Sep 07 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 NASA mulls ‘what-ifs’ of unmanned space station

By Kerry Sheridan, AFP

2 hrs 6 mins ago

NASA is mulling the worst-case scenarios of leaving the $100 billion International Space Station unstaffed for a period of time following the crash of a Russian rocket, US astronauts said Tuesday.

Two Americans aboard the ISS, Ron Garan and Mike Fossum, told reporters in a video press conference from space that they have begun minimal preparations, namely taking video of some tasks in order to quickly train future station staff.

However, NASA mission managers in Houston are hard at work on contingency plans after both Russia and the United States admitted that abandoning the research outpost, at least temporarily, is a possibility.

2 James Murdoch ‘knew about hacking email’

By Sam Reeves, AFP

2 hrs 8 mins ago

James Murdoch was told in 2008 about an email that showed phone hacking at the now-defunct News of the World tabloid was more widespread than his company claimed, the paper’s former lawyer said Tuesday.

The claim heaped fresh pressure on the 38-year-old, the son of Rupert Murdoch and chairman of the British newspaper subsidiary that published the tabloid, after he denied at a parliamentary hearing in July any knowledge of the email.

James Murdoch is increasingly becoming the focus of the phone-hacking scandal which prompted the closure in July of the 168-year-old tabloid and has rocked his family’s News Corp. empire.

3 Ex-media mogul Conrad Black goes back to jail

By Mira Oberman, AFP

40 mins ago

Deposed media mogul Conrad Black traded tailored suits for prison garb for the second time Tuesday after failing to fully clear himself of fraud and obstruction charges, US prison officials said.

“My only fear for the next seven months is the sadness of being separated from (my wife) Barbara, although I am also resigned to tedium,” Black wrote in a farewell column in Canada’s National Post Saturday.

The flamboyant newspaper baron and British Lord — who once counted politicians and pop stars among his entourage — reported to prison as a memoir professing his innocence and detailing his remarkable fall from grace hit bookshelves.

4 Switzerland pegs franc to euro

By Jules Caron, AFP

20 hrs ago

Switzerland sprang a surprise, pegging the Swiss franc down against the euro on Tuesday, but analysts said this was a risky defence against the eurozone crisis.

The franc, which has surged by about 20 percent as investors seek refuge from the eurozone crisis, dropped nearly 10.0 percent after the central bank issued this and other signals that it would fight the inflow of funds.

The bank said that it stood ready with more measures to ring fence the franc.

5 Italian, Spanish unions mobilise against cuts

By Michelle Leridon, AFP

20 hrs ago

Unions mounted a general strike in Italy and organised mass protests in Spain on Tuesday as they battled government efforts to tackle the debt crisis in two of the eurozone’s most beleaguered economies.

Parts of Italy’s public transport network ground to a halt and major attractions such as the Colosseum in Rome were closed by the strike as tens of thousands of workers took to the streets across the country.

“This is a plan the country doesn’t deserve,” said Susanna Camusso, head of the largest CGIL union, as she led a march through Rome hours before Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s austerity package was to go before the Senate.

6 Russia launches first gas link to Western Europe

By Marina Koreneva, AFP

20 hrs ago

Russia on Tuesday inserted the first gas into a controversial undersea pipeline that for the first time will bypass nations such as Ukraine and deliver energy directly to Western Europe.

The 1,220-kilometre (760-mile) Nord Stream project was agreed in 2005 by then German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin — at that time serving as president — amid opposition from some other EU states.

Both men’s attendance at the first gas ceremony outside his native home city of Saint Petersburg coincided with the second serious flare-up over energy prices between Moscow and Kiev since 2009.

7 Libyan convoy enters Niger, Kadhafi rumoured aboard

By Deborah Pasmantier, AFP

13 hrs ago

A Libyan military convoy with Moamer Kadhafi rumoured aboard has crossed into Niger, a military source said, as new regime fighters were poised to strike at one of the toppled strongman’s last bastions.

Kadhafi’s spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, however, insisted the fugitive dictator is in top health and planning his country’s defence, and that he and his sons were ready to fight to the death, though he gave no clue of their whereabouts.

