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Sep 23 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 33 stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Recession panic grips global markets

AFP – 11 mins ago

World markets buckled under a frenzied sell-off Thursday as investors panicked the global economy was headed for another slump, one which policymakers may be ill-equipped to prevent.

From New York to Tokyo it was a brutal day for investors as countless billions of dollars were wiped off the value of companies globally.

The 30 firms that make up the Dow Jones Industrial Average alone lost $103 billion of their value — or around 3.5 percent — while major indexes in Europe, Asia and Latin America commonly suffered losses of around five percent.

2 Strikes sweep Greece over further cuts for debt funds

AFP

53 mins ago

Strikes swept across Greece on Thursday amid new budget cuts, with doubts growing that the government can implement new EU-IMF measures needed to secure funds and avert default.

Transport workers, taxi owners, civil servants, air traffic controllers and teachers walked out in protest at planned cutbacks and deregulation demanded by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund after bailing out Greece with a massive loan last year.

“They have already cut two of our monthly wages, they’ve destroyed Greece,” said municipal worker Theoni Valkou, one of some 2,000 protesters who marched through the capital to demand an end to tight austerity.

3 US lawmakers target China with currency bill

By Olivier Knox, AFP

1 hr 47 mins ago

US senators unveiled legislation Thursday to punish China over its alleged currency manipulation, promising angry American voters to put an end to Beijing’s “economic murder” of US jobs.

The measure aims to make it harder for the US Treasury Department to avoid labeling Beijing a currency cheat, triggering various sanctions, while making it easier for US companies to seek retaliatory tariffs on Chinese goods.

China’s leaders “get away with economic murder” by keeping the yuan, and thereby the country’s exports, artificially cheap, charged Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, a key backer of the bill.

4 Kabul lockdown for Rabbani state funeral

By Usman Sharifi, AFP

41 mins ago

Thousands of mourners were Friday expected to attend a state funeral for Burhanuddin Rabbani, the government peace negotiator whose assassination threatens to engulf Afghanistan in fresh chaos.

An assassin with a bomb strapped under his turban and purporting to be a peace emissary from the Taliban leadership killed Rabbani at his Kabul villa on Tuesday as he clasped him to his chest in greeting.

He was the most senior national leader assassinated in Afghanistan since the 2001 American invasion, depriving President Hamid Karzai of a key Tajik ally in the increasingly fractious world of ethnic-riven Afghan politics.

5 Pakistan ISI ‘exporting violence’ to Afghanistan: US

By Dan De Luce, AFP

32 mins ago

The US military’s top officer bluntly accused Pakistan on Thursday of “exporting” violent extremism to Afghanistan through proxies and warned of possible US action to protect American troops.

In a scathing and unprecedented US condemnation of Pakistan, Admiral Mike Mullen said the country’s main intelligence agency ISI was actively supporting Haqqani network militants blamed for an assault on the US embassy in Kabul last week.

“The Haqqani Network, for one, acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan?s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,” Mullen told the US Senate Armed Services Committee.

6 Taliban silence on Rabbani spotlights splits

By Katherine Haddon, AFP

1 hr 18 mins ago

The Taliban’s “no comment” on the murder of Afghanistan’s top peace broker highlights splits within the militia and a plethora of factions who may have wanted him dead which threaten fresh chaos.

Experts now suspect that the turban bomber who killed Burhanuddin Rabbani while claiming to bring a special message from the Taliban may not have been sent by the militia’s supreme leader Mullah Omar, or had his approval.

With a range of factions standing to benefit from Rabbani’s death, the lack of clarity on the identity of the assassins fans concern about political instability, ethnic tensions and a nebulous insurgency in Afghanistan.

7 War crimes court splits KRouge trial charges

By Suy Se, AFP

2 hrs 6 mins ago

Four former Khmer Rouge leaders on trial for genocide in Cambodia will first face charges of crimes against humanity after a UN-backed court on Thursday announced a plan to separate the prosecution process.

The trial, long awaited by survivors of the brutal regime, will be divided into smaller sections, beginning with the forced movement of population and the related charges of crimes against humanity, the court said.

The elderly defendants, including “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea and former head of state Khieu Samphan, face a range of charges over the deaths of up to two million people from starvation, overwork, torture or execution during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-79 reign of terror.

8 Davis execution spurs movement to end death penalty

By Chantal Valery, AFP

9 mins ago

Death penalty opponents vowed Thursday to make the execution of Troy Davis, who maintained innocence until his dying breath, a turning point in their fight to end capital punishment.

International condemnation flooded in after the southern US state of Georgia put Davis to death by lethal injection late Wednesday, brushing aside doubts about his guilt for the 1989 slaying of a white police officer.

“If one of our fellow citizens can be executed with so much doubt surrounding his guilt, then the death penalty system in our country is unjust and outdated,” former president Jimmy Carter said in a statement.

