Dec 01 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Ending gay ban poses little risk to military: Pentagon


2 hrs 12 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A Pentagon study released Tuesday said ending a ban on gay soldiers serving openly would create no serious problem for the US military and that a “solid majority” of troops expressed no objection to the change.

The study, which the White House hopes will pave the way for Congress to lift the ban, concluded the risk “to overall military effectiveness is low” if the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law is repealed.

“We are both convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war,” wrote the report’s authors, General Carter Ham, and the Pentagon’s top legal adviser, Jeh Johnson.

2 Haiti ruling party acknowledges possible poll defeat

by Clarens Renois, AFP

1 hr 49 mins ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Haiti’s ruling party acknowledged possible defeat on Tuesday in pivotal general elections, raising hopes of a peaceful power transfer in the quake-hit and cholera-gripped nation.

Widespread fraud allegations following Sunday’s polls had added to the climate of intimidation and fear that persists in Haiti, a Caribbean nation whose recent past was plagued by dictatorship and violent political upheaval.

Election results are not due to be announced for weeks, but an unexpectedly candid admission from the ruling INITE (Unity) party that it may have lost the polls mustered belief that a real political shift could be imminent.

3 Monitors give Haiti elections the green light

by Stephane Jourdain, AFP

Mon Nov 29, 6:45 pm ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – International election monitors declared Haiti’s vital post-quake elections valid Monday, while two leading presidential candidates rowed back on allegations the polls had been rigged.

Gripped by cholera and traumatized by January’s earthquake, Haiti faced the specter of political unrest on Sunday when 12 of the 18 candidates cried foul before polls had closed. Thousands of protesters took to the streets.

On Monday, longtime opposition leader and pre-election favorite Mirlande Manigat and popular musician Michel Martelly, another leading candidate, dramatically reversed their calls for the polls to be scrapped.

4 US limits cable access after leak humiliation

by Shaun Tandon, AFP

42 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Tuesday cut off the military’s access to some sensitive diplomatic messages after a massive leak embarrassed and outraged governments around the world.

China demanded action and Russia’s spy agency indicated it was eager to hunt for secrets after the whistle-blower site WikiLeaks obtained thousands of classified US cables — apparently from a disgruntled US soldier.

The State Department said it had temporarily suspended the Pentagon’s access to some of its correspondence, halting a trend to greater information sharing within the US government launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

5 US slams WikiLeaks ‘attack’ as new memos drop

by Lachlan Carmichael, AFP

Mon Nov 29, 8:00 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Top US diplomat Hillary Clinton on Monday accused WikiLeaks of an “attack” on the world as key American allies were left red-faced by embarrassing revelations in a vast trove of leaked memos.

Meanwhile new diplomatic cables continued to trickle out, including one saying Iran’s supreme leader has cancer and will be dead “within months” and another saying that China would eventually accept a reunited Korea.

In a lengthy statement, the secretary of state had attempted to limit the damage as she told reporters the United States “deeply regrets” the release of the 250,000 diplomatic cables, all apparently from the State Department.

6 WikiLeaks under new pressure on cable dump

by Shaun Tandon, AFP

Tue Nov 30, 12:51 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – WikiLeaks came under intense pressure Tuesday after its mass dump of sensitive US documents, with China demanding action, the website facing cyber attack and a defector announcing a rival site.

Two days after the whistle-blower website began releasing a trove of files, signs emerged that more damaging disclosures were on the way with officials saying WikiLeaks had thousands of cables on the sensitive US role in Taiwan.

China warned against “any disturbance to China-US relations” after leaked cables indicated that Beijing was frustrated with longtime ally North Korea and may accept its collapse and absorption by the US-backed South.

7 WikiLeaks faces prosecution calls as backlash mounts


Tue Nov 30, 10:58 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – The founder of WikiLeaks faced calls for his prosecution on Tuesday as governments around the world closed ranks against the whistleblowing webist over its mass release of secret US diplomatic cables.

Japan echoed its key ally the United States in describing the leaks as “criminal” and said governments alone had the right to decide on the release of sensitive documents.

But WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange, who defended the decision to reveal some 250,000 diplomatic cables, found support from leftist governments in South America, including an offer for sanctuary as the backlash widened.

