Jan 15 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Tunisian president quits after violent protests

by Mohamed Hasni and Hamida Ben Salah, AFP

14 mins ago

TUNIS (AFP) – Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali quit on Friday after 23 years in power and fled the north African state as the authorities declared a state of emergency following deadly protests.

Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi announced on state television that he had taken over as interim president, after a day of violent clashes between rock-throwing protesters and riot police in the streets of central Tunis.

“I call on Tunisians of all political persuasions and from all regions to demonstrate patriotism and unity,” Ghannouchi said in a solemn live address.

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

by Mohamed Hasni, AFP

Thu Jan 13, 7:54 pm ET

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.

3 Tunisian leader calls emergency, sacks government

by Mohamed Hasni and Hamida Ben Salah

Fri Jan 14, 12:47 pm ET

TUNIS (AFP) – Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali called a state of emergency and fired his government on Friday as escalating protests over his rule forced the evacuation of thousands of European tourists.

Only hours after the veteran leader vowed on state television that he would stand down in 2014 and prices of basic foodstuffs would be cut, his prime minister announced a clear-out of government and elections in six months.

Police fired volleys of tear gas to disperse thousands of demonstrators in the heart of the capital amid clashes between security forces and protestors, as authorities declared a state of emergency and a curfew across the country.

4 Tunisian protesters call president to quit

by Mohamed Hasni and Hamida Ben Salah, AFP

Fri Jan 14, 7:19 am ET

TUNIS (AFP) – Thousands of protesters demanded the immediate departure of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in marches across the country Friday, emboldened by his pledge to step down in 2014 after weeks of unrest.

“No to Ben Ali, the uprising continues,” hundreds shouted in a march down the main boulevard in central Tunis, Avenue Bourguiba, while thousands more protesters took to the streets in other towns shouting “Ben Ali out”.

The crowd in the capital, which included lawyers in black robes, sang the national anthem, and also accused the president’s in-laws in the Trabelsi family of “looting the country”, AFP reporters said.

5 John Paul II to be beatified May 1

by Ella Ide, AFP

Fri Jan 14, 1:01 pm ET

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – The late pope John Paul II is on the fast track to sainthood and will be beatified on May 1, the Vatican said Friday, to the joy of supporters and alarm of clerical abuse victims.

Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to beatify the Polish-born pope in the preliminary step to canonisation was immediately celebrated in his home country.

The archbishop of Krakow, Stanislaw Dziwisz, a longtime influential aide and friend to the late pope, spoke of his “great joy” on behalf of “the whole of Poland.”

6 Diamond-studded skull smiles on Asian art market

by Adrian Addison, AFP

Fri Jan 14, 9:59 am ET

HONG KONG (AFP) – A diamond-studded baby’s skull by British artist Damien Hirst stares out across a brand new gallery in Hong Kong, smiling over Asia’s rising demand for exorbitantly expensive works of art.

It is the first time the work’s controversial creator has exhibited in Asia, a sure sign that the epicentre of the world’s art scene is shifting east — following the money.

Entitled “For Heaven’s Sake”, the work is a platinum cast of a human baby skull with more than 16,000 diamonds embedded in it. It is the first time the work has gone on display anywhere.

7 Nigeria’s Jonathan wins party primary

by Ola Awoniyi, AFP

Fri Jan 14, 11:42 am ET

ABUJA (AFP) – Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan won the ruling party’s primary on Friday after fending off a challenge from the mainly Muslim north, setting him up as the favourite in April’s landmark elections.

Jonathan dominated his main challenger, ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar, taking nearly 80 percent of the vote of party delegates that began Thursday evening and ended with a final tally early Friday.

However, Abubakar’s campaign alleged intimidation and rigging, and his electoral agents refused to sign off on the primary results. A statement said he was holding consultations on his next line of action.

8 Bin Hammam rules out World Cup date change

by Rob Woollard, AFP

Fri Jan 14, 10:20 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam on Friday ruled out shifting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to winter or staging tournament matches around the Gulf region.

Bin Hammam told Sky News in an interview that he was “unimpressed” by suggestions from FIFA President Sepp Blatter that the tournament could be moved to a winter time slot to avoid sweltering summer temperatures in Qatar.

He also took aim at remarks by UEFA President Michel Platini earlier this week that the 2022 tournament could be a “Gulf World Cup”, with matches taking place in several countries surrounding Qatar.

