Jul 13 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Afghan president’s brother assassinated

By Mamoon Durrani, AFP

41 mins ago

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s younger half-brother, the government’s key powerbroker in the country’s south, was assassinated on Tuesday, depriving NATO of a vital if controversial ally.

Ahmed Wali Karzai was shot dead in his own home by a long-serving commander of his family’s personal protection force, said the police chief for Kandahar province, although the Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing.

The 49-year-old was a shadowy figure, dogged for years by allegations of unsavoury links to the lucrative opium trade and private security firms, but others said he brought control to an otherwise chaotic domain.

2 Murdoch summoned by British MPs over hacking

By Alice Ritchie, AFP

3 hrs ago

British lawmakers summoned Rupert Murdoch and his top executives for questioning in a dramatic new turn in the phone hacking row Tuesday, as police accused his newspapers of blocking their investigations.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown also piled pressure on Murdoch’s media empire, accusing it of hiring “criminals” to obtain his private documents and suggesting it used illegal methods to break the news of his son’s illness.

The government meanwhile said it would back a parliamentary motion by the opposition Labour party on Wednesday calling on Murdoch to drop his controversial bid for control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

3 WikiLeaks’ Assange appeals against UK extradition ruling

By Sam Reeves, AFP

2 hrs 42 mins ago

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday criticised Sweden’s bid to extradite him over rape allegations as legally flawed, as he launched an appeal against a British court ruling.

The 40-year-old Australian appeared at the High Court in London seeking to overturn a lower court’s rejection in February of defence arguments that he would have an unfair trial in Sweden.

Assange’s lawyer Ben Emmerson said the conduct described in a European arrest warrant issued by Sweden “fails to provide a fair, proper and accurate description of what is alleged against the appellant.”

4 US-Syria ties nosedive after embassy attacks

By Louai Beshara, AFP

1 hr 34 mins ago

Syria’s ties with the US and France nosedived on Tuesday, four months into a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, after pro-regime crowds attacked the embassies of the two Western states.

A regime-backed “national dialogue” on reforms, meanwhile, wrapped up a three-day meeting in Damascus with calls for the release of all political detainees.

Syria accused US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of “incitement” after she maintained Assad had lost legitimacy and the right to remain in power.

5 Last spacewalk of US shuttle era ends

By Kerry Sheridan, AFP

24 mins ago

Two US astronauts wrapped up the last spacewalk of the shuttle era Tuesday at the International Space Station, where Atlantis is docked on the final mission of the 30-year US program.

Americans Ron Garan and Mike Fossum, who were already aboard the ISS as part of the six-member international Expedition 28 crew when Atlantis arrived on Sunday, successfully completed their repair and maintenance tasks at the lab.

The main objective — of retrieving a failed ammonia pump from the orbiting outpost and placing it into the shuttle’s payload for return to Earth — was tackled early in the six hour, 31 minute spacewalk.

6 Oil, Chinese imports swell US trade gap

By Veronica Smith, AFP

1 hr 32 mins ago

The US trade deficit ballooned in May to the widest level in more than two and a half years as the world’s largest economy sucked in foreign oil and Chinese imports while exports fell.

The trade gap expanded to $50.2 billion from $43.6 billion in April, the Commerce Department said.

The higher cost of oil drove imports up 2.6 percent, while exports slipped 0.5 percent. Exports however still were at the second-highest monthly level on record.

7 British government moves to halt Murdoch Sky bid

By Kate Holton and Georgina Prodhan, Reuters

42 mins ago

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government endorsed a move in parliament to block Rupert Murdoch’s bid for broadcaster BSkyB on Tuesday, casting more doubt on his hopes to expand in television as a scandal widened over phone-hacking by one of his newspapers.

By joining a phalanx of resistance to the global media magnate that now includes all Britain’s main parties, Prime Minister David Cameron showed how far Murdoch, long feared and courted by both left and right as a kingmaker, may be damaged by outrage at the past week’s allegations of criminal journalism.

The U.S.-based media magnate, his son James and Rebekah Brooks, the News International executive and former editor at the center of the storm, were summoned to answer questions next week by a parliamentary committee which on Tuesday grilled police chiefs on failures in earlier inquiries into the affair.

