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Sep 22 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Suu Kyi urges world to keep eye on Myanmar

By Sebastian Smith, AFP

3 hrs ago

Myanmar’s pro-democracy hero Aung San Suu Kyi urged the world Wednesday not to take its eye off her country as it enters what she said were the first small steps to freedom.

In a rare appearance via videolink from Myanmar — also known as Burma — to an international conference in New York, Suu Kyi said the political thaw needs close scrutiny by the outside world.

“What we really need is awareness of what is going on in our country,” she told the audience of political and business leaders at the Clinton Global Initiative.

2 Gulf mediator leaves Yemen empty-handed as battles rage

By Hammoud Mounassar, AFP

4 hrs ago

A Gulf mediator attempting to broker a peaceful transfer of power in Yemen left empty-handed on Wednesday after rival army units trampled a truce and clashed bitterly in Sanaa for a fourth straight day.

The Gulf Cooperation Council chief left the Yemeni capital saying the country’s political rivals are not yet ready to reach an agreement, state news agency Saba said, as the death toll from four days of violence spiralled to 79.

“GCC Secretary General Abullatif al-Zayani and his accompanying convoy left Sanaa today,” Saba said.

3 Typhoon batters Japan but nuclear plant safe

By Yuka Ito, AFP

1 hr 43 mins ago

A powerful typhoon smashed into Japan on Wednesday churning through the stricken Fukushima nuclear power station but failed to damage the already battered plant, its operators said.

The typhoon, which was packing winds of up to 180 kilometres (111 miles) per hour, has killed at least six people and a million were initially warned to leave their homes over fears torrential rains could cause widespread flooding.

At around 10:00pm (1300 GMT) Typhoon Roke was centred 280 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, moving through the area that was devastated by a record earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that sparked nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima.

4 US to upgrade Taiwan jets, China protests

By Benjamin Yeh, AFP

2 hrs 4 mins ago

The United States on Wednesday announced a $5.85 billion upgrade of Taiwan’s F-16 fighter jets, leading to a swift rebuke by China even though the deal stopped short of selling new planes.

Taiwanese and US officials insisted that the upgrade would improve the island’s defences as it faces a rising China, which has ramped up military spending and has widened its strategic edge over the self-governing territory.

“After the upgrade, the air force’s combat capability will be advanced hugely,” Taiwan’s defence minister Kao Hua-chu told a hastily called press conference in Taipei.

5 Lawmakers summon police over Guardian row

AFP

2 hrs 15 mins ago

Lawmakers summoned a top Scotland Yard officer on Wednesday to explain why police invoked secrecy laws to force a newspaper to reveal the source for its reports on the phone hacking scandal.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service announced on Tuesday that it had dropped an application for a court order against The Guardian, which broke the story of hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s now-closed News of the World.

But Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons has now been summoned by parliament’s home affairs committee to give evidence in a private meeting on Friday, committee chairman Keith Vaz said.

6 China’s farm subsidies soar but OECD states’ at record low

AFP

3 hrs ago

China’s subsidies to farmers soared six-fold between 2008 and 2010 to $147 billion, making it the global leader, OECD data showed Wednesday, in what could complicate trade liberalisation talks.

Conversely, support to farmers in developed countries that are OECD members including the United States and the European Union, fell to a record low in 2010 as high commodity prices lessened the need for price subsidies.

In the United States, for instance, producer support reached just $25.5 billion, down from $31.4 billion a year ago, said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

7 Saab lives another day, winning bankruptcy protection

By Nina Larson, AFP

3 hrs ago

A Swedish appeals court on Wednesday gave the green light for beleaguered carmaker Saab to reorganise under bankruptcy protection, delaying what had appeared to be the company’s imminent demise.

“The appeals court reverses the district court ruling and allows Saab … to reorganise,” the Appeals Court for Western Sweden said in its decision.

The ruling places on hold thousands of individual requests that Saab be declared bankrupt by company employees and union members who have yet to receive their August wages.

