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Aug 31 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 China jails more Tibetan monks, US concerned

AFP

2 hrs 40 mins ago

A Chinese court Tuesday sentenced two more Tibetan monks to jail time over a self-immolation protest at their monastery, as the United States voiced concern and urged Beijing to address grievances.

A monk at the flashpoint Kirti monastery in a mainly Tibetan area of Sichuan province named Phuntsog set himself on fire on March 16, the third anniversary of protests in Lhasa and neighboring areas against Chinese rule.

His death triggered a fresh clampdown by authorities nervous about renewed anti-government unrest.

2 Libya rebels give Kadhafi forces Saturday deadline

By Sarah Benhaida, AFP

9 hrs ago

Libyan rebels moving in for the kill against pockets of loyalist resistance have given a Saturday ultimatum for Moamer Kadhafi’s forces to surrender or face a military onslaught.

National Transitional Council (NTC) chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil told reporters in the rebel stronghold Benghazi Tuesday that the respite was offered to mark the three-day Eid al-Fitr Muslim feast which follows the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“This window of opportunity will be closed at the end of Eid al-Fitr (Friday in Libya),” Abdel Jalil said, adding that talks were under way with officials in towns including Kadhafi’s birthplace Sirte to arrange their peaceful surrender.

3 UN says Britain can send $1.6 billion to Libya

By Tim Witcher, AFP

1 hr 32 mins ago

The UN’s Libya sanctions committee on Tuesday let Britain release $1.6 billion in seized assets to buy emergency aid as UN chief Ban Ki-moon said urgent action was needed to get water to the war-stricken country.

France and Germany are still waiting for a green light to free more than $8.6 billion in assets that they seized as part of UN action against strongman Moamer Kadhafi, who is now on the run, diplomats said.

The UN secretary general appealed to the Security Council to give urgent consideration to requests for money by the Libyan rebel National Transitional Council (NTC).

4 Zimbabwe expels Libyan ambassador for recognising rebels

AFP

3 hrs ago

Zimbabwe has expelled Libya’s ambassador after he recognised the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) fighting Moamer Kadhafi’s regime, Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said Tuesday.

“The Libyan ambassador and his staff decided to renounce their allegiance to the government of Colonel Kadhafi. This act deprives the Libyan ambassador and his staff of any diplomatic status in Zimbabwe because Zimbabwe does not recognise the TNC,” Mumbengegwi told journalists.

“So it is in this context that the Libyan ambassador and his staff are required to leave Zimbabwe within the next 72 hours.”

5 Kadhafi’s daughter gives birth in Algeria

By Beatrice Khadige, AFP

3 hrs ago

Moamer Kadhafi’s daughter gave birth to a girl in Algeria Tuesday as Algiers said it decided to grant safe haven to the ousted Libyan leader’s wife and three children for “strictly humanitarian reasons.”

“Aisha gave birth very early this morning. She had a little girl. Mother and daughter are doing fine,” said a government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Earlier Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Amar Belani insisted that Aisha, her brother Hannibal, their mother Safiya, Kadhafi’s second wife, and the fugitive leader’s eldest son Mohammed were allowed into the country “for strictly humanitarian reasons.”

6 Russia counts Libya losses after Kadhafi fall

By Dmitry Zaks, AFP

4 hrs ago

Russia’s firms stand to lose billions of dollars of deals in the new Libya, especially in the arms industry, after refusing to side with rebels in the battle with its old ally Moamer Kadhafi.

The Kremlin has refused to join Western powers in celebrating the rapid sweep into Tripoli by NATO-backed rebels and has also shown no sign of recognising the National Transitional Council as the legitimate authorities.

But such caution — a traditional hallmark of Russian foreign policy — may prove damaging from Russia in a new Libyan order that remembers who its friends were at times of bitter war.

7 Cop’s killer could be tried outside Libya: NTC man

AFP

4 hrs ago

Whoever killed a policewoman outside the Libyan embassy in London could face justice outside Libya on agreement, the NTC’s spokesman in Britain said Tuesday.

