Dec 27 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Gbagbo warns Ivory Coast intervention would provoke chaos

by Dave Clark, AFP

39 mins ago

ABIDJAN (AFP) – Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo warned West African leaders Sunday that any attempt to oust him by force could ruin the regional economy and trigger a bloody war.

On Tuesday, three West African presidents will visit Abidjan in a bid to convince the defiant 65-year-old leader to step down, a last-ditch plea that comes backed by a threat of regional military intervention.

Gbagbo said he took the threat “seriously” but would never back down, and his lieutenants warned that any intervention could put the millions of West African migrants living in Ivory Coast in danger.

2 Ukraine arrests former interior minister

by Oksana Grytsenko, AFP

1 hr 49 mins ago

KIEV (AFP) – Ukrainian authorities on Sunday arrested the country’s former interior minister amid an ongoing probe into the pro-Western cabinet of ex-premier turned opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko.

Yury Lutsenko was detained by at least 10 Alpha special security officers while taking his dog out for a walk with his son in the capital Kiev, his spokeswoman Inna Kysil told AFP.

The former Orange Revolution leader was bundled into a car and taken to a jail operated by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), an offshoot of the Soviet-era KGB, the spokeswoman added.

3 Attacks on Christians mar Christmas celebrations

by Catherine Jouault, AFP

Sat Dec 25, 11:22 pm ET

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Fresh attacks on Christians marred the Christmas holiday as Pope Benedict XVI led pleas by religious leaders for an end to persecution in Iraq and peace in the Middle East.

While record crowds flocked to Bethlehem, the Palestinian town where Jesus Christ was believed to have been born, hundreds also defied Al-Qaeda threats to pack Our Lady of Salvation cathedral in Baghdad for Christmas mass.

Although there were no immediate reports of Christians being targeted in the Middle East, bombings in other parts of the world highlighted the threats facing believers.

4 More than 80 dead in Pakistan suicide bombing and raids

by Nasrullah Khan, AFP

Sat Dec 25, 5:08 pm ET

KHAR, Pakistan (AFP) – More than 80 people were killed in a suicide bombing on a World Food Programme project and a series of helicopter raids against militant camps in northwestern Pakistan, officials said.

A suicide bomber wearing a burqa, who some officials said was a woman, killed at least 43 people at a World Food Programme distribution point in a tribal area bordering Afghanistan on Saturday.

The blast occurred in Khar, the main town of lawless Bajaur tribal district, once a stronghold of Taliban militants who have carried out several bombings and suicide attacks in the area.

5 England move on Ashes after humiliating Australia

by Robert Smith, AFP

Sun Dec 26, 3:16 am ET

MELBOURNE (AFP) – England were closing in on the Ashes after routing Australia for 98 and cruising to a 59-run first-innings lead on the opening day of the fourth Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

England skittled Australia for their lowest total in 133 years of Ashes Tests at the MCG and rubbed further salt into the wounds by skating to 157 without loss by stumps.

Australian cricket’s Boxing Day showpiece turned into a horror show before 84,345 fans as England’s bowlers had the Australians all at sea on a seaming MCG drop-in wicket to bowl them out off just 42.5 overs.

6 Italian mafia spreads in Switzerland

by Agnes Pedrero, AFP

Sun Dec 26, 4:51 am ET

GENEVA (AFP) – Switzerland has always been a key destination for Italy’s mafia bosses to launder their assets or hide their cash, but recent probes show that Italian organised crime is broadening its activities there.

Some groups, in particular the ‘Ndrangheta from southern Italy’s Calabria region, are also investing in property and businesses here, as well as trafficking arms and drugs through Switzerland, sparking alarm among Swiss law enforcers.

Keen to stop the mafia from spreading its reach in the Swiss economy, federal police this year made the fight against Italian organised crime a priority.