8 Medvedev warns West of new arms race

by Dmitry Zaks, AFP

Tue Nov 30, 1:12 pm ET

MOSCOW (AFP) – President Dmitry Medvedev warned Tuesday that failure by Russia and the West to agree on a new missile shield for Europe could spark an arms race that would see Moscow deploy new weapons systems.

The stark warning from a president, who has a history of taking a softer line on Western policy, came during a wide-ranging state-of-the-nation address that Medvedev primarily devoted to domestic issues.

But he diverged briefly into foreign affairs to present the West with a choice — either work with Russia on missile defence or face the consequences.

9 Eurozone debt crisis deepens


1 hr 56 mins ago

PARIS (AFP) – The financial cloud hanging over the eurozone darkened Tuesday, with the euro falling and Italy hit by rising borrowing rates as EU measures to control sovereign debt left investors uncertain and anxious.

The euro fell under 1.30 dollars for the first time since mid-September, dropping at one point to 1.2969 dollars from 1.3121 dollars late Monday. The single currency later edged back up to 1.2982 dollars.

Upward pressure intensified on 10-year borrowing rates for countries seen at risk of needing a rescue after Greece and Ireland, with attention focused on Spain, a potentially much bigger problem for the EU.

10 Euro plunges to two-month low under 1.30 dollars


Tue Nov 30, 10:14 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – The euro sank under 1.30 dollars and bond rates rose on Tuesday when the eurozone debt crisis raged on unabated by Ireland’s bailout analysts said, but stock markets mostly rose.

In mid-morning London trading, the euro slid to 1.2999 dollars — the lowest point since September 16. It later stood at 1.3000 dollars, which compared with 1.3121 dollars late in New York on Monday.

The dollar fell to 83.98 yen from 84.25 yen on Monday.

11 Rate rises spread eurozone drama to Spain, Italy


Tue Nov 30, 7:21 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – The euro plunged and eurozone debt pressure rose again on Tuesday amid warnings that pricing eurozone debt is now so risky that funds may desert countries exposed after Ireland, such as Portugal and Spain.

The euro dropped under 1.30 dollars on Tuesday for the first time since mid-September to 1.2999 dollars — the lowest point since September 16.

The upward pressure on 10-year borrowing rates for countries seen as at risk of needing a rescue, after Greece and Ireland, rose, with particular attention focused on Spain because the size of its economy puts it in a far bigger problem category

12 More corruption claims mar World Cup race

by Peter Capella, AFP

1 hr 55 mins ago

ZURICH (AFP) – More claims of graft in world football marred the final stages of the race to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on Tuesday, as Olympic chiefs vowed to probe one of their own officials caught up in the allegations.

The renewed allegations and action by the International Olympic Committee failed to dampen an intense lobbying drive by British prime minister David Cameron in Zurich to woo support for England’s 2018 bid ahead of Thursday’s vote.

But a spokesman for Vladimir Putin said that the Russian premier would follow in his rival’s steps, as officials from Russia 2018 suggested that the members of the FIFA executive committee had already made up their mind.

13 New graft claims overshadow World Cup vote build-up

by Peter Capella, AFP

Tue Nov 30, 12:37 pm ET

ZURICH (AFP) – More corruption claims dogged FIFA on Tuesday, only two days before it picks the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, as Olympics chiefs vowed to probe one of their own officials caught up in the allegations.

As prime ministers and royalty headed for the Swiss city of Zurich ahead of Thursday’s two announcements, fresh media allegations even prompted a call for football’s world governing body to postpone the decision.

And Russia, one of the frontrunners to stage the 2018 tournament, railed against the move to award two tournaments in one go, saying it encouraged collusion.

14 Finnish vineyards use creativity, not grapes, for wine

by Aira-Katariina Vehaskari, AFP

Tue Nov 30, 12:03 pm ET

MARIEHAMN, Finland (AFP) – Can a near-Arctic island in a wind-scoured archipelago known for beer and herring produce drinkable wine without grapes?

Yes, says 72-year-old Ingmar Eriksson, the proprietor of Tjudoe Vineyard in the autonomous Finnish province of Aaland, where the wine is made from apples and served with slabs of ostrich steak.

And he is not alone.

15 Time for compromise, troubled UN climate talks told

by Richard Ingham, AFP

Mon Nov 29, 7:25 pm ET

CANCUN, Mexico (AFP) – A new round of UN climate talks got under way on Monday to appeals for action and compromise after the squabbles that drove last year’s global summit in Copenhagen close to disaster.

