Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Tunisia leader says won’t stand again, orders halt to firing

by Mohamed Hasni, AFP

6 mins ago

TUNIS (AFP) – A contrite Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali said Thursday he would not seek another term in office and ordered police to stop firing on protesters as he sought to quell mounting unrest.

“I have understood you,” Ben Ali, who has ruled the North African country with an iron fist for the last 23 years, said during a state of the nation address.

The 74-year-old leader also admitted that he had mishandled a spreading wave of unrest and promised democratic reforms.

2 New clashes in Tunisian capital as death toll mounts

by Hamida Ben Salah, AFP

Thu Jan 13, 1:06 pm ET

TUNIS (AFP) – Police opened fire on demonstrators in the centre of the Tunisian capital Thursday, killing at least one person, witnesses said as weeks of spreading anti-government protests intensified.

A Paris-based rights group issued a new death toll of at least 66 people killed in the unrest, branding a government crackdown an “ongoing massacre”.

Eight were killed in clashes around Tunis overnight, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said, and residents reported that angry youths had burned cars and attacked state offices in defiance of a curfew.

3 Lebanon in turmoil as caretaker govt steps in

by Jocelyne Zablit, AFP

1 hr 3 mins ago

BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanon’s president prepared on Thursday to tackle the delicate task of naming a new premier after Hezbollah forced the collapse of the unity government and plunged the country back into crisis.

President Michel Sleiman called on the government to stay on in a caretaker role and was to launch consultations on Monday with parliamentary blocs to appoint a new premier, who must be a Sunni Muslim in line with tradition.

In a sweep led by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, 11 ministers withdrew from Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s government on Wednesday, providing the minimum number of resignations to automatically dissolve the 30-member cabinet.

4 Lebanon in political turmoil as govt collapses

by Jocelyne Zablit, AFP

Thu Jan 13, 8:44 am ET

BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanon was plunged into political turmoil on Thursday after Hezbollah toppled the government over a long-running dispute linked to a UN probe into the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

The hard-won unity government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri — son of the slain leader — collapsed on Wednesday after months of wrangling between the premier and Hezbollah over the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

The move thrust the country into its worst political crisis since 2008 and sparked fears of sectarian Shiite-Sunni unrest.

5 Spanish bond sale eases bailout fears

by Virginie Grognou, AFP

2 hrs 44 mins ago

MADRID (AFP) – A successful Spanish bond sale on Thursday eased market fears of an emergency bailout that would rock the entire eurozone, but analysts warned it did not signal an end to the country’s debt woes.

Spain proved it can tap the financial markets for money, selling its maximum target of 3.0 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in five-year bonds with demand outstripping supply by two-to-one.

The Treasury forked out an average interest rate of 4.542 percent to lure investors, a competitive rate when compared to Wednesday’s market close of 4.767 percent.

6 US trade gap shrinks, but not with China

by Veronica Smith, AFP

Thu Jan 13, 1:24 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US trade deficit unexpectedly shrank in November but the yawning gap with China widened further, official data showed Thursday ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington next week.

The latest trade numbers come as the United States struggles to repair strained economic relations with the rising Asian power, the world’s second-largest economy and the number-two US trading partner.

President Barack Obama and his administration are expected to discuss trade issues with Hu on his state visit Wednesday, including a key irritant, China’s yuan currency.

7 Gbagbo loyalists target UN as stand-off escalates

by Charles Onians, AFP

Thu Jan 13, 12:51 pm ET

ABIDJAN (AFP) – Supporters of embattled Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo on Thursday attacked at least four UN vehicles in Abidjan, with peacekeepers increasingly targeted in the deadly presidential stand-off.

UN patrols have previously come under attack from forces loyal to Gbagbo, who refuses to concede a November 28 presidential election to his besieged rival Alassane Ouattara, but not on the scale of Thursday’s attacks.

“There were three vehicles which were burnt this morning in the Riviera II area,” UN mission in Ivory Coast (UNOCI) spokesman Kenneth Blackman told AFP, adding that Gbagbo loyalists were “certainly” responsible.

8 Joy as south Sudan vote confirmed valid

by Steve Kirby, AFP

Thu Jan 13, 9:44 am ET

JUBA, Sudan (AFP) – Organisers of a landmark south Sudan independence vote confirmed on Thursday that the turnout threshold needed for it to be valid has been reached as ex-US president Jimmy Carter said the region looked set for nationhood.

