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Apr 27 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 France, Italy call for reform of EU open-border treaty

by Nadege Puljak and Gildas Le Roux, AFP

2 hrs 27 mins ago

ROME (AFP) – France and Italy issued a joint call on Tuesday for a reform of the European Union’s visa-free treaty that would allow EU member states to re-impose internal border controls more easily.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi agreed on a letter outlining their demands to EU leaders at a summit in Rome following the arrival of thousands of migrants from Tunisia.

“We both believe that in exceptional circumstances there should be variations to the Schengen treaty,” Berlusconi told reporters after the meeting, as Sarkozy said a joint letter had been sent to EU leaders.

AFP

2 Kadhafi forces attack key port of Misrata

by Marc Bastian, AFP

Tue Apr 26, 1:11 pm ET

MISRATA, Libya (AFP) – Moamer Kadhafi’s forces attacked the key port in the besieged Libyan city of Misrata with rockets Tuesday, wounding refugees, as NATO said it may send an envoy to the rebel capital of Benghazi.

Several Grad rockets hit the port 12 kilometres (seven miles) east of the city and an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) ship that had come to rescue refugees stood offshore as a precaution, an AFP journalist said.

The attack came after a lull in fighting as rebels in Misrata said they pushed forces loyal to Kadhafi out of the city, although the Libyan strongman remained defiant despite NATO bombing his compound.

3 Fighting wanes in Misrata but Kadhafi defiant

by Marc Bastian, AFP

Tue Apr 26, 10:28 am ET

MISRATA, Libya (AFP) – Fighting waned Tuesday in Misrata as rebels said they pushed Moamer Kadhafi’s troops out of the besieged city, but the Libyan leader stayed defiant despite NATO bombing his compound.

Russia, meanwhile, said it would not back a new UN Security Council resolution on further intervention in Libya, as Italy and France called on the international community to stop shipping oil products to Kadhafi’s regime.

NATO offered details of bombing raids on several targets near Misrata, Kadhafi’s hometown of Sirte and Tripoli, including the strongman’s compound in the capital and missile launchers.

4 Syria deploys troops as UN meeting urged

AFP

2 hrs 21 mins ago

DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syria bolstered its troops Tuesday in the flashpoint town of Daraa as a rights group appealed for UN intervention in a bloody crackdown it said has killed 400 people since mid-March.

As the Daraa crackdown raged into a second day, Britain said it was working with its partners to send a “strong signal” to Damascus while France and Italy denounced the “unacceptable” situation in Syria.

Washington ordered non-essential embassy staff to leave Syria, which has been shaken by six weeks of protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s autocratic rule.

5 Tanks storm Syrian flashpoint town, 25 dead: activists

AFP

Mon Apr 25, 5:50 pm ET

DAMASCUS (AFP) – Syrian troops backed by tanks rolled into the flashpoint town of Daraa Monday, killing at least 25 people, witnesses said, as Damascus was accused of choosing the military option to crush dissent.

The Syrian army however, insisted it had been invited into the southern town at the request of citizens to hunt “extremist terrorist groups.”

Witnesses said troops also launched assaults on the Damascus suburbs of Douma and Al-Maadamiyeh, as a leading Syrian rights activist accused the regime of going for the “military solution” to end six weeks of dissent.

6 Thailand, Cambodia eye truce as fighting spreads

by Janesara Fugal, AFP

Tue Apr 26, 10:11 am ET

PHANOM DONG RAK, Thailand (AFP) – Thailand and Cambodia were on Tuesday preparing for ceasefire talks after a new front opened in their worst border fighting in recent history, in which 13 troops have died.

Tens of thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their homes on both sides as heavy weapons fire pounded the jungle frontier, shattering a fragile truce that had held since February.

“Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh has agreed to meet his Thai counterpart in Phnom Penh shortly to discuss a ceasefire between the two countries,” the Cambodian defence ministry said in a statement.

