Feb 21 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 41 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Libyans attack regime pillars, ‘control cities’


1 hr 18 mins ago

CAIRO (AFP) – Protesters Monday overran several Libyan cities and regime stalwarts began defecting as the pillars of Moamer Kadhafi’s hardline rule were targeted in Tripoli amid reports he had fled the country.

Cities including Benghazi in the east had fallen to demonstrators opposing Kadhafi’s 41-year-old regime after military units deserted, said the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR).

With gunfire crackling in the streets of Tripoli, protesters also attacked police stations and the offices of the state broadcaster, Kadhafi’s mouthpiece, as well as setting government buildings ablaze.


2 Libyan uprising a ‘foreign plot’: Kadhafi son


Sun Feb 20, 7:18 pm ET

CAIRO (AFP) – Saif al-Islam Kadhafi, the son of strongman Moamer Kadhafi, said Monday that Libya was on the verge of civil war and branded the unprecedented protests against his father’s rule a foreign plot.

Blaming Arab and African expatriates of fomenting unrest in the country, he said the violence was aimed at installing Islamist rule, in a speech on television.

“At this moment there are tanks being driven by civilians in Benghazi,” Libya’s second city and an epicentre of the unprecedented protests against Moamer Kadhafi’s iron-fisted rule for nearly 42 years.

3 Libya shockwaves hit Italian businesses


Mon Feb 21, 9:26 am ET

MILAN (AFP) – Shockwaves from the unrest in Libya on Monday hit its former colonial overlord Italy — a top foreign investor in Libya and a country in which the North African state has also invested billions.

Libyan authorities and veteran ruler Moamer Kadhafi’s family own stakes in Italy’s biggest bank UniCredit, defence and industry giant Finmeccanica, as well as in the Juventus football club.

Shares in UniCredit plunged 3.08 percent on the Milan stock exchange in afternoon trading. Industry giant Impregilo, which has some major contracts in Libya, saw its share price plummet by 5.60 percent.

4 Yemen president vows not to quit amid protests

by Hammoud Mounassar and Jamal al-Jaberi, AFP

2 hrs 27 mins ago

SANAA (AFP) – Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh vowed on Monday not to quit under popular pressure as demonstrations demanding his ouster spread across the country and the death toll in protests rose to 12.

Saleh, whose long reign makes him one of the Middle East’s great survivors, said the protests were “not new” and accused his opponents of fuelling the demonstrations.

“If they want me to quit, I will only leave through the ballot box,” he told a news conference as vast crowds of protesters, among them opposition MPs, gathered outside Sanaa University to demand he step down.

5 Bahrain Grand Prix cancelled after deadly protests


2 hrs 1 min ago

MANAMA (AFP) – The season-opening Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, due to be staged on March 13, was cancelled on Monday due to the deadly political unrest in the Gulf state, organisers announced.

The widely anticipated move was confirmed in an official statement shortly after reports emerged that F1 teams had decided not to go ahead with a scheduled testing session at the circuit next week.

Bahrain Crown Prince HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa said: “At the present time the country’s entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain.

6 Taliban bomber kills 31 at Afghan office

by Gul Rahim, AFP

Mon Feb 21, 9:11 am ET

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (AFP) – A Taliban suicide bomber struck an Afghan government office on Monday, killing 31 people and raising to more than 100 the death toll from a surge in high-profile bomb attacks.

A string of insurgent attacks has targeted civilians and government forces over the last three weeks, just a few months before limited withdrawals of US-led NATO forces are due to start in July.

Monday’s attack took place as people queued outside a district office in Imam Sahib in the northern province of Kunduz to collect new identity cards and other paperwork.

7 Deadly clashes in Ivory Coast as mediators arrive

by Evelyne Aka, AFP

Mon Feb 21, 10:59 am ET

ABIDJAN (AFP) – Fresh clashes erupted between supporters of the Ivory Coast’s rival presidents Monday, with a man shot dead in army gunfire, as four African leaders launched a new bid to break the impasse.

At least a dozen people were also injured in clashes in Abidjan between forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to concede defeat after a November 28 election, and his rival Alassane Ouattara, witnesses said.

Three Ouattara supporters were killed in violence in the city on Saturday while security forces loyal Gbagbo announced Monday they had lost three men in the unrest in the past two weeks.