Drivers honked their horns in the regional capital Juba as southerners hailed the turnout achievement in just four days of the week-long polls, saying it showed the importance of freedom to them after five decades of conflict with the north.

“We are already above the threshold yesterday (Wednesday) — some 2.3 million plus — and more today,” said referendum commission deputy chairman Chan Reec.

9 Jobless claims jump, wholesale food costs surge

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, Reuters

1 hr 16 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Jobless claims jumped to their highest level since October last week while food and energy costs lifted producer prices in December, pointing to headwinds for an economy that has shown fresh vigor.

However, a surge in exports to their highest level in two years, which included record sales to China, helped narrow the U.S. trade deficit in November, an encouraging sign for fourth-quarter economic growth.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said he was hopeful about the recent improvement in the outlook, saying he now expects the economy to expand between 3 percent and 4 percent this year.

10 Euro zone escalation fears ease after Spain auction

By Nigel Davies and Sakari Suoninen, Reuters

Thu Jan 13, 11:11 am ET

MADRID/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Spain and Italy staged successful bond sales on Thursday, easing concerns about an escalation of euro zone debt strife and buying the bloc’s leaders more time to come up with a new package of anti-crisis measures.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet renewed a call for euro zone governments to boost the size and scope of their 440 billion euro ($578.2 billion) rescue fund and warned of short-term inflation pressures in the euro area.

The euro pushed up to its highest level against the dollar in a week and the risk premium investors demand to hold debt from the euro zone’s fragile southern periphery fell, in a sign investors are more confident about the bloc’s determination to address its economic woes.

11 Spain fares better than expected at bond auction

By Nigel Davies, Reuters

Thu Jan 13, 1:37 pm ET

MADRID (Reuters) – Investors showed appetite for Spain’s debt Thursday, pushing borrowing costs up less than expected at its debut debt auction for 2011 and alleviating some concerns about the euro zone’s more vulnerable debtor nations.

Spain sold 3 billion euros of its five-year bonds, at the top end of the Treasury’s target range but less than the 3.4 billion euros sold at the previous auction on November 4, which had a higher target. Bids of over 6 billion euros were taken.

The Treasury paid nearly a full percentage point more to sell the debt than last time, but much less than a 150 basis point premium priced in at the start of the week had suggested.

12 Lebanon to start talks on new government on Monday

By Mariam Karouny, Reuters

Thu Jan 13, 12:08 pm ET

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanese leaders agreed on Thursday to start talks next week on rebuilding a government after Hezbollah walked out of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s coalition, testing political faultlines across the Middle East.

Monday’s first meeting will launch a process. But few think a new cabinet likely until compromise is found in the dispute over the possible indictment of Hezbollah figures by a U.N. tribunal probing the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father.

Deep divisions among Lebanese parties and their powerful regional backers reflect violent religious, ethnic and political rivalries running through the Middle East and beyond, giving leaders from Washington to Tehran a role in Beirut’s crisis.

13 Hezbollah and allies resign, toppling Lebanon government

By Laila Bassam, Reuters

Wed Jan 12, 7:30 pm ET

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Ministers from Hezbollah and its allies resigned on Wednesday, toppling the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri before expected indictments against the Shi’ite group over the killing of Hariri’s father.

Lebanese politicians had said on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia and Syria failed to reach a deal to contain tensions over the U.N.-backed tribunal, which is expected to issue draft indictments soon over the 2005 assassination of Rafik al-Hariri.

The ministers resigned as Saad al-Hariri was meeting U.S. President Barack Obama, and the White House later released a statement criticizing Hezbollah’s moves and warning against any “threats or action” that could destabilize Lebanon.

14 South Sudan vote will meet global standards: Carter

By Jeremy Clarke, Reuters

Thu Jan 13, 10:28 am ET

JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) – South Sudan’s independence vote cleared two major hurdles on Thursday after former president Jimmy Carter gave the poll his endorsement and organizers said high turnout meant the result would be binding.

Southerners are widely expected to choose to declare independence from the north in the week-long poll that entered its fifth day on Thursday — a plebiscite promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war.

