Jul 16 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Italian parliament adopts stinging austerity budget

By Dario Thuburn, AFP

7 hrs ago

Italy’s parliament on Friday gave final approval on Friday to a 48-billion-euro ($68-billion) austerity budget aimed at slashing the deficit by 2014 and reassuring nervous financial markets.

Adoption of the wide-ranging plan, which includes deep cuts to regional subsidies, family tax benefits and top-tier pensions, came just ahead of the hotly awaited release of results from stress tests on 91 European banks.

Italy has been swept by uncertainty on the markets in recent days and the central bank warned that if high long-term borrowing rates persist this would have “considerable costs” for public finances and risks for the economy.

2 EU to release results of banking stress tests

By Roland Jackson, AFP

15 hrs ago

The European Union this week publishes results of stress tests on Europe’s embattled banking sector amid a dangerous phase in the eurozone debt crisis that threatens to engulf Italy and Spain.

The European Banking Authority, the EU’s London-based regulator for the financial sector, has carried out assessments on 91 banks representing 65 percent of the sector and will publish its findings at 1600 GMT on Friday.

The purpose is “to assess the resilience of European banks to severe shocks and establish a common, conservative stress testing benchmark,” the EBA said on Wednesday. However, no default is assumed in the tests.

3 Egyptians protest against slow pace of reform

By Samer al-Atrush, AFP

3 hrs ago

Thousands of protesters rallied across Egypt on Friday, capping a week of nationwide sit-ins to demand political change as anger grows with the military rulers over the slow pace of reform.

More than 28 movements had called for the rallies to pressure the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) — which took power when president Hosni Mubarak was toppled — to respond to their demands.

In Cairo, thousands of demonstrators crowded into Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the protest movement that overthrew Mubarak in February and where hundreds have been staging a sit-in for a week.

4 Survival struggle against Somalia’s drought

By Ali Musa Abdi, AFP

5 hrs ago

Dying children, hunger and overcrowded camps — Somalis describe the extreme drought threatening famine and death on a massive scale in the Horn of Africa.

“My child is starving but I cannot feed him,” said Kafia Ali, cradling her son at the Korane camp in the Somali capital Mogadishu, crowded with some 3,700 families seeking food and shelter.

“I fled from the Southern Gedo region in order to save my two children from the killer drought.”

5 Saddam’s half-brothers face execution in Iraq

By Salam Faraj, AFP

22 hrs ago

Iraq will execute two of Saddam Hussein’s half-brothers within a month along with three other former regime officials, an official said on Friday, after the five were handed over by the US military.

The group, transferred to Iraqi custody on Thursday morning, were among 206 high-value detainees still being held by American forces ahead of a US military pullout due by the end of the year.

“We received the final 206 Iraqi prisoners being held by US forces, including five senior officials from the former regime,” said justice ministry spokesman Haidar al-Saadi. “They (the five officials) will be executed within one month.

6 Top Murdoch aide Rebekah Brooks quits over hacking

By Sam Reeves, AFP

6 hrs ago

Rebekah Brooks, the embattled chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper arm, quit on Friday as the media baron made his biggest sacrifice yet in the phone hacking crisis rocking his empire.

As an FBI investigation spread the crisis to the United States, Murdoch abandoned his very public attempts to protect his flame-haired lieutenant from attacks by politicians, and finally accepted her resignation.

Murdoch had until now weathered the firestorm, closing down the shamed News of the World tabloid where Brooks was once the editor and scrapping a buy-out of British satellite broadcaster BSkyB, but refusing to sack Brooks.

7 Hushovd stuns Roy as Voeckler keeps yellow jersey


5 hrs ago

Norwegian Thor Hushovd of Garmin-Cervelo continued his dream Tour de France with victory in the 13th stage from Pau to Lourdes on Friday.

Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, of Europcar, retained the race leader’s yellow jersey after arriving with the main peloton and all the favourites seven and a half minutes later.

On the second of three consecutive days in the Pyrenees there were no changes to the overall standings.