7 Russia, Ukraine leaders mourn Chernobyl nightmare

by Zoya Zhminko, AFP

1 hr 44 mins ago

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine (AFP) – The Russian and Ukrainian leaders marked 25 years since the world’s worst nuclear disaster Tuesday on a historic visit to Chernobyl, shadowed by new fears over atomic energy safety.

Dmitry Medvedev, making the first ever visit by a Russian president to the now defunct Chernobyl Atomic Power Station, and his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovych paid tribute to the victims of the April 1986 catastrophe.

Speaking outside the mothballed plant where higher-than-normal radiation levels persist to this day, the leaders called for greater security at atomic power stations as they hailed the sacrifice of the Soviet clean-up workers.

8 Sony challenges iPad in tablet war

by Karyn Poupee, AFP

Tue Apr 26, 12:51 pm ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Japanese electronics and entertainment giant Sony on Tuesday unveiled its first tablet computers, codenamed S1 and S2, in a direct but belated challenge to Apple’s iPad.

The larger “Sony Tablet” S1 has a single screen while the pocketable S2 has twin screens, company officials told a news conference, with both devices using Google’s Android operating system and equipped with Wi-Fi for Internet access.

Competitors have rushed to cash in on soaring demand for tablets since the iPad was released in April last year, but Sony’s devices are not due to go on sale globally until the northern hemisphere autumn, well behind its rivals.

9 Poles prepare for beatification of John Paul II

by Stanislaw Waszak, AFP

Tue Apr 26, 12:53 pm ET

WARSAW (AFP) – Travelling on a fleet of planes, trains and cars, more than 50,000 Poles are expected to flock to the Vatican for the beatification of “their” saint-to-be, Polish-born pope John Paul II.

The funeral of Karol Wojtyla in April 2005 drew half a million Poles.

While his fast-track beatification — a key step towards canonisation as a saint — is a cause for joy among his countrymen, it nonetheless isn’t generating the same kind of mass pilgrimage to Rome this time around.

10 WikiLeaks reveals US blunders at Guantanamo

by Dan De Luce, AFP

Mon Apr 25, 5:57 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States has botched the handling of inmates at Guantanamo, holding men for years without reliable evidence while releasing others who posed a grave threat, according to leaked secret documents.

The trove of classified files released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks showed US officials struggling with often flawed evidence and confused about the guilt or innocence of detainees held at the prison at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hundreds of inmates who turned out to have no serious terror links were held without trial, based on vague or inaccurate information, including accounts from unreliable fellow detainees or statements from men who had been abused or tortured, the New York Times quoted the documents as saying.

11 Mass deaths in Sri Lanka may be ‘war crimes’: UN

AFP

Mon Apr 25, 7:19 pm ET

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – The Sri Lankan army killed most of the tens of thousands of civilian victims of a final offensive against Tamil separatists in 2009 but both sides may be guilty of war crimes, a UN panel said Monday.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he could not order an international investigation into the deaths. But the UN will hold an inquiry into its actions in the final months of the war following criticism by the panel that more could have been done to save lives.

The panel’s report — angrily opposed by the Sri Lankan government — painted a barbarous picture of the final offensive on the Tamil enclave in the north of the island that ended a three-decade war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

12 Soaring food prices a threat across Asia

by Cecil Morella, AFP

Tue Apr 26, 5:40 am ET

MANILA (AFP) – Soaring global food prices threaten to push tens of millions of Asians into extreme poverty and cut the region’s economic growth this year, the Asian Development Bank warned in a report on Tuesday.

Coupled with skyrocketing oil prices, the spike poses a serious setback for developing Asia after having rebounded rapidly and strongly from the 2008 global economic crisis, said chief ADB economist Rhee Changyong.

“Left unchecked, the food crisis will badly undermine recent gains in poverty reduction made in Asia,” Rhee said in a statement.

13 Heart surgeons find their way in Senegal

by Coumba Sylla, AFP

Tue Apr 26, 3:23 am ET

DAKAR (AFP) – When Mouhamadou Ndiaye began talking about open-heart surgery in Senegal in 1990, authorities told him it wasn’t a priority.