9 Tears as ‘Mohammed relic’ brought to Chechnya

By Maria Antonova, AFP

2 hrs 19 mins ago

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov broke into floods of tears as he unveiled a purported relic of the Prophet Mohammed in a bizarre ceremony involving a Rolls Royce motorcade, reports said Thursday.

The government of the majority Muslim Russian Northern Caucasus region, recovering after two separatist wars and still battling Islamic insurgents, boasted that the cup was 1,400 years old and had belonged to the Prophet.

The cup had earlier been flown into the Chechen capital Grozny from London where it was kept by unnamed descendants of Mohammed’s cousin Ali.

10 Neil Armstrong says US space program ’embarrassing’

By Kerry Sheridan, AFP

1 hr 52 mins ago

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, told lawmakers Thursday that the end of the space shuttle era has left the American human spaceflight program in an “embarrassing” state.

“We will have no American access to, and return from, low Earth orbit and the International Space Station for an unpredictable length of time in the future,” Armstrong told the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

“For a country that has invested so much for so long to achieve a leadership position in space exploration and exploitation, this condition is viewed by many as lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable.”

11 Europe leaves Bulgaria, Romania out in Schengen cold

By Laurent Thomet, AFP

2 hrs 49 mins ago

Europe left Bulgaria and Romania out in the cold Thursday, when Finland and the Netherlands blocked their entry into the passport-free Schengen travel area.

The Dutch and the Finns refused to let them in, at a meeting of EU interior ministers dogged by concerns about illegal migration, citing poor progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime.

“Two member states today made it impossible for us to make a decision on Schengen enlargement,” Polish Interior Minister Jerzy Miller, whose country holds the EU’s rotating presidency, lamented after the talks.

12 Europe’s first human embryonic stem cell trial approved

By Kerry Sheridan, AFP

4 hrs ago

A US biotech company said Thursday it will soon begin the first-ever European trials using human embryonic stem cells in an experimental treatment for people with a form of juvenile blindness.

The Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology said the trials will involve 12 patients with Stargardt’s disease and will be based at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, with more European sites planned for the future.

“This is the first time an embryonic stem cell trial has ever been approved anywhere else in the world,” said Bob Lanza, chief scientific officer at ACT and a longtime researcher in human embryonic stem cells.

13 87-0 but Boks not perfect, says De Villiers at rugby World Cup

By Robert Smith, AFP

23 mins ago

Coach Peter de Villiers has shrugged off South Africa’s sloppy start and revelled in the defending champions’ 12 tries in swamping Namibia at the World Cup.

The outcome was never in doubt as the Springboks hoisted a record 87-0 victory over the largely amateur Namibians with winger Bryan Habana snaring his first Test try in 15 months to become South Africa’s all-time leading tryscorer.

While the floodgates were flung opened in the final 20 minutes as Namibia’s herculean defensive effort told and seven converted tries inflated the final margin, the Springboks were guilty of missed opportunities in the opening half.

14 Warnings mount on euro crisis, BRICS mull more aid

By David Lawder and Walter Brandimarte, Reuters

1 hr 11 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – World leaders and finance chiefs on Thursday pushed Europe to quell its debt crisis and big emerging economies said they might provide more money to help stop the chaos from spreading.

As finance ministers and central bankers gathered for talks amid growing concern about sharply slowing growth and plunging stock markets, the leaders of seven big economies stressed the need to contain the euro zone crisis.

“Euro zone governments and institutions must act swiftly to resolve the euro crisis and all European economies must confront the debt overhang to prevent contagion to the wider global economy,” the leaders of Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Britain, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea wrote in an open letter to France, chair of the Group of 20 leading economies.

15 [BRICS offer help to fight economic crisis tp://news.yahoo.com/brics-ready-help-imf-fight-global-crisis-195727294.html]

By Walter Brandimarte, Reuters

33 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Major emerging nations on Thursday said they may lend money to the International Monetary Fund or other global financial bodies to increase their firepower for fighting financial crises.

The commitment by the so-called BRICS nations — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — fell short of expectations for more direct support to debt-crippled European countries.

Finance ministers of the group, meeting on the sidelines of an IMF gathering in Washington, called on the G20 nations to act swiftly and decisively to ease the euro-zone debt crisis, the same way they fought the global financial crisis in 2008.

16 Stocks, commodities dive on recession fears

By Wanfeng Zhou, Reuters

2 hrs 32 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – World stocks fell to 13-month lows and commodities tumbled on Thursday as weak data from China crystallized investor fears of a global recession one day after a grim economic outlook from the Federal Reserve.

The U.S. dollar climbed to a seven-month high against major currencies <.DXY> as investors fled risky assets and sought safety in Treasuries, where benchmark yields again touched lows not seen in 60 years.