Guma al-Gamaty’s assertion comes after the rebel National Transitional Council’s justice minister Mohammed al-Allagy told reporters in Tripoli that Libya would not “give any Libyan citizen to the West”.

Al-Gamaty said that once a suspect for the 1984 killing of Yvonne Fletcher is identified, they should face justice, either in Libya or elsewhere if an agreement could be struck.

8 US blacklists Syrian foreign minister

By Lachlan Carmichael, AFP

1 hr 3 mins ago

The United States slapped sanctions on Syria’s foreign minister and two other top officials on Tuesday as it pressed President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to stop its deadly crackdown on protesters.

The sanctions imposed by the Treasury Department are the third in a series of punitive US measures placed on Assad and top government officials and follow calls by US President Barack Obama for Assad to step down.

Asset freezes and bans on business interactions were imposed on Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, top presidential advisor Bouthaina Shaaban, and Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali, the Treasury Department said.

9 Eight Vietnamese activists ‘held for subversion’

AFP

6 hrs ago

At least eight political activists have been arrested on subversion charges in Vietnam, their legal adviser said on Tuesday, in a crackdown that began after the prime minister was re-appointed.

The suspects, who have been involved in recent anti-China protests and other activities, were rounded up in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and the north-central province of Nghe An, Le Quoc Quan told AFP.

The eight, all of them belonging to the minority Catholic faith, have been formally arrested for “activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration”, he said. They include Paulus Le Van Son, a blogger.

10 US concerned individuals at risk after WikiLeaks dump

By Lachlan Carmichael, AFP

1 hr 8 mins ago

The United States on Tuesday voiced renewed concern over the risks to individuals after the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks made public more US diplomatic cables, many of which contained the names of sensitive sources.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland would not confirm the authenticity of the latest documents, but said “the United States strongly condemns any illegal disclosure of classified information.

“In addition to damaging our diplomatic efforts, it puts individuals’ security at risk, threatens our national security and undermines our effort to work with countries to solve shared problems,” Nuland told reporters.

11 US, Australia schemed against IAEA chief: cable

AFP

5 hrs ago

The United States and Australia schemed unsuccessfully in 2005 to block Mohamed ElBaradei’s election to a third term as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a newly leaked US diplomatic cable shows.

Both countries were unhappy with ElBaradei’s “unhelpful” response to Iran’s nuclear program, but the bid to prevent his re-election to the nuclear regulatory agency’s leadership ultimately failed for lack of international support.

The February 18, 2005 State Department cable released by WikiLeaks Tuesday opens a window into the effort, describing a lunch conversation between Australian officials and a US special envoy for nuclear non-proliferation, Jackie Sanders.

12 Foreign banks ‘enabling’ Zimbabwe diamond violence: groups

By Joshua Howat Berger, AFP

4 hrs ago

Foreign banks with investments in Zimbabwe are enabling human rights abuses by failing to stop local partners from facilitating illegal sales of the country’s diamonds, rights groups said Tuesday.

The groups called on Barclays, Standard Bank and other banks with ties to Zimbabwe to audit their local partners for evidence of involvement in the sale of gems from the Marange diamond fields, which have been restricted since 2009 under the Kimberley Process, the international “blood diamond” watchdog.

The call comes as the groups, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), released what they say is a leaked document from the parastatal Mineral Marketing Corporation (MMC) of Zimbabwe offering to sell more than $200 million (138 million euros) in illegal Marange diamonds through three Zimbabwean banks.

13 Study warns of housing ‘crisis’

AFP

7 hrs ago

Britain’s housing market is “in crisis” and the government must urgently act to increase the supply of homes, a study warned on Tuesday.

Only 63.8 percent of homes in England will be owned by their occupiers in a decade’s time as more and more people are locked out of the housing market, according to the National Housing Federation (NHF). The figure represents the lowest level since the mid-1980s.

The agency said huge deposits, high house prices and strict lending criteria had combined to leave millions unable to climb onto the property ladder.

14 India’s Maruti Suzuki resumes operations at plant

By Salil Panchal, AFP

7 hrs ago

India’s largest car maker Maruti Suzuki said it had partially resumed operations at one of its plants on Tuesday after locking workers out in a dispute over alleged sabotage.

