Apr 07 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 40 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Japan disaster zone hit by new powerful quake

by Hiroshi Hiyama, AFP

2 hrs 47 mins ago

TOKYO (AFP) – A powerful 7.1-magnitude earthquake late on Thursday hit the same area of Japan that was ravaged by disaster a month ago, seismologists said, prompting a local tsunami alert.

Power was cut to parts of the northeast of the country, much of which is still struggling with the effects of the monster tsunami that roared ashore four weeks ago.

The new quake caused a handful of injuries, national broadcaster NHK said, but there were no reported deaths. The tsunami alert was later cancelled after no deadly wave materialised.


2 Seafood radiation strikes Japan’s culinary heart

by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, AFP

Thu Apr 7, 12:40 pm ET

TOKYO (AFP) – The discovery of radiation in seafood has hit Japan right in its culinary heart, as the nation that brought sushi to the world contemplates having to change thousand-year-old eating habits.

For an archipelago that has lived off the ocean since prehistoric times, radioactive fish is a worst-case scenario with possibly economy-wide implications.

“If the situation worsens we don’t know what the outlook will be,” a manager at a popular sushi chain told AFP, saying the number of customers was down by about a third compared with normal times. “It’s very scary to think about.”

3 Libyan rebels on run, NATO strike kills 2 fighters

by Joseph Krauss and Guillaume Lavallee, AFP

Thu Apr 7, 12:50 pm ET

NEAR AJDABIYA, Libya (AFP) – Libyan insurgents and civilians stampeded out of Ajdabiya Thursday on rumours that loyalist forces were outside the eastern town, hours after an air strike tore into the rebels’ defences.

The panicked flight came as a top American general said it was unlikely the rebel forces could launch an assault on Tripoli and oust Moamer Kadhafi — while France confidently predicted the strongman’s downfall.

Four journalists were reported missing in east Libya, while 26 foreign reporters were expelled from Tripoli and Microsoft said it was seeking the release by the Libyan authorities of its country manager.

4 Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo holds on as conditions plummet

by Thomas Morfin, AFP

Thu Apr 7, 1:44 pm ET

ABIDJAN (AFP) – More gunfire shook Ivory Coast’s main city Thursday but Laurent Gbagbo remained holed up in his bunker, protected by about 200 men after clashes that forced the dramatic rescue of Japan’s envoy.

Bodies lay in the streets of Abidjan days into a military offensive to force Gbagbo to give up the presidency, with food stocks running low, water and power supplies erratic and security plummeting, witnesses said.

Residents hid in their homes in the Cocody suburb where the strongman was still hunkered down in the presidential residence after forces from internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara failed to remove him Wednesday.

5 Spain rejects contagion fears after Portugal bailout

by Denholm Barnetson, AFP

Thu Apr 7, 1:14 pm ET

MADRID (AFP) – Spain strove Thursday to distance itself from Portugal, which is seeking international aid to solve its escalating debt woes, rejecting fears of contagion from its neighbour and close economic partner.

Madrid received a solid vote of confidence from the head of the OECD, Angel Gurria, who said it is “inaccurate” and “unfair” to compare the debt problems of the two countries.

After insisting for weeks it did not need to go cap-in-hand to Brussels, Portugal threw in the towel late on Wednesday, bowing to intense market pressure and paving the way for a third bailout of a eurozone country after Ireland and Greece last year.

6 Portugal finally asks EU for bailout


Wed Apr 6, 5:27 pm ET

LISBON (AFP) – Portugal on Wednesday said it had finally decided to request financial assistance from the European Union, paving the way for a third bailout of a eurozone country after Ireland and Greece.

Analysts have said that Portugal could require a package worth 70 billion euros (100 billion dollars), compared with 85 billion for Ireland and 110 billion for Greece.

The pressures on Portugal had raised doubts about weaker eurozone members including neighbour Spain.

7 Shutdown looms as Obama budget talks fail

by Stephen Collinson, AFP

33 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States slipped closer to a government shutdown as President Barack Obama’s latest summit with the top Republican leader failed to cut a deal on spending ahead of a Friday deadline.

A stern-faced Republican House of Representatives speaker John Boehner said there was “no agreement on a number, no agreement on the policy issues,” after 90 minutes in the Oval Office with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

“We are not there yet,” Boehner said, though adding that he believed an agreement was possible before a midnight Friday deadline at which government funding runs out and vast swathes of the bureaucracy will go dark.

