Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Serbia arrests wartime military chief Mladic

by Stephanie van den Berg, AFP

2 hrs 38 mins ago

BELGRADE (AFP) – Serbia on Thursday arrested Europe’s most wanted man, former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, ending a 16-year manhunt for the general accused of masterminding the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

President Boris Tadic said the 69-year-old had been detained by Serbian security forces, and predicted that the capture would foster reconciliation within the war-torn Balkans.

“Today, early in the morning, we arrested Ratko Mladic,” he told reporters.


2 Arrest of war crimes suspect Mladic: Live report


38 mins ago

19:25 GMT: Following the suspension of Mladic’s hearing before the Serbian investigative judge because he was unable to answer questions, AFP is closing down the Live Report for Thursday.

One of the most wanted men in the world, Mladic was arrested in a relative’s home in the hamlet of Lazarevo, a village around 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Belgrade, close to the Romanian border.

He was handed over to the Serbian special war crimes court, which will process his extradiction to The Hague for trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

3 Suicide car bomb kills 32 in Pakistan

by S.H. Khan, AFP

18 mins ago

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AFP) – A Taliban suicide car bomb struck Pakistani police for a second day Thursday, killing 32 people as the militia vowed no reprieve in their quest to avenge the US killing of Osama bin Laden.

The attack defied the government’s authorisation of “all means” to wipe out militants, which nonetheless stopped short of unveiling specific new measures despite a string of humiliating Taliban attacks on security forces.

As Pakistan grapples with the fallout from the US Special Forces raid that killed the Al-Qaeda chief on May 2, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States had “expectations” of its troubled ally.

4 Seven NATO troops killed in Afghan blasts

by Katherine Haddon, AFP

2 hrs 34 mins ago

KABUL (AFP) – Seven soldiers from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were killed in a bombing in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, the military said.

“Seven International Security Assistance Force service members died following an improvised explosive device attack in southern Afghanistan today,” ISAF said in a statement.

It did not say which country they were from, where they were killed or give further details of the incident, in line with policy.

5 Fighting grips Yemeni capital as Saleh orders arrests

by Jamal al-Jaberi, AFP

37 mins ago

SANAA (AFP) – Security forces in the Yemeni capital battled heavily armed supporters of the country’s most powerful tribal leader on Thursday as President Ali Abdullah Saleh ordered the tribesman’s arrest.

The leader, Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, in turn accused Saleh of dragging Yemen into civil war, speaking after hours of clashes late on Wednesday and overnight in which at least 24 people were killed.

Meanwhile a website linked to the defence ministry said 28 more people died when an explosion ripped through an ammunition store belonging to the al-Ahmar tribal opposition.

6 Arab Spring, nuclear safety, occupy G8 chiefs

by Dave Clark, AFP

1 hr 47 mins ago

DEAUVILLE, France (AFP) – The leaders of the world’s great industrial powers met on Thursday to show solidarity with Arab peoples fighting for democracy and with Japan’s battle to recover from nuclear disaster.

President Nicolas Sarkozy of France welcomed the chiefs of the Group of Eight most developed nations to the windswept Normandy resort of Deauville for two days of talks on the world’s great diplomatic and economic challenges.

According to a draft version of their planned declaration, seen by AFP, the presidents and prime ministers were to call for an end to violent repression in Libya and Syria and for immediate Israel-Palestinian peace talks.

7 Lagarde plans IMF charm trip to woo China, Brazil

by Bryan McManus, AFP

Thu May 26, 1:03 pm ET

PARIS (AFP) – French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is planning a charm offensive to convince emerging economic powers like China and Brazil that another European should head the IMF, sources said Thursday.

Lagarde, one of two declared candidates for the IMF job vacated by the disgraced Dominqiue Strauss-Kahn, “could go in the coming days to China and Brazil,” said one source in Lagarde’s entourage.

Details had yet to be agreed, the source added.

