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Aug 07 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 30 US troops dead as Afghan Taliban down chopper

By Sabawoon Amarkhail, AFP

18 mins ago

Thirty US troops and seven Afghan special forces died when the Taliban shot down their helicopter, said officials, the biggest single loss for foreign troops in the decade-long war.

All were killed during an anti-Taliban operation late Friday when a rocket fired by the insurgents struck their Chinook aircraft as it began to take off shortly after a firefight in Wardak province, southwest of the capital Kabul.

A statement from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s office said the US victims were special forces, and that 31 of them had been killed.

2 Gulf bloc urges end to Syrian bloodshed

AFP, 10 hrs ago

Gulf Arab states on Saturday turned up the heat on Damascus, joining a growing chorus of pressure after Syrian security forces shot dead at least 22 people as tens of thousands staged anti-regime protests.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council called for an “immediate end to violence… and bloodshed.”

Its statement urged “serious and necessary reforms that would protect the rights and dignity of the (Syrian) people, and meet their aspirations.”

3 Somali Shebab rebels abandon Mogadishu positions

By Mustapha Haji Abdinur, AFP

1 hr 20 mins ago

Somalia’s Islamist Shebab rebels pulled out of key positions in the war-torn and famine-struck capital on Saturday, with the country’s president proclaiming the city “fully liberated”.

“Mogadishu has been fully liberated from the enemy, and the rest of the country will soon be liberated too,” President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed told reporters.

The Al-Qaeda affiliated Shebab insurgents abandoned several strategic positions overnight that were then taken over by government troops.

4 Feeding centre nourishes fleeing Somalis

By William Davies, AFP

7 hrs ago

Hundreds of Somali women, huddled together with their children, queue for hours for their first cooked meal in days, having walked long distances to flee drought, famine and conflict.

“On the road here I was so hungry and thirsty,” said Batulo Malim Mohamed, waiting patiently for a meal of fortified maize porridge in the shade of a hut at a new feeding centre erected in the southwestern border town of Doolow.

“When I first arrived I had nothing, so I had to beg people for some food,” she added, cradling her malnourished son Ali in her arms.

5 US calls for end to bickering after credit rating loss

By Hugues Honore, AFP

1 hr 6 mins ago

The White House on Saturday called for an end to the political gridlock blamed for the first-ever US credit rating downgrade as allies voiced confidence in the world’s largest economy.

Standard & Poor’s cut the US rating for the first time in history Friday, by one notch from its top-flight triple-A to AA+, saying US politicians were increasingly unable to manage the country’s huge fiscal deficit and debt.

The agency added a negative outlook, warning there was a chance the rating could be downgraded further within two years if progress is not made in balancing the country’s lopsided finances.

6 Hacker group declares cyber war on US police

By Glenn Chapman, AFP

46 mins ago

A hacker group on Saturday claimed it has “defaced and destroyed” websites at scores of US police agencies in retaliation for the arrest of suspected peers accused of hacking into the CIA, British crime agency SOCA, and Sony.

The group called AntiSec — in reference to “anti-security” — said in an online post that it is backing its claim by releasing information it looted more than 70 local police agencies during cyber attacks.

“We are releasing a massive amount of confidential information that is sure to embarrass, discredit and incriminate police officers across the US,” the group said in a message.

7 England hold off Wales as both sides suffer

By Julian Guyer, AFP

2 hrs 6 mins ago

Jonny Wilkinson masterminded England’s 23-19 victory over Wales at Twickenham here on Saturday as they won their opening World Cup warm-up match.

But both sides suffered injuries just weeks before the showpiece tournament in New Zealand.

Wales outscored England three tries to two, coming from 20-7 behind to set up a grandstand finish when wing George North crossed for the second of his two scores with four minutes left.

8 NATO helicopter crashes in Afghanistan, killing 31

By Michelle Nichols, Reuters

1 hr 4 mins ago

KABUL (Reuters) – A NATO helicopter crashed during a battle with the Taliban in Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. soldiers and seven Afghans, the Afghan president said on Saturday, the deadliest single incident for foreign troops in 10 years of war.

