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Dec 23 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 UN demands halt to Ivory Coast killings

by Dave Clark, AFP

1 hr 14 mins ago

ABIDJAN (AFP) – The United Nations demanded a halt Thursday to the “atrocities” triggered by Ivory Coast’s political crisis that have left 173 dead, and accused Laurent Gbagbo’s troops of harassing its peacekeepers.

UN officials in Abidjan said Gbagbo’s security forces, shielded by civilian protesters and backed by unidentified masked gunmen, had prevented human rights monitors from probing reports of at least two new mass graves.

They said gangs of gunmen carry out murderous overnight raids on civilians living in the poorest districts of Abidjan, where local men throw up makeshift barricades and women beat cooking pots as a warning signal.

2 UN confirms 173 deaths in Ivory Coast violence

by Dave Clark, AFP

Thu Dec 23, 9:23 am ET

ABIDJAN (AFP) – UN rights officials said Thursday at least 173 people have been killed in Ivory Coast and they had received reports of mass graves, as the fragile West African state’s post-election crisis escalated.

Amid evidence that Liberian fighters may now be operating in Ivory Coast, world powers increased pressure on the country’s strongman Laurent Gbagbo to make way for Alassane Ouattara, his rival in last month’s polls.

The United States and Nigeria brought a draft resolution before the UN Human Rights Council, meeting in Geneva, seeking to bolster their position before an important West African regional summit on Friday.

3 Bomb blasts hit Swiss, Chilean embassies in Rome

by Dario Thuburn, AFP

31 mins ago

ROME (AFP) – Bomb blasts in the Chilean and Swiss embassies in Rome injured two staffers on Thursday in attacks that officials said may have been carried out by anarchists like the ones behind a similar plot in Greece.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the attacks represented “a serious threat” against foreign embassies, while Chile’s ambassador Oscar Godoy Arcaya condemned “an absolutely irrational and brutal act of terrorism.”

Police said checks were under way in all the embassies in the Italian capital and the city’s mayor said emergency services were on the ready.

4 Irish government nationalises Allied Irish Banks

AFP

Thu Dec 23, 12:29 pm ET

DUBLIN (AFP) – Ireland effectively nationalised troubled lender Allied Irish Banks on Thursday, after Dublin’s High Court approved another state injection of 3.7 billion euros (4.9 billion dollars).

The court signed off on the new cash injection after Finance Minister Brian Lenihan lodged papers earlier in the day, AIB said in an official statement.

This will eventually lift the Irish government’s stake to 92.8 percent, from the current level of 18.6 percent, it added.

5 Bleak Christmas for Iraq’s Qaeda-hit Christians

by Nafa Abdul Jabbar, AFP

Thu Dec 23, 10:49 am ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Faced with renewed threats by Al-Qaeda and still mourning a church massacre, Christmas for Iraq’s Christian community will this year be a time of fear and cancelled celebrations rather than rejoicing.

The Council of Churches in Iraq has asked the faithful to limit Christmas celebrations “to a spiritual feast of participating in mass, for reasons of caution and sadness,” said Shlimun Warduni, the Chaldean bishop of Baghdad.

A pall of gloom has descended on Iraq’s badly-battered Christian community since gunmen on October 31 burst into Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad and began firing on worshippers.

6 Greek lawmakers approve 2011 austerity budget

by John Hadoulis, AFP

Thu Dec 23, 5:51 am ET

ATHENS (AFP) – Greek lawmakers Thursday approved an austerity budget, including 14 billion euros in spending cuts, as part of a tough economic overhaul imposed on Athens after it received an international bailout.

Following five days of debates, the budget was adopted by 156 votes to 142, with the ruling socialist Pasok party in favour and the rightist New Democracy, Communists, radical left and extreme right voting against.

The vote in the early hours came after thousands of unionists and Communists staged separate demonstrations to reject the finance bill.