“A richer tapestry of efforts is needed,” UN climate chief Christiana Figueres warned, as she spelt out the tasks facing the 12-day conference in the Mexican resort city of Cancun.

“A tapestry of holes will not work — and the holes can only be filled in through compromise.”

16 Negotiators get down to details at UN climate talks

by Richard Ingham, AFP

Tue Nov 30, 1:01 pm ET

CANCUN, Mexico (AFP) – Negotiators got down to the nitty-gritty on the second day of the world climate talks on Tuesday, grappling for a breakthrough on half a dozen issues that will revive the battered UN process.

By December 10, the 12-day gathering hopes to kickstart operational work after a year in which political interest in climate change has all but dropped off the map.

“The discussions yesterday were generally good, but there are holes,” said Nina Jamal of Indyact, a watchdog on green and social issues.

17 Japan Airlines rehabilitation plan approved by court


Tue Nov 30, 7:38 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Struggling Japan Airlines (JAL) on Tuesday said it had won approval from the Tokyo district court for a rehabilitation plan that will see thousands of job cuts, route closures and a debt waiver.

“The court today formally approved the restructuring plan,” said Hideo Seto, president of the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. (ETIC), which is charged with leading the restructuring process.

“With the approval of the plan, we have built the foundation to create a new Japan Airlines,” he told a press conference.

18 Military study gives green light to end gay ban

By Phil Stewart and Ross Colvin, Reuters

52 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon unveiled a study on Tuesday that played down the impact of ending the military’s ban on gays, but worries among generals about the fallout on troops fighting abroad could delay action.

The results of the study dismissed or minimized concerns raised in Congress and some quarters of the military about President Barack Obama’s plans to repeal the 17-year-old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy — hopefully by the end of the year.

“We are both convinced that our military can do this, even during this time of war,” concluded study authors Army General Carter Ham and Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson.

19 Obama and Republicans agree to negotiate on taxes

By Jeff Mason, Reuters

2 hrs 35 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he still disagreed with Republicans on whether to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, but the two sides agreed to negotiate a deal in the coming days.

Obama said he appointed Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and budget director Jack Lew to work with congressional Republicans and Democrats to come up with a compromise to prevent broad tax increases from occurring next year.

“We should work to make sure that taxes will not go up by thousands of dollars on hard-working middle-class Americans come January 1, which would be disastrous for those families but also could be crippling for the economy,” Obama told reporters after a meeting with congressional leaders at the White House.

20 Senate passes overhaul of food safety system

By Charles Abbott, Reuters

2 hrs 11 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate passed the largest overhaul of the U.S. food safety system in decades on Tuesday, a response to massive recalls such as last summer’s recall of half a billion eggs in a salmonella outbreak.

The Senate voted 73-25 to pass the bill. The House of Representatives backed a different version in July 2009. With their post-election session due to end by mid-December, lawmakers have just weeks to resolve their differences and send legislation to President Barack Obama to sign into law.

“I urge the House — which has previously passed legislation demonstrating its strong commitment to making our food supply safer — to act quickly on this critical bill, and I applaud the work that was done to ensure its broad bipartisan passage in the Senate,” Obama said in a statement.

21 Secretary of State Clinton pushes Central Asia on human rights

By Andrew Quinn, Reuters

Tue Nov 30, 1:41 pm ET

ASTANA (Reuters) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed Central Asian governments on Tuesday to expand democratic freedoms, saying countries which quash human rights only make themselves less competitive on the global stage.

Launching a tour amid uproar over the leak of a huge cache of classified U.S. diplomatic cables by a whistleblower website, Clinton also said she was committed to Internet freedom.

She said it was important that “governments don’t overreact” to information that they do not like being aired in public.

22 Euro zone periphery hammered as default fears rise

By Rex Merrifield, Reuters

Tue Nov 30, 12:59 pm ET

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The euro zone’s debt crisis deepened on Tuesday, with investors pushing the single currency lower and the spreads on peripheral bonds up to new highs amid concern weak member states may ultimately be forced to default.

European policymakers came out in force to try to calm markets, with European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet warning that pundits were underestimating the determination of governments to keep the euro zone stable.