7 US shark fin restrictions carry little weight in HK

by Joyce Woo, AFP

Sat Dec 25, 10:26 pm ET

HONG KONG (AFP) – The US Senate’s move to toughen laws on shark finning is unlikely to have much impact in Hong Kong, dubbed the “Grand Central Station” of the controversial trade, environmentalists say.

The new legislation passed last week is aimed at protecting the ancient fish which experts fear is on the brink of extinction due to growing demand in Chinese restaurants, which use the fins in a hugely popular soup.

Few places prize the gelatinous delicacy more than Hong Kong, where it is a staple at high-end restaurants and wedding banquets, a mark of affluence in a city that accounts for as much as 80 percent of the world trade in fins.

8 Ivory Coast’s Ouattara calls for general strike

By Ange Aboa, Reuters

37 mins ago

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Ivory Coast presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara called on Sunday for a nationwide general strike that would shut the country down until internationally isolated incumbent Laurent Gbagbo cedes power.

The country has faced a violent political impasse since a presidential election last month, which was intended to heal the scars of a 2002-03 civil war but has instead ignited bloodshed between the rival camps.

“I can confirm that we have called for a general strike across the nation from tomorrow,” Ouattara’s spokesman Patrick Achi said. He said Ouattara would issue an official statement later on Sunday.

9 Scenarios: Possible outcomes in Ivory Coast’s crisis

By Richard Valdmanis, Reuters

22 mins ago

DAKAR (Reuters) – An election meant to resolve Ivory Coast’s decade-long political crisis has resulted in two rivals claiming the presidency, with incumbent Laurent Gbagbo defying world pressure to hand over to Alassane Ouattara.

The standoff has killed more than 170 people, according to the United Nations, and threatens to push the West African country back into civil war.

Here are a few possible scenarios for what happens next:

10 China’s Wen: confident on inflation after rate rise

By Langi Chiang and Chen Aizhu, Reuters

Sun Dec 26, 4:00 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s government will be able to keep inflation in check, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Sunday, a day after the central bank raised interest rates, and he pledged to speed up efforts to rein in house price surges.

Steps taken in the past month, including administrative controls to curb speculation and monetary tightening, had started to produce results, Wen said.

The People’s Bank of China raised interest rates on Christmas Day for a second time in just over two months as Beijing strengthened its battle against stubbornly high inflation.

11 Pope’s Christmas message admonishes China

By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Sat Dec 25, 5:01 pm ET

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict prayed for a rebirth of peace in the Middle East and encouraged Catholics in Iraq and communist China to resist persecution in his Christmas message read amid heightened security on Saturday.

In the “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message, he said the Christmas message of peace and hope was always new, surprising and daring and should spur everyone in the peaceful struggle for justice.

Speaking from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica to thousands of people braving the chill and drizzle in the square below, he delivered Christmas greetings in 65 languages, including those spoken in the world’s trouble spots.

12 Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo faces threat from neighbors

By MARCO CHOWN OVED, Associated Press

3 mins ago

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – West African leaders are giving the man who refuses to leave Ivory Coast’s presidency a final chance to hand over power and are threatening to remove Laurent Gbagbo by force if needed, though doubts exist about whether the operation could be carried out.

Meanwhile, the U.N. refugee agency said at least 14,000 people have fled the violence and political chaos in Ivory Coast, some walking for up to four days with little food to reach neighboring Liberia. At least one child drowned while trying to cross a river.

The U.N. has said at least 173 people have been killed in violence over the disputed presidential runoff election held nearly one month ago, heightening fears that the country once divided in two could return to civil war. The toll is believed to be much higher, though, as the U.N. mission has been blocked from investigating other reports including an allegation of a mass grave.

13 Christmas weekend violence kills 38 in Nigeria

By NJADVARA MUSA, Associated Press

Sun Dec 26, 1:30 pm ET

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria – Dozens of armed men attacked the church, dragging the pastor out of his home and shooting him to death. Two young men from the choir rehearsing for a late-night carol service also were slain.

