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Apr 22 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Syrian forces kill 38 at ‘Good Friday’ protests

AFP

2 hrs 7 mins ago

DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syrian forces shot dead at least 38 people when they moved in to disperse thousands who took to the streets for “Good Friday” protests to test long sought-after freedoms, sources said.

A day after President Bashar al-Assad scrapped decades of emergency rule, his forces fired live rounds at demonstrators in several towns and cities nationwide, witnesses and activists told AFP by telephone.

The official SANA news agency said security forces intervened using only tear gas and water cannon to “prevent clashes” between protesters and passers-by.

AFP

2 McCain urges TNC recognition, rebels hail drones

by Dominique Soguel, AFP

1 hr 25 mins ago

BENGHAZI, Libya (AFP) – Rebels bogged down in their bid to oust Moamer Kadhafi on Friday hailed a US decision to deploy armed drones over Libya, as Senator John McCain urged the world to recognise the rebels’ council.

The US military’s top officer, meanwhile, said between 30 and 40 percent of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s forces had been destroyed in allied air strikes.

“I am sure that NATO forces will continue to attrite the military capability of the regime forces,” Admiral Michael Mullen told reporters in Baghdad.

3 Japan announces $49 bn dollar quake budget

by Shingo Ito, AFP

2 hrs 5 mins ago

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan on Friday announced a $49 billion budget to help fund reconstruction after last month’s earthquake and tsunami as Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the country was facing a “crisis within a crisis”.

It was the first reconstruction budget approved by Kan’s cabinet since the catastrophe in northeast Japan on March 11 that devastated entire towns and left more than 27,000 people dead or missing.

The government also said it planned to widen the evacuation zone around the Fukushima atomic plant, which has been leaking radiation since it was hammered by the magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami in the country’s worst post-war disaster.

4 Pope shows candid side in chat-show debut

by Jean-Louis de la Vaissiere, AFP

Fri Apr 22, 12:07 pm ET

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI said Friday he had no answers to the misery of global calamities during an unusually candid televised question-and-answer session in a first for a leader of the Catholic Church.

Asked by a seven-year-old Japanese girl why she had to be hit by an earthquake and tsunami, the pope answered: “I also have the same questions: why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease?”

“And we do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent, and that the true God who is revealed in Jesus is by your side,” the 84-year-old pontiff said.

5 Toyota says production back to normal by year-end

by Shingo Ito, AFP

Fri Apr 22, 6:34 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Toyota, the world’s biggest auto maker, said on Friday output will start recovering in mid-year but will not be back to normal until end 2011 after Japan’s quake-tsunami disaster caused parts shortages.

Many key component manufacturers in Japan are based in the worst-hit northeast regions, where facilities were damaged by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11 or inundated by the giant wave that followed.

Toyota has announced production disruptions domestically and in the United States, European Union, China and Australia because of the crisis, temporarily shutting some plants or running them at half-capacity or less.

6 Sweden’s 17th century Vasa, a voyage back from disaster

by Francois Campredon, AFP

Fri Apr 22, 11:04 am ET

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Half a century has passed since the sunken 17th century royal warship Vasa was brought to the surface, but the story of how one of Sweden’s biggest failures became a national treasure still fascinates.

“The first thing we saw was a little wooden head, and after some time came another wooden head… It was a fantastic sight,” said retired navy commander Jarl Ellsen, ahead of Sunday’s 50th anniversary of the raising of the ship.

Slowly, what was once briefly the crown jewel of the Swedish navy was raised off the Baltic sea bed where it had rested for more than 300 years after pitifully sinking just minutes into its maiden voyage.

7 UN heads for rights confrontation with Sri Lanka

by Tim Witcher, AFP

Thu Apr 21, 10:22 pm ET

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – The United Nations hurtled toward a high-profile confrontation with the Sri Lankan government over international action on alleged war crimes during a military offensive against Tamil separatists.

Rejecting a Sri Lankan demand to keep a report by a panel of experts secret, the United Nations on Friday said the report would soon be published in full without changes, and accompanied by recommendations on the next steps to be taken.

The United Nations said it was in talks with Sri Lankan authorities on an offer to add their comments to the report into the alleged deaths of tens of thousands of people when government forces launched a final offensive against Tamil separatists in 2009.