But markets paid little attention, pressuring Portugal, Spain and Italy only days after the EU agreed to an 85 billion euro ($110.7 billion) bailout for Ireland.

23 Pressure mounts on Portugal’s Socrates over crisis

By Andrei Khalip, Reuters

2 hrs 14 mins ago

LISBON (Reuters) – Portuguese unions backed away from confrontation with the government on Tuesday over austerity plans it sees as vital to avoiding an international bailout.

Union leaders said they wanted to talk to Prime Minister Jose Socrates over their worries rather than take to the streets. A general strike last week paralyzed public transport and shut down many services.

Their words were a glimmer of good news for Socrates, who says the austerity measures can succeed in pulling Portugal out of its debt crisis even though many economists and investors believe a bailout is inevitable.

24 Trichet welcomes clarity on euro zone default plans

By John O’Donnell, Reuters

2 hrs 49 mins ago

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet on Tuesday welcomed Europe’s decision to mirror the IMF’s approach to private investors in sovereign defaults and attacked talk of currency wars.

Europe has softened its tone on private investor involvement in any possible future default in recent days, saying it will follow the example of the International Monetary Fund rather than putting in place an automatic process.

“I had called upon governments to clarify their position and avoid ambiguity vis-a-vis investors, savers and market participants,” Trichet said at an European Parliament hearing.

25 Analysis: Is euro zone running out of time on debt crisis?

By Luke Baker, Reuters

Tue Nov 30, 9:59 am ET

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The euro zone debt crisis is moving at such a pace, with pressure now mounting on several countries simultaneously, that European Union institutions may find it impossible to get ahead of the markets.

After Greece’s deficit and debt problems emerged in late 2009, there were five months of steadily rising Greek sovereign bond yields and efforts by EU officials to contain the threat before a 110 billion euro ($140 billion) bailout was arranged.

The lag was understandable because the EU had never had to deal with such a crisis since the euro’s introduction in 1999. Once a rescue mechanism was agreed for Athens, it was only a matter of days before the funds were disbursed.

26 Ireland deal to take time to calm markets: IMF

By Martina Fuchs, Reuters

Tue Nov 30, 8:00 am ET

DUBAI (Reuters) – The deal to bail out Ireland from its debt crisis will take time to reverse market momentum, but growth is likely to return in the short term, the IMF’s first deputy managing director said on Tuesday.

The extension of Ireland’s deadline for plugging its budget black hole is also a positive step but the challenge to stabilize the country’s financial system remain.

“It isn’t just a matter of showing that banks are adequately capitalized. You have to show that they have adequate access to funding,” John Lipsky told Reuters Insider.

27 Russia’s Medvedev warns of new arms race

By Steve Gutterman, Reuters

Tue Nov 30, 9:21 am ET

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Dmitry Medvedev warned on Tuesday that a new arms race would erupt within the next decade unless Russia and the West forged an agreement to cooperate on building a missile defense system.

In his annual state of the nation address, Medvedev called for closer cooperation with the United States and the European Union, holding out the prospect of closer ties two decades after the Soviet Union’s collapse ended the Cold War.

He said tension would ratchet up fast, forcing Russia to bolster its military arsenal, if Western offers of cooperation on a system to defend against missile threats failed to produce a concrete agreement.

28 WTO’s Lamy says final Doha countdown has begun

By Jonathan Lynn, Reuters

Tue Nov 30, 9:55 am ET

GENEVA (Reuters) – Political leaders want negotiators to deliver them a global trade deal next year and the clock has started ticking on intensified talks, the head of the World Trade Organization said on Tuesday.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said the G20 and APEC summits this month had signaled they wanted the nine-year-old Doha round concluded and 2011 was a window of opportunity.

“We have the political signal, we have the technical expertise and we have the work program,” Lamy told a WTO meeting called to review the state of the Doha talks.

29 China postpones Norway talks as Nobel tensions rise

By Gwladys Fouche and Walter Gibbs, Reuters

Tue Nov 30, 8:07 am ET

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway said on Tuesday that China had indefinitely postponed bilateral trade talks in what experts said was an escalation of tension ahead of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring Chinese rights activist Liu Xiaobo.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee angered Beijing last month by awarding the Nobel to Liu, who is serving an 11-year jail term on subversion charges for his role in advocating democratic reform and an end to the Communist party’s power monopoly.