8 US hides hand as IMF race heats up

by Veronica Smith, AFP

Thu May 26, 5:44 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States was tightlipped about its pick for the next head of the International Monetary Fund after Europe threw its support behind France’s finance minister, Christine Lagarde.

As the biggest IMF shareholder, the US could cement Lagarde in the powerful global finance post if it joins forces with the seven European IMF directors on the IMF board.

Yet, after Lagarde officially launched her candidacy in Paris Wednesday, and Jose Manuel Barroso, head of the European Commission, declared his support, the United States took the quiet tack.


9 Ratko Mladic to face war-crimes trial

By Aleksandar Vasovic, Reuters

50 mins ago

BELGRADE (Reuters) – Bosnian Serb wartime general Ratko Mladic was arrested in Serbia on Thursday after 15 years on the run from international genocide charges, opening the way for the once-pariah state to approach the European mainstream.

Mladic, accused of orchestrating the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica and a brutal 43-month siege of Sarajevo during Bosnia’s 1992-5 war, was found in a farmhouse owned by a cousin, a police official said.

“Mladic was handcuffed and whisked away,” said the official, who added that he had been cooperative. The once burly and widely feared general was not disguised but had false identity papers and looked haggard and much older, he said.

10 Forty killed in Yemen fighting as civil war looms

By Samia Nakhoul and Mohammed Ghobari, Reuters

Thu May 26, 1:27 pm ET

SANAA (Reuters) – More than 40 Yemenis were killed in pitched street battles in the capital on Thursday as fighting aimed at ending President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s three-decade-long rule threatened to ignite civil war.

Residents were hurriedly strapping furniture, stoves, baby cots and other possessions to the roofs of cars and trucks and streaming out of Sanaa by the thousands, hoping to escape the violence that has killed more than 80 people since Monday.

The fighting, pitting the security forces of President Ali Abdullah Saleh against members of the country’s most powerful Hashed tribe led by Sadiq al-Ahmar, was the bloodiest Yemen has seen since protests began in January.

11 Judge voids controversial Wisconsin union law

By Jeff Mayers, Reuters

1 hr 30 mins ago

MADISON, Wisconsin (Reuters) – A Wisconsin judge on Thursday voided a controversial Republican-backed law restricting the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions in the state.

Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi, who was appointed by a Republican governor, said Republican state lawmakers who passed the law in March had violated the state’s open meetings law in rushing the legislation through amid massive public protests at the state Capitol.

But the ruling will not end the bitter battle over the measure, which also sent 14 state Senators into hiding in neighboring Illinois to prevent a caucus and later sparked the largest wave of legislator recall votes in state history.

12 Consumers hold back growth, rebound seen muted

By Lucia Mutikani, Reuters

1 hr 22 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Unexpectedly weak consumer spending hobbled the economy in the first quarter and fresh signs of a slowdown in the labor market pointed to an uphill struggle for the recovery.

The economy grew at an annual 1.8 percent rate in the first three months of this year, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, unchanged from an earlier estimate and weaker than most forecasts.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by 10,000 to 424,000.

13 Sarkozy backs Lagarde for IMF, China urges open race

By Catherine Bremer and Chris Buckley, Reuters

2 hrs 39 mins ago

DEAUVILLE/BEIJING (Reuters) – Beijing dug its heels in against Western domination of the International Monetary Fund on Thursday as French frontrunner Christine Lagarde prepared to build on her headstart in the race for the top IMF job.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, hosting talks with leaders from the G8 industrialized powers, said his country’s candidate was “a woman of very great qualities” and regarded by many as a good person to run the world’s primary rescue lender.

“We think it would be appropriate that the director of the IMF be a European,” he said. “Everybody thinks that Christine Lagarde is a woman of very great qualities,” he said.

14 China urges "democratic consultation" over IMF head

By Chris Buckley and Zhou Xin, Reuters

Thu May 26, 3:13 am ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – China urged on Thursday “democratic consultation” over who should lead the International Monetary Fund, leaving room for wrangling over French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde’s candidacy.