8 Bulls, Heat grab commanding NBA playoff leads

AFP

Fri Apr 22, 1:58 am ET

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (AFP) – Chicago and Miami both took strangleholds on their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series Thursday, with the Bulls edging Indiana and the Heat rallying for a victory over Philadelphia.

Chicago beat the Indiana Pacers 88-84 to seize a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven first-round series, while the star-studded Heat beat the 76ers 100-94 in Philadelphia to also move within one victory of a sweep.

The Heat, led by their star trio of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, rallied from an early 10-point deficit to win.

9 Six dead in Thai-Cambodia border clash

by Anusak Konglang, AFP

Fri Apr 22, 3:34 am ET

BANGKOK (AFP) – Thai and Cambodian troops traded gunfire and artillery shells on Friday, leaving six dead in a new clash that shattered a two-month lull in tensions along their disputed border.

It was the first serious outbreak of hostilities since fighting in February near the 900-year-old Hindu temple Preah Vihear left at least 10 dead and prompted a UN appeal for a lasting ceasefire.

Three Cambodian and three Thai soldiers were killed in Friday’s fighting near a different group of temples over 100 kilometres away. More than a dozen others were wounded, including three Thai troops who were said to be in critical condition.

Reuters

10 Iraq must decide in "weeks" on U.S. troops: Admiral Mullen

By Phil Stewart, Reuters

1 hr 1 min ago

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq has only weeks to decide if it wants to keep U.S. troops beyond an end-2011 deadline for their withdrawal, the top U.S. military officer said Friday in Baghdad following talks with Iraq’s prime minister.

The comments by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, are the strongest so far by U.S. officials warning Baghdad that Washington will soon have to initiate the withdrawal of its 47,000 forces under the terms of a bilateral security pact.

Asked what Iraq’s deadline was for deciding, Mullen said: “I think the timeline is in the next few weeks.”

No.

11 McCain urges U.S. to recognize Libyan rebels

By Michael Georgy, Reuters

57 mins ago

MISRATA, Libya (Reuters) – The Libyan conflict is heading for stalemate, the top U.S. military officer said on Friday, and Senator John McCain urged the United States to recognize the rebels and transfer frozen Libyan funds to them.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s joint chiefs of staff, told U.S. troops in Baghdad that Western-led air strikes had degraded between 30 and 40 percent of Muammar Gaddafi’s ground forces.

Referring to the conflict, he said: “It’s certainly moving toward a stalemate.

12 Japan earmarks first $50 billion for post-quake rebuild

By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Linda Sieg, Reuters

Fri Apr 22, 5:55 am ET

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s cabinet approved on Friday almost $50 billion of spending for post-earthquake rebuilding, a downpayment on the country’s biggest public works effort in six decades.

The emergency budget of 4 trillion yen ($48.5 billion), which is likely be followed by more reconstruction spending packages, is still dwarfed by the overall cost of damages caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, estimated at $300 billion.

“With this budget, we are taking one step forward toward reconstruction … and toward restarting the economy,” Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

13 Thai, Cambodian troops clash on disputed border, 6 dead

By Ambika Ahuja, Reuters

Fri Apr 22, 7:39 am ET

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai and Cambodian soldiers fought with rocket-propelled grenades and guns on their disputed border on Friday in a clash that killed six soldiers in the first major flare-up since a shaky ceasefire in February.

Both countries evacuated thousands of villagers and accused each other of firing first in the thick, disputed jungle around Ta Moan and Ta Krabei temples in the northeastern Thai province of Surin, about 150 km (93 miles) southwest of the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple, which saw a deadly stand-off in February.

“Cambodia started attacking our temporary base with artillery fire and we responded to defend ourselves,” said Lieutenant General Thawatchai Samutsakorn of the Thai army.

14 Lawsuits fly in BP’s Gulf spill blame game

By Tom Bergin and Moira Herbst, Reuters

Thu Apr 21, 5:12 pm ET

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A barrage of court claims pitting BP Plc against its partners in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could lay the groundwork for billions of dollars in settlements to spread the costs of the disaster.

BP has sued Transocean Ltd, Halliburton Co and Cameron International Corp, in one of the biggest legal moves since last year’s blowout. It is seeking up to the full cost of the disaster — estimated at $42 billion — plus costs, interest and punitive damages from each of the companies that helped it drill the doomed well.