9 Gates warns of civil-military disconnect in China

by Dan De Luce, AFP

Fri Jan 14, 3:15 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said after a trip to Beijing that China’s revelation of a stealth jet’s flight test pointed to a “disconnect” between its military and civilian leaders.

Gates was speaking in Japan on Friday, during a week-long Asia tour focused on the threat posed by nuclear-armed North Korea and the increasing military assertiveness in the region of Pyongyang’s only major ally China.

The Pentagon chief stressed that China’s President Hu Jintao, whom he met on Tuesday, was “in command and in charge” but also said there were signs that civilian leaders had been unaware of the J-20 jet’s test flight.

10 Veteran Tunisian leader quits after protests

By Tarek Amara and Christian Lowe, Reuters

26 mins ago

TUNIS (Reuters) – A surge of anger in the streets over police repression and poverty swept Tunisia’s veteran leader from power on Friday, sending a chill through unpopular authoritarian governments across the Arab world.

President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali stepped aside after more than two decades in power and looked to have flown out of the country. His exact whereabouts were unclear.

Ben Ali’s prime minister told Tunisians he would steer the state until early elections. The streets of the capital were calm amid heavy security, but some analysts questioned whether the change of face at the top would satisfy the protesters.

11 JPMorgan beats, sets bullish tone for bank earnings

By Elinor Comlay, Reuters

1 hr 12 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co reported a greater-than-expected 47 percent increase in quarterly earnings and struck an upbeat tone that lifted the shares of major U.S. banks reporting next week.

JPMorgan executives said loan demand and trading profit could grow this year, boosting investor optimism that revenue for other major banks will recover.

The bank’s shares rose 2.2 percent to $45.42, their highest since April, and they were one of the biggest percentage gainers on the Dow Jones industrial average an hour before the close of the market.

12 Retail sales rise modestly, inflation tame

By Mark Felsenthal, Reuters

Fri Jan 14, 11:19 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sales at U.S. retailers rose slightly less than expected in December, while underlying inflation remained tame, suggesting the recovery was strengthening modestly with little price pressure building.

Despite the small rise in retail sales in December, a key shopping month, sales for all of 2010 reversed two years of contraction with the biggest gain in more than a decade, according to data released on Friday.

“We are gathering momentum,” said Swiss Re chief economist Kurt Karl, adding that a three-month moving average of retail sales was “really strong.”

13 France poised to launch probe in Renault case

By Helen Massy-Beresford and Thierry Leveque, Reuters

Fri Jan 14, 1:28 pm ET

PARIS (Reuters) – A French state prosecutor was on Friday poised to launch an inquiry into industrial espionage at Renault after the carmaker filed a legal complaint alleging information was passed to a foreign power.

France’s domestic intelligence service DCRI was expected to be officially charged with the investigation late on Friday or on Monday, sources close to the matter said.

Renault on Thursday set the scene for a lengthy judicial process by lodging a complaint on counts of organized theft, aggravated breach of trust and passing intelligence to a foreign power, Paris prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin said.

14 Pope John Paul nears sainthood, to be beatified

By Philip Pullella, Reuters

2 hrs 55 mins ago

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The late Pope John Paul II moved a big step closer to Roman Catholic sainthood on Friday when his successor approved a decree attributing a miracle to him and announced that he will be beatified on May 1.

The ceremony in St Peter’s Square marking the last step before sainthood is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people, harkening back to the funeral of the charismatic pope in 2005, one of the biggest media events of the new century.

His coffin will be moved beforehand from its present location in the Vatican crypts and placed under an altar in a chapel in St Peter’s Basilica so more people can pay homage.

15 China’s military advances challenge U.S. power: Gates

By Phil Stewart, Reuters

Fri Jan 14, 4:54 am ET

TOKYO (Reuters) – A U.S. military presence in the Pacific is essential to restrain Chinese assertiveness, Washington’s defense chief said on Friday, describing China’s technology advances as a challenge to U.S. forces in the region.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ comments are likely to add to tensions over political and economic quarrels between the two superpowers just days before Chinese President Hu Jintao visits the United States.

President Barack Obama hosts Hu for a state visit on January 19. U.S. officials say Obama will raise geopolitical problems such as Iran and North Korea as well as trade issues that bedevil ties between the world’s two biggest economies.

