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Jun 29 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Afghan central bank chief flees to US

By Katherine Haddon, AFP

3 hrs ago

Afghanistan’s central bank governor has resigned and fled to the United States, saying his life is in danger over a corruption probe targeting influential figures connected to the government.

Abdul Qadir Fitrat said his decision to speak out in parliament about the near-collapse of Kabul Bank, the war-torn country’s largest private lender, had placed him in peril.

In April, Fitrat named high-profile people allegedly implicated in a near $1 billion scandal involving off-the-books loans at the troubled bank, which handles the pay of thousands of Afghan civil servants.

2 Top Kabul hotel under attack: police chief

By Usman Sharifi, AFP

55 mins ago

One of Kabul’s leading hotels which is popular with foreigners and government officials is under attack, the head of police criminal investigations in Kabul told AFP Tuesday.

Witnesses reported hearing two explosions and said that several gunmen had got into the high-security Intercontinental Hotel late in the evening.

“It’s an attack on the Intercontinental Hotel,” said Kabul criminal investigations chief Mohammad Zahir. “Five to six gunmen have taken shelter inside the building of the hotel.

3 Papandreou urges vote to ‘keep Greece on its feet’

By Isabel Malsang, AFP

Mon, Jun 27, 2011

Prime Minister George Papandreou begged the Greek parliament Monday to pass drastic austerity measures and keep the bankruptcy-threatened country “on its feet”, as protesters launch a 48-hour general strike.

Facing “empty coffers” within days, Papandreou used a 15-minute intervention during an emergency debate to try and keep intact his slim, five-seat majority ahead of votes on Wednesday and Thursday aimed at unlocking 12 billion euros ($17 billion) of funds from the EU and IMF.

Papandreou said lawmakers doing their “patriotic duty” would “bring to an end a period of uncertainty” for Greece, and argued that his new budgetary plan would give Greece “a fresh start towards a productive economy.”

4 France’s Lagarde first woman IMF chief

By Paul Handley, AFP

40 mins ago

France’s Christine Lagarde was named Tuesday the first-ever female chief of the IMF, faced with an immediate crisis as violent Greek protests rocked the stability of the eurozone.

The French finance minister, respected for her leadership during the financial crises that have shaken Europe over the past three years, was selected by the International Monetary Fund’s executive board to take up the five-year job from July 5.

She replaces fellow countryman Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned abruptly on May 18 after being arrested in New York for an alleged sexual assault.

5 War crimes prosecutor courts Kadhafi aides

By Imed Lamloum, AFP

6 hrs ago

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor on Tuesday urged Moamer Kadhafi’s aides to help arrest him, as the Libyan leader lashed out at an ICC warrant against him for crimes against humanity.

On the ground, rebel fighters captured an arms depot from Kadhafi forces in the desert near their mountain enclave southwest of Tripoli in a boost for their resupply, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

Human rights bodies and the West, meanwhile, hailed the ICC’s move against Kadhafi on Monday that came on the 100th day of a NATO bombing campaign.

6 Sudan warring parties sign South Kordofan accord

By Phil Moore, AFP

1 hr 9 mins ago

The Sudanese government and the northern branch of the ex-rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed on Tuesday a deal to resolve their differences in the embattled border state of South Kordofan.

Heavy fighting has raged in South Kordofan since June 5 between government forces and militia aligned to the ex-rebel army the SPLA.

“The issue of the ceasefire will be discussed (Wednesday). This agreement is a prelude to ending the hostilities … I hope it was signed in good faith,” Malik Agar, who heads the SPLM north and was one of the three signatories to the accord, told AFP.

7 Debris narrowly misses International Space Station

By Kerry Sheridan, AFP

1 hr 4 mins ago

A piece of space debris narrowly missed the International Space Station on Tuesday in a rare incident that forced the six-member crew to scramble to their rescue craft, space agency officials said.

The high-speed object hurtled toward the orbiting lab and likely missed by just 820 feet (250 meters). The crew moved to shelter inside two Soyuz spacecraft 18 minutes before it was expected to pass, NASA said.

The size of the space junk remains “undetermined,” said NASA spokeswoman Stephanie Schierholz, and no harm was done by its fly-by.

