Dec 14 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Berlusconi foes reject peace offer ahead of vote

by Dario Thuburn, AFP

1 hr 29 mins ago

ROME (AFP) – Opponents of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Monday rejected a last-ditch peace offer from the embattled leader, leaving Italy on tenterhooks on the eve of a confidence vote that could bring him down.

Lawmakers loyal to speaker of parliament Gianfranco Fini, whose break with Berlusconi earlier this year precipitated the current political crisis, said they would only support a centre-right government “headed up by someone else”.

Berlusconi, 74, had offered a new “legislative pact” with Fini’s allies, as well as with the opposition Union of the Centre (UDC) party, and said a vote of no-confidence in his government would mean holding fresh elections.

2 Ivory Coast troops pressure Ouattara ‘government’

by Christophe Koffi, AFP

59 mins ago

ABIDJAN (AFP) – Troops loyal to defiant Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo blockaded his rival Alassane Ouattara’s headquarters Monday, in the first armed stand-off of the West African nation’s two-week-old crisis.

As EU foreign ministers in Brussels agreed measures against Gbagbo and his top supporters, the incumbent deployed troops and gendarmes on access routes to Ouattara’s United Nations-protected waterfront base.

Gbagbo and Ouattara both declared themselves president in the wake of last month’s disputed election. Ouattara has been recognised by the international community, but Ivorian army chiefs continue to back Gbagbo.

3 Judge rules Obama health reform unconstitutional

by Lucile Malandain, AFP

1 hr 39 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A US judge Monday ruled that a key provision in the Obama administration’s landmark health care reform requiring all Americans to have medical insurance was unconstitutional.

It was the first major legal blow to President Barack Obama concerning the radical overhaul of the nation’s health care system, which he has made a cornerstone of his administration.

The ruling by Judge Henry Hudson of the Eastern District Court in Richmond, Virginia, found that the new law’s mandate that Americans must buy insurance or pay a fine goes beyond federal authority and violates the Commerce Clause, a key component of the US Constitution.

4 Kosovo tense as Thaci claims victory ahead of poll results

by Stephanie van den Berg, AFP

Sun Dec 12, 7:25 pm ET

PRISTINA (AFP) – Prime Minister Hashim Thaci claimed victory late Sunday for his Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), but the main opposition Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) claimed they led the vote.

“Victory is ours!” Thaci told his supporters hours after polling closed in what were the first elections since the territory declared independence nearly three years ago.

The election commission will only begin announcing results on Monday but an exit poll put the PDK in the lead with 31 percent of the vote.

5 Palin broadens horizons in troubled Haiti

by Andrew Gully, AFP

Sun Dec 12, 6:12 pm ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP) – Sarah Palin toured Haiti Sunday amid post-election unrest, comforting quake and cholera victims and gaining humanitarian kudos as she geared up for a possible White House bid in 2012.

The 46-year-old former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate was accompanied on the weekend trip by her husband Todd and 20-year-old daughter Bristol.

On the 11-month anniversary of January’s devastating earthquake, there is deep political uncertainty in violence-plagued Haiti, where rioting after disputed elections killed five people this week.

6 Ambassadors urge Haiti to trust in vote review

by Andrew Gully, AFP

Mon Dec 13, 3:52 am ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AFP) – Key ambassadors to Haiti called on the country’s leaders to resolve a post-election crisis, which has been aggravated by a controversial vote recount due to begin on Monday.

Envoys from the United Nations, the United States, the Organization of American States and the European Union urged Haiti’s presidential candidates to avoid violence by pursuing legal means to challenge the election results.

The joint statement, on the eve of a Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) meeting to discuss forming a commission to sort out the dispute, invited the candidates “to take part in the process of establishing the commission.”

7 African health research has solutions but no support

by Boris Bachorz, AFP

Sun Dec 12, 3:37 pm ET

NAIROBI (AFP) – African health laboratories are bubbling with innovation to combat the continent’s diseases but these home-grown solutions are stagnating due to a lack of support, studies published Sunday said.

