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Jan 03 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Pakistan faces fresh political turmoil

AFP

10 mins ago

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan was waking up to a new political crisis and weeks of horsetrading on Monday after the second largest party in the ruling coalition quit the fragile government to go into opposition.

The country is already grappling with a depressed economy, the after-effects of devastating floods that hit 21 million people in mid-2010, and Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked sanctuaries in its northwest on the Afghan border.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) made the announcement Sunday, days after its two federal cabinet ministers resigned, abandoning crisis talks with the main ruling Pakistan People’s Party that had scrambled to keep them on board.

2 Pakistan government in crisis as coalition partner quits

by Hasan Mansoor, AFP

2 hrs 12 mins ago

KARACHI (AFP) – The second largest party in Pakistan’s ruling coalition Sunday quit the government to join the opposition, destabilising the US ally in the war on Al-Qaeda and threatening to paralyse business of state.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) made the announcement days after its two federal cabinet ministers resigned, abandoning crisis talks with the main ruling Pakistan People’s Party that had scrambled to keep them on board.

An administration that took power less than three years ago following elections has now lost its majority in parliament and faces possible collapse if the opposition unites to pass a vote of no-confidence.

3 A busy first day for Brazil’s new president

by Yana Marull, AFP

38 mins ago

BRASILIA (AFP) – Brazil’s new president Dilma Rousseff held a flurry of talks with foreign envoys on Sunday during her first full day in office after succeeding her hugely popular predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The 63-year-old Rousseff, who was Lula’s former cabinet chief, vowed during her inauguration on Saturday to continue his policies, which have fueled economic growth and enhanced Brazil’s international standing.

On Sunday, Rousseff met with South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik, Spain’s crown Prince Felipe, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, Cuban Vice President Jose Ramon Machado and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

4 Brazil’s first female president sworn in

by Marc Burleigh, AFP

Sat Jan 1, 6:47 pm ET

BRASILIA (AFP) – Dilma Rousseff took over as Brazil’s first female president Saturday with pledges to “govern for all” and build on the policies of her hugely popular predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The 63-year-old divorced grandmother, who was Lula’s former cabinet chief, assumed the presidency in a carefully staged ceremony under at times rainy skies.

A 1952 Rolls-Royce convertible took her along streets lined with an estimated 70,000 well-wishers.

5 Brazil’s new president spends first full day in office

by Marc Burleigh, AFP

Sun Jan 2, 12:25 pm ET

BRASILIA (AFP) – Brazil’s new President Dilma Rousseff began a busy first full day in office Sunday meeting with foreign dignitaries after pledging to build on the policies of her hugely popular predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The 63-year-old Rousseff, who was Lula’s former cabinet chief, assumed the presidency Saturday in a carefully staged ceremony in Brazil’s starkly modernist federal capital.

Sunday, she met with South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik, Spain’s crown Prince Felipe, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, Cuban Vice President Jose Ramon Machado and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

6 Egypt minister pelted, fears of sectarian unrest

by Christophe de Roquefeuil, AFP

31 mins ago

CAIRO (AFP) – Angry Christian demonstrators pelted an Egyptian minister with stones on Sunday, an AFP correspondent said, as fears rose of sectarian unrest after a bombing at a church that killed 21 people.

Hundreds of Coptic Christians gathered inside the gates of Cairo’s St Mark Cathedral where the Coptic pope, Shenouda III, has his headquarters and heckled officials who came to pay condolences.

The correspondent said demonstrators chased the state minister for economic development, Osman Mohammed Osman, to his car and pelted him with stones after he met Shenouda, while others clashed with police standing outside the gates.

7 Suicide bomber kills 21 at Egypt church

by Mona Salem, AFP

Sat Jan 1, 5:16 pm ET

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (AFP) – Egypt said a suicide bomber killed 21 people and wounded 79 outside a Coptic church on Saturday, in an attack President Hosni Mubarak said was the work of “foreign hands.”

There was no immediate claim but Al-Qaeda has called for punishment of Egypt’s Copts over claims that two priests’ wives they say had converted to Islam were being held by the Church against their will.

The bombing in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria sparked anger among Christians, who clashed with police and shouted slogans against the regime of the ageing president, as well as condemnation from Western governments.