The comments suggested that it expects at least some negotiation over who should replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the helm of the IMF, even if Beijing ultimately avoids a destabilizing fight and backs Lagarde.

The French government said on Tuesday that China was supporting Lagarde’s candidacy, although just hours later China joined Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa in decrying the IMF practice of always appointing a European to head the agency.

15 G8 highlights euro debt risk to world economy

By John Irish and Yoko Kubota, Reuters

33 mins ago

DEAUVILLE, France (Reuters) – The Group of Eight leaders raised the alarm on Thursday about government debts weighing down the world economy but pledged at a meeting in France to find funds to help new Arab democracies.

As another Arab state, Yemen, appeared headed for civil war, leaders of the G8 — the seven Western powers, plus Russia — called on its president to join those of Egypt and Tunisia in stepping down.

A draft of Friday’s final summit communique also contained strong censure of the Syrian and Libyan leaders.

16 Democrats press advantage on benefit cuts

By Andy Sullivan and Thomas Ferraro, Reuters

Wed May 25, 6:59 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Democrats on Wednesday defeated a Republican plan to scale back health benefits for future retirees and forced their opponents to take a stand on the unpopular proposal.

Pressing their advantage after winning an election to fill an open congressional seat in New York state, Democrats in the Senate staged a vote on the Republican budget plan, which would save trillions of dollars in coming decades by privatizing the Medicare health program for the elderly.

The measure failed, as expected, by a vote of 40 to 57 as five Republicans broke ranks to oppose it.

17 Republicans stick to plan to privatize Medicare

By Thomas Ferraro and Donna Smith, Reuters

Wed May 25, 5:43 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans on Wednesday stuck by their plan to privatize the Medicare federal health insurance program for the elderly despite a rebuke from voters in a special congressional election in New York state.

“We can no longer let politicians in Washington deny the danger to Medicare — the danger is all too real, and the health of our nation’s seniors is far too important,” Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, said in an Internet video.

Democrats on Tuesday won a vacant House seat in a district in upstate New York, a traditional Republican stronghold, by turning the special election into a referendum on the plan pushed by Ryan to privatize Medicare.

18 Democrats see Medicare as potent campaign weapon

By John Whitesides, Reuters

Wed May 25, 2:40 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An upset Democratic win in a congressional election in New York showed the power of Medicare as a campaign issue, giving the party new hope and a possible blueprint for reversing last year’s heavy losses in 2012.

Republicans cautioned against reading too much into Democrat Kathy Hochul’s victory in a conservative upstate House of Representatives district, as a self-described Tea Party candidate siphoned off Republican support.

But for the first time since their landslide loss in 2010, Democrats were optimistic on Wednesday about the outlook for 2012 when control of the White House and both chambers of Congress will be up for grabs.


19 Mladic hauled into courtroom after 16-year hunt

By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Associated Press

32 mins ago

BELGRADE, Serbia – Sixteen years after the bull-necked military commander went on the run, a pale and shrunken Ratko Mladic was hauled into a courtroom Thursday to face charges of genocide in ordering torture, rape and the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in 1995.

A Serbian government that has changed mightily since Mladic’s alleged atrocities trumpeted his early morning arrest as a victory for a country worthy of EU membership and Western embrace. It banned all public gatherings and raised security levels to prevent ultra-nationalists from making good on pledges to pour into the streets in protest.

Mladic was one of the world’s most wanted men, and faces charges of genocide and war crimes at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, where judge Fouad Riad said there was evidence of “unimaginable savagery.”

20 7 US troops among 9 NATO dead in Afghanistan


29 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan – Nine NATO service members were killed Thursday in Afghanistan, including seven U.S. troops among eight who died when a powerful bomb exploded in a field where they were patrolling on foot, officials said.

Two Afghan policemen also died and two others were wounded in the explosion in the mountainous Shorabak district of Kandahar province, 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the Pakistan border, said Gen. Abdul Raziq, chief of the Afghan border police in the province.

“Two months ago, we cleared this area of terrorists, but still they are active there,” Raziq said.