8 French woman sues Opus Dei, claims brainwashing

By Dorothee Moisan, AFP

3 hrs ago

A French woman claiming to have been brainwashed by the secretive Catholic society Opus Dei is suing it for allegedly keeping her illegally as a domestic servant, she told AFP Tuesday.

Catherine T., who asked not to be identified by her family name, said she joined a hoteliers’ school in northeastern France in 1985, aged 14, which she later discovered was run by associates of Opus Dei.

She said she was forced to take vows and made to work as a domestic servant for virtually no pay.

9 White House hopeful Bachmann in serial killer miscue

By Emmanuel Parisse, AFP

Mon, Jun 27, 2011

Republican Representative Michele Bachmann surely meant to invoke iconic Hollywood star John Wayne as she launched her White House bid Monday — not “Killer Clown” serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Speaking to Fox News Channel from this heartland town, where she was born, Bachmann said that “what I want them (voters) to know is just like, John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.”

But the late leading man — known for Westerns like “Stagecoach,” “The Searchers,” and “True Grit,” as well as his support of conservative political causes — was born in Winterset, Iowa, a few hours’ drive from Waterloo.

10 Iowans fear waning role in presidential politics

By Hieu Pham, AFP

Mon, Jun 27, 2011

The pageantry of Michele Bachmann’s presidential bid launch in Iowa Monday underscores the farm state’s status as the nation’s first nominating caucus.

But most Republicans vying for their party’s nomination have not been making the usual pilgrimages to the heartland, causing speculation about the state’s role in future elections.

Winning over Iowa’s informed voters has been considered critical during primary seasons and helped propel then-senator Barack Obama from a relative unknown to the White House.

11 French opposition leader Aubry declares election bid

By Roland Lloyd Parry, AFP

21 hrs ago

The leader of France’s opposition Socialists, Martine Aubry, on Tuesday formally announced her bid to challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s presidential election.

“We know that France is going through a difficult time, but I am resolved to fight with all my strength to give her a future again,” she told a gathering of supporters in the northern town of Lille, where she is mayor.

She vowed “to restore our country and to unite it in justice,” in a speech that drew loud applause from her supporters.

12 Saleh to speak on TV as UN launches Yemen mission

By Jamal al-Jaberi, AFP

Mon, Jun 27, 2011

President Ali Abdullah Saleh is to speak on television within days to reassure Yemenis on his health, three weeks after being hospitalised in Riyadh with bomb blast wounds, a senior official said on Tuesday.

A United Nations mission, meanwhile, started a 10-day visit to examine the human rights situation in Yemen after five months of street protests against Saleh and deadly clashes with security forces.

“A team from Yemeni television headed to Riyadh on Monday to carry out an interview with the president, expected to be aired after Thursday,” the deputy information minister, Abdo al-Janadi, told AFP.

13 TEPCO meets wrath of shareholders

By Shingo Ito, AFP

21 hrs ago

Angry TEPCO shareholders on Tuesday slammed the company for its handling of the nation’s worst ever atomic accident after the March quake-tsunami, amid calls for the firm to abandon nuclear power.

About 100 police officers were deployed around the Prince Park Tower Hotel where Tokyo Electric Power Co. held its first shareholder meeting since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami battered its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

TEPCO shares have lost around 85 percent of their value since a raging wall of water crippled cooling systems at the facility, with three reactors suffering meltdowns and the plant spewing radiation into the environment.

14 Evacuations as fire threatens top US lab

By Paul Buck, AFP

20 hrs ago

The top US Los Alamos research lab was ordered to stay closed Tuesday after flames reached it and the local town began evacuating, although all high-risk materials were safe, officials have said.

The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) said there had been “no off-site releases of contamination” after a one-acre blaze on the southwestern edge of the research complex northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

An emergency operations unit remains working at the high-security site, founded during World War II when it began developing nuclear weapons technology, and which nowadays employs some 11,800 people.

15 Police officers on trial for post-Katrina killings

By Jordan Flaherty, AFP

Mon, Jun 27, 2011

Five New Orleans police officers indiscriminately shot unarmed residents during the chaos unleashed by Hurricane Katrina and got colleagues to help cover up the crime, prosecutors have said.