The Asian superpower has snubbed Norwegian ministers and pressured diplomats to boycott the December 10 award ceremony, set to focus the world’s media spotlight on human rights in China.

30 North Americans get plenty of calcium, D: report

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

Tue Nov 30, 2:30 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Most people in the United States and Canada get plenty of vitamin D and calcium, and may damage their health by taking too many supplements, experts advised on Tuesday.

While both are important for healthy bones, North Americans may be confused about how much they need, the Institute of Medicine committee said.

Contrary to popular wisdom, many Americans and Canadians get plenty of vitamin D from the sun and do not need extra supplements to keep their bones strong, the expert panel advised.

31 Obama proposes freeze in federal worker pay

By Caren Bohan, Reuters

Mon Nov 29, 10:48 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama proposed a two-year freeze on Monday on the pay of federal workers and vowed to work with Republicans to cut the ballooning U.S. budget deficit.

The pay freeze is part of Obama’s efforts to push back against Republicans, who have labeled the president and his Democrats as big spenders while taking aim at his policies such as an $814 billion economic stimulus package and healthcare reform.

The White House estimates the pay freeze would save about $2 billion in the current 2011 fiscal year and $28 billion over five years. It would require congressional approval.

32 Pentagon study dismisses risk of openly gay troops

By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press

23 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon’s study on gays in the military has determined that overturning the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on serving openly might cause some disruption at first but would not create widespread or long-lasting problems.

The study provides ammunition to congressional Democrats struggling to overturn the law. But even with the release of Tuesday’s report, there is no indication they can overcome fierce Republican objections with just a few weeks left in this year’s postelection congressional session.

Still, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, said Congress should act quickly because of a recent effort by a federal judge to overturn the law.

33 Obama, GOP promise to work on differences on taxes

By JIM KUHNHENN and DAVID ESPO, Associated Press

1 hr 11 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Seeking greater cooperation but with no quick fixes in sight, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans vowed on Tuesday to work toward resolving their sharply different views about tax cuts before year’s end.

“The American people did not vote for gridlock,” Obama said following their meeting at the White House. “They did not vote for unyielding partisanship. They’re demanding cooperation and they’re demanding progress, and they’ll hold all of us, and I mean all of us, accountable.”

There was no consensus on whether to keep Bush-era tax cuts in place for the middle class and wealthy alike. But the eight bipartisan congressional leaders and the president agreed to try to break through their differences by appointing a working group to negotiate a tax cut agreement in short order.

34 Wary meeting: Obama, GOP leaders pledge tax talks

By DAVID ESPO and JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press

30 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Heralding a new era of divided government, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans pledged warily to seek common ground on tax cuts and reduced spending Tuesday in their first meeting since tumultuous midterm elections.

Obama also made a strong plea to Senate Republicans to permit ratification of a new arms control treaty with Russia by year’s end, raising the issue first in a session in the White House’s Roosevelt Room and then in a follow-up meeting without aides present, officials said.

No substantive agreements on essential year-end legislation emerged from the session, and none had been expected. Instead, the meeting was a classic capital blend of substance and style, offering a chance for Obama, House Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner and Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell to become more comfortable in one another’s presence.

35 Senate shuns push for elimination of pet projects

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

25 mins ago

WASHINGTON – By a sizable – but dwindling – margin, the Senate on Tuesday voted in favor of allowing lawmakers to keep stocking bills with home-state projects like roads, grants to local police departments and clean-water projects.

But with the House set to tumble into GOP hands and anti-earmark reinforcements coming to the Senate in January, the window seems to be closing on the practice.

Tuesday’s 39-56 tally rejected a GOP bid to ban the practice of loading spending bills with so-called earmarks – those parochial provisions that lawmakers deliver to their states – but it appears the curtain is coming down on the practice.

36 GOP senators signal progress on nuclear treaty

By DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press

27 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Republicans reluctant to quickly ratify a nuclear weapons deal with Russia said Tuesday the Obama administration had addressed some of their concerns, raising the prospect for Senate approval of the landmark treaty.

President Barack Obama has insisted that completion of the treaty is a national security imperative and he argued for the pact at a White House meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday.

“We need to get it done,” Obama told reporters after the morning session.