8 BP, India’s Reliance in $20 bn energy tie-up


2 hrs 20 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – British energy giant BP and India’s Reliance Industries announced Monday a large investment deal which could be worth up to $20 billion, with later investment in key Indian oil and gas assets.

BP said it will pay $7.2 billion (5.3 billion euros) to Reliance for a 30-percent stake in 23 Indian oil and gas blocks, unveiling another major foreign venture as it seeks to move on from the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

Last month, the embattled group joined forces with Russia’s Rosneft in what could be another transforming deal to explore for oil in the Arctic region.

9 Limbless singer gives voice to India’s rural poor

by Beatrice Le Bohec, AFP

Mon Feb 21, 11:05 am ET

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Bant Singh, a scarred survivor of class violence in rural India, has an indisputable claim to be a voice for India’s impoverished and muted millions.

The folk singer lost both arms and a leg in an attack five years ago after he dared to challenge high-caste landlords in his area of the northwestern state of Punjab who had raped his 17-year-old daughter.

Set upon by a gang armed with iron bars, he was beaten to a pulp and left for dead, but neither the assault nor the subsequent amputations broke his resolve to denounce oppression in India’s hinterlands.

10 Australia crush Zimbabwe at Cricket World Cup

by Manoj Vatsyayana, AFP

Mon Feb 21, 11:46 am ET

AHMEDABAD, India (AFP) – Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait shared six wickets in a superb display of fast bowling to fire Australia to a crushing 91-run win over Zimbabwe in their opening World Cup match on Monday.

Johnson finished with 4-19 and Tait, bowling in short spells, took 2-34 as defending champions Australia dismissed Zimbabwe for 171 after scoring a challenging 262-6 in the day-night match.

There was no respite from pace for the hapless Zimbabwe as Brett Lee also tested the batsmen to finish with 1-34 as Australia racked up their 24th successive World Cup win.

11 Pakistan intelligence says US gunman is CIA

by Jennie Matthew, AFP

Mon Feb 21, 6:21 am ET

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – A Pakistani intelligence official said Monday that an American in custody for killing two men was an undercover CIA contractor, in remarks likely to inflame a crisis with the United States.

Washington insists that Raymond Davis, who says he acted in self-defence, is a member of its Islamabad embassy’s “administrative and technical staff” who has diplomatic immunity and should be released immediately.

But the unpopular government in Pakistan is under huge pressure from the political opposition not to cave in to US demands, with analysts even warning that the case could bring down the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).


12 Gaddafi under threat as revolt hits Tripoli


21 mins ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi fought an increasingly bloody battle to hang on to power on Monday when anti-government protests against his 41-year rule struck the capital Tripoli after days of violence in the east.

Residents reported gunfire in parts of Tripoli and one political activist said warplanes had bombed the city.

Forces loyal to Gaddafi had killed dozens of people across the country, human rights groups and witnesses said, prompting widespread condemnation from foreign governments.

13 Libya turmoil prompts oil surge, hits equities

By Jeremy Gaunt, European Investment Correspondent

2 hrs 51 mins ago

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices charged to fresh 2-1/2 year highs on Monday as traders reacted to increasing violence in major producer Libya, which fed investor fears about rising inflation and unsettled other markets.

Globally, equities were lower but U.S. markets were closed for a holiday.

European equities lost more than 1 percent on a combination of uncertainty over the future of the oil price, increasing signs that higher interest rates may be coming and more evidence of a surprisingly poor earnings season.

14 Unrest spreads to Libyan capital as Arab protests simmer

Sun Feb 20, 7:42 pm ET

TRIPOLI/MANAMA (Reuters) – Violent unrest against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi spread to the capital Tripoli on Sunday and his son vowed to fight until the “last man standing” after scores of protesters were killed in the east of the country.

Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam said in an address on state TV the army stood behind his father as a “leader of the battle in Tripoli” and would enforce security at any price. His comments were the first official reaction from the Libyan authorities since the unrest began.

As he spoke, police used tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters in Tripoli, where gunfire was heard, vehicles were on fire and protesters threw stones at billboards of Gaddafi, who is facing the most serious challenge to his four-decade rule.

15 EU condemns Libyan repression, worried on migrants

By David Brunnstrom and Justyna Pawlak, Reuters

1 hr 21 mins ago

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – EU foreign ministers condemned the killing of anti-government protesters in Libya on Monday and pledged to support democratic transition resulting from the unrest that has swept across North Africa and the Middle East.