A brief statement from the presidential palace said the troop-carrying Chinook helicopter had crashed in Syedabad in central Maidan Wardak province, just west of the capital, Kabul.

It identified the Americans as special forces troops.

9 Syrian army deploys across Hama after attack

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Reuters

6 hrs ago

AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian tanks and armored vehicles deployed throughout Hama Saturday, a resident said, after a week-long assault which one activist group said had killed 300 civilians in the symbolic center of protest against President Bashar al-Assad.

Activists said the death toll in protests across Syria a day earlier, when tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on the first Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, had risen to 26.

Assad’s drive to regain control of Hama, which for two months had seen huge demonstrations demanding his overthrow, prompted condemnation from the United Nations and sharp criticism even from Russia and Turkey, close friends of Syria.

10 Somali government declares Islamist rebellion defeated

By Mohamed Ahmed and Ibrahim Mohamed, Reuters

2 hrs 33 mins ago

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed said on Saturday his military had defeated Islamist rebels battling to overthrow his Western-backed government after the al Shabaab group began withdrawing fighters from the capital Mogadishu.

Rejecting Ahmed’s claim to have quashed al Shabaab’s four-year insurgency, the militants’ spokesman, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, said their retreat was tactical only and they were holding their positions elsewhere in the anarchic country.

A 9,000-strong African peacekeeping force and Somali government forces had been steadily wresting control of rubble-strewn Mogadishu from the militants this year. Al Shabaab’s pullout followed a string of fierce gun battles late on Friday.

11 Wall Street closes worst week since ’08 with wild day

By Angela Moon, Reuters

22 hrs ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks closed out their worst week in more than two years on Friday in a volatile session that saw the major indexes whip back and forth before the S&P 500 ended down less than a point.

More than 15.9 billion shares — or more than twice the daily average volume — traded in the busiest day in more than a year as investors plowed into cash-rich mega-cap stocks that had been beaten down in recent days as the market dropped.

The market’s swings on Friday were fast and furious, with the Dow Jones industrial average covering 416.41 points from its session high to its intraday low.

12 World leaders to confer on debt crises this weekend

By Paul Taylor and Melanie Lee, Reuters

59 mins ago

PARIS/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Global leaders on Saturday arranged a round of emergency calls to discuss the twin debt crises in Europe and the United States that are causing turmoil in financial markets.

The European Central Bank’s policy-setting council will hold a rare Sunday conference call to talk about the euro zone problems, ECB sources said.

Markets are anxiously looking for the central bank to start buying Italian and Spanish debt on Monday to stabilize prices, a move that has split the ECB governing council.

13 Exclusive: ECB to discuss crisis action on Sunday: sources

By Paul Taylor, Reuters

3 hrs ago

PARIS (Reuters) – The European Central Bank will hold a rare Sunday conference call to discuss developments in the euro zone’s debt crisis and the possibility of buying Italian sovereign bonds, ECB sources said Saturday.

The sources said the central bank’s Governing Council remains divided over whether to buy Italian bonds and even some of those who favor the move say Italy should do more to front-load austerity measures first.

Three sources said ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet has called a teleconference of the policy-setting council for Sunday afternoon to discuss the continuing turmoil on financial markets and how to respond to Italy’s latest reform pledges.

14 United States loses prized AAA credit rating from S&P

By Walter Brandimarte and Daniel Bases, Reuters

3 hrs ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States lost its top-tier AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor’s on Friday in an unprecedented blow to the world’s largest economy in the wake of a political battle that took the country to the brink of default.

S&P cut the long-term U.S. credit rating by one notch to AA-plus on concerns about the government’s budget deficit and rising debt burden. The action is likely to eventually raise borrowing costs for the American government, companies and consumers.

“The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics,” S&P said in a statement.

