Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Police battle rioters as Greece adopts austerity

By Roddy Thomson, AFP

18 hrs ago

Greek lawmakers backed a stinging new austerity plan demanded by international creditors, sparking frenzied battles between masked rioters and police firing tear gas late into the night.

Lawmakers voted 155 to 138 for the hotly-disputed package on Wednesday to slash 28.4 billion euros ($40 billion) from the balance of government spending by 2015, a plan aimed at unlocking emergency finance from the EU and the IMF.

An estimated 500 to 600 hardcore youths hurled missiles, according to police, who responded with volleys of tear gas that blanketed Syntagma Square in front of the parliament and reached high floors in surrounding buildings.

2 Birmingham City owner charged with money-laundering

By Peter Brieger, AFP

19 hrs ago

Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung, a one-time hairdresser turned football tycoon, appeared in court in Hong Kong Thursday charged with money-laundering, a day after being arrested by police.

A sombre-looking Yeung, 51, declined to comment as he pushed his way through a scrum of reporters to a waiting minivan after being released on HK$7 million ($900,000) bail following a brief appearance at the magistrates court.

The millionaire, whose club was relegated from the Premier League last month, was required to surrender his passport and report regularly to police as part of his bail conditions.

3 Hundreds of thousands strike in UK pensions row

By Alice Ritchie, AFP

1 hr 0 mins ago

Hundreds of thousands of British public sector workers went on strike Thursday to defend their pensions, causing widespread disruption to schools and state-run services.

A third of English schools were closed and another third were affected, officials said, as up to 350,000 teachers, lecturers and education staff took action against plans to make them work longer and pay more into their pensions.

Tax offices, museums and job centres were also brought to a standstill as a further 100,000 civil servants walked out on the first nationwide day of strike action since the coalition government took office last year.

4 UK public sector workers strike in pensions row

By Alice Ritchie, AFP

Thu, Jun 30, 2011

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers went on strike in Britain on Thursday in protest at pension reforms, planning to disrupt schools and airports in a major challenge to the year-old government.

Four education and civil service unions have called out about 600,000 members in response to reforms they say will force workers to pay more and work longer to receive a reduced pension.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said the strike is premature as the changes were still being negotiated, and warned there was no alternative to reform because “the pension system is in danger of going broke”.

5 20 civilians killed in Afghan mine bus blast: police


33 mins ago

Twenty Afghan civilians including women and children were killed in a volatile southwestern province Thursday when a landmine exploded under a bus they were travelling in, police said.

“An IED (improvised explosive device) struck a bus, 20 civilians were killed,” said senior police figure Haji Mosa Rasooli, accusing the Taliban of being responsible for the blast.

The Islamist militants, who have been waging a near decade long insurgency against the Afghan government and foreign forces, were not immediately available for comment.

6 US Fed’s QE2 stimulus ends with a fizzle

By Alexander Osipovich, AFP

1 hr 47 mins ago

The US Federal Reserve wound up its $600-billion “QE2” program to boost the ailing economy with easy liquidity on Thursday, having generated more controversy than jobs and growth.

Without fanfare the US central bank’s New York branch paid banks $4.9 billion for US Treasury bonds in the program’s last step Thursday morning, as economists and bankers continued to argue its effect.

Critics of the Fed’s second “quantitative easing” program — hence QE2 — say it fueled surging food and fuel prices, pumped up asset bubbles in emerging economies like China and Brazil, and devalued the dollar.

7 UN peacekeepers brought cholera to Haiti: study

By Hector Retamal, AFP

1 hr 49 mins ago

UN peacekeepers from Nepal brought the strain of cholera to Haiti responsible for an epidemic that has killed 5,500 people, according to a study published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study is the first to establish a direct link between the arrival of the Nepalese UN battalion near the small town of Mirebalais and the cholera epidemic that erupted in mid-October 2010.

On Thursday in New York, UN acting deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the agency was “aware of the report and as with other prior reports, we will study its findings diligently.”