Carter, who is leading one of the biggest teams observing the vote, told journalists: “I believe it will meet international standards on the conduct of the process and also the freedom with which people have cast their votes.”

15 U.S. currency legislation less of a threat for China

By Susan Cornwell and Thomas Ferraro, Reuters

Thu Jan 13, 7:35 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. legislation pressing for a rise in the yuan currency looms as less of a threat for China on the eve of President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington, now that Republicans control one house of Congress.

But the issue is far from dead on Capitol Hill and could reignite, especially if the U.S. economy fails to improve as expected and the Chinese are seen to drag their feet on letting their currency appreciate.

With the U.S. economy still struggling as China’s economy booms, it is popular in the United States to criticize China for currency manipulation. “It’s made easier by the fact that they deserve it,” said Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, a business association.

16 Defense budget changes raise questions and concerns

By Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters

Wed Jan 12, 11:49 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawmakers and industry executives began raising concerns this week about new Pentagon cost-cutting measures, saying the moves could have unintended consequences and might prove difficult to implement.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates delivered “a brilliant preemptive strike that kind of frames the whole defense budget debate for Congress and for industry for fiscal 2012,” said Byron Callan, sell-side analyst with Capital Alpha Partners.

“But there’s not a lot of detail on the cost savings and efficiencies, and Gates most likely won’t be around when those efficiencies have to be delivered,” Callan said.

17 Chrysler’s focus is to raise new financing: CEO

By Deepa Seetharaman, Reuters

Wed Jan 12, 8:32 pm ET

DETROIT (Reuters) – Chrysler Group is focused on raising new financing to pay back almost $7 billion to the U.S. and Canadian governments before an initial public offering of shares, Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Wednesday.

“Our priority is to put in place a structure where Chrysler would become answerable to the capital markets only,” Marchionne told a meeting with financial analysts organized by Deutsche Bank.

“The most likely of the options under consideration is a financing package that would facilitate payment of all government debt prior to an IPO,” he said.

18 China, Korea moves underscore rising food prices

By Niu Shuping, Tom Miles and Kim Yeonhee, Reuters

Thu Jan 13, 10:54 am ET

BEIJING/SEOUL (Reuters) – China dumped plans to import several million tonnes of expensive corn and South Korea unveiled cuts in import tariffs on some products, underscoring the dilemma over how to tackle rising food prices.

In India, where vegetable prices have risen more than 70 percent in the past year, the government said it would review the import and export of essential commodities, adding state run firms would intensify purchases of some basics.

A rally in grains prices after a U.S. report on Wednesday warned of dwindling global supplies suggested further price pressures may be in the pipeline, just as Sudan saw rare public protests against cuts in sugar and petroleum product subsidies.

19 Analysis: Obama on human rights in China: agree to disagree?

By Matt Spetalnick, Reuters

Thu Jan 13, 8:14 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Few diplomatic rituals are more predictable than U.S. presidents prodding Chinese leaders over China’s human rights record.

So when President Barack Obama hosts Chinese President Hu Jintao next week, the only real suspense will be over how forcefully and publicly he takes his Chinese counterpart to task before they turn to other priorities like currency, trade and North Korea.

The consensus among China watchers: Obama, stung by criticism that he was too deferential to Beijing when he visited in 2009, will be just a bit more assertive in addressing rights concerns with President Hu on U.S. soil.

20 2010 ties for warmest year, emissions to blame

By Timothy Gardner, Reuters

Wed Jan 12, 5:26 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Last year tied for the warmest since data started in 1880, capping a decade of record high temperatures that shows mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions are heating the planet, two U.S. agencies said.

Global surface temperatures in 2010 were 1.12 degrees Fahrenheit (0.62 Celsius) above the 20th century average, tying the record set in 2005, the National Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Wednesday.

“These results show that the climate is continuing to show the influence of greenhouse gases. It’s showing evidence of warming,” David Easterling, the chief of the scientific services division at the NCDC, told reporters in a teleconference.

21 Palin’s "blood libel" charge ignites firestorm

By John Whitesides, Reuters

Wed Jan 12, 5:00 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Prominent Republican Sarah Palin defended her fiery rhetoric on Wednesday but ignited a fresh controversy by accusing critics of “blood libel” in linking her to a deadly Arizona shooting spree.