15 Copter downing in Afghanistan kills 30 Americans

By KIMBERLY DOZIER, SOLOMON MOORE, Associated Press

13 mins ago

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Insurgents shot down a U.S. military helicopter during fighting in eastern Afghanistan, killing 30 Americans, most of them belonging to the same elite unit as the Navy SEALs who killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, U.S. officials said Saturday. It was the deadliest single loss for American forces in the decade-old war against the Taliban.

The downing, in which seven Afghan commandos were also killed, was a stinging blow to the lauded, tight-knit SEAL Team 6, months after its crowning achievement. It was also a heavy setback for the U.S.-led coalition as it begins to draw down thousands of combat troops fighting what has become an increasingly costly and unpopular war.

None of the 22 SEAL personnel killed in the crash were part of the team that killed bin Laden in a May raid in Pakistan, but they belonged to the same unit. Their deployment in the raid in which the helicopter crashed would suggest that the target was a high-ranking insurgent figure.

16 31 Americans, 7 Afghans killed in helicopter crash

By SOLOMON MOORE, Associated Press

2 hrs 37 mins

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – A military helicopter was shot down in eastern Afghanistan, killing 31 U.S. special operation troops, most of them from the elite Navy SEALs unit that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, along with seven Afghan commandos. It was the deadliest single incident for American forces in the decade-long war.

The Taliban claimed they downed the helicopter with rocket fire while it was taking part in a raid on a house where insurgents were gathered in the province of Wardak late Friday. It said wreckage of the craft was strewn at the scene. A senior U.S. administration official in Washington said the craft was apparently shot down by insurgents. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the crash is still being investigated.

NATO confirmed the overnight crash took place and that there “was enemy activity in the area.” But it said it was still investigating the cause and conducting a recovery operation at the site. It did not release details or casualty figures.

17 Rebels launch push in western Libya, aim for coast

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press

6 mins ago

BIR AYAD, Libya (AP) – Rebels launched a new offensive Saturday out of their stronghold in Libya’s western mountains, battling regime forces in a drive toward the heartland of Moammar Gadhafi’s rule on the Mediterranean coast. Opening a new front, the rebels are aiming to break a monthslong deadlock and eventually fight their way to the capital, Tripoli.

Booms of shelling and rocket fire echoed from the front lines, centered around the town of Bir Ghanam, where the rebel force backed by tanks fought Gadhafi’s troops much of the day. Later, witnesses saw flattened buildings presumably targeted in NATO airstrikes and three smoldering government tanks in the town.

Rebels are hoping for a breakthrough in the far west of Libya, frustrated with the stalemate in the center of the country, where their underequipped forces have been unable to budge the battlelines despite five months of NATO airstrikes on Gadhafi’s military. Rebels control most of the eastern half of country, while Gadhafi’s regime holds most of the west, centered around Tripoli.

18 Syria promises free election as it tightens siege

By ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press

1 hr 33 mins ago

BEIRUT (AP) – The Syrian military tightened its suffocating siege on the city of Hama on Saturday in its drive to crush the main center of the anti-regime uprising in the country, even as the foreign minister promised that free parliamentary elections would be held by the end of the year in a gesture of reform.

Like previous reform promises, the new announcement is unlikely to have much resonance with Syria’s opposition, which says it has lost all confidence in President Bashar Assad’s overtures.

The four-year term of the current parliament expired earlier this year and Assad is expected to set a date for new legislative elections before the end of 2011.

19 APNewsBreak: Abu Ghraib abuse ringleader released

By DAVID DISHNEAU, Associated Press

1 hr 45 mins ago

The convicted ringleader of detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib was released Saturday from a military prison, an Army spokeswoman said.

Charles Graner Jr., 42, was released from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., around 10 a.m. Saturday after serving more than 6½ years of a 10-year sentence, spokeswoman Rebecca Steed said. Graner will be under the supervision of a probation officer until Dec. 25, 2014, she said.

Steed said she could not release any information about Graner’s whereabouts or his destination after release. Neither Graner nor his wife – who was a fellow Abu Ghraib defendant – have responded to interview requests from The Associated Press. Calls and emails to Graner’s father and lawyer were not immediately returned.

