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Sep 09 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 37 stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Libya’s new PM warns toughest battles lie ahead

By Andrew Beatty, AFP

2 hrs 36 mins ago

Libya’s new de facto premier on Thursday used his first major address in Tripoli to warn that liberation was not yet complete and the hardest battles were yet to come.

Speaking in the capital for the first time since Moamer Kadhafi’s ouster, Mahmud Jibril laid out the stark challenges ahead for a nation reborn in the fire of a seven-month-long civil war.

If Libyans were expecting a triumphalist address two weeks after Kadhafi’s fall from power they would have been chastened.

2 Libyan capital takes Kadhafi out of the classroom

By Dominique Soguel, AFP

10 hrs ago

Schools in the Libyan capital are gearing up for a very different kind of academic year: replacing repeated oaths of allegiance to the autocratic Guide, Moamer Kadhafi, with lessons in democracy.

“We feel so happy because we are free,” said Rafa al-Sharif, 15, wrapped in the flag of Libya’s former monarchy, which was adopted by anti-Kadhafi forces as their banner.

Sharif said she is eager to learn about King Idris, who ruled Libya from the time it was first united in 1951 until he was overthrown by Kadhafi in 1969, “because he was so kind. He wasn’t like Kadhafi. Kadhafi is a criminal.”

3 Syria forces storm village, kill three defectors: activist

AFP

4 hrs ago

Syria, accused by France of “crimes against humanity,” on Thursday sent its security forces storming into a northwestern village where they killed three military defectors, rights activists said.

Pro-democracy activists, meanwhile, called for the United Nations to send international observers to Syria.

“The Syrian people calls on the United Nations to adopt a resolution to set up a permanent observer mission in Syria,” activists said on their Facebook page, “Syrian Revolution.”

4 US soldier killed BBC reporter in Afghanistan: coalition

By Katherine Haddon, AFP

1 hr 55 mins ago

The NATO-led foreign military force in Afghanistan admitted Thursday that a US soldier shot dead an Afghan journalist working for the BBC in July after mistaking him for a suicide bomber.

Ahmed Omed Khpulwak, 25, was killed in a case of “mistaken identity” shortly after 20 people died in a suicide bombing at the office where he was working in troubled southern Afghanistan.

The US soldier responsible for his death is not facing any disciplinary action in connection with the incident, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings said.

5 Iraqi died after ‘Gratuitous violence’ by UK soldiers

By Alice Ritchie, AFP

1 hr 31 mins ago

Britain’s army said Thursday the death of an Iraqi detainee in Basra had cast a “dark shadow” over its reputation, after an inquiry found he suffered “gratuitous violence” at the hands of soldiers.

Hotel receptionist Baha Mousa, 26, was hooded, assaulted and held in stress positions along with nine other Iraqis following their detention by 1st Battalion the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment (1QLR) in September 2003, the inquiry found.

Mousa, a father of two, died 36 hours after he was arrested after sustaining 93 separate injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken nose.

6 Malaysia’s Borneo tribes lose test case over mega-dam

By M. Jegathesan, AFP

2 hrs 9 mins ago

A 12-year legal battle by indigenous tribes in Malaysia against their ancestral land being seized to build a mega-dam on Borneo island ended in defeat Thursday in the nation’s top court.

Indigenous people present at the court said they were devastated by the ruling, while activists said it could encourage the government to requisition more land on Malaysia’s part of Borneo and create “internal refugees”.

“It is an unfair decision. I have not been fully compensated,” said Ngajang Midin, 50, of the Ukit tribe, as tears rolled down his face. He has already moved to higher ground and the multi-billion-dollar dam has begun operations.

7 Japan’s new PM visits crisis-hit Fukushima

AFP

44 mins ago

Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on Thursday visited Fukushima for the first time since he took office a week ago, paying tribute to hundreds of workers battling to contain the nuclear crisis.

Noda told some 200 workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, that “without the rebirth of Fukushima, there will not be a rebirth of Japan.”

“An end to the accident is what our country and the world is hoping for,” said the premier, who was clad in white protective gear, according to local media.

8 Obama to unveil jobs plan

By Stephen Collinson, AFP

1 hr 15 mins ago

Armed with a jobs plan that could be worth $400 billion, President Barack Obama Thursday takes on the huge challenge of reviving the lumbering US economy and restoring public trust in his leadership.

Obama will summon the grandeur of a rare joint session of Congress to lay out a plan for middle class tax cuts, infrastructure spending, help for the unemployed and the passage of trade deals designed to boost US exports.