“We don’t have open-heart surgery problems,” they said, according to Ndiaye, head of the thoracic and cardiovascular surgery department at Dakar’s Fann university teaching hospital. “Our problems are malaria, diarrhoea, vomiting.”

“My reply, invariably, was that all patients were patients and needed care,” said Ndiaye, who received his training in Europe and returned to Senegal in 1989.

Reuters

14 Consumers perk up but home prices fall again

By Leah Schnurr, Reuters

Tue Apr 26, 1:30 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Consumers perked up a bit in April as they lowered their forecasts for inflation and worried less about the jobs market, but yet another fall in house prices underscored the challenges facing the recovery.

The overall confidence level, as measured by the Conference Board, an industry group, was still historically low.

A separate report on Tuesday showed the housing market continues to struggle as home prices fell for an eighth month in February, inching closer to an April 2009 trough.

Yup, it’s a bottom all right, just like June 30, 2009 and August 5, 2008.

15 Rajaratnam jury asks to hear call replays

By Grant McCool and Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

2 hrs 52 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The jury in Raj Rajaratnam’s insider trading trial asked to listen to replays of nine FBI phone taps of the hedge fund manager chatting and chuckling in conversations central to government allegations that he ran a web of informants to leak corporate secrets.

As the jury studied the evidence on its second day of deliberations, a former trader associated with Rajaratnam’s Galleon Group became the latest to plead guilty in a sweeping government probe of insider trading on Wall Street.

Craig Drimal, who prosecutors said had an office on Galleon Group premises but was not an employee of the fund at the time of his November 2009 arrest, pleaded guilty to securities fraud and conspiracy. His hearing in Manhattan federal court took place four floors above a locked room where 12 jurors have weighed Rajaratnam’s fate since Monday.

16 European governments condemn Syria

By Suleiman al-Khalidi, Reuters

1 hr 29 mins ago

AMMAN (Reuters) – Security forces deployed in a suburb of the Syrian capital and in the city of Banias on Tuesday, witnesses said, even as President Bashar al-Assad drew international criticism for sending in tanks to crush a revolt.

In Deraa, the city where the uprising against Assad’s 11-year rule began, authorities sent in tanks on Monday and witnesses said the army was firing randomly and bodies were lying on the streets.

Residents said an army brigade led by Assad’s younger brother Maher had cut off roads, were shelling homes, storming houses and rounding people up.

17 Yemen deal may be done within week: officials

By Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari, Reuters

Tue Apr 26, 11:48 am ET

SANAA (Reuters) – An agreement brokered by Gulf Arab states for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to give up power could be finalized within a week, officials said on Tuesday, as Yemen struggles to avoid plunging deeper into chaos. An opposition official said the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdullatif al-Zayani, was expected to visit the capital Sanaa on Wednesday with an invitation to a signing ceremony on Monday in Riyadh.

“We expect an arrangement and signing of a deal to be completed — the sooner the better,” said another opposition leader, Mohammed Basindwa, who is seen as a top candidate to lead a transitional government.

Yemen’s Western and Gulf Arab allies have tried for weeks to mediate a solution to a three-month crisis in which protesters, inspired by the toppling of leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, have taken to the street demanding an end to Saleh’s 32-year rule.

18 U.S. and Britain aim to step up pressure on Gaddafi

By Lin Noueihed, Reuters

1 hr 47 mins ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – British and U.S. officials met on Tuesday to discuss how to step up military pressure on Muammar Gaddafi, as the Libyan leader’s army fought fierce clashes with rebels in besieged Misrata.

More than a month of air strikes in a British and French-led NATO mission have failed to dislodge Gaddafi or bring major gains for anti-government rebels who hold much of east Libya, raising fears of a stalemate.

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox and Britain’s Chief of the Defense Staff General David Richards met U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington.

19 Kremlin chief wants new nuclear rules post-Chernobyl

By Denis Dyomkin and Pavel Polityuk, Reuters

Tue Apr 26, 11:06 am ET

CHERNOBYL, Ukraine (Reuters) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday called on the world community to tighten safety rules at nuclear plants and tell the truth when there were accidents like those at Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Medvedev spoke alongside Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich at a solemn ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear accident at Chernobyl in Ukraine when a reactor exploded, sending radiation billowing across Europe.