8 US Senate scraps vacation amid debt deadlock

By Olivier Knox, AFP

36 mins ago

The US Senate on Thursday scrapped its annual weeklong July 4 break as the White House warned that deadlocked talks on raising the government’s ability to borrow money had breached a “danger zone.”

As still-sour jobless claims cast fresh doubt on prospects for a US recovery, senior White House adviser David Plouffe warned that failure to raise the congressionally set US debt ceiling would have “catastrophic consequences.”

“We are in the danger zone now,” Plouffe told NBC television, amid seemingly dwindling hopes that talks between President Barack Obama and his Republican foes would yield a plan to cut the deficit while green-lighting more borrowing.

9 Cold War era scandal haunts Tchaikovsky competition


2 hrs 4 mins ago

The International Tchaikovsky Competition was due Thursday to announce winners of the world’s most prestigious classical music event amid scandal typical of its storied Cold War era past.

The quadrennial Moscow Conservatory event was plunged into scandal on its inauguration in 1958 when the grand prize went to the young US pianist Van Cliburn — a decision so stunning it had to be approved personally by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

The Soviet Union’s perception of its cultural supremacy was restored at subsequent competitions and most of the prizes have since gone to local stars.

10 Pond insect ‘loudest animal on Earth’

By Carl de Souza, AFP

Thu, Jun 30, 2011

A tiny ‘water boatman’ insect is the world’s loudest animal relative to its body size, according to a new study.

Males of the Micronecta scholtzi species serenade their sweethearts with a three-part song made by rubbing their genitalia against their abdomens, but it remains a mystery how or why the creatures make such a loud mating call.

“This insect is a few millimetres in length yet can produce sound audible from the riverside,” says the study by scientists from France and Scotland, published by the PLoS ONE scientific organisation.

11 Italian cabinet heads for hot budget cuts

By Mathieu Gorse, AFP

Thu, Jun 30, 2011

The Italian government was due to adopt an austerity programme amid high political tension and market turbulence Thursday to save about 47 billion euros ($68 billion) and reassure investors.

The plan, which still needs to be approved by parliament, is expected to include a 0.15-percent tax on financial transactions, a cut in ministers’ pay and an extension of the current freeze on public sector salaries and hiring.

Markets are keeping a close eye on the proposals amid fears of contagion to other parts of the eurozone from the sovereign debt crisis in Greece.

12 Beijing-Shanghai high-speed train makes debut

By Allison Jackson, AFP

4 hrs ago

High-speed trains linking Beijing and Shanghai made their passenger debut Thursday on a $33 billion track China hopes will help ease its overloaded transport system.

Premier Wen Jiabao declared the link “in operation” at Beijing South rail station before boarding the first sleek-nosed white train that took passengers to Shanghai, the country’s commercial hub, in less than five hours.

He said the high-speed line — launched on the eve of celebrations to mark the 90th birthday of China’s Communist party — would be key to “improving the modern transport system… and satisfying people’s travelling needs”.

13 Syria’s Aleppo braces for anti-regime protests


Thu, Jun 30, 2011

Syria’s second city Aleppo braced for a mass rally on Thursday, after a call for anti-regime protesters to “light the spark of the revolution,” as pro-democracy dissidents joined ranks at home and abroad.

Protests have been largely muted in Aleppo but a Facebook group that has been a motor of the uprising urged Syrians to march on the country’s commercial beacon to demand the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian Revolution 2011 group also called on people to rally after weekly Muslim prayers on Friday, branding July 1 “the Friday of departure” and saying in a message to Assad: “We don’t love you… Go away, you and your party.”

14 Tents pitched in Cairo’s Tahrir Square

By Jailan Zayan, AFP

6 hrs ag

Pro-democracy activists have pitched their tents once again in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Thursday to push for political reforms and to demand that officials found guilty of abuse be brought to justice.