8 Obama calls new spending summit, shutdown looms

by Olivier Knox, AFP

Thu Apr 7, 1:28 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama on Thursday called US Congress leaders to a new round of talks aimed at averting a government shutdown barely a day away, as pessimism about a breakthrough deal deepened.

Ahead of the White House negotiations, Obama warned he would veto a stopgap measure set to clear the Republican-led House of Representatives ahead of a midnight Friday (0400 GMT Saturday) deadline to reach an agreement.

“This bill is a distraction from the real work that would bring us closer to a reasonable compromise,” his budget office said in a statement that warned a shutdown “would put the nation’s economic recovery in jeopardy.”

9 McIlroy storms into lead at Masters golf

by Allan Kelly, AFP

1 hr 6 mins ago

AUGUSTA, Georgia (AFP) – Rory McIlroy charged into a commanding early first round lead in the 75th Masters on Thursday, sinking seven birdies for a stunning round of 65.

The 21-year-old Ulsterman had purposely favoured a low-key approach to his third campaign at Augusta National after missing the cut last year and it paid immediate dividends as he bagged three birdies in a row from the second.

He went out in 32 and picked up more shots at 11, 14 and 15 where his eagle putt came agonisingly close to dropping in before signing for a pace-setting 65, his best round to date at Augusta by five shots.

10 US atom smasher may have found new force of nature

by Kerry Sheridan, AFP

Thu Apr 7, 3:07 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Data from a major US atom smasher lab may have revealed a new elementary particle, or potentially a new force of nature that could expand our knowledge of the properties of matter, physicists say.

The science world was abuzz with excitement Wednesday over the findings, which could offer clues to the persistent riddle of mass and how objects obtain it — one of the most sought-after answers in all of physics.

But experts cautioned that more analysis was needed over the next several months to uncover the true nature of the observation, which comes as part of an ongoing experiment with proton and antiproton collisions to understand the workings of the universe.


11 Aftershock shakes Japan’s ruined northeast coast

By Chizu Nomiyama and Yoko Kubota, Reuters

54 mins ago

TOKYO (Reuters) – A major aftershock rocked northeast Japan on Thursday and a tsunami warning was issued for the coast devastated by last month’s massive quake and tsunami that crippled a nuclear power plant.

The warning was later lifted and no tsunami was reported after the quake, which struck shortly before midnight. No damage from the quake, measured at magnitude 7.4 by the Japan Meteorological Agency, was detected at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said.

Workers struggling to bring the plant under control were evacuated but returned once the tsunami warning was lifted, a TEPCO official said.

12 Libya war reaching stalemate, Washington says

By Michael Georgy, Reuters

Thu Apr 7, 1:44 pm ET

AJDABIYAH, Libya (Reuters) – Libya’s seven-week-old civil war is reaching stalemate, a senior U.S. general said on Thursday, after rebels fighting to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi said a NATO air strike killed five of their fighters.

Wounded rebels being brought to a hospital in Ajdabiyah in rebel-held east Libya said they were hit by a NATO strike on their trucks and tanks outside the contested port of Brega.

NATO said it was investigating an attack by its aircraft on a tank column in the area along the Mediterranean coast on Thursday, saying the situation was “unclear and fluid.”

13 Rebels blame Libya air strike on mistake by NATO

By Michael Georgy, Reuters

59 mins ago

AJDABIYAH, Libya (Reuters) – A NATO air strike hit a Libyan rebel position near the contested oil town of Brega on Thursday killing up to five people, rebel fighters and a hospital nurse said.

A rebel commander said it appeared to be case of “friendly fire” and said it did not cause tension with NATO although the rebels wanted an explanation.

“We are not questioning the intention of NATO, because they should be here to help us and the civilians, but we would like to receive some answers regarding what happened today,” Abdel Fattah Younes, head of the rebel forces, said in Benghazi.

14 U.N. troops surround Gbagbo’s "last defenders"

By Ange Aboa and Loucoumane Coulibaly, Reuters

2 hrs 50 mins ago

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – U.N. peacekeepers have surrounded the “last defenders” of Ivory Coast incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo, France said on Thursday, after a week of heavy fighting to unseat him.

Forces loyal to rival presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara have been waging an offensive in Abidjan to topple Gbagbo, who has refused to cede power after losing last November’s election to Ouattara, according to results certified by the United Nations.

