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Mar 06 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 36 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Clashes as Libya rebels deny counter-offensive report

by Samer al-Atrush, AFP

25 mins ago

LANUF, Libya (AFP) – An onslaught by Moamer Kadhafi’s army sparked UN calls for urgent access to the “injured and dying” on Sunday as a secret British mission to contact opposition forces ended in a diplomatic fiasco.

Rebel forces traded rocket and machine-gun fire with the army as they tried to advance westwards on the Kadhafi stronghold of Sirte, but were beaten back along a dusty desert highway after suffering heavy losses.

The rebels said they had been forced to pull back from the coastal hamlet of Bin Jawad, occupied on Saturday in an advance westward on Kadhafi’s home town, after clashes that doctors said left two dead and around 50 wounded.

AFP

2 Obama steers clear of ‘doctrine’ as Arab tumult rages

by Stephen Collinson, AFP

2 hrs 1 min ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – As a wildfire of revolt whips through the Middle East and North Africa, the White House is embracing pragmatism and shying away from embroidering a grand “Obama doctrine” for a region in turmoil.

For a politician as fond of the grand gesture as President Barack Obama, the idea of an eponymous school of foreign policy thought might seem tempting.

After all, presidents have long etched their names in history with monumental doctrines, or clear prescriptions of principles rationalizing America’s posture to a treacherous world.

3 Police, pro-government activists block Algerian protest

AFP

Sat Mar 5, 4:23 pm ET

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 Yemen opposition vows to intensify protests

by Hammoud Mounassar, AFP

Sun Mar 6, 8:52 am ET

SANAA (AFP) – Yemen’s opposition movement vowed on Sunday to intensify protests against the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, after the embattled leader refused to resign by the end of the year.

With violence gripping the strategic US ally on multiple fronts, the United States and Britain advised citizens to consider leaving the Arabian peninsula nation and warned against all but essential travel.

Mohammed Sabri, a leading member of the opposition Common Forum, vowed to step up anti-government demonstrations which have left at least 19 people dead since February 16, according to an AFP toll.

5 Karzai tells Petraeus Afghan apology ‘not enough’

by Shah Marai, AFP

Sun Mar 6, 10:26 am ET

KABUL (AFP) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday told US General David Petraeus, the commander of international troops, that his apology after nine children died in a NATO air strike was “not enough”.

Hundreds of angry demonstrators also rallied in central Kabul over the deaths in an air raid by coalition helicopters in the eastern province of Kunar on Tuesday.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the children — who were collecting firewood in the province’s Dar-e-Pech district when they were killed — were mistaken for rebels.

6 Afghan bomb kills 12 civilans

by Shah Marai, AFP

Sun Mar 6, 9:01 am ET

KABUL (AFP) – A roadside bomb ripped through a car in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing 12 civilians, as hundreds of people protested angrily in Kabul over the deaths of nine children in a NATO air raid.

The Taliban-style home-made device struck the car in the province of Paktika, killing five children, two women and five men, the provincial administration said in a statement.

The victims were on their way from neighbouring Pakistan, it said, without giving further details.

7 Rio heads into Carnival climax: its famed parades

by Marc Burleigh, AFP

2 hrs 16 mins ago

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Rio Sunday was preparing to put on the climax to its Carnival celebrations: the extravagant and sensual parades famed the world over.

The processions, featuring near-naked dancing queens and spectacularly imaginative floats trailed by thousands of extras, were to run Sunday and Monday nights before a stadium audience of 70,000 and a worldwide broadcast audience.

In fact a competition, the two nights of parades are put on by Rio’s top dozen samba schools, which have worked for months to ready shows costing up to five million dollars.

8 China richest man says work key to easing poverty

AFP

1 hr 23 mins ago

BEIJING (AFP) – China’s richest man Sunday rejected criticism that the rich have done little to help the country’s millions of poor and said hard work was the key to lifting themselves out of poverty.

China has struggled to spread its wealth evenly among its 1.3 billion-strong population and the widening wealth gap is at the top of the agenda of the country’s annual parliamentary session which opened Saturday.

“The most important thing we can do is teach them (poor people) how to help themselves and help them get rich through hard work,” Zong Qinghou, the founder of China’s largest soft drinks maker Wahaha, told a news conference.

9 England win nail-biter, India top group at Cricket World Cup

by John Weaver, AFP

Sun Mar 6, 1:02 pm ET

NEW DELHI (AFP) – England revived their faltering World Cup hopes Sunday with a nail-biting six-run win over South Africa as India moved to the top of Group B with a five-wicket victory over battling Ireland.

