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Mar 05 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 32 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Kadhafi forces accused of ‘massacre’ as battles rage

by Samer al-Atrush, AFP

1 hr 19 mins ago

BIN JAWAD, Libya (AFP) – Moamer Kadhafi’s forces were accused of a massacre during a heavy assault on a key city on Saturday, as rebels pushed towards Tripoli and declared themselves Libya’s sole representative.

As battles raged east and west of the capital and casualties rose on both sides, the national council — the embryonic provisional government — made the proclamation at its first formal gathering.

“The council declares it is the sole representative all over Libya,” former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil said after the meeting in Benghazi, the rebel stronghold in the east of the strife-torn North African country.

AFP

2 Libya opposition meets as deadly clashes rage

by Jennie Matthew, AFP

Sat Mar 5, 11:51 am ET

BENGHAZI, Libya (AFP) – The Libyan opposition fighting to overthrow Moamer Kadhafi announced its first formal meeting Saturday as it counted its dead from fighting for a key oil town and clashes raged in a city near the capital.

Kadhafi loyalists rained tank shells and machine gun fire on Zawiyah, 60 kilometres (40 miles) west of Tripoli, as they sought to wrest the city centre back from opposition supporters, a Sky News correspondent in the city reported.

After heavy fighting on Friday, the rebels were in control of Ras Lanuf, a pipeline hub on the Mediterranean coast that houses a major refinery and petrochemical complex, an AFP correspondent reported.

3 Police, pro-government activists block Algerian protest

AFP

1 hr 7 mins ago

ALGIERS (AFP) – Algerian police and pro-government activists on Saturday foiled another attempt by opposition protesters to march in the capital Algiers to demand regime change.

A faction of the National Coordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD) had called the protest in three different parts of the city for 11:00 am (1000 GMT) in defiance of an official ban on demonstrating in Algiers.

But several dozen demonstrators found themselves quickly surrounded by police.

4 Egyptians storm state security buildings

by Jailan Zayan, AFP

Sat Mar 5, 2:31 pm ET

CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian protesters stormed several state security buildings Saturday, witnesses said, trying to retrieve files kept on the population by the powerful regime apparatus long accused of rights abuses.

The incidents came as former interior minister Habib al-Adly, who controlled the hated security police, went on trial in Cairo on corruption charges, the first involving a member of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s government.

Around 2,500 protesters stormed the state security building in Cairo’s Nasr City “grabbing official documents before officials burn or shred them,” a security official told AFP.

5 African Union chief takes message to Gbagbo after killings

by Evelyne Aka, AFP

1 hr 36 mins ago

ABIDJAN (AFP) – African Union Commission chief Jean Ping held talks in Abidjan Saturday with strongman Laurent Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara in a bid to end their three-month stand-off.

Ping delivered a message from the five African heads of state tasked by the African Union with finding a peaceful solution to the dispute in which both men claim to be president.

Violence has flared in the last two weeks, leading to fears that the unfinished business from last November’s election could descend into civil war.

6 Rain, sweat and extra security as Carnival fills Rio

by Marc Burleigh, AFP

44 mins ago

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Revelry took over Rio’s streets Saturday as Carnival kicked into high gear, while extra police ensured the safety of those participating in the event billed as the Greatest Party on Earth.

A light rain did nothing to dampen the festive spirit, serving more as a refreshing cool-down for bodies worked into a sweat as they danced and gyrated in the numerous “blocos,” or street parties.

The monster of all the blocos, the Bloco Bola Preta, filled the center of Rio with a motley crowd of up to two million people wearing all manner of garb — or in many cases, little at all.

7 Jean Paul Gaultier appeals to the older woman in Paris show

by Gersende Rambourg and Robert MacPherson, AFP

21 mins ago

PARIS (AFP) – Jean Paul Gaultier wooed women who, in his words, “don’t want to look like their 20-year-old daughters” in a characteristically frisky fall-winter show Saturday during Paris fashion week.

Working with “slightly backward-looking cliches of elegance,” plus a soundtrack harking back to the 1960s, Gaultier sought to “recast an image from memory with materials and effects from today”.

French comedienne Valerie Lemercier joined the parade of models with towering beehive hairdos who descended the runway, threw down a scarf or a jacket in front of the photographers, then strolled back.

8 China’s Wen pledges to address ‘great resentment’

by Robert Saiget, AFP

Sat Mar 5, 12:06 pm ET

BEIJING (AFP) – Premier Wen Jiabao acknowledged “great resentment” in China over growing income disparity, corruption and other problems, and vowed his government would work harder to meet public demands.