“At this moment the military situation is as follows; the UNOCI (United Nations mission in Ivory Coast) troops have surrounded in a limited area the last defenders of the previous president Gbagbo,” French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet told the French Senate on Thursday.

15 ECB hikes rates, ready to move again if necessary

By Paul Carrel, Reuters

Thu Apr 7, 12:53 pm ET

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank raised interest rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis on Thursday and signaled it was ready to tighten policy further if needed to check rising prices.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet used phrasing at a news conference traditionally seen as associated with further swift hikes, saying the bank’s monetary policy “remains accommodative” and that it will “monitor very closely” price risks.

But he stressed the ECB had not decided that Thursday’s move — a 25 basis point rise in its main refinancing rate to 1.25 percent — was the first in a series of moves, reassuring markets it was not about to embark on an aggressive tightening policy that could choke the euro zone’s struggling periphery.

16 Portugal to formalize aid request, help seen by June

By Filipa Lima and Julien Toyer, Reuters

Thu Apr 7, 12:38 pm ET

LISBON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Portugal will formalize its request on Thursday for a European Union rescue package that could reach 85 billion euros ($122 billion) and a deal could be reached before a June 5 election, officials said.

After a renewed battering from financial markets sparked by a political crisis, Lisbon’s caretaker government decided on Wednesday to seek foreign aid, becoming the third euro zone country to do so after Greece and Ireland.

“Portugal will today formalize its request with the European Commission,” Cabinet Minister Pedro Silva Pereira told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

17 World trade to carry crisis scars into 2012: WTO

By Andrew Callus, Reuters

Thu Apr 7, 11:30 am ET

GENEVA (Reuters) – World trade will carry the scars of the financial crisis into 2012, the World Trade Organization said on Thursday with a prediction of 6.5 percent growth for this year, less than half of last year’s sharp rebound.

The forecast, for growth in trade of goods as measured by export volume, is above the 6 percent average for 1990 to 2008.

The driver will in large part be strong developing economies, especially China.

18 Congress pushes for final budget deal

By Andy Sullivan and John Whitesides, Reuters

51 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With time running out for a budget deal, an ideological battle flared in the Congress over abortion and environmental issues on Thursday as negotiators pushed to avert a government shutdown.

The mood swung between optimism and pessimism as Democratic and Republican leaders held a series of private meetings and public news conferences to plead their case for a budget deal to keep the government operating beyond a midnight Friday deadline.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, met for more than an hour at the White House with President Barack Obama and promised to return for another meeting at 7 p.m. EDT

19 Analysis: Obama claim shutdown to hit housing may be off mark

By Corbett B. Daly, Reuters

1 hr 30 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s warning that a government shutdown might prevent many Americans from obtaining a mortgage may be more of a negotiating tactic than reality.

Obama and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday raced against a midnight Friday deadline to craft a budget deal that would cut billions of dollars in spending and keep the government open.

A shutdown is not without risks. But unless it drags on for many weeks — an unlikely worst-case scenario — home buyers would probably see little more than a brief delay in processing mortgages.

A nit picky lie.

20 U.S. pushes Iraq to decide on troop extension

By Missy Ryan, Reuters

1 hr 11 mins ago

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Months before the United States is due to complete its withdrawal from Iraq, Washington is stepping up pressure on Iraqi leaders to decide whether U.S. troops should stay to help fend off a still-potent insurgency.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking ahead of meetings with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other Iraqi leaders during a visit to Baghdad, said the United States would be willing to consider extending the U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond the end of this year.

A bilateral security pact requires Washington to withdraw its remaining force of around 47,000 troops by year’s end.

21 Soyuz docks 50 years after Gagarin’s voyage

By Alissa de Carbonnel, Reuters

Thu Apr 7, 4:29 am ET

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Soyuz craft adorned with a portrait of the first man in space docked with the International Space Station Thursday, days before the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight.

U.S. astronaut Ron Garan and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyayev and Andrey Borisenko floated through the hatch to the warm welcome of three crew already aboard the orbital station after the docking, which NASA said took place at 3:09 a.m. Moscow time (2309 GMT Wednesday).

Space Station Commander, cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, called it an honor for all on board to be “on the front lines” for the anniversary fanfare.