So far, BP has met the cost of the clean-up effort alone and is paying compensatory damages to fishermen, property owners and others in the Gulf area affected by the spill.

15 Rajaratnam defense in last shot to urge acquittal

By Jonathan Stempel and Grant McCool, Reuters

Thu Apr 21, 6:32 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Raj Rajaratnam’s lawyer took a last shot at trial of keeping his client out of prison, blasting the credibility of key witnesses and telling jurors the government failed to prove the hedge fund manager broke insider trading laws.

In his closing argument on Thursday, chief defense lawyer John Dowd also fired back at the government contention Rajaratnam corrupted his friends and colleagues. He said it was the people who testified against the Galleon Group founder who were corrupt or had lied.

Mostly reading from a lectern, with an unemotional Rajaratnam sitting five feet behind him, Dowd presented dozens of e-mails, trading records and excerpts from trial testimony to show Rajaratnam made trades based on public reports, not on tips about nonpublic information.

16 Lawsuits fly in BP’s Gulf spill blame game

By Tom Bergin and Moira Herbst, Reuters

Thu Apr 21, 5:12 pm ET

LONDON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – A barrage of court claims pitting BP Plc against its partners in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill could lay the groundwork for billions of dollars in settlements to spread the costs of the disaster.

BP has sued Transocean Ltd, Halliburton Co and Cameron International Corp, in one of the biggest legal moves since last year’s blowout. It is seeking up to the full cost of the disaster — estimated at $42 billion — plus costs, interest and punitive damages from each of the companies that helped it drill the doomed well.

So far, BP has met the cost of the clean-up effort alone and is paying compensatory damages to fishermen, property owners and others in the Gulf area affected by the spill.

AP

17 75 killed in deadliest day of Syria uprising

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press

11 mins ago

BEIRUT – Amnesty International says at least 75 people have been killed during the deadliest day of pro-democracy protests in Syria.

The human rights group cited local activists.

Syrian security forces fired live bullets and tear gas Friday on rallies across the country.

18 McCain wants increased support for Libya’s rebels

By SEBASTIAN ABBOT and BEN HUBBARD, Associated Press

24 mins ago

BENGHAZI, Libya – U.S. Sen. John McCain called for increased military support for Libya’s rebels Friday, including weapons, training and stepped-up airstrikes, in a full-throated endorsement of the opposition in its fight to oust Moammar Gadhafi.

A day after the U.S. began flying armed drones to bolster NATO firepower, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said the United States and other nations should recognize the opposition’s political leadership as the “legitimate voice of the Libyan people.” The White House disagreed, saying it was for the Libyan people to decide who their leaders are.

McCain also called the rebels “patriots” with no links to al-Qaida, in contrast to what some critics have suggested, and added they should receive Gadhafi assets that were frozen by other countries.

19 Obama’s deficit plans run into economic reality

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press

Fri Apr 22, 7:50 am ET

LOS ANGELES – President Barack Obama headed west to sell his big picture deficit-reduction plan. But many people are waiting for a quick fix to their own economic problems caused chiefly by persistent unemployment and the crippled housing market.

Audiences in California and Nevada understood why it’s important to get a handle on the deficit over the long term. Yet they made clear that the economic recovery hasn’t fully taken hold in ways that are meaningful to them.

As Obama shifts into re-election mode, he will need to show that he hasn’t lost his focus on jobs even as the conversation in Washington swings to paying down what the nation owes.

20 "Birther" claims force GOP leaders to take a stand

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

58 mins ago

WASHINGTON – It’s the conspiracy theory that won’t go away. And it’s forcing Republican officials and presidential contenders to pick sides: Do they think Barack Obama was born outside the United States and disqualified to be president?

As the Republican candidates tiptoe through the mine field, Democrats are watching. They hope the debate will fire up their liberal base and perhaps tie the eventual GOP nominee to fringe beliefs that swing voters will reject.

In recent days several prominent Republicans have distanced themselves, with varying degrees of emphasis, from the false claim that Obama was born in a foreign country. But with a new poll showing that two-thirds of adult Republicans either embrace the claim or are open to it, nearly all these GOP leaders are not calling for a broader effort to stamp out the allegations.

As opposed to this which is true.