“Shoot first, and ask questions later,” federal prosecutor Bobbi Bernstein said during opening arguments of a high-profile trial of the officers. “That’s how this whole case got started.”

Bernstein described a “seemingly endless barrage of gunshots” that left two people dead and four badly wounded in a wide-ranging conspiracy that lasted almost four years.

16 Firebrand Bachmann launches White House bid

By Emmanuel Parisse, AFP

Mon, Jun 27, 2011

Firebrand Republican Representative Michele Bachmann formally launched a bid for the White House, warning that the United States “cannot afford” to reelect President Barack Obama.

“America is at a crucial moment,” Bachmann, a darling of the archconservative “Tea Party” movement and of Christian conservatives, declared in a speech to some 200 cheering supporters in the key heartland state of Iowa.

“We can’t afford four more years of failed leadership here at home and abroad,” the outspoken lawmaker from Minnesota said here in the town where she was born. “We cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama.”

17 Obama dives into debt talks

By Stephen Collinson, AFP

19 hrs ago

The White House accused Republicans of siding with billionaires and private jet owners, as President Barack Obama waded into political talks designed to avert a “calamitous” US debt default.

Obama met the top Democrat in the Senate and his minority Republican counterpart, seeking to unpick a deadlock over his call on lawmakers to lift the $14.29 trillion debt ceiling by an August 2 deadline.

As political tensions rose, the White House warned of “calamitous” consequences to the global economy if the talks do not seal an agreement and Washington is forced into default and runs out of money to pay its bills.

18 Dodgers file for bankruptcy protection

By Jed Jacobsohn, AFP

17 hrs ago

Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection Monday in an effort to restructure its debt, court documents showed.

The petition was filed in Delaware by the Los Angeles Dodgers Holding Company under Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy code.

It lists debts to current and former players including retired star Manny Ramirez, who is owed more than $20 million.

19 ‘Do Life’ urges Americans to turn things around

By Rachel Karas, AFP

14 hrs ago

Can a blog by an overweight, depressed American introvert who reinvented himself as an Ironman and public speaker start a grassroots campaign that leads to lasting lifestyle changes in a country known for excess?

The latest test, on June 22, gathered nearly 75 strangers in Washington, D.C. who finished an unofficial 5K (five-kilometer) race around the US capital’s National Mall park.

And this was no ordinary congregation — among the participants, they have lost a collective 1,350 pounds, quit smoking, changed careers, removed themselves from debt and ended drug and alcohol addictions.

20 Asian ‘megapest’ is chomping up US orchards

By Kerry Sheridan, AFP

14 hrs ago

A stink bug from Asia is chomping up US vegetable fields, orchards and vineyards, causing experts to scramble through an arsenal of weapons to try and halt this stealthy, smelly predator.

Pesticides, parasites and traps have all been tried but none have succeeded in killing off the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys, which first surfaced in the northeastern United States in 1996 and has since spread to 33 of the 50 states.

After having tried just about everything, farmer Bob Black said he sometimes resorts to a known weapon — his fist.

21 Ageing Singapore prepares for grey future

By Simin Wang, AFP

Tue, Jun 28, 2011

Leong Liu Kie is a 71-year-old Singaporean nurse — but she is a youngster compared to some of her patients.

In a country with a rapidly ageing population, Leong looks after residents at the Moral Home for the Aged Sick — one of them is 101 years old — and is on call 24 hours a day as the charity’s nursing director.

From holding patients’ hands to whispering words of comfort, Leong is the human face of a growth industry linked to the greying of the city-state.

22 Japan PM under fresh pressure to resign

By Shigemi Sato, AFP

Tue, Jun 28, 2011

Japan’s embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday came under fresh pressure to resign after he set conditions for his departure and shuffled government posts in response to the March disasters.

Kan’s actions on Monday were even criticised by his own ministers and party after picking for his cabinet a lawmaker from the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) without consulting either party leadership.

Newspaper editorials blasted Kan’s moves as confusing, ineffective or a self-serving bid to prolong his time in office, four weeks after he survived a no-confidence motion by promising to step down at an unspecified date.

23 Army hunts northern Nigeria bombers

By Aminu Abubakar, AFP

Tue, Jun 28, 2011

Security forces tightened their grip on restive northern Nigeria Tuesday as they hunted for the perpetrators of a spate of bombings that has left at least 30 people dead in just two days, including two girls.