In a “state of the nation” speech opening the annual 10-day session of the nation’s rubber-stamp parliament on Saturday, Wen admitted his government had “not yet fundamentally solved a number of issues that the masses feel strongly about.”

These included high consumer and housing prices, “significant problems concerning food safety and rampant corruption”, and people being illegally kicked off their land to make way for unrestrained property development.

9 Rio celebrates wild, sexy Carnival

by Marc Burleigh, AFP

Sat Mar 5, 1:50 am ET

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Carnival was underway in Rio with millions set to take to the streets for days of rowdy, joyous parades and festivities, bringing the nation to a halt for its annual wild party.

Nearly 800,000 Brazilian and foreign tourists were expected join Rio’s six million residents in the celebrations, whose climax comes on Sunday and Monday with the city’s top samba schools putting on their extravagant processions led by sexy dancing queens.

Extra security has been deployed to reassure visitors and locals alike — and to attempt to roll back Rio’s deserved reputation for street crime ahead of its hosting of football matches in the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Reuters

10 Gaddafi forces step up attack on western rebel town

By Maria Golovnina and Mohammed Abbas, Reuters

25 mins ago

TRIPOLI/BIN JAWAD, Libya (Reuters) – Libyan government forces launched fierce attacks on the western rebel stronghold of Zawiyah on Saturday, while in the east, rebels advanced on Muammar Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte.

Fighters in Zawiyah, just 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli, repelled two attacks by pro-Gaddafi forces who used tanks and artillery. Dozens of rebels armed with rifles manned rooftops, watching nearby streets from behind piles of sandbags. Roads and side streets were barricaded with rebel checkpoints.

“After the morning attack they attacked again. They entered from the west and started shooting rockets at buildings in the square,” rebel spokesman Youssef Shagan said by telephone.

11 Rebels in Libyan city repel repeated attacks

By Maria Golovnina, Reuters

Sat Mar 5, 2:46 pm ET

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Rebels holding the Libyan city of Zawiyah said they repelled two attacks on Saturday by forces loyal to leader Muammar Gaddafi using tanks and artillery.

In a second day of fierce fighting for control of the coastal town, 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli, government forces retreated to the outskirts early in the day but later mounted a counter-offensive.

Rebels said both attacks were repelled. The city bore the signs of heavy fighting, with one building completely burned and smoldering rubble littering the center.

12 Senate to debate rival spending bills next week

By Andy Sullivan and Thomas Ferraro, Reuters

Fri Mar 4, 5:34 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Democrats on Friday pushed for a vote next week on their new proposal to trim $6 billion from spending while protecting President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul and other priorities.

Democrats offered their measure as an alternative to a bill passed by the Republican-led House of Representatives last month that would cut about $61 billion in spending. Republicans immediately rejected the Democrats’ offer as being woefully inadequate.

Following their big gains in the November congressional elections, Republicans have proposed steep spending cuts to narrow a budget deficit projected to hit a record $1.65 trillion this year — equaling 10.9 percent of the economy.

13 Wisconsin layoffs loom amid budget impasse

By Jeff Mayers, Reuters

Fri Mar 4, 7:27 pm ET

MADISON, Wisconsin (Reuters) – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker issued layoff warning notices on Friday to unions representing state workers as a battle intensified between Republican and Democratic lawmakers over union bargaining rights that has sparked protests and a national debate.

“If the Senate Democrats come back to Wisconsin, these notices may be able to be rescinded and layoffs avoided,” Walker said in a statement. “This action is necessary due to the delay in passage of the budget repair bill.”

The warning notices were sent to at least 13 unions including AFSCME, Association of State Prosecutors and Wisconsin Education Association Council. The notes do not represent actual layoffs, but took the war of words between the newly elected governor and state Democrats to a new level.

14 Prosecutors plan to play Goldman tapes at Rajaratnam trial

by Grant McCool and Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

Fri Mar 4, 5:04 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc is being drawn into the criminal trial of one-time hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam, as prosecutors plan to show an insider-trading conspiracy involving a former director at the Wall Street bank.

Prosecutors intend to introduce audiotapes showing that Rajaratnam got inside tips from his friend Rajat Gupta, who sat on Goldman’s board until last May. The trial of Rajaratnam, who was head of the Galleon Group hedge fund, starts next Tuesday in the highest profile Wall Street insider-trading case in a generation.

