Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 60 Top Stories (my arbitrary limit).

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Suspected Germany-bound bomb was ‘security test’

by Deborah Cole, AFP

Fri Nov 19, 11:16 am ET

BERLIN (AFP) – A suspected bomb intercepted in Namibia that was to be put on a Munich-bound charter plane was a harmless US-made dummy used to test security checks, Germany’s interior minister said Friday.

Thomas de Maiziere said it was not immediately clear who had carried out the test, which sparked a major security alert Wednesday, but said he had had no advance knowledge of the purported exercise.

“Experts from the (German) federal police force examined the luggage on site,” De Maiziere told reporters after a security conference with interior ministers from Germany’s 16 states.

2 NATO agrees on Europe-wide missile defence system

by Tangi Quemener, AFP

45 mins ago

LISBON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama and his NATO allies agreed Friday to set up a new anti-missile defence shield across Europe and invite Russia to take part.

The deal means NATO leaders will set up a network of radars and interceptors forming an anti-ballistic missile shield extending over Europe and possibly linking with Russia too.

“I’m pleased to announce that for the first time, we have agreed to develop a missile defense capability that’s strong enough to cover all NATO European territory and populations, as well as the United States,” Obama said after a first session of the two-day NATO summit in Lisbon.

3 NATO targets 2014 handover of Afghan war to Kabul

by Laurent Thomet, AFP

Fri Nov 19, 4:31 am ET

LISBON (AFP) – The NATO allies open a two-day summit Friday to back a 2014 target for ceding control over the bogged-down Afghan war to Kabul.

After nine years of war provoked by Al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack, 2,200 troops killed among US-led forces, and now an open row with Kabul over tactics, NATO will deliver the closest thing yet to a withdrawal timetable.

Leaders, meeting at a complex of white steel, concrete and canvas-roofed buildings at the shores of the River Tejo, will be drawing up nothing less than the outlines of a new era for the 28-nation alliance.

4 Bailout talks underway in crisis-hit Ireland

by Loic Vennin, AFP

26 mins ago

DUBLIN (AFP) – International financial experts and Irish officials were locked in negotiations Friday on a possible bailout for the debt-ridden economy at the heart of fears about the future of the eurozone.

Reports said the talks focused on shoring up Ireland’s crisis-hit banks, kept afloat up to now with billions of euros from the government at the cost of straining the public finances to breaking point.

The mission from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will subject Ireland’s books to forensic analysis, looking at the reasons for the collapse of the one-time ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy.

5 Bailout negotiations start in crisis-hit Ireland

by Loic Vennin, AFP

Fri Nov 19, 6:47 am ET

DUBLIN (AFP) – International financial experts and Irish officials begin tough negotiations Friday on a possible bailout for a debt-ridden economy at the heart of fears about the future of the eurozone.

The mission from the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will subject Ireland’s books to forensic analysis.

Reports said the focus of the talks would be on shoring up the crisis-hit banks.

6 Positive dope test at Asian Games as taekwondo row grows

by Martin Parry, AFP

Fri Nov 19, 10:58 am ET

GUANGZHOU, China (AFP) – The Asian Games was hit by its first positive drugs test on Friday as anger mounted over the controversial disqualification of a Taiwan taekwondo fighter.

Uzbek judoka Shokir Muminov was stripped of his -81kg silver medal and thrown out of the sporting showpiece after testing positive for methylhexaneamine, a stimulant used widely as a nasal decongestant.

“The athlete has been disqualified from the competition as well as these Games and his performance in the competition has been nullified,” said Dr. Mani Jegathesan, chairman of the Olympic Council of Asia’s medical committee.

7 Broom-wielding quidditch players sweep New York

by Sebastian Smith, AFP

1 hr 43 mins ago

NEW YORK (AFP) – Running around in a cape after a ball with a broomstick between your legs may sound silly. But try telling that to the hundreds who invaded New York last weekend to reenact Harry Potter’s magical game of quidditch.

Wannabe wizards converged on the Big Apple from all over the United States for the fourth annual Quidditch World Cup.

Even if they couldn’t fly, and even if the winged, golden “snitch” ball from the books was reincarnated as an earthbound student wearing yellow, competition was every bit as fierce as in the mega-selling J.K. Rowling series.

8 Anti-UN unrest spreads to Haiti capital

by Stephane Jourdain, AFP

Thu Nov 18, 7:24 pm ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Gangs of angry Haitians trawled Port-au-Prince on Thursday as violence aimed at UN peacekeepers blamed for the cholera crisis spread to the capital after deadly rioting in the north.

Organizers had urged people to vent their anger at the United Nations and the Haitian authorities in a demonstration at a main square by the presidential palace, but what transpired was more like urban guerrilla warfare.

Tear gas filled the air and sporadic gunfire could be heard as gangs took to the streets of the quake-ravaged capital, blocking roads with barricades of burning tires and dumpsters full of rotten garbage.