8 Egyptians fear religious clashes after bombing

by Christophe de Roquefeuil, AFP

Sun Jan 2, 9:41 am ET

CAIRO (AFP) – Christians prayed on Sunday at a church targeted by an apparent suicide bomber who killed 21 people as Egypt pointed the finger of blame at international “terrorism” and fears of sectarian violence mounted.

“With our soul and our blood we will redeem the Holy Cross,” the grieving congregation chanted at the Coptic Al-Qiddissin church in Alexandria at Sunday mass a day after the bombing.

Bloodstains from Saturday’s attack were still visible on the facade of the church where 21 people were killed early on New Year’s Day and 79 were wounded when an apparent suicide bomber blew himself up.

9 Spain’s bars and restaurants go smoke-free in tough new law

by Denholm Barnetson, AFP

1 hr 24 mins ago

MADRID (AFP) – Smokers stubbed out their cigarettes in tapas bars and restaurants across Spain on Sunday as one of Europe’s strictest anti-tobacco laws came into effect.

After a one-day amnesty granted for New Year’s Day, the new law banning smoking in all bars, cafes, restaurants and public places — even some outdoor areas — was imposed at the stroke of midnight on Saturday.

It was a shock for many Spaniards for whom the cafe culture — lighting up with a few friends while enjoying a drink and tapas — has been an essential part of daily life.

10 Hasta la Vista: Arnie quits as California governor

by Michael Thurston, AFP

1 hr 13 mins ago

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Arnold Schwarzenegger steps down as California “Governator” Monday, defending his record to the last — and keeping fans and others guessing about his next move.

After seven years at the helm of the Golden State, the former champion body builder turned “Terminator” movie megastar and businessman is leaving his adopted home mired in huge financial woes.

But in a newspaper interview to mark his handover of power to Democrat Jerry Brown — two months after November 2 polls — Arnie stood by all his decisions.

11 Ouattara ultimatum runs out as I.Coast’s Gbagbo defiant

by Thomas Morfin, AFP

Sat Jan 1, 5:12 pm ET

ABIDJAN (AFP) – Ivory Coast on Saturday faced the threat of open conflict after a New Year’s midnight deadline set by Alassane Ouattara for his rival Laurent Gbagbo to quit passed unheeded.

As pressure mounted on Gbagbo, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said West African regional body ECOWAS will decide on the next steps to deal with the political standoff in Ivory Coast by Tuesday.

“On Cote d’Ivoire, President Jonathan said ECOWAS will decide on further steps to address the situation in the country by Tuesday next week after receiving subsequent reports from its emissaries,” a statement said Saturday.

12 Nigerian leader vows to rid country of ‘terrorists’

by Ola Awoniyi, AFP

Sat Jan 1, 3:58 pm ET

ABUJA (AFP) – President Goodluck Jonathan vowed Saturday to rid Nigeria of “terrorists” after a bomb ripped through a crowded market in Abuja on New Year’s Eve, killing four people in the latest of a spate of attacks.

Speaking at a New Year church service, Jonathan said late Friday’s bombing in the capital Abuja bore the hallmarks of a series of attacks on Christmas Eve that left about 80 people dead, including after reprisals.

“They (attacks) will never stop Nigeria from where we are going to, we must work and reproduce a country … where there will be no space for terrorists, a country where there will be no bombers and people with explosives to deter us,” he said.

13 Estonia rings in 2011 as 17th eurozone member

by Anneli Reigas, AFP

Sat Jan 1, 11:58 am ET

TALLINN (AFP) – Estonia woke up to both a New Year and a new currency Saturday as it became the first ex-Soviet state to adopt the euro at midnight and the 17th member of the eurozone, a bloc plagued by debt woes.

As a spectacular fireworks show lit up the sky over Tallinn, the 2004 EU entrant — which broke free from the crumbling Soviet Union in 1991 — bade a reluctant farewell to its kroon, adopted in 1992 to replace the Soviet ruble.

At the stroke of midnight, Estonia’s centre-right Prime Minister Andrus Ansip symbolically withdrew a crisp new euro banknote from a bank machine at the national opera as onlookers braved subzero temperatures.