The studies published by the Science journal and BioMed Central identified 25 “stagnant technologies” that never got off the drawing board.

“Driven largely by entrepreneurs, innovative and affordable technologies to improve health in Africa are under development throughout the continent,” said Ken Simiyu, who co-authored the study for Canada’s McLaughlin-Rotman Center for Global Health (MRC).

8 China’s leaders pledge stable economic growth

by Dan Martin, AFP

Sun Dec 12, 4:21 pm ET

BEIJING (AFP) – China’s leaders pledged to ensure “stable and healthy” economic development in 2011, state media said on Sunday in announcing the conclusion of a top-level annual meeting on the economy.

The Central Economic Work Conference, held each year to outline economic strategies for the coming 12 months, also resolved to manage inflation expectations in an “active and stable way”, the official news agency Xinhua said.

The three-day meeting of the powerful nine-member Communist Party Politburo Standing Committee — presided over by President Hu Jintao — also reaffirmed plans for a tighter monetary policy next year, the report said, citing a statement from the meeting.

9 OECD warns eurozone on debt


Mon Dec 13, 10:30 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – Eurozone nations are enjoying a sustained if muted recovery but need to adopt tough measures to correct economic imbalances and must soon begin to cut their massive debt loads, the OECD said on Monday.

The eurozone should also put in place a permanent crisis resolution mechanism that would force nations to carry out reforms to get aid, the OECD said, an issue European leaders are expected to tackle at a summit later this week.

In its latest survey of the 16 nations which share the euro, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said a “gradual and sustained recovery” is underway in the but that “the pace of recovery is likely to be muted.”

10 Moody’s says Spain banking outlook "negative"

by Katell Abiven, AFP

Mon Dec 13, 7:30 am ET

MADRID (AFP) – Credit rating agency Moody’s issued a negative outlook on Spain’s banks on Monday and warned that total economic losses could reach 176 billion euros.

New York-based Moody’s Investors Service said it was maintaining a negative view for the next 12-18 months because it expected Spanish banks’ capital, profits and access to finance to remain weak.

The verdict comes as Spain battles to convince nervous markets that its finances are solid and there is no reason to fear it will need an Irish-style economic and banking rescue.

11 Judge rejects key part of Obama healthcare law

By Lisa Lambert and Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters

15 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A judge in Virginia on Monday declared a key part of President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare law unconstitutional in the first major setback on an issue that will likely end up at the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2002, backed arguments by the state of Virginia that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to start buying health insurance in 2014 or face a fine.

“This dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance — or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage — it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate,” Hudson wrote.

12 Special Report: Julian Assange versus the world

By Mark Hosenball, Reuters

2 hrs 16 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hollywood has long had a weak spot for renegade computer hackers. In the 1983 film “War Games,” a teenage whiz breaks into military data networks and almost sets off World War III. In “The Matrix,” the 1999 blockbuster, a rebellious programer fights for humanity against soulless machines. And in this year’s model, the hero of “Inception” hacks into, and manipulates, people’s dreams.

Dream-hacking is still probably beyond the capabilities of Julian Assange, the 39-year-old Australian-born computer programer who created and, until his arrest last week, served as editor in chief of the website WikiLeaks.

But Assange, relatively unknown until earlier this year, has masterfully manipulated elite media outlets. He has exasperated and humiliated the U.S. government and its diplomatic partners by creating a resilient, hard-to-kill worldwide network of websites that reveals their secrets. And he has in short order turned WikiLeaks and himself into household names, demonstrating how reality can be stranger than Hollywood fiction.

13 Berlusconi warns of crisis ahead of crucial vote

By James Mackenzie, Reuters

Mon Dec 13, 9:24 am ET

ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said rebel lawmakers could pitch Italy into the middle of the euro zone’s debt crisis if they voted against him in a no-confidence vote on Tuesday.