After violent clashes in central Cairo that left over 1,000 people injured, a few dozen activists spent a calm night in the square which was the epicentre of protests that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in February.

“We will stay in the square until guilty police officers are tried,” Mossaad Shahrur told AFP.

15 Morocco heads for vote on curbing king’s powers

By Michael Mainville, AFP

10 hrs ago

Moroccan authorities pushed for a “yes” vote Thursday on the eve of a referendum on curbing the near absolute powers of King Mohammed VI, who has offered reforms in the wake of uprisings in the Arab world.

“Morrocans tomorrow have a date with history,” L’Opinion, the newspaper of Prime Minister Abbas El Fassi’s conservative Istiqlal party, wrote in a front-page editorial.

“Participate and vote tomorrow for the new constitution,” it wrote.

16 Tunisia judges’ strike postpones Ben Ali trial to July 4

By Kaouther Larbi and Mohammed Haddad, AFP

9 hrs ago

Striking judges on Thursday postponed a second trial of Tunisia’s ousted president Thursday until July 4, amid growing concern about the value of legal proceedings against him in his absence.

Judge Touhami Hafi announced the postponement of the trial against the exiled Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, on charges of illegal possessions of arms and drugs, in a statement to the court in Tunis.

Hosni Beji, one of the lawyers appointed to defend Ben Ali, told AFP he would himself have asked for the postponement to July 4.

17 Solved puzzle reveals fabled Cambodian temple

By Suy Se, AFP

Thu, Jun 30, 2011

It has taken half a century, but archaeologists in Cambodia have finally completed the renovation of an ancient Angkor temple described as the world’s largest three dimensional puzzle.

The restoration of the 11th-century Baphuon ruin is the result of decades of painstaking work, hampered by tropical rains and civil war, to take apart hundreds of thousands of sandstone blocks and piece them back together again.

“When I first saw how devastated the monument was, I never thought we would be able to put it back together,” said Cambodian restorer Ieng Te, who joined the project as a young student in 1960 and was tasked with numbering stones.

18 Japan sweats out summer in shadow of nuclear crisis

By David Watkins, AFP

12 hrs ago

Air conditioning has been switched off, office hallways are darkened and escalators have ground to a halt as a government decree to reduce power usage forces Tokyo to sweat out a hot summer.

On Friday, government-imposed limits take effect aiming to cut electricity consumption by 15 percent in the Tokyo and Tohoku regions, three months after a tsunami sent nuclear reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The power-saving drive, which for many began shortly after the huge March 11 quake and tsunami but which becomes official Friday, will last through the peak summer months to September to cut blackout risks after the loss of capacity.

19 Asia boom attracts cutting-edge architects

By Marianne Barriaux, AFP

14 hrs ago

China and other rapidly developing Asian nations are attracting cutting-edge international architects as their increasingly futuristic skylines offer the chance to push design boundaries.

French architect Paul Andreu was handed what he calls a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when Chinese authorities picked him to design an ultra-modern opera house in the centre of Beijing.

“I’m grateful towards China,” said Andreu, whose 300-million-euro ($430 million) opera house — a rounded titanium and glass structure — rises from a man-made moat next to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

20 End of the line for historic Singapore station

By Simin Wang, AFP

14 hrs ago

A historic train service from downtown Singapore to Malaysia faces its final run Thursday as part of a multibillion-dollar territorial settlement between the two neighbours.

The last train to Kuala Lumpur from Tanjong Pagar station in Singapore’s port district is set to leave before Malaysia formally cedes ownership of the facility at midnight (1600 GMT), with railway buffs and tourists on board to mark the journey.

The closure resolves a gripe among Singaporeans over Malaysia’s ownership of the station and a swathe of railway land running deep into the city-state’s territory well after the two countries separated in 1965.

21 US nominee concerned over Myanmar ASEAN chair

By Shaun Tandon, AFP

17 hrs ago

The nominee to be US pointman on Myanmar said he would seek greater global coordination to push for democracy and voiced concern that the ASEAN bloc was considering the regime as its head.