16 Analysis: Ambition, fear means business tongue-tied on China

By Scott Malone, Reuters

1 hr 40 mins ago

BOSTON (Reuters) – U.S. companies want a lot out of Chinese President Hu Jintao when he visits Washington next week. They have a long list of moans and desires.

But in a sign of how fearful they are about upsetting Beijing and damaging their access to one of the world’s biggest export growth markets, they won’t talk about it in public.

In the middle of last year several top executives were reported to have criticized China’s domestic policies, in particular its lack of laws to protect intellectual property and its protectionist stance against foreign companies.

17 Analysis: Stealth flight sparks China politics guessing game

By Sui-Lee Wee, Reuters

Fri Jan 14, 2:41 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ call for China’s military to communicate better with its civilian leaders underscores the policy disconnect in Beijing and raises questions over who really wields control in China.

Beijing confirmed this week it had held its first test flight of the J-20 stealth fighter jet, surprising many in the international community who had underestimated China’s ability to develop technology to one day rival the United States.

Was the timing of the launch meant to coincide with Gates’ visit and, if so, why; and was Chinese President Hu Jintao genuinely unaware of the flight, signaling a worrying lack of communication between China’s military and its civilian leaders?

18 Morgan Stanley’s Gorman shakes up management

By Helen Kearney and Joseph Giannone, Reuters

Thu Jan 13, 10:10 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Morgan Stanley announced on Thursday a number of executive changes across its retail brokerage and fixed-income trading divisions, as Chief Executive James Gorman overhauls the bank’s management ranks a year into his tenure.

The moves, which follow executive changes announced last week, come just before the firm releases its fourth quarter financial results.

Greg Fleming, 47, a former Merrill Lynch president who already led Morgan Stanley’s asset management business, will also become president of global wealth management. Gorman had previously worked with Fleming at Merrill Lynch, where he had run the giant brokerage division

19 Economy facing headwinds, but Bernanke hopeful

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, Reuters

Thu Jan 13, 5:16 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Jobless claims hit a 10-week high last week while producer prices shot up in December, pointing to headwinds for an economy that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said was showing 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.

The data on Thursday marked one step forward and two steps back for an economy that appeared to gain a bit more momentum toward the end of last year.

20 Tunisians drive leader from power in mass uprising


23 mins ago

TUNIS, Tunisia – Protesters enraged over soaring unemployment and corruption drove Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power Friday after 23 years of iron-fisted rule, an unprecedented popular uprising in a region dominated by strongmen who do not answer to their people.

Tunisians buoyant over Ben Ali’s ouster immediately worried, however, about what’s next: the caretaker leadership of the prime minister who took control, and the role of the army in the transition.

The upheaval took place after weeks of escalating unrest fueled partly by social media and cell phones, as thousands of demonstrators from all walks of life rejected Ben Ali’s promises of change and mobbed the capital of Tunis to demand his ouster in the country’s largest demonstrations in generations.

21 Pope John Paul II moves a step closer to sainthood

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press

25 mins ago

VATICAN CITY – During his 2005 funeral, crowds at the Vatican shouted for Pope John Paul II to be made a saint immediately. “Santo subito!” they chanted for one of the most important and beloved pontiffs in history.

His successor heard their call. On Friday, in the fastest process on record, Pope Benedict XVI set May 1 as the date for John Paul’s beatification – a key step toward Catholicism’s highest honor and a major morale boost for a church reeling from the clerical sex abuse scandal.

He set the date after declaring that a French nun’s recovery from Parkinson’s disease was the miracle needed for John Paul to be beatified. A second miracle is needed to be canonized a saint.

22 Panel says women should be allowed in combat units

By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press

3 mins ago

WASHINGTON – A military advisory commission is recommending that the Pentagon do away with a policy that bans women from serving in combat units, breathing new life into a long-simmering debate.

Though thousands of women have been involved in the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have done so while serving in combat support roles – as medics, logistics officers and so on – because defense policy prohibits women from being assigned to any unit smaller than a brigade whose primary mission is direct combat on the ground. On Friday, a special panel was meeting to polish the final draft of a report that recommends the policy be eliminated “to create a level playing field for all qualified service members.”