Speaking in the Senate a day before a showdown that could force him from office and trigger early elections, Berlusconi said his government had kept Italy out of the turmoil seen in Ireland or Greece but that the threat of instability remained.

“It is madness to initiate a crisis without any foreseeable solutions,” he said.

14 Afghan MPs demand president form new parliament

By Jonathon Burch, Reuters

Mon Dec 13, 6:09 am ET

KABUL (Reuters) – A group of about 100 Afghan members of parliament demanded Monday that President Hamid Karzai inaugurate the assembly by December 19, almost three weeks after final results of a fraud-marred election were declared.

Afghanistan’s political crisis has been simmering since the September 18 ballot, with tension rising on reports that the attorney general’s office had asked for the vote to be annulled.

The troubles present a worrying message for U.S. President Barack Obama, who will not want to see any further signs of instability as he completes a review of his Afghanistan war strategy this week.

15 Judge in Va. strikes down federal health care law

By LARRY O’DELL, Associated Press

31 mins ago

RICHMOND, Va. – A federal judge declared the foundation of President Barack Obama’s health care law unconstitutional Monday, ruling that the government cannot require Americans to purchase insurance. The case is expected to end up at the Supreme Court.

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson wrote that no court had expanded the Commerce Clause of the Constitution to allow the government to regulate a person’s decision not to buy a product.

“At its core, this dispute is not simply about regulating the business of insurance – or crafting a scheme of universal health insurance coverage – it’s about an individual’s right to choose to participate,” Hudson wrote.

16 Judge throws health care overhaul into uncertainty

By MARK SHERMAN and ERICA WERNER, Associated Press

16 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s historic health care overhaul was thrown into uncertainty Monday by a federal judge’s decision to declare its central provision unconstitutional. Almost certainly headed to the Supreme Court, the issue hands ammunition to Republican opponents as they try to repeal the far-reaching law in the new Congress.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson marked the first time that portions of the new law have been struck down. The decision follows earlier rulings by Democratic appointees in favor of the law.

Hudson declared that the law’s central requirement for nearly all Americans to carry insurance is unconstitutional, well beyond Congress’ power under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause or other provisions. He denied requests to strike down the law in its entirety or block it from being implemented while his ruling is appealed by the administration.

17 No decisive victory one year into Afghan surge

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press

32 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan – One year after President Barack Obama ordered a troop buildup to halt the Taliban’s momentum, the war in Afghanistan has not broken decisively in favor of U.S.-led forces – at least not yet.

While NATO forces have routed insurgents from their strongholds in southern Afghanistan, the Taliban’s strongest region, the militants have opened new fronts in the north and west and have stepped up attacks in the east.

At the same time, the surge has exacted a high price: More than 680 international troops, including at least 472 Americans, have been killed in 2010, making it the deadliest year of the war. Hundreds of Afghan civilians have also died, most as a result of Taliban attacks.

18 Discharged gay veterans sue for reinstatement

By LISA LEFF, Associated Press

33 mins ago

SAN FRANCISCO – Three military veterans who were discharged under the law that prohibits gays from serving openly in uniform sued the government Monday to be reinstated and to pressure lawmakers to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law before a new Congress is sworn in.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco also seeks to have the ban on openly gay troops declared unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable for any service members.

“I don’t feel like I’m going up against the military, I really don’t. I just feel like this is a necessary step for doing away with this policy,” said former Air Force Staff Sgt. Anthony Loverde. “I believe the military, the majority of troops I’ve served with, and those who have been studied to death are with us.”

19 APNewsBreak: NFL concussion reports up this season

By HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Pro Football Writer

1 hr 1 min ago

With a late-season game on the line, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers exits with a concussion and doesn’t return. Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Derek Anderson sit out games altogether because of head injuries.

And those are only a few examples from this Sunday. If it seems as though more and more NFL players are missing time because of concussions, it’s because they are: According to league data obtained by The Associated Press, the number of concussions being reported this season is up more than 20 percent from 2009, and more than 30 percent from 2008.