In the latest attack, two girls were killed and three customs officers wounded in the northeastern city of Maiduguri on Monday, according to army officials, although residents and witnesses put the death toll at about a dozen.

A day earlier, suspected Islamist extremists tossed bombs and fired on a crowded beer garden in the same city, killing 25 people.

24 ‘World economy at stake’ in Greek austerity vote

By Laurent Thomet, AFP

6 hrs ago

Europe ramped up pressure on the Greek parliament Tuesday to approve drastic austerity measures, warning that it would otherwise face a swift debt default that would rock the world economy.

As Greek police clashed with protesters ahead of this week’s vote, Brussels told Greece that no “Plan B” would be waiting if it failed to pass the measures demanded by creditors in return for loans needed to keep Athens afloat.

“There are decisive moments and the coming hours will be decisive, crucial for the Greek people, but also for the eurozone and the stability of the world economy,” EU president Herman Van Rompuy told the European parliament.

25 Turkish parliament opens amid opposition boycott

By Sibel Utku Bila, AFP

Tue, Jun 28, 2011

Turkey’s new parliament opened in a tense atmosphere Tuesday as the main opposition party and Kurdish deputies boycotted the ceremony in protest over lawmakers kept in prison.

It was hardly the start Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would have hoped for after winning a third straight term in power in June 12 elections and promising to reconcile with the opposition for a constitutional overhaul, his key election pledge.

Shortly before parliament convened for oath-taking, the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced its members would shun the ceremony, following a boycott decision announced by Kurdish-backed lawmakers last week.

26 Pawlenty assails Obama, isolationist Republicans

By Stan Honda, AFP

Tue, Jun 28, 2011

White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday that President Barack Obama has mishandled the “Arab Spring” democracy movements, while assailing some of his fellow Republicans for being too “isolationist.”

In an address billed by aides as a major foreign policy speech, the former Minnesota governor highlighted what he called “the opportunities and the dangers we face today in the Middle East,” and charged that Obama’s policies have “failed” to bring the region closer to peace.

The president “has been timid, slow, and too often without a clear understanding of our interests or a clear commitment to our principles,” Pawlenty told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

27 Spanish PM gives final ‘state of the nation’ address

By Daniel Silva, AFP

6 hrs ago

Spain’s prime minister delivered his final state of the nation address on Tuesday, vowing to crack down on debt and battle an economic crisis that has unleashed mass protests.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who will not stand in general elections due in March 2012, said he would curb spending by powerful regions, whose debts are a major concern on financial markets.

Madrid will propose a cap on regional budgets next month, so as to “guarantee fiscal sustainability in the mid term,” the prime minister told parliament.

28 Microsoft takes Office into the ‘cloud’

By Charlotte Raab, AFP

5 hrs ago

Microsoft took its Office software into the Internet “cloud” on Tuesday, moving the suite of popular business tools online amid budding competition from Google’s Web-based products.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer presided over an event here for the global launch of Office 365, which the US software giant released in beta, or test, mode in October.

Ballmer said Office 365 is “where Microsoft Office meets the cloud” and is designed for “any business of any size.”

29 Consumers spending less, forcing shops to shut: data

By Ben Perry, AFP

5 hrs ago

Consumers are cutting back amid weak economic recovery, official data showed on Tuesday, forcing many retailers such as chocolatier Thorntons to shut shops in the face of melting demand.

The economy expanded by only a modest 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2011, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement, leaving economic activity broadly flat over the past six months.

The final estimate for gross domestic product (GDP) between January and March, and which compared with the fourth quarter of 2010, was unrevised from two earlier forecasts.

30 American sport mired in misery

By Jim Slater, AFP

4 hrs ago

These are the times that try the souls of American sports fans. NFL owners and players are mired in a lockout approaching its fourth month over how to divide $9.3 billion in annual revenue, the first shutdown since 1987 jeopardizing the September start of the 2011 campaign.

The NBA appears poised to follow the gridiron stars off the cliff into an owner-player deadlock, with the collective bargaining agreement set to expire on Thursday.

And that’s after German star Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas to a title over a Miami team with US standouts LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

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