisa Murkowski wins re-election as a write-in candidate – or whether the courts get the final say in what has been a fiercely contested race.

Murkowski waged an aggressive write-in campaign after losing the GOP primary to the Sarah Palin-backed candidate Joe Miller. While initial returns showed write-in ballots leading Miller by 13,439 votes, it’s not clear how many of those were for Murkowski or the 159 other write-in candidates.

30 Bush promotes book in Dallas, chats with Winfrey

By JAMIE STENGLE, Associated Press

36 mins ago

DALLAS – Autograph-seekers lined up around a Texas shopping center Tuesday as former President George W. Bush officially kicked off the release of his new memoir at a bookstore about a mile from his Dallas home.

First in line were Terry and Tammy Jones of suburban Justin, who had camped out since the previous afternoon with sleeping bags and a portable DVD player. They said when they told Bush of their wait, he said he would sign their books “with admiration,” shaking 53-year-old Terry Jones’ hand and kissing his wife’s.

“Eighteen hours for two seconds and a kiss on the hand,” Tammy Jones, 52, said with a smile.

31 Neglect threatens many of Italy’s cherished ruins

By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press

23 mins ago

ROME – For all of Italy’s ancient wonders, the real wonder might be that so many are still standing, given the poor care they get. The collapse in Pompeii last week of a frescoed house where gladiators prepared for combat was the latest loss. The structure had survived the explosion of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. but apparently could not withstand modern neglect.

“We’re stunned when some walls fall down. But these are ruins not systematically maintained, so the miracle is that so few of them collapse,” said Andrea Carandini, a world-renowned archaeologist who leads a panel of professional consultants in the Cultural Ministry.

Last spring, a huge segment of Nero’s fabled Golden Palace beneath Rome gave way, raining down pieces of vaulted ceiling in one of the galleries under a garden popular with strollers. Three years ago, a 20-foot (6-meter) section of ancient wall crumpled into a pile of bricks after days of heavy rain. The wall had been named after the third century emperor Aurelius, who built it to defend Rome against the first onslaught of barbarians.

32 San Fran to ban toys in some fast food kids meals

By TREVOR HUNNICUTT, For The Associated Press

Tue Nov 9, 2:18 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – It’s a happy moment for people who see the Happy Meal as anything but.

San Francisco is poised to become the first major American city to prohibit fast food restaurants from including toys with children’s meals that do not meet nutritional guidelines.

The measure passed on a preliminary vote by the city’s Board of Supervisors last week, and is expected to win final passage Tuesday with enough votes to survive a likely veto by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

33 Sex, drugs more common in hyper-texting teens

By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

Tue Nov 9, 4:09 am ET

ATLANTA – Teens who text 120 times a day or more – and there seems to be a lot of them – are more likely to have had sex or used alcohol and drugs than kids who don’t send as many messages, according to provocative new research.

The study’s authors aren’t suggesting that “hyper-texting” leads to sex, drinking or drugs, but say it’s startling to see an apparent link between excessive messaging and that kind of risky behavior.

The study concludes that a significant number of teens are very susceptible to peer pressure and also have permissive or absent parents, said Dr. Scott Frank, the study’s lead author.

34 Poll: Majority of Afghans back talks with Taliban

By KATHARINE HOURELD, Associated Press

Tue Nov 9, 11:22 am ET

KABUL, Afghanistan – Nearly all Afghans want their government to make peace with the Taliban despite their growing dislike for the insurgency, according to a survey funded in part by the U.S. government.

The survey released Tuesday by the San Francisco-based Asia Foundation found that 83 percent of Afghan adults back negotiations with armed, anti-government groups, up from 71 percent last year. But it also said 55 percent of Afghans had no sympathy at all for the insurgency this year, up from 36 percent last year. Twenty-six percent of respondents said they had “a little sympathy” for the aims of the insurgency.

Analysts said the survey reflected growing doubt that the government and its NATO allies can defeat the insurgency with military means and that after 30 years of war, some Afghans were willing to sacrifice some freedoms for the sake of peace.

35 As boomers age, 1 in 5 drivers will be oldsters

By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press

Tue Nov 9, 11:15 am ET

WASHINGTON – Remember “The Little Old Lady from Pasadena”? Baby boomers who first danced to that 1964 pop hit about a granny burning up the road in her hot rod will begin turning 65 in January. Experts say keeping those drivers safe and mobile is a challenge with profound implications.

Miles driven by older drivers are going up and fatal crashes involving seniors coming down, but too often they are forced to choose between safety and being able to get around, experts told a National Transportation Safety Board forum on transportation and aging Tuesday.

Within 15 years more than one in five licensed drivers will be 65 or older, the safety board said. Their number will nearly double, from 30 million today to about 57 million in 2030, according to the Government Accountability Office.

36 With Obama’s visit, India displays new power

By RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press

Tue Nov 9, 6:04 am ET

NEW DELHI – For much of the last decade, New Delhi sold itself as “India Rising.” Barack Obama’s trip here delivered a new message: India has risen.