21 Senate clearing way to extend terror-fighting bill

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press

1 hr 27 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Over fervent but scattered objections, Congress moved Thursday to extend the government’s Patriot Act powers to search records and conduct roving wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists. The action comes a month after intelligence and military forces hunted down Osama bin Laden

Facing a midnight deadline when three terror-fighting tools would expire, the Senate struggled to find a way to stage a final vote in the face of continued resistance from a single senator, Republican freshman Rand Paul of Kentucky. Following a Senate vote, the House was expected to quickly approve the legislation for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The measure would add four years to the legal life of roving wiretaps, court-ordered searches of business records and surveillance of non-American “lone wolf” suspects without confirmed ties to terrorist groups.

22 House passes $690 billion defense bill

By DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press

1 hr 47 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The Republican-controlled House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a $690 billion defense bill that limits President Barack Obama’s authority on reducing nuclear weapons and deciding the fate of terrorist suspects.

On a 322-96 vote, the House approved the broad defense blueprint that would provide a 1.6 percent increase in military pay, fund an array of aircraft, ships and submarines and increase health care fees slightly for working-age military retirees. The bill meets the Pentagon’s request for $119 billion to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Final passage came shortly after the House narrowly rejected a measure requiring an accelerated timetable and exit strategy for withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan nearly 10 years after the conflict began.

23 Palin to embark on East Coast bus tour


30 mins ago

JUNEAU, Alaska – Sarah Palin will embark this weekend on a campaign-style bus tour along the East Coast, sending a jolt through the now-sleepy Republican presidential contest and thrusting a telegenic but divisive politician back into the nation’s spotlight.

Palin’s tour announcement is the strongest signal yet that she is considering a presidential bid, despite her failure to take traditional steps such as organizing a campaign team in early primary states. The former Alaska governor’s approval ratings have fallen across the board – including among Republicans – in recent months. But many conservatives adore her, and she has enough name recognition and charisma to shake up a GOP contest that at this point seems to be focusing on three male former governors.

Beginning Sunday, Palin plans to meet with veterans and visit historic sites that her political action committee calls key to the country’s formation, survival and growth. The tour follows reports that Palin has bought a house in Arizona and the disclosure that she’s authorized a feature-length film about her career, which could serve as a campaign centerpiece. She recently said she has “that fire in the belly” for a presidential bid.

24 Farthest-ever explosion found at edge of cosmos?

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER, Associated Press

Thu May 26, 1:28 pm ET

LONDON – A group of researchers claim they’ve found the most distant explosion ever detected, a pulse of high energy radiation sent by a disintegrating star near the very edge of the observable universe.

The stellar blast was first spotted by a NASA satellite in April 2009, but researchers announced Wednesday that they have since gathered data placing it more than 13 billion light years away – meaning that the event took place when the universe was still in its infancy.

Andrew Levan, one of the scientists behind the discovery, said this blast from the past blew open a window onto the universe’s early years, showing that massive stars were already dying within the first few hundred million years of the birth of the universe.

25 Coalition battles Grammys over category cuts


Thu May 26, 12:32 pm ET

NEW YORK – A coalition of musicians is demanding the Recording Academy restore more than 30 categories cut from the Grammy Awards, alleging the reductions unfairly target ethnic music and were done without the input of its thousands of members.

A protest was planned Thursday in Beverly Hills, California, at an academy board meeting. It is part of a campaign by those upset by last month’s decision to reduce the Grammy fields, which this year totaled 109, to 78.

Grammy President and CEO Neil Portnow said changes would be in effect for the 2012 Grammys. He urged dissenters to work with the academy, which would examine the effect of the changes for the 2013 awards.

26 Yemen clashes widen as tribes warn of ‘civil war’

By AHMED AL-HAJ, Associated Press

Thu May 26, 2:10 pm ET

SANAA, Yemen – Fighting spilled across Yemen’s capital and frightened residents fled or cowered in basements Thursday as a powerful militia alliance warned embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh to either step down or face civil war. At least 28 people were killed as the four-day death toll neared 110.