Derek Mitchell, a veteran policymaker on Asia, was nominated to be the first US coordinator for policy on Myanmar as President Barack Obama’s administration pursues an engagement drive with the country also known as Burma.

In his Senate confirmation hearing, Mitchell said he would seek “direct and candid” dialogue with Myanmar’s leaders and that the United States should “respond flexibly and with agility to opportunities as they arise.”

22 China cracking down on rights lawyers: Amnesty

By Mike Clarke, AFP

17 hrs ago

Beijing has unleashed an “uncompromising” assault on China’s legal profession, targeting human rights lawyers in an effort to head off social unrest, Amnesty International said Thursday.

The move was a bid to control rights lawyers who take on sensitive cases as fears mount that uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa could take root in the world’s most populous nation, the rights group said in a new report.

“Human rights lawyers are subject to escalating silencing tactics — from suspension or revoking of licences, to harassment, enforced disappearance or even torture,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific deputy director.

23 New Lloyds bank boss set to axe more jobs

By Adrian Dennis, AFP

17 hrs ago

The new boss of Britain’s state-rescued Lloyds Banking Group is due Thursday to axe thousands more jobs in a bid to transform its fortunes and save £1.0 billion ($1.6 billion, 1.1 billion euros) a year.

Chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio, who was parachuted into the job in March after being poached from Santander UK, is due to present a strategic review and could unveil another 15,000 jobs cuts, according to media reports.

Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), which is 41-percent state-owned after a huge bailout at the height of the global financial crisis, has already slashed 27,500 jobs since 2009, as it looks to guide its way back to health.

24 France gives Libya rebels arms but Britain balks

By Patrick Baz, AFP

Wed, Jun 29, 2011

France has acknowledged dropping arms to rebels in Libya, while NATO ally Britain is declining to follow suit over concerns about UN Security Council authorization.

The French ambassador to the United Nations Gerard Araud said Wednesday that his country’s delivery of arms to the rebels was not in breach of a Security Council resolution that established an arms embargo to Libya.

“We decided to provide self-defence weapons to the civilian populations because we considered these populations were under threat,” he told reporters.

25 Chongqing — China’s inland business capital

By Sebastien Blanc, AFP

17 hrs ago

After just a few years of explosive growth, China’s mega-city of Chongqing has emerged as a major industrial hub, thanks in part to a “Go West” policy to open up China’s less-developed inland.

The southwestern municipality, home to more than 32 million people, has been transformed by rapid urbanisation and a construction boom, with ultra-modern factories and skyscrapers galore.

The province-sized city is also becoming a major transport centre at the border of China’s prosperous East and poorer West, luring major multinationals keen to expand.

26 Cash-strapped Libya rebels call for loans

By Andrew Beatty, AFP

17 hrs ago

Libya’s cash-strapped rebels, facing a long and uncertain fight to recover assets frozen abroad, have called on foreign donors to back new loans using the blocked cash as collateral.

With no money to pay for salaries or imports, Mazen Ramadan, an economic advisor to the National Transitional Council (NTC), said a solution must be found to tap cash abroad, including the more than $30 billion frozen in the United States alone.

“This whole asset unfreezing thing is going to take a while,” he told AFP from his office in Benghazi. “We are working with a lot of people but it seems like a time consuming process, and we need the money.”

27 US refocuses on home-grown terror threat

By Mathieu Rabechault, AFP

22 hrs ago

The United States vowed Wednesday to pursue the “utter destruction” of Al-Qaeda, while refocusing its counter-terrorism strategy to combat the threat of home-grown terror.

The new strategy comes on the 10th year of the US-led “war on terror,” launched by former president George W. Bush after the deadly September 11 attacks on the United States.

It is a “pragmatic, not ideological” approach to counterterrorism that “formalizes” the administration’s approach since January 2009, said John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s top counterterrorism advisor.