The ceremony, at which the two leaders paid homage to the clean-up workers and victims of the 1986 accident, took on added significance amid efforts by Japan to control the crisis at its Fukushima plant, damaged by an earthquake and tsunami.

20 Afghan justice minister says mass jail escape had inside help

By Hamid Shalizi, Reuters

Tue Apr 26, 9:42 am ET

KABUL (Reuters) – Hundreds of insurgents who escaped from a jail in Afghanistan’s volatile south through a tunnel dug by the Taliban must have received inside help from prison guards or officials, the Afghan government said on Tuesday.

Afghan authorities and foreign troops have launched a manhunt after Monday’s embarrassing breakout, which President Hamid Karzai’s office called a “disaster” ahead of the summer fighting months and as NATO and the United States begin preparing for a gradual withdrawal.

Tooryalai Wesa, the governor of southern Kandahar province, also said on Tuesday 65 of the 488 prisoners who escaped had been recaptured. The Taliban said as many 541 had escaped through the tunnel and were later driven away.

21 Libya coalition has no right to kill Gaddafi: Putin

By Gleb Bryanski, Reuters

2 hrs 13 mins ago

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sharply criticized the Western coalition attacking Libya on Tuesday, saying it had neither a right nor a mandate to kill Muammar Gaddafi.

Putin said the coalition had gone beyond the bounds of a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing intervention to protect civilians and suggested Gaddafi’s actions did not justify foreign interference, let alone attempts to remove him.

“They said they didn’t want to kill Gaddafi. Now some officials say, yes, we are trying to kill Gaddafi,” Putin said on a visit to Denmark. “Who permitted this, was there any trial? Who took on the right to execute this man, no matter who he is?”

22 Exclusive: Libya imports gasoline from Italy’s Saras

By Jessica Donati and Emma Farge, Reuters

2 hrs 9 mins ago

LONDON (Reuters) – Libya imported gasoline from Italian refiner Saras in early April, taking advantage of a loophole in United Nations sanctions that permits purchases by companies not on a U.N. list of banned entities.

Three shipping sources with direct knowledge of the transaction said the cargo was delivered via ship-to-ship transfer in Tunisia before sailing to Libya.

Saras initially declined to comment but late on Tuesday issued a statement saying it had always acted in full compliance with all applicable restrictive measures concerning Libya.

23 Analysis: NATO initiatives not seen decisive in Libya war

By David Brunnstrom, Reuters

Tue Apr 26, 12:42 pm ET

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The Western bombing campaign in Libya is now in its sixth week but despite a series of eye-catching NATO initiatives there is little sign of a decisive military shift that will bring a quick end to the war.

And there are few signs either of significant divisions within Muammar Gaddafi’s government that would hasten a political solution to the conflict.

NATO, which took over the air campaign from a coalition led by France, Britain and the United States a month ago, can point to some successes in protecting civilian populations in eastern Libya from attack including in Benghazi and Ajdabiyah.

24 Libyan mountain refugees tell of fearsome assault

By Tarek Amara, Reuters

Mon Apr 25, 6:52 pm ET

TUNISIAN-LIBYAN BORDER (Reuters) – Refugees fleeing Libya’s Western Mountains told of heavy bombardment by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces as they try to dislodge rebels in remote Berber towns.

The capture of the Dehiba-Wazin crossing on the Tunisian border by rebels last week has let refugees flee in cars or on foot along rocky paths, swelling the numbers of Libyans sheltering in southern Tunisia to an estimated 30,000 people.

While the world’s attention has been on the bloody siege of the western rebel stronghold of Misrata and battles further east, fighting is intensifying in the region known as the Western Mountains.

25 Saudi elections – Women seek vote

By Asma Alsharif, Reuters

Tue Apr 26, 5:03 am ET

JEDDAH (Reuters) – Sara Abbar knew what would happen when she and her 28-year-old daughter tried to register to vote in Saudi Arabia’s municipal elections.