The NFL considers that proof that players and teams are taking head injuries more seriously and being more open about them. The players themselves agree.

20 Lions halt distribution of free NFL tickets


Mon Dec 13, 12:30 pm ET

MINNEAPOLIS – Through the years, Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings have turned to the Detroit Lions for comfort when things weren’t going their way.

The Vikings are 21-2 against the Lions in their last 23 meetings and Favre has more completions, yards and victories against them than any other team in his career.

Now, with Favre hurting and the Vikings rendered homeless by a massive snowstorm, the Lions are there for them both again.

21 Arrests in Afghan attack that killed 6 US troops

By RAHIM FAIEZ, Associated Press

Mon Dec 13, 8:46 am ET

KABUL, Afghanistan – Several suspects have been arrested for a suicide attack that killed six U.S. troops when an explosives-packed minibus blew up at the entrance of a joint NATO-Afghan base in southern Afghanistan, officials said Monday.

NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz said that several arrests had been made Sunday night for the blast, which was the deadliest attack on coalition troops this month.

“Individuals believed to be involved in yesterday’s attack have been arrested by Afghan and coalition forces,” Blotz said at a news conference, adding that no shots were fired as the suspects were taken into custody.

22 Feds: Wolverines need protection but have to wait

By MATT VOLZ, Associated Press

12 mins ago

HELENA, Mont. – The impact of climate change on wolverines warrants adding the small, ferocious mammals to the list of endangered and threatened species, but consideration of other species considered in greater danger will prevent such protection for now, wildlife officials said Monday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated in its report that there are 300 or less wolverines in the contiguous United States, with most living in the northern Rocky Mountains.

The animals need adequate spring snow cover to reproduce, and female wolverines have abandoned dens when temperatures warm and snow conditions become wet due to the changing climate.

23 AP Enterprise: Eagle concerns stymie wind farms


2 hrs 14 mins ago

APPLE VALLEY, Calif. – Fears that whirling wind turbines could slaughter protected golden eagles have halted progress on a key piece of the federal government’s push to increase renewable energy on public lands, stalling plans for billions of dollars in wind farm developments.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management suspended issuing wind permits on public land indefinitely this summer after wildlife officials invoked a decades-old law for protecting eagles, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The restriction has stymied efforts to “fast-track” approvals for four of the seven most promising wind energy proposals in the nation, including all three in California.

24 Cattlemen look for lessons in $130 million swindle

By BETSY BLANEY, Associated Press

Mon Dec 13, 4:14 am ET

LUBBOCK, Texas – The collapse of a Midwest cattle brokerage company that owes hundreds of ranchers as much as $130 million could result in some going under and has others wondering if regulatory changes are needed to prevent similar swindles in the future.

Federal agriculture officials filed a complaint last month against Indiana-based Eastern Livestock Co., LLC, accusing it of bouncing checks for livestock purchases and failing to maintain an adequate bond to cover its debts. The company owes money to about 740 ranchers in 30 states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Three of those owed money have filed a lawsuit to try to force Eastern into involuntary bankruptcy.

The average loss of about $175,000 per rancher is enough to put some out of business, said David Scott, president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. Many ranchers, unaware that Eastern’s checks were no good, tried to pay bills and ended up writing bad checks themselves, ranchers said.

25 1 small town’s battle for tolerance

By HELEN O’NEILL, AP Special Correspondent

Mon Dec 13, 3:12 am ET

SIDNEY CENTER, N.Y. – On a crisp November day in 2009, the cemetery on the hill received its first guest – a 28-year-old stonemason killed in a car accident two days earlier.

Solemnly his Sufi Muslim brethren buried him beneath a vibrant green headstone – the color of the Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani order, which runs a 50-acre farm and mosque here. They prayed for him to rest in peace.

But that was not to be.

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