37 AP Enterprise: Guards shown watching inmate attack

By REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press

12 mins ago

BOISE, Idaho – The surveillance video from the overhead cameras shows Hanni Elabed being beaten by a fellow inmate in an Idaho prison, managing to bang on a prison guard station window, pleading for help. Behind the glass, correctional officers look on, but no one intervenes when Elabed is knocked unconscious.

No one steps into the cellblock when the attacker sits down to rest, and no one stops him when he resumes the beating.

Videos of the attack obtained by The Associated Press show officers watching the beating for several minutes. The footage is a key piece of evidence for critics who claim the privately run Idaho Correctional Center uses inmate-on-inmate violence to force prisoners to snitch on their cellmates or risk being moved to extremely violent units.

38 Senate passes bill to boost food safety

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press

Tue Nov 30, 1:56 pm ET

WASHINGTON – The Senate passed legislation Tuesday to make food safer in the wake of deadly E. coli and salmonella outbreaks, potentially giving the government broad new powers to increase inspections of food processing facilities and force companies to recall tainted food.

The $1.4 billion bill, which would also place stricter standards on imported foods, passed the Senate 73-25. Supporters say passage is critical after widespread outbreaks in peanuts, eggs and produce.

Those outbreaks have exposed a lack of resources and authority at the FDA as the embattled agency struggled to contain and trace the contaminated products. The agency rarely inspects many food facilities and farms, visiting some every decade or so and others not at all.

39 Home prices falling faster in most metro areas


59 mins ago

NEW YORK – Millions of foreclosures and weak demand from buyers are forcing home prices down in most major U.S. cities.

Prices are falling even in places like San Francisco and San Diego, which had posted strong increases just a few months ago. Analysts say many markets won’t improve until they see fewer foreclosures and more job gains.

“Unemployment is still high, people are afraid of losing their homes and credit is hard to get,” said Maureen Maitland, vice president of Standard & Poor’s indices.

40 Report: A bit more vitamin D is good, not too much


Tue Nov 30, 7:54 am ET

WASHINGTON – Got milk? You may need a couple cups more than today’s food labels say to get enough vitamin D for strong bones. But don’t go overboard: Long-awaited new dietary guidelines say there’s no proof that megadoses prevent cancer or other ailments – sure to frustrate backers of the so-called sunshine vitamin.

The decision by the prestigious Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences, could put some brakes on the nation’s vitamin D craze, warning that super-high levels could be risky.

“More is not necessarily better,” cautioned Dr. Joann Manson of Harvard Medical School, who co-authored the Institute of Medicine’s report being released Tuesday.

41 EU launches antitrust probe into Google


2 hrs 43 mins ago

BRUSSELS – European Union regulators will probe whether Google Inc. has been manipulating its search results to stifle competition, funnel more traffic to its own services and protect its global stranglehold of the online search market.

The European Commission’s move, announced Tuesday, is the first formal investigation by a major regulatory agency into these issues and could potentially result in billions in fines, as in the recent cases of Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp.

Several competitors, one owned by Microsoft, say that links to their services appear too low on Google’s general search results. They also claim that when Google offers similar services, such as online price comparison, it puts its own links higher on the sponsored search results, the ones companies have to pay for.

42 WikiLeaks release sparks alarm over diplomacy

By DAN PERRY, Associated Press

Tue Nov 30, 1:40 pm ET

JERUSALEM – Is diplomacy in danger?

The torrent of condemnation heaped on WikiLeaks from around the globe did suggest a widespread sense – among government officials, but also among the sometimes more jaded observer and analyst class – that in releasing U.S. diplomatic documents the group crossed a dangerous line.

The prime minister of Israel, a man hardly accustomed to representing global consensus, on Monday found himself in lockstep with most of his peers as he warned that statecraft itself was imperiled by a reality in which no secret is safe if it is written.

43 China bars US official from American’s appeal

By CHARLES HUTZLER, Associated Press

Tue Nov 30, 6:22 am ET

BEIJING – A Beijing appeals court barred U.S. diplomats from attending a hearing Tuesday for an American geologist sentenced to eight years in prison for obtaining information on China’s oil industry that the government says are state secrets.

The two-hour-plus hearing in the case of Xue Feng ended without a judgment. He and his lawyer argued the government wrongly applied its broad powers to classify as secrets information that should be commonly available, said the lawyer, Tong Wei.