The vote, set for September, ruled out in advance any participation by the country’s 9 million women.

“We will keep trying again and again until we get our right,” she said after meeting a resolute “no” from the election official she encountered at a voter registration center in Jeddah when registration began on April 23.

26 Nigeria heads for polls finale after bloody riots

By Nick Tattersall, Reuters

Tue Apr 26, 8:17 am ET

UYO, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigeria headed to the polls on Tuesday to choose powerful state governors amid fears of a resurgence of the violence that left hundreds dead after a presidential election earlier this month.

Tuesday’s vote is the last stage of an election process that while considered to have been the fairest in decades has not escaped the violence long associated with Nigerian politics.

There were outbreaks of unrest in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where six people were arrested attempting to steal ballot boxes in Rivers state, and opposition party members made accusations of political thuggery in areas of President Goodluck Jonathan’s home state of Bayelsa, where there were also arrests.

27 China raises bar for polluters in restructuring plan

By Jim Bai and Tom Miles, Reuters

Tue Apr 26, 5:22 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s top economic planning agency on Tuesday published a detailed list of industries that it would encourage, restrict or ban, a blueprint that could have a far-reaching impact on investment activity in China over the coming years.

The 111-page list published by the National Development and Reform Commission ratcheted up the minimum size requirement for coal mines, oil refineries and steelmaking blast furnaces while lending support to alternative energy sources.

The list, an update of one published in 2005, will serve as a guideline for Chinese regulators in making policies on tax, bank credit, land and trade, and will also be a reference for Beijing to decide which foreign investors are welcomed.

28 Auto production faces bigger hit after Japan quake

By James Topham, Reuters

Mon Apr 25, 8:45 pm ET

TOKYO (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Co may slip to No. 3 in the automaker production rankings behind General Motors and Volkswagen due to Japan’s earthquake and nuclear crisis, which slashed local output by almost two-thirds in March alone.

A shortage of parts in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami has savaged Japan’s auto sector supply chain, while damage to a major nuclear plant has disrupted power supplies.

Investors expecting overseas rivals to benefit from a prolonged slump in Japanese output pushed up shares in South Korea’s Hyundai Motors and associate Kia Motors to record highs on Monday.

AP

29 Gadhafi’s grip on western Libya may be slipping

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press

1 hr 21 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya – Moammar Gadhafi has suffered military setbacks in recent days in western Libya, a sign that his grip may be slipping in the very region he needs to cling to power.

His loyalists were driven out of the city of Misrata, a key rebel stronghold in Gadhafi-controlled territory. A NATO airstrike turned parts of his Tripoli headquarters into smoldering rubble. And rebel fighters seized a border crossing, breaking open a supply line to besieged rebel towns in a remote western mountain area.

Front lines have shifted repeatedly in two months of fighting, and the poorly trained, ill-equipped rebels have given no evidence that they could defeat Gadhafi on the battlefield. The Libyan leader has deep pockets, including several billion dollars in gold reserves, that could keep him afloat for months. And his forces continue to bombard Misrata from afar, unleashing a fierce barrage Tuesday against the port area – the city’s only lifeline to the world.

30 Hundreds detained after bloody Syrian crackdown

By DIAA HADID, Associated Press

4 mins ago

CAIRO – Syrian forces heaped more punishment Tuesday on residents of restive towns, detaining hundreds in raids or at checkpoints, firing on people trying to retrieve the bodies of anti-government protesters and even shooting holes in rooftop water tanks in a region parched by drought, witnesses said.

In the southern city of Daraa, where Syrian army tanks and snipers killed at least 22 people a day earlier, a resident said security forces shot and killed a man as he walked out of the main Omari mosque and shouted at them though a bullhorn: “Enough! Enough! Enough! Stop killing your brothers!”

The crackdown by President Bashar Assad has intensified since Friday, when more than 100 people were killed. Security forces also conducted raids in the Damascus suburb of Douma and the northern coastal town of Jableh.