22 Dish expands its scope with Blockbuster win

By Tom Hals and Liana B. Baker, Reuters

Wed Apr 6, 10:12 pm ET

WILMINGTON, Del./NEW YORK (Reuters) – Dish Network Corp won Blockbuster Inc in a bankruptcy auction for $320 million, further broadening its business beyond satellite TV and setting up a possible showdown with Netflix.

Dish, the second-largest U.S. satellite TV company after DirecTV, trumped at least three other bidders, including activist investor Carl Icahn, for the one-time leader in video rentals.

Dish said the deal, which includes more than 1,700 Blockbuster stores, gives it new ways to market its services.

23 Top M&A law firms at center of new insider case

By Jonathan Stempel and Andrew Longstreth, Reuters

Wed Apr 6, 6:02 pm ET

NEW YORK/NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) – A lawyer and a trader were accused by federal prosecutors of running a 17-year conspiracy to trade on corporate merger secrets stolen from three of the nation’s most powerful law firms, in one of the largest U.S. insider trading cases on record.

Prosecutors accused Matthew H. Kluger and Garrett D. Bauer of reaping more than $32.2 million from trades on tips about upcoming mergers and acquisitions that Kluger learned as a lawyer at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC, the pre-eminent firm representing Silicon Valley technology companies.

The complaint details a conspiracy that had its origins in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and ended with attempts by the defendants to cover their tracks, including a discussion about cleaning money in a washing machine to rid it of fingerprints.


24 Strong aftershock rattles disaster-weary Japan


32 mins ago

SENDAI, Japan – A big aftershock rocked quake-weary Japan late Thursday, rattling nerves as it knocked out power to the northern part of the country and prompted tsunami warnings that were later canceled.

The quake was initially measured at magnitude-7.4, though the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., later downgraded it to 7.1. Either way, it was the strongest aftershock since several were recorded on March 11 – the day of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that killed as many as 25,000 people and touched off a nuclear crisis last month.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or major damage, and the operator of the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant said there was no sign the aftershock had caused new problems there. Workers retreated to a quake-resistant shelter in the complex, with no injuries.

25 Few signs of life in Japan nuclear evacuation zone

By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press

Thu Apr 7, 1:49 pm ET

MINAMI SOMA, Japan – The Odaka neighborhood seems frozen in time since it was abandoned after the tsunami nearly a month ago: Doors were left hanging open and bicycles were abandoned. A lone taxi sits in front of the train station. Mud-caked dogs roam empty streets, their barking and the cawing of crows the only sounds.

Many homes and businesses in the area escaped serious damage from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, but their owners have not been allowed back because of concerns about radiation from the nearby nuclear plant crippled by the massive wave.

Some have returned anyway, saying they need to get on with their lives.

26 Japan disaster complicates moves to clean energy

By DENIS D. GRAY, Associated Press

Thu Apr 7, 7:35 am ET

BANGKOK – Worldwide calls to curb nuclear power amid Japan’s plant crisis could be bad news for the fight against global warming – unless nations finally go all-out to tap wind, solar and other clean, renewable energy, climate change negotiators and activists say.

If countries scrap nuclear plants, which emit no greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, they may turn to the fossil fuels that experts call the main culprit behind climate change. Environmental activists say the tragedy could provide an opportunity to strike a decisive blow against both.

“It’s a false choice to give the public an alternative between a climate change disaster or a nuclear disaster. We need renewable energy,” said Tove Maria Ryding of the environmental group Greenpeace. “Now, we can either have a kick back or a leap forward.”

27 Libyan rebels angry after airstrike blamed on NATO

By SEBASTIAN ABBOT, Associated Press

1 hr 45 mins ago

AJDABIYA, Libya – An apparent NATO airstrike slammed into a rebel combat convoy Thursday, killing at least five fighters and sharply boosting anger among anti-government forces after the second bungled mission in a week blamed on the military alliance.

The attack – outside the strategic oil port of Brega – brought fresh questions about coordination between NATO and the patchwork of rebel militias in a conflict described by a senior U.S. commander as a stalemate that could eventually require the Pentagon to reassert more power, and possibly even send in ground forces.

Tensions between the rebels and NATO were flaring even before the latest accident, with the fighters criticizing the alliance for doing too little to help them.

28 Shutdown talks but no deal as clock ticks down

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

49 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and congressional leaders bargained and blustered by turns Thursday, still short of an agreement to cut federal spending and head off a midnight-Friday government shutdown that no one claimed to want.