A spokesman for the Japanese-owned company said operations in highly automated areas like welding and painting had restarted — but no cars had rolled off the assembly line since Monday.

The Japanese-controlled company has demanded that workers sign a “good conduct” pledge before allowing them back into the Manesar plant in the northern state of Haryana.

15 Gaddafi forces hang on in Sirte while he hides

By Samia Nakhoul and Alexander Dziadosz, Reuters

14 mins ago

TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI (Reuters) – Forces loyal to deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi held out in a few Libyan towns on Tuesday even though their leader has gone to ground and most of his family has fled the country.

As anti-Gaddafi fighters converged on his birthplace Sirte from east and west, Libya’s interim council gave the loyalists holed up there a four-day deadline to surrender or face a bloody end.

“By Saturday, if there are no peaceful indications for implementing (a negotiated surrender), we will decide this matter militarily. We do not wish to do so but we cannot wait longer,” council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil said.

16 U.S. sanctions Syrian foreign minister, two others

By Margaret Chadbourn, Reuters

1 hr 50 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration froze the U.S. assets of Syria’s foreign minister and two other senior officials on Tuesday in response to Syria’s increasingly violent crackdown against anti-government protesters.

Along with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, the Treasury Department action targets Bouthaina Shaaban, a top political adviser and spokeswoman for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters the United States had imposed the sanctions on the three because of the “role that they play in propagating and advancing the reign of terror that Assad is exacting on their own people.”

17 Eid protests across Syria defy tanks and troops

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Reuters

3 hrs ago

AMMAN (Reuters) – Security forces shot dead four demonstrators Tuesday as people streamed out of mosques after prayers to mark the end of Ramadan and renewed protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, activists and residents said.

The victims, who included a 13-year-old boy, were killed in the towns of al-Hara and Inkhil in southern Deraa province.

Demonstrations broke out elsewhere across the country, notably in Damascus suburbs, the city of Homs, 165 km (100 miles to the north) and the northwestern province of Idlib, the sources said.

18 Bank of Italy warns on growth as bond sale falters

By Catherine Hornby and James Mackenzie, Reuters

1 hr 54 mins ago

ROME (Reuters) – The Bank of Italy warned on Tuesday that government plans to cut debt were at risk from weak growth as a lukewarm bond sale threatened to drag the euro zone’s third-biggest economy back to the center of the debt crisis.

Ignazio Visco, deputy director-general of the Italian central bank, said growth was likely to be under 1 percent in 2011 and even weaker in 2012 and warned that market tensions remained high, despite government austerity measures.

“The problems of economic growth are perceived as a strong limit to the ability to rebalance the finances of our country,” Visco told a hearing of the Senate budget committee.

19 Exxon, Rosneft tie up in Russian Arctic, U.S.

By Darya Korsunskaya, Reuters

43 mins ago

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp and Rosneft announced an agreement to extract oil and gas from the Russian Arctic, the most significant U.S.-Russian corporate deal since President Barack Obama began a push to improve ties.

The announcement ended any hope that Britain’s BP would be able to revive its deal with state-owned Rosneft to develop the same Arctic territory. That deal was blocked in May by the billionaire partners in another BP Russian venture.

For Exxon, the agreement gives the biggest oil company access to substantial reserves in Russia, the world’s top oil producer. For Rosneft, it’s about bringing in one of the few companies capable of drilling in the harsh, deep waters of the Arctic.

20 Liberal leadership rebuffs united left calls

By Randall Palmer, Reuters

1 hr 49 mins ago

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The leader of the Liberals, a party reduced to also-ran status in the May federal election, on Tuesday rebuffed the idea of an alliance with their left-of-center rivals, even as a former party leader touted a merger as the only way the left would win back power.

Asked about working with the New Democrats, Liberal leader Bob Rae said Liberals needed to focus on rebuilding into a strong fighting force that occupied the center and would be able to grow the economic pie.

“The problem I have with NDP polices is quite clear,” Rae, himself a former New Democratic premier of Ontario. “They always take the pie for granted.”