If it were approved by the Defense Department, it would be yet another sizeable social change in a force that in the last year has seen policy changes to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly for the first time in the military and to allow Navy women to serve on submarines for the first time.

23 APNewsBreak: New imam named for NYC Islamic center

By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press

26 mins ago

NEW YORK – The organization planning to build an Islamic community center near the World Trade Center said Friday that the imam who co-founded the project and served as its public face is shifting out of a key leadership role so he can focus on other initiatives.

The nonprofit group Park51 said Feisal Abdul Rauf, who is set to start a national speaking tour Saturday and spends much of his time out of the country, didn’t have enough time to spend on the center.

The group announced it had named a new senior adviser to help lead religious programing: Shaykh Abdallah Adhami, a scholar with an architecture degree known for his lectures on gender relations.

24 Consumer price index jumps on costlier gas


Fri Jan 14, 9:26 am ET

WASHINGTON – Consumer prices rose last month as the cost of gas increased by the largest amount since June 2009. But outside of energy costs, there was little sign of widespread inflation.

The Labor Department said Friday the Consumer Price Index rose 0.5 percent in December, the largest increase in 18 months. About 80 percent of the increase was due to an 8.5 percent rise in the gasoline index, also the sharpest increase in 18 months. Food prices ticked up 0.1 percent in December.

High unemployment and a weak economy are keeping prices in check. Retailers and manufacturers are reluctant, for now, to pass on the rising costs of raw materials to consumers, for fear of scaring them away.

25 Won and done: Auburn QB Cam Newton to enter draft

By JOHN ZENOR, AP Sports Writer

Fri Jan 14, 9:45 am ET

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft after leading Auburn to a national championship and drawing nearly as much attention for a pay-for-play scandal as for his dynamic performances.

Auburn released a statement Thursday night announcing the quarterback’s decision following his lone year as a major college starter. Newton led the Tigers to their first national title since 1957 and a 14-0 season with a 22-19 victory over Oregon on Monday night.

“This decision was difficult for me and my family,” Newton said, adding that he made it after talking to coach Gene Chizik and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

26 Italy’s Berlusconi in prostitution probe

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press

1 hr 25 mins ago

ROME – Prosecutors are investigating whether Premier Silvio Berlusconi paid for sex with an underage girl from Morocco and then abused his power in trying to cover up the encounters, officials said Friday.

Berlusconi dismissed the case as “absurd” and said the prosecutors were just jealous they weren’t invited to his home for dinner too; the teenager has said she dined at the premier’s Milan estate but didn’t have sex with him.

“At least my lawyers are happy,” Berlusconi quipped in an audio message to his supporters late Friday. “They’re sure that with me they’ll never be out of work.”

27 Missed deadlines in clearing haze over parks

By PHUONG LE, Associated Press

47 mins ago

SEATTLE – More than 30 years after Congress set a goal of clearing the pollution-caused haze that obscures scenic vistas at some of America’s wildest and most famous natural places, progress is still slow in coming.

Saturday marks the deadline for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to approve most state plans aimed at curbing pollution from coal-fired power plants and industrial sources to improve visibility at 156 national parks and wilderness areas such as Shenandoah, Mount Rainier and the Grand Canyon.

But as of Thursday, the agency hadn’t approved any state plans – or come up with its own, as required.

28 Jackson: Don’t use MLK Day to make up snow days

By MEG KINNARD, Associated Press

58 mins ago

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Civil rights leaders said Friday that school districts around the Southeast should scrap plans to use the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to make up for snow days, calling the decision an insult to the civil rights icon’s legacy.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others, said schools in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina should find other ways to make up days lost after a winter storm coated the region in snow and ice, making roads treacherous. But educators, some facing mandatory furloughs, said they had scant options to make sure students were in classrooms for the number of days required by law.

In Rock Hill, S.C., for instance, three school days were canceled just a week after students returned from Christmas break. Some Georgia districts canceled class for an entire week.

29 Attorney argues for GI’s release in Wikileaks case

By DAVID DISHNEAU, Associated Press

1 hr 40 mins ago

HAGERSTOWN, Md. – An Army private suspected of passing hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks is jailed under harsh conditions and should be released, his lawyer said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations’ anti-torture chief said Friday that he has asked the U.S. State Department to investigate Pfc. Bradley E. Manning’s treatment at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.