9 Anti-UN cholera riots spread to Haiti capital

by Stephane Jourdain, AFP

Fri Nov 19, 4:47 am ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Rioting has spread to the Haitian capital where hundreds of people clashed with UN troops they blamed for a worsening cholera epidemic.

Stone-throwing youths raced Thursday through the rubble-strewn streets of fetid camps built for earthquake survivors as UN peacekeepers in armored trucks fired tear gas on the crowds in running clashes that lasted several hours.

Sporadic gunfire echoed through the quake-ravaged streets of the capital as demonstrators blocked roads with burning tires and dumpsters overflowing with rotting garbage.

10 US calls for reduction in bluefin tuna catch: official

by Marlowe Hood, AFP

Thu Nov 18, 5:51 pm ET

PARIS (AFP) – The United States will push to further reduce fishing quotas for Atlantic bluefin tuna at a key multinational meeting, a senior official told AFP on Thursday.

“Given the serious overfishing that has happened in the past, we need to rebuild the stocks as rapidly as possible,” said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The 48-member International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), convening in Paris through November 27, sets the rules and catch limits for Atlantic fisheries, and monitors compliance.

11 Obama lauds GM stock sale as policy success

by Andrew Beatty, AFP

Thu Nov 18, 5:56 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama held up the wildly successful return of General Motors to Wall Street Thursday as a vindication of his government’s much-criticized economic policies.

“Today, one of the toughest tales of the recession took another big step towards becoming a success story,” Obama said shortly after GM completed its first day on the stock market in 18 months.

Amid GM’s skyrocketing debt and plummeting sales, Obama forced the company into bankruptcy protection in June 2009, while taking the deeply unpopular decision to up the company’s bailout to almost 50 billion dollars.

12 Disgraced Oceania FIFA official to appeal ‘harsh’ ban

by Neil Sands, AFP

Fri Nov 19, 7:38 am ET

WELLINGTON (AFP) – A senior Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) official suspended over allegations of World Cup vote-selling on Friday protested his innocence and vowed to appeal the “harsh” ban.

Football’s governing body FIFA barred OFC executive committee member Ahongalu Fusimalohi from football for three years and fined him 10,000 Swiss francs (10,000 dollars) following an investigation into the claims.

The OFC’s president Reynald Temarii was also banned for a year and told AFP after hearing the FIFA inquiry’s findings — handed down in Zurich on Thursday — that he too planned an appeal.

13 NATO opens summit to set Afghan war handover date

by Laurent Thomet, AFP

Fri Nov 19, 1:09 pm ET

LISBON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama and his NATO allies met Friday to agree a plan to pass command of the Afghan war to Kabul by 2014 and erect an anti-missile shield over Europe.

As another NATO soldier fell to an Afghan bomb attack, taking the toll for this year to 654, leaders began a two-day summit in Lisbon dominated by war in Afghanistan and planning new defences against future foes.

“We will take decisions which will frame the future of our alliance,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the leaders of the 28 allies.

14 World’s cardinals meet for sex abuse talks

by Michele Leridon, AFP

Fri Nov 19, 10:46 am ET

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – The world’s cardinals prayed for guidance on Friday at unprecedented talks on paedophile clergy, as activists called on the Church to end “symbolic gestures” and release files on the abuses.

Around 150 of the Roman Catholic Church’s 203 cardinals took part in the Vatican meeting organised by Pope Benedict XVI, where they also debated the issue of religious freedom and conversions of Anglicans to Catholicism.

The closed-door meeting was referred to by the Vatican as “a day of prayer and reflection” on the challenges facing the Church. Talks on “the Church’s response to sexual abuse cases” were expected to start at 1600 GMT.

15 At least 27 missing after N.Zealand mine explosion

by Neil Sands, AFP

Fri Nov 19, 8:37 am ET

WELLINGTON (AFP) – Desperate efforts to reach at least 27 coal miners missing after an explosion tore through an underground mine in New Zealand stalled Friday as fears of another blast frustrated rescue attempts.

Police said the explosion at the coal mine on the South Island’s west coast appeared to have crippled the mine’s ventilation system but locals said they were were drawing hope from the rescue of 33 miners in Chile last month.

Two miners survived the blast at the Pike River coal mine but there had been no contact with any others, the mining company’s chief executive said.

16 Thai ‘Red Shirts’ rally six months after crackdown

by Janesara Fugal, AFP

Fri Nov 19, 7:48 am ET

BANGKOK (AFP) – Thousands of Thai “Red Shirts” converged on central Bangkok on Friday to mark six months since a deadly crackdown on their anti-government rally.

Police at the scene said up to 10,000 people filled the upmarket shopping zone that the Reds occupied earlier this year with their campaign for snap elections.

Red Shirts, many wearing their trademark colour and waving banners, lit candles to commemorate those killed in the unrest.

