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May 25 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Mubarak, sons to be tried for killings, corruption

by Samer al-Atrush, AFP

1 hr 51 mins ago

CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s ex-president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons were on Tuesday referred to a criminal court on charges of ordering the killings of anti-regime protesters and graft, the public prosecutor’s office said.

The prosecutor’s office said that Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal have been charged with “premeditated murder of some participants in the peaceful protests of the January 25 revolution.”

“The public prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmud has decided today to refer former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal, who will remain under detention, and businessman Hussein Salem to a criminal court,” it said.

AFP

2 Hundreds of flights hit as ash reaches Britain

by Alice Ritchie, AFP

17 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – Airlines grounded about 500 flights Tuesday after ash from an Icelandic volcano swept over Britain and towards northern Europe in a fresh travel nightmare for thousands of passengers.

Barely a year after a similar eruption in Iceland forced the biggest closure of European airspace since World War II, ash-laden clouds caused flights in and out of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland to be cancelled.

British Airways led the way in cancelling flights as the plume from the Grimsvoetn volcano spread eastwards, followed by Dutch airline KLM, Ireland’s Aer Lingus and budget airlines easyJet and Ryanair.

3 ‘e-G8’ summit divided over policing Internet

by Roland Lloyd Parry, AFP

Tue May 24, 1:22 pm ET

PARIS (AFP) – The boss of Google warned Tuesday against moves to step up regulation of the Internet after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said governments must have a hand in setting the rules to avoid anarchy.

Addressing bosses from the world’s biggest online firms at the first “e-G8” summit, Sarkozy hailed their “Internet revolution”, but warned that governments must have the tools to prevent what he called “democratic chaos”.

He hailed the role of the Internet in recent uprisings such as the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, but insisted online activity must be governed by rules, notably to protect copyright material from online piracy.

4 Key Internet summit to discuss online rules

by Roland Lloyd Parry, AFP

Tue May 24, 10:31 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – The world’s most powerful Internet and media barons gathered in Paris on Tuesday in a show of strength to leaders at the G8 summit, amid rows over online copyright, regulation and human rights.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy kicked off the gathering in Paris, hailing the assembled players as the leaders of the “Internet revolution”, but warning that with their power comes great responsibility.

He hailed the role of the Internet in helping protestors organise recent Arab uprisings such as the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, but insisted it must be underpinned by “values” and “rules.”

5 Chrysler exits government bailout 6 years early

AFP

2 hrs 8 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US automaker Chrysler announced Tuesday it had exited six years early a US and Canadian rescue program with the repayment of billions of dollars provided during the 2008-2009 economic crisis.

Chrysler said it had repaid, six years ahead of time, $5.1 billion along with $865 million in interest and fees to the US Treasury.

It repaid another $1.7 billion in principle, interest and fees to the government-owned Export Development Canada.

6 NATO pounds Libya capital hardest yet

by Imed Lamloum, AFP

Tue May 24, 10:37 am ET

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Loud explosions rocked Tripoli Tuesday as NATO unleashed its heaviest blitz yet of the capital in a bid to speed up the ouster of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi while rebels gained ground diplomatically.

Libyan government spokesman Mussa Ibrahim told reporters that at least three people died and 150 were wounded in the air strikes, which he said targeted a deserted military barracks but which instead hit civilians living nearby.

NATO rejected the charge that the strikes had targeted a barracks and said in fact a strategic vehicle storage facility — used to resupply the regime forces and instrumental in attacks against civilians — had been struck.

Reuters

7 Mubarak to be tried for murder of protesters

By Yasmine Saleh and Dina Zayed, Reuters

14 mins ago

CAIRO (Reuters) – Hosni Mubarak was ordered on Tuesday to stand trial for the killing of protesters and could face the death penalty, scotching speculation the former leader would be spared public humiliation by Egypt’s military rulers.

Mubarak, ousted on February 11 after mass demonstrations demanding he end his 30 years in power, has been questioned for his role in a crackdown that led to the killing of more than 800 demonstrators and has been probed over corruption.

The public prosecutor said Mubarak, who is detained in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, would be tried on charges including “pre-meditated killing”, which could be punished by the death penalty.