31 Campaign to bar Syria from UN human rights body

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press

Tue Apr 26, 11:24 am ET

UNITED NATIONS – Human rights groups and a growing number of governments are working to prevent Syria from being elected to the U.N.’s top human rights body, as President Bashar Assad’s security forces crack down on pro-democracy protesters.

Syria is a frontrunner for a seat on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council as one of four candidates selected to fill four Asian seats, and it is likely to win unless another candidate enters the race or it fails to win a majority of votes in the May 20 secret ballot election in the 192-member General Assembly.

Since the 53-member Asian Group endorsed its slate – which also includes India, Indonesia and the Philippines – for the council in January, rights groups and some governments have engaged in a behind-the-scenes effort to keep Syria off the council.

32 Afghan forces recapture 71 from Kandahar jailbreak

By MIRWAIS KHAN and HEIDI VOGT, Associated Press

Tue Apr 26, 11:59 am ET

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – The massive security breach that allowed the Taliban to spirit more than 480 Afghan inmates out southern Afghanistan’s largest prison must have involved inside collaborators, the Justice Ministry said Tuesday, as security forces worked to recapture the escaped convicts.

Prison officials discovered early Monday morning that the inmates_ nearly all of them Taliban militants – were missing from their cells, and then found the tunnel through which they appeared to have made their getaway.

The Taliban said the prison break was five months in the making, with diggers starting the tunnel from under a nearby house while they arranged for inmates to get keys so that they could open their cells on the night of the escape.

33 Bus bombings kill 4 in Pakistan’s biggest city

By ASHRAF KHAN, Associated Press

Tue Apr 26, 11:04 am ET

KARACHI, Pakistan – Islamist militants bombed two Pakistani navy buses taking employees to work on Tuesday, killing four people and again bringing their war to the streets of the country’s largest city. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

Also Tuesday, Pakistan’s interior minister defended the country’s premier spy service against what he called defamation, a day after the release of leaked documents showing U.S. officials at Guantanamo Bay had listed the agency as a terrorist organization.

The roadside blasts took place roughly 15 minutes apart in different areas of Karachi, a southern port city that is Pakistan’s economic heart. More than 50 people were wounded, Navy Commander Salman Ali said.

34 In a first, women surpass men in advanced degrees

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press

51 mins ago

WASHINGTON – For the first time, American women have passed men in gaining advanced college degrees as well as bachelor’s degrees, part of a trend that is helping redefine who goes off to work and who stays home with the kids.

Census figures released Tuesday highlight the latest education milestone for women, who began to exceed men in college enrollment in the early 1980s. The findings come amid record shares of women in the workplace and a steady decline in stay-at-home mothers.

The educational gains for women are giving them greater access to a wider range of jobs, contributing to a shift of traditional gender roles at home and work. Based on one demographer’s estimate, the number of stay-at-home dads who are the primary caregivers for their children reached nearly 2 million last year, or one in 15 fathers. The official census tally was 154,000, based on a narrower definition that excludes those working part-time or looking for jobs.

35 AP survey: Only oil shock can stop economy now

By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

1 hr 5 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The American economy is now strong enough to withstand Middle East turmoil and the Japanese nuclear crisis. Only a big rise in the price of oil could stop it now.

Those are the findings of an Associated Press survey of leading economists, who are increasingly confident in a recovery that is nearly two years old. They expect the economy to grow faster every quarter this year.

In part, that’s because the economists think Americans will spend more freely in the coming months. Higher stock prices have made people wealthier. And a cut in the Social Security payroll tax is giving most households an extra $1,000 to $2,000 this year.

This is what morons think and corporate shills tell you.  Economics is not science, it’s shamanism.

36 Bargain prices help reduce glut of foreclosures

By DEREK KRAVITZ and JANNA HERRON, AP Business Writers

1 hr 3 mins ago

WASHINGTON – A wave of foreclosures is forcing down home prices in most major U.S. cities. But economists and real estate agents point to what they call a key first step for any housing recovery: a decline in the glut of homes for sale in markets hit hardest by foreclosures.