17 UN accuses Iran, Myanmar, N. Korea of rights abuse


Fri Nov 19, 4:38 am ET

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – A UN General Assembly committee passed resolutions condemning human rights violations in Iran, North Korea and Myanmar, provoking a furious reaction from their delegations.

A top Iranian official lashed out at Britain as the “United Kingdom of devils,” North Korea’s representative said his country would not change its much-condemned actions, while Myanmar’s ambassador called the vote “seriously flawed.”

Opposition from China and other nations failed to stop the resolutions from passing with strong majorities.

18 Ireland nears aid deal as contagion fears persist

By Jan Strupczewski and Padraic Halpin, Reuters

Fri Nov 19, 11:18 am ET

BRUSSELS/DUBLIN (Reuters) – A financial aid plan to help Ireland cope with its battered banks will be unveiled next week, EU sources said on Friday, but experts warned a rescue may not be enough to prevent contagion to other euro zone members.

Europe’s single currency fell back late in the day and the risk premium investors demand to buy Irish debt instead of benchmark German bonds remained high as optimism about an aid deal was tempered by a sense the crisis is far from over.

A poll of participants at a high-level banking congress in Frankfurt showed nearly three quarters believe the turmoil that has shaken Europe’s currency bloc for much of the past year would rage on even after an Irish rescue, ensnaring other financially weak countries like Portugal.

19 Bernanke hits back at Fed critics

By Gavin Jones, Reuters

2 hrs 41 mins ago

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hit back on Friday at critics of the U.S. central bank’s bond-buying program and issued a thinly veiled attack on China’s policy of keeping its currency on a leash.

Bernanke, facing a chorus of protests about the asset-buying spree from within and outside the central bank, said a more vigorous U.S. economy was essential to fuel the global recovery and dismissed charges he was debasing the dollar.

“The best way to continue to deliver the strong economic fundamentals that underpin the value of the dollar, as well as to support the global recovery, is through policies that lead to a resumption of robust growth in a context of price stability in the United States,” Bernanke told a conference at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt.

20 NATO wants Afghan security handover by the end of 2014

By David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick, Reuters

48 mins ago

LISBON (Reuters) – The head of NATO said on Friday the alliance would start turning security over to Afghan forces next year under a plan to cease the combat role of foreign forces by the end of 2014.

Some NATO and Pentagon officials have expressed doubt that the 2014 deadline can be achieved because of the rising threat posed by Taliban insurgents to Afghanistan’s weak government.

But NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he believed it was a realistic goal and one that would allow the military alliance to focus on training Afghan troops.

21 NATO readies for 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan

By David Brunnstrom and Axel Bugge, Reuters

Fri Nov 19, 9:33 am ET

LISBON (Reuters) – NATO is ready to begin turning security over to Afghan forces next year, with the goal of withdrawing most of the foreign troops deployed there by 2014, U.S. leaders said on Friday.

But some senior NATO and Pentagon officials have expressed doubt that the 2014 deadline for a security handover can be achieved, with the threat posed by Taliban insurgents to Afghanistan’s weak government rising.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Lisbon before a NATO summit that the United States and the military alliance had listened to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who set the 2014 goal, and were addressing his concerns.

22 Few Afghans know reason for war, new study shows

By Paul Tait, Reuters

Fri Nov 19, 9:17 am ET

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghans in two crucial southern provinces are almost completely unaware of the September 11 attacks on the United States and don’t know they precipitated the foreign intervention now in its 10th year, a new report showed on Friday.

NATO leaders gathered in Lisbon for a summit on Friday where the transition from foreign forces — now at about 150,000 — to Afghan security responsibility will be at the top of the agenda, with leaders to discuss a 2014 target date set by Kabul.

Few Afghans in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, Taliban strongholds where fighting remains fiercest, know why foreign troops are in Afghanistan, says the “Afghanistan Transition: Missing Variables” report to be released later on Friday.

23 Ivory Coast to put troops in rebel zones for poll

By Ange Aboa and Tim Cocks, Reuters

1 hr 46 mins ago

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Ivory Coast’s military and rebels will deploy 4,000 extra troops to rebel territory under a joint command to try to secure a run-off presidential election on November 28 that could easily turn violent.

The troops would be additional to the 8,000 former rebel troops and government military police jointly deployed throughout the country for the first round, Colonel Rene Sako, army operations chief, told Reuters in an interview Friday, and a rebel spokeswoman confirmed the plan.

The first round passed off peacefully, putting President Laurent Gbagbo just in the lead with 38 percent of the vote, meaning he will face opposition challenger Alassane Ouattara, who got 32 percent, in the run-off.

24 Madagascar army rejects use of force against rebels

By Alain Iloniaina, Reuters

Fri Nov 19, 11:56 am ET

ANTANANARIVO (Reuters) – Madagascar’s army chief insisted on Friday that dialogue was the only way to end a standoff with rebel officers holed up in barracks in the capital, despite earlier government orders to quash the mutiny.