“I saw an exceptionally large and rare convoy of several dozen vehicles enter Agadez from Arlit… and go towards Niamey” late Monday, the Niger military source said, referring to the northern Niger city of Agadez.

8 Roma skills get new life with EU-funded project

By Mihaela Rodina, AFP

4 hrs ago

“I am proud of my work and happy to see that people like the objects I make,” said Vasile Anusca, a Roma wicker worker, while weaving a basket in his yard swarming with children.

At Mironeasa, in north-eastern Romania, wicker and wood-working skills have been handed down from generation to generation and all of Anusca’s 13 children have had a go.

“We don’t make a lot of money but at least we can feed our families,” said Anusca’s brother, Viorel.

9 Philippines catches ‘largest crocodile on record’

By Cecil Morella, AFP

11 hrs ago

A monster 21-foot (6.4-meter) saltwater crocodile, believed to be the biggest ever captured, has been trapped in the southern Philippines after a spate of fatal attacks, officials said Tuesday.

The 1,075-kg (2,370-pound) male is suspected of eating a farmer who went missing in July in the town of Bunawan, and of killing a 12-year-old girl whose head was bitten off two years ago, crocodile hunter Rollie Sumiller said.

The hunter examined the crocodile’s stomach contents by forcing it to vomit after it was captured Saturday, but there was no trace of human remains or of several water buffaloes also reported missing by locals.

10 Fewer Americans smoking, survey finds

By Robert MacPherson, AFP

2 hrs 8 mins ago

Fewer American adults are smoking, and those who still do are lighting up less, suggests a nationwide survey from the US Centers for Disease Control released on Tuesday.

Using data from 2005 to 2010, researchers with the US government agency reckoned that 19.3 percent of American adults — or 45.3 million people over the age of 18 — are smoking cigarettes, down from 20.9 percent in 2005.

“There are three million fewer smokers in America than there were five years ago,” said CDC director Tom Frieden, elaborating on the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (www.cdc.gov/mmwr).

11 Special report: The secret plan to take Tripoli

By Samia Nakhoul, Reuters

7 hrs ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime was delivered by a caterer, on a memory stick.

Abdel Majid Mlegta ran the companies that supplied meals to Libyan government departments including the interior ministry. The job was “easy,” he told Reuters last week. “I built good relations with officers. I wanted to serve my country.”

But in the first few weeks of the uprising, he secretly began to work for the rebels. He recruited sympathizers at the nerve center of the Gaddafi government, pinpointed its weak links and its command-and-control strength in Tripoli, and passed that information onto the rebel leadership on a series of flash memory cards.

12 Libyan convoys in Niger, may be Gaddafi deal

By Emma Farge and Abdoulaye Massalatchi, Reuters

8 mins ago

BENGHAZI, Libya/AGADEZ, Niger (Reuters) – Scores of Libyan army vehicles crossed the desert frontier into Niger in what may be a bid by Muammar Gaddafi to seek refuge in a friendly African state, military sources from France and Niger told Reuters on Tuesday.

The United States said it believed the convoy was carrying senior members of Gaddafi’s entourage but not the fallen leader himself.

The Libyan rebels who overthrew Gaddafi two weeks ago said they also thought about a dozen other vehicles that crossed the remote border may have carried gold and cash apparently looted from a branch of Libya’s central bank in Gaddafi’s home town.

13 Exclusive: Gaddafi used torture squads in bid to preserve rule

By Christian Lowe, Reuters

3 hrs ago

KHOMS, Libya (Reuters) – Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi deployed special squads which held suspected opponents in shipping containers, tortured them for information about insurgent networks and disposed of their bodies in unmarked graves in a campaign to smash the revolt against his rule.

Evidence gathered by Reuters in the provincial town of Khoms shows an organized system of repression with methods including delivering electric shocks to suspects’ genitals, keeping them for weeks in baking heat with only a few sips of water a day, and whipping them with an electrical cable while their hands were bound with plastic ties.

It was all part of a deliberate strategy, said Nabil Al-Menshaz, an official in the rebel council which took over Khoms after Gaddafi’s rule there collapsed last month. “They wanted to frighten the people, so if anyone was thinking of going over to the rebels, they would change their minds,” he said.