7 China pledges support to eurozone countries

by Robert Saiget, AFP

Thu Dec 23, 4:27 am ET

BEIJING (AFP) – China on Thursday pledged its backing to eurozone countries amid an ongoing debt crisis and said Europe would be a “major market” for investment of Beijing’s massive foreign exchange reserves.

“We are ready to support the eurozone countries to overcome the financial crisis and realise economic recovery,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters at a regular briefing.

“In the future, the European Union will be one of the major markets for our forex investment.”

8 Ivory Coast violence has killed at least 173: U.N.

By Tim Cocks and Laura MacInnis, Reuters

2 hrs 52 mins ago

ABIDJAN/GENEVA (Reuters) – At least 173 people have been killed in Ivory Coast in recent days following last month’s disputed election, the U.N. said on Thursday, as international pressure grows on defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo to step down.

The United Nations also reported many people had been tortured and detained, while the United States said it feared the death toll since the November 28 election may be close to 200.

Led by African states, the U.N. Human Rights Council unanimously condemned the political violence and called for reconciliation to avoid renewed civil war.

9 Police check Rome embassies after blasts hurt two

By Daniele Mari, Reuters

25 mins ago

ROME (Reuters) – Italian police checked foreign embassies in Rome on Thursday after two people were wounded in separate explosions at the Swiss and Chilean missions that the government suggested could be the work of anarchist groups.

There was no claim of responsibility but the incidents bore similarities to an episode in Greece last month in which far-left militants sent parcel bombs to foreign governments and embassies in Athens.

“We think this is the right track,” Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said during the taping of a television talk show due to be broadcast later on Thursday.

10 Russian Duma could ratify START within days

By Lidia Kelly, Reuters

26 mins ago

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian lawmakers said they could approve a nuclear arms reduction pact that is crucial to the “reset” in ties with the United States as early as Friday if a successful U.S. Senate vote left the terms of the treaty intact.

Swift Russian ratification of the New START treaty would shore up efforts to set long-strained relations on a positive track, increasing trust between Cold War foes bristling with nuclear weapons and sending the world a signal of unity.

It would be a victory for Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, who signed the treaty in April and have made improving ties between Moscow and Washington — increasing strained under their predecessors — major foreign policy goals.

11 China speeds plans to launch aircraft carrier: sources

By Benjamin Kang Lim, Reuters

Thu Dec 23, 4:08 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – China may be ready to launch its first aircraft carrier in 2011, Chinese military and political sources said on Thursday, a year ahead of U.S. military analysts’ expectations.

Analysts expect China to use its first operational aircraft carrier to ensure the security of its oil supply route through the Indian Ocean and near the disputed Spratly Islands, but full capability is still some years away.

“The period around July 1 next year to celebrate the (Chinese Communist) Party’s birthday is one window (for launch),” one source with ties to the leadership told Reuters, requesting anonymity because the carrier programme is one of China’s most closely guarded secrets.

12 Senate approves nuclear arms treaty with Russia

By David Alexander and Thomas Ferraro, Reuters

Wed Dec 22, 6:52 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate approved a landmark nuclear arms control treaty with Russia on Wednesday, giving President Barack Obama a major foreign policy victory in his drive to improve ties with Moscow and curb the spread of atomic weapons to other nations.

The Senate voted 71-26 in favor of the New START treaty between the former Cold War foes after a contentious debate with Republican leaders that threatened traditional bipartisanship on security affairs.

“This treaty will enhance our leadership to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and seek the peace of a world without them,” Obama told a news conference after the vote, praising the bipartisan nature of the final result.

13 Rome embassy blasts wound 2; anarchists suspected

By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press

24 mins ago

ROME – Mail bombs exploded in the hands of employees at the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome on Thursday, seriously wounding two people and triggering heightened security checks at diplomatic missions just as holiday deliveries deluge their mailrooms.

Italian investigators suspected the attacks were the work of anarchists, similar to the two-day wave of mail bombs that targeted several embassies in Athens last month – including those of Chile and Switzerland. One of last month’s booby-trapped packages, addressed to Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, was intercepted in Italy.