28 BoA sets aside $14 billion to settle mortgage mess

By Emmanuel Dunand, AFP

Wed, Jun 29, 2011

Bank of America said Wednesday it would set aside $14 billion to settle claims from angry investors for losses on dodgy mortgage-backed securities whose collapse triggered the 2008 financial crisis.

Hoping to put its disastrous 2008 purchase of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial behind it, Bank of America said it would pay a record $8.5 billion to a group of 22 large private investment groups who invested in securities which held poorly documented or substandard home loans from Countrywide.

The other $5.5 billion was for pending liabilities to other investors not included in the settlement.

29 Moody’s warns of spillover if US downgraded

By Saul Loeb, AFP

20 hrs ago

Moody’s said Wednesday that the ratings of US government-related firms, municipal bond issuers and even private firms could be hit if the Washington defaults on debt payments in August.

The agency reiterated that if the country’s $14.29 trillion debt ceiling is not raised by August 2, the government could default on debt payments and would see its top grade Aaa debt rating erode, either with a negative warning or an outright downgrade.

It said that, in that case, government-controlled debt issuers like mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would see their ratings equally downgraded.

30 Wiggins eyes Tour de France podium place

By Justin Davis, AFP

5 hrs ago

Olympic pursuit champion Bradley Wiggins refuses to speculate on his chances of a podium place on the Tour de France, but admits he has done everything possible to make it happen.

The Englishman produced a sensational performance while racing with the American team Garmin in 2009, only missing the podium after a final burst from seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.

Having joined the all new Team Sky, big things were expected of Wiggins in 2010 only for him to finish a humbling 24th overall. As a result, he said that his 2009 result had been a “fluke”.

31 Threat of losing 2011 crown ‘ridiculous’: Contador

By Justin Davis, AFP

19 hrs ago

Tour de France champion Alberto Contador said Thursday he would find it “ridiculous” if he were to win this year’s race then be stripped of the title by the authorities.

Contador is bidding to win a fourth yellow jersey after being cleared of any wrongdoing by the Spanish cycling authorities in February despite a positive test for clenbuterol on the second rest day of last year’s race.

The Spaniard’s claim that he ingested the banned substance while eating a contaminated steak was not, however, accepted by the International Cycling Union (UCI) or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

32 Tour chief applauds fight to beat the cheats

By Justin Davis, AFP

Wed, Jun 29, 2011

Tour de France chief Christian Prudhomme has applauded efforts to weed out the cheats, even if it means unsavoury doping revelations leave a black mark on the race.

Even before this year’s Tour de France gets underway Saturday, the controversy of Alberto Contador’s positive test for clenbuterol last year is still hanging over the race.

The Spaniard, who claims he ingested the banned substance after eating a contaminated steak, has been cleared to race pending a final ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in August.

33 Cycling star Gilbert angered by ‘doping’ delivery links to team

By Peter Deconinck, AFP

21 hrs ago

Belgian cycling star Philippe Gilbert has moved to divert any suspicion of doping from within the Omega-Pharma team after a former teammate was accused of importing doping products.

Retired professional Wim Vansevenant was accused of the crime on Wednesday after it was revealed he had received a package from overseas containing thousands of dollars (euros) worth of doping products.

Vansevenant, known primarily for finishing the Tour de France as the ‘lanterne rouge’ (last place) on several occasions, was set to drive an Omega-Pharma VIP bus around the race this year.

34 ICC bans government meddling

By Frankie Taggart, AFP

Thu, Jun 30, 2011

Cricket’s governing body on Thursday banned countries from appointing politicians to national boards, vowing to free the sport from undue government influence.

The International Cricket Council, meeting in Hong Kong, said it had made the decision to uphold “the important principle of free elections and the independence” of the sport.

“It was agreed that all member boards must implement the provisions before annual conference June 2012 and a further 12 months — to June 2013 — would be allowed before any sanctions be considered,” the ICC said in a statement.


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