8 Murdoch lieutenant Les Hinton quits over scandal

By Paul Thomasch and Yinka Adegoke, Reuters

17 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Les Hinton, the top executive of Rupert Murdoch’s Dow Jones & Co, resigned on Friday after becoming a target of criticism for the phone-hacking scandal that occurred when he oversaw News Corp’s British newspapers.

“I have watched with sorrow from New York as the News of the World story has unfolded,” Hinton, who also served as publisher of the Wall Street Journal, wrote in his resignation letter.

“That I was ignorant of what apparently happened is irrelevant and in the circumstances I feel it is proper for me to resign from News Corp, and apologize to those hurt by the actions of the News of the World,” he added.

9 Murdoch aide Brooks quits as head of UK newspapers

By Keith Weir and Georgina Prodhan, Reuters

9 hrs ago

LONDON (Reuters) – Rupert Murdoch said sorry on Friday to victims of criminal phone hacking by one of his tabloids after confidante Rebekah Brooks quit as head of the British newspaper arm of his News Corp media empire.

Moving to get ahead of a scandal washing over his global business, the U.S.-based magnate made a personal apology to the parents of a murdered schoolgirl in what appeared to be an admission that the News of the World, then edited by Brooks, had in 2002 hacked into the voicemails of their missing daughter.

It was that damning allegation, in a rival newspaper 10 days ago, which reignited a five-year-old scandal that has forced Murdoch to close the News of the World, Britain’s best-selling Sunday paper, and drop a $12 billion plan to buy full control of highly profitable pay-TV operator BSkyB.

10 United States recognizes Libya rebels

By Tulay Karadeniz, Reuters

1 hr 36 mins ago

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Rebel leaders won recognition as the legitimate government of Libya from the United States and other world powers on Friday in a major boost to the rebels’ faltering campaign to oust Muammar Gaddafi.

Western nations said they also planned to increase the military pressure on Gaddafi’s forces to press him to give up power after 41 years at the head of the North African state.

Recognition of the rebels, announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a meeting in Turkey of the international contact group on Libya, is an important diplomatic step which could unlock billions of dollars in frozen Libyan funds.

11 Obama, Republicans trade demands for debt plan

By Steve Holland and Andy Sullivan, Reuters

53 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and Republicans traded demands for a serious deficit plan on Friday, as an acrimonious stalemate deepened in negotiations to avert a looming government default.

Republicans in the House of Representatives said they would vote next week on a bill to raise the debt ceiling by the $2.4 trillion Obama has requested as long as Congress adopts a balanced budget amendment — an unlikely prospect. The measure will consume much of next week.

The vote could placate conservatives and give House Speaker John Boehner more leeway to work out a final compromise with the White House.

12 Citi profit beats forecasts, challenges remain

By Maria Aspan, Reuters

1 hr 59 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc’s second-quarter profit jumped 24 percent as the bank lost less money than expected on bad U.S. loans.

Credit losses dropped 35 percent at the third-largest U.S. bank, which allowed it to dip into money previously set aside to cover bad loans. The bank’s revenue from securities underwriting and merger advisory jumped 61 percent.

But many Citigroup businesses suffered. The bank’s main continuing businesses, known as Citicorp, posted a 2 percent decline in net income. The only Citicorp business to boost profit was retail banking, which benefited mainly from lower credit costs in the United States.

13 S&P threatens downgrade of U.S. financial companies

By Ben Berkowitz, Reuters

17 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Standard & Poor’s on Friday raised the pressure on debt negotiators in Washington, saying it could downgrade insurers, securities clearinghouses, mortgage agencies and a laundry list of other firms without a deal soon to lift the debt ceiling and cut the deficit.

While S&P had already made clear it could downgrade the United States’ sovereign credit rating, the Friday move struck directly at the heart of the financial system, raising the prospect of knock-on effects should the country exhaust its ability to borrow to pay bills.

The Treasury took the last available step Friday to try and extend that borrowing capacity.