8 Greece vows stronger budget action

AFP

9 hrs ago

Greece vowed to stay in the eurozone “for ever” on Wednesday and promised stronger budget action as the world waited for EU leaders to stop the debt crisis threatening global growth.

“Greece is and will for ever be a member of the eurozone,” Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told parliament after EU and IMF auditors agreed overnight to resume work on whether to release rescue funds to avert Greek default next month.

“We will do anything, we will not place at risk the fate of the country and its place in the eurozone,” the minister said.

9 Moody’s cuts three US bank ratings

AFP

1 hr 29 mins ago

Moody’s chopped its credit ratings for three of the top US banks — Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup — saying it saw the US government less willing than before to rescue them if they become unstable.

Moody’s said it believed that the US commitment to save “systemically important” banks had diminished since the 2008-2009 crisis when the government extended hundreds of billions of dollars to financial institutions to keep the banking system from collapse.

It cited the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, a sweeping package of financial system reforms, which “demonstrates clear intent” to let bondholders of a big bank take losses if it is close to collapse.

10 Shunning political pressure, Fed backs more stimulus

AFP

39 mins ago

The Federal Reserve redoubled its efforts to juice the US economy on Wednesday, unveiling a $400 billion stimulus plan and shunning political calls for the bank to take a back seat.

The Fed’s top policy panel unleashed the latest in a battery of tools to rekindle the troubled US economy, moving to make mortgages and borrowing cheaper by pushing down long-term interest rates.

In a plan dubbed “Operation Twist,” the Fed said it would switch bonds in its huge portfolio with a maturity of less than three years to bonds with a maturity of six to 30 years.

11 Condemnation grows ahead of Troy Davis execution

By Chantal Valery, AFP

3 mins 20 secs ago

Lawyers in the United States filed last-gasp motions Wednesday to spare the life of Troy Davis, as the countdown to his execution entered its final hours and international condemnation grew.

Attorneys for Davis cited new ballistics evidence and alleged misleading testimony had been used to convict him over the 1989 killing of an off-duty policeman, but experts predicted his death by lethal injection would go ahead.

Davis has escaped three previous dates with death in a racially-charged case in America’s Deep South that has dragged on for more than two decades and made him a poster child for the worldwide campaign to ban the death penalty.

12 Libya rulers claim capture of Gaddafi bastion

By William Maclean and Maria Golovnina, Reuters

2 hrs 45 mins ago

TRIPOLI/NORTH OF BANI WALID, Libya (Reuters) – Libya’s interim rulers said on Wednesday they had captured most of one of Muammar Gaddafi’s last strongholds deep in the Sahara desert, a boost to an administration struggling to assert full control over the country.

The desert outpost of Sabha had been holding out along with Bani Walid southeast of Tripoli and Gaddafi’s hometown Sirte since the fall of the capital.

“We control most of Sabha apart from the al-Manshiya district. This is still resisting, but it will fall,” ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) military spokesman Ahmed Bani said.

13 Snipers, shelling in Yemen break uneasy truce

By Erika Solomon and Mohammed Ghobari, Reuters

2 hrs 36 mins ago

SANAA (Reuters) – Yemeni forces clashed with soldiers backing a mass protest movement in the capital Sanaa on Wednesday, breaching a short-lived truce on a day when six protesters were killed by snipers, shelling and gunfire.

In another sign of worsening conditions for a deal to end eight months of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdbullatif al-Zayani left Sanaa empty-handed after two days striving to get a transfer of power pact signed to defuse the crisis.

The state news agency SABA quoted him as saying he would have to wait until “conditions were favorable” to achieve this, suggesting the two sides were no closer to agreement.

14 China condemns U.S. arms sales offer to Taiwan

By Jim Wolf and Jonathan Standing, Reuters

2 hrs 38 mins ago

WASHINGTON/TAIPEI (Reuters) – The Obama administration informed Congress on Wednesday that it plans to upgrade Taiwan’s aging F-16 fighter jets, drawing strong condemnation from China which called it a “grave interference” in its internal affairs.