The speech at 7:00 pm (2300 GMT) may represent Obama’s last chance to reignite slowed growth and make a dent in 9.1 unemployment before 2012, when he will ask voters for a second term in a still tough economic environment.

9 Early tool-maker fossil should ‘rewrite’ history: study

By Kerry Sheridan, AFP

1 hr 56 mins ago

She swung in the trees like a chimp but had long dexterous fingers for tool-making and hybrid feet for walking upright, a major study Thursday on the ancient hominid Australopithecus sediba suggested.

Until now, the first tool-maker was widely believed to be Homo habilis, based on a set of 21 fossilized hand bones found in Tanzania that date back 1.75 million years.

But a close examination of two partial fossilized skeletons of Au. sediba discovered in South Africa in 2008 suggests these creatures who roamed the Earth 1.9 million years ago were crafting tools even earlier, and could be the first direct ancestor of the Homo species.

10 Gaddafi vows to fight on, Libyans try to move on

By Christian Lowe, Reuters

3 hrs ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – The voice of Muammar Gaddafi boomed out from his hiding place on Thursday, denying he had fled Libya and cursing as rats and stray dogs those whose efforts to start governing in his place are being frustrated by his diehard followers.

“We will not leave our ancestral land,” Gaddafi said in what Syria’s Arrai TV said was a live broadcast from somewhere in Libya. “The youths are now ready to escalate the resistance against the rats in Tripoli and to finish off the mercenaries.”

“Our resolute Libyan people, the Libyan land is your own,” said the 69-year-old who ran the country since he was 27 until two weeks ago. “Those who try to take it from you now, they are intruders, they are mercenaries, they are stray dogs.”

11 U.S. civilian surge to Afghanistan cost $2 billion: report

By Susan Cornwell, Reuters

23 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A surge of U.S. civilian advisers into Afghanistan has cost nearly $2 billion so far, a U.S. government watchdog said on Thursday, calculating the price of an important part of President Obama’s war strategy.

U.S. development experts are not much cheaper than the cost of sending soldiers to Afghanistan, according to data in the audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR.

The report said it was costing between $410,000 and $570,000 to deploy one civilian U.S. government employee to Afghanistan for a year.

12 World policymakers see darkening outlook

By Kristina Cooke, Reuters

1 hr 44 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – From Seoul to Washington, policymakers are increasingly worried about the outlook for the global economy.

Central banks in Europe and Asia took a more cautious stance on Thursday and Brazil said the deteriorating world economy prompted its surprise rate cut last week.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank would do what it can to boost growth and reduce unemployment, but offered no details on what that would entail.

13 ECB signals rates on hold, nervous about economy

By Sakari Suoninen, Reuters

2 hrs 25 mins ago

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank signaled on Thursday that it had halted a cycle of interest rate rises begun just five months ago, saying euro zone inflation risks were no longer skewed to the upside and economic growth would be slow at best.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said there were “intensified downside risks” to the economic outlook for the 17-country euro zone, marking a significant change in stance from last month when the bank was focused on inflation risks.

“The change in tone firmly shelves rate hikes and even opens the door to rate cuts if the economic outlook deteriorates further,” said ABN Amro economist Nick Kounis.

14 Obama to call for urgent steps on economy

By Caren Bohan and Laura MacInnis, Reuters

2 hrs 13 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will lay out a jobs package worth more than $300 billion on Thursday, staking his re-election hopes on a call for urgent action to revive the economy and challenging Republicans who have consistently opposed his initiatives.

With his poll numbers at new lows amid voter frustration with 9.1 percent unemployment, Obama will make tax cuts for middle-class households and businesses the centerpiece of the plan and will press for new spending to repair roads, bridges and other deteriorating infrastructure.

Obama, who pushed through an $800 billion economic stimulus package in 2009, will use his televised speech to a joint session of Congress at 7 p.m. EDT to urge passage of his “American Jobs Act” by the end of this year.

15 Analysis: Time running out for a Reagan-style recovery

By Alister Bull, Reuters

3 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has scant time left to build the muscular economic recovery that won Ronald Reagan his re-election in 1984 after he seemed similarly at risk of being a one-term president at the half way point in his administration.

As he prepares to deliver a vital speech on Thursday to boost job growth and lift his standing with voters, Obama’s approval rating is the lowest since Jimmy Carter’s and not far behind Reagan’s at similar stages in their presidencies.

Obama will urge Congress to back tax cuts and spending designed to lower the unemployment rate which is stuck above 9.0 percent, but he must persuade Republican lawmakers who have voiced skepticism that his policies will work.