A defiant Palin, leaping into a roaring debate on the consequences of overheated political rhetoric, said her critics had been irresponsible in rushing to blame Saturday’s gun rampage on vitriolic campaign speech.

“Especially within hours of a tragedy unfolding, journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn,” Palin, a potential 2012 White House contender, said in a video posted to her Facebook page.

22 Abidjan clashes kill at least 6 police

By Ange Aboa, Reuters

Wed Jan 12, 4:46 pm ET

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Six policemen were killed in Abidjan Wednesday in a second day of fighting between security forces loyal to Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo and supporters of his rival Alassane Ouattara, witnesses said.

A spokesman for Ouattara’s government, Patrick Achi, said by telephone that Gbagbo’s forces killed around seven civilians.

Sustained gunfire and what sounded like explosions from heavier weapons rang out for several hours from across the pro-Ouattara neighborhood of Abobo, a day after fighting there killed at least five people, witnesses said.

23 Haitians recall 2010 quake ‘hell’ as death toll raised

By Allyn Gaestel and Tom Brown, Reuters

Wed Jan 12, 4:11 pm ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti mourned more than 300,000 victims of its devastating 2010 earthquake on Wednesday in a somber one-year anniversary clouded by pessimism over slow reconstruction and political uncertainty.

Revising upwards previous death toll estimates from the January 12 quake of around 250,000, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said the recovery of additional bodies over the year put the total figure at “over 316,000 people killed.”

He spoke at a news conference with former U.S. President and U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton after thousands of Haitians, many wearing white in mourning, attended poignant memorial services around the battered Caribbean country.

24 Analysis: For-profit schools attack reform rule by lobbying

By Diane Bartz, Reuters

Wed Jan 12, 3:57 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For-profit schools, under fire for programs that fail to graduate students and help them find jobs, are lobbying Congress to undermine rules that would cost them dearly if too many of their students default on government loans.

The U.S. Education Department has proposed a rule that would strip programs of financial aid if more than 65 percent of their students fail to pay back their loans and if graduates get buried in debt. Losing the aid would cripple many schools.

The “gainful employment” rule is supposed to make sure that these schools provide an education that will prepare students for “gainful employment,” which in turn could help them pay back their loans. The schools want the rule scrapped, or at least weakened before a final version comes out.

25 Over 1 million Americans seen losing homes in 2011

By JANNA HERRON, AP Real Estate Writer

40 mins ago

NEW YORK – The bleakest year in the foreclosure crisis has only just begun.

Lenders are poised to take back more homes this year than any other since the U.S. housing meltdown began in 2006. About 5 million borrowers are at least two months behind on their mortgages and industry experts say more people will miss payments because of job losses and also loans that exceed the value of the homes they are living in.

“2011 is going to be the peak,” said Rick Sharga, a senior vice president at foreclosure tracker RealtyTrac Inc. The firm predicts 1.2 million homes will be repossessed this year.

26 Navy carrier deploys without former commander


41 mins ago

NORFOLK, Va. – The new commander of the USS Enterprise on Thursday promised karaoke and video games to boost crew morale instead of the raunchy videos that cost one officer his command and forced another to delay his retirement.

Capt. Owen Honors, 49, lost his command of the Enterprise as the Navy launched an investigation into the videos broadcast in 2006 and 2007, which included gay slurs, sailors in suggestive shower scenes and simulated masturbation.

On Thursday, officials deferred Rear Adm. Lawrence Rice’s planned Feb. 1 retirement until that probe was complete, said Rear Adm. Dennis Moynihan, a Navy spokesman. Rice had commanded Honors for part of his duty on the ship.

27 JFK library opens 1st online presidential archive

By BRETT ZONGKER, Associated Press

42 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Caroline Kennedy unveiled the nation’s first online presidential archive Thursday, a $10 million project to digitize the most important papers, photographs and recordings of President John F. Kennedy’s days in office.

Users can sort through the drafts of Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you,” speech and see how he tinkered with the words of that most famous line from his inauguration. Or they can listen to his personal phone calls and read his letters.

In advance of the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s inauguration Jan. 20, Caroline Kennedy visited the National Archives, saying it reminded her the nation was built on words and ideas – and that her father’s call to service was more relevant than ever.

