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Jul 17 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Obama welcomes Dalai Lama to China’s anger

By Shaun Tandon, AFP

1 hr 2 mins ago

US President Barack Obama on Saturday defied warnings from China and welcomed the Dalai Lama to the White House, urging respect for human rights and cultural traditions in Tibet.

China immediately lodged a protest and accused Obama of undermining relations between the world’s two largest economies by meeting with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, who has spent more than a half-century in exile.

The White House choreographed the visit to be low key, holding it on a weekend in the mansion’s private residence. The White House later released a photo of a tieless Obama listening pensively to the robed monk.

2 Horn of Africa drought ‘set to worsen’: UN

By William Davies, AFP

9 hrs ago

The plight of millions of people left hungry by a harsh drought across the Horn of Africa is set to worsen, with the next rains expected in October and harvests months away, a top UN official warned Saturday.

Scanty or failed rainfall in the region over the past two years has already forced thousands of Somalis to flee the country and ruined the livelihoods of millions in parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti.

“We are possibly seeing a perfect storm in the coming months … We are going to do everything we can to ameliorate it,” UNICEF director Anthony Lake told AFP on his way to the drought-hit northern Kenya region of Turkana.

3 Libya rebels poised to attempt to retake Brega

By Andrew Beatty, AFP

13 hrs ago

Libyan rebels were poised for an attempt to retake Brega on Saturday after breaching the key oil refinery town’s defences, buoyed by the recognition of their administration by major powers.

The recognition decision, taken by members of the International Contact Group on Libya at a meeting in Istanbul on Friday, clears the way for the release of funds frozen in accordance with sanctions adopted against the government of veteran leader Moamer Kadhafi.

Rebel military spokesman Mohammed Zawi told AFP that a light mobile force had breached loyalist positions around Brega late on Friday, before pulling back in anticipation of a renewed offensive early on Saturday.

4 British government, police under pressure over Murdoch links

By Alice Ritchie, AFP

18 mins ago

The British government and police faced fresh pressure over their ties to Rupert Murdoch on Saturday as the media mogul published apologies in national newspapers over the phone hacking scandal.

A day after Murdoch lost two of his most senior executives, the crisis returned to haunt the British establishment with new allegations about the close ties between the media baron’s empire and the police and politicians.

Prime Minister David Cameron was forced on the defensive after it emerged that he personally had 26 meetings in 15 months with key figures Murdoch’s News Corp. and its British newspaper division, News International.

5 ‘Time for Europe to wake up’ on debt crisis: Papandreou

AFP

49 mins ago

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said Saturday it was “time for Europe to wake up” and find a conclusive solution to his nation’s debt crisis, which threatens to undermine the eurozone.

Papandreou, who has frequently expressed impatience at the slow progress of the negotiations, made his latest comments in an interview to appear in Sunday’s Kathimerini daily.

Papandreou insisted that Greece would not default on its huge debt and that talks were ongoing for a “long-term” resolution to the crisis.

6 Greece in the spotlight after evoking selective default

By Isabel Malsang, AFP

4 hrs ago

Greece heads to another EU summit next week on fresh aid for its debt-wracked economy after evoking — before pulling back — the thorny notion of a selective default that could unleash a eurozone storm.

The term is understood to mean a pick-and-choose approach to a country’s maturing debt, with a government arranging to delay repayment on certain obligations while continuing to fully honour others.

But to many investors, and more importantly to credit rating agencies that have already demoted Greece’s bonds to junk status, these are just semantics.

7 Obama urges compromise, ‘shared sacrifice’ on debt

By Olivier Knox, AFP

6 hrs ago

Insisting he is “willing to compromise,” President Barack Obama called on US lawmakers Saturday to quickly forge a deal that would avert an early August debt default by the world’s richest nation.

Obama has warned of economic “Armageddon” should Congress fail to raise the debt limit to allow more US borrowing, with his administration highlighting disastrous ripple effects that would churn through the global financial system.

But after five straight days of crisis talks ended Thursday without a clear solution, by the weekend Obama was imploring his fellow Democrats and opposition Republicans to engage in “shared sacrifice” to help break a stalemate that has led ratings agencies and top US lender China to sound the alarm over US credit worthiness.