Data showing contraction in China’s manufacturing sector for a third straight month helped drive down oil prices by more than 4 percent and sent the price of copper to a one-year low. Weak euro zone data added to the gloom.

17 Insight: Faith in policymakers plunges, taking markets with it

By Steven C. Johnson, Reuters

1 hr 22 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Europe’s debt crisis looks more intractable than ever. The Federal Reserve appears to be shooting blanks when it comes to firing up the U.S. economy.

Add in signs that Chinese growth is slowing by the day, and it explains why financial markets took a hammering on Thursday, with global stock markets, oil, metals and even gold sliding.

And investors now fear there isn’t much that authorities can do to stop the slide: central banks are running out of ammunition and political will among U.S. and European leaders is in short supply.

18 Market’s 3 percent fall suggests deepening worry

By Chuck Mikolajczak, Reuters

1 hr 34 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks plunged on Thursday, extending a selloff to four days, as policymakers’ failure to arrest global economic stagnation sent markets spiraling downward.

The heavy volume of Thursday’s plunge signaled investors are selling in anticipation of more losses. Wall Street’s “fear gauge,” the CBOE Volatility Index, jumped 12 percent, giving the index its biggest 2-day percentage spike in a month as investors protected against more losses to come.

Energy and materials shares were among the hardest hit areas on worries of slowing worldwide demand. Signs of a slowdown in China fed those fears.

19 Q&A: Is this the end of the road for the gold rush?

Reuters

2 hrs 44 mins ago

(Reuters) – Growth is stalling, the euro zone is flailing, the Fed is spent and risk markets are melting down — yet gold, the one asset that has consistently rallied in similar circumstances over the past year, is in a tailspin.

After a month of unprecedented volatility that has rattled some investors’ confidence in gold’s decade-long winning streak, the question is obvious: Is this what the popping of a gold bubble looks like?

The answer, of course, isn’t obvious. The bursting of asset bubbles is best seen in retrospect, and gold’s 10 percent decline from a record high just three weeks ago is far from its worst tumble; it last suffered such a setback in late 2009, and multiple times in 2008. It is only halfway to the 20 percent mark that separates a correction from a bear market.

20 Exclusive: Watchdog backs down on commodities rules

By Sarah N. Lynch, Christopher Doering and Roberta Rampton, Reuters

2 hrs 12 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. futures regulator has yielded on several contentious parts of a plan to crack down on commodity speculation, marking a modest victory for banks and traders who have lobbied to limit increased market oversight.

A draft of the final rule by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, reviewed by Reuters late on Wednesday, maintains that the Dodd-Frank Wall Street overhaul law requires position limits — caps on the number of contracts a single trader can hold — to prevent excessive speculation in oil, grain, silver and other commodity markets.

But the CFTC modified areas of the plan that were a major concern for big banks like Morgan Stanley and firms like Shell, including whether or not different arms of a single company must count separately managed positions as one, and whether swaps and futures positions can be offset.

21 U.S. saw no hope for Solyndra in Aug: DOE official

By Ayesha Rascoe, Reuters

2 hrs 20 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The government refused to further alter its loan deal with Solyndra in August after determining it would not help the now-bankrupt solar panel company survive, a top Energy Department official said on Thursday.

After consulting with experts and weighing possible outcomes for solar start-up Solyndra, the first recipient of a government loan guarantee for renewable energy, the department knew that new terms for the loan would not help the ailing company, said Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said.

“The assessment was that the taxpayers’ best interest would not be served by doing another turn of the wheel at that point,” Poneman told reporters after a congressional hearing on green jobs.

22 Jobless claims fall but recession still feared

By Jason Lange, Reuters

6 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans filed fewer new claims for jobless benefits last week but the decline was not enough to dispel worries the economy was dangerously close to falling into a new recession.

Applications for unemployment benefits dropped 9,000 to 423,000 in the week ended September17, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was roughly in line with expectations.

With recession fears mounting, the Federal Reserve warned on Wednesday of “significant” risks to the economy as it announced a new program to boost growth through cheaper borrowing costs.

23 Obama uses aging bridge in push for jobs plan

By Alister Bull, Reuters

2 hrs 12 mins ago

CINCINNATI (Reuters) – President Barack Obama sought on Thursday to ratchet up pressure for congressional approval of his $447 billion jobs plan, taking his pitch to the backyard of his two top Republican foes and using an aging bridge as a prop.

In the latest stop on what has become a “pass this bill” tour, Obama stood on the banks of the Ohio River to tout his package for reducing high unemployment, and warned Republicans against letting election politics delay action.

Republicans mocked Obama’s trip to the Brent Spence Bridge, a dilapidated span between Ohio and Kentucky, as political theater. They have given Obama’s jobs plan a cool reception and oppose tax hikes on wealthier Americans that would pay for it, but have voiced a willingness to consider some of his ideas.