Late Thursday night, the Italian news agency ANSA reported that a claim by anarchists was found in a small box near one of the wounded employees, and was being examined by anti-terrorism police squad.

14 Election board: Emanuel can run for Chicago mayor

By TAMMY WEBBER, Associated Press

25 mins ago

CHICAGO – Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel can run for Chicago mayor although he spent much of the last two years living in Washington while working for President Barack Obama, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners ruled Thursday.

The board’s unanimous decision to put Emanuel’s name on the Feb. 22 ballot allowed the former White House chief of staff to clear a major hurdle to his ambitions to replace retiring Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. But the commission ruling the Emanuel met the residency requirement didn’t resolve the matter completely, with one of the objectors’ lawyers saying he would immediately appeal the ruling and fight Emanuel’s candidacy all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, if necessary.

More than two dozen people had challenged Emanuel’s candidacy, contending he didn’t meet a one-year residency requirement. But an election board hearing officer recommended early Thursday morning that Emanuel’s name be placed on the ballot, based on evidence showing that Emanuel had no intention of terminating his residency in Chicago, left the city only to work for Obama and often told friends he intended to live in Washington for no more than two years.

15 Venezuelan students protest university law

By FABIOLA SANCHEZ, Associated Press

26 mins ago

CARACAS, Venezuela – Police and soldiers fired water cannons and plastic bullets Thursday as thousands of students protested against a law passed by Venezuela’s congress that increases government powers over the country’s universities.

At least four people were injured, including a news photographer who was treated for a cut to the head after being hit with an object.

Dozens of police and National Guard troops in anti-riot gear blocked student protesters outside the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, firing plastic bullets into the air and also at demonstrators.

16 Gov’t had ‘extreme interest’ in Steinbrenner probe

By FREDERIC J. FROMMER, Associated Press

28 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Newly released documents show Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox expressed “extreme interest” in a 1970s criminal investigation of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner for illegal campaign contributions.

Then-FBI Director Clarence M. Kelley echoed Cox’s concern in an Aug. 16, 1973 memo to the bureau’s Cleveland office, saying agents needed to make sure the probe received “the same, immediate and preferred handling” as other criminal cases then growing from the Watergate scandal.

The memos were included in a 400-page release Thursday of Steinbrenner’s FBI file. Most of the material focused on the Watergate-era federal probe that led to the shipbuilding magnate’s 1974 conviction for illegal contributions to disgraced President Richard M. Nixon. There are scant references to Steinbrenner’s later pardon by President Ronald Reagan and nothing on his turbulent career as the Yankees’ “Boss.”

17 Kremlin hails Senate’s approval of nuclear treaty

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press

1 min ago

MOSCOW – President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday welcomed the U.S. Senate’s decision to ratify a landmark U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty, but Russian legislators said they need to study a resolution until January accompanying the document before following suit.

Medvedev’s spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said that when he signed the New START treaty with President Barack Obama, they agreed that the ratification process should be conducted simultaneously.

She said that Medvedev voiced hope that both houses of Russian parliament would ratify the pact, but added that they would need some time to analyze the Senate’s conditions for its ratification before making their decision.

18 Gays ousted from military now hoping to return

By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

Thu Dec 23, 6:32 am ET

NEW YORK – Joseph Rocha reported being cruelly hazed by Navy colleagues. Katherine Miller resigned from West Point halfway through, weary of concealing her sexual orientation. David Hall was outed by a fellow Air Force cadet and booted from the career he loved.

The exits from military service were wrenching consequences of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy prohibiting gay and lesbian personnel from being open about their sexuality. Yet Hall, Rocha and Miller savored military duty and now – with “don’t ask, don’t tell” heading toward oblivion – they want to return.

Rocha, 24, was in Washington on Wednesday, watching euphorically as President Barack Obama signed the bill clearing the way for repeal of the 17-year-old policy. Obama encouraged those who were discharged to re-enlist, and Rocha said he hopes to do just that by enrolling in the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Va.