14 Crunch European bank tests fail to quell doubts

By Huw Jones and Sonya Dowsett, Reuters

28 mins ago

LONDON/MADRID (Reuters) – Eight European banks have failed a test of their ability to withstand a long recession and will have to raise just 2.5 billion euros ($3.5 billion) of capital, significantly less than expected.

The European Banking Authority said five banks in Spain, two in Greece and one in Austria flunked the “stress test,” which made 90 lenders reveal for the first time their profit forecasts, a breakdown of their sovereign bond holdings and funding costs.

Expectations were for five to 15 banks to fall short and need to raise 10 billion euros or more in capital, prompting analysts to question how credible the test was.

15 Gloomy consumers cast dark cloud over economy

By Lucia Mutikani, Reuters

4 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer confidence hit a near 2-1/2 year low in early July and manufacturing output stalled in June, further frustrating expectations of a quick economic growth rebound in the second half of the year.

Worries about stubbornly high unemployment pushed the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment to 63.8, the lowest since March 2009, a report showed on Friday. Economists had expected the index to climb to 72.5 from 71.5 in June.

Separate data from the Federal Reserve showed manufacturing output stagnated last month partly due to supply disruptions in the auto sector related to the earthquake in Japan.

16 U.S. weighs Credit Suisse tax evasion charges-sources

By Lynnley Browning, Katie Reid and Chris Vellacott, Reuters

1 hr 3 mins ag

FAIRFIELD, Conn./ZURICH/LONDON (Reuters) – Authorities are considering indicting Swiss bank Credit Suisse over its role in providing offshore private banking services that enabled scores of wealthy Americans to evade taxes, according to current and former senior government sources briefed on the matter.

The possibility, according to these persons, emerged after the bank disclosed on Friday that it is the target of a criminal investigation by U.S. federal authorities over its offshore banking activities.

Credit Suisse said in a statement from its Zurich headquarters that it had “received a letter notifying it that it is a target” of a U.S. Justice Department investigation concerning “historical private banking services provided on a cross-border basis to U.S. persons.”

17 Icahn bids for Clorox, suggests others step up

By Jessica Wohl and Vidya L Nathan, Reuters

3 hrs ago

CHICAGO/BANGALORE (Reuters) – Billionaire investor Carl Icahn put Clorox Co in play on Friday with a bid that values the company at more than $10 billion and suggested rivals consider paying much more for the bleach maker.

Icahn’s offer of $76.50 per share represents a 12 percent premium to the stock’s Thursday closing price and a 15.5 percent premium to its price in February, before Icahn announced his stake in the company.

In a letter to Clorox Chief Executive Donald Knauss, Icahn said he was confident the company could get “numerous superior bids” from large consumer products companies.

18 LA readies for ‘Carmageddon’ weekend


AP – 3 hrs ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Police, fire trucks and ambulance crews were on standby but cars flowed freely along the region’s freeways Friday in the hours before a weekend shutdown of a major route that some have predicted would create a gridlock “Carmageddon.”

Despite the apocalyptic warnings blaring from local television – or perhaps because of them – traffic appeared to be lighter than usual on Interstate 405 and other major freeways.

A 10-mile stretch of the 405 connecting the west side of the city with the San Fernando Valley was scheduled to close for 53 hours beginning Friday night.

19 A surreal site, a ghost 405 freeway, awaits LA


57 mins ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) – When the sun rises above Los Angeles on Saturday, residents in this car-dependent, traffic-choked city will see a rare sight: a 10-mile stretch of one of the nation’s busiest freeways turned into a virtual ghost road.

Interstate 405, a freeway normally so clogged that locals like to joke that its name is shorthand for “traffic that moves no faster than 4 or 5 miles an hour,” is closing for 53 hours for a major construction project.

As crews worked feverishly to get the freeway open in time for Monday morning’s rush-hour, residents have been making plans for weeks to stay off local roads, lest they trigger what officials dubbed “Carmageddon.”

20 WSJ publisher quits in phone-hacking scandal


40 mins ago

LONDON (AP) – Rupert Murdoch accepted the resignation of The Wall Street Journal’s publisher and the chief of his British operations on Friday as the once-defiant media mogul struggled to control an escalating phone hacking scandal with apologies to the public and the family of a murdered schoolgirl.