14 Bolivian president rescinds decree that raised fuel prices

by Raul Burgoa, AFP

Sat Jan 1, 1:21 pm ET

LA PAZ (AFP) – Faced with spreading civil unrest, Bolivian President Evo Morales late Friday rescinded a government decree that significantly raised fuel prices and provoked violent protests that left 15 people injured.

Vice President Alvaro Garcia issued the decree on Sunday removing subsidies that keep fuel prices artificially low but cost the Bolivian government an estimated 380 million dollars per year.

As a result fuel prices went up by as much as 83 percent in the sharpest increases since 1991.

15 Hungary, under fire over media law, takes over EU presidency

by Geza Molnar, AFP

Fri Dec 31, 6:38 pm ET

BUDAPEST (AFP) – Hungary took the helm of the European Union on Saturday even as a new law which sparked concern about media freedom in the country came into force in the teeth of fierce opposition.

The challenges currently facing the 27-nation bloc are daunting enough: the eurozone debt crisis, the integration of the Roma minority, and tough negotiations over the EU’s long-term budget.

But — as the German government put it recently — Hungary “will have a particular responsibility for the image of the whole union in the world” as it raises hackles both at home and abroad with a series of controversial reforms.

16 Egypt holds seven for questioning after church blast

By Sarah Mikhail and Sherine El Madany, Reuters

37 mins ago

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt is holding seven people for questioning over the New Year’s Day bombing of a Coptic church in the northern city of Alexandria and has released 10 others, a security source said on Sunday.

The presumed suicide attack killed 21 people gathered outside the church during a midnight service, and wounded 97 others.

Hundreds of members of Egypt’s large Christian minority held protests in Cairo and Alexandria to protest against the authorities’ failure to protect them.

17 Obama aide: Debt limit fight could be "catastrophic"

By Caren Bohan, Reuters

1 hr 2 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A fight over the budget loomed on Sunday as a top aide to President Barack Obama warned of catastrophic consequences if Republicans follow through on threats to reject an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit.

Republicans, who will take control of the House of Representatives this week, are demanding spending cuts to curb the $1.3 trillion budget deficit and several have said they would oppose a higher debt ceiling if Obama does not agree to a range of painful cuts.

White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee accused Republicans of “playing chicken” with the nation’s financial credibility.

18 Pakistan’s main government coalition partner quits

By Faisal Aziz, Reuters

52 mins ago

KARACHI (Reuters) – The second largest party in Pakistan’s coalition said on Sunday it would go into opposition, depriving the government, a strategic U.S. ally, of its majority and raising the prospect of an early election.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) said the decision had been taken because of the government’s fuel prices policy. It means the opposition now has the numbers in the National Assembly to force a no confidence vote against Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. Losing such a vote could trigger an election.

However, while analysts doubted that Gilani would see out his term, which ends in 2013, an immediate election was probably not the most likely scenario. The MQM may seek to extract concessions from the government in exchange for renewed support.

19 U.N. Ivory Coast mission to probe reported abuses

By Tim Cocks, Reuters

Sun Jan 2, 10:02 am ET

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – A U.N. investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Ivory Coast will be fruitless without the cooperation of authorities loyal to incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo, an official in his administration said on Sunday.

The country was plunged into crisis when Gbagbo refused to step down after a disputed election in November, leading to an outbreak of violence in a nation still divided since a civil war in 2002 and 2003.

The electoral commission, world leaders and the U.N. General Assembly have recognized Gbagbo’s rival Alassane Ouattara as the winner of the election.

20 Russian 2010 oil output hits post-Soviet record

By Vladimir Soldatkin, Reuters

Sun Jan 2, 6:54 am ET

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian oil output rose by 2.2 percent in 2010 to a record 10.1 million barrels per day (505.193 million tonnes) as higher prices prompted the world’s top oil exporter to ramp up production at its greenfield sites.

The growth in crude production surprised many analysts, who had expected 1.1 percent on average, when polled just before the start of 2010.

Energy Ministry data on Sunday showed the country extracted 10.145 million barrels per day last year, a record since the collapse of the Soviet Union, up from 9.93 million bpd in 2009 and 9.78 million bpd in 2008.

21 Republicans to enjoy new clout and face pressure

By Thomas Ferraro and Richard Cowan, Reuters

Sun Jan 2, 8:07 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans roared to victory in the November congressional elections by targeting President Barack Obama’s fiscal policies and asking, “Where are the jobs?”