China warned that the potential $5.3 billion U.S. arms sale will harm its “core interests” in Taiwan and damage China-U.S. military and security cooperation.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Taiwan was an “internal matter” that affected China’s territorial integrity and the national feelings of 1.3 billion Chinese people.

15 Greece announces new austerity, unions vow strikes

By Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos, Reuters

3 hrs ago

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece said it would deepen pension cuts, extend a painful property tax hike and put tens of thousands of workers on notice on Wednesday to secure a new injection of aid and save the country from bankruptcy.

With public anger high over a belt-tightening campaign that is driving the country into a fourth year of recession, the powerful labor unions and public transport workers announced strikes starting on Thursday in opposition to the measures.

After the so-called troika of inspectors from the European Union and International Monetary Fund made clear it was losing patience over the failure by Athens to meet the fiscal targets of its bailout, the cabinet agreed to front-load the measures to comply with the program through 2014.

16 Fed warns of big economic risks, ramps up aid

By Mark Felsenthal and Pedro da Costa, Reuters

13 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve on Wednesday moved to counter what it said were significant risks to the U.S. economy with an effort to lower long-term borrowing costs and bolster housing.

The U.S. central bank said it would launch a $400 billion program to weight its $2.85 trillion balance sheet more heavily toward longer-term securities by selling short-term government debt to purchase longer-dated Treasuries.

It also said it would reinvest proceeds from maturing mortgage and housing agency bonds it holds back into the mortgage market, an acknowledgment of just how weak housing remains.

17 Wall Street sinks 3 percent after Fed cites economic "risks"

By Chuck Mikolajczak, Reuters

38 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks suffered their worst drop in a month after the Federal Reserve said there were “significant downside risks” to the economy even as it took another stab at boosting growth.

Selling accelerated as volume spiked in the last hour of trading, with banks and insurers leading the decline, as the KBW Bank index <.BKX> slid 5.5 percent and the KBW Insurance index <.KIX> off 5.2 percent. Bank of America lost 7.5 percent to $6.38 and Prudential Financial Inc slid 6.6 percent to $45.73.

The Fed, as expected, said it would buy more long-term Treasury securities in an effort to lower borrowing rates. But investors worry that the Fed’s latest plan will have little effect on lending in an economy that appears to be stagnating, which the Fed also noted.

18 Insight: Fed’s new rate policy twists insurers into a knot

By Ben Berkowitz, Reuters

51 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Federal Reserve’s latest move to stimulate credit for consumers and businesses, known as Operation Twist, is likely to threaten the earnings of some of the country’s largest insurers for years to come.

Wall Street in the past week has dimmed its view of MetLife, Prudential Financial and other big insurers, forecasting that they will have to cope with low rates and weak market returns through the end of 2011 and possibly well beyond.

The problem is that returns on insurers’ investment portfolios can’t keep pace with the obligations they have accumulated from torrid sales of annuities and life policies over the past few years.

19 "Buying frenzy" lawsuit vs homebuilders revived

By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

2 hrs 22 mins ago

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court revived a lawsuit by homeowners who accused eight major homebuilders of causing them to overpay for their homes by marketing nearby houses to high-risk borrowers who later went into foreclosure.

Against what it called “the backdrop of the national housing crisis,” the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said on Wednesday a lower court erred in concluding the homeowners lacked standing to pursue their fraud claims.

The plaintiffs had bought houses from 2004 to 2006 in new developments built by Beazer Homes USA Inc, DR Horton Inc, Lennar Corp, MDC Holdings Inc, PulteGroup Inc’s Centex Homes, Ryland Group Inc, privately-held Shea Homes Inc and Standard Pacific Corp.

20 Lehman to drop appeals over Barclays sale

By Nick Brown, Reuters

2 hrs 44 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc said it will drop its appeal of a bankruptcy court’s ruling upholding Barclays Plc’s purchase of Lehman’s North American business in 2008 to avoid an unnecessary strain on its remaining assets.