The scandal has knocked billions off the value of Murdoch’s News Corp., scuttled his ambitions to take control of lucrative British Sky Broadcasting, withered his political power in Britain – and is threatening to destabilize his globe-spanning business.

The controversy claimed its first victim in the United States as Les Hinton, chief executive of the Murdoch-owned Dow Jones & Co. and publisher of the Wall Street Journal, announced he was resigning, effective immediately.

21 US formally recognizes Libya rebels


3 hrs ago

ISTANBUL (AP) – The United States and other nations on Friday formally recognized Libya’s main opposition group as the country’s legitimate government until a new interim authority is formed.

The decision, which declared Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime no longer legitimate, will potentially free up cash that the rebels fighting Libyan forces urgently need.

The front lines in the Libyan civil war have largely stagnated since the popular uprising seeking to oust Gadhafi broke out in February. Rebels, backed by NATO’s air force bombings, control much of the country’s east and pockets in the west. But Gadhafi controls the rest from his stronghold in Tripoli, the capital.

22 Debt showdown: Obama presses for ‘something big’

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

12 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Struggling to avert an unprecedented national default, congressional leaders jettisoned negotiations on a sweeping deficit-reduction package Friday despite a plea from President Barack Obama to “do something big” to stabilize America’s finances.

Instead, lawmakers embarked on competing fallback plans as a critical Aug. 2 deadline neared, a House Republican version given little chance of success, even by some supporters, and a bipartisan Senate approach holding out more promise to avert what Obama called financial “Armageddon.”.

Late Friday, the Treasury Department announced it was resorting to the final steps in an unusual series designed to avoid exceeding the current $14.3 trillion debt limit. Numerous officials have cautioned that a default will occur if the limit is not increased by Aug. 2, warning also of a calamitous effect on a national economy struggling to recover from the worst recession in decades..

23 Economic outlook grim if no debt deal reached

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press

17 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Horror stories are flying about the damage that might be wreaked should Congress and President Barack Obama fail to cut a deal by the Aug. 2 deadline to increase America’s borrowing limit. Nearly every American is in harm’s way, either directly or indirectly.

Absent a deal by then, the government would find itself tight on cash and unable to borrow – and have to start deciding which of the 80 million bills due in August it should pay and which it should put off.

Tough decisions would come immediately: On Aug. 3, some $23 billion in Social Security benefit payments are due to be processed. On Aug. 4, the Treasury Department must pay $87 billion to investors to redeem maturing Treasury securities. On Aug. 15, more than $30 billion in interest payments come due.

24 Romney banks 9-to-1 cash edge over closest rival

By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press

1 hr 25 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Mitt Romney leads all Republicans in the contest for campaign cash, cementing his frontrunner status among contenders hoping to go up against President Barack Obama in 2012.

While Romney’s $12.6 million in the bank far outdistanced a spread-out GOP field, dollars don’t always translate to votes. The chasm between Romney and his rivals suggested many Republican donors are waiting on the sidelines, watching the topsy-turvy campaign foment and the candidates finally start to engage one another.

“It’s a little unsettling that people have so underperformed expectations,” said Dave Carney, an adviser to Texas Gov. Rick Perry who is weighing joining the race. “Clearly, there’s some … concern about either economics or about the candidates. I don’t know the reason.”

25 Wreck of Canadian schooner found in Lake Ontario

By BEN DOBBIN, Associated Press

57 mins ago

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) – After 105 years, the three masts of the Queen of the Lakes still stand erect – all the more remarkable because the 19th-century Canadian schooner has sat in the dark depths of Lake Ontario since it wrecked in 1906.

“We think it hit bow first because the bowsprit is broken off, but the rest of the ship looks pretty nice,” undersea explorer Jim Kennard said Friday.

Kennard and fellow shipwreck enthusiasts Dan Scoville and Roland Stevens located the 129-foot-long vessel using side-scan sonar in 2009. They confirmed the find and captured images of it in early July using a remotely operated submersible.

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