The group of about 30 attackers armed with guns and knives even killed two people passing by Victory Baptist Church. The assailants only left after setting the church and pastor’s house ablaze.

Danjuma Akawu, the church’s secretary, managed to escape after he and others climbed over the church’s fence.

14 Thousands fear hunger after Pakistan bombing

By ANWARULLAH KHAN, Associated Press

Sun Dec 26, 1:18 pm ET

KHAR, Pakistan – Some 300,000 desperately poor villagers impoverished by fighting in Pakistan’s tribal belt are scrambling to feed themselves after a female suicide bomber killed 45 people outside a World Food Program food distribution center, triggering a district wide suspension of the relief project.

Pakistan says the attack is a sign of insurgent desperation, but the bombing and ongoing battles challenge Islamabad’s claims of victory over al-Qaida and the Taliban in this part of the porous northwest border.

WFP district coordinator Shahab Khan said on Sunday that all four food relief centers run by the United Nations agency in the Bajur district had been shut indefinitely since Saturday’s bombing in the area’s main town of Khar.

15 Petraeus commends Pakistan’s counterinsurgency

By ELENA BECATOROS, Associated Press

Sun Dec 26, 12:50 pm ET

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SALERNO, Afghanistan – The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan said there will be more coordinated military operations on either side of the border with Pakistan, and commended the Pakistanis on its “impressive” counterinsurgency efforts.

The Taliban in Afghanistan and other extremist groups use safe havens across the border in Pakistan, and the U.S. has been pushing Islamabad to clear the lawless tribal belt that runs along the frontier. The pressure has often strained U.S.-Pakistani relations, with Islamabad bristling at suggestions it should do more.

Gen. David Petraeus, who took over command of coalition troops in Afghanistan in July, told The Associated Press there had already been coordinated operations on both sides of the border.

16 In Congress, a harder line on illegal immigrants

By SUZANNE GAMBOA, Associated Press

Sun Dec 26, 11:05 am ET

WASHINGTON – The end of the year means a turnover of House control from Democratic to Republican and, with it, Congress’ approach to immigration.

In a matter of weeks, Congress will go from trying to help young, illegal immigrants become legal to debating whether children born to parents who are in the country illegally should continue to enjoy automatic U.S. citizenship.

Such a hardened approach – and the rhetoric certain to accompany it – should resonate with the GOP faithful who helped swing the House in Republicans’ favor. But it also could further hurt the GOP in its endeavor to grab a large enough share of the growing Latino vote to win the White House and the Senate majority in 2012.

17 Cheap concert seats due after cruel summer of 2010

By RYAN NAKASHIMA, AP Business Writer

1 hr 51 mins ago

LOS ANGELES – Concertgoers sick of ballooning ticket prices should have some extra pocket change to rattle with their rock ‘n’ roll in the new year.

2010 was tough for the concert business as high prices kept many fans at home. Promoters now say they plan to make shows more affordable in 2011. But they’ll also try to sell more T-shirts and other merchandise to make up for lost revenue.

Heading into last summer, usually the busiest time of the year, prices were set too high despite the sluggish economy. Managers and promoters believed fans would keep paying for the one or two concerts they see on average each year.

18 Deadly Afghan year takes toll on 101st Airborne

By KRISTIN M. HALL, Associated Press

Sun Dec 26, 12:51 pm ET

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – The 101st Airborne Division, a force in America’s major conflicts since World War II, is seeing its worst casualties in a decade as the U.S. surge in Afghanistan turns into the deadliest year in that war for the NATO coalition.

The Army division known as the Screaming Eagles, formed ahead of the 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy, has lost 104 men this year – or about 1 in 5 American deaths in Afghanistan. That is close to a toll of 105 divisional deaths in Iraq during a 2005-2006 deployment that was its deadliest year in combat since Vietnam.