8 NATO mounts heaviest strike yet on Gaddafi compound

By Joseph Logan, Reuters

Tue May 24, 11:13 am ET

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – NATO warplanes hammered Muammar Gaddafi’s compound with their heaviest air strikes yet on Tuesday after the United States said the Libyan leader would “inevitably” be forced from power.

The shockwave from the strikes was so powerful that plaster fell from the ceilings in a hotel where foreign reporters were staying, about 2 km (1.2 miles) from Gaddafi’s compound.

A NATO official said the strikes hit a military facility that had been used to launch attacks on civilians. A Libyan government spokesman said three people had been killed and 150 wounded, and that the casualties were local residents.

9 Heavy clashes erupt in Yemen capital, 4 dead

By Mohammed Ghobari and Mohamed Sudam, Reuters

Tue May 24, 9:13 am ET

SANAA (Reuters) – Yemeni loyalist forces fought street battles with guards from a powerful tribal federation whose leader has sided with protesters demanding an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule, witnesses said on Tuesday.

At least four gunmen were killed in the clashes, which dimmed prospects for a political solution to a transition of power tussle following a nearly four-month-old revolt inspired by protests that swept aside the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.

“The clashes were violent. The sound of machinegun and mortar fire could be heard everywhere. I saw smoke rising from the entrance of the interior ministry,” one witness told Reuters.

10 G8 to discuss Arab Spring, IMF post could feature

By John Irish, Reuters

Tue May 24, 11:24 am ET

PARIS (Reuters) – G8 leaders will discuss aid for North African states after recent popular uprisings and ways to end the conflict in Libya at a summit this week, but could get sidetracked by wrangling over who should be the new IMF chief.

The Group of Eight economic powers gather in the northern French resort of Deauville on Thursday and Friday for talks on global issues ranging from the world economy to Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

The summit is expected to approve a multi-billion dollar aid package for Tunisia and Egypt, whose authoritarian leaders have been ousted in popular revolts, and seal an agreement to back other Arab states seeking democratic change.

11 Afghan governor survives assassination attempt in violent south

By Abdul Malek, Reuters

Tue May 24, 10:14 am ET

SANGIN, Afghanistan (Reuters) – The governor of a key province in southern Afghanistan escaped an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen Tuesday, the governor’s spokesman said, in another worrying sign of instability in the region despite recent military successes.

While Taliban fighters have been hit hard by a U.S. military surge on the battlefield over the past year, insurgents have shown their adaptability by increasing attacks on government and military figures in the southern Taliban heartland.

The new tactic is a worrying sign only weeks ahead of the first phase of a transition program to shift security responsibility to Afghan forces, with Lashkar Gah, the main city in Helmand province, among the first to be handed over.

12 New home sales rise, but signal no recovery yet

By Lucia Mutikani, Reuters

7 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Sales of newly built single-family homes rose for a second straight month in April and supply was the lowest in a year, but an overhang of previously owned houses on the market could hobble recovery.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday sales increased 7.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted 323,000 unit annual rate, the highest since December, also giving prices a lift.

While the report showed some improvement across the board, new home sales are just bouncing along the bottom, and did not change views the economy remains mired in a soft patch.

13 Chrysler repays $7.6 billion U.S., Canada loans

By Ben Klayman, Reuters

2 hrs 58 mins ago

DETROIT (Reuters) – Chrysler Group LLC on Tuesday paid back $7.6 billion in U.S. and Canadian government loans from its 2009 bailout, a move that allows the U.S. automaker to distance itself from an unpopular bailout and deepen its ties with Italian automaker Fiat SpA.

Chrysler said it had made payments of $5.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury and $1.7 billion to the governments of Canada and Ontario to repay loans it received in June 2009.

The repayment puts Chrysler on firmer financial ground and draws it closer to Fiat, two goals investors and bankers have said would make Chrysler more attractive in an initial public offering that could come this year or next.

14 U.S. debt talks resume with focus on healthcare

By Andy Sullivan and Alister Bull, Reuters

54 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and senior lawmakers met on Tuesday to take a hard look at healthcare costs, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in their effort to forge a deal to tame America’s national debt.