Needing a win to get their campaign back on track after a shock defeat against minnows Ireland, England made a terrible start and were 15 for three before Jonathan Trott (52) and Ravi Bopara (60) staged a recovery.

Their score of 171 did not look enough as South Africa cruised to 63 without loss but the Proteas slipped from 124-3 to 127-7 and a late rally could not save them as they were all out for 165 in Chennai.

10 Japan FM ‘to resign’ over Korean’s gift

by Frank Zeller, AFP

Sun Mar 6, 7:27 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s centre-left government suffered a blow Sunday when its high-profile foreign minister reportedly said he would step down over a donations scandal that drew the ire of the conservative opposition.

Seiji Maehara, 48, has been widely seen as a likely successor to Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who has struggled in the face of support ratings below 20 percent and a split parliament that has threatened to derail his reform agenda.

The ambitious Maehara came into the firing line himself last week when he admitted he had accepted the equivalent of several hundred dollars in campaign donations in recent years from a Japanese-born woman of Korean ethnicity.

11 Kenya coffee eyes new golden era

by Jean-Marc Mojon, AFP

Sun Mar 6, 3:41 am ET

NAIROBI (AFP) – Kenyan coffee producers are hoping that soaring global prices will end years of neglect, that saw output drop fourfold, and herald a new golden age for what was once the country’s top export.

The arabica that grows in the volcanic soils of Kenya’s highlands is sought worldwide as a high quality bean used in the blends that fill the cups of the ever-growing global army of espresso connoisseurs.

Yet production has dwindled steadily in recent years to hit 36,000 tonnes last year, down from 130,000 tonnes in 1997.

Reuters

12 Gaddafi launches counter-offensive on Libyan rebels

Maria Golovnina and Michael Georgy, Reuters

1 hr 43 mins ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi launched counter-offensives against rebel-held towns on Sunday, increasing fears that Libya is heading for a civil war rather than the swift revolutions seen in Tunisia and Egypt.

The Gaddafi government proclaimed sweeping overnight victories over what it called terrorist bands.

But after what residents said was a day of fierce fighting with artillery, rockets and mortar bombs, rebel forces announced they had fought off Gaddafi’s forces in the towns of Zawiyah, to the immediate west of Tripoli, and Misrata to the east.

13 U.S. keeps oil reserves options open as gasoline surges

By Jackie Frank and Lewis Krauskopf, Reuters

1 hr 19 mins ago

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The government reiterated on Sunday that it could tap its strategic oil reserves in order to safeguard economic growth as surging gasoline prices threaten to amp up pressure for action.

While longstanding U.S. policy is to release reserves only in the event of a significant and immediate supply shortage, some analysts say the Obama administration may feel compelled to try to tamp down prices that are being fueled both by outages in Libya as well as concerns over Middle East unrest.

Echoing comments made by a number of Obama officials over the past week, White House Chief of Staff William Daley told NBC television’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday: “We are looking at the options. The issue of the reserves is one we are considering.”

14 Top Democrat draws line in sand in budget fight

By Thomas Ferraro, Reuters

2 hrs 32 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Assistant Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin drew a line in the sand on Sunday in his party’s budget battle with Republicans, who are pushing deep spending cuts to trim the federal deficit.

Durbin, one of President Barack Obama’s top allies in Congress, said he opposed going beyond the $10.5 billion in domestic, non-defense discretionary spending cuts that Democrats have backed.

Republicans want $61 billion in spending reductions.

15 Knives and petrol bombs return to Cairo streets

By Tom Perry and Marwa Awad,

Sun Mar 6, 4:28 pm ET

CAIRO (Reuters) – Men in plain clothes armed with swords and petrol bombs attacked protesters in Cairo on Sunday night during a demonstration demanding reform of security services with a reputation for brutality, witnesses said.

Dozens of men wielding knives and machetes and hurling bricks and petrol bombs confronted protesters at the headquarters of Egypt’s state security, a force whose abuses fueled an uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, they said.

It appeared to be the first time armed men in plain clothes had deployed in force against reform activists in central Cairo since Mubarak was forced to step down and hand power to the military, which has charted a course to democratic elections.

16 Ireland aims to woo Europe with fiscal obedience

By Carmel Crimmins and Padraic Halpin, Reuters

Sun Mar 6, 1:09 pm ET

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s new government will stick to the budget targets laid down in an 85 billion euro EU/IMF rescue package as it seeks to win European partners round to giving it easier terms on the loans.