The 20,000-strong division from Fort Campbell has been fighting in two of Afghanistan’s most violent regions, the south and the east, since it began deploying in February under President Barack Obama’s plan to roll back the Taliban with more troops. It is the first time the 101st has deployed in its entirety since Gen. David Petraeus led the division during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

19 Citing police abuse, Hispanics leaving Conn. town

By MICHAEL MELIA, Associated Press

2 hrs 10 mins ago

EAST HAVEN, Conn. – Santiago Malave has worked law enforcement jobs in Connecticut for more than four decades, but as a Puerto Rican, he says he cannot drive through his own town without worrying about police harassing him.

Malave, a probation officer who works in New Haven, says the racial abuse is so bad that he only crosses the town line into East Haven to go home. He and his wife are now preparing to sell their house and move, joining an exodus of Hispanics who say police have hassled them with traffic stops, false arrests and even jailhouse beatings.

The Justice Department has started a civil rights investigation, and the FBI recently opened a criminal probe. But that has not changed things on Main Street, where restaurants and stores that cater to Hispanics are going out of business.

20 Bighorn sheep start new year in new Texas home

By BETSY BLANEY, Associated Press

2 hrs 59 mins ago

BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK, Texas – Dozens of majestic bighorn sheep have moved into a Texas state park as part of wildlife restoration efforts aimed at returning the sheep to their historic range.

Twelve curly-horned rams and 34 ewes plucked by helicopter from one rugged area of West Texas now call the Bofecillos Mountains along the Rio Grande in Big Bend Ranch State Park home. The capture and release days before Christmas was the latest step in a decades-long restoration project to bring the mountain sheep back to their range after unfettered hunting, fencing and disease from other animals decimated their numbers.

All but gone from Texas by the 1960s from more than 1,500 in the late 1800s, efforts to restore them in Texas’ Trans-Pecos region have proved successful. This fall, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists tallied 1,115 sheep in Texas, up from 822 in 2006 and 352 in 2002.

21 Dead Chicagoans don’t vote, but living have tricks

By DON BABWIN, Associated Press

Sun Dec 26, 2:32 pm ET

CHICAGO – It’s not on a par with how Chicagoans used to keep voting after they died. Or with the curious case of the man in the 1980s whose signature wound up on a local ballot application – twice_ even though he had no fingers or thumbs.

But the race for Chicago mayor is providing fresh evidence that the city’s storied history for election shenanigans lives on. With Mayor Richard M. Daley’s retirement opening up the office for the first time in 21 years, Illinois authorities find themselves investigating allegations that candidates to succeed him turned in ballot-nomination petitions “signed” and “stamped” by notaries who didn’t actually sign or stamp them.

“The false notary, that’s a brand new one on me,” said Don Rose, a longtime Chicago political analyst who has worked on election reform campaigns.

22 NY, other states scrimp on Civil War anniversary

By CHRIS CAROLA, Associated Press

Sun Dec 26, 1:35 pm ET

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York state contributed 448,000 troops and $150 million to the Union cause during the Civil War, not to mention untold tons of supplies, food, guns and munitions.

But with the 150th anniversary of the war’s start just months away, New York state government has so far failed to scrounge up a single Yankee dollar to commemorate a conflict it played such a major role in winning.

New York isn’t alone. Other states saddled with similar budget woes are unable or unwilling to set aside taxpayer funds for historic re-enactments and museum exhibits when public employees are being laid off and services slashed.

23 Pope urges courage for Catholics in China, Iraq

By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press

Sat Dec 25, 9:25 pm ET

VATICAN CITY – Iraqi Christians celebrated a somber Christmas in a Baghdad cathedral stained with dried blood, while Pope Benedict XVI exhorted Chinese Catholics to stay loyal despite restrictions on them in a holiday address laced with worry for the world’s Christian minorities.

Saturday’s grim news seemed to highlight the pope’s concern for his flock’s welfare.

In northern Nigeria, attacks on two churches by Muslim sect members claimed six lives, while bombings in central Nigeria, a region plagued by Christian-Muslim violence, killed 32 people, officials said.

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