The group was expected to examine the Medicare and Medicaid government health plans for retirees and the poor in their third round of negotiations to lift the $14.3 trillion debt limit before an August 2 deadline.

The two programs represent nearly a quarter of all federal spending and are expected to eat up a growing portion of the budget in coming decades as the population ages and medical costs continue to outstrip inflation.

15 French government says China backs Lagarde for IMF

By Alexandria Sage, Reuters

2 hrs 29 mins ago

PARIS (Reuters) – China would support French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde as the next IMF chief, the French government said on Tuesday, providing backing that would put her in a leading position to succeed Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Lagarde has emerged as the top candidate to replace Strauss-Kahn, who quit last week to fight sexual assault charges in New York, although there are signs of a rift with emerging nations that say it is time for Europe’s 60-year grip on the top job at the International Monetary Fund to be loosened.

Mexico’s top central banker said some countries are warming to his candidacy and there are hints that South Africa and Kazakhstan may put forward their own candidates.

16 China c.bank adviser says U.S. should cut IMF voting share

By Kevin Yao, Reuters

Tue May 24, 3:09 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States should reduce its dominant voting share in the International Monetary Fund, an adviser to the People’s Bank of China said on Tuesday, helping to give emerging economies more of a say in deciding who will take the helm of the IMF.

Xia Bin, who sits on the central bank’s monetary policy committee, told Reuters that reform of the IMF could not make significant progress unless the United States is willing to give up its dominant voting share in favor of developing countries.

“It’s not an issue of who will be the candidate for the IMF managing director. The problem is that the voting share of the United States is too big,” he said.

17 EU policy options narrow to avert Greek default

By Ingrid Melander and Paul Taylor, Reuters

Tue May 24, 10:57 am ET

ATHENS/PARIS (Reuters) – Europe’s policy options to avert a Greek default are narrowing fast after the ECB and ratings agencies warned against even voluntary debt rescheduling and Athens highlighted its urgent need for more EU cash.

Moody’s became the latest agency on Tuesday to warn of a chain reaction of severe consequences for the 17-nation euro area if Greece were allowed to default next month, when it faces a 13.4 billion euro ($18.85 billion) funding crunch.

Greece kick-started a stalled privatization program on Monday and promised tougher austerity measures and tax hikes to meet EU/IMF conditions for the release of a 12 billion euro loan tranche in June, vital to keep Athens afloat.

18 Greek default would hit others in euro zone

By Ingrid Melander, Reuters

Tue May 24, 6:30 am ET

ATHENS (Reuters) – A Greek debt default would hurt other peripheral euro zone states and could push Portugal and Ireland into junk territory, Moody’s said on Tuesday, warning it would classify most forms of restructuring as a default.

Markets have piled pressure on heavily indebted euro zone countries this week as investors worry not just about Greece but also about Spain, where the government suffered a major defeat in regional elections at the weekend, and after ratings agencies warned about the health of Italy and Belgium.

“A Greek default would be highly destabilizing and would have implications for the creditworthiness of issuers across Europe,” Moody’s Investors Service’s chief credit officer in the region, Alastair Wilson, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

19 House Democrats urge limits on oil speculators

By David Sheppard and Ayesha Rascoe, Reuters

Mon May 23, 11:05 pm ET

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congress should take steps to limit speculation in oil markets, which has boosted prices as much as 30 percent, a new report from the Democratic staff of a House of Representatives oversight committee said on Monday.

The report, based on data and comments from industry experts, cites comments from Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson and others that oil should be around $60-$70 a barrel based on the fundamentals of supply and demand.

“Addressing excessive speculation offers the single most significant opportunity to reduce the price of (gasoline) for American consumers,” according to the report, prepared for Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which has broad oversight of government policies.

AP

20 Egypt’s Mubarak to be tried over protester deaths

By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press

1 hr 15 mins ago

CAIRO – Egypt’s prosecutor general ordered Tuesday former President Hosni Mubarak put on trial on charges of corruption and conspiring in the deadly shootings of protesters during the uprising that ousted him, a stunning step against a leader whose power was nearly unquestioned for three decades.

The announcement that Mubarak would face a criminal court grants a major demand of Egyptians who have threatened a second revolution amid growing worries about the slow pace of change under the country’s new military rulers. The charges could carry the death sentence, said the prosecutor-general spokesman Adel el-Said.