At a court hearing on Friday, prosecutors said the leaks include details about a $5 billion investment by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc in Goldman at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008.

AP

15 Rebels, Gadhafi forces both make gains in Libya

By MAGGIE MICHAEL and PAUL SCHEMM, Associated Press

2 hrs 26 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya – Government forces in tanks rolled into the opposition-held city closest to Tripoli after blasting it with artillery and mortar fire, while rebels captured a key oil port and pushed toward Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown in a seesaw Saturday for both sides in the bloody battle for control of Libya.

With the Gadhafi regime’s tanks prowling the center of the city of Zawiya, west of Tripoli, residents ferried the wounded from the fierce fighting in private cars to a makeshift clinic in a mosque, fearing that any injured taken to the military-controlled hospital “will be killed for sure,” one rebel said after nightfall.

The rival successes – by Gadhafi’s forces in entering resistant Zawiya, and by the rebels in taking over the port of Ras Lanouf – signaled an increasingly long and violent battle that could last weeks or months and veered the country ever closer to civil war.

16 Egyptians turn anger toward state security agency

By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press

36 mins ago

CAIRO – Three weeks after President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, Egyptians are turning their anger toward his internal security apparatus, storming the agency’s main headquarters and other offices Saturday and seizing documents to keep them from being destroyed to hide evidence of human rights abuses.

What to do with Egypt’s tainted security agencies remains one of the most contentious issues facing the military rulers who took charge after Mubarak was forced to step down on Feb. 11 after an 18-day popular uprising.

The 500,000-strong internal security services are accused of some of the worst human rights abuses in the suppression of dissent against Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule. The protesters are demanding the agency be dismantled and its leaders face a reckoning.

17 Michael Moore rallies Wis. pro-union protesters

By TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press

32 mins ago

MADISON, Wis. – Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore urged Wisconsin residents Saturday to fight against Republican efforts to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, telling thousands of protesters that “Madison is only the beginning.”

The crowd roared in approval as Moore implored demonstrators to keep up their struggle against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation, saying they’ve galvanized the nation against the wealthy elite and comparing their fight to Egypt’s revolt. He also thanked the 14 state Democratic senators who fled Wisconsin to block a vote on the bill, saying they’ll go down in history books.

“We’re going to do this together. Don’t give up. Please don’t give up,” Moore told the protesters, who have swarmed the Capitol every day for close to three weeks.

18 Romney seeks to address health care woes

By LIZ “Sprinkles” SIDOTI, AP National Political Writer

18 mins ago

BARTLETT, N.H. – Call it an attempt to address an obvious political vulnerability. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Saturday derided President Barack Obama’s health care law – modeled in some ways after one the ex-governor signed in Massachusetts – as a misguided and egregious effort to seize more power for Washington.

“Obamacare is bad law, bad policy, and it is bad for America’s families,” Romney declared, vowing to repeal it if he were ever in a position to do so.

Then, raising the Massachusetts law, Romney argued that the solution for the unique problems of one state isn’t the right prescription for the nation as a whole.

19 Marines in deadly Afghan valley face combat stress

By SEBASTIAN ABBOT, Associated Press

37 mins ago

SANGIN, Afghanistan – When U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Derek Goins deployed to the most dangerous place in Afghanistan five months ago, he mentally prepared for the risk of getting shot by the Taliban or stepping on bombs buried throughout this southern river valley.

But he wasn’t ready for what happened to his two best friends, who were shot to death inside a patrol base by an Afghan army soldier who escaped into the arms of the Taliban.

“I grew up with those guys in the Marine Corps and shared a lot of laughs and tears with them,” said Goins, 23, from Trumbull, Texas. “We expected to come here and fight and not just get murdered, and that’s what it was.”

20 NFL, union taking weekend break from mediation

By HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Pro Football Writer

40 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Those optimistic about the NFL’s labor talks with the players’ union will point to the sides’ decision to push back the bargaining deadline by a week and think, as Commissioner Roger Goodell put it: “The fact that we’re continuing this dialogue is a positive sign.”

And those who are pessimistic about where this all eventually is headed will recognize that, as league lead negotiator Jeff Pash described it:

“We’ve got very serious issues. We’ve got significant differences.”

21 Anti-abortion plans pose dilemma for Republicans

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press

2 hrs 44 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Restrict abortion or cut spending? The Republicans’ “Pledge for America” says the new majority will do both. But negotiations over the federal budget threaten to force the GOP, including its 87 House freshmen, to choose between them.