8 Obama meets Dalai Lama at White House, defies China

By Jeff Mason, Reuters

1 hr 46 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama met with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama for roughly 45 minutes at the White House on Saturday, potentially angering China, which called for the meeting to be canceled.

“The president reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement after the meeting.

“He underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China. The president commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to nonviolence and dialogue with China.”

9 Heavy casualties reported in Libya fighting

By Peter Graff, Reuters

46 mins ago

FRONT LINE NEAR BIR GHANAM, Libya (Reuters) – Ten Libyan rebels were reported killed and 172 wounded in an attack on the eastern oil port of Brega on Saturday, while insurgents drove back forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi in the west.

In the latest of a series of speeches apparently designed to show he enjoys support in the areas he controls, Gaddafi described the rebels as worthless traitors and rejected suggestions that he was about to leave the country.

“They said Gaddafi will go to Honolulu,” he said in a televised speech. “This is funny: To leave the graves of my forefathers and my people? Are you serious?”

10 Syrian opposition calls for civil disobedience

By Suleiman al-Khalidi, Reuters

5 hrs ago

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Syrians should wage a campaign of civil disobedience to try to force President Bashar al-Assad from power, an exiled dissident said on Saturday at a meeting in Turkey aimed at forging a united opposition.

The opposition, divided between Islamists and liberals, is holding a “National Salvation Congress” to try to unite behind the goal of ending 41 years of Assad family rule, but is struggling to agree on whether to form a shadow government.

“I’m for anything that unifies the Syrian people and helps our people inside, and unifies our ranks in confronting this illegitimate repressive regime that has usurped power and human rights,” opposition figure Wael al Hafez told the meeting in Istanbul, echoing comments made by others.

11 Murdoch apologizes for hacking scandal

By Mohammed Abbas, Reuters

7 hrs ago

LONDON (Reuters) – “We are sorry,” Rupert Murdoch said in British newspapers on Saturday, as News Corp tried to quell the uproar over a phone-hacking scandal that has shaken the company and claimed its top two newspaper executives.

In full-page adverts, Murdoch pledged “concrete steps” to resolve the issue in a bid to regain the initiative after losing Les Hinton, head of Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, and Rebekah Brooks, head of News Corp’s British newspaper arm, on Friday.

But some questioned if the apologies and resignations would allay public and political anger over allegations the Murdoch-owned News of the World newspaper hacked thousands of phones, including that of a murdered 13-year-old girl.

12 Special Report: Inside Rebekah Brooks’ News of the World

By Georgina Prodhan and Kate Holton, Reuters

9 hrs ago

LONDON (Reuters) – “It was the kind of place you get out of and you never want to go back again.” That’s how one former reporter describes the News of the World newsroom under editor Rebekah Brooks, the ferociously ambitious titian-haired executive who ran Britain’s top-selling Sunday tabloid from 2000 to 2003.

Journalists who worked there in that period describe an industrialized operation of dubious information-gathering, reporters under intense pressure attempting to land exclusive stories by whatever means necessary, and a culture of fear, cynicism, gallows humor and fierce internal competition.

“We used to talk to career criminals all the time. They were our sources,” says another former reporter from the paper who also worked for Murdoch’s daily tabloid, the Sun. “It was a macho thing: ‘My contact is scummier than your contact.’ It was a case of: ‘Mine’s a murderer!’ On the plus side, we always had a resident pet nutter around in case anything went wrong.”

13 Murdoch lieutenant Hinton quits Dow Jones

By Paul Thomasch and Yinka Adegoke, Reuters

19 hrs 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.

Hinton stepped down as the British phone hacking scandal surrounding News Corp began to spread to the United States. He is the highest ranking executive yet to resign over a crisis that closed down the News of the World tabloid and scotched News Corp’s $12 billion attempt to buy out BSkyB.