21 Consumer confidence crumbles to 2-year low

By Leah Schnurr, Reuters

1 hr 27 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Consumer confidence plunged in August to its lowest since the 2007-2009 recession, after a bruising battle over the budget slammed stock prices and pushed the nation to the brink of default.

Tuesday’s data kept alive concerns the United States could slide back into recession, spurring investors to buy government bonds on bets the Federal Reserve would try harder to push down borrowing costs.

The private-sector Conference Board said its index of consumer attitudes sank to 44.5, from a downwardly revised 59.2 in July. The August reading was the weakest since April 2009, when the country still languished in recession, while the drop was the largest since October 2008.

22 Analysis: Pockets of debt illiquidity show rising bank fears

By Karen Brettell, Reuters

1 hr 46 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Pockets of the fixed income and money markets are starting to reflect concern that recent volatility will extend past August, and that growing risk aversion may again roil banks and funding markets.

One sign of worry is the increasing reluctance of banks to use their balance sheets to facilitate trades, which has hit sectors from corporate bonds to the short-term repurchase market, where there is $1.6 trillion in triparty loans.

For example, banks have reduced activity in the intra-dealer Treasury repurchase agreement market by 63 percent since the end of June, according to Barclays Capital.

23 Grim Fed pondered even bolder easing in August

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, Reuters

2 hrs 34 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The central bank in early August discussed a range of unusual tools it could use to help the economy, with some officials pressing for bold new steps to help the economy.

Before settling on a promise to keep rates near zero at least until mid-2013, the Fed examined an array of policy options to shore up a flagging recovery, including tying the path of interest rates to either unemployment or inflation.

“Participants noted a deterioration in labor market conditions, slower household spending, a drop in consumer and business confidence and continued weakness in the housing sector,” according to minutes from the central bank’s August 9 meeting released on Tuesday.

24 Fed officials diverge on treatment for economy

By Jonathan Spicer and Ann Saphir, Reuters

4 hrs ago

NEW YORK/BISMARCK, North Dakota (Reuters) – Two top Federal Reserve officials diverged on Tuesday on the need for further action by the central bank to stimulate the flagging economic recovery, underscoring the dilemma faced by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Charles Evans, president of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank and a noted policy dove, said he favored strong central bank accommodation “for a substantial period of time,” since the economy now looks to be moving “sideways.”

But Naryana Kocherlakota, president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, speaking separately on Tuesday, stopped well short of signaling support for further easing, showing he remains firmly on the hawkish wing of the Fed’s policy-setting panel.

25 Analysis: Obama urged to lay out bold approach on jobs

By Caren Bohan, Reuters

1 hr 50 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic allies to President Barack Obama are rallying around a mantra that they say should guide his strategy on job creation: “Go bold.”

As Obama puts the finishing touches on a speech next week on his ideas for reviving the jobs market and the economy, he is facing rising pressure from Democrats to push for aggressive measures even if those proposals are likely to be declared dead on arrival by Republicans in Congress.

Supporters are calling on him to steer clear of an overly cautious approach and spell out an economic vision that will frame his argument for re-election in 2012.

26 Thousands of public employees laid off in 2010

By Lisa Lambert, Reuters

4 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Local and state governments axed more than 200,000 jobs in 2010, according to U.S. Census data released on Tuesday that showed the growing threat of public employee layoffs to the economic recovery.

According to the Census, local and state governments had 203,321 fewer full-time equivalent employees in 2010 than in 2009 and 27,567 fewer part-time employees.

Most local governments cut full-time jobs in 2010, with the biggest decline in Rhode Island, where the workforce shrank 7.7 percent. Those in North Dakota, one of few states to go through the 2007-09 recession unscathed, added jobs in 2010, with its full-time workforce growing 7.5 percent in 2010.

27 Lehman payout plan OK’d for creditor vote

By Nick Brown, Reuters

1 hr 32 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Creditors of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc will be allowed to vote on the failed bank’s $65 billion payback plan, clearing a major hurdle in the path to ending the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Peck in Manhattan said he would enter an order approving the outline of Lehman’s plan and send it to creditors for a November 4 vote, overruling a handful of objections from corporate creditors.