It’s a lesson in congressional reality that has Republicans struggling with how to vote – and what to do – when a divided government pits pledge against pledge.

“That’s a problem – and I mean, a real problem,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee’s budget and spending task force.

22 US Catholics win rare victories on church closures

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press

55 mins ago

MINERSVILLE, Pa. – Like many Roman Catholics, Marie Lutkus felt anger, sadness and disillusionment after her beloved church was shut down in a consolidation of parishes.

St. Francis of Assisi had been her spiritual home since 1961. It’s the place where she was married, where her children and grandchildren were baptized, where she mourned the loss of her parents and brother. So when the doors were locked in 2008, Lutkus couldn’t simply let go.

Three years later, Lutkus and parishioners at eight other shuttered churches in Pennsylvania’s Allentown diocese have persuaded a Vatican panel to overturn the bishop’s decision to close them down – an exceedingly rare reversal that experts say may signal a policy shift on U.S. church closures.

23 British TV chef in food fight with LA schools

By CHRISTINA HOAG, Associated Press

Sat Mar 5, 4:40 pm ET

LOS ANGELES – British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has perfected his anti-obesity recipe over the years: blend a passion for nutrition with reality TV, garnish with a catchy moniker, et voila! – “Food Revolution.”

But Oliver’s recipe has uncharacteristically curdled since he arrived in Los Angeles last fall to shoot his second U.S. TV series. “I’ve had a tough time here,” he conceded wearily in an interview. “Nothing that was planned has come off.”

The six-episode show was to revolve around one of Oliver’s favorite causes – making school lunches healthier – but ran under a rolling pin when the Los Angeles Unified School District objected to the chef’s key ingredient – TV cameras.

24 n union strongholds, residents wrestle with cuts

By DAVID A. LIEB, Associated Press

Sat Mar 5, 3:19 pm ET

RACINE, Wis. – There once was a time when Harry and Nancy Harrington – their teenage children in tow – walked the picket line outside the nursing home where she was a medical aide, protesting the lack of a pension plan for the unionized work force. But those days of family solidarity are gone.

Harry now blames years of union demands for an exodus of manufacturing jobs from this blue-collar city on the shore of Lake Michigan. He praises new Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for attempting to strip public employee unions of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights. Protesters opposed to Walker’s plan have held steady at the Wisconsin Capitol for nearly three weeks, though their overnight sit-ins ended Thursday with a judge’s order.

“I’m sorry, but the unions want to yell, they want to intimidate,” says Harry Harrington, 69, as he sets a coffee cup down next to another newspaper headline about the union demonstrations.

25 21 airlines fined for fixing passenger, cargo fees

By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press

Sat Mar 5, 3:18 pm ET

WASHINGTON – When the airline industry took a nose dive a decade ago, executives at global carriers scrambled to find a quick fix to avoid financial ruin. What they came up with, according to federal prosecutors, was a massive price-fixing scheme among airlines that artificially inflated passenger and cargo fuel surcharges between 2000 and 2006 to make up for lost profits.

The airlines’ crimes cost U.S. consumers and businesses – mostly international passengers and cargo shippers – hundreds of millions of dollars, prosecutors say.

But the airlines caught by the Justice Department have paid a hefty price in the five years since the government’s widespread investigation became public.

26 Blowouts onshore: Fear, pollution, uncertainty

By MEAD GRUVER, Associated Press

Sat Mar 5, 3:19 pm ET

LINE CREEK VALLEY, Wyo. – A gas well blowout in the shadow of Yellowstone National Park spewed a cloud of explosive natural gas, forced evacuations for miles around and polluted the drinking water – and the people who live in Wyoming’s Line Creek Valley still wonder four years later if their lives will return to normal.

Days of panic after the Aug. 11, 2006, blowout at the Crosby 25-3 well have been replaced by lingering uncertainty about a pollution plume 225 feet underground. Now Windsor Energy is applying to drill a new well – inside Shoshone National Forest, less than a mile from the blowout – even though the blowout’s cause, to this day, remains a mystery.

“It’s just speculation,” said Tom Doll, supervisor of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees oil and gas drilling. “I don’t have anything in the records that show what the cause was.”

27 Public media puts millions into investigative work

By BRETT ZONGKER, Associated Press

Sat Mar 5, 12:59 pm ET

WASHINGTON – NPR, PBS and local public broadcast stations around the country are hiring more journalists and pumping millions of dollars into investigative news to make up for what they see as a lack of deep-digging coverage by their for-profit counterparts.