Low prices are leading investors to snap up foreclosed homes in Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix and Tampa. That’s reducing prices in the short run. Yet it is also thinning the supply of homes, which must happen to clear the way for higher prices in the long run.

For some, the deals are too good to pass up on. A studio apartment on the Las Vegas strip that cost $500,000 at the height of the housing boom is now selling for roughly one-third the price. Half of the homes listed in the Tampa Bay area are selling for less than $100,000, not far from some of Florida’s nicest Gulf coast beaches.

More of the same.

37 Trickle of NFL players head back to work – sort of

By DAVE CAMPBELL, AP Sports Writer

2 hrs 21 mins ago

MINNEAPOLIS – The NFL and the players’ union were in a holding pattern Tuesday, the day after a federal judge ended a 45-day lockout.

Small groups of players showed up at team facilities and were allowed inside, but couldn’t work out. Most left in a matter of minutes.

League operations were left in limbo when U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson said she wouldn’t rule on the NFL’s request for a stay of her order until at least Wednesday. She said she wanted to hear from players – even as attorneys for players asked her to clarify the order.

38 Russia calls for stricter nuclear safety rules

By MARIA DANILOVA, Associated Press

Tue Apr 26, 12:29 pm ET

KIEV, Ukraine – Russia’s president argued Tuesday that tough international guidelines could help prevent accidents like the massive Chernobyl meltdown, defending nuclear energy during solemn ceremonies commemorating the 25th anniversary of the worst nuclear accident in history.

Dmitry Medvedev and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych took part in a religious service outside Chernobyl’s damaged No. 4 nuclear reactor, laying the first stone of a monument to cleanup workers and laying bouquets of red roses at another monument to Chernobyl victims.

Medvedev said he has invited world leaders to work on rules for safer nuclear energy. His economic adviser, Arkady Dvorkovich, said Russia forwarded its proposals to leaders of other Group of Eight countries Tuesday, and he hoped they would be discussed at next month’s summit in France.

39 Farmers protest against Japanese nuke plant owner

By SHINO YUASA and JACOB ADELMAN, Associated Press

Tue Apr 26, 8:07 am ET

TOKYO – Angry farmers brought two cows to Tokyo, shouting and punching the air Tuesday in a protest to demand compensation for products contaminated by radiation spewing from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant.

The 200 farmers, mostly from northeastern Japan, wore green bandanas, held aloft cabbages they said they couldn’t sell and carried signs saying “Stop nuclear energy” outside the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant damaged in the March 11 tsunami.

“My patience has run out. The nuclear crisis is totally destroying our farming business,” said 72-year-old Katsuo Okazaki, who grows peaches and apples.

40 Judge’s relationship at issue in gay marriage case

By LISA LEFF, Associated Press

Tue Apr 26, 9:20 am ET

SAN FRANCISCO – Rumors swirled that the federal judge who had struck down California’s same-sex marriage ban last summer was gay, but the lawyers charged with defending the measure remained silent on the subject. Their preferred strategy for getting the ruling overturned on appeal was to focus on the law, not a judge’s personal life, they said.

Eight months later, Proposition 8’s proponents and their attorneys have taken a new position. They filed a motion Monday seeking to vacate Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s historic ruling, a move they said was prompted by the now-retired jurist’s recent disclosure that he is in a long-term relationship with another man.

Lawyers for the ban’s backers argue that the judge’s relationship status, not his sexual orientation, gave him too much in common with the couples who successfully sued to overturn the ban in his court. The judge should have recused himself or at least revealed the relationship to avoid a real or perceived conflict of interest, the lawyers say.

41 Study: More states falling short on pension money

By CHRISTOPHER WILLS, Associated Press

Tue Apr 26, 6:20 am ET

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Bad decisions and a sour economy combined to leave 31 states below the safety line set for investing money to meet future pension costs, according to a study released Monday.

The double-whammy also has increased the chance that officials may eventually have to fix the problem by cutting benefits or raising taxes.