At a meeting in Brussels, ministers expressed alarm at the violence and concern about the possibility of an influx of illegal migrants from North Africa after Libya’s threat last week to stop cooperation in stemming the flow.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague called on the Libyan authorities to ensure proper protection for foreign nationals, including 3,500 Britons, and assistance for those trying to leave the country.

16 Libya isolation insulates rulers from outside pressure

By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent, Reuters

2 hrs 52 mins ago

LONDON (Reuters) – Like Iran and Myanmar before it, Libya’s relative isolation gives its rulers much more diplomatic flexibility to mount a bloody crackdown than counterparts in Egypt, Tunisia or Bahrain — but that may not be enough.

Early on Monday, one of the sons of Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi said his father would fight a popular revolt to the “last man standing.”

Rights groups estimate the death toll in Libya in recent days far outstrips anything seen during protests elsewhere in North Africa, but reporting restrictions and blocked communications have kept most events out of sight.

17 China calls for domestic unrest to be defused

By Chris Buckley, Reuters

Mon Feb 21, 7:37 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – China must find new ways to defuse unrest, the domestic security chief said, underscoring Beijing’s anxiety about control after police quashed calls for gatherings inspired by uprisings in the Middle East.

A Foreign Ministry official separately blamed the political violence sweeping the Middle East on too-slow growth and stunted efforts at reform.

Zhou Yongkang, the ruling Communist Party’s top law-and-order official, told cadres they had to “adapt to new trends and imperatives in economic and social development”, official newspapers reported on Monday.

18 BP partners Reliance in $7.2 billion Indian oil hunt

By Sarah Young and Jo Winterbottom, Reuters

2 hrs 47 mins ago

LONDON/NEW DELHI (Reuters) – BP lined up one of the biggest foreign direct investments in India to date with a $7.2 billion tie-up with the country’s Reliance Industries to explore for deepwater oil and gas.

This marks the second major deal under BP’s new chief executive Bob Dudley, who last month agreed a share swap with Russia’s state-controlled Rosneft to jointly explore the Arctic for offshore oil and gas.

BP said on Monday it would pay Reliance Industries $7.2 billion and performance payments of up to $1.8 billion if the tie-up leads to the development of commercial discoveries.

19 Wisconsin governor calls on Democrats to come home

By James Kelleher, Reuters

41 mins ago

MADISON, Wisconsin (Reuters) – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Monday called for the return of the 14 Democratic state senators who left the state last week to avoid voting on a bill that that severely curbs state workers’ bargaining rights.

“They’ve got to come to Wisconsin, do the job that they were elected to do, do the job that they’re paid to do,” Walker said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“If they want to do that, we will sit down and talk to them. But the bottom line is we can’t negotiate over a budget because we are broke and we need the money.”

20 IMF chief steals Sarkozy’s thunder at French G20

By Laure Bretton and Brian Love, Reuters

1 hr 52 mins ago

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy hopes his stint at the helm of the G20 will boost his re-election chances in 2012, but it was a potential challenger who stole the show when finance ministers met at the weekend.

IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn — a former French finance minister who polls show would trounce Sarkozy if he ran — dominated the front pages in France after the G20 meeting in Paris briefly placed the rivals on the same stage.

In town for three days, Strauss-Kahn was impenetrably silent over whether he could run for the left in the 2012 election, where center-right Sarkozy is expected to try for a second term.

21 Government shutdown threat looms over budget fight

By Kevin Drawbaugh, Reuters

Mon Feb 21, 7:33 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior Senate Democrats slammed Republicans on Sunday for a “reckless” threat to shut down the government amid deepening political posturing on both sides over federal spending and the budget deficit.

The House of Representatives voted on Saturday to cut federal spending by $61 billion through September. But the Republican measure will likely die because Democrats who control the Senate oppose it and President Barack Obama vowed to veto it.

Obama has outlined his own plan for less-severe spending cuts in 2012, and has warned that tightening the belt too much too soon could harm the slow economic recovery.


22 Gadhafi’s hold on Libya weakens in protest wave

By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press

23 mins ago

CAIRO – Deep cracks opened in Moammar Gadhafi’s regime Monday, with Libyan government officials at home and abroad resigning, air force pilots defecting and a major government building ablaze after clashes in the capital of Tripoli. Protesters called for another night of defiance against the Arab world’s longest-serving leader despite a crackdown.