The apparent refusal by the army to use force against fellow soldiers raises doubts about how much control President Andry Rajoelina still retains over the same military that helped bring him to office in a March 2009 power-grab.

Early on Friday, the government warned civilians in the barracks and residents nearby to leave, while schools close to the camp by the international airport were evacuated.

25 Germany says Namibia terror scare only security test

By Erik Kirschbaum and Servaas van den Bosch, Reuters

Fri Nov 19, 11:22 am ET

BERLIN/WINDHOEK (Reuters) – A laptop bag containing a detonator and clock found at Namibia’s main airport during loading of a flight to Munich was only a security test device, Germany said on Friday, not a bomb as initially feared.

Police in Namibia, a former German colony bordering South Africa, confirmed it was an explosive simulation training device manufactured by a U.S. company. They named the company as Larry Copello Inc and said it had confirmed it made the product.

The company’s owner, Larry Copello, said by telephone from his office in California that the bag was indeed made by his firm. “Yes, it’s ours,” he told Reuters.

26 Congolese warlord on trial in The Hague

By Aaron Gray-Block, Reuters

Fri Nov 19, 11:53 am ET

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – A Congolese warlord goes on trial at the International Criminal Court next week, accused of letting his troops kill and rape hundreds during a coup attempt in the Central African Republic.

Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is the most senior political leader to be put on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) so far.

His case will be the court’s first chance to judge whether a leader, who might not have directly ordered or committed violence, can still be held responsible for atrocities. The case focuses on sexual crimes.

27 GM shares lose momentum in post-IPO NYSE return

By Clare Baldwin and Soyoung Kim, Reuters

Thu Nov 18, 8:54 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – General Motors Co made a triumphant return to Wall Street less than a year and a half after the government rescued the automaker and forced a massive overhaul but its shares lost momentum after an early bounce.

As some of the automaker’s newest models lined up outside of the New York Stock Exchange, GM shares began trading on the floor of the Big Board to the sound of a revving Camaro engine, taking the place of the traditional opening bell.

Close to 220 million shares had traded by the market close, more than triple the amount of trading in Citigroup Inc, the next most actively traded stock. GM shares also traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

28 Obama mulling more demands on Korea in trade talks

By Doug Palmer, Reuters

Thu Nov 18, 7:37 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama told congressional critics of a free trade deal with South Korea he would consider asking Seoul for changes to labor, investment and financial provisions of the pact to help win approval of the deal in Congress, a lawmaker said on Thursday.

“He wanted us to give him a list of what our other concerns were,” Representative Michael Michaud, a Maine Democrat, told Reuters after he and eight other lawmakers met with Obama.

Obama said he “is willing to go over that list and see which ones they agree with, and the ones that they do (agree with) they’ll try (to pursue) when they continue the negotiations with the Koreans,” the Maine Democrat said.

29 Suu Kyi sees army role in democratic Myanmar

By Jason Szep, Reuters

Fri Nov 19, 10:56 am ET

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said on Friday she was willing to work with Myanmar’s military junta who locked her up for 15 years and she would support its new political system if it helped the people.

The comments by the 65-year-old Nobel peace laureate, in an interview with Reuters six days after her release from house arrest, were the strongest yet illustrating her intention and desire to engage the junta to bring about democratic reforms.

“We have not ruled out cooperation with military,” she said.

30 Thai "red shirt" protesters return to Bangkok’s streets

By Ambika Ahuja, Reuters

Fri Nov 19, 3:09 am ET

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thousands of anti-government protesters plan to return to Bangkok’s streets on Friday to mark the six-month anniversary of a deadly military crackdown, but the demonstrations are not expected to turn violent.

The red-shirted protesters will gather in the same shopping district they occupied during the April to May unrest that killed 91 people and wounded at least 1,800 in the worst political violence in modern Thai history.

But the lack of clear leadership among the “red shirts” makes a prolonged protest this time unlikely, especially with memories still fresh of a May 19 crackdown that ended with a night of rioting in which more than 30 buildings were set ablaze

31 Lawmakers hit banks, regulators on foreclosures

By Dave Clarke and Corbett B. Daly, Reuters

Thu Nov 18, 6:50 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawmakers hauled the top U.S. mortgage lenders and their regulators to Capitol Hill on Thursday to chastise them for widespread flaws in foreclosure documents, but failed to extract any promises of fines or fresh loan modification programs.

Major banks admitted sloppy documentation to a House of Representatives’ subcommittee but said they had taken steps to tighten procedures and that the basis of their foreclosures has been accurate.

Federal regulators said they learned of the problems from news reports but are now actively reviewing banks’ work and plan to issue their findings in January.