28 Texas US Sen. Hutchison plans to retire next year

By HENRY C. JACKSON, Associated Press

20 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican who was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas and has held the seat for nearly two decades, announced Thursday she will retire next year when her current term ends.

In a letter addressed to her Texas constituents and also sent to members in the media, Hutchison said she would not seek re-election in 2012. She had previously signaled she might retire but changed her mind several times in the last few years. In 2010, she challenged Gov. Rick Perry in the GOP primary for governor, but lost.

In her letter, the state’s senior senator said she had intended to leave office sooner but was persuaded to stay on to “avoid disadvantage to our state.”

29 Early T. Rex ancestor found in South America

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer

6 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Back at the dawn of the dinosaur era, a quick-moving predator set the stage for the famous and fearsome giants that followed in its footsteps, according to new research. “It was a little dinosaur, but it carried a big evolutionary stick,” said Paul C. Sereno of the University of Chicago, who was a leader of the team that discovered Eodromaeus.

The 4-foot-long hunter lived 230 million years ago in what is now South America and appears to be the ancestor of such creatures as Tyrannosaurus rex.

“It is stunning,” Sereno said of the find, reported in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

30 IBM computer taking on ‘Jeopardy!’ champs for $1M

By JIM FITZGERALD, Associated Press

Thu Jan 13, 7:38 am ET

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. – It’s the size of 10 refrigerators, and it swallows encyclopedias whole, but an IBM computer was lacking one thing it needed to battle the greatest champions from the “Jeopardy!” quiz show.

It couldn’t hit a buzzer.

But that’s been fixed, and on Thursday the hardware and software system named Watson was to play a practice round against Ken Jennings, who won a record 74 consecutive “Jeopardy!” games in 2004-05, and Brad Rutter, who won a record of nearly $3.3 million in prize money.

31 Chinese spend big on Belgian racing pigeons

By RAF CASERT, Associated Press

Thu Jan 13, 1:05 pm ET

KERMT, Belgium – The coop where Blue Prince lived stands empty now, the racing pigeon gone for good.

At euro156,000 ($ 205,000) for barely a pound of feathers and lightning-fast fowl, Blue Prince has a one-way ticket to pampered retirement and lifelong breeding in China, which these days has become a predictable destination for topflight birds.

Over the past month, two auctions of Belgian racing pigeons have set one record after another, confirming Belgium as the age-old prime breeding hub of the birds – and China as the new center of global demand.

32 Italy: Court ruling weakens Berlusconi’s immunity

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press

Thu Jan 13, 1:19 pm ET

ROME – A law shielding Premier Silvio Berlusconi from prosecution was weakened by a top Italian court Thursday in a highly awaited and politically charged decision.

The Constitutional Court’s ruling was seen as a compromise between judges who wanted to strike down the law completely, and those who wanted to keep it intact.

Berlusconi is a defendant in two trials in Milan, on corruption and tax fraud charges. The trials had been suspended because of the law, which was passed last year by Berlusconi’s conservatives in parliament and immediately drew accusations it was tailor-made for the premier.

33 Journalists to launch News Corp’s iPad newspaper

By RYAN NAKASHIMA, AP Business Writer

Thu Jan 13, 8:22 am ET

LOS ANGELES – Stop the presses – completely. The world’s first iPad newspaper, The Daily, is prepping for launch.

Journalists have been hired and are in place at multiple U.S. bureaus, including Los Angeles and New York.

The formal announcement of the digital publication owned by News Corp. will be made at an event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on Jan. 19, according to two people familiar with the matter. The people said the event will be attended by Steve Jobs, chief executive of iPad-maker Apple Inc., and Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp.

34 Ivory Coast: Mobs, security forces attack UN cars


1 hr 20 mins ago

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Mobs and security forces allied to Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo attacked at least six U.N. vehicles Thursday, setting some ablaze and injuring two people in the latest round of violence sparked by this West African nation’s disputed election.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attacks by loyalists of Gbagbo, who the U.N. says lost the Nov. 28 poll to longtime opposition leader Alassane Ouattara.

Ban said the attacks by “regular and irregular forces” constituted crimes under international law, and warned that those responsible would be held accountable. Other officials with the global body sounded an alarm, warning they were being prevented from protecting civilians.