16 Bernanke: Fed to help restore strong growth, mum on measures

By David Bailey, Reuters

2 hrs 13 mins ago

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Thursday the U.S. central bank would spare no effort to boost disappointingly weak growth and reduce unemployment, while downplaying concerns about inflation.

While the Fed chairman did little to change expectations of a further easing of monetary policy when officials meet on September 20-21, he offered no details of steps the Fed might take.

“The Federal Reserve will do all it can to help restore high rates of growth and employment in a context of price stability,” Bernanke told the Economic Club of Minnesota.

17 Bernanke disappointment pushes Wall Street lower

By Edward Krudy, Reuters

22 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks closed sharply lower on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave no indications of new stimulus measures to boost the flagging economy in a keenly awaited speech.

Investors have been looking to Bernanke, who gave his outlook on the U.S. economy on Thursday, and other policymakers to address a host of concerns from slowing global growth to Europe’s debt crisis.

A rise in jobless claims reported earlier in the day underscored the weakness in the U.S. economy and came ahead of a speech by President Barack Obama. Obama is due to speak at 7 p.m. and is expected lay out a plan for creating jobs.

18 Lower trade gap boosts growth, but jobs weak

By Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, Reuters

2 hrs 26 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy may be stumbling, but it is still standing.

That was the message from two economic reports that pointed to a weak labor market but also a better performance on trade that should boost third-quarter gross domestic product.

Still, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, highlighting an elevated jobless rate and sluggish underlying growth, hinted the central bank may ease monetary policy further at its September meeting.

19 States to pay unemployment bills, taxes could rise

By Lisa Lambert and Karen Pierog, Reuters

2 hrs 25 mins ago

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. states will start sending more than $1 billion to the federal government in coming weeks for loans used to pay unemployment benefits and some may have to raise business tax bills to cover the charges.

The 2009 economic stimulus plan made it easier for states to borrow from the federal government to pay benefits for unemployed workers, easing the strain on their budgets as revenue cratered and high numbers of residents filed for assistance during the recession.

In February, President Barack Obama asked Congress to extend the help and delay any impending tax hikes, but Republican resistance and general criticism of the $830 billion stimulus plan muted the possibility of a continuation.

20 JPMorgan seeks profit pampering rich branch clients

By Joseph A. Giannone, Reuters

2 hrs 1 min ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co , a relative lightweight in retail wealth management, sees untapped riches residing in its own bank branches.

The New York banking giant is expanding a wealth management business that will target Chase banking customers with between $500,000 and $5 million in assets. The program, Chase Private Client, has opened 71 of what is expected to be 250 offices by December and roughly 1,000 offices in 2013.

Within five years, the bank says Chase Private Client could generate a $1 billion a year in pretax income — if it can attract one in five branch customers to use their services.

21 Senator asks Obama to curb Chinese solar panels

By Doug Palmer, Reuters

2 hrs 1 min ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Democratic senator on Thursday urged President Barack Obama to use U.S. trade laws to restrict surging imports of solar panels from China in a sign that high U.S. unemployment is increasing trade tensions.

“The American solar industry is facing unparalleled challenges and without the leadership of your administration this industry may disappear leaving behind additional workers without employment,” Senator Ron Wyden said in a letter.

“Letting that happen is unacceptable.”

22 Court tosses Virginia challenge to healthcare law

By Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters

1 hr 56 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court handed President Barack Obama another victory for his signature healthcare law on Thursday, rejecting challenges by the state of Virginia and others seeking to invalidate the law as unconstitutional.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned a lower court judge who had ruled the federal government could not compel people to buy health insurance or face paying a penalty, known as the individual mandate and a critical part of Obama’s avowed effort to cut healthcare costs.

It was the second major victory at the appellate level for the White House over an issue that will likely be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2011-12 term, which begins next month.

23 Special Libyan unit hunting down Gadhafi

By RYAN LUCAS, Associated Press

2 hrs 29 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) – Determined to hunt down Moammar Gadhafi, Libya’s new rulers say they have dedicated a special unit of fighters to track the elusive former leader, listening in on his aides’ phone calls, poring over satellite images and interviewing witnesses.

Although leads come mostly from on-the-ground tips, help is also coming from France and other Western countries, according to a French intelligence official. Satellite-based transmission intercepts of suspicious phone calls try to pinpoint where Gadhafi might be. Small CIA teams are also assisting in the manhunt, according to former U.S. officials.

Gadhafi, who hasn’t been seen in public for months, went underground after anti-regime fighters swept into Tripoli on Aug. 21. Capturing the ousted ruler would allow the former rebels to seal their grip on the country and shut the door on the possibility of Gadhafi’s inspiring an insurgency against the new leaders.