32 Two longtime Madoff employees arrested and charged

By Grant McCool, Reuters

Thu Nov 18, 6:30 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two members of imprisoned financier Bernard Madoff’s inner circle were arrested on charges of conspiring in the largest financial fraud in history and helping to conceal it, U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday.

The indictments of former employees Jo Ann “Jodi” Crupi, 49, and Annette Bongiorno, 62, brings to eight the number of people criminally charged since the December 2008 revelation of Madoff’s multibillion-dollar decades-long fraud.

Hours after the two women were arrested at their homes, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara hinted at more arrests and criminal charges in the case. The fraud shook investor confidence in market regulators who missed Madoff’s epic swindle despite repeated warnings.

33 Democrats plan vote on middle-class tax cuts

By Kim Dixon and Richard Cowan, Reuters

Thu Nov 18, 5:57 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congressional Democrats said on Thursday they would vote to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the lower and middle classes only, setting up a clash with Republicans only two weeks after midterm elections.

The moves end days of hand-wringing by Democrats to find a common strategy before a December 31 deadline for expiration of tax cuts for nearly all Americans and a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives next year.

A clash over taxes augurs badly for any chance that the two parties will work together after this month’s elections on major issues like cutting the budget deficit and creating jobs.

34 Ex-car czar Rattner sued by Cuomo, settles with SEC

By Jonathan Stempel and Megan Davies, Reuters

Thu Nov 18, 5:43 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former Obama administration auto industry czar Steven Rattner was sued by New York’s attorney general on Thursday for allegedly paying kickbacks to win investments from the state’s $130 billion pension fund.

Rattner separately settled a related U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil lawsuit, agreeing to pay $6.2 million and accept a two-year ban from working with an investment adviser or broker-dealer.

The former investment banker led the federal government’s auto task force that oversaw the restructuring and bankruptcy of General Motors Co.

35 Most 9/11 responders settle suits over WTC dust

By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press

7 mins ago

NEW YORK – More than 10,000 workers exposed to the tons of toxic dust that blanketed ground zero after the World Trade Center fell have ended their bruising legal fight with New York City and joined a settlement worth at least $625 million, officials said Friday.

The deal will resolve an overwhelming majority of the lawsuits over the city’s failure to provide protective equipment to the army of construction workers, police officers and firefighters who spent months clearing and sifting rubble after Sept. 11.

Among the thousands who sued, claiming that soot at the site got into their lungs and made them sick, more than 95 percent eligible for the settlement agreed to take the offer. Only 520 said no or failed to respond.

36 FACT CHECK: Ban on pet projects mostly symbolic

By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

53 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Despite their claims, the Republicans’ ban on earmarks won’t stop lawmakers from steering taxpayers’ dollars to pet projects. And it will have little if any effect on Washington’s far graver problem – the gigantic budget deficit.

Saying Election Day victories gave them a mandate to curb spending, Republicans formally agreed last week to a two-year prohibition of earmarks, legislative provisions that funnel money to lawmakers’ favorite projects. President Barack Obama has said he, too, wants to restrict earmarks, though he defended some as helping communities.

“I am proud that House and Senate Republicans have united to end the earmark favor factory,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a leader in the drive to stop the practice.

37 Obama: NATO to erect missile shield for Europe

By ROBERT BURNS and JULIE PACE, Associated Press

17 mins ago

LISBON, Portugal – President Barack Obama won NATO summit agreement Friday to build a missile shield over Europe, an ambitious commitment to protect against Iranian attack while demonstrating the alliance’s continuing relevance – but at the risk of further aggravating Russia.

On another major issue, Obama and the allies are expected to announce plans on Saturday to begin handing off security responsibility in Afghanistan to local forces next year and to complete the transition by the end of 2014.

That end date is three years beyond the time that Obama has said he will start withdrawing U.S. troops, and the challenge is to avoid a rush to the exits as public opinion turns more sharply against the war and Afghan President Hamid Karzai pushes for greater Afghan control.

38 Congress rookies vie for Capitol Hill office space

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press

45 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Rep.-elect Bob Gibbs was trying to get this straight: There’s a public women’s bathroom in the middle of a congressman’s office suite? And in the building next door, not one but two House aides have made their workspace in an unused elevator shaft?

A glittering week being wined, dined and oriented by the most powerful people in Washington gave way Friday to the exercise in humility that is the freshman office lottery. The most senior lawmakers get the best real estate on Capitol Hill. The freshmen get what’s left: the worst office space in Congress.

At the outset, most professed not to care what their new work spaces looked like, or how far they were from the floor of the House.

39 Astronauts open up world to Earthlings via photos

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

54 mins ago

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Earthlings are seeing their planet in a whole new light, thanks to NASA and its astronauts aboard the Internet-wired space station. They’re beaming down dazzling images and guess-this-mystery-location photos via Twitter and have even launched a game. Landlubbers the world over are eating it up. From schoolchildren to grown-up business entrepreneurs and artists, the public is captivated and can’t seem to get enough.