A spokesman at the Marine Corps base said he doesn’t expect any changes in the maximum-security, injury-prevention conditions under which Manning has been held since he was brought there July 29 from a detention facility in Kuwait. Military officials say the rules, which include confinement 23 hours a day in a single-bed cell, keep Manning safe and secure.

30 Lawsuit filed in Hamptons religious symbol fight

By FRANK ELTMAN, Associated Press

2 hrs 9 mins ago

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. – A long-simmering controversy over whether Orthodox Jews can place a religious symbol on utility poles in a Hamptons community on eastern Long Island appears headed to court.

Attorneys for the East End Eruv Association have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming officials in the town of Southampton and villages of Westhampton Beach and Quogue are intentionally infringing on their religious freedom by not allowing the placement of an “eruv.”

The eruv consists of small wooden strips called “lechis,” which are often placed on utility poles to create an invisible boundary that allows observant Jews within the eruv to perform manual labor, including pushing and carrying objects such as strollers and wheelchairs on the Sabbath or religious holidays like Yom Kippur.

31 List of possible Hutchison successors takes shape

By HENRY C. JACKSON, Associated Press

Fri Jan 14, 5:48 am ET

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s retirement announcement nearly two years before Texas voters will choose her successor gives aspiring candidates plenty of time to prepare.

The list of Republicans and Democrats who might be interested was already starting to take shape Thursday after Hutchison announced in a letter to supporters that she would not seek reelection when her term ends in 2012.

The state’s first female senator has occupied her seat for nearly two decades and, observers said, many Texas politicians have been biding their time for a chance to replace her.

32 Some question pep rally atmosphere at Obama speech


Fri Jan 14, 2:27 am ET

TUCSON, Ariz. – What was billed as a memorial for victims of the Arizona shooting rampage turned into a rollicking rally, leaving some conservative commentators wondering whether President Barack Obama’s speech was a scripted political event. Not so, insisted the White House and host University of Arizona.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Thursday he and other aides didn’t expect the president’s remarks at the school’s basketball arena to receive as much rousing applause as it did. Gibbs said the crowd’s response, at times cheering and shouting, was understandable.

“I think part of the grieving process is celebrating the lives of those that were lost, and celebrating the miracles of those that survived,” he said.

33 Any pause in harsh rhetoric may be short-lived

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

Fri Jan 14, 2:27 am ET

WASHINGTON – Despite President Barack Obama’s appeal for civility, history suggests any move toward cooler political rhetoric after the Arizona shootings will soon fade. An early test will come Jan. 25, when some lawmakers are asking Democrats and Republicans to sit side by side for Obama’s State of the Union speech, rather than splitting the House chamber by party as usual.

Initial reactions to that idea on Capitol Hill were not encouraging, especially from the Republican side. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said House members may “sit where they choose.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had no comment on the suggestion, which was offered by Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled he might be open to the idea but wanted more discussion. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., embraced it.

34 EPA: Study by dump shows chemicals at safe level

By GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press

Thu Jan 13, 9:30 pm ET

FRESNO, Calif. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday a new study by the largest toxic waste dump in the West showed its level of cancer-causing chemicals was too low to harm the health of a nearby community where an unusually high number of babies have been born with serious birth defects.

For years, families who live downwind from the sprawling Kettleman Hills landfill in Central California have been concerned that PCB contamination was linked to a rash of cleft palates and other birth abnormalities.

Chemical Waste Management Inc. announced the results of its long-awaited study showing instead that the level of PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, surrounding the dump was similar to contamination found in rural areas across the country, even in the remote wilderness.

35 Trial for 3 ex-cops opens in Pa. immigrant death

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press

Thu Jan 13, 7:41 pm ET

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – Three police officers in a Pennsylvania town obstructed a federal investigation into the fatal beating of an illegal Mexican immigrant to protect white football players to whom they had close personal ties, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Former Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor and two subordinates orchestrated a cover-up in the July 2008 beating death of 25-year-old Luis Ramirez in an effort to shield the teenage perpetrators, Justice Department prosecutor Myesha Braden said in her opening statement. One officer was dating the mother of one of the teens at the time, she said.

“Relationships are at the heart of why these three defendants covered up a malicious crime,” she said. “Relationships combined with privilege to overthrow the rule of law.”

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