Many experts recommend states save at least 80 percent of the money they’ll eventually need to pay the pensions promised to government employees. Twenty-two states failed to previously meet that threshold and nine more fell short in fiscal 2009, according to the Pew Center on the States.

A pension is a contract, just like a CDS.  Is it fair to pay off the one that goes to the wealthiest and not the one that goes to the other 99.9%?

42 Ky. family to sell massive Coca-Cola collection

By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press

26 mins ago

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. – In the world of Coca-Cola memorabilia, the Schmidt family’s collection is like the Smithsonian.

The most treasured items are from the company’s earliest days in the late 1800s, and some are so rare they don’t even appear at the Coca-Cola Co. museum in Atlanta. And now, they’re all for sale.

The family, one of the earliest bottlers of the soft drink, spent years scouring the country for pieces branded with the iconic Coca-Cola name. They opened up a museum to show off their prized collection, but they’re ready to move on and have decided to auction 80,000 items piecemeal, beginning in mid-September.

43 Refinery warnings way of life in Texas City

By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press

32 mins ago

TEXAS CITY, Texas – The sirens from the nearby BP refinery were wailing in Dwight Crawford’s neighborhood and he could see the glow from burning flares at the plant.

Crawford, a retired carpenter, said he knew “something messed up” was going on there. Then, the 66-year-old said, he went to sleep.

“It’s just a hazard of living close to this plant,” he said Tuesday, taking a moment while sipping coffee and reading the newspaper at a table in front of his home.

44 Court questions limits on use of prescription data

By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

1 hr 30 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court cast doubt Tuesday on efforts by states to limit drug manufacturers’ use of information about the prescription drugs that doctors like to prescribe.

The court took up a dispute between the state of Vermont and companies that sell doctors’ prescribing information to pharmaceutical companies, though without patient names. The drug makers use the data to tailor their pitch to individual doctors.

The Vermont law had prevented the sale of information about individual doctors’ prescribing records without the doctors’ permission.

45 Obama reissues call to end oil company tax breaks

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press

1 hr 43 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Amid rising gasoline prices at the pump, President Barack Obama urged congressional leaders Tuesday to take steps to repeal oil industry tax breaks, reiterating a call he made in his 2012 budget proposal earlier this year. The White House conceded his plan would do nothing in the short term to lower gas prices.

The president wrote a letter to the bipartisan congressional leadership on Tuesday, a day after Republican House Speaker John Boehner said he was willing to “take a look at” repealing the multibillion-dollar tax subsidies enjoyed by the major oil companies.

Rising gas prices have become a political weight for the White House, with polls showing that as the cost rises at the pump, the president’s approval ratings have slipped. Obama has increasingly sought to display action on oil, even as he acknowledges that there is no immediate answer to stem costs

46 US court grants new sentencing for Mumia Abu-Jamal

By MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press

2 hrs 8 mins ago

PHILADELPHIA – A federal appeals court on Tuesday ordered a new sentencing hearing for convicted police killer and death-row activist Mumia Abu-Jamal, finding for a second time that the death-penalty instructions given to the jury at his 1982 trial were potentially misleading.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals told prosecutors to conduct the new sentencing hearing for the former Black Panther within six months or agree to a life sentence. Abu-Jamal’s first-degree murder conviction still stands in the fatal shooting of Officer Daniel Faulkner, who was white.

District Attorney Seth Williams pledged to mount another appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, at the urging of Faulkner’s widow, Maureen.

47 At Oregon gym, you burn calories, move electrons

By TIM FOUGHT, Associated Press

Tue Apr 26, 6:16 am ET

PORTLAND, Ore. – Reddening, a rivulet of sweat running across her cheek, Amy McCullough hunched over the stationary bike, pumped her legs like crazy and began producing serious power – enough watts to run a flat-panel TV and a ceiling fan.

She thrust her arms upward and exclaimed: “Oh, 180!”

And, with that, her electrical output drooped. The generator attached to her exercise machine slowed, and the digital readout from the device on the handlebars fell below 100 watts.

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