It would be the first time an Arab leader is sent to trial solely by his own people in modern history. Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein was toppled during the U.S. invasion in 2003 and sentenced three years later to death for killing 140 Shiites.

21 Yemen officials: 38 killed in capital fighting

By AHMED AL-HAJ, Associated Press

8 mins ago

SANAA, Yemen – Fighters from Yemen’s powerful tribes fired on government buildings Tuesday, prompting soldiers to respond with intense shelling in street battles that left at least 38 dead as the uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh threatened to become a militia-led revolt.

Medical officials said 24 tribesmen were killed in the fiercest fighting on Sanaa’s streets in years. Government officials said 14 soldiers were killed and 20 were missing as the situation deteriorated following the collapse of an Arab mediation effort to get Saleh to step down.

As the battles developed, the heart of Yemen’s capital was turned into a no man’s land with heavy gunfire, mortar rounds and artillery fire from government forces.

22 US reaches out to rebels amid withering airstrikes

By DIAA HADID and MICHELLE FAUL, Asssociated Press

Tue May 24, 2:28 pm ET

TRIPOLI, Libya – The Obama administration reached out Tuesday to the Libyan rebels and said Moammar Gadhafi would “inevitably” be forced from power as the U.S.-backed NATO coalition launched a withering bombardment on the Libyan leader’s stronghold of Tripoli.

The NATO airstrikes struck in rapid succession shortly after midnight, setting off more than 20 explosions in the most intensive bombardment yet of the Libyan capital. Plumes of acrid-smelling smoke rose from an area around Gadhafi’s sprawling Bab al-Aziziya compound in central Tripoli.

The punishing attack came after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared the Libyan leader’s ouster was inevitable. Speaking late Monday in London, she said: “We do believe that time is working against Gadhafi, that he cannot re-establish control over the country.”

23 Roadside bomb kills 10, wounds 28 in Afghanistan

By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press

Tue May 24, 11:36 am ET

KABUL, Afghanistan – A roadside bomb killed 10 workers in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, and NATO again promised that the coalition would not abandon the country even if some members plan to withdraw their forces.

Also Tuesday, two high-ranking government officials survived attempted assassinations.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that plans to hand over control of seven areas to Afghan soldiers in July remained on course, despite new bombings and assaults by insurgents. Those areas include Bamiyan and Panjshir provinces, the cities of Lashkar Gah, Herat, Mazer-e-Sharif and Mehterlam, and nearly all of Kabul province.

24 Flights canceled as volcanic ash touches Scotland

By SYLVIA HUI, Associated Press

2 hrs 7 mins ago

LONDON – Airlines are moaning and passengers groaning as an ash-spewing Icelandic volcano is bringing misery and days of uncertainty to thousands of European air travelers.

Even though some say it’s been a massive overreaction by badly prepared safety regulators – one airline even claims the official scientific findings are simply wrong – hundreds of flights were canceled Tuesday as winds blew the cloud of ash from the Grimsvotn volcano over Scotland. Experts say that particles in the ash could stall jet engines and sandblast planes’ windows.

The only comfort for frustrated passengers and airlines is that officials in Iceland said the amount of ash being released by the volcano is decreasing, and officials don’t expect the disruption to be as bad as last year, when millions were stranded after the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

25 Chrysler repays $7.6B in government loans

By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer

34 mins ago

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – With a few computer keystrokes in an office at its headquarters, Chrysler Group LLC sent $7.6 billion to the U.S. and Canadian governments on Tuesday, paying off most of the bailout money that saved the company from financial disaster just two years ago.

The repayment at 10:13 a.m. was expected for weeks and is another sign of the automaker’s comeback. Chrysler went from a company that almost ran out of cash and endured bankruptcy in 2009 to one that is revamping its lineup and last quarter posted its first net profit in five years.

“A lot of us remember that until just a short time ago, in the eyes of most, Chrysler had been condemned to death,” CEO Sergio Marchionne told workers gathered at a Chrysler car factory outside Detroit.