8 U.S. and France step up pressure on Syria’s Assad

By Mariam Karouny, Reuters

3 hrs ago

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The United States said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had lost legitimacy and was losing his grip on power, and France called Tuesday for a Security Council meeting after Assad loyalists attacked the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus.

Denunciations of Assad from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon marked those countries’ sharpest condemnation yet of the Syrian president, struggling to put down four months of revolts that have swept the country and threatened his 11-year rule.

“From our perspective, he has lost legitimacy, he has failed to deliver on the promises he’s made, he has sought and accepted aid from the Iranians as to how to repress his own people,” Clinton said, adding Assad was “not indispensable.”

9 Europe considers Greek default, leaders to meet

By Julien Toyer and Luke Baker, Reuters

4 mins 17 secs ago

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders are poised to hold an emergency summit after finance ministers acknowledged for the first time that some form of Greek default may be needed to cut Athens’ debts and stop contagion spreading to Italy and Spain.

“There will be an extra summit this Friday,” a senior euro zone diplomat told Reuters, suggesting policymakers have been seized with a new sense of urgency after markets started targeting Italian assets.

There is now acute concern about the crisis spreading to Italy, where political tensions between Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti have exacerbated concerns, and to Spain, the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy.

10 Obama: seniors could be hurt without debt deal

By Andy Sullivan and Jeff Mason, Reuters

36 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama raised the stakes in the third straight day of budget talks on Tuesday, warning that senior citizens and veterans may suffer first if the debt ceiling is not raised by August 2.

The comments came as top Republicans toughened their stance in the deficit reduction talks.

Hours before heading to the White House, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said a “real solution” to the U.S. debt problem was unlikely while Obama was in office.

11 Analysis: Obama’s tilt right could sting in 2012

By Kim Dixon and Eric Johnson, Reuters

16 mins ago

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s tilt right in the debt talks is denting enthusiasm within the army of volunteers who propelled him to the White House, and could cut into their financial support too.

The president, who raised a record $745 million in cash during 2008 is likely to keep his perch as leading the fundraising race in 2012, though may rely on fewer small donations than last time around.

Obama starts the 2012 race as the cash leader and is seen breaking his goal of raising $60 million in the second quarter alone, dwarfing all the Republican hopefuls combined.

12 Analysis: Electronic warfare moves to frontline

By Bijoy Anandoth Koyitty, Reuters

2 hrs 12 mins ago

BANGALORE (Reuters) – As the United States draws down troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and cuts back on defense spending, its reliance on technology will only rise, benefiting a clutch of companies specializing in intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The U.S. military will need more equipment like infrared sensors, jammers and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems to counter threats to its troops, with the Obama administration planning to cut troops in Afghanistan by a third by 2012, and exit from Iraq by the end of this year.

“(The United States) will have to continue to keep an eye on what is occurring in these countries. So, we will invest in intelligence gathering equipment to complement the decrease in actual forces on ground,” Lazard Capital Markets analyst Michael Lewis said.

13 Afghan leader’s half brother gunned down in south

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press

9 mins ago

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) – The powerful half brother of President Hamid Karzai was gunned down in his heavily fortified home by a close associate Tuesday, setting off a power struggle in southern Afghanistan and raising doubts about stability in a critical area for the U.S.-led war effort.

The assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai, a wheeler-dealer and the key to his half brother’s power in the south, leaves the president without an influential ally to handle the tricky job of balancing the interests of the region’s tribal and political leaders, drug runners, insurgents and militias.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, but officials immediately cast doubt that they were involved. If they were, it could undercut the president’s own effort to talk peace with insurgents as foreign forces begin their exit.

14 Afghan president’s half brother killed in south

By MIRWAIS KHAN, Associated Press

5 hrs ago

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) – President Hamid Karzai’s half brother, the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan and a lightning rod for criticism of corruption in the government, was assassinated Tuesday by a close associate. His death leaves a dangerous power vacuum in the south just as the government has begun peace talks with insurgents ahead of a U.S. withdrawal.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the head of the Kandahar provincial council, was shot to death while receiving guests at his home in Kandahar, the capital of the province that was the birthplace of the Taliban movement and was the site of a recent U.S.-led offensive.

Tooryalai Wesa, the provincial governor of Kandahar, identified the assassin as Sardar Mohammad and said he was a close, “trustworthy” person who had gone to Wali Karzai’s house to get him to sign some papers.