24 Failed bill spotlights dysfunction in Congress

By Andy Sullivan, Reuters

2 hrs 12 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican leaders scrambled on Thursday to find the votes to keep the government funded after the embarrassing defeat of a spending bill threw into question Congress’ ability to pass basic laws.

The bill’s unexpected failure suggested that, even in the face of rock-bottom approval ratings, Democratic and Republican lawmakers may not be able to bridge their differences to pass a measure that would help disaster victims and avoid a government shutdown.

The House of Representatives and Senate must pass legislation to keep the government fully functioning beyond October 1 while lawmakers continue to debate a full budget. They also need to replenish a disaster-relief fund that could run dry on Monday during one of the most extreme years for weather in U.S. history.

25 "Super committee" eyes taxes amid differences

By Donna Smith, Reuters

1 hr 28 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The leaders of a congressional “super committee” squared off on Thursday over the hot-button issue of tax increases and how new revenues might fit into the panel’s deficit reduction proposals.

Democratic co-chair Senator Patty Murray, at the start of the committee’s hearing on the roughly $1 trillion in special interest breaks and loopholes that permeate the U.S. tax code, made clear she expects the panel to include some tax increases along with spending cuts in its final product.

“We have to address both spending and taxes,” Murray said.

26 Cell phones tie Afghan embassy attackers to Pakistan

By Mark Hosenball, Reuters

12 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government has evidence that militants who attacked the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan last week were in telephone contact with people connected to Pakistan’s principal intelligence agency, according to an expert who has advised the White House.

Bruce Riedel, a former senior CIA analyst who advised President Barack Obama on Afghan policy, told Reuters administration officials have told him militants who attacked the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul on September 13 telephoned individuals connected with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence directorate (ISI) before and during the attack.

Following the attacks, Riedel said, U.S. security forces collected cell phones which the attackers had used. These are expected to provide further evidence linking militants to ISI.

27 Sectarian tensions rise in Syria’s Homs, 2 killed

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Reuters

53 mins ago

AMMAN (Reuters) – Snipers killed two people in the Syrian city of Homs on Thursday, where tensions have emerged between its mostly Sunni inhabitants and the Alawite minority since troops stepped up raids to crush pro-democracy protests, residents said.

Directly addressing the sectarian issue for the first time, the United States said President Bashar al-Assad risked plunging Syria into civil strife by intensifying a crackdown on the uprising which began six months ago.

“The government violence is actually creating retaliation and creating even more violence in our analysis, and it is also increasing the risk of sectarian conflict,” the U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, told Reuters by telephone from Damascus.

28 Berlin greets pope with praise and protests

By Alexandra Hudson, Reuters

2 hrs 56 mins ago

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germans opposed to Pope Benedict’s teachings on sexuality and angry at cases of abuse by priests protested in Berlin on Thursday while members of parliament boycotted a speech by the pontiff at the start of his four-day visit to his homeland.

The pope met Chancellor Angela Merkel, leading politicans and Jewish figures and received warm applause during a speech to parliament in the Reichstag building, a rare honor.

But about 100 deputies in the 620-seat parliament boycotted his speech, which sparked heated debates among ordinary Germans about the separation of church and state.

29 Russia’s Putin says Arctic trade route to rival Suez

By Gleb Bryanski, Reuters

2 hrs 51 mins ago

Arkhangelsk, Russia (Reuters) – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday predicted Arctic shipping routes along Russia’s northern coast would soon rival the Suez Canal as a quicker trade link from Europe to Asia.

Russian plans to revive the Soviet-era shipping lane as polar ice cover receded to near record lows this summer could speed energy deliveries to China and boost business for cargo suppliers such as state-owned Sovkomflot.

Officials at the Arctic Forum in the White Sea port city of Arkhangelsk said Russia must develop infrastructure to guard against oil spills, revamp ports and build more icebreakers to realize Putin’s vision of year-round shipments.

30 Competitors circle around as Netflix stumbles

By Lisa Richwine and Rachana Khanzode, Reuters

25 mins ago

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Missteps by Netflix have opened the door to competitors to grab disgruntled customers looking for new options for video rentals and instant online streaming.

Blockbuster, the once-dominant video store chain that Netflix pushed into bankruptcy, wants to reclaim its crown as the current king of video rentals struggles. Now a unit of Dish Network, Blockbuster is expected to announce its jump into the streaming market on Friday.

That would better position Blockbuster to compete with Netflix, now facing a subscriber backlash over a price increase for DVD subscribers and pressure from Hollywood studios to pay more for content. The shares of the one-time Wall Street darling have plummeted 50 percent in two months, spurring an apology from CEO Reed Hastings to try to win customers back.

31 