19 9/11 responders’ $4.2B aid package called miracle

By BETH FOUHY and ANDREW MIGA, Associated Press

Thu Dec 23, 10:01 am ET

NEW YORK – It was called a “Christmas miracle,” but a last-minute compromise by Congress will provide a smaller aid package than originally envisioned to help victims of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the responders sickened as they worked in its smoldering ruins.

The measure passed by Congress and sent to President Barack Obama on Wednesday would provide up to $4.2 billion in new aid to survivors and responders, $2 billion less than originally proposed. Obama said he is eager to sign it.

The package provides $1.5 billion to monitor the health of rescue and cleanup workers and treat illnesses related to ground zero. It also reopens a victims’ compensation fund with $2.7 billion.

20 Wilderness rules restored for public lands

By KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press

38 mins ago

DENVER – The Obama administration plans to reverse a Bush-era policy and make millions of undeveloped acres of land once again eligible for federal wilderness protection, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Thursday.

The agency will replace the 2003 policy adopted under former Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Salazar said. That policy – derided by some as the “No More Wilderness” policy – stated that new areas could not be recommended for wilderness protection by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and opened millions of acres in the Rocky Mountain region to potential commercial development.

That policy “frankly never should have happened and was wrong in the first place,” Salazar said Thursday.

21 War trauma treatment center assists Iraqi refugees

By JEFF KAROUB, Associated Press

1 hr 48 mins ago

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – Ekhlas Gorgees kept her composure as she recounted the horrific traumas she and her family endured in Iraq.

She calmly recalled how her husband was severely wounded after a bomb exploded outside of his Baghdad plumbing shop, how she was threatened at gunpoint while walking home from church and how her family tried to escape north to the city of Mosul just before a bloody attack on civilians sent them fleeing back to the capital. It wasn’t until later when she talked about the difficulty of leaving her homeland that the tears came.

“We are the native people of Iraq – it’s hard for us to leave our native country,” she said through an interpreter. “The hope – even now – is to go back to my country.”

22 Colleges reconsider ROTC after ‘don’t ask’ repeal

By ERIC GORSKI, AP Education Writer

2 hrs 40 mins ago

Three days a week, Yale sophomore James Campbell rises at 5 a.m. for ROTC drills on a college campus that isn’t his own.

He would gladly do push-ups and run circles on Yale’s campus.

But even if that were an option, he wouldn’t have much company. Campbell is Yale’s only Army ROTC cadet.

23 Analysis: Senate nuke pact boosts US-Russia ties

By ANNE GEARAN, AP National Security Writer

Thu Dec 23, 12:53 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Despite skepticism from Republican opponents who worry that the U.S. is deliberately fraying its nuclear advantage, the Obama administration considers a new arms control pact with Russia a disarmament bargain.

The agreement is more important for the diplomatic bargain it seals with a restive Russia than the limits it places on weapons that neither side was likely to use – treaty or no treaty.

It will probably also help cinch Russian cooperation with an American plan to protect Europe with an anti-missile shield arrayed against Iran.

24 Lawman’s descendant objects to pardoning the Kid

By SUE MAJOR HOLMES, Associated Press

Wed Dec 22, 8:44 pm ET

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Descendants of Old West lawman Pat Garrett and New Mexico Territorial Gov. Lew Wallace are outraged that Gov. Bill Richardson is considering a pardon for Billy the Kid, saying Wallace never offered a pardon, and a petition seeking one is tainted because it comes from a lawyer with ties to Richardson.

Sheriff Pat Garrett’s grandson J.P. Garrett and Wallace’s great-grandson William Wallace submitted their objections after Richardson set up a website last week to take public comment on the possibility of a posthumous pardon for the Kid on a murder indictment. The governor plans to make a decision before his term ends Dec. 31.

“I don’t know where I’ll end up. I might not pardon him. But then I might,” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

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