It’s clear from the photos why orbiting astronauts rate Earth-gazing as their favorite pastime.

“The Earth never disappoints,” the commander of the International Space Station, Douglas Wheelock, said in a broadcast interview Thursday.

40 Harvard, Yale abuzzzzzed over game’s vuvuzela ban

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press

19 mins ago

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The buzz over the storied football rivalry between Harvard and Yale won’t be coming from vuvuzelas this weekend: Host Harvard has banned from the 127th game the plastic horns whose incessant droning filled the air during this year’s soccer World Cup.

Harvard Associate Athletics Director Timothy Wheaton said in a statement this week that the noisemakers will not be allowed inside Harvard Stadium for Saturday’s game in the interest of promoting good sportsmanship – a reversal from a previous position that said the horns would be allowed on a case-by-case basis.

“It has become apparent that some individuals intend to use artificial noisemakers to both disrupt play on the field and detract from the overall fan experience for many spectators,” Wheaton said in the statement issued Tuesday.

41 Secretive talks suggest progress in doping probe


2 hrs 5 mins ago

PARIS – A U.S. federal probe into doping in cycling, including whether Lance Armstrong cheated, appears to have made significant headway and is getting closer to its end, say officials who attended or were briefed on meetings between European and American agents this week at Interpol headquarters.

The size of the U.S. delegation, larger than previously known, and the fact that it traveled all the way to France for two days of talks with police officers and other officials from at least three European countries where Armstrong and some of his teammates have competed, trained and lived, was in itself an indication of the importance of the snowballing probe, European officials said.

One European participant said he’d been expecting to meet no more than two or three people at Interpol’s high-security compound in the south-central French city of Lyon. He was surprised to be ushered into a conference room where at least a half-dozen American officials were arrayed across the table.

42 Obama in Portugal; meets with EU, NATO partners

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press

Fri Nov 19, 11:29 am ET

LISBON, Portugal – Back on the world stage for crucial talks, President Barack Obama on Friday quickly encountered European leaders willing to question a president weakened at home and rebuffed abroad.

Standing next to Obama to address the media after the two met privately, Portugal’s president, Anibal Cavaco Silva, complained that the level of U.S. investment in his country is “far from what you would expect.”

He said Portuguese trade and exports to the U.S. also were far from where they could be.

43 Bernanke defends bond-purchase plan, warns China

By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

Fri Nov 19, 12:25 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke hit back at critics, both at home and abroad, who have challenged the central bank’s $600 billion bond-purchase program.

In a speech in Germany, he argued that Congress must help support the Fed’s program with further stimulus aid. And he issued a stern warning to China, saying it and other emerging nations are putting the global economy at risk by keeping their currencies artificially low.

Bernanke made the remarks Friday at a banking conference in Frankfurt.

44 Irish, EU, IMF face marathon talks for loan deal


Fri Nov 19, 12:20 pm ET

DUBLIN – As EU experts dug through the books of Ireland’s debt-crippled banks, the question moved from whether Ireland will take an international bailout to under what conditions.

On the firing line was Ireland’s prized low business tax, which the government says has lured 1,000 multinationals to Ireland over the past decade – but which it may have to give up to satisfy conditions of being rescued.

The Irish rescue is the latest act in Europe’s yearlong drama to prevent mounting debts and deficits from overwhelming the weakest members of the 16-nation eurozone. Greece was saved from bankruptcy in May, and analysts say Portugal could be next in line after Ireland for an EU-IMF lifeboat.

45 Search delayed for 29 miners in New Zealand

By RAY LILLEY, Associated Press

1 hr 32 mins ago

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Rescue crews waited impatiently Saturday outside one of New Zealand’s largest coal mines for the go-ahead to begin a search for 29 men missing after a powerful gas explosion struck deep underground.

Two dazed and slightly injured miners stumbled to the surface hours after the blast shot up the 354-foot- (108-meter-) long ventilation shaft at the Pike River mine on Friday. Video from the scene showed blackened trees and light smoke billowing from the top of the rugged mountain where the mine is located, near Atarau on New Zealand’s South Island.

A company official had earlier said that five men had come out of the mine, based on information provided by the two men who had surfaced. By Saturday morning, however, officials had seen no sign of the other three men.

46 China’s Nobel fury unmatched since Soviet days


Fri Nov 19, 11:57 am ET

OSLO, Norway – China is not the first nation to be rankled by a Nobel Peace Prize. But its furious assault on the 2010 award to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo has reached proportions last seen during the Soviet and Nazi regimes.

Even Cold War dissidents Andrei Sakharov and Lech Walesa were able to have their wives collect the prizes for them. Myanmar democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi’s award was accepted by her 18-year-old son in 1991.

But China’s clampdown on Liu’s relatives means the Nobel medal and diploma likely won’t be handed out for the first time since 1936, when Adolf Hitler prevented German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky from accepting the prize.

