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Jun 23 2011

The Abbreviated Evening Edition

Due to playing in the mud (don’t ask, trust me it’s messy), the Evening Edition will brought to you by c’est moi.

Democrats call for new spending in debt deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic leaders called on Wednesday for additional spending to boost the sluggish U.S. economy, setting up a fresh hurdle for bipartisan efforts in Washington to head off a government debt default this summer.

Democrats’ demand for new stimulus spending is at odds with the work of negotiators, led by Vice President Joe Biden, who are trying to find trillions of dollars in savings as part of a deal that would allow Congress to sign off on new government borrowing before the U.S. runs out of money to pay its bills.

Obama to claim success for Afghan surge

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama will argue Wednesday his Afghan war surge forged substantial progress and a “position of strength” which allows thousands of US troops to come home, officials said.

In a primetime speech to a war-weary US public, Obama will say his decision to pour fresh US resources into Afghanistan has hammered Al-Qaeda, broken Taliban momentum and turned around a conflict that had gone sour on America.

China releases artist Ai Weiwei on bail

BEIJING (AFP) – Outspoken Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was released on bail in Beijing Wednesday nearly three months after he was detained during the government’s biggest crackdown on activists in years.

Police released him after he confessed to tax evasion and because he suffers from a “chronic disease”, the official Xinhua news agency said.

“I’m fine. I’m perfectly fine. My health is fine,” Ai told Britain’s ITV television as he returned to his home.

NATO vows to press Libya campaign over Italian reservations

TRIPOLI (AFP) – NATO vowed Wednesday to press its bombing campaign in Libya despite a call from member state Italy for a halt to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid as the civilian death toll mounts.

Alliance chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said more civilians would die if operations were not maintained under a UN mandate to protect Libyans from the exactions of the government of veteran leader Moamer Kadhafi.

Greek cabinet approves austerity budget plan: sources

ATHENS (AFP) – The Greek cabinet approved Wednesday a 2012-2015 austerity budget plan as well as laws for its implementation, a key condition for further EU-IMF help to tame a massive public debt, government sources said.

The government had committed to another round of stiff budget cuts and tax hikes in return for fresh EU-IMF cash and a new debt rescue deal.

Fed holds interest rate as US recovery limps

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Federal Reserve stayed the course on monetary policy Wednesday, citing “likely” temporary factors for the unexpectedly sluggish growth in the US economy.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) unanimously decided to hold its ultra-low interest rate, end a $600 billion bond-buying program by June 30 and continue to reinvest its principal payments from security holdings.

Bahrain court jails 8 opposition activists for life

DUBAI (AFP) – A Bahrain court sentenced eight Shiite opposition activists to life in prison Wednesday for “plotting to overthrow” the kingdom’s Sunni rulers, nearly a week ahead of a national dialogue proposed by the king.

The judgement drew an expression of concern from Washington, which stations its Fifth Fleet in the small but strategic Gulf archipelago.

North Dakota city evacuates as record flood imminent

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – The rapidly rising Souris River poured over flood defenses in Minot, North Dakota on Wednesday, overwhelming efforts to delay the deluge and forcing immediate evacuation of thousands of residents.

City officials had ordered a mandatory evacuation of a quarter of North Dakota’s fourth largest city, but the massive water flows from heavy rains in Canada hastened the evacuation by about five hours as defenses began to fail.

Sirens sound as river tops levees in N Dakota city

WASHINGTON – A new report says that the national debt is on pace to equal the annual size of the economy within a decade, levels that could provoke a European-style debt crisis unless policymakers in Washington can slam the brakes on spiraling deficits.

The Congressional Budget Office study released Wednesday offers a fresh reminder of what’s at stake in ongoing talks led by Vice President Joe Biden that are aimed at slashing more than $2 trillion from the federal deficit over the coming decade as the price for permitting the government to take on more debt to pay current obligations.

CBO: Debt crisis looms absent major policy changes

WASHINGTON – A new report says that the national debt is on pace to equal the annual size of the economy within a decade, levels that could provoke a European-style debt crisis unless policymakers in Washington can slam the brakes on spiraling deficits.

The Congressional Budget Office study released Wednesday offers a fresh reminder of what’s at stake in ongoing talks led by Vice President Joe Biden that are aimed at slashing more than $2 trillion from the federal deficit over the coming decade as the price for permitting the government to take on more debt to pay current obligations.

Government layoffs slow cities’ recoveries

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The layoffs of thousands of government workers may threaten the already slow-motion economic recovery in many U.S. metropolitan areas, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Brookings Institution.

“Job growth, though occurring in more metropolitan areas than in the past, was sluggish,” the think tank said. “Those that suffered the most, as well as those with the weakest economic recoveries, typically lost government jobs.”

NY public workers union dodges layoffs in new pact

NEW YORK (Reuters) – One of New York state’s biggest public employee unions said on Wednesday it reached a preliminary agreement with Governor Andrew Cuomo on a pact to avoid lay-offs.

Cuomo, a Democrat who closed an approximately $10 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, had threatened to lay off as many as 9,800 state workers unless they accepted $450 million of concessions. The tentative deal comes after various public workers unions held heated demonstrations around the state against crackdowns on their pay and benefits.

Now keep the millionaires tax, Andy

FEMA to supply homes to those displaced by Joplin tornado

KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to build up to 348 modular homes for people displaced by the May 22 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, a FEMA official said on Wednesday.

The three-bedroom, one-bath mobile homes will be placed as needed on city-owned land in the north part of town, said Crystal Payton, a FEMA spokesperson in Joplin.

Cuba reports more Americans visit forbidden island

HAVANA (Reuters) – The number of Americans visiting their country’s long-time foe Cuba is steadily increasing under the Obama administration, according to Cuban government figures, with the highest number in years likely in 2011.

Some 63,000 U.S. citizens visited Cuba in 2010, up from 52,500 the previous year and 41,900 in 2008, according to a report by the National Statistics Office (http://www.one.cu/aec2010/datos/15.3.xls).

Glittering: trendy new tactic for some activists

NEW YORK – Many VIPs have gotten a pie in the face from protesters: Bill Gates, for one, and years earlier, Anita Bryant. President George W. Bush dodged a shoe hurled at him. This year, for some liberal activists, the guerrilla tactic of choice is a shower of glitter tossed from close range.

So far, three Republican presidential candidates – Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann – have been targeted by the so-called glitterati, primarily because of their opposition to various gay-rights causes.

Saudi women in new driving protest

RIYADH (AFP) – Two Saudi women said they drove their cars on Wednesday in a new protest against a ban on women driving in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

Their actions came in response to a call on the Internet for women in Riyadh to get behind the wheel, after a show of defiance on Friday in which 42 women took to the road.

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