14 Italy and Greece worries shake euro zone

By Noah Barkin, Reuters

8 hrs ago

BERLIN (Reuters) – The euro zone’s debt crisis appeared at risk of spiraling out of control on Tuesday amid doubts about Italy and Greece’s willingness to push through austerity demanded by their partners, and hardening opposition to further aid in paymaster Germany.

Against a backdrop of nationwide strikes, the government of embattled Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi scrambled to secure parliamentary backing for a package of reforms that has hammered Rome’s credibility in financial markets because of the chaotic way it has been handled.

Meanwhile fiscal backsliding in Greece has put a new aid payment from the country’s international lenders at risk and prompted some lawmakers in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party to press her on why Athens is not simply booted out of the 17-nation currency bloc.

15 Swiss draw line in the sand to cap runaway franc

By Emma Thomasson and Catherine Bosley, Reuters

4 hrs ago

ZURICH (Reuters) – The Swiss National Bank shocked markets on Tuesday by setting an exchange rate cap on the soaring franc to stave off a recession, discouraging investors anxious about flagging global growth from using the currency as a safe haven.

Using some of the strongest language from a central bank in the modern era, the SNB said it would no longer tolerate an exchange rate below 1.20 francs to the euro and would defend the target by buying other currencies in unlimited quantities.

The move immediately knocked about 8 percent off the value of the franc, which had soared by a third since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 as investors used it as a safe haven from the euro zone’s debt crisis and stock market turmoil.

16 World stocks fall; Swiss central bank move sinks franc

By Richard Leong, Reuters

16 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global stock markets fell on Tuesday on worries of the European debt crisis worsening, while the Swiss central bank’s bold move to slow the safe-haven rush into its currency caused a record 10 percent drop of the franc versus the euro.

Nervous investors channeled cash into less-risky assets as doubts resurfaced over Italian and Greek willingness to implement tough budget and debt measures demanded by other euro zone members, while Germany hardened its stand against giving more aid.

“Europe is where you have to be focused right now, and Europe doesn’t look good,” said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.

17 Wall Street down on Europe; bear market fears grow

By Edward Krudy, Reuters

18 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street fell for a third day on Tuesday on fears Europe still has failed to tackle its debt crisis, prompting worries the market is headed to new lows for the year.

Investors channeled cash into less risky assets as doubts resurfaced over the political will of Italy and Greece to push through tough budget measures and as Germany hardened its stand against providing more aid. The worries over the European debt crisis renewed fears that the global economy could fall into recession.

The S&P 500 is now down 14.5 percent from its highest point in 2011, reached at the end of April. Though investors have periodically taken heart from signs that Europe has carved out a plan to deal with its festering crisis, confidence has been repeatedly walloped every time there is a development showing that the problems have not been solved.

18 U.S. bank stocks slide on mortgage worries

By Joe Rauch, Reuters

30 mins ago

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America led bank stocks lower on Tuesday after mortgage lawsuits filed late on Friday aggravated investor fears that the biggest banks could face massive legal liabilities.

Late on Friday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency sued 17 large U.S. banks and financial institutions over $200 billion in subprime mortgage-backed bonds, now owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

JPMorgan shares declined 3.4 percent to close at $33.44 and Bank of America Corp dropped 3.6 percent to $6.99, outpacing a 2.5 percent fall for Citigroup Inc shares.

19 Insight: Dismal summer for teen jobs may scar young Americans

By Kristina Cooke, Reuters

1 hr 50 mins ago

NEWBURGH, New York (Reuters) – Teenagers hung out on street corners and on the steps of boarded-up buildings in impoverished downtown Newburgh one blisteringly hot August day this year.

With the economy still in the doldrums and government summer work programs losing funding, there was little for them to do in this town about 60 miles north of New York City.

They were not alone: It was the worst summer on record for U.S. teenagers seeking work, delaying millions of young Americans’ entry into the labor force and creating a generation that history suggests may be scarred by the experience.