15 Cameron weakened by UK phone hacking scandal

By MEERA SELVA, Associated Press

12 mins ago

LONDON (AP) – He’s looked defensive, he’s looked outraged, he’s looked scared. But recently, Prime Minister David Cameron has rarely looked like he’s in charge.

The British leader has lost his confident aura as his friendships with figures central to the tabloid hacking scandal hand his government its biggest crisis since he entered No. 10 Downing Street. Questions are mounting about whether the scandal will poison his premiership.

From the moment allegations first emerged that the News of the World had hacked into the cell phone of missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler, Cameron has been on the defensive. He has repeatedly been forced to answer questions about his ties to Andy Coulson, his former communications director and a one-time News of the World editor who was arrested last week in the scandal.

16 McConnell: Give Obama new powers on debt limit

By ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

18 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – The top Republican in the Senate proposed on Tuesday giving President Barack Obama sweeping new power to increase the nation’s debt limit to avoid a first-ever default on U.S. obligations.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered a new plan to allow the president to demand up to $2.4 trillion in new borrowing authority by the summer of next year in three separate submissions. Those increases would automatically take effect unless both the Republican House and the Democratic Senate enacted legislation disapproving them.

Obama would be able to veto such legislation, giving him power to muscle through the debt increases.

17 House Republicans: Down with squiggly light bulbs

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press

1 hr 8 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – How many government bureaucrats does it take to screw in a light bulb? A lot of House Republicans think the answer should be “none.” They say the government should just stay out of it.

To them, those newfangled curly fluorescent light bulbs are the last straw, another example of an overreaching government that’s forcing people to buy health insurance, prodding them to get more fuel-efficient cars and sticking its nose into too many places it doesn’t belong.

For most Democrats, it’s an exasperating debate that, just like the old incandescent bulbs being crowded out of the market, produces more heat than light.

18 US Rep. Ron Paul of Texas to retire from Congress

By CHRIS TOMLINSON, Associated Press

16 mins ago

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – U.S. Rep. Ron Paul said Tuesday he will concentrate on running for president and will not seek re-election to Congress, ending a 24-year career as one of the more colorful members of the House of Representatives.

The 75-year-old Republican said he will serve out his term through December 2012, whether his presidential campaign is successful or not. He told The Associated Press he has been criticized for running for Congress while seeking the presidency in the past.

Paul said the growing support for his 2012 presidential bid convinced him he should not divide his energies. He won a straw poll at the Republican Leadership Conference held in New Orleans last month.

19 Astronauts make last spacewalk of NASA shuttle era

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

23 mins ago

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – Astronauts making the last spacewalk of NASA’s space shuttle era on Tuesday retrieved a broken pump from the International Space Station and installed a fill-er-up experiment for a robot.

The space station’s two-armed robot Dextre won’t tackle the $22.6 million playset – a fancy Fisher-Price toy as one astronaut describes it – until long after Atlantis departs and the shuttle program ends.

But perhaps more than anything else on this final journey by a shuttle, the robotic demo illustrates the possibilities ahead for NASA: satellite-refueling stations in space run by robots.

20 Should parents lose custody of super obese kids?

By LINDSEY TANNER, AP Medical Writer

3 mins 38 secs ago

CHICAGO (AP) – Should parents of extremely obese children lose custody for not controlling their kids’ weight? A provocative commentary in one of the nation’s most distinguished medical journals argues yes, and its authors are joining a quiet chorus of advocates who say the government should be allowed to intervene in extreme cases.

It has happened a few times in the U.S., and the opinion piece in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association says putting children temporarily in foster care is in some cases more ethical than obesity surgery.

Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital Boston, said the point isn’t to blame parents, but rather to act in children’s best interest and get them help that for whatever reason their parents can’t provide.

21 ‘Sister Wives’ family to challenge Utah bigamy law

By JENNIFER DOBNER, Associated Press

29 mins ago

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A polygamous family made famous by the reality TV show “Sister Wives” plans to challenge the Utah bigamy law that makes their lifestyle illegal, a Washington-based attorney said Tuesday.

In an email to The Associated Press, attorney Jonathan Turley said he will file the lawsuit challenging Utah’s bigamy law in Salt Lake City’s U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

Turley represents Kody Brown and his four wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn. Brown is only legally married to Meri Brown.

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