Ireland’s prime minister in-waiting Enda Kenny is under huge pressure to persuade Europe’s paymaster Germany to cut the interest rate Brussels is charging and give Dublin more time to restructure its banks before a Europe-wide deal on the debt crisis is hammered out at summit on March 24-25.

The coalition agreement between Kenny’s center-right Fine Gael and the center-left Labour, clinched shortly after midnight and approved by both parties on Sunday, seems designed to curry favor with the fiscally conservative Germans and draws a veil over some of the anti-EU rhetoric deployed in the campaign.

17 U.S. apology for Afghan deaths "not enough": Karzai

By Hamid Shalizi and Jonathon Burch, Reuters

Sun Mar 6, 10:50 am ET

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai told General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, on Sunday his apology for a foreign air strike that killed nine children last week was “not enough.”

At a meeting with his security advisers at which Petraeus was present, Karzai said civilian casualties by foreign troops were “no longer acceptable” to the Afghan government or to the Afghan people, Karzai’s palace said in a statement.

Civilian casualties caused by NATO-led and Afghan forces hunting insurgents have again become a major source of friction between Karzai and his Western backers.

18 Japan foreign minister quits in fresh blow to PM

By Linda Sieg and Yoko Kubota,

Sun Mar 6, 8:58 am ET

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara resigned on Sunday to take responsibility for accepting donations from a foreign national, adding to unpopular Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s troubles as he battles to keep his own job.

Maehara, a security hawk who favors close ties with the United States and has criticized China’s defense build-up, had been seen as a key contender to succeed Kan if the prime minister bows to pressure to step down himself.

Maehara’s resignation deepens the impression of a government in disarray as Kan fights to keep his own Democratic Party (DPJ) from splintering and avoid calling a snap election while trying to enact budget bills in a deeply divided parliament.

19 White House considers tapping oil reserves

By Jackie Frank, Reuters

Sun Mar 6, 11:23 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House Chief of Staff William Daley said on Sunday the Obama administration was considering tapping into the U.S. strategic oil reserve as a way to help ease soaring oil prices.

Speaking on NBC television’s “Meet the Press,” Daley said: “We are looking at the options. The issue of the reserves is one we are considering. It is something that only is done — and has been done — in very rare occasions. There’s a bunch of factors that have to be looked at. And it is just not the price.”

“All matters have to be on the table when you see the difficulty coming out of this economic crisis we’re in and the fragility,” Daley added.

20 Sudan central bank governor resigns ahead of secession

AFP

Sun Mar 6, 1:23 pm ET

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s central bank governor Sabir Mohammad al-Hassan has resigned, the bank said on Sunday, four months ahead of the secession of its oil-producing south.

The departure of the long-serving governor is likely to cause dismay in a country facing the double challenge of an economic crisis and the imminent loss of about a quarter of its territory.

“The economic situation now is precarious and the country is moving toward secession,” former state minister of finance Abda al-Mahdi told Reuters.

21 Libyan rebels beat back attack on Misrata: residents

By Michael Georgy, Reuters

2 hrs 46 mins ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Libyan rebels beat back the fiercest attack so far by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces on the town of Misrata, residents told Reuters on Sunday, and a doctor said at least 18 people were killed.

Government forces used tanks and artillery in what appeared to be their most concerted effort yet to retake the town, 200 km (125 miles) east of the capital Tripoli, but were pushed back by rebels fighting Gaddafi’s 41-year old rule.

“Today Misrata witnessed the toughest battle since the beginning of the revolution. Horrible attacks,” one resident, who did not want to give his name, told Reuters by phone.

AP

22 Libya forces try to halt rebel move toward capital

By PAUL SCHEMM and MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press

Sun Mar 6, 5:33 pm ET

BIN JAWWAD, Libya – Forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, some in helicopter gunships, pounded opposition fighters with artillery, rockets and gunfire Sunday, dramatically escalating their counteroffensive to halt the rebels’ rapid advance toward the capital.

They also battled to loosen the grip of rebels on two cities close to Tripoli. But in at least one case, their tactics appeared to lead them into a trap.

Residents said pro-Gadhafi troops punched into the city of Misrata, 120 miles (200 kilometers) east of Tripoli, the capital, with mortars and tanks but were pushed out five hours later by rebel forces. The rebel commanders intentionally opened the way for government tanks to enter the city, then surrounded them and attacked with anti-aircraft guns and mortars, said Abdel Fatah al-Misrati, one of the rebels.

23 White House praises Muslims ahead of House hearing

By EILEEN SULLIVAN and LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

1 hr 39 mins ago

STERLING, Va. – Muslim Americans are not part of the terrorism problem facing the U.S. – they are part of the solution, a top White House official said Sunday at a Washington-area mosque.

Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough set the Obama administration’s tone for discussions as tensions escalate before the first in a series of congressional hearings on Islamic radicalization. The hearings, chaired by New York Republican Peter King, will focus on the level of cooperation from the Muslim community to help law enforcement combat radicalization.

The majority of the recent terror plots and attempts against the U.S. have involved people espousing a radical and violent view of Islam. Just a few weeks ago a college student from Saudi Arabia who studied chemical engineering in Texas was arrested after he bought explosive chemicals online. It was part of a plan to hide bomb materials inside dolls and baby carriages and blow up dams, nuclear plants or the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush.

24 New Egypt PM names most of new Cabinet

By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press

2 hrs 31 mins ago

CAIRO – Egypt’s prime minister-designate named a caretaker Cabinet on Sunday to help lead the country through reforms and toward free elections after the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

The changes include new faces in the key foreign, interior and justice ministries – a decision expected to be met with the approval of the pro-reform groups that led an 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to step down on Feb. 11.

Meanwhile, a rally outside the Interior Ministry in Cairo, which houses offices of the hated State Security agency, was violently broken up.

25 Farewells for 2 space crews and for Discovery

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

1 hr 2 mins ago

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The space shuttle and space station crews hugged goodbye Sunday after more than a week together, but saved their most heartfelt farewell for Discovery.

On its final voyage after nearly three decades, Discovery, the most traveled rocketship ever, will be retired following this week’s return to Earth.

The hatches between Discovery and the International Space Station were sealed Sunday afternoon, setting the stage for the shuttle’s departure first thing Monday.

26 Rio Carnival group looks to bounce back from fire

By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press

Sun Mar 6, 6:17 pm ET

RIO DE JANEIRO – For 28 years, Gilma Cardoso Ferreira has saved for months before each Carnival to pay for the frilly, full-skirted outfit that transforms her, for one evening, from a retired public servant into one of the respected grande dames of Rio’s winningest samba group.

This year, however, Carnival almost didn’t happen for Ferreira and thousands of others who put on one of the world’s most spectacular shows: two nights of lavish parades that begin Sunday in Rio’s Sambadrome stadium and are watched by millions in Brazil and abroad.

A fire in early February ripped through warehouses where three elite samba groups were preparing for Carnival, incinerating more than 8,000 feather and glitter costumes and many of the massive, meticulously decorated floats.

27 Nevada mine death: Questions on called-off rescue

By MARTIN GRIFFITH, Associated Press

2 hrs 54 mins ago

RENO, Nev. – A father of five plunges deep into an abandoned mine shaft. Nearly 200 feet down, video images show he is injured but still breathing, trapped by debris.

The century-old shaft, though, is extremely unstable, its walls crumbling. As one rescuer tries to descend to reach the man, he is hit by a large rock, which splits his hard-hat. Other efforts yield more falling rocks and clear evidence: This is going to be a dangerous mission – maybe too dangerous.

The scenario unfolded underneath Nevada last week, when rescue teams were told to stand down in their bid to reach 28-year-old Devin Westenskow, even as they had evidence he was still alive.

28 After historic gains, are stocks nearing a bubble?

By MATTHEW CRAFT and DAVID K. RANDALL, AP Business Writers

Sun Mar 6, 5:03 pm ET

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke fielded the usual questions about inflation, tax cuts and government debt during a trip to Congress last week. Then a new question popped up: Is the Fed creating another bubble in stock prices?

Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee he saw “little evidence” that was happening. But he cautioned: “Of course, nobody can know for sure.”

That’s the problem with bubbles. You only know you’re in one when it pops.

29 Fashion world flocks to see Galliano collection

By JENNY BARCHFIELD, Associated Press

1 hr 3 mins ago

PARIS – Likely motivated by equal parts love and admiration and morbid curiosity, fashion insiders descended Sunday on a tony Paris townhouse to see what could very well be the last ever collection by John Galliano, the brilliant British designer whose undoing last week has shocked and horrified the industry.

Galliano’s longtime employer, luxury supernova Dior, fired him last Tuesday amid allegations he made anti-Semitic insults and after a video showing a drunk Galliano saying “I love Hitler” went viral on the Internet.

The saga, which has riveted the fashion world for the past ten days and cast a palpable pall over Paris’ ready-to-wear displays, also threw the future of the designer’s signature label into doubt. The John Galliano brand is owned by Dior parent company LVMH Moet Hennessy.