“I have watched with sorrow from New York as the News of the World story has unfolded,” Hinton wrote in a memo to staff after resigning as chief executive of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

14 Obama, lawmakers press ahead for elusive debt deal

By Jeff Mason and Andy Sullivan, Reuters

54 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama and congressional leaders pressed ahead with private talks on deficit reduction on Saturday, seeking an as-yet elusive way to lift the debt ceiling and avoid a U.S. default next month.

Congress must raise the $14.3 trillion limit on U.S. borrowing by August 2 or the government will run out of money to pay its bills, causing turmoil in global financial markets and potentially forcing the United States into another recession.

Republicans want a deficit-cutting deal in order to raise the debt limit, but they disagree with Democrats on how to do it. The White House wants some tax increases on wealthier Americans to be part of a package; Republicans reject that.

15 Traffic light in Los Angeles

By Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters

2 hrs 39 mins ago

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A Los Angeles freeway shutdown dubbed “Carmageddon” that city leaders have warned about for weeks failed to slow morning traffic in the region on Saturday, but officials remained cautious.

The unprecedented weekend shutdown of a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway could, in a worst-case scenario, delay motorists for hours on alternate routes with ripple effects on other major highways.

The shutdown will allow crews to demolish part of a bridge for a $1 billion freeway widening project.

16 Troops march in San Diego’s gay pride parade

By JULIE WATSON, Associated Press

18 mins ago

SAN DIEGO (AP) – About 200 active-duty troops and veterans wearing T-shirts advertising their branch of service marched Saturday in San Diego’s gay pride parade with American flags and rainbow banners, marking what is believed to be the first time a military contingent has participated in such an event in the U.S.

Many of the active-duty troops said they were moved to come out because it is time to end the military’s ban on openly gay troops. The march comes a day after a federal appeals court reinstated “don’t ask, don’t tell” but with a caveat that prevents the government from investigating or penalizing anyone who is openly gay.

National Guard member Nichole Herrera, 31, said she didn’t think twice about marching, even though the policy is back on the books. She said she was “choked up” several times as she walked down a main thoroughfare in San Diego, a major Navy port.

17 Churches debate whether to marry gays

By RACHEL ZOLL, AP Religion Writer

2 hrs 36 mins ago

NEW YORK (AP) – After same-sex marriage becomes legal here on July 24, gay priests with partners in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island will head to the altar. They have to. Their bishop set a nine-month deadline for them to marry or stop living together.

Next door, meanwhile, the Episcopal bishop of New York says he also expects gay clergy in committed relationships to wed “in due course.” Still, this longtime supporter of gay rights says churches in his diocese are off limits for gay weddings until he receives clearer liturgical guidance from the national denomination.

As more states legalize same-sex marriage, religious groups with ambiguous policies on homosexuality are divided over whether they should allow the ceremonies in local congregations. The decision is especially complex in the mainline Protestant denominations that have yet to fully resolve their disagreements over the Bible and homosexuality. Many have taken steps toward acceptance of gay ordination and same-gender couples without changing the official definition of marriage in church constitutions and canons. With the exception of the United Church of Christ, which approved gay marriage six years ago, none of the larger mainline churches has a national liturgy for same-sex weddings or even blessing ceremonies.

18 Syrians mourn the dead as opposition seeks change

By ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press

3 hrs ago

BEIRUT (AP) – Tens of thousands of Syrians shouting “We want freedom!” carried slain protesters through the streets Saturday as opposition figures meeting in Turkey called for a united front to bring down the 40-year ruling dynasty of the Assad family.

Syrian security forces killed at least 28 people Friday during the largest protests since the uprising began more than four months ago, activists said. Hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets nationwide, but they were met with gunfire and tear gas.

“The regime has kidnapped the entire state, and we want it back,” said Haitham al-Maleh, one of Syria’s most prominent dissidents, who led Saturday’s opposition conference in Istanbul. The 80-year-old lawyer spent years in Syrian prisons for his political activism.

19 ‘We are sorry’ Murdoch tells UK in full-page ad

By JILL LAWLESS, Associated Press

2 hrs 40 mins ago

LONDON (AP) – “We are sorry” the full-page ad began Saturday, as Rupert Murdoch tried to halt a phone-hacking scandal that has claimed two of his top executives with a gesture of atonement and promises to right the wrongs committed by his now-shuttered tabloid, News of the World.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-led government and the London police, meanwhile, faced increasing questions over their close relationship with Murdoch’s media empire.