At sunset, pro-Gadhafi militia drove around Tripoli with loudspeakers and told people not to leave their homes, witnesses said, as security forces sought to keep the unrest that swept eastern parts of the country – leaving the second-largest city of Benghazi in protesters’ control – from overwhelming the capital of 2 million people.

State TV said the military had “stormed the hideouts of saboteurs” and urged the public to back security forces. Protesters called for a new demonstration in Tripoli’s central Green Square and in front of Gadhafi’s residence.

23 Exiled opposition leader to return to Bahrain


2 hrs 24 mins ago

MANAMA, Bahrain – A prominent opposition figure accused by Bahrain of plotting against the state plans to return from London, an aide said Monday, in a move that could bolster protesters and force authorities into difficult choices.

Hassan Meshaima, head of a group known as Haq, is scheduled to arrive late Tuesday as the embattled monarchy tries to engage demonstrators in talks aimed at easing the week-long series of clashes and marches that have deeply divided the strategic Gulf nation.

A rights activist and supporter, Abbas Omran, confirmed Meshaima’s plans, but gave no further details on his objections once he returns after eight months in self-exile.

24 Egypt freezes Mubarak’s assets


Mon Feb 21, 1:38 pm ET

CAIRO – Egypt’s top prosecutor requested on Monday the freezing of the foreign assets of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his family, announced state TV.

Security officials said that the prosecutor general asked the Foreign Ministry to contact countries around the world so they can freeze his assets abroad. The president’s domestic assets were frozen soon after he stepped down, they added.

The freeze applies to Mubarak, his wife, his two sons and two daughters-in-law, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk to the press.

25 Analysis: Discontent, but no revolt in China – yet

By CHARLES HUTZLER, Associated Press

Mon Feb 21, 7:39 am ET

BEIJING – For those who rule out the possibility of a Middle East-style democracy revolution in China, consider the town of Xiangshui.

There, tens of thousands of farmers fled their homes this month in a middle-of-the-night panic on rumors that a nearby chemical plant with a bad safety record would explode. The chaos ensued despite appeals from officials that the rumors were unfounded. It left four people dead when a motorized three-wheel vehicle jammed with 20 people veered into a river.

China may have successfully squelched a mysterious call for protests Sunday, but people’s trust that the government will look after their interests runs shallow.

26 Arrested US official is actually CIA contractor


1 hr 22 mins ago

WASHINGTON – An American jailed in Pakistan for the fatal shooting of two armed men was secretly working for the CIA and scouting a neighborhood when he was arrested, a disclosure likely to further frustrate U.S. government efforts to free the man and strain relations between two countries partnered in a fragile alliance in the war on terror.

Raymond Allen Davis, 36, had been working as a CIA security contractor and living in a Lahore safe house, according to former and current U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk publicly about the incident.

Davis, a former Special Forces soldier who left the military in 2003, shot the men in what he described as an attempted armed robbery in the eastern city of Lahore as they approached him on a motorcycle. A third Pakistani, a bystander, died when a car rushing to help Davis struck him. Davis was carrying a Glock handgun, a pocket telescope and papers with different identifications.

27 Neither side budging in Wisconsin union fight

By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press

1 hr 12 mins ago

MADISON, Wis. – No resolution appeared imminent Monday to the stalemate over union rights in Wisconsin, leaving Senate Republicans resigned to forge ahead with less-controversial business such as tax breaks for dairy farmers and commending the Green Bay Packers on winning the Super Bowl.

As the standoff entered its second week, none of the major players offered any signs of backing down in a high-stakes game of political chicken that has riveted the nation and led to ongoing public protests that drew a high of 68,000 people on Saturday. Thousands more braved cold winds and temperatures in the 20s to march again on Monday, waving signs that said “Stop the attack on Wisconsin families” and “solidarity.”

The 14 Senate Democrats who skipped town Thursday to indefinitely delay a vote on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s bill stripping most collective bargaining rights from nearly all public employees remained missing in action for a fifth day.

28 Wis. budget plan may tilt political playing field

By RYAN J. FOLEY, Associated Press

1 hr 36 mins ago

MADISON, Wis. – The high-stakes fight in Wisconsin over union rights is about more than pay and benefits in the public sector. It could have far-reaching effects on electoral politics in this and other states by helping solidify Republican power for years, experts said Monday.

While Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to wipe out collective bargaining rights for most public employees has galvanized Democrats and union members in opposition, the GOP could benefit long-term by crippling a key source of campaign funding and volunteers for Democrats.