24 US experts in Libya amid alarms about missing arms

By STEPHEN BRAUN, Associated Press

2 hrs 28 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – A U.S. government arms expert and several private American weapons disposal contractors are aiding Libyan officials in the hunt for dangerous mobile anti-aircraft systems amid news reports that massive arms caches in Tripoli were looted after the ouster of the Moammar Gadhafi regime, the State Department confirmed Thursday.

Despite the newly-acknowledged presence of American weapons experts, the growing evidence that high-value arms and munitions already have been plundered raises the stakes for the U.S. and Western powers to aid Libya’s infant government in quickly finding and securing remaining weapons caches.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said news reports of unguarded and emptied weapons depots in Tripoli were “concerning.” The issue was front and center in discussions last week in Paris between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and officials of Libya’s Transitional National Council.

25 Brazil wants Haiti peacekeeping force cut 15 pct

By RAUL O. GARCES, Associated Press

1 hr 32 mins ago

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (AP) – Brazil’s defense minister called Thursday for a 15 percent cut in Haiti’s peacekeeping force of 12,000 soldiers and police as the start of a gradual withdrawal aimed at turning security over to the Haitians themselves.

Celso Amorim said Brazil is negotiating with the United Nations to begin the pullback, but will keep troops in Haiti until local forces are ready to take over.

Amorim spoke after lunching with Uruguayan President Jose Mujica in Montevideo, where ministers from the Latin American peacekeeping nations held a long-planned meeting on the future of the U.N. mission in Haiti.

26 AP Exclusive: Kuwait may host US Iraq backup force

By REBECCA SANTANA, ROBERT BURNS, Associated Press

1 hr 42 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration is considering staging American troops in Kuwait next year as a backup or rotational training force for Iraq, after the Pentagon completes the scheduled withdrawal of its current 45,000-strong force from Iraq in December, U.S. officials said.

The proposal, not yet announced, is among a number of options the administration is considering for extending its military training role in still-violent Iraq, where the divided government has been reluctant to ask Washington directly to keep troops on its soil beyond this year.

All troops are to leave Iraq by Dec. 31 under a 2008 security agreement, but senior U.S. officials worry that without more training the Iraqi forces may squander hard-won security gains. The Iraqi army, for example, is only now taking delivery of U.S. battle tanks, on which they have yet to be trained.

27 It’s Romney-Perry now, with plenty of differences

By KASIE HUNT, Associated Press

1 hr 15 mins ago

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) – The GOP presidential contest has quickly narrowed to a two-man race.

As Rick Perry and Mitt Romney jockey over their ability to defeat President Barack Obama, there are deepening fault lines between the two on Social Security, immigration, jobs and more that could shape the contest.

Their stylistic differences are as stark as their disagreements on substance. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, also is a former venture capitalist who is at his best when he’s talking about how to help businesses help the economy grow. Perry, the Texas governor, is a fiery, red-meat conservative who has already shown he loves to go on the attack – and isn’t afraid to go after his chief GOP rival.

28 Obama’s health care reform survives Va. challenges

By LARRY O’DELL, Associated Press

2 hrs 14 mins ago

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The federal health care overhaul survived two lawsuits dismissed Thursday on technicalities, leaving President Barack Obama’s signature initiative headed toward a final resolution in the U.S. Supreme Court as early as next year.

It’s possible the high court could rule on the issue by June 2012, in the midst of Obama’s re-election bid.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ignored the core issue of whether the law can require that individuals buy health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014. In the lawsuit filed by Liberty University, the court ruled that the penalty amounted to a tax – and that a tax can’t be challenged before it’s collected. The panel said the state of Virginia lacked legal standing to file its lawsuit.

29 Tuition hikes fail to stop cutbacks in higher ed

By KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press

1 hr 33 mins ago

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – America’s public colleges and universities have burned through nearly $10 billion in government stimulus money and are still facing more tuition hikes, fewer course offerings and larger class sizes.

Many college students are already bearing the brunt of the cuts in their wallets as they prepare for their future careers.

“This next academic year is going to be the hardest one on record” for cash-strapped colleges, said Dan Hurley, director of state relations for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

30 Mortgage rates lowest in decades, but few qualify

By DEREK KRAVITZ, AP Economics Writer

45 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Mortgage rates have reached their lowest levels in six decades, making this the best time in most Americans’ lives to buy or refinance a home. For people who qualify, today’s rates could save thousands of dollars a year.

Yet most people can’t take advantage. Half of would-be buyers say they’ll never save enough for the 20 percent down payment now usually required. And shrunken home values have erased much of the equity people need to refinance.