47 Palin book takes aim at some new targets

By JOCELYN NOVECK, AP National Writer

Fri Nov 19, 2:22 pm ET

NEW YORK – In her new book, Sarah Palin takes on everything from “American Idol” to “American Beauty” to “Murphy Brown,” revives talk of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and takes issue with JFK’s famous religion speech, saying he “wanted to run away from religion.”

Who gets praise? Simon Cowell, for one. Barack Obama? Unsurprisingly, not so much – she accuses him of “a stark lack of faith in the American people,” among many other things.

“America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag,” which has been billed as a tribute to American values, comes out Nov. 23. The Associated Press purchased a copy.

48 Mecca development promises pilgrims better hajj

By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press

Fri Nov 19, 9:08 am ET

MECCA, Saudi Arabia – A dozen glittering skyscrapers tower over Islam’s holiest shrine, the Kaaba, boasting hotel rooms with 24-hour butler service and luxury marble bathrooms. Below, throngs of Muslims perform the annual hajj pilgrimage, many of them impoverished, sleeping in the streets.

Saudi authorities have transformed the look of Mecca, Islam’s most sacred city, and are planning even more dramatic change in years to come. But much of the change has catered to high-end pilgrims, and critics say what is supposed to be an austere spiritual ritual bringing Muslims closer to God has turned into a luxury expedition for some.

Samir Barqah, a guide who runs tours of the historic city in Mecca, says luxury towers are turning Mecca into Manhattan.

49 US-Russian ‘reset’ in trouble as nuke pact stalls


Fri Nov 19, 7:10 am ET

MOSCOW – Is the reset on the rocks?

Rumblings in Washington by the resurgent Republican Party against Senate ratification of the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty raise doubts about a fragile U.S.-Russian rapprochement – the “reset” that has been a centerpiece of President Obama’s diplomacy.

An unraveling of ties, which hit post-Cold War lows during the administration of George W. Bush, would erode global stability at a time of burgeoning security threats and harm international efforts to stem the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

50 Shoppers shrug off fears about toxic reusable bags

By BEN DOBBIN, Associated Press

Fri Nov 19, 6:08 am ET

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – So you care about the environment, and you take a reusable shopping bag with you to the grocery store to avoid polluting the planet with countless plastic sacks. Now you find out your bag is made with potentially harmful lead. What’s an environmentalist to do?

If you’re like Elnora Cooper, nothing.

“I’m not eating the bag … and I’m not going to get rid of it,” Cooper, 68, said with a chuckle after walking out of a Wegmans Food Markets store in Rochester this week with a reusable bag under her arm.

51 Mindful of costs, wary Michigan cheers GM IPO


Fri Nov 19, 6:31 am ET

DETROIT – General Motors returned to Wall Street to the cheers of traders and the loud growl of a Camaro’s engine. Back home in Michigan they celebrated, too, but the cheer was tinged with regret for what brought GM to this moment and worry for what lies ahead.

“This is the start. It’s the turnaround. It’s what’s happened because of doing the right things,” said Mike Green, a local union president in Lansing, Mich., whose family includes four generations of GM workers. “But you can’t just sit back and rely on it. You’ve got to keep doing the right things day in and day out.”

A little more than 18 months ago, Michigan watched in shock as the unthinkable happened: GM filed for bankruptcy protection and was rescued with a $50 billion infusion from taxpayers. The state cringed as GM was mocked as “Government Motors” and its leadership replaced with industry outsiders.

52 Palin’s success raises tempers, boosts ratings

By JOCELYN NOVECK, AP National Writer

Fri Nov 19, 6:32 am ET

NEW YORK – Conservative blogger Kevin DuJan is psyched. He’s actually starting to think Palin can win the whole kit and kaboodle.

No, not Sarah – though he hopes she’ll be the next president. He means daughter Bristol, on “Dancing with the Stars.”

The 20-year-old Palin’s improbable run to next week’s finals – championed by websites like DuJan’s Hillbuzz.org – has led to such an uproar that conspiracy theories are floating, some fans are insisting they’ll never watch again, and a Wisconsin man actually shot up his television, apparently in disgust over Palin’s dancing.

53 1st black female US senator wants to lead Chicago


54 mins ago

CHICAGO – Carol Moseley Braun was a star – the first black woman to win a seat in the U.S. Senate, where she quickly made a name for herself by standing up to and defeating a powerful senator in a fight over the Confederate flag.

But that was long ago.

When Braun launches a campaign for Chicago mayor on Saturday, she’ll have to reintroduce herself to many voters, including some who weren’t even born the last time she won an election.

54 Bernanke on perilous ground for Fed chairman


1 hr 23 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is taking some highly unusual steps to counter widespread opposition to his $600 billion plan to jump-start the economy. He’s pressing China to let its currency rise and pushing Congress to pass more stimulus aid.

