Evening Edition is an Open Thread
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1 Pakistan regains control with 95 dead in Karachi
By Hasan Mansoor, AFP
5 hrs ago
|Pakistan announced on Saturday its troops had taken back areas of Karachi occupied by armed groups and arrested more than 100 people after political violence across the vast port city claimed 95 lives.
Four days of unrest has been blamed on political and ethnic tensions, with gunmen firing on two buses in the early hours of Friday, killing 12 people including a six-year-old girl, according to security officials.
“Our paramilitary soldiers have secured the troubled localities and hills where armed terrorists were firing on innocent people, and have restored normal life,” interior minister Rehman Malik told reporters.
2 Strategic defeat of Al-Qaeda ‘within reach’: Panetta
By Mathieu Rabechault, AFP
1 hr 2 mins ago
|The “strategic defeat” of Al-Qaeda is “within reach”, Leon Panetta said Saturday, as he arrived on a surprise first visit to Afghanistan in his new role as United States defense secretary.
Former CIA chief Panetta, who took office on July 1 to replace Robert Gates, arrived in Kabul for a trip including talks with President Hamid Karzai over the transition of some NATO-held areas to Afghan control starting in mid-July.
US President Barack Obama has announced that 10,000 US forces will leave Afghanistan this year and another 23,000 by the end of September in 2012, ahead of a full withdrawal of foreign forces in 2014.
3 IMF releases new funds for Greece bailout
By Paul Handley, AFP
17 hrs ago
|The International Monetary Fund said it was releasing 3.2 billion euros ($4.6 billion) to Greece but warned there was “no margin for slippage” in the country’s reform program.
The funds, part of the 110 billion euro joint bailout with the European Union for the debt-stricken country, came as Europe’s leaders and banks struggle to achieve an ostensibly voluntary restructuring of the country’s debt to relieve pressure on Athens and avert a forced default.
The IMF said Greece was making “some progress” to get back on a sustainable fiscal path, but stressed the government had to press ahead on reforms required under the IMF-EU program.
4 US unemployment rises on stagnant job creation
By Paul Handley, AFP
17 hrs ago
|US unemployment climbed to 9.2 percent as job creation stalled in June, official figures showed, posing new challenges to the Obama administration’s efforts to rev up economic growth.
A much-awaited Labor Department report showed a second month in a row of virtually no improvement, jobs-wise. The economy generated a paltry net 18,000 positions in June, after just 25,000 in May.
The data, which showed 14.1 million Americans still jobless two years after the 2008-2009 recession ended, was uniformly seen as bad news for the government of President Barack Obama as Republican opponents challenge his economic record heading into elections next year.
5 Atlantis heads to space station on final flight
By Chip Somodevilla, AFP
3 hrs ago
|Atlantis headed to the International Space Station Saturday after rocketing off its launch pad for a final time, marking the last liftoff of the US space shuttle program.
The space shuttle, which lifted off shortly before noon Friday local time, is carrying a crew of four US astronauts on a 12-day mission to re-stock the orbiting lab.
On Saturday the Atlantis crew inspected the craft’s thermal protection system, the outer barrier that protects it from the searing heat upon re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, in preparation for Sunday’s docking at the orbiting ISS.
6 France beat England to reach World Cup semi-finals
By Emmeline Moore, AFP
41 mins ago
|France advanced to their first ever Women’s World Cup semi-finals on Saturday with a dramatic 4-3 win on penalties against England.
Player of the match Camille Abily missed France’s first penalty but Claire Rafferty and Faye White then failed to net England’s last two to send Les Bleus through to a final four showdown with either Brazil or the United States
Despite France dominating for most of the game Jill Scott had put England ahead after 59 minutes before Elise Bussaglia equalised two minutes from time.
7 Webber takes pole for British GP
By Josh Collings, AFP
6 hrs ago
|A happy but grimly-determined Mark Webber on Saturday grabbed pole for the British Grand Prix and then declared the technical row that had overshadowed the weekend was ‘nonsense’.
The 34-year-old Australian, known as one of the few straight-talking men in Formula One, made clear that he was dismayed at the series of rows, rule changes and u-turns over the sport’s regulations for engines and exhausts.
“We don’t understand it all and I am sure only 0.1 per cent of the fans understand it – and we are here to go racing,” said Webber.
8 Over 1,400 arrested, tear gas fired in Malaysia protest
By Niluksi Koswanage and Razak Ahmad, Reuters
3 hrs ago
|KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian police fired repeated rounds of tear gas and detained over 1,400 people in the capital on Saturday as thousands of activists evaded roadblocks and barbed wire to hold a street protest against Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government.
At least a dozen people were hurt in the demonstration for electoral reform in downtown Kuala Lumpur. There were no reports of serious injuries but some analysts said the police action was excessive and would dent Najib’s image.
“We are not criminals, we are just asking for free and fair elections,” opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter, Nurul Izzah Anwar, told reporters after her father was knocked down and hurt in a melee when he and his supporters were tear gassed.