The disclosures in the plan outline are “abundant and adequate as to the issues in this too-big-to-fail enterprise,” Peck told a packed courtroom.

28 Lehman seeking creditor vote on $65 billion payout

By Nick Brown, Reuters

5 hrs ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc told a bankruptcy judge on Tuesday it has resolved or pushed off eight of the 18 objections to its plan outline to pay creditors back $65 billion and end the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

The company, seeking bankruptcy court permission to let creditors vote on its plan, reached new settlements with affiliates in Singapore and the Netherlands, Lehman lawyer Harvey Miller said at a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing.

It still faces objections from Fidelity National Title Insurance Co, Mason Capital Management LLC, Centerbridge Credit Advisors LLC and others, Miller said.

29 BofA MBS pact faulted by Fannie/Freddie, borrowers

By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

21 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as dozens of investors, lodged objections to Bank of America Corp’s proposed $8.5 billion mortgage-backed securities settlement, while a group of borrowers separately sued to block the accord.

Challenges by the Federal Housing Finance Agency and others were filed as investors who bought securities covered in the settlement faced a Tuesday deadline over whether to intervene in the case, which is overseen by New York State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick in Manhattan.

Some of the challenges were filed simultaneously in federal court, where some of the objectors hope to move the case.

30 Exclusive: Bank of America kept AIG legal threat under wraps

By Lauren Tara LaCapra, Reuters

3 hrs ag

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Top Bank of America Corp lawyers knew as early as January that American International Group Inc was prepared to sue the bank for more than $10 billion, seven months before the lawsuit was filed, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Bank of America shares fell more than 20 percent on August 8, the day the lawsuit was filed, adding to worries about the stability of the largest U.S. bank. It wasn’t until Warren Buffett stepped up with a $5 billion investment that those fears were eased, though hardly eliminated.

The bank made no mention of the lawsuit threat in a quarterly regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission just four days earlier. Nor did management discuss it on conference calls about quarterly results and other pending legal claims.

31 U.S. vote in 2012 will be record, $6 billion election

By Patricia Zengerle, Reuters

4 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Forget the struggling economy. There’s one U.S. industry — Big Politics — that is looking ahead to a record year in 2012.

The U.S. elections will be the most expensive ever, with a total price tag of $6 billion or even more, fueled by millions of dollars in unrestricted donations as Republicans and Democrats vie for control of the White House, Congress and state governments.

“It’s safe to say that, given that we had a $5 billion cycle in 2008, it will certainly be more than that and very likely over $6 billion, which is just an astonishing growth rate,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign spending.

32 HP may resurrect TouchPad, weighs PC spinoff

By Terril Yue Jones, Reuters

3 hrs ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – Hewlett-Packard Co may resurrect its TouchPad as it weighs a spinoff of its personal computer arm, the head of its PC division said, suggesting HP might revive a tablet that lasted just six weeks in the face of stiff competition from Apple Inc.

HP stunned markets two weeks ago, when it announced it may shed its PC business — the world’s largest after the $25 billion acquisition of Compaq in 2002 — as part of a wrenching series of moves away from the consumer market. Those included killing off the TouchPad tablet computer.

Now, the board of the largest U.S. technology company by revenue is expected to decide before the end of the year whether to hive off its PC arm — which began selling the TouchPad in July — into a separate company, considered the best option for shareholders.

33 Obama shakes up gun agency over botched Mexico sting

By Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters

44 mins ag

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration announced on Tuesday a major shake-up of the U.S. agency that botched an attempt to track weapons smuggled to drug cartels in Mexico after guns were allowed to flow freely over the border.

Kenneth Melson, who has been acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives since 2009, was reassigned after admitting mistakes in the sting operation meant to try to crack down on weapons reaching violent drug gangs from U.S. gun stores.

In further fallout from the operation, the U.S. attorney for Arizona, Dennis Burke, has resigned effective immediately after acknowledging mistakes in the operation. The lead prosecutor on the case, Emory Hurley, has also been reassigned, an Obama administration official said.