20 Sprint sues to block AT&T’s proposed T-Mobile buy

By Andrew Longstreth, Reuters

21 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sprint Nextel sued to stop AT&T Inc’s $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA, staking out its own private antitrust claims alongside the government’s challenge to the deal.

Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. wireless carrier, filed its lawsuit in the same federal court that is to hear the Department of Justice’s case opposing the buyout. A fierce opponent of the deal, Sprint said the combination would lead to higher prices for consumers and create a duopoly between AT&T and Verizon Communications.

“AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile is brazenly anticompetitive,” Sprint said in court papers on Tuesday. Sprint said it would be marginalized by the buyout, and the deal “would force consumers to endure higher prices and be denied the fruits of vigorous innovation.”

21 U.S. must reveal some cellphone tracking cases: court

By Jeremy Pelofsky and James Vicini, Reuters

1 hr 4 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The government must tell the public how it tracked suspects by cellphone without having given a judge detailed reasons for the tracking in some cases, an appeals court ruled on Tuesday, in a case pitting new technology against privacy rights.

A leading civil liberties group claimed victory in one of several cases making its way through the court system weighing privacy rights against law enforcement using data available through the proliferation of new technologies like the Global Positioning System (GPS), cellphones and laptop computers.

“I highly doubt that the 90 percent of Americans who carry cell phones thought that when they got cellphone service they were giving up their privacy in their movements,” said Catherine Crump, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union who argued the case.

22 Obama faces crucial period for judicial nominations

By Carlyn Kolker, Reuters

1 hr 13 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – With the Senate set to vote on just one judicial nominee as it returns to work on Tuesday, President Obama faces an uphill fight to get federal judges approved and ease a backlog of cases in the courts.

There are about 90 vacant federal judgeships, a deficit that is reverberating around the country as workloads for remaining judges build. In 37 of these vacancies, the courts have declared emergencies because of the length of vacancy and backlog of cases.

While getting the Senate to confirm judges is a perennial problem for presidents, Obama is on track to perform even worse than his predecessor, due to particular rancor in Washington and, some critics say, because the White House focus has been on other priorities.

23 Wildfires sweep across Texas, charring 1,000 homes

By Karen Brooks, Reuters

42 mins ago

AUSTIN (Reuters) – Wildfires sweeping across drought-stricken Texas have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and forced thousands of evacuations in the last several days.

The worst of the fires, the Bastrop County Complex fire, located about 30 miles southeast of Austin, has destroyed up to 600 homes, the most of any single fire in Texas history. About 5,000 people have been evacuated in Bastrop County alone.

The Texas Forest Service has responded to at least 85 new fires in the last 48 hours, burning on more than 32,000 acres. The fires have killed two people and injured three firefighters, none seriously, according to officials.

24 Top Gadhafi loyalists flee to Niger in desert trek


4 mins 51 secs ago

TARHOUNA, Libya (AP) – Convoys of Moammar Gadhafi loyalists, including his security chief, fled across the Sahara Desert into neighboring Niger on Tuesday in a move that Libya’s former rebels hoped could undermine the ousted leader’s support in his last strongholds in the country and help lead to their surrender.

Still, efforts to negotiate the peaceful handover of one of the most crucial of those strongholds, the city of Bani Walid, proved difficult.

Tribal elders from Bani Walid who met Tuesday with former rebels were met by angry residents of the city, including Gadhafi supporters, who fired in the air to intimidate them, sending them fleeing, mediators said. The round of talks illustrated how many in Bani Walid remain deeply mistrustful of the forces that have seized power in the country and reluctant to accept their rule, even beyond a simple loyalty to the ousted leader.

25 Knox trial: Doubt reigns as experts fight over DNA

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press

25 mins ago

PERUGIA, Italy (AP) – Questions mounted Tuesday over crucial DNA evidence linking Amanda Knox and her co-defendant to the murder of her British roommate, with forensic experts giving detailed and conflicting views in court over genetic science.

Knox felt “disoriented” after two days listening to the reports about DNA extraction and attribution, her lawyer said. A prosecution consultant and a lawyer suggested further testing on DNA evidence might be warranted, a step prosecutors might decide to push for as the appeals trial continues.