9 Relatives boycott Yemen shooting trial: lawyer
By Mohammed Ghobari and Mohammed Mukhashaf, Reuters
1 hr 48 mins ago
|SANAA/ADEN (Reuters) – Victims’ families boycotted the start of the trial in Sanaa on Saturday of 78 people accused of killing 53 protesters at a rally demanding that the Yemeni president stand down, a lawyer for the families said.
Only 27 defendants were in court for the closed session, none of the leading suspects were present, and the victims’ relatives were boycotting the trial because they believed it was “laundering” the shootings, lawyer Abdul Rahman Berman told Reuters.
Hours before the trial began, the Yemeni embassy in Washington issued a statement saying that al Qaeda militants were stepping up their military operations in the south of the country, taking advantage of the lack of security.
10 Independent South Sudan "free at last"
By Alexander Dziadosz and Jeremy Clarke, Reuters
1 hr 27 mins ago
|JUBA (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of South Sudanese danced and cheered as their new nation declared independence on Saturday, a hard-won separation from the north that still leaves simmering issues of disputed borders and oil payments unresolved.
The president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, stood next to his old civil war foe the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who now leads just the north, at a ceremony to mark the birth of the new nation.
Under-developed, oil-producing South Sudan won its independence in a January referendum — the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of fighting with the north.
11 Rebels face heavy attack as Gaddafi strikes back
By Nick Carey and Peter Graff, Reuters
2 hrs 48 mins ago
|DAFNIYA/AL-QAWALISH, Libya (Reuters) – Rebel fighters in western Libya faced sustained artillery and rocket bombardment by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi for the fifth straight day on Saturday.
The attacks came after the Libyan leader staged shows of support in key cities in his area of control and threatened to strike his enemies at home and abroad.
Rebels in Misrata said the death toll in the coastal town had risen to seven from six, with at least 17 wounded, after a heavy attack by Gaddafi artillery the day before.
12 Pakistan army says New York Times report is a "direct attack"
By Sheree Sardar, Reuters
2 hrs 33 mins ago
|RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (Reuters) – Reports in the New York Times criticizing the Pakistan army and the powerful intelligence agency is a “direct attack” on Pakistan’s security, the army spokesman said on Saturday.
Major General Athar Abbas, the Pakistan army’s chief spokesman, repeatedly criticized the Times’ reporting and said it was part of a calculated plan by “unnamed officials” to “weaken the state.”
“This is a direct attack on our security organization and intelligence agencies,” he told Reuters in a rare on-the-record in-person interview. “We consider ISI as a strategic intelligence organization, the first line of our defense.”
13 Afghan insurgent attacks dip for first time: Petraeus
By Phil Stewart, Reuters
3 hrs ago
|KABUL (Reuters) – Insurgent attacks against Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan have started to decline on an annual basis for the first time in up to five years, defying predictions by intelligence analysts, General David Petraeus said on Saturday.
The number of insurgent attacks is one of the key measures used by the military to assess the success or failure of the nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan, the focus of a massive U.S. troop buildup which will start to come home this month.
Petraeus, who is due to step down as the top commander in Afghanistan in mid-July, said the number of attacks declined in May and June by “a few percent,” compared to the same months in 2010. July is trending in the same direction, he said.
14 Leon Panetta says al Qaeda’s defeat "within reach"
By Phil Stewart, Reuters
8 hrs ago
|KABUL (Reuters) – New U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Afghanistan on Saturday, saying he believed the strategic defeat of al Qaeda was within reach if the United States could kill or capture up to 20 remaining leaders of the core group and its affiliates.
Panetta, on his first trip since taking over the Pentagon on July 1, told reporters before arriving in Kabul that now was the time — in the wake of the May killing of Osama bin Laden — to intensify efforts to target al Qaeda’s leadership.
“We’re within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda and I’m hoping to be able to focus on that, working obviously with my prior agency as well,” said Panetta, who ran the CIA until the end of June.
15 Pressure mounts on regulator in Murdoch-BSkyB deal
By Kate Holton, Reuters
4 hrs ago
|LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s broadcasting watchdog will come under intense pressure in assessing whether directors of Rupert Murdoch’s business empire, including son James, are fit to run UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB — a decision that could have implications for Murdoch’s global operations.
Ofcom, which regulates broadcasting in Britain, has said it could consider whether directors at Murdoch’s News Corp are “fit and proper” persons to run the pay-TV operator, which News Corp wants to take over, in the wake of a scandal at one of the group’s UK newspapers.
Previously, those looking at whether Murdoch should get the go-ahead for the multi-billion dollar deal have been focused on whether it would give him too much power over Britain’s media.
16 Newsmaker: James Murdoch faces biggest test as heir to empire
By Kate Holton, Reuters
1 hr 44 mins ago
|LONDON (Reuters) – James Murdoch was not responsible for the phone hacking scandal that has engulfed his father’s media empire, but that will matter little if his handling of the case does not improve quickly.
Tipped as heir to the empire, Rupert Murdoch’s youngest son is under pressure to show he can muster his father’s political touch to contain scandal that is damning the family name and slashing by the day the value of media assets that have been in the business for decades.
So far, analysts say he has been slow to realize the enormity of the situation, or to show genuine humility over an episode in which his newspapers have been seen to harass the families of child murder victims, dead soldiers and bombing victims, all to generate stories.