The bold ultimatum reflected the growing confidence among the opposition forces – led the Yemen’s largest tribe – that they could be gaining the upper hand against Saleh’s regime with the uprising shifting from near daily street protests to fast-moving urban combat.

But Saleh also has shown he will not go easily. He has managed to ride out swelling anti-government demonstrations for more than three months, defections of military commanders and pressure from Arab neighbors and Western powers to leave office.

27 Libyan premier says he’s ready to talk to rebels

By DIAA HADID, Associated Press

22 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya – Libya’s government pushed a cease-fire proposal Thursday and said for the first time it was prepared to speak with its rebel adversaries, signaling that months of fighting and NATO bombardment may be closer to forcing some concessions.

Even so, the government insisted Moammar Gadhafi would not relinquish power, which he has held for more than 40 years. His departure is a key demand of the United States, European leaders and the rebels, who say they will not consider halting more than three months of fighting until Gadhafi goes.

“The leader, Moammar Gadhafi, is in the heart of every Libyan. If he leaves, the entire Libyan people leave,” said Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi.

28 Missile issue a sticking point for Obama, Medvedev

By NANCY BENAC, Associated Press

23 mins ago

DEAUVILLE, France – It is no simple thing to push the “reset” button on U.S.-Russian relations.

Trying to move beyond years of inherited mistrust, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev claimed progress Thursday but achieved no breakthrough on a U.S. missile defense plan that Moscow is concerned could threaten its security.

The two leaders went out of their way to stress – four times over – that their relationship was good But Medvedev also acknowledged: “It does not mean that we’ll have common views and coinciding views on all the issues. It’s impossible.”

29 Judge voids Wisconsin collective bargaining law

By SCOTT BAUER and TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press

1 min ago

MADISON, Wis. – The fight over stripping collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin’s public workers will move into the state Supreme Court, and possibly back into the Legislature, after a judge ruled Thursday to strike down the law that passed despite massive protests that paralyzed the Capitol.

Republican backers of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal said they were confident the state Supreme Court would overturn the judge’s ruling that the law is void because lawmakers broke open meetings statutes during the approval process. She had temporarily blocked the law shortly after it passed in March.

The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments in the case on June 6. Republicans who control the Legislature also could pass the measure a second time to avoid the open meeting violations.

30 Mets owners agree to sell minority interest


Thu May 26, 12:57 pm ET

NEW YORK – The cash-strapped owners of the New York Mets agreed to sell a minority share of the team to hedge fund manager David Einhorn for $200 million, with the new partner predicting the club’s financial situation will improve.

The announcement Thursday would allow owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz to retain control of the team, which has been damaged by the Bernard Madoff scandal. The influx of money would help pay debts and cover operating expenses.

It was not clear how much of the team Einhorn will own. He emphasized his stake was a minority one and that he wouldn’t oversee the team’s payroll or budget.

31 Energy prices held back growth in first quarter


Thu May 26, 12:14 pm ET

WASHINGTON – High gasoline prices, government budget cuts and weaker-than-expected consumer spending caused the economy to grow only weakly in the first three months of the year.

The Commerce Department estimated Thursday that the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the January-March quarter. That was the same as its first estimate a month ago.

Consumer spending grew at just half the rate of the previous quarter. And a surge in imports widened the U.S. trade deficit.

32 Romney version 2012 means smaller Iowa presence

By THOMAS BEAUMONT, Associated Press

Thu May 26, 7:13 am ET

DES MOINES, Iowa – Perhaps nowhere is the difference between Mitt Romney version 2008 and version 2012 more evident than in Iowa. Back then, the would-be Republican presidential contender staked his campaign on the state’s caucuses, spending more than $7 million and hiring a small army of workers in hopes that victory here would propel him to wins in New Hampshire and beyond. He came in second, a defeat that knocked his campaign off course.

Fast forward four years.

On Friday, the former Massachusetts governor will make his first trip to Iowa this year, underscoring what aides call a more focused, disciplined approach to his second attempt at the GOP nomination.