34 Experimental obesity drug beats placebo again

By Amy Norton, Reuters

3 hrs ago

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The experimental weight-loss drug lorcaserin may spur modest weight loss without the heart risks of some older drugs, a new clinical trial confirms — though whether the medication will ever reach the market remains up in the air.

Last October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declined to approve lorcaserin as an obesity treatment, citing research in rats that suggested there could be a cancer risk.

This latest study, reported in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, backs up earlier research showing that lorcaserin can shave off some extra pounds.

35 Libyan rebels say they’re closing in on Gadhafi

By KARIN LAUB, PAUL SCHEMM, Associated Press

28 mins ago

HEISHA, Libya (AP) – Libyan rebels say they’re closing in on Moammar Gadhafi and issued an ultimatum Tuesday to regime loyalists in the fugitive dictator’s hometown of Sirte, his main remaining bastion: surrender this weekend or face an attack.

“We have a good idea where he is,” a top rebel leader said.

The rebels, tightening their grip on Libya after a military blitz, also demanded that Algeria return Gadhafi’s wife and three of his children who fled there Monday. Granting asylum to his family, including daughter Aisha who gave birth in Algeria on Tuesday, was an “enemy act,” said Ahmed al-Darrad, the rebels’ interior minister.

36 Algeria: Gadhafi’s daughter gives birth

By AOMAR OUALI, GREG KELLER, Associated Press

44 mins ago

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) – Hunted throughout her homeland and forced to flee into exile across a dangerous desert border, the daughter of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi paused somewhere in the Sahara to have a baby.

The dramatic birth of Gadhafi’s granddaughter after her mother and other relatives escaped Libyan territory into Algeria, lends a human dimension to the dictator’s downfall and the ongoing mystery of his whereabouts.

The birth in exile was disclosed by the Algerian Health Ministry on Tuesday.

37 Syrian security forces kill 7 as holy month ends

By ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press

59 mins ago

BEIRUT (AP) – Syrian security forces killed at least seven people, including a 13-year-old boy, as thousands of protesters poured out of mosques and marched through cemeteries Tuesday at the start of Eid al-Fitr, a holiday when pious Muslims traditionally visit graves and pray for the dead.

The three-day holiday marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a time of introspection that many protesters had hoped would become a turning point in the 5-month-old uprising. Instead, the government crackdown on dissent intensified and the conflict has become a bloody stalemate.

“They can shoot and kill as much as they want, we will not stop calling for regime change,” an activist in Daraa told The Associated Press by telephone, asking for anonymity out of fear of reprisals.

38 This month America’s deadliest in long Afghan war

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press

3 hrs ago

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – August has become the deadliest month yet for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year-old war in Afghanistan, increasing pressure on the Obama administration to bring troops home sooner rather than later.

The 66 U.S. service members killed this month eclipses the previous record of 65 killed in July 2010, according to an Associated Press tally. Nearly half the August deaths occurred when insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter Aug. 6, killing 30 American troops, mostly elite Navy SEALs.

Violence is being reported across Afghanistan despite the U.S.-led coalition’s drive to rout insurgents from their strongholds in the south.

39 Petraeus retires with legacy of a difference-maker

By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer

1 hr 7 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – David Petraeus, America’s best-known general and the wartime model of a soldier-scholar-statesman, is retiring as arguably the most consequential Army leader of his generation.

Petraeus is bidding an official farewell to the Army on Wednesday and then opening a new chapter as director of the CIA, where he will try to keep up the pressure on al-Qaida and other terrorist groups plotting attacks from havens in Pakistan and beyond. He is to be sworn in as the nation’s spy chief on Sept. 6, less than one week before the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

After a series of six command assignments as a general officer, including three in Iraq, many expected Petraeus would ascend to the military’s top post, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Instead, President Barack Obama asked him to take over at the Central Intelligence Agency as part of a major shuffle of top national security officials that included Leon Panetta moving from CIA director to succeed the retiring Robert Gates as secretary of defense.

40 Some Fed officials sought more economic stimulus

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

28 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Some Federal Reserve officials pushed in August for a more aggressive response to the economy’s slowdown. They settled for a plan to keep rates near zero for another two years and a won agreement to discuss more options at an extended meeting in September.