During his three day visit that ended Tuesday, the U.S. president delivered nearly everything on India’s wish list, affirming the country’s growing importance.

He endorsed India’s role in nearby Afghanistan, even though such a statement was sure to annoy India’s regional rival Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the Afghan war. He chided Pakistan for not cracking down heavily enough on anti-India militant groups operating there. He lifted export controls, allowing India to buy high-tech weaponry from the U.S., and he gave spirited support to Indian industry, maintaining it wasn’t stealing American jobs, but helping create new ones.

37 THE INFLUENCE GAME: Shippers fought cargo controls

By SHARON THEIMER, Associated Press

Tue Nov 9, 12:56 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Despite knowing for decades that terrorists could sneak bombs onto planes, the U.S. government failed to close obvious security gaps amid pressure from shipping companies fearful tighter controls would cost too much and delay deliveries.

Intelligence officials around the world narrowly thwarted an al-Qaida mail bomb plot last month, intercepting two explosive packages shipped from Yemen with UPS and FedEx.

But it was a tip from Saudi intelligence, not cargo screening, that turned up the bombs before they could take down airplanes. Company employees in Yemen were not required to X-ray the printer cartridges the explosives were hidden inside. Instead, they looked at the printers and sent them off, U.S. officials said.

38 Cholera confirmed for resident of Haiti’s capital

By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press

Tue Nov 9, 3:44 am ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – The cholera epidemic has spread into Haiti’s capital, imperiling nearly 3 million people living in Port-au-Prince, nearly half of them in unsanitary tent camps for the homeless from the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Health authorities told The Associated Press on Monday that tests confirmed a 3-year-old boy who hadn’t been out of the city had caught the disease. More than 100 other suspected cholera cases among city residents also were being tested.

The outbreak has already killed at least 544 people in Haiti, Health Ministry Executive Director Gabriel Timothee told the AP.

39 Conan O’Brien returns to late-night TV with ease

By FRAZIER MOORE, AP Television Writer

Tue Nov 9, 3:44 am ET

NEW YORK – Conan O’Brien relaunched his TV career on Monday night with a stylishly back-to-basics hour that radiated hard-won lessons from his brief stay hosting “The Tonight Show.”

With his new TBS show titled simply “Conan,” O’Brien seemed appealingly stoked yet comfortable in his new home at 11 p.m. ET and on basic cable, originating from a sleek, cozy set with a full moon poised on a seaside backdrop.

If there were very few surprises on the premiere, well, how could there have been after the incessant online hype and all the press attention showered on his much-anticipated return? Besides, O’Brien was back with his longtime sidekick Andy Richter and most of his trusty house band members, now led by Jimmy Vivino (and renamed The Basic Cable Band).

40 23-year-old is first Canadian to win WS of Poker

By OSKAR GARCIA, Associated Press

Tue Nov 9, 4:37 am ET

LAS VEGAS – Quebec poker professional Jonathan Duhamel said he worked a series of bad jobs before getting into cards and making his living online at tables with $5 and $10 minimums.

Now – if he wants – he might never have to work again.

Duhamel won the World Series of Poker title and $8.94 million on Monday night, becoming the first Canadian to take down the no-limit Texas Hold ’em main event in Las Vegas.

41 Obama makes long-awaited return to Indonesia

By NINIEK KARMINI, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 54 mins ago

JAKARTA, Indonesia – After two years of waiting, Indonesians are finally getting the chance to welcome back their adopted son. But the euphoria that swept the predominantly Muslim country after Barack Obama’s election victory has been replaced by a dose of reality.

Few here now believe he will change American policies in the Middle East or improve U.S. relations with the Muslim world. And hopes that the two countries would march forward together on the world stage have been cast aside.

Still, Indonesians gathered around television sets all over the country – in their houses, coffee shops and office buildings – and watched as he touched down.

42 Spill panel: No evidence of saving $ over safety

By SETH BORENSTEIN and DINA CAPPIELLO, Associated Press

Mon Nov 8, 10:56 pm ET

WASHINGTON – The BP oil rig explosion and spill wasn’t about anyone purposely trading money for safety, investigators on a special presidential commission said Monday. Instead it was more about seemingly acceptable risks adding up to disaster.

Investigators at the commission’s hearing outlined more than a dozen decisions that at the time seemed questionable but also explainable. It was how those cascaded and crashed together that fueled catastrophe.

Yet there was no evidence of a conscious decision on the BP rig to do things on the cheap at the expense of safety, investigators stressed several times. Likewise, representatives of the companies involved in the disaster denied that corners were cut because of cost.

43 Settlement deadline passes for ill 9/11 responders

By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press

8 mins ago

NEW YORK – A federal judge has given thousands of 9/11 rescue and recovery workers more time to join a legal settlement that would pay millions of dollars to people sickened by dust from the World Trade Center.

Workers who participated in the ground zero cleanup initially had until the end of the day Monday to decide whether to join a deal that would pay at least $625 million to people who developed illnesses after working in the rubble.