Obama met with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., at the White House at mid-day, and the three agreed to reconvene after dinner. In the interim, they dispatched aides to pursue a deal in negotiations in the Capitol.

Meanwhile, Republicans passed legislation through the House to fund the Pentagon for six months, cut $12 billion in domestic spending and keep the federal bureaucracy humming for an additional week.

29 Social Security stopping mailed earning statements


40 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Those yearly statements that Social Security mails out – here’s what you’d get if you retired at 62, at 66, at 70 – will soon stop arriving in workers’ mailboxes. It’s an effort to save money and steer more people to the agency’s website.

The government is working to provide the statements online by the end of the year, if it can resolve security issues, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said. If that fails, the agency will resume the paper statements, which cost $70 million a year to mail, he said.

“We’ll provide it, we expect, one way or another, before the end of the calendar year,” Astrue told The Associated Press. “We’re just right now trying to figure out the most cost-effective and convenient way to provide that to the American public.”

30 NJ Gov. Christie calls for peer teacher evaluation


42 mins ago

NEW YORK – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday called for public school teachers to be evaluated based equally on their classroom performance and student achievement and accused the state’s largest teachers union of being a group of “bullies and thugs.”

Christie laid out his proposal in a speech in New York sponsored by the Brookings Institute, a Washington think tank. A teachers union spokesman called the governor’s plan an “educational disaster.”

Since taking office last year, the Republican Christie has emerged as a popular figure among conservatives nationally for his willingness to confront public employee unions, including teachers, over their salaries and pensions. Several other governors have since followed suit, saying such benefits for public employees are unsustainable over time.

31 US to use Facebook, Twitter to issue terror alerts

By EILEEN SULLIVAN, Associated Press

1 hr 53 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Terror alerts from the government will soon have just two levels of warnings – elevated and imminent – and those will be relayed to the public only under certain circumstances. Color codes are out; Facebook and Twitter will sometimes be in, according to a Homeland Security draft obtained by The Associated Press.

Some terror warnings could be withheld from the public if announcing a threat would risk exposing an intelligence operation or an ongoing investigation, according to the government’s confidential plan.

Like a gallon of milk, the new terror warnings will each come with a stamped expiration date.

32 Demographer: US has 4M adults who identify as gay

By LISA LEFF, Associated Press

1 hr 55 mins ago

SAN FRANCISCO – How many gay men and lesbians are there in the United States? Gary Gates has an idea but acknowledges pinpointing a solid figure remains an elusive task.

Gates is demographer-in-residence at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, a think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles. For the institute’s 10th anniversary this week, he took a scholarly stab at answering the question that has been debated, avoided, parsed and proven both insoluble and political since pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey said in the 1940s that 10 percent of the men he surveyed were “predominantly homosexual.”

Gates’ best estimate, derived from five studies that have asked subjects about their sexual orientation, is that the nation has about 4 million adults who identify as being gay or lesbian, representing 1.7 percent of the 18-and-over population.

“He also estimated that 19 million people, or 8.2 percent of the population, have engaged in sex with a partner of the same sex.”  That sounds pretty close to Kinsey’s 10% to me.

33 Gates: Some US troops may stay if Iraq wants

By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer

Thu Apr 7, 3:01 pm ET

BAGHDAD – Even with the burdens of combat in Afghanistan and unrest in the Arab world, the U.S. would keep American troops in Iraq beyond the agreed 2011 final withdrawal date if Iraq’s government asked for extra help, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

His comments give weight to an idea that is politically sensitive in both nations and which Iraq officially rejects.

During what he said would probably be his final visit to Iraq as Pentagon chief, Gates urged the fractious Iraqi government to decide “pretty quickly” whether it wants to extend the U.S. presence beyond Dec. 31 to enable continued training of its security forces. Gates shares the view of many in the U.S. military that a longer U.S. stay would be useful in ensuring that Iraq’s security and political gains do not unravel, but publicly he has insisted that the decision is Iraq’s.

34 Mayor: NY schools chancellor Cathie Black quits

By SAMANTHA GROSS, Associated Press

Thu Apr 7, 2:38 pm ET

NEW YORK – The city’s school chancellor resigned Thursday after three difficult months on the job, a defeat for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his decision to install a publishing executive with no experience as an educator to lead the nation’s largest public school system.