Minutes of the Aug. 9 policy meeting released Tuesday show that Fed officials discussed a range of actions, including another round of Treasury bond purchases. Some Fed officials said a weaker economy called for such a step.

Fed officials in the end said they planned to keep rates low until at least mid-2013, assuming the economy remained weak. They also added a second day to their September meeting. That raised speculation that the Fed would announce some further action after that meeting.

41 Biden calls for new clean energy policy for US

By CRISTINA SILVA, Associated Press

1 hr 17 mins ago

LAS VEGAS (AP) – The United States can’t lead the world in the 21st century with its current energy policy, Vice President Joe Biden told alternative technology supporters Tuesday at a clean energy summit in Las Vegas.

Biden said the nation is already trailing China and Germany in green technology. It will trade its dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign clean energy technology if its leaders don’t act to help fledging green researchers and businesses, he said.

“If we shrink from deciding whether we are going to lead in the area of alternative energy, renewable energy, then we will be making the biggest mistake that this nation has made in its history,” Biden said during his keynote speech at the fourth-annual National Clean Energy Summit.

42 Blast at Wyo. oil production site kills 3 workers

By BEN NEARY, Associated Press

56 mins ago

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) – Authorities won’t be able positively to identify the three workers killed in an oilfield explosion in eastern Wyoming until autopsies are performed on them, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The blast occurred Monday at an oil production site on a private ranch, about 40 miles northeast of Casper.

It came as the men worked on a fuel line supplying a heater treatment facility that separates oil from water as the substances are pumped from the ground, said Dennis Neill, spokesman for Samson Resources Co. in Tulsa, Okla.

43 NTSB faults PG&E, regulators in gas explosion

By JOAN LOWY, MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press

1 hr 10 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – A federal safety panel unanimously concluded Tuesday that a series of actions by one of the nation’s largest gas companies caused a gas explosion last year that killed eight people and incinerated a suburban neighborhood near San Francisco.

The five-member National Transportation Safety Board voted that substandard welds and other problems dating to the 1956 installation of a Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s gas transmission line beneath San Bruno, Calif., were the direct cause of the accident. The board also said the company’s inadequate inspection program for pipelines, which allowed the bad welds and other weaknesses to go undetected, helped cause the accident.

Contributing to the accident was lax oversight by state and federal regulators, the board said. Among the problems with government oversight was a lack of federal or state regulations on testing for older pipelines to detect defections, the board said.

44 Outbursts mark Congress jobs hearing in Las Vegas

By KEN RITTER, Associated Press

1 hr 5 mins ago

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Audience outbursts briefly interrupted testimony Tuesday before a trio of Congress members in Las Vegas for a hearing about jobs and improving federal job training in a state saddled with the nation’s highest unemployment rate.

“I support training. But I need a job!” declared Linda Overbey, 54, an unemployed union painter who became the first of a three people escorted by uniformed Las Vegas police from the otherwise polite hearing at the Opportunity Village Ralph and Betty Englestad campus.

Overbey and about a dozen union members who got up and left after the demonstration inside to set up a picket line outside, directed their ire at Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev.

45 Romney on Perry turf assails ‘career politicians’

By WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press

5 mins ago

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney castigated “career politicians” Tuesday as he tried to distinguish himself from chief rival Rick Perry while on the governor’s home turf in Texas.

“I am a conservative businessman. I spent most of my life outside of politics, dealing with real problems in the real economy,” Romney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars annual convention in San Antonio. “Career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don’t know how to get us out.”

Romney didn’t mention Perry by name during the speech, which comes as national polls show Perry with more support than Romney. For months, Romney has led the pack seeking the GOP presidential nomination.

46 AP Interview: Post-9/11 politics of Rudy Giuliani

By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press

1 hr 10 mins ago

NEW YORK (AP) – He was the living symbol of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, a hero to a traumatized nation seeking leadership in a time of crisis. Walking miles through the streets of Manhattan, Mayor Rudy Giuliani urged New York and the world to be calm, said the city would survive. With empathy and restraint, he said the number of 9/11 dead would be “more than any of us can bear.”