Once they take power from Obama’s Democrats in the House of Representatives when the new Congress convenes on January 5, they will be held accountable to answer this and other questions.

How will they keep their promise to cut federal spending and reduce the federal deficit? What will they do to pump new life into the sluggish economy still trying to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression? Will they raise the federal debt limit or threaten a government default?

22 Obama’s New Year’s resolution? Fix the economy

By Jeff Mason, Reuters

Sat Jan 1, 3:17 pm ET

HONOLULU (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has set his New Year’s resolution high for 2011: repair the struggling economy.

In his weekly radio and Internet address on Saturday, the vacationing president said recent data showed the economic recovery was gaining traction even as millions of Americans are still out of work.

“Our most important task now is to keep that recovery going,” Obama said. “As president, that’s my commitment to you: to do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class. That’s my resolution for the coming year.”

23 Estonia joins crisis-hit euro club

By David Mardiste, Reuters

Sat Jan 1, 8:50 am ET

TALLINN (Reuters) – Estonia switched smoothly to the euro on Saturday, brushing off worries about a crisis in the currency club which is likely to put off bigger eastern European nations from joining for up to a decade.

The Baltic state of 1.3 million became the 17th euro zone country at midnight and was the first former Soviet state to adopt the euro, capping 20 years of integration with the West.

Estonia sees the change as marking the end of its struggles since a 2009 recession lopped 14 percent off its output. It hopes to entice investors by removing fears of devaluation and make borrowing more secure for its people, many of whose mortgages are already in euros from top Nordic banks.

24 Anadarko deemed a good fit for BHP amid bid talk

By Michael Smith, Reuters

Fri Dec 31, 4:06 pm ET

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Miner BHP Billiton’s acquisition strategy was back in the spotlight on Friday as market talk resurfaced that it was looking at a $40 billion-plus bid for Anadarko Petroleum Plc, although banking sources said they were unaware of any imminent offer.

The Anglo-Australian miner, under pressure to land a big deal after scrapping a $39 billion bid for Canada’s Potash Corp in November, declined to comment on the rumors which drove Anadarko’s shares to a 2-1/2-year high at one point in New York Stock Exchange trading on Friday.

Fund managers and analysts said Anadarko was a good strategic fit for BHP, which is sitting on a pile of cash and needs to expand. Speculation that BHP Chief Executive Marius Kloppers was eyeing Anadarko first surfaced in September, as the U.S. oil company’s shares slowly rebounded after BP Plc’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill sent them tumbling.

25 Skype could be designated illegal in China

By Terril Yue Jones and Jennifer Saba, Reuters

Fri Dec 31, 5:16 pm ET

BEIJING/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The popular Internet telephone service Skype could be dealt a major setback in one of the world’s largest markets as the Chinese government cracks down on what it called illegal Internet telephone providers.

A Chinese government circular from the powerful Ministry of Information and Industry Technology called for a crackdown “on illegal VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) telephone services” and said it was collecting evidence for legal cases against them. It did not name any phone companies.

Skype was still available in China on Friday evening through its joint venture partner TOM Online.

26 GOP agenda: Major impact may be on 2012 election

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press

Sun Jan 2, 11:33 am ET

WASHINGTON – The Republican agenda for the new Congress that convenes Wednesday may have a greater impact on the 2012 elections than on the lives of Americans in the next two years.

Republicans promise to cut spending, roll back President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and prevent unelected bureaucrats from expanding the government’s role in society through regulations that tell people what they must or can’t do. Getting this agenda through the House may be easier than in the Senate, given the GOP’s 241-194 majority in the House. Getting the Senate to act will be a challenge. Democrats still hold an edge there, though smaller than the one Obama had during his first two years in the White House.

Even if the next two years end in gridlock, Republicans will have built a record for the next election that they hope will demonstrate to voters that they can get it right.

27 Navy to investigate lewd videos shown on carrier

Associated Press

11 mins ago

NORFOLK, Va. – The Navy said Sunday it will investigate “clearly inappropriate” videos broadcast to the crew of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in which a top officer of the ship used gay slurs, mimicked masturbation and opened the shower curtain on women pretending to bathe together.