Yet as he veers into these political debates, Bernanke may be putting at risk the Fed’s strongest tools – its credibility and independence.

Bernanke has been under fire since Nov. 3, when the Fed announced a bold plan to buy $600 billion in Treasury bonds. The bond purchases are intended to lower long-term interest rates, lift stock prices and encourage higher spending to energize the weak economy.

55 Ill. breeder scours roadsides for Midwest grapes

By DAVID MERCER, Associated Press

Fri Nov 19, 9:30 am ET

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Wine-grape expert Bill Shoemaker has taken to the roadsides of Illinois in search of wild grapes that he hopes can be crossed with their more refined cousins to create a tasty and hardy crop.

The University of Illinois researcher has begun a years-long project that includes plenty of wild grape tasting – much of it not pleasant.

“After a while you get sore tongues because you taste a lot of acidic grapes,” Shoemaker said. “You spit out an awful lot of grapes you don’t like.”

56 Democrats to hold votes on middle class tax cuts


Fri Nov 19, 1:16 am ET

WASHINGTON – After meeting with President Barack Obama Thursday, Democratic leaders in Congress said they plan to hold a series of politically charged votes to extend middle-class tax cuts while letting tax cuts for the wealthy expire.

Republicans are expected to block the plan, leaving both sides back at square one as they try to negotiate a deal to spare families at every income level from a big tax increase in January.

Democratic officials said Obama did not embrace a particular approach to the tax cuts in his Oval Office meeting with Democratic leaders. He indicated he wanted to wait for a meeting with Democratic and Republican leaders on Nov. 30 before staking out a position.

57 APNewsBreak: New Jonestown memorial going forward

By TIM REITERMAN, Associated Press

Fri Nov 19, 12:35 am ET

OAKLAND, Calif. – A group of Peoples Temple survivors announced plans Thursday for a granite monument inscribed with the names of more than 900 people who died in the Jonestown tragedy 32 years ago to the day.

Some ex-members have grown impatient with efforts by the Rev. Jynona Norwood over the decades to erect a 36-foot-long stone wall, like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, at the Oakland cemetery where more than more than 400 unidentified and unclaimed victims are buried.

Those planning the new and competing memorial include Jim Jones Jr., an adopted son of the temple leader. Jones told The Associated Press it’s time to move forward with an alternative monument – four large stone slabs that would be sunk flat on the grassy mass grave site overlooking San Francisco Bay.

58 NY Gitmo trial spurs fresh debate over detainees

By LARRY NEUMEISTER and TOM HAYS, Associated Press

Thu Nov 18, 11:51 pm ET

NEW YORK – The near-acquittal of the first Guantanamo detainee tried in federal court is reigniting the debate over whether to bring terrorism suspects to justice in the civilian legal system. The Obama administration made it clear Thursday that its position has not changed.

Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in Washington that the administration will continue to rely on a combination of civilian courts and military tribunals to handle terrorism cases.

His comments came a day after Ahmed Ghailani was acquitted in federal court in New York on all but one of more than 280 charges that he took part in the al-Qaida bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. The twin attacks in 1998 killed 224 people, including a dozen Americans.

59 Obama seeks to show Europe he still cares

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press

Thu Nov 18, 10:31 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Just days after an exhausting and sometimes disappointing trip to Asia, President Barack Obama is dashing to Europe to assure America’s trans-Atlantic allies that he is not neglecting them.

Obama’s two days of diplomacy in Lisbon, Portugal, will be framed by back-to-back summits: one with the North American Treaty Organization and then a joint U.S.-European Union gathering. He was scheduled to leave Washington late Thursday.

But it’s Obama’s agenda – from the future of the Afghanistan war to disputes over currency and trade – that will be in the international spotlight at a time when he’s been weakened at home by his party’s defeats in the midterm elections and rebuffed abroad by world leaders.

60 Airports consider congressman’s call to ditch TSA

By RAY HENRY and MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press

Thu Nov 18, 9:45 pm ET

ATLANTA – In a climate of Internet campaigns to shun airport pat-downs and veteran pilots suing over their treatment by government screeners, some airports are considering another way to show dissatisfaction: Ditching TSA agents altogether.

Federal law allows airports to opt for screeners from the private sector instead. The push is being led by a powerful Florida congressman who’s a longtime critic of the Transportation Security Administration and counts among his campaign contributors some of the companies who might take the TSA’s place.

Furor over airline passenger checks has grown as more airports have installed scanners that produce digital images of the body’s contours, and the anger intensified when TSA added a more intrusive style of pat-down recently for those who opt out of the full-body scans. Some travelers are using the Internet to organize protests aimed at the busy travel days next week surrounding Thanksgiving.


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  1. the afternoon talking heads. I ma getting too pissed a the lack of challenging of the lies being spewed by the right wing about the economy, unemployment and Afghanistan today. The attacks on the unemployed and the reasons of not extending the benefits are really disgusting.  

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