35 Biden addresses US troops in Baghdad

By LARA JAKES, Associated Press

Thu Jan 13, 1:41 pm ET

BAGHDAD – Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that the U.S. should make sure Iraq’s stability and democracy are strong enough to make it “a country that was worthy of the sacrifices” the American military suffered during eight years of war.

Biden, speaking to some 400 soldiers in Baghdad, also said the U.S. would continue to train and equip Iraqi forces beyond 2011. His remarks highlighted continuing uncertainty about whether all American troops will head home by the end of the year as required by a security agreement between the two nations.

“The Iraqi people for the first time, I suspect, I would argue, in their history are on the verge of literally creating a country that will be democratic, sustainable and, God willing, prosperous,” Biden told the troops at the military’s headquarters on the outskirts of Baghdad. “It could have a dramatic impact on this entire region, and God knows the Iraqi people deserve it.”

36 Hezbollah aims for more political power in Lebanon

By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY, Associated Press

Thu Jan 13, 2:02 pm ET

BEIRUT – Hezbollah, already Lebanon’s most potent military force, is now making a bid to expand its political power by installing an ally as prime minister now that it has brought down the government.

If Hezbollah succeeds, the Shiite militant group and its patrons in Iran and Syria would have far more sway in this volatile corner of the Middle East – something Washington has worked to prevent.

“They would have proven that they can dominate Lebanon without using their guns,” Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

37 On shootings and politics, Palin has her own rules

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

Thu Jan 13, 6:50 am ET

WASHINGTON – With her video defending herself against critics – in which she accused them of “blood libel” – Sarah Palin again showed she is weighing a presidential bid in unprecedented and even daring ways.

The former Alaska governor commands nationwide attention with her selective use of Facebook and Twitter, choosing provocative words when others testing the presidential waters prefer a lighter touch.

Some political pros say her tactics, which protect her from mainstream reporters and neutral audiences, are savvy and effective. Others say she will have to change if she hopes to win the crucial Iowa caucus or New Hampshire primary, let alone the 2012 general election. Many agree she’s a master at exploiting the campaign possibilities of fast-changing social media.

38 Neighboring states gleeful over Ill. tax increase

By CHRISTOPHER WILLS, Associated Press

Thu Jan 13, 8:42 am ET

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – While many states consider boosting their economies with tax cuts, Illinois officials are betting on the opposite tactic: dramatically raising taxes to resolve a budget crisis that threatened to cripple state government.

Neighboring states gleefully plotted Wednesday to take advantage of what they consider a major economic blunder and lure business away from Illinois.

“It’s like living next door to `The Simpsons’ – you know, the dysfunctional family down the block,” Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said in an interview on Chicago’s WLS-AM.

39 After shooting, Arizona ponders contradictions


45 mins ago

TUCSON, Ariz. – The woman was a native Arizonan, her family going back six generations. Hours after her congresswoman was gunned down at a neighborhood supermarket, she stood at a candlelight vigil on a street corner and clutched a sign that read “Peace.”

Margaret Robles lamented the shooting in the town where she’d lived all her 64 years. She praised Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, agonized for all the victims. But her sadness was mixed with shame.

“I’m embarrassed to say I’m from Arizona,” said the retired teacher’s aide. “Too many things are happening.”

40 Silence greets calls for changes in gun laws

By KEVIN FREKING and ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

47 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Most lawmakers are greeting calls for tougher gun restrictions after the Arizona shootings with silence, reflecting the tilt in recent years toward expanding access to firearms rather than curtailing it.

The White House, too, is sidestepping questions on an issue that is among the most toxic in U.S. politics.

So far, proposed legislation has focused on prohibiting magazine clips that allow a shooter to fire off numerous rounds of ammunition without reloading. The shooter in Tucson, using a Glock semiautomatic pistol with a 33-round magazine, shot 19 people, six fatally. One of the wounded was a member of Congress, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., now in critical condition.

41 Jeb Bush guides Republican outreach to Latinos

By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ, AP Hispanic Affairs Writer

1 hr 15 mins ago

MIAMI – A Republican group that includes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday kicks off its efforts to improve the party’s outreach to Hispanic voters, many of whom have criticized Republicans for using harsh rhetoric to attack illegal immigration.