26 Gates: Big budget cuts will diminish US influence

By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer

1 hr 22 mins ago

WASHINGTON – In a parting shot by one of the nation’s longest-serving Pentagon chiefs, Robert Gates on Tuesday warned that shrinking defense budgets will mean a smaller military and a diminished American role in the world.

Gates, a self-described “old Cold Warrior” who will retire next month, said that barring a catastrophic world conflict or a new threat to the very existence of the U.S., there will be no foreseeable return to the booming Pentagon budgets of the past decade. “The money and the political support simply aren’t there,” he said.

This means the Obama administration and Congress must now decide how much military power the U.S. should give up, how that fits U.S. goals for maintaining global influence, and how to pay for it, Gates said.

27 Report warns against cutting intelligence budget

By KIMBERLY DOZIER, AP Intelligence Writer

Tue May 24, 6:26 am ET

WASHINGTON – With America’s top terror target eliminated, the nation’s intelligence agencies fear they will look like a fat target for budget cuts. Their chief argument: Gutting intelligence budgets led to the shortfalls that allowed Osama bin Laden to carry out attacks in the first place.

Lawmakers say they are well aware that the terror war is not over but warn that cuts are coming.

Congress approved an intelligence budget of $80.1 billion in 2010, but lawmakers are keeping that roughly the same, slightly north of $80 billion for the next two years – and south of the White House’s request, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified budget figures.

28 NFL to fine clubs for series of flagrant

By BARRY WILNER, AP Pro Football Writer

33 mins ago

INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL will punish teams next season if their players commit multiple flagrant hits that result in fines.

The punishment will be financial, although league vice president Adolpho Birch said Tuesday he didn’t rule out Commissioner Roger Goodell applying further sanctions such as stripping clubs of draft choices.

Citing the “notion of club accountability,” Birch says details such as the amount of the fines against clubs, or how many player fines would trigger punishment, have not been determined.

29 APNewsBreak: NASA to abandon trapped rover Spirit

By ALICIA CHANG, AP Science Writer

19 mins ago

LOS ANGELES – Spirit, the scrappy robot geologist that captivated the world with its antics on Mars before getting stuck in a sand trap, is about to meet its end after six productive years.

Spirit has been incommunicado for more than a year despite daily calls by NASA. The cause of Spirit’s silence may never be known, but it’s likely the bitter Martian winter damaged its electronics, preventing the six-wheel rover from waking up.

The space agency tried every trick to listen for Spirit to no avail. Project manager John Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the last commands will be sent up Wednesday. Though orbiting spacecraft will continue to listen through the end of May, chances are slim that Spirit will respond.

30 Troubled banks made up about 12 pct of total in Q1

By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer

Tue May 24, 12:43 pm ET

WASHINGTON – The number of banks at risk of failing made up nearly 12 percent of all federally insured banks in the first three months of 2011, the highest level in 18 years.

That proportion is about the same as in the October-December quarter last year, though the increase in the number of banks on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s confidential “problem” list is slowing.

The FDIC added only four banks to its list in the January-March quarter. That brought the total to 888 from 884. Banks on the list are deemed by examiners to have very low capital cushions again risk.

31 Troubled home market creates generation of renters

By DEREK KRAVITZ, AP Real Estate Writer

1 hr 59 mins ago

WASHINGTON – A growing number of Americans can’t afford a home or don’t want to own one, a trend that’s spawning a generation of renters and a rise in apartment construction.

Many of the new renters are former owners who lost homes to foreclosure or bankruptcy. For others who could afford one, a home now feels too costly, too risky or unlikely to appreciate enough to make it a worthwhile investment.

The proportion of U.S. households that own homes is at its lowest point since 1998. When the housing bubble burst four years ago, 31.6 percent of households were renters. Now, it’s at 33.6 percent and rising. Since the housing meltdown, nearly 3 million households have become renters. At least 3 million more are expected by 2015, according to census data analyzed by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies and The Associated Press.

32 SPIN METER: Switching positions is in fashion

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

Tue May 24, 12:50 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Political flip-flops are in fashion these days, in red and in blue, from the White House to the Congress to the 2012 campaigns for both.

Raise the debt limit?