But after a “huge influx” of people filed paperwork related to the settlement in the days before the deadline, lawyers representing the city agreed to extended the deadline for another week.

44 Abu-Jamal case back before Philadelphia court

By MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press

14 mins ago

PHILADELPHIA – Police widows and supporters of death-row activist Mumia Abu-Jamal listened Tuesday as federal appeals judges debated whether the former Black Panther deserves a new sentencing hearing in a police officer’s death.

The appeals court had granted the new sentencing hearing on the grounds that the jury at Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial was not given proper death-penalty instructions. But the U.S. Supreme Court this year, in rejecting a similar Ohio case, ordered the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges to rethink its decision.

Under Pennsylvania law, Abu-Jamal should have received a life sentence if a single juror found the mitigating circumstances outweighed the aggravating factors in the slaying of Officer Daniel Faulkner.

45 Vt. barber says not good at cutting blacks’ hair

By JOHN CURRAN, Associated Press

24 mins ago

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – Barber Mike Aldrich says he was trying to avoid embarrassment – and a lousy haircut – when he balked at trimming the hair of Dr. Darryl Fisher. He says he’s just no good at cutting black people’s hair.

Fisher, who’s black, believes there was something race-related about the way Aldrich, who’s white, turned him away when he ducked into Mike’s Barber Shop asking for a trim one day last month.

What happened next triggered hard feelings on both sides, a demonstration by locals unhappy with the barber and a new example of an old problem – white barbers and hairdressers struggling to cope with black customers’ hair, which generally is thicker and curlier than white people’s hair.

46 2 lawsuits challenge US Defense of Marriage Act

By LARRY NEUMEISTER and PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press

1 hr 50 mins ago

NEW YORK – Gay civil rights groups trying to build momentum for a possible Supreme Court showdown filed two lawsuits Tuesday that seek to strike down portions of a 1996 law that denies married gay couples federal benefits.

The lawsuits were filed in federal courts in Connecticut and New York and come just months after a federal judge in Boston struck down a key component of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The legal actions seek judicial declarations that the law enacted by Congress in 1996, when it appeared Hawaii would soon legalize same-sex marriage, was unconstitutional because it prevents the federal government from affording pension and other benefits to same-sex couples. Since 2004, five states – Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts – and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage.

47 Obama nostalgic on return trip to Indonesia

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press

Tue Nov 9, 3:03 pm ET

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Barack Obama marveled at the sights and sounds – the rickshaws, the cramped taxis – still vivid in his memories of boyhood in this Asian nation. More than four decades later, the president said it was “a little disorienting” to see the sprawling, built-up capital.

A shopping mall built in 1962, now dwarfed by glitzy high-rises, was the only building on Jakarta’s skyline he recognized, Obama said Tuesday.

The bicycle rickshaws that plied the streets when he lived here in the 1960s were nowhere to be seen as the president’s limousine hurried along routes cleared for his motorcade – though he still said “my understanding is that Jakarta traffic is pretty tough.” In fact, Jakarta has changed, even as Obama’s own circumstances have dramatically altered since the days he played and studied in a humble neighborhood here.

48 Hearing starts in soldier’s ‘thrill kill’ case

By GEORGE TIBBITS, Associated Press

Tue Nov 9, 2:23 pm ET

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The Army sergeant accused of masterminding a plan to kill Afghan civilians for sport and goading other soldiers to do the same appeared at a military hearing Tuesday to determine whether there is enough evidence to court-martial him.

In what has emerged as one of the most gruesome cases of the Afghan war, fellow soldiers say Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs also threatened them, collected fingers of the dead and found it amusing to slaughter animals with his assault rifle.

Gibbs has a chance to contest that portrait during the Article 32 hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle. Charges against him include murder, dereliction of duty and trying to impede an investigation.

49 Iranian Nobel laureate says opposition growing

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press

Mon Nov 8, 7:14 pm ET

UNITED NATIONS – Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi said Monday that opposition to the Iranian government is growing, spurred by an increase in government violence, more human rights violations and deepening poverty.

The human rights lawyer, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts to promote democracy, said in an interview with The Associated Press that she came to the United Nations to talk about the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran and seek support for a draft U.N. General Assembly resolution that would condemn the country’s rights record.

Although much of the opposition movement has gone underground since the violent crackdown after the disputed June 2009 presidential election, Ebadi said it definitely isn’t faltering.

50 Mich. asst. AG accused of harassing student fired

By TIM MARTIN, Associated Press

Mon Nov 8, 6:44 pm ET

LANSING, Mich. – An assistant state attorney general accused of harassing the gay student assembly president at the University of Michigan was fired Monday.

Andrew Shirvell, 30, went on leave about a month ago after national criticism erupted over a blog he wrote characterizing student leader Chris Armstrong as a “racist” and a “liar” who promoted a “radical homosexual agenda.”

Shirvell’s attorney has said his actions were constitutionally protected as free speech. Shirvell had attended the first day of a disciplinary hearing Friday and expected that hearing to continue later this week, but then was called in and fired.

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