Without a clear motive or convincing witnesses, much of the appeals outcome hinges on how the court views the DNA evidence.

26 Krakow: Historic Polish city, college-town vibe

By CARYN ROUSSEAU, Associated Press

32 mins ago

KRAKOW, Poland (AP) – With crowds of tourists and a college-town atmosphere, Krakow – once the capital of Poland – has become a European hot spot.

The center of it all is the centuries-old main square in the Old Town, or Stare Miasto, where brick streets are filled with restaurants, coffee shops, trendy boutiques and sidewalk cafes. Midnight feels like noon as crowds crawl late into the night, when many establishments turn bar, pub, disco or dance club. The sound of singing rises up from cellars filled with party-goers.

Krakow, a city of about 800,000 on the banks of the Vistula River in southern Poland, attracts about 7 million tourists a year. The city also boasts two dozen universities with nearly 210,000 students. The mix translates into a youthful, fun energy in the formerly communist country.

27 Pentagon chief says threat of another 9/11 is real

By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer

1 hr 30 mins ago

NEW YORK (AP) – After a decade of war with al-Qaida the potential for another devastating terrorist assault “remains very real,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday following a somber visit to ground zero of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

The Pentagon chief walked through the National September 11 Memorial park and museum with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and afterward told reporters that Americans must remain vigilant against the threat of another successful al-Qaida attack.

“The potential for that kind of attack remains very real,” he said from the 10th floor of 7 World Trade Center, the first completed office tower at the site where hijacked commercial airliners were flown into the Twin Towers, killing more than 2,700 people.

28 At CIA, Petraeus takes up top spy post

By KIMBERLY DOZIER, AP Intelligence Writer

27 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – David Petraeus, the newly retired general with the megawatt media profile, was sworn in Tuesday as CIA director, leaving behind a 37-year Army career that made him the best-known general of his generation.

Petraeus was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden as the 20th director of the so-called silent service in a ceremony at the White House.

“You led and trained the 9/11 generation to become the greatest group of warriors this country has ever seen,” Biden said of Petraeus. “You’ve excelled in every single thing you’ve done.”

29 Analyst sees inflation risk for gold mining stocks


29 mins ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Concerns over the weak dollar have helped boost gold prices, but should higher inflation drive up interest rates, that could stymie growth in the price of gold and also hurt gold producers’ shares, a Jefferies analyst said Tuesday.

THE OPINION: While sharp hikes in interest rates are unlikely in the near term, higher rates remain a long-term risk for gold mining companies and the price of gold, especially if inflation rises, Jefferies analyst Peter Ward said.

In a research note on the mining sector, Ward said that when central banks dramatically raised interest rates to fight high inflation in the late 1970s, many gold investors chose to sell their gold and invest in government bonds with yields of more than 12 percent.

30 Gold fever sweeps the criminal underworld

By THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press

31 mins ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Gus Rodriguez looks more like a soldier than a jewelry store security guard, with a Beretta handgun strapped to his bulletproof vest, shades wrapped around his shaved head and pepper spray bulging from a breast pocket.

“I am not afraid,” the former Ecuadorean military man says, patting his pistol. “They call me Rambo.”

After a summer of brazen attacks on gold stores, parts of downtown Los Angeles now look more like a militarized zone than a commercial corridor.

31 Meth laws in some places cause spikes elsewhere

By JIM SALTER, Associated Press

32 mins ago

ST. LOUIS (AP) – An increasing number of Missouri communities are fighting methamphetamine by requiring prescriptions to purchase cold and allergy pills containing pseudoephedrine – a key meth ingredient. But police believe the meth makers are simply going to neighboring towns and counties to get their pills.

Narcotics officers said Tuesday that pseudoephedrine sales are up sharply in some Missouri locations without prescription laws, including St. Louis city and county.

Opponents of prescription laws maintain that the vast majority of purchases are by law-abiding citizens, not pill shoppers looking to make the illegal and dangerous drug.

32 Wildfires sweep across Texas, charring 1,000 homes

By Karen Brooks, Reuters

43 mins ago

AUSTIN (Reuters) – Wildfires sweeping across drought-stricken Texas have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and forced thousands of evacuations in the last several days.