Public radio and TV stations have seen the need for reporting that holds government and business accountable increase as newspapers and TV networks cut their staffs and cable television stations have filled their schedules with more opinion journalism.

“Where the marketplace is unable to serve, that’s the role of public media,” PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said last year at a summit on the future of media at the Federal Communications Commission. “PBS exists to serve the people, not to sell them.”

28 Italy makes immigrants speak Italian for work visa

By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press

Sat Mar 5, 8:16 am ET

FLORENCE, Italy – Svetlana Cojochru feels insulted. The Moldovan has lived here seven years as a nanny to Italian kids and caregiver to the elderly, but in order to stay she’s had to prove her language skills by writing a postcard to an imaginary friend and answering a fictional job ad.

“I feel like a guest,” said Cojochru. She had just emerged from Beato Angelico middle school where she took a language test to comply with a new law requiring basic Italian proficiency for permanent residency permits following five years of legal residence.

Italy is the latest Western European country turning the screws on an expanding immigrant population by demanding language skills in exchange for work permits, or in some cases, citizenship. While enacted last year in the name of integration, these requirements also reflect anxiety that foreigners might dilute fiercely-prized national identity or even, especially in Britain’s case, pose terror risks.

29 Rio’s roving street bands keep Carnival free, fun

By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press

Sat Mar 5, 5:29 am ET

RIO DE JANEIRO – Nuns in hot pants, nuns in full habits and even nuns with bushy mustaches – the motley band of costumed revelers gathered to celebrate the first day of Carnival, joining one of the growing number of roving street bands that take over Rio de Janeiro during the five-day party.

The “nuns” are all followers of the Carmelitas, a group started in 1991 by friends who gathered for soccer and drinks just outside a convent of Carmelite nuns. Jokes about the sisters escaping to join the party gave rise to the band, which parades twice: at the beginning of Carnival, when the nuns supposedly escaped the convent join the fun, and on the last day, when they returned to their cloistered existence.

“We’re keeping the tradition, remembering the first nuns who jumped the fence,” said Eliete dos Santos, 25, who was out with five other costumed “sisters” as the partying began Friday.

30 Lawyer suggests ‘blood money’ to free US man

By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press

Sat Mar 5, 5:32 am ET

LAHORE, Pakistan – Since his brother was shot and killed by an American CIA contractor last month, scores of Islamist politicians have met with Waseem Shamzad in his bare sitting room to bring sympathy, offers of help and a stark message: if U.S. envoys come offering “blood money” to get their man out of jail, tell them to go away.

Shamzad and two other families mourning a dead relative because of the shooting say America has not offered compensation yet, but Pakistani officials have suggested such payments could help end a crisis that has exposed the fragility of ties between the two nations.

While the United States insists Raymond Allen Davis, the detained CIA contractor, has immunity from prosecution, his lawyer said Friday that “bloody money” was “not just a good way, but the best way” to resolve the issue. The United States has not commented on whether it intends to try that approach, either formally or as a way of cooling popular anger if Davis is freed on other grounds.

31 Serbia, arms dealer to Libya, silent on rebellion

By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Associated Press

Sat Mar 5, 5:56 am ET

BELGRADE, Serbia – As Libya churned with popular rebellion, Serbia’s ex-president flew to Tripoli to arrange an interview with Moammar Gadhafi for a Serbian TV channel – giving the Libyan leader a platform to bluster about his grip on power.

“The Libyan people are fully behind me,” Gadhafi defiantly told Pink TV in a telephone interview.

The gesture of support for Gadhafi was not officially endorsed by the Serbian government. But it has been criticized at home for failing to join worldwide condemnation of Gadhafi’s bloody crackdown against the uprising.

32 Speaker launches effort to defend gay marriage ban

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press

Sat Mar 5, 12:11 am ET

WASHINGTON – House Speaker John Boehner said Friday the House may go to court to defend the federal law against gay marriage, which President Barack Obama’s administration has concluded is unconstitutional.

Boehner said he would convene a group of bipartisan congressional leaders that has the authority to instruct the House counsel to represent the chamber in court. The panel would include Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.; Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi D-Calif., and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

“The constitutionality of this law should be determined by the courts — not by the president unilaterally,” the Ohio Republican said in a statement. “This action by the House will ensure the matter is addressed in a manner consistent with our Constitution.”

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