The star of the videos, made in 2006 and 2007, is a former Top Gun pilot who now commands the same ship, the Norfolk-based USS Enterprise, which was deployed in the Middle East at the time and is weeks from deploying again.

The Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported on the videos in its Sunday editions and posted an edited version of one video on its website.

28 Probe of Egypt church bomb focuses on local group

By MAGGIE MICHAEL and HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press

2 hrs 43 mins ago

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – Egyptian police are focusing their investigation into the New Year’s suicide bombing of a church on a group of Islamic hard-liners inspired by al-Qaida and based in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria where the attack killed 21 people, security officials said Sunday.

The bombing touched off riots and protests by Egypt’s Christian minority, who feel they are targeted and discriminated against and do not get adequate protection from authorities. There were signs of beefed up security outside churches nationwide and dozens returned to pray Sunday in the bombed, blood-spattered Saints Church – many of them sobbing, screaming in anger and slapping themselves in grief.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack on Coptic Christians leaving a midnight Mass about a half hour into the new year Saturday, the worst attack on Egyptian Christians in a decade. In the immediate aftermath, President Hosni Mubarak blamed foreigners and the Alexandria governor accused al-Qaida, pointing to threats against Christians by the terror network’s branch in Iraq.

29 Reports of sea lion shootings on rise in Calif.

By JASON DEAREN, Associated Press

Sun Jan 2, 1:46 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – The weak and woozy California sea lion found on a San Francisco Bay-area beach in December with buckshot embedded in its skull has become an all-too-common sight for wildlife officials.

Wildlife officials have seen a slight rise in the shooting of ocean mammals in recent years, and investigators often struggle to find a culprit. There are few witnesses to such shootings, making it nearly impossible to bring a case.

“We always try to do an investigation, but unless there’s an eyewitness to the shooting it’s hard to make a case for our enforcement folks,” said Joe Cordaro, a wildlife biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who tracks reports of the shootings.

30 Apple’s absence to be felt at CES gadget show

By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer

2 hrs 43 mins ago

What do you call it when you have 120,000 people and an elephant in the room?

The International Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off this week in Las Vegas.

The elephant is Apple Inc. It won’t be at the show this year, but its tablet computer, the iPad, is the most important new product for an industry that needs to once again excite consumers. Sales of the iPad have been strong since its April debut, and the whole industry is now trying to mimic Apple’s success.

31 Visitors snap up 100 trillion Zimbabwe bank notes

By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press

Sun Jan 2, 2:07 pm ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Western visitors to Zimbabwe are looking for zeros. They’re snapping up old, defunct Zimbabwe bank notes, most notably the one hundred trillion Zimbabwe dollar bill, as an economic souvenir.

The one hundred trillion Zimbabwe dollar bill, which at 100 followed by 12 zeros is the highest denomination, now sells for $5, depending on its condition. That bill and others – among them millions, billions and trillions, were abandoned nearly two years ago, when the American dollar became legal tender in the hopes of killing off the record inflation that caused all those zeros.

“I had to have one,” said Janice Waas on a visit to the northwestern resort town of Victoria Falls. “The numbers are mind bending.” She got her so-called “Zimdollar” in pristine condition, from a street vendor who usually sells African carvings.

32 UN peacekeepers come under threat in Ivory Coast

By MARCO CHOWN OVED, Associated Press

2 hrs 47 mins ago

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Some people yell “U.N. out!” as the Jordanian U.N. peacekeepers pass by in their armored personnel carriers, but these soldiers don’t understand French. One man honks his horn before dragging his thumb across his throat in a gesture that cannot be misunderstood.

The United Nations declared Alassane Ouattara the winner of Ivory Coast’s long-delayed presidential vote, but incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo has refused to step aside now for more than a month. Gbagbo accuses the U.N. of failing to remain neutral, and the U.N. has ignored his demand for thousands of peacekeepers leave.

Now peacekeepers patrolling the streets of Abidjan are coming under growing threat – one was wounded with a machete this week when a crowd in a pro-Gbagbo neighborhood attacked a convoy and set a U.N. vehicle on fire. The next day, a U.N. patrol was fired upon from a nearby building as an angry crowd surrounded them. They were forced to fire into the air to disperse the crowd, a U.N. statement said.