Cameron was feeling the heat Saturday after government records showed that Murdoch executives held 26 meetings with him in since he was elected in May 2010 and were invited to his country retreat. Senior police officers also had close ties to Murdoch executives, even hiring one as a consultant who has since been arrested in the phone hacking and police bribery scandal rocking Murdoch’s News Corp.

20 Early ‘Carmageddon’ traffic in LA moving smoothly

By DAISY NGUYEN, Associated Press

4 hrs ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Traffic in the Los Angeles area was flowing freely Saturday morning following the shutdown of a 10-mile stretch of one of the nation’s busiest freeways.

But officials warned the real test was likely to begin around midday, after the country’s second-largest city fully awakened.

“So far we’re still Saturday morning light,” said Mike Miles, a California Department of Transportation district director. “We don’t know if that’s just because it’s Saturday morning, or if in fact motorists are listening to the message that has been put out about not driving this weekend.”

21 Traffic moving easily through LA, despite fears

By DAISY NGUYEN, JOHN ANTCZAK, Associated Press

47 mins ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Cars flowed freely through the nation’s second-largest city Saturday, despite fears of epic “Carmageddon” traffic jams spawned by the 53-hour shutdown of a 10-mile stretch of one of the region’s most critical freeways.

Authorities closed the segment of Interstate 405 on the western side of the metropolis to allow partial demolition of a bridge, warning motorists to stay off the roads or plan alternate routes.

With the heart of the day yet to come, officials were optimistic that the public far and wide had gotten the message.

22 Congress seeks debt solution, Obama goes to public

AP

16 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama appealed for public support Saturday to push Congress to avert an unprecedented default on America’s national debt as lawmakers worked on dual tracks to reach an elusive deal.

Obama wants lawmakers to approve a giant package that would not only prevent a default by raising the government’s borrowing limit, but also slash trillions of dollars from the country’s enormous deficit. He challenged lawmakers “to do something big.”

But opposition Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, reject Obama’s proposal to raise some taxes in addition to cutting spending. They plan to vote next week on legislation that would tie an increase in the debt limit to a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Such an amendment is unlikely to get enacted.

23 Feds get a dose of kitchen-table economics

By CALVIN WOODWARD, MARTIN CRUTSINGER, Associated Press

4 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – The debt crisis has brought the government to the “kitchen table” to do something that hard-pressed families do routinely, which is tear their hair out over how to pay the bills.

Pawn the family jewelry? Emptying gold reserves at Fort Knox and other repositories could raise a very handy $400 billion.

Sell the property that has been in the family for generations? Yosemite National Park would fetch a pretty penny.

24 Atlanta schools created culture of cheating, fear

By DORIE TURNER, Associated Press

6 hrs ago

ATLANTA (AP) – Teachers spent nights huddled in a back room, erasing wrong answers on students’ test sheets and filling in the correct bubbles. At another school, struggling students were seated next to higher-performing classmates so they could copy answers.

Those and other confessions are contained in a new state report that reveals how far some Atlanta public schools went to raise test scores in the nation’s largest-ever cheating scandal. Investigators concluded that nearly half the city’s schools allowed the cheating to go unchecked for as long as a decade, beginning in 2001.

Administrators – pressured to maintain high scores under the federal No Child Left Behind law – punished or fired those who reported anything amiss and created a culture of “fear, intimidation and retaliation,” according to the report released earlier this month, two years after officials noticed a suspicious spike in some scores.

25 5 NKoreans fail steroids test at women’s World Cup

By RAF CASERT, AP Sports Writer

2 hrs 11 mins ago

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – North Korea officials blame traditional medicine using musk deer glands for five of their players testing positive for steroids at the Women’s World Cup in soccer’s biggest doping scandal in nearly two decades.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Saturday that after two players were caught during the tournament this month, FIFA tested the rest of the North Korean squad and found three more positive results.

“This is a shock,” Blatter said at a news conference. “We are confronted with a very, very bad case of doping and it hurts.”

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