“It was the worst experience of my life. It was the most devastating experience for the city I was responsible for,” Giuliani told The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview.

A decade later, the man most connected with 9/11 – earning the enduring moniker of “America’s Mayor” – parlayed his experience into a lucrative security consulting career. But he proved a flop as a presidential contender in 2008, when the heroics of 9/11 didn’t translate into a plausible strategy for winning the Republican nomination. And he says he’s bothered by suggestions that he profited from his 9/11 fame.

47 2 resignations over Operation Fast and Furious

By PETE YOST, Associated Press

55 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – The acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. attorney in Arizona resigned Tuesday amid investigations into a flawed law enforcement operation aimed at major gun-trafficking networks on the Southwest border, the Justice Department announced.

The operation, known as Fast and Furious, was designed to track small-time gun buyers at several Phoenix-area gun shops up the chain to make cases against major weapons traffickers. It was a response to longstanding criticism of ATF for concentrating on small-time gun violations and failing to attack the kingpins of weapons trafficking.

A congressional investigation of the program has turned up evidence that ATF lost track of many of the more than 2,000 guns linked to the operation. The Justice Department inspector general also is looking into the operation at the request of Attorney General Eric Holder.

48 Airlifts take food, water to cut-off Vt. towns

By JOHN CURRAN, Associated Press

55 mins ago

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – National Guard helicopters rushed food and water Tuesday to a dozen Vermont towns cut off by flooding from the rainy remnants of Hurricane Irene in a deluge that took inland areas of New England and upstate New York by surprise with its ferocity.

Vermont Emergency Management spokesman Mark Bosma said the helicopters would bring relief to people in a string of small towns where roads and bridges were washed out: Cavendish, Granville, Hancock, Killington-Mendon, Marlboro, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Rochester, Stockbridge, Strafford, Stratton and Wardsboro.

Officials also used heavy-duty National Guard vehicles to reach communities where roads may be passable.

49 AP IMPACT: Automation in the air dulls pilot skill

By JOAN LOWY, Associated Press

3 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Pilots’ “automation addiction” has eroded their flying skills to the point that they sometimes don’t know how to recover from stalls and other mid-flight problems, say pilots and safety officials. The weakened skills have contributed to hundreds of deaths in airline crashes in the last five years.

Some 51 “loss of control” accidents occurred in which planes stalled in flight or got into unusual positions from which pilots were unable to recover, making it the most common type of airline accident, according to the International Air Transport Association.

“We’re seeing a new breed of accident with these state-of-the art planes,” said Rory Kay, an airline captain and co-chair of a Federal Aviation Administration advisory committee on pilot training. “We’re forgetting how to fly.”

50 Pfizer, docs: New cancer pill gives hope, strategy

By LINDA A. JOHNSON, AP Business Writer

57 mins ago

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – Pfizer Inc.’s just-approved drug Xalkori, the first new medicine in more than six years for deadly lung cancer, proves the value of precisely targeting rare diseases linked to gene variants, cancer specialists and Pfizer executives said Tuesday.

The drug was approved Friday in the U.S. along with a companion diagnostic test for just a small subset of lung cancer patients. It epitomizes drugmakers’ new strategy of developing very expensive but effective medicines for relatively few patients to replace the blockbusters for the masses now getting competition from generic drugs.

It’s also in the vanguard of long-awaited personalized medicine, in which doctors identify patients with gene changes or variations that fuel their disease and then try to match them with new medicines that specifically target those genes.

51 All events live in some form for Olympics on NBC

By RACHEL COHEN, AP Sports Writer

57 mins ago

NEW YORK (AP) – NBC’s Olympic coverage in London will look very familiar, with one major twist.

For the first time, the network plans to show every event live in some form – even if it’s just raw video streaming online. But the prime-time broadcasts will still use that traditional formula of human-interest features and taped competition.

The man behind that coverage will be someone steeped in the NBC philosophy of packaging the Olympics for a wide audience. NBC announced Tuesday that “Today” executive producer Jim Bell would serve in that role for the 2012 Games.

1 comment

  1. ek hornbeck

    Fucking Yahoo!

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