33 BLM asked to keep wild horses safe from virus

By SCOTT SONNER, Associated Press

2 hrs 5 mins ago

RENO, Nev. – Concerned about the threat of a catastrophic outbreak of a herpes virus among wild horse herds in the West, national animal advocates on Thursday called on the federal government to keep potentially infected domestic horses away from mustangs and burros on public lands.

The Humane Society of the United States urged the Bureau of Land Management to “discourage and, if possible and appropriate, prohibit” owners of private horses from bringing animals at risk of Equine Herpes Virus-1 onto federal lands where they could have contact with wild horses.

“The potential for a catastrophic outbreak of EHV-1 among wild horse herds needs to be addressed by the BLM on an emergency basis,” Holly Hazard, the society’s chief innovations officer, wrote in a letter to BLM Director Bob Abbey.

34 High court sustains Ariz. employer sanctions law

By BOB CHRISTIE and MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

9 mins ago

PHOENIX – The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld an Arizona law that penalizes businesses for hiring workers in the country illegally, buoying the hopes of supporters of state crackdowns on illegal immigration.

They predicted the ruling would lead to many other states passing laws that require employers to use the federal E-Verify system to check that workers aren’t illegal immigrants. And some said the ruling bodes well for the prospects of a much broader and more controversial immigration law in Arizona, known as SB1070, to be found constitutional.

The state is appealing a ruling blocking that law from taking effect.

35 2 NYPD officers acquitted of rape in ’08 encounter

By JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press

19 mins ago

NEW YORK – Two police officers were acquitted Thursday of raping a drunken woman they’d been called to help, with a jury convicting them only of misdemeanor official misconduct charges in a case that pitted a stunning allegation of police abuse against the officers’ insistence that it simply didn’t happen.

Looking exhausted but relieved as they left court, Officers Franklin Mata and Kenneth Moreno said they felt vindicated by the verdict, though it could send them to jail and immediately got them fired. Moreno called it both “a lesson and a win.”

“My intentions were, from the beginning, just to help her,” Moreno said. He was accused of raping the woman, with Mata serving as a lookout; the two had returned to her apartment three times after an initial call to help her get home. Moreno, 43, said he did so to check on her, at her request, and to counsel her about drinking.

36 ‘Tornado Alley’ reactor not fully twister-proof


36 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The closest nuclear power plant to tornado-ravaged Joplin, Mo., was singled out weeks before the storm for being vulnerable to twisters.

Inspections triggered by Japan’s nuclear crisis found that some emergency equipment and storage sites at the Wolf Creek nuclear plant in southeastern Kansas might not survive a tornado.

Specifically, plant operators and federal inspectors said Wolf Creek did not secure equipment and vehicles needed to fight fires, retrieve fuel for emergency generators and resupply water to keep nuclear fuel cool as it’s being moved.

37 Economies around the world are growing more slowly

By PAUL WISEMAN, AP Economics Writer

51 mins ago

WASHINGTON – From the United States to Europe and even to booming China, the global economy is showing signs of strain.

Most major economies are expected to keep growing. But evidence is mounting that many around the world are struggling to expand as fast as they did last year.

In China, interest-rate hikes designed to reduce inflation are slowing growth. European governments are struggling with debts and squeezing budgets. Britain’s economy scarcely grew at the start of the year.

38 White House unveils plans to curb regulations

By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press

1 hr 5 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Oil spill prevention requirements will no longer apply to spilled milk. Gasoline pumps wouldn’t need devices for trapping vapor pollutants, and there would be fewer bureaucratic hurdles for doctors who want to dispense medical advice to a distant patient.

These were among hundreds of existing regulations that the Obama administration said Thursday it wants to revamp or eliminate in a government-wide effort to ease burdens on business. Overall, the drive would save hundreds of millions of dollars annually for companies, governments and individuals and eliminate millions of hours of paperwork while maintaining health and safety protections for Americans, White House officials said.