In a statement, Lehman said on Wednesday it will drop its challenge of Judge James Peck’s February ruling denying its attempt to overturn the sale, which was completed in the hectic days following Lehman’s $639 billion bankruptcy filing.

It also said it will not pursue an appeal of Peck’s follow-up decision earlier in September that Barclays had not improperly withheld $500 million in bonuses for employees it inherited in the takeover.

21 HP’s board may oust CEO, hire eBay vet: source

By Poornima Gupta and Edwin Chan, Reuters

52 mins ago

(Reuters) – Hewlett-Packard Co’s board convened on Wednesday to consider ousting Chief Executive Officer Leo Apotheker after less than a year on the job and replacing him temporarily with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, a source familiar with the matter said.

The board of directors — facing shareholder lawsuits and intensifying criticism from investors — is thrashing out a host of issues, including whether to name Whitman as the interim CEO, the source told Reuters,

HP is trying to contain a crisis of credibility on multiple fronts, starting with its leadership. No decisions have yet been made about leadership, the source said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

22 Schmidt says Google has not "cooked" search results

By Diane Bartz and Malathi Nayak, Reuters

1 hr 12 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Google Inc has not “cooked” its search results to favor its own products and listings, Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told a Senate hearing examining if the search giant abuses its power.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel said on Wednesday that Google has evolved to become a dominant and potentially anti-competitive force on the Internet.

“Google is in a position to determine who will succeed and who will fail on the Internet,” said Republican Senator Mike Lee. “In the words of the head of the Google’s search ranking team, Google is the biggest kingmaker on Earth.”

23 Senator Wyden: Repeal foreign profit tax break

By Kevin Drawbaugh, Reuters

2 hrs 32 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The tax code may be headed for some major renovation, and Senator Ron Wyden, a rangy Oregon Democrat, has come up with one of Congress’ most complete blueprints.

Among his recommendations are slashing the corporate income tax rate, repealing a law that lets companies put off paying taxes on overseas income, and allowing a tax holiday for repatriation of foreign profits, he said in an interview.

After 15 years in the Senate and 16 years previously in the House of Representatives, Wyden is under no illusions about the difficulties ahead, but he also offers insight that might defy the many skeptics about tax reform’s prospects.

24 Republicans Perry, Romney prepare for long battle

By Steve Holland, Reuters

2 hrs 42 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After months of a Republican nomination race that struggled to catch fire, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney are now locked in a fight they both predict will extend well into 2012.

Republicans expect a split decision in the early voting states with neither Perry, the Tea Party favorite, nor Romney, the establishment candidate, able to land a knock-out blow for the Republican presidential nomination.

In a clear sign the front-runners are preparing for a prolonged race, Romney and Perry have speaking appearances soon in Indiana, a state that is usually an afterthought to the presidential candidates. Indiana Republicans do not vote until May 8 but Romney will be there this Friday, Perry on October 12.

25 Private insurance, better prostate surgery outcome?

By Amy Norton, Reuters

2 hrs 33 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – U.S. men who have surgery for prostate cancer seem to fare better if they have private insurance rather than public coverage through Medicare or Medicaid, a new study finds.

Researchers determined that among more than 61,000 men who had their prostates removed to treat cancer, those with private insurance had fewer complications from surgery and were less likely to die in the hospital.

Men covered by Medicare or Medicaid were more likely to need a blood transfusion to treat blood loss: almost eight percent and 11 percent, respectively, had a transfusion, compared with just over five percent of men with private insurance.

26 Execution exposes divide over death penalty

By Matthew Bigg, Reuters

2 hrs 14 mins ago

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Controversy over the execution in Georgia of a convicted murderer whose supporters say may be innocent has exposed a continuing divide in the United States over the death penalty.

Vocal support for capital punishment has long been viewed as a benchmark of toughness for politicians running for U.S. national or statewide office given public support for the so-called ultimate justice.

But advocates for Troy Davis say their coalition reached beyond civil rights leaders and opponents of the death penalty. It also included some Republican U.S. legal experts who support capital punishment but were troubled by the Davis case.

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