Democrats who voted against it when George W. Bush was president now say Republicans could wreck the economy if they do the same. Republicans who voted for it then demand spending cuts before committing now.

33 Analysis: Romney is the guy to catch in GOP field

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

Mon May 23, 6:39 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney is emerging as the man to catch in the narrowing Republican presidential field, grabbing a clear head start in fundraising, organization and experience despite vulnerabilities that still might undo him.

With Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels becoming the latest respected Republican to forgo a candidacy, many party insiders say the field is largely set. And Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and Olympic Games organizer, is in front.

“It’s Romney’s to lose,” said Scott Reed, a GOP consultant who managed Bob Dole’s presidential campaign. He said Romney’s biggest advantages are his personal wealth, fundraising know-how and experience as a 2008 contender, when John McCain won the nomination.

34 Preacher says world will actually end in October

By GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press

Tue May 24, 3:56 am ET

OAKLAND, Calif. – A California preacher who foretold of the world’s end only to see the appointed day pass with no extraordinarily cataclysmic event has revised his apocalyptic prophecy, saying he was off by five months and the Earth actually will be obliterated on Oct. 21.

Harold Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before catastrophe struck the planet, apologized Monday evening for not having the dates “worked out as accurately as I could have.”

He spoke to the media at the Oakland headquarters of his Family Radio International, which spent millions of dollars_ some of it from donations made by followers – on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message.

35 High court to Calif: Cut prison inmates by 33,000

By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press

Mon May 23, 7:48 pm ET

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that California must drastically reduce its prison population to relieve severe overcrowding that has exposed inmates to increased violence, disease and death.

The decision, however, doesn’t mean the prison gates will swing open in an uncontrolled release.

The high court’s decision calls on the state to cut the population to no more than 110,000 inmates, meaning California will have to shed some 33,000 inmates to comply over the next two years. State officials can accomplish that by transferring inmates to local jails or releasing them.

36 NTSB: No definitive cause in Stevens plane crash

By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press

3 mins ago

JUNEAU, Alaska – The National Transportation Safety Board released its findings Tuesday into the plane crash that killed former Sen. Ted Stevens, placing some blame with the pilot and raising questions about whether he should have been cleared to fly after suffering a stroke.

The report found no definitive cause for the crash that killed Stevens, the pilot and three others after the amphibious plane slammed into a mountainside. But the board pointed blame in the direction of the pilot and took the Federal Aviation Administration to task over its guidelines for clearing pilots to fly after suffering strokes.

The board, at a hearing in Washington, determined the probable cause of the crash to be the “temporary unresponsiveness” of 62-year-old pilot Theron “Terry” Smith “for reasons that could not be established from the available information.”

37 NJ gov.: I’ll heed court order to boost school aid

By GEOFF MULVIHILL and ANGELA DELLI SANTI, Associated Press

31 mins ago

TRENTON, N.J. – After New Jersey’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the state spend more on low-income school districts and Gov. Chris Christie agreed not to stand in the way, it’s up to state lawmakers to figure out how to do it.

The Democratic-controlled Legislature has just over five weeks to figure out how to reallocate $500 million in the state budget, knowing that the Republican governor is threatening a veto if lawmakers increase taxes to comply with the school funding ruling.

The court’s 3-2 decision was the latest in the long-running Abbott v. Burke court battle over how much the state taxpayers must subsidize New Jersey’s lowest-income schools. The court has consistently ruled that New Jersey must do more to meet the state constitution’s requirement that all children receive a “thorough and efficient” education.

38 House GOP to advance $1B disaster aid package

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

33 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Republicans controlling the House began advancing a $1 billion aid package on Tuesday to make sure that disaster relief accounts don’t run dry after massive flooding along the Mississippi River and devastating tornadoes in Missouri and Alabama.

The House Appropriations Committee approved the disaster aid cash along with two spending bills, one funding the Homeland Security Department and the other veterans programs.

The debate over disaster relief highlighted the challenge facing Republicans, who have made clear they intend to cut billions in federal spending yet are under pressure to respond to the extraordinary wave of disasters that has hit the South and Midwest this spring. Republicans vow that additional disaster aid must be funded by cuts to other programs.