20 Malnourished Somali baby thriving as rare success

By MALKHADIR M. MUHUMED, Associated Press

3 hrs ago

DADAAB, Kenya (AP) – Only 10 days ago, Minhaj Gedi Farah was too weak to cry and his skin crumpled liked thin leather under the pressure of his mother’s hands. Now doctors say the severely malnourished 7-month-old appears out of danger of joining the more than 29,000 children who already have died in the famine.

It’s a rare success story amid unimaginable misery for parents at the world’s largest refugee camp – a place where a father must bury two of his daughters one day, and their brother the next.

Seven-month-old Minhaj though now weighs more than 8 pounds (3.8 kilograms) – still well below what he should for his age, but a major improvement from 7 pounds (3.2 kilograms) when he first arrived at a field hospital ward here.

21 Dutch military joins Gay Pride parade for 1st time

By ARTHUR MAX, Associated Press

4 hrs ago

AMSTERDAM (AP) – Embracing a policy of “Do Tell,” the Dutch military joined Amsterdam’s annual Gay Pride parade for the first time, with uniformed men and women saluting the crowds from a boat chugging through a historic city canal.

A balloon-festooned barge bearing the standards of the service branches and sponsored by the Defense Ministry sailed among about 80 other floats, with music blaring from most of them and dancers dressed in flamboyant costumes – or very little at all.

The parade, watched by hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the Prinsengracht canal, capped a weeklong festival of around 300 parties and events. It included the popular “Drag Queen Olympics” with contests like the stiletto race and the long-distance handbag toss.

22 After S&P downgrade, WH says ‘we must do better’

By HENRY C. JACKSON, Associated Press

3 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – After the first-ever downgrade of the U.S. government’s credit rating, the White House said on Saturday that President Barack Obama believes it’s clear Washington “must do better” in tackling the deficit.

While Republicans and Democrats traded blame over Friday’s move by Standard & Poor’s to lower its AAA credit rating, a statement from White House press secretary Jay Carney was muted in tone and did not refer directly to the downgrade.

Administration officials privately called S&P’s analysis flawed. But Obama himself refrained from comment as he spent the weekend at Camp David.

23 Perry: Turn to God for answers to nation’s woes

By APRIL CASTRO, THOMAS BEAUMONT, Associated Press

2 hrs 10 mins ago

HOUSTON (AP) – Texas Gov. Rick Perry asked Christians to turn to God for answers to the nation’s troubles as he held court Saturday over a national prayer rally attended by thousands of evangelical conservatives, an important constituency should the Republican seek the GOP presidential nomination.

“Father, our heart breaks for America,” Perry told about 30,000 people gathered at Reliant Stadium. “We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government and, as a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us.”

The Republican was hosting what he has called a national day of prayer before an audience filled with people who sang with arms outstretched in prayer – and wept – as Christian groups played music on stage.

24 Job worries surge as debt-limit issue recedes

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press

2 hrs 18 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Anger at the nation’s leaders for taking so long to strike a debt-ceiling deal has turned into high anxiety over jobs and the economy amid growing fears of a new recession.

The news that credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the nation’s credit rating a notch for the first time ever only added to the tension.

The darkening clouds come in what should have been a good week for President Barack Obama. After all, he and Republican leaders finally ended a months-long game of brinkmanship with a bipartisan agreement to raise the government’s debt ceiling and to trim spending.

25 Group hacks US law enforcement sites, steals data

By NOMAAN MERCHANT, RAPHAEL G. SATTER, Associated Press

2 hrs 12 mins ago

LONDON (AP) – The group known as Anonymous said Saturday it has hacked into some 70 mostly rural law enforcement websites in the United States, a breach that one local police chief said had leaked information about an ongoing investigation.

The loose-knit international hacking collective posted a cache of data to the Web early Saturday, including emails stolen from officers, tips which appeared to come from members of the public, credit card numbers and other sensitive information.

Anonymous said it had stolen 10 gigabytes worth of data in all.

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