33 Spending showdowns will test new Congress leaders

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

Sat Jan 1, 7:08 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Two early showdowns on spending and debt will signal whether the new Congress can find common ground despite its partisan divisions or whether it’s destined for gridlock and brinkmanship that could threaten the nation’s economic health.

Not all of the bickering in the 112th Congress that convenes Wednesday will be between Republicans and Democrats. House Republicans, back in power after four years in the minority, will include numerous freshmen whose unyielding stands on the deficit, in particular, could severely test soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner’s ability to bridge differences and pass major bills.

His first big challenge will come in February, when Congress must pass a huge spending bill to keep the government running. Many House Republicans – veterans and newcomers alike – have pledged to cut discretionary domestic spending by up to $100 billion.

34 Scents latest weapons in fight against sea lamprey

By JOHN FLESHER, AP Environmental Writer

2 hrs 10 mins ago

HURON BEACH, Mich. – In the never-ending battle to prevent blood-sucking sea lamprey from wiping out some of the most popular fish species in the Great Lakes, biologists are developing new weapons that exploit three certainties in the eel-like parasites’ lives: birth, sex and death.

Researchers are beginning the third and final year of testing lab-refined mating pheromones – scents emitted by male lampreys to attract females. They’re also working on a mixture with the stench of rotting lamprey flesh, which live ones detest, and another that smells of baby lampreys, which adults love. If proven effective, the chemicals will be deployed across the region to steer the aquatic vermin to where they can be trapped or killed.

Early results appear promising. Yet no one expects the lures and repellents to finally rid the lakes of the despised invader and enable fisheries managers in the U.S. and Canada to end a battle that has cost more than $400 million over five decades. Especially when a single spawning female lays up to 60,000 eggs.

35 Specter: A Democrat, and in between, a Republican

By MARC LEVY, Associated Press

Sun Jan 2, 12:55 pm ET

WASHINGTON – As Arlen Specter leaves the Senate after 30 years, the one-time corruption-busting Philadelphia prosecutor and architect of the “single-bullet theory” of the John F. Kennedy assassination says he wouldn’t change a thing about his zig-zag-zig political path.

Specter began and ended – for now – his political life as a Democrat and spent the intervening four decades as a Republican. But he sees himself as an independent who often bucked party leadership – ultimately ending his career.

“I have always agreed with (John F.) Kennedy that sometimes party asks too much,” Specter said in his last news media interview in his Washington office on Dec. 23. “My tenure in the Senate was really as an independent and whichever, regardless of party label.”

36 After storms, sun shines brightly on Rose Parade

By DAISY NGUYEN, Associated Press

Sat Jan 1, 5:48 pm ET

PASADENA, Calif. – After a holiday season of relentless rain in Southern California, the 122nd Rose Parade was bathed Saturday in abundant sunshine.

Clear blue skies and chilly temperatures greeted hundreds of thousands of spectators who lined Colorado Boulevard to gawk at the New Year’s Day showcase of flowery floats, marching bands and equestrians.

Many who staked out prime viewing spots on the sidewalks had to brave temperatures that dipped into the low 40s overnight. They shivered under blankets and huddled around fire pits to stay warm.

37 For once, snowstorm nearly shuts down nonstop NYC

By SAMANTHA GROSS, Associated Press

Sat Jan 1, 4:48 pm ET

NEW YORK – When nearly 2 feet of thick snow fell across the city the day after Christmas, New Yorkers did what they usually do: move forward, confident that they could.

“I’m a New Yorker. I’m used to this,” Christine Mendez said, digging her boyfriend’s car out of a snow drift on Central Park West on Monday.

The city had cleaned up big storms like this – its sixth-worst on record – with ease before. But this aftermath was unlike anything New Yorkers had seen in decades. Planes, trains, hundreds and hundreds of buses and ambulances were stuck in the snow for long hours, often with shivering passengers aboard. Snow plows got stuck, along with the tow trucks sent to dig them out. After the last snowflake fell Monday morning, it took another three days before some people saw their mail.

38 Schwarzenegger’s next act: return to LA, go green

By MICHAEL R. BLOOD, AP Political Writer

Sat Jan 1, 3:09 pm ET

LOS ANGELES – The Terminator always said he’d be back.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is sifting through a stack of corporate, Hollywood and real estate offers as the celebrity politician nears an inevitable career crossroad: On Monday, he’s out of a job.