“It would be a huge landscape-altering type of action, and it would tilt the scales significantly in favor of the Republicans,” said Mike McCabe, director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which has long tracked union involvement in Wisconsin elections. “This is a national push, and it’s being simultaneously pushed in a number of states. I think Wisconsin is moving the fastest and most aggressively so far.”

29 Afghan police: At least 30 killed in suicide blast

By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press

Mon Feb 21, 10:52 am ET

KABUL, Afghanistan – A suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to an Afghan government office Monday, killing at least 30 people – many who were waiting in line to obtain government identification cards, police said.

The attack occurred around noon in Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan where there has been a sharp slide in security in recent months, said district police chief Abdul Qayum Ebrahimi. At least 40 people were wounded in the blast, he said.

“We were in a meeting. It was a very powerful explosion,” said Ebrahimi, who works in the district police office next door to the blast site. “People had gathered in the front of the department to get identification cards.”

30 Congo colonel gets 20 years after rape trial

By MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press

Mon Feb 21, 12:52 pm ET

BARAKA, Congo – One by one, the rape survivors relived their attacks for a panel of judges: A newly married bride flung her torn, bloodied clothing onto the courtroom floor. A mother of six dropped to her knees, raised her arms to heaven and cried out for peace.

Nearly 50 women poured out their stories in a wave of anguish that ended Monday with the conviction of an army colonel for crimes against humanity – a landmark verdict in this Central African country where thousands are believed to be raped each year by soldiers and militia groups who often go unpunished.

It was the first time a commanding officer had been tried in such an attack.

31 Looking for a credit card? It pays to be rich

By CANDICE CHOI, AP Personal Finance Writer

1 hr 27 mins ago

NEW YORK – It pays to be rich if you need a credit card.

A year after sweeping credit card regulations upended the industry, banks are showering perks and rewards on big spenders with sterling credit scores. And they’re socking customers with spottier histories with higher interest rates, lower credit limits and new annual fees. In some cases the riskiest customers are being dropped altogether.

“When you look at the regulations, it’s a net positive for consumers,” says Peter Garuccio, a spokesman for the American Bankers Association. “But there have been some trade-offs.”

32 Trying brain pacemakers to zap psychiatric disease


Mon Feb 21, 1:47 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Call them brain pacemakers, tiny implants that hold promise for fighting tough psychiatric diseases – if scientists can figure out just where in all that gray matter to put them.

Deep brain stimulation, or DBS, has proved a powerful way to block the tremors of Parkinson’s disease. Blocking mental illness isn’t nearly as easy a task.

But a push is on to expand research into how well these brain stimulators tackle the most severe cases of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette’s syndrome – to know best how to use them before too many doctors and patients clamor to try.

33 Washington: the ‘blackest name’ in America


Mon Feb 21, 8:58 am ET

George Washington’s name is inseparable from America, and not only from the nation’s history. It identifies countless streets, buildings, mountains, bridges, monuments, cities – and people.

In a puzzling twist, most of these people are black. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 163,036 people with the surname Washington. Ninety percent of them were African-American, a far higher black percentage than for any other common name.

The story of how Washington became the “blackest name” begins with slavery and takes a sharp turn after the Civil War, when all blacks were allowed the dignity of a surname.

34 20-year-old Bayne wins the Daytona 500

BY JENNA FRYER, AP Auto Racing Writer

Mon Feb 21, 3:13 am ET

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Leading on the final lap of the Daytona 500, a pack of veterans baring down on his bumper, Trevor Bayne didn’t panic.

He figured it would be a cool story to tell someday, how he led a lap in NASCAR’s biggest show.

Somebody, maybe Tony Stewart, would pass him any moment and Bayne would dutifully push him to the win.

35 Educators seek out more minorities to study abroad

By KATHY MATHESON, Associated Press

1 hr 1 min ago

PHILADELPHIA – When Sade Adeyina’s college roommate started bugging her about studying abroad together, she never thought she could afford a semester in Italy.

Yet the friendly peer pressure – combined with financial aid and timely academic advising – led Adeyina to say “Arrivederci!” to Temple University in Philadelphia and head overseas for the first time.

Educators want more minority students to follow the lead of Adeyina, an African-American graphic design major. Foreign study is seen as crucial to student development and even as a key to national security, yet minority participation badly lags their overall presence on college campuses.