In her brief stint as chancellor, Cathie Black had faced heckling by parents, the departure of several deputy chancellors and scorn over her joke that school overcrowding could be fixed with birth control.

Bloomberg announced the resignation only days after a poll showed her approval rating had dropped to 17 percent. He named Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott to replace her.

35 Hunger strike focuses anger on Indian corruption

By NIRMALA GEORGE, Associated Press

Thu Apr 7, 1:30 pm ET

NEW DELHI – A 73-year-old Indian activist harnessing the tactics of Mohandas K. Gandhi has galvanized public anger at rampant corruption with a high-profile hunger strike demanding the government adopt immediate reforms.

Anna Hazare’s fast, which entered its third day Thursday, has drawn breathless, round-the-clock TV coverage, attracted the support of an array of opposition – and even some ruling party – politicians and has sent the government scrambling in search of a compromise.

Hazare has said he will continue to consume nothing but water until India’s parliament agrees to create a powerful, independent watchdog committee to investigate corruption allegations.

36 Researchers find superbug gene in New Delhi water

By MARIA CHENG, AP Medical Writer

Thu Apr 7, 10:41 am ET

LONDON – A gene that can turn many types of bacteria into deadly superbugs was found in about a quarter of water samples taken from drinking supplies and puddles on the streets of New Delhi, according to a new study.

Experts say it’s the latest proof that the new drug-resistance gene, known as NDM-1, named for New Delhi, is widely circulating in the environment – and could potentially spread to the rest of the world.

Bacteria armed with this gene can only be treated with a couple of highly toxic and expensive antibiotics. Since it was first identified in 2008, it has popped up in a number of countries, including the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada and Sweden.

37 Maine labor art’s removal strikes sensitive nerve

By GLENN ADAMS, Associated Press

7 mins ago

AUGUSTA, Maine – It’s big in its own right, a 36-foot-wide, 11-panel mural representing Maine’s labor history. Even bigger is the nerve its removal has struck in politics, academia and the art world during the national debate over public workers’ collective bargaining rights.

The state’s new pro-business governor ordered it removed from the Maine Department of Labor’s lobby in late March, saying it didn’t mesh with his policy goals. Since then, the maelstrom of reaction has only escalated, resonating all the way to Washington.

“I think there’s a widespread feeling among people that they’re being made scapegoats for state budget problems not of their making,” said Jonathan Beal, who filed a lawsuit in federal court in Maine challenging the mural’s removal.

38 Pa. seeks more water tests for drilling pollution

By MARC LEVY, Associated Press

20 mins ago

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania is expanding the scope of water tests to screen for radioactive pollutants and other contaminants from its booming natural gas drilling industry, but state officials insisted they aren’t doing it because federal regulators prodded them.

The state Department of Environmental Protection’s acting secretary, Michael Krancer, wrote Wednesday to the Environmental Protection Agency to say that he has requested additional testing of treated water from some drinking water suppliers and wastewater treatment facilities.

Those steps, he said, were in the works before the EPA’s regional administrator, Shawn Garvin, sent a March 7 letter asking Pennsylvania to begin more water testing to make sure drinking water isn’t being contaminated by drilling wastewater. The state’s requests for additional testing, however, were issued later in March.

39 General: US may consider sending troops into Libya

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

2 hrs 36 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The U.S. may consider sending troops into Libya with a possible international ground force that could aid the rebels, the former U.S. commander of the military mission said Thursday, describing the ongoing operation as a stalemate that is more likely to go on now that America has handed control to NATO.

But Army Gen. Carter Ham also told lawmakers that American participation in a ground force would not be ideal, since it could erode the international coalition attacking Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and make it more difficult to get Arab support for operations in Libya.

He said NATO has done an effective job in an increasingly complex combat situation. But he noted that, in a new tactic, Gadhafi’s forces are making airstrikes more difficult by staging their fighters and vehicles near civilian areas such as schools and mosques.

40 NC academy head suspected of posing as Vietnam vet

By MIKE BAKER, Associated Press

Thu Apr 7, 3:16 pm ET

OAK RIDGE, N.C. – Well before he became commandant of North Carolina’s only military boarding academy, William Northrop regaled people with stories of serving in the jungles of Vietnam – how he was wounded in battle, how some comrades committed suicide, how he used amphetamines on patrol.

But his war stories may be pure fiction.

There is no record Northrop ever served in the military, let alone Vietnam.

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