The new Hispanic Action Network convenes for a two-day policy conference starting Thursday evening that will feature several high-ranking Republicans and focus on issues such as trade, immigration, media outreach and education.

The group is among a growing number of Republican organizations reaching out to Hispanics in advance of next year’s presidential election.

42 Free for 30 years, Iran hostages now plan reunion

By MICHAEL HILL, Associated Press

1 hr 34 mins ago

WEST POINT, N.Y. – Former Iranian hostage Barry Rosen touched down on an American tarmac 30 years ago and spilled into the arms of a wife and two young children lost to him during 444 days of captivity. Then came the exhilarating bus ride to West Point along a route lined with yellow ribbons and thousands of cheering people, waving and chanting, “USA! USA!”

Three decades after the famous release on Jan. 20, 1981, back to a country that had been on the edge of its seat since the crisis began, Rosen will be among the former hostages returning to the site of their emotional homecoming during a reunion hosted by the U.S. Military Academy. It’ll be a chance to catch up with friends who share an intimate and harrowing bond – and to speak to cadets who had yet to be born.

“I don’t want to get maudlin about this, but 30 years is a long time, and we’re getting older as a group,” Rosen told The Associated Press.

43 New guidelines would make school lunches healthier

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press

1 hr 47 mins ago

WASHINGTON – School cafeterias would have to hold the fries – and serve kids more whole grains, fruits and vegetables – under the government’s plans for the first major nutritional overhaul of students’ meals in 15 years.

The Agriculture Department proposal announced Thursday applies to lunches subsidized by the federal government. The guidelines would require schools to cut sodium in those meals by more than half, use more whole grains and serve low-fat milk. They also would limit kids to only one cup of starchy vegetables a week, so schools couldn’t offer french fries every day.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the new standards could affect more than 32 million children and are crucial because kids can consume as much as half of their daily calories in school.

44 4 SoCal tree sitters removed and arrested

By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press

Thu Jan 13, 1:46 am ET

ARCADIA, Calif. – A daylong standoff between a handful of tree sitters and public works crews has ended with the removal and arrest of the activists, who were trying to prevent bulldozers from clearing scores of trees as part of a dam improvement project.

Two men, including veteran tree sitter John Quigley, and two women were escorted out of the trees Wednesday night and taken into custody, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Julio Salcido said. They were booked on suspicion of delaying a peace officer and trespassing, he said.

Earlier Wednesday, with the sounds of bulldozers echoing beneath him, Quigley perched in a century-old oak.

45 Palin’s words reach back to sordid history

By ADAM GELLER, AP National Writer

Wed Jan 12, 11:07 pm ET

NEW YORK – When Sarah Palin accused journalists and pundits of “blood libel” in the wake of the deadly Arizona shootings, she reached deep into one of medieval history’s most sordid chapters to make her point.

The term “blood libel” is not well known, but it is highly charged – a direct reference to a time when many European Christians accused Jews of kidnapping and murdering Christian children to obtain their blood. Jews were tortured and executed for crimes they did not commit, emblematic of anti-Semitism so virulent that some scholars recoiled Wednesday at Palin’s use of the term.

In a video posted to her Facebook page early Wednesday, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate accused the U.S. media of inciting hatred and violence after the shooting that gravely wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Palin has been criticized for marking Giffords’ district with the cross hairs of a gun sight during last fall’s campaign.

46 Haitian-Americans mark 1st year since earthquake

By JENNIFER KAY, Associated Press

Wed Jan 12, 6:14 pm ET

MIAMI – Grief and pride are painted into a colorful new mural, unveiled for Wednesday’s anniversary of Haiti’s massive earthquake, wrapping a prominent corner in this city’s Little Haiti neighborhood.

The presidential palace and hillside homes of Haiti’s capital stand firm and uncracked, but the images are from the past. The mural’s artists painted tears running down the solemn faces of Haiti’s revolutionary heroes, a presidential-appearing hip hop star Wyclef Jean and a young girl stitching together the red and blue fields of Haiti’s flag.

“Even the sky is very sad today,” said Dr. Suzie Armas, emerging from a morning Mass at nearby Notre Dame d’Haiti to damp, gray clouds. “This is the same way the Haitian community has been feeling. Unfortunately, there has not been that much progress.”


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