36 AP Interview: Barbour sees no baggage on race

By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press

1 hr 14 mins ago

DES MOINES, Iowa – Though he’s faced some criticism on such matters, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he carries no political baggage because of his positions on racial issues.

The issue flared as recently as last week, when Barbour declined to denounce an effort by a group pushing for a license plate in honor of confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Barbour says the proposal was never going anywhere.

“I said accurately this is not going to happen,” Barbour said in an interview with The Associated Press. “The bureaucracy denied it, the legislature won’t pass it and if the legislature passes it, it won’t become law because I won’t sign it.”

37 More US companies covering transgender surgery

LISA LEFF, Associated Press

Mon Feb 21, 1:31 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO – When Gina Duncan decided to undergo the medical treatment that would make her a woman, she had plenty to fear. The reactions of her children, her professional colleagues and friends. How her body would respond to hours on the operating table. If, at the end of it, she would look female enough so strangers wouldn’t gawk.

What the Orlando mortgage banker didn’t have to be anxious about was how she would pay for two of her surgeries. Her employer of 10 years, Wells Fargo, included breast augmentation and genital reconstruction as coverable expenses under its employee health plan. Duncan was told the San Francisco-based bank already had had 16 other employees transition to new genders and assigned a benefits specialist to walk her through the process.

“They had a template in place, and it was surprisingly supporting and mentally encouraging,” said Duncan, 55, who four years later still works for Wells Fargo. “So much of what I’d heard involved people who ended up losing their job, losing their family, losing their friends, becoming destitute.”

38 INFLUENCE GAME: Aircraft titans spark lobby blitz

By DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press

Mon Feb 21, 12:44 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Even by Pentagon standards, it’s an eye-popping prize: a $35 billion contract to build nearly 200 giant airborne refueling tankers. And the decade-long brawl by two defense industry titans to win it has been just as epic.

In a matter of weeks – if not days – the Pentagon will announce whether Chicago-based Boeing Co. or European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) will build 179 new tankers to replace the Air Force’s Eisenhower-era KC-135 planes.

The competition is far more complex than a case of the U.S. against Europe. If Boeing wins, the air tanker would be built in Everett, Wash., Wichita, Kan., and several other states. If EADS wins, the tanker would be assembled in Mobile, Ala., at the former Brookley military base that was shuttered in the 1960s.

39 In Memphis, old strife heats up over schools, race

By ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press

Mon Feb 21, 10:33 am ET

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A bold bid by the struggling, majority-black Memphis City Schools system to force a merger with the majority-white, successful suburban district has fanned relatively routine fears over funding and student performance into accusations of full-blown racism.

The fight over the fate of 150,000 public school students has stirred long-festering emotions in Memphis and surrounding Shelby County, creating a drama that has spread beyond school board meetings to union rallies, the state Legislature and federal court.

On March 8, Memphis voters will decide whether to approve disbanding the city schools system and turning education over to the county district, which is earning good grades on its own and doing everything it can to stave off consolidation.

40 USDA, others invest $5M to grow broccoli in East

By STEVE SZKOTAK, Associated Press

Mon Feb 21, 3:15 am ET

RICHMOND, Va. – A cool microclimate in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains has allowed farmer James Light to grow broccoli in quantity enough to supply a small chain of supermarkets.

Along most of the East Coast, however, the broccoli piled up in produce crispers has traveled thousands of miles from the West Coast in refrigerated trucks, typically at a cost of $6,000 a tractor load.

A team of researchers and agricultural agents hopes to take a bite out of the West Coast’s $1 billion broccoli monopoly with new strains of the vegetable designed to withstand the East Coast’s heat and humidity. They’ve received a $3.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $1.7 million in matching private contributions to create a broccoli corridor running from northern Florida to Maine.

41 Report: Journalist died due to deputies’ mistakes

Associated Press

Mon Feb 21, 1:08 am ET

LOS ANGELES – The daughter of a journalist killed 41 years ago by a tear gas missile fired by sheriff’s deputies said Sunday that a new report from a civilian watchdog agency “asks more questions than it answers” about Ruben Salazar’s death.

In death, Salazar’s name became a rallying point for Mexican-American civil rights activists protesting law enforcement’s treatment of Hispanics. Since then, parks, schools and even a U.S. Postal Service stamp have been named for him.

The report, the first outside examination of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s records of the killing, said that deputies made tactical mistakes that led to Salazar’s death, but that he was not targeted.

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