“The president believes we need to be very careful to make sure small businesses have room to grow,” said Cass Sunstein, President Barack Obama’s regulatory chief, who described the plans in a speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

39 Critics: Military should cover abortion after rape

By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

1 hr 57 mins ago

NEW YORK – Though rape is a problem of deep concern to the U.S. military, its health plan doesn’t cover abortions for victims who become pregnant – a policy that indignant critics are now pushing to change.

The campaigners include members of Congress, the American Civil Liberties Union, and veterans such as Jessica Kenyon, who says her Army career derailed after she was raped and impregnated by a fellow soldier while serving in South Korea in 2006.

Kenyon, who remembered herself as a gung-ho private hoping to advance through the ranks, said the incident led to her discharge, and she miscarried after flying back to the U.S.

40 Vt. governor signs universal health care bill

By DAVE GRAM, Associated Press

2 hrs 16 mins ago

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Vermont still has “a few challenges” ahead to meet its goal of a universal health care system this decade, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Thursday as he signed into law the bill designed to make the state the nation’s first with fully publicly funded health care.

More than 150 people, including legislators, administration officials, advocates who pushed for the bill and a handful of opponents gathered on the Statehouse steps as storm clouds threatened but gave way to humid sunshine.

“We gather here today to launch the first single-payer health care system in America, to do in Vermont what has taken too long – have a health care system that is the best in the world, that treats health care as a right and not a privilege, where health care follows the individual, isn’t required by an employer – that’s a huge jobs creator,” Shumlin said.

41 NJ plans to pull out of greenhouse gas initiative


2 hrs 29 mins ago

TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey will withdraw from a 10-state regional greenhouse gas reduction program by the end of the year, Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday, saying it hasn’t worked to combat global warming.

The decision marks a turnaround for a highly industrialized state that was an early backer of reducing greenhouse gas pollution – credentials that helped promote the leader of its environmental efforts to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“This program is not effective in reducing greenhouse gases and is unlikely to be in the future,” said Christie, a Republican. “The whole system is not working as it was intended to work. It is a failure.”

42 Report shows education choices expanding across US


Thu May 26, 12:02 am ET

When it comes to education choices – from kindergarten up through college – the decision is no longer simple.

Children don’t just attend their neighborhood public school anymore. They often choose between that and the charter school across town as the number of students enrolled in charter schools has more than tripled since 2000.

And after graduation, students are increasingly looking beyond traditional state and private schools for a higher education. For-profit colleges – offering flexible schedules but high costs and lower graduation rates – have enrolled one out of four new undergraduate students in the U.S. since 2000.

43 House GOP, Dems push to get US out of Afghanistan

By DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press

Wed May 25, 7:39 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, it’s time to end the war in Afghanistan and bring U.S. troops home, several House Republicans and Democrats demanded on Wednesday.

President Barack Obama will begin drawing down some of the 100,000 troops in Afghanistan in July, with all combat forces due out by 2014. But that timetable is unacceptable to a growing number of war-weary lawmakers, who argue that the death of the al-Qaida leader is an opportunity for the United States to recalibrate its strategy.

“The successful mission that located and killed Osama bin Laden has raised many questions about the effectiveness of America’s strategy to combat terrorism through a now 10-year-old nation-building effort in a deeply corrupt Afghanistan, especially in light of the serious fiscal challenges we face at home,” Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Peter Welch, D-Vt., wrote in a letter to colleagues on Wednesday.

44 AP sources: Army chief picked to head Joint Chiefs

By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer

Wed May 25, 6:26 pm ET

WASHINGTON – A general installed just last month as the Army’s top officer is President Barack Obama’s surprise choice to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, two people familiar with the selection process said Wednesday.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, an accomplished veteran of the Iraq war, would succeed Navy Adm. Mike Mullen as the president’s top military adviser when Mullen’s term as chairman ends Sept. 30. Dempsey would have to be confirmed by the Senate.

Two people familiar with the choice, who spoke on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced by the White House, said it is scheduled to be made public on Tuesday.


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