30 Romney, novice no more, focuses on Obama, economy

By LIZ “Sprinkles” SIDOTI, AP National Political Writer

Sun Mar 6, 1:54 pm ET

BARTLETT, N.H. – This time, Mitt Romney has a clear pitch: I’m the strongest Republican to challenge President Barack Obama on the country’s single biggest issue – the economy.

“He created a deeper recession, and delayed the recovery,” Romney said Saturday, previewing his campaign message before Republicans in this influential early nominating state.

“The consequence is soaring numbers of Americans enduring unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies. This is the Obama Misery Index, and it is at a record high.”

31 Gay legislators having impact in marriage debates

By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

Sun Mar 6, 5:11 pm ET

NEW YORK – Of America’s 7,382 state legislators, only 85 are openly gay or lesbian. They are, however, playing an outsized and often impassioned role when the agenda turns to recognizing same-sex couples with civil unions or full marriage rights.

In Hawaii and Illinois, gay state representatives were lead sponsors of civil union bills signed into law earlier this year. In Maryland and Rhode Island, gay lawmakers are co-sponsoring pending bills that would legalize same-sex marriage. In New York, a gay senator, Tom Duane, is preparing to be lead sponsor of a marriage bill in his chamber later this session.

“For my colleagues, knowing that I am not allowed to marry the person that I love and want to marry, that’s very powerful,” said Duane, a Democrat from Manhattan. “It’s more difficult for them to take for granted the right they have to marry when I don’t have it.”

32 NC, SC politely fight over presidential birthplace

By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press

Sun Mar 6, 12:21 pm ET

THE WAXHAWS, Carolinas – South Carolina claims Andrew Jackson as its only president. But wait – on the grounds of the North Carolina capitol, a bronze statue of Jackson sits with two others as “Presidents North Carolina Gave the Nation.”

For a century, the two Carolinas have quarreled over which can claim to be the birthplace of the seventh American president.

Dueling monuments sit within miles of each other south of Charlotte, N.C. For decades, one high school in Lancaster County, S.C., and another in Union County, N.C., played a football game in which the winner got to claim Jackson for the next year. And don’t look to the White House for the answer: its website lists Jackson’s birthplace a “backwoods settlement in the Carolinas.”

33 Afghan president rejects US apology over killings

By PATRICK QUINN, Associated Press

Sun Mar 6, 12:13 pm ET

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghanistan’s president on Sunday rejected a U.S. apology for the mistaken killing of nine Afghan boys in a NATO air attack and said civilian casualties are no longer acceptable.

According to a statement from his office, Hamid Karzai told Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, that expressing regret was not sufficient in last week’s killing of the boys, ages 12 and under, by coalition helicopters.

NATO has also apologized for the mistaken killings. Civilian casualties from coalition operations are a major source of strain in the already difficult relationship between Karzai’s government and the United States, and they generate widespread outrage among the population.

34 Supporters of Wisconsin anti-union bill hold rally

By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press

2 hrs 21 mins ago

MADISON, Wis. – About 700 people rallied Sunday in support of Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his anti-union plan to balance the budget – a demonstration meant to counter three weeks of large anti-Walker protests in and around the state Capitol.

The rally was the culmination of a 10-stop bus tour sponsored by the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity that started Thursday in Kenosha. It took place at the Aliant Energy Center in Madison, which is a couple of miles from the Capitol, where thousands of pro-union demonstrators rallied Saturday and Sunday.

Hundreds of pro-union counter-protesters lined up outside the arena entrance and parking lot carrying placards and chanting “Shame!” at the Walker supporters. The governor’s backers held their own signs with messages such as “I Stand with Walker” and “Dems Serve Unions not ‘The People.'”

35 Top Senate Democrat rejects GOP’s deep budget cuts

By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL, Associated Press

Sun Mar 6, 2:41 pm ET

WASHINGTON – A leading Democrat predicted Sunday that the Senate would reject House Republicans’ deep budget cuts, setting up tense negotiations and the need for another short-term spending measure to keep the government operating.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat, contended that Republicans were unfairly and unwisely placing the burden of spending cuts on domestic programs.

“I’m willing to see more deficit reduction, but not out of domestic discretionary spending,” Durbin said.

36 To LOL, or not LOL? That is the question

By MARTHA IRVINE, AP National Writer

Sun Mar 6, 1:16 pm ET

CHICAGO – There was a time when LOL – “laughing out loud” – was so simple.

If I thought something in a casual online conversation was funny, I typed it. If I wanted to let someone know I was kidding in an e-mail or an instant message, same.

I might’ve even felt a little cool, using inside lingo that, at one time, was exclusive to the online world. (You know I’m not the only one who thought so.)

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