The worst of the fires, the Bastrop County Complex fire, located about 30 miles southeast of Austin, has destroyed up to 600 homes, the most of any single fire in Texas history. About 5,000 people have been evacuated in Bastrop County alone.

The Texas Forest Service has responded to at least 85 new fires in the last 48 hours, burning on more than 32,000 acres. The fires have killed two people and injured three firefighters, none seriously, according to officials.

33 Officials: 1,000 Texas homes burned in past week

By WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press

26 mins ago

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed in at least 57 wildfires across rain-starved Texas, most of them in one devastating blaze near Austin that is still raging out of control, officials said Tuesday.

Gov. Rick Perry, who cut short a presidential campaign trip to South Carolina on Monday to return to help oversee firefighting efforts in Texas, toured a blackened area near Bastrop, about 25 miles from Austin, where a fast-moving blaze destroyed nearly 600 homes on Monday.

At a news conference afterward, he marveled at the destruction and pointing out that more than 100,000 acres in the drought-stricken state had burned over the past week, and that more than 3.5 million acres – an area roughly the size of Connecticut – had burned since December.

34 Mass. lawmakers consider new wind power process

By JOHANNA KAISER, The Associated Press

22 mins ago

BOSTON (AP) – Windy cities and towns in Massachusetts could soon use a more streamlined process for permitting land-based wind turbines under a proposal that proponents say will prevent unnecessary delays while maintaining local control of the process.

The proposal, set to go before the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy on Wednesday, would establish local boards to handle wind turbine proposals as a whole instead of requiring developers to seek various approvals from multiple local committees. The proposed project must produce at least 2 megawatts of electricity.

These wind energy permitting boards would consist of at least one member of the local zoning board of appeals, the local conservation commission and the local planning board. The energy boards would confer with other municipal boards, but backers hope expediting the application process will help put more turbines on the landscape.

35 Who’s who of gas industry meeting in Philadelphia

By MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press

33 mins ago

A who’s who of Pennsylvania’s emergent natural gas industry will meet in Philadelphia this week to talk about a shale gas boom that supporters say has boosted domestic energy supplies while creating tens of thousands of jobs. Drilling opponents, meanwhile, are planning a rival event to spotlight what they contend is the environmental and public health toll.

An industry trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, expects 1,600 attendees at its inaugural “Shale Gas Insight” conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Wednesday and Thursday.

The sold-out event will include presentations by the CEOs of several major drilling companies as well as speeches by Gov. Tom Corbett and his two immediate predecessors, Ed Rendell and Tom Ridge, all of whom have been supporters of an industry that’s grown exponentially since the first successful Marcellus well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 2004.

36 Romney jobs plan: cut taxes, slap China, drill oil

By KASIE HUNT, Associated Press

9 mins ago

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) – Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, in a wide-ranging bid to create jobs, proposed Tuesday to reduce regulations and taxes on companies, sanction China over its currency practices and weaken the clout of labor unions.

Trying to hold off surging rival Rick Perry, Romney traveled to economically suffering Nevada to deliver his multi-point plan that was designed to position him as the GOP contender with the most comprehensive approach to job growth. It calls for reducing or eliminating several taxes, extracting more U.S. oil, coal and natural gas, expanding trade pacts and slashing federal spending.

Democrats called Romney’s plan wrong-headed and doomed to fail. Taxes already are near historic lows, they noted, and many employers say weak consumer demand is more troubling than taxes or regulation.

37 Immigrant rights groups protest NM special session

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS, Associated Press

23 mins ago

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – Chanting “Jesus was an immigrant,” advocates greeted state lawmakers Tuesday as they returned for a special session that could consider a proposed repeal of a law that lets those illegally in the country get New Mexico driver’s licenses.

About 60 protesters and advocates, bused in from southern New Mexico by the group Border Network for Human Rights, lobbied lawmakers and presented a petition signed by 5,000 residents to Gov. Susana Martinez.

Outside the Capitol, about 150 tea party members held a counter-protest in support of the Republican governor’s plan to repeal the driver’s license law.

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