21 ElBaradei suggests war crimes probe of Bush team

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

50 mins ago

NEW YORK – Former chief U.N. nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei suggests in a new memoir that Bush administration officials should face international criminal investigation for the “shame of a needless war” in Iraq.

Freer to speak now than he was as an international civil servant, the Nobel-winning Egyptian accuses U.S. leaders of “grotesque distortion” in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, when then-President George W. Bush and his lieutenants claimed Iraq possessed doomsday weapons despite contrary evidence collected by ElBaradei’s and other arms inspectors inside the country.

The Iraq war taught him that “deliberate deception was not limited to small countries ruled by ruthless dictators,” ElBaradei writes in “The Age of Deception,” being published Tuesday by Henry Holt and Company.

22 Senate committee: Ensign resignation ‘appropriate’

By CRISTINA SILVA, Associated Press

1 hr 28 mins ago

LAS VEGAS – The Senate Ethics Committee said scandal-scarred Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign made the right decision to turn in a letter of resignation Friday as he faced an unrelenting, but as yet unfinished, two-year probe of his conduct.

The panel’s chairman, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and the vice chairman, Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, issued a terse statement saying the committee had spent 22 months investigating “and will complete its work in a timely fashion.”

“Senator Ensign has made the appropriate decision,” the statement said.

23 They’re not guys: New gear to fit female soldiers

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press

2 hrs 9 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Throughout history, military gear has been made with the male physique in mind. But for women in today’s combat or close-to-combat jobs, that can mean body armor that fits so poorly it’s tough to fire a weapon, combat uniforms with knee pads that hit around mid-shin and flight suits that make it nearly impossible to urinate while in a plane.

With women taking on new roles, the issue is getting fresh attention from the military.

Seven hundred female Army troops are testing a new combat uniform for women with shorter sleeves and with knee pads in the right place for their generally shorter legs. A committee on women’s issues has recommended that flight suits be redesigned for both men and women so it’s unnecessary to disrobe before urinating. And engineers have been looking at ways to design armor that better fits the contours of a woman’s body.

24 Good Friday: Pope does televised Q&A on suffering

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press

26 mins ago

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI has taken a new step in engaging with the public, fielding questions on Italian TV during a Good Friday broadcast and telling a 7-year-old Japanese girl her suffering wasn’t in vain and a Muslim woman in the Ivory Coast that peace must prevail.

Benedict was responding to questions submitted over the last few weeks by the general public via state-run RAI television’s website, part of the Vatican’s new push to engage with the world online and through Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

It was hardly a casual or spontaneous chat with the general public, however. Seven questions were selected from the thousands that poured in, and Benedict recorded the answers on April 15 from behind his desk inside the Apostolic Palace.

25 Fans stunned by the dark days of Dodgers baseball

By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press

1 hr 32 mins ago

LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers haven’t always made it easy for their fans to root for them.

They were left in tears when Bobby Thomson from the hated crosstown Giants ended the then-Brooklyn Dodgers’ 1951 season with his home run, “the shot heard `round the world.”

The team broke their hearts when it moved in 1958 to Los Angeles.

26 Japan plans disaster budget, building 100K homes

By RAVI NESSMAN and YURI KAGEYAMA, Associated Press

Fri Apr 22, 11:27 am ET

TOKYO – Japan’s government proposed a special $50 billion (4 trillion yen) budget to help finance reconstruction efforts Friday and plans to build 100,000 temporary homes for survivors of last month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The twin disasters destroyed roads, ports, farms and homes and crippled a nuclear power plant that forced tens of thousands of more people to evacuate their houses for at least several months. The government said the damage could cost $309 billion, making it the world’s most expensive natural disaster.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he was moved by his conversations with victims during a recent tour of shelters.

27 Toyota: Car production disrupted until Nov or Dec

By ELAINE KURTENBACH, AP Business Writer

Fri Apr 22, 8:27 am ET

TOKYO – Toyota’s global car production, disrupted by parts shortages from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, won’t return to normal until November or December – imperiling its spot as the world’s top-selling automaker.

President Akio Toyoda apologized to customers for the delays due to the March 11 disasters that damaged suppliers in northeastern Japan, affecting automakers around the world.

“To all the customers who made the decision to buy a vehicle made by us, I sincerely apologize for the enormous delay in delivery,” Toyoda said at a news conference in Tokyo.