17 Murdoch to fly to UK over phone-hack crisis: source
By Christina Fincher, Reuters
1 hr 32 mins ago
|LONDON (Reuters) – Rupert Murdoch was set to fly to London to tackle a scandal engulfing his media empire while journalists prepared the last edition of the best-selling Sunday paper they say he has sacrificed to protect plans to expand his television business.
Meanwhile British Prime Minister David Cameron came under pressure to speed up an inquiry into the allegations of widespread voicemail-hacking, which could jeopardize News Corp’s plan to take over the British broadcaster BSkyB.
The scandal has also brought to light allegations that journalists working for Murdoch and others paid police for information.
18 Malaysia fires tear gas at protest, arrests 1,667
By EILEEN NG, Associated Press
5 hrs ago
|KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – At least 20,000 Malaysians defied government warnings by marching for electoral reforms Saturday, as police fired tear gas and detained more than 1,600 in the country’s biggest political rally in four years.
The crackdown on the opposition-backed demonstration in Malaysia’s main city, Kuala Lumpur, triggered criticism that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s long-ruling coalition was unwilling to allow public dissent or make election laws fairer ahead of national polls widely expected by mid-2012.
Najib’s administration declared the rally illegal and warned people repeatedly over the past month to avoid it. Officials insisted it was simply an opposition scheme to spark chaos and stir anti-government sentiment, while activists accused authorities of being afraid of a protest that could undermine their authority.
19 Pakistani troops in control after Karachi violence
By ASHRAF KHAN, Associated Press
5 hrs ago
|KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) – Pakistani forces regained control Saturday over trouble spots in the nation’s largest city, where five days of political and ethnic violence killed at least 93 people and forced many to stay at home in fear, an official said.
The fighting in Karachi, a sprawling southern port city of 18 million people, has added to the political instability in this nuclear-armed, U.S.-allied nation and provided another distraction for the government as it fights a Taliban-led insurgent movement. It also undercuts the country’s struggling economy, because Karachi is its main commercial hub.
The latest spell of violence is extraordinary even by the standards of Karachi, a city that routinely witnesses more than 1,000 violent deaths a year, many of them targeted killings linked to political, ethnic and sectarian rivalries.
20 Black economic gains reversed in Great Recession
By JESSE WASHINGTON, AP National Writer
27 mins ago
|BALTIMORE (AP) – Growing up black in the segregated 1960s, Deborah Goldring slept two to a bed, got evicted from apartment after apartment, and watched her stepfather climb utility poles to turn their disconnected lights back on. Yet Goldring pulled herself out of poverty and earned a middle-class life – until the Great Recession.
First, Goldring’s husband fell ill, and they drained savings to pay for nursing homes before he died. Then Goldring lost her executive assistant job in the Baltimore hospital where she had worked for 17 years. The cruelest blow was a letter from the bank, intending to foreclose on her home of almost three decades.
Millions of Americans endured similar financial calamities in the recession. But for Goldring and many others in the black community, where unemployment has risen since the end of the recession, job loss has knocked them out of the middle class and back into poverty. Some even see a historic reversal of hard-won economic gains that took black people decades to achieve.
21 Bishops, nuns and rabbis debate gas fracking
By KEVIN BEGOS, Associated Press
1 hr 42 mins ago
|PITTSBURGH (AP) – Bishops, nuns and rabbis are joining the environmental and social debate over natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region, and many are seeking a balance that reflects their congregations.
“We have people’s lives who are being blessed or adversely affected by this,” said Bishop Thomas Bickerton of Pittsburgh, who leads more than 800 United Methodist congregations and 187,000 members in western Pennsylvania, where major drilling is taking place.
“The conversations within the church are rather lively and robust,” Bickerton said, and he thinks gas drilling “warrants some careful looking” by religious groups and public officials.
22 Panetta: US within reach of defeating al-Qaida
By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer
4 mins 26 secs ago
|KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Al-Qaida’s defeat is “within reach,” U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Saturday during his first visit to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief. He said eliminating as few as 10 of the group’s top figures could cripple its ability to strike the West.
Panetta’s assessment could stoke the debate in Washington over how soon to pull the U.S. military from the land where Osama bin Laden’s network launched the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, against the United States. Some question why a continued military commitment is necessary if al-Qaida’s end is in sight, given that it was the reason the U.S. began the war.
Although not as specific as Panetta about what it will take to break al-Qaida, the top American commander in Afghanistan said in a separate interview that he agrees the group is on the ropes.
23 UK’s News of the World bids farewell to readers
By CASSANDRA VINOGRAD, Associated Press
29 mins ago
|LONDON (AP) – Britain’s tabloid News of the World is signing off with a simple front page message: THANK YOU & GOODBYE.
After writing the obituary for their own newspaper, News of the World journalists are sending their final edition to the printing presses Saturday as Britain’s media establishment reels from the expanding phone-hacking scandal that brought down the muckraking tabloid after 168 years.
Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire owns the paper, will arrive in London on Sunday on a scheduled visit, a person familiar with his itinerary told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.