“Low rates are great, but the real issue is that the pool of people who can get a loan or refinance is small,” said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst.

31 Feds investigate solar firm that got $535M US loan

By JASON DEAREN, KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press

50 mins ago

FREMONT, Calif. (AP) – FBI agents executed search warrants Thursday at the headquarters of California solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which received more than $500 million in federal loans before filing for bankruptcy last week.

Blue-jacket-clad agents swarmed the company’s headquarters in Fremont as part of an investigation with the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General into the manufacturer once touted by President Barack Obama as a beneficiary of economic stimulus, according to FBI spokeswoman Julianne Sohn.

The agents carried evidence in dozens of boxes and bags out of Solyndra’s offices late Thursday afternoon, loading the items into a large white truck.

32 APNewsBreak: Blast survivors launch advocacy group

By GARANCE BURKE, TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press

17 mins ago

SAN BRUNO, Calif. (AP) – Families who lost loved ones in the nation’s deadliest pipeline accident in a decade are forming a new nonprofit group, harnessing their grief to press for strict controls over the high-pressure gas lines coursing below homes across the country.

The Gas Pipe Safety Foundation plans to raise awareness through major publicity campaigns, advocate with state and federal lawmakers and build alliances with victims of other blasts, the group’s leaders told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Jessica Morales, 20, was one of eight killed on Sept. 9, 2010, when a transmission line exploded in the quiet suburb of San Bruno, sparking a tower of flames that consumed block after block of 1960’s-era homes overlooking San Francisco Bay.

33 Texas has hottest June-August, tops Oklahoma

By BETSY BLANEY, Associated Press

49 mins ago

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) – It’s been a year of superlatives for Texas: worst single-year drought, largest agricultural losses and most destructive wildfires – blazes that have damaged millions of acres and more than a thousand homes.

Now, as if Texans didn’t know it or hadn’t felt it the past 92 days, the state just finished the hottest June through August on record in the U.S., the National Weather Service said Thursday.

“And probably some of the most widespread water restrictions, too,” weather service meteorologist Victor Murphy said. “And they’re going to get worse.”

34 NY Fashion Week launches with a twist for buyers

By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL, AP Fashion Writer

2 hrs 28 mins ago

NEW YORK (AP) – New York Fashion Week launched Thursday with spring previews, but consumers don’t necessarily have to wait that long to place their orders – and that has potential to upend the traditional fashion calendar.

Typically designers show their shorts and bikinis in September, preparing for spring delivery to stores. The turtlenecks and coats are unveiled in February for the fall.

But this year, the website Moda Operandi is collaborating with Vogue to feed a more immediate click-and-shop mindset for shoppers.

35 Nike releases famed "Back to the Future" shoe

By SARAH SKIDMORE, AP Business Reporter

1 hr 3 mins ago

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Nike is going back to the future.

The sneaker maker on Thursday said it has created a limited-edition shoe based on a glowing pair that appeared in the popular 1989 movie “Back to the Future II.” The 2011 Nike Mag is designed to be an exact replica of the fictional sneaker, including a glowing Nike name on the strap. But unlike the movie version, these shoes won’t lace themselves.

Nike will release 1,500 pairs of the 2011 Nike Mag sneaker for auction on eBay and donate all proceeds to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease research. Fox famously played Marty McFly in the “Back to the Future” time-travel trilogy, where he wore the shoes during a visit to the year 2015.

36 FDA advisers recommend approving anticlotting drug

By LINDA A. JOHNSON, AP Business Writer

1 hr 48 mins ago

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) – Outside advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted Thursday to recommend that the agency approve a new anticlotting drug developed by Johnson & Johnson and partner Bayer Healthcare.

That’s despite a very negative review by FDA staff of the drug, Xarelto, released two days ago.

Nine panel members voted to recommend approval of sales of the drug for preventing strokes in patients with a common irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation. Two voted against that and one person abstained. The FDA is expected to make a final decision by early November.

37 ‘Game-changer’ in evolution from S. African bones

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer

1 hr 32 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Two million-year-old bones belonging to a creature with both apelike and human traits provide the clearest evidence of evolution’s first major step toward modern humans – findings some are calling a potential game-changer.

An analysis of the bones found in South Africa suggests Australopithecus sediba is the most likely candidate to be the ancestor of humans, said lead researcher Lee R. Berger of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.

The fossils, belonging to a male child and an adult female, show a novel combination of features, almost as though nature were experimenting. Some resemble pre-human creatures while others suggest the genus Homo, which includes Homo sapiens, modern people.

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