28 Sharks beat Kings 6-3 to take 3-1 series lead

By BETH HARRIS, AP Sports Writer

1 hr 29 mins ago

LOS ANGELES – The Sharks and Kings skated through a scoreless opening period. Then Scott Nichol lured Los Angeles star defenseman Drew Doughty off the ice with offsetting roughing penalties, opening the door to three straight goals by San Jose.

The Kings never fully recovered.

Ryane Clowe scored twice, Jason Demers added another goal in the second period and the Sharks won 6-3 on Thursday night to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series.

29 Blackhawks rout Canucks to cut deficit to 3-2

Associated Press

Fri Apr 22, 4:17 am ET

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks are going full-speed ahead after backing into the playoffs and dropping their first three playoff games against Vancouver.

In the playoffs only after Minnesota beat Dallas in the final game of the regular season, the Blackhawks routed Vancouver 5-0 on Thursday night to cut the Canucks’ lead to 3-2 in the first-round series.

Defenseman Duncan Keith had two goals and two assists for the Blackhawks, coming off a 7-2 victory in Chicago on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks return home for Game 6 on Sunday night looking to become the fourth team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 deficit.

30 Apple slammed over iPhone, iPad location tracking

By JORDAN ROBERTSON, AP Technology Writer

Fri Apr 22, 12:59 am ET

SAN FRANCISCO – Privacy watchdogs are demanding answers from Apple Inc. about why iPhones and iPads are secretly collecting location data on users – records that cellular service providers routinely keep but require a court order to disgorge.

It’s not clear if other smartphones and tablet computers are logging such information on their users. And this week’s revelation that the Apple devices do wasn’t even new – some security experts began warning about the issue a year ago.

But the worry prompted by a report from researchers Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden at a technology conference in Santa Clara, Calif., raises questions about how much privacy you implicitly surrender by carrying around a smartphone and the responsibility of the smartphone makers to protect sensitive data that flows through their devices.

31 No break this spring at the gas pump

By MICHELLE R. SMITH, Associated Press

Fri Apr 22, 12:59 am ET

With gas prices above $4 in some states, Americans are canceling spring break plans and rethinking summer vacation, and some tourist destinations are offering gas vouchers of as much as $50 to talk people out of giving up and staying home.

At Mount Rushmore, only about 37,000 people decided in March that seeing the four granite-etched presidential sculptures was worth the trip, down from about 43,000 a year before.

At the Grand Canyon, a marketing executive for one company that offers sweeping helicopter vistas says 10 percent fewer people than last year are driving up and booking tours. The company is counting on international tourists to make up the rest.

32 Thai, Cambodian armies clash on border; 6 killed

By THANYARAT DOKSONE and SOPHENG CHEANG, Associated Press

Fri Apr 22, 9:06 am ET

BANGKOK – Thailand and Cambodia exchanged artillery and gunfire for several hours Friday in a flare-up of a long-running border dispute, and their militaries said six soldiers were killed.

The fighting near the ancient temples of Ta Krabey and Ta Moan forced thousands of civilians on both sides to flee. Cambodia says artillery fell on villages and other areas as far as 13 miles (21 kilometers) inside its territory.

It was the first skirmish reported since four days of fighting in February, when eight soldiers and civilians were killed near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the east of Friday’s fighting.

33 Report: Transocean contributed to Gulf disaster

By MICHAEL KUNZELMAN, Associated Press

54 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS – Flaws in Transocean Ltd.’s emergency training and equipment and a poor safety culture contributed to the deadly Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion that led to the Gulf oil spill, according to a Coast Guard report released Friday.

The report centered on Transocean’s role in the disaster because it owned the rig and was primarily responsible for ensuring its safety, the Coast Guard said. BP PLC owned the well that blew out.

The Coast Guard report also concluded that decisions made by workers aboard the rig “may have affected the explosions or their impact,” such as failing to follow procedures for notifying other crew members about the emergency after the blast.

34 Military faces challenge to malpractice shield

By MITCH STACY, Associated Press

2 hrs 21 mins ago

BRADENTON, Fla. – Veterans, military families and others who oppose a decades-old law that shields military medical personnel from malpractice lawsuits are rallying around a case they consider the best chance in a generation to change the widely unpopular protection.

The U.S. Supreme Court has asked for more information from attorneys and will decide next month whether to hear the case of a 25-year-old noncommissioned officer who died after a nurse put a tube down the wrong part of his throat.