39 Explorers tussle with Spain over treasure in court

By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press

1 hr 42 mins ago

ATLANTA – Florida deep-sea explorers asked a federal appeals court Tuesday to overturn an earlier ruling that 17 tons of treasure recovered from a sunken Spanish galleon belongs to Spain, deepening a long-running battle over a trove worth an estimated $500 million that has unfolded not on the high seas but in federal courtrooms.

Attorneys for Odyssey Marine Exploration asked the three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the “finders keepers” rule that would give the treasure hunters the rights to silver coins, copper ingots, gold cufflinks and other artifacts salvaged about four years ago from the galleon off the coast of Portugal. Spain’s lawyers countered that U.S. courts are obligated by international treaty and maritime law to uphold Spain’s claim to the haul.

The ship, called the Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, was sunk by British warships in the Atlantic in 1804 while sailing back from South America with more than 200 people on board. Odyssey created an international splash in May 2007 when it announced that it raised more than 500,000 silver coins and other artifacts from the wreck and flew the treasure back to Tampa.

40 APNewsBreak: NYT reporter subpoenaed in CIA case

By MATTHEW BARAKAT, Associated Press

2 hrs 3 mins ago

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Federal prosecutors issued a subpoena for a New York Times reporter demanding his testimony in the prosecution of a former CIA operations officer charged with illegally leaking classified information.

In a court filing late Monday, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia said the reporter, James Risen, can provide crucial testimony implicating the defendant, ex-CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling, of O’Fallon, Mo.

But Risen has steadfastly refused to cooperate in the Sterling prosecution. A judge previously quashed a subpoena issued to Risen at an earlier stage in the case. And Risen’s lawyer, Joel Kurtzberg, said Risen will again seek to quash the subpoena. He declined further comment.

41 APNewsBreak: USDA lowers pork’s safe cooking temp

By MICHAEL J. CRUMB, Associated Press

Tue May 24, 4:25 am ET

DES MOINES, Iowa – A bit of pink in pork appears to be OK after all.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will announce Tuesday that it has lowered its temperature recommendation for cooking pork to 145 degrees. That’s a change from the agency’s longstanding guideline and means pork will be held to the same standard as beef, veal and lamb.

For chefs, it means the USDA has sanctioned what already was common practice.

42 Senate considers Patriot Act despite concerns

By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press

Tue May 24, 3:40 am ET

WASHINGTON – The tortoise-like Senate is under uncommon pressure to pass a four-year extension of the anti-terrorist Patriot Act before key provisions expire Friday. But the deadline is even tighter, because President Barack Obama is in Europe.

Any extension passed by the Senate must be sent to the House and passed there, then flown overseas to be signed into law.

So the Senate’s deadline for passage is more like midweek. And that’s no accident.

43 Advocates: Retain evidence in military rape cases

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press

Tue May 24, 3:32 am ET

WASHINGTON – The military too quickly destroys records from the hundreds of rapes and sexual assaults reported confidentially each year, say victims’ advocates and some members of Congress.

They say the practice can hamper successful disability claims by victims or the prosecution of offenders. They want the military to preserve and centralize all reports of rape, assault or harassment.

One blanket, consistent rule that ensures all such records are kept, they say, would put an end to a common complaint from victims that paperwork is lost or hard to find. The branches have inconsistent policies as to how long and where sex crimes records are kept, which can lead to a bureaucratic mess for victims later seeking them.

44 New study tells students the worth of their majors

By KATHY MATHESON, Associated Press

Tue May 24, 12:02 am ET

PHILADELPHIA – The choice of undergraduate major in college is strongly tied to a student’s future earnings, with the highest-paying majors providing salaries of about 300 percent more than the lowest-paying, according to a study released Tuesday.

Based on first-of-its-kind Census data, the report by Georgetown University in Washington also found that majors are highly segregated by race and gender.

College graduates overall make 84 percent more over a lifetime than those with only high school diplomas, the study said. But further analysis of 171 majors shows that various undergraduate majors can lead to significantly different median wages.

2 comments

  1. ek hornbeck
  2. TMC

    MSNBC is following the live coverage of large violent EF-4 tornadoes touching down in Oklahoma. It is about 1/2 mile wife headed for densely populated areas near Oklahoma City

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