His next act? After seven years in Sacramento, the former strongman and film star will by his own account hit the speech circuit, keep a hand in political activism and possibly write the autobiography that publishers have wanted him to do for years.

39 Braun left as main black candidate in Chicago race

By SOPHIA TAREEN, Associated Press

Sat Jan 1, 8:54 am ET

CHICAGO – Carol Moseley Braun, the first black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, has emerged as the sole prominent African American candidate in the Chicago mayor’s race after the withdrawal of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis.

Davis’ decision, announced at a New Year’s Eve news conference, followed weeks of pressure from many African American leaders who believe that only a consensus black candidate could beat former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other prominent contenders in the race to replace retiring Mayor Richard Daley.

Braun, 63, who was elected to the Senate in 1992 and who served a single term, faces questions about miscues during her time in Washington and about being out of the spotlight for years. But in recent days she had emphasized her profile in Chicago and beyond, better support in the city’s business community, and her likely fundraising advantage over Davis.

40 Miller ending legal battle, conceding Senate race

By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press

Sat Jan 1, 4:22 am ET

JUNEAU, Alaska – Republican Joe Miller has conceded the Alaska U.S. Senate race to party rival Sen. Lisa Murkowski, ending nearly two months of debate and court litigation.

Miller announced his decision at a news conference in Anchorage Friday, one day after the state certified the incumbent Murkowski as the winner of the November election.

The concession ends what started as a promising campaign for Miller, a Sarah Palin-backed tea party favorite who upset Murkowski in the GOP primary, in his first bid for statewide public office.

41 Karzai rejects US request to replace minister

By BRETT J. BLACKLEDGE and RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press

Sat Jan 1, 4:10 am ET

WASHINGTON – Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to remove a former warlord from atop the energy and water ministry despite U.S. pressure to oust the minister because Washington considered him corrupt and ineffective.

Secret diplomatic records showed the minister – privately termed “the worst” by U.S. officials – kept his perch at an agency that controls $2 billion in U.S. and allied projects.

The refusal to remove the official despite threats to end U.S. aid highlights how little influence the U.S. has over the Afghan leader on pressing issues such as corruption.

42 Oil’s surge in 2010 paves the way for $4 gasoline

By CHRIS KAHN, AP Energy Writer

Fri Dec 31, 10:02 pm ET

NEW YORK – The price of oil is poised for another run at $100 a barrel after a global economic rebound sent it surging 34 percent since May. That could push gasoline prices to $4 a gallon by summer in some parts of the country, experts say.

Flying, shipping a package and ordering a pizza all likely would get more expensive in the new year if that happens and companies pass along higher energy costs. Some economists say rising energy prices will slow economic growth.

The U.S. is the world’s largest oil consumer, but prices since spring have been on a roll primarily because of rising demand in developing countries, especially China. China’s oil consumption is expected to rise 5 percent next year; that compares with less than 1 percent growth forecast for the U.S.

43 Ex-SF crime lab tech won’t face criminal charges

By TERRY COLLINS, Associated Press

Fri Dec 31, 6:02 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – A former San Francisco lab technician who acknowledged snorting cocaine from evidence, resulting in the costly dismissal of hundreds of cases, will not be charged with a crime, state prosecutors said Friday.

The attorney general’s office notified San Francisco police on Dec. 2 that there was not sufficient evidence to charge Deborah Madden, AG spokesman Jim Finefrock said Friday.

Madden, 60, had been accused of stealing small amounts of cocaine from the lab while working there last year.

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  1. ek hornbeck

    Thanks to TheMomCat for filling in. I had a great time at the party.

    Somehow I thought there would be more.

  2. TMC

    more “richness” about out illustrious State Department and who they really work for, with a h/t to a Tweet by Naomi Klein

    Diplomats Help Push Sales of Jetliners on the Global Market

    To a greater degree than previously known, diplomats are a big part of the sales force, according to hundreds of cables released by WikiLeaks, which describe politicking and cajoling at the highest levels.

    It is not surprising that the United States helps American companies doing business abroad, given that each sale is worth thousands of jobs and that their foreign competitors do the same. But like the other WikiLeaks cables, these offer a remarkably detailed look at what had previously been only glimpsed – in this case, the sales war between American diplomats and their European counterparts.

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