If the law is overturned, it could expose the federal government to billions of dollars in liability claims. That makes it highly unlikely a divided Congress desperate to cut expenses will act on its own to change what’s called the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court ruling that effectively equates injuries from medical mistakes with battlefield wounds.

35 Washington teen fakes pregnancy as school project

Associated Press

Fri Apr 22, 1:35 pm ET

TOPPENISH, Wash. – A high school student who faked her pregnancy for six months as a social experiment stunned a student assembly this week by taking off the belly bundle.

Only a handful of people knew that 17-year-old Gaby Rodriguez wasn’t really pregnant, including her mother, boyfriend and the principal, according to the Yakima Herald-Republic.

They helped keep the secret from some of her siblings and her boyfriend’s family and students and teachers, all as part of a senior project on stereotyping.

36 Sheep growers benefit from low supply, high demand

By BETSY BLANEY, Associated Press

Fri Apr 22, 9:03 am ET

LUBBOCK, Texas – In his 33 years raising sheep in West Texas, Glen Fisher has never seen it so good.

Demand by U.S. consumers is up, imports are down and prices have soared.

“You have almost what you can call a perfect storm,” said Fisher, 64, who has about 3,100 animals on his acreage near Sonora. “The great part is we have record prices for lambs – the highest ever by a whole lot.”

37 Jury rejects Mattel’s Bratz doll copyright claim

By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press

Fri Apr 22, 5:07 am ET

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The sassy, billion-dollar Bratz dolls appear poised to bully Barbie on toy shelves after a jury rejected Mattel Inc.’s claims that rival MGA Entertainment stole the idea for the wildly popular fashion toy and instead slapped Mattel with more than $88 million in economic damages in a stunning rebuke of the toy giant’s claims.

The verdict in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on Thursday came as a staggering blow to Mattel, which has long claimed it held the copyright for the ethnically diverse, pouty-lipped toys that gave platinum-haired Barbie a run for her money after decades of fashion doll dominance.

The jury, which deliberated for nearly two weeks after a three-month trial, also found that Mattel acted willfully and maliciously in misappropriating MGA’s trade secrets. That raises the possibility the judge could also add on punitive damages that could bring the total award to three times the jury’s initial findings, attorneys for both sides said.

38 AP source: NY pols among those with tickets fixed

By TOM HAYS and COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press

Thu Apr 21, 9:31 pm ET

NEW YORK – Several high-ranking members of city government and a New York Yankees official are among those who had their traffic tickets fixed by police officers, a person familiar with a probe into the practice at the New York Police Department told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The person, speaking to the AP on condition of anonymity, did not name the officials or say how many were involved. The person also confirmed an online news report that Yankees senior director of operations Douglas Behar had a traffic ticket fixed.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is the subject of a secret grand jury investigation. The Yankees didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

39 Recall petition filed against 5th Wis. GOP senator

By JASON SMATHERS, Associated Press

Thu Apr 21, 7:12 pm ET

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin recall organizers Thursday added three Democratic state senators and one GOP senator to the list of lawmakers in line for recall elections over their opposition to or support of Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s law curtailing collective bargaining rights for public employees.

Committees to recall Sens. Dave Hansen of Green Bay, Jim Holperin of Conover and Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie filed the signatures needed with the Government Accountability Board. All three groups had thousands more signatures than required to trigger a recall election.

Hours later, the committee to recall Republican Sen. Alberta Darling of River Hills submitted 30,000 signatures to trigger her recall election. Naomi Cobb, the main petitioner for the Darling group, said there was strong support for the recall, despite Darling’s relatively Republican district.

40 Civil War guide touts spy, life off battlefields

By VICKI SMITH, Associated Press

Thu Apr 21, 2:41 pm ET

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – There are battlefields, and then there’s Belle Boyd, teenage temptress and Confederate spy.

The Appalachian Regional Commission is betting Boyd is the sexier Civil War story and that tourists will want to visit the Martinsburg, W.Va., home of the notorious “siren of the South” who used her feminine charms to spy on Union soldiers for the Confederacy.

The Belle Boyd House in the Eastern Panhandle is one of 150 lesser-known Civil War destinations the commission is highlighting on a new 13-state map that was released Thursday, pointing the way to that footnote on history and plenty more.

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