Outside the Beijing High People’s Court, a senior U.S. Embassy official called for Xue’s release and return to the U.S. and fumed about the court’s decision to exclude American diplomats.

44 Conn. high court hears immigrant-benefits case

By DAVE COLLINS, Associated Press

42 mins ago

HARTFORD, Conn. – A lawyer for 4,800 legal immigrants in Connecticut urged the state’s highest court Tuesday to strike down a state law aimed at taking away taxpayer-funded medical benefits from their impoverished clients.

The case follows similar legal fights in other states where courts have ruled that it is unconstitutional under equal protection rights to deny Medicaid coverage to legal immigrants while providing the coverage to citizens with similar health and economic problems.

The Connecticut Supreme Court didn’t immediately rule on the matter Tuesday. A decision could take months.

45 Mexican chief hopes Republicans change on climate

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

Tue Nov 30, 2:09 am ET

CANCUN, Mexico – Mexican President Felipe Calderon says he can understand why U.S. voters in an economic crisis turned to the opposition party, but he hopes the Republicans will eventually accept the need to protect the planet’s climate for “new generations.”

“I hope they can realize sooner or later how important it is for the future,” Calderon said Monday.

At the same time, in an implicit criticism of China, the Mexican leader also spoke of poorer nations taking a “radical” position against any legally binding commitments to rein in their emissions of carbon dioxide and other industrial, transport and agricultural gases blamed for global warming, something he said Mexico is willing to do.

46 Swastika case another race issue for NM town

By TIM KORTE, Associated Press

Mon Nov 29, 9:48 pm ET

FARMINGTON, N.M. – Three friends had just finished their shifts at a McDonald’s when prosecutors say they carried out a gruesome attack on a customer: They allegedly shaped a coat hanger into a swastika, placed it on a heated stove and branded the symbol on the arm of the mentally disabled Navajo man.

Authorities say they then shaved a swastika on the back of the 22-year-old victim’s head and used markers to scrawl messages and images on his body, including “KKK,” `’White Power,” a pentagram and a graphic image of a penis.

The men have become the first in the nation to be charged under a new law that makes it easier for the federal government to prosecute people for hate crimes.

47 Dem state lawmakers defecting to GOP post-election

By SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press

Mon Nov 29, 9:47 pm ET

ATLANTA – Staggering Election Day losses are not the Democratic Party’s final indignity this year. At least 13 state lawmakers in five states have defected to Republican ranks since the Nov. 2 election, adding to already huge GOP gains in state legislatures. And that number could grow as next year’s legislative sessions draw near.

The defections underscore dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party – particularly in the South – and will give Republicans a stronger hand in everything from pushing a conservative fiscal and social agenda to redrawing political maps.

In Alabama, four Democrats announced last week they were joining the GOP, giving Republicans a supermajority in the House that allows them to pass legislation without any support from the other party. The party switch of a Democratic lawmaker from New Orleans handed control of Louisiana’s House to Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction.

48 Governors seek ‘road map’ for N. Rockies wolves

By BEN NEARY and MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press

Mon Nov 29, 7:59 pm ET

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – After years of legal wrangling over wolf management, the Obama administration and three governors on Monday discussed crafting an end-game – including whether Congress should pull the plug on the debate by declaring the animals’ numbers have fully recovered in the Northern Rockies.

The federal government has been turned back twice in its efforts to get wolves off the endangered species list. Success would open the door to public hunting – something the governors of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming say is badly needed to keep the predators’ expanding population in check.

All three states are anxious to reduce wolf numbers to protect other wildlife and reduce livestock attacks.

49 N.O. officer says he burned body after Katrina

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press

Mon Nov 29, 7:50 pm ET

NEW ORLEANS – A New Orleans police officer on trial for burning the body of a man who was fatally shot by a different officer testified Monday that he set the fire because he didn’t want to let another corpse rot in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath.

“I was exposed to so much death, so many bodies,” said Officer Gregory McRae, one of two officers charged with burning the body of 31-year-old Henry Glover in the back seat of a car on Sept. 2, 2005.

McRae said nobody ordered him to torch the car or Glover’s body, and he denied setting the fire to cover up a police shooting. McRae said his decision was influenced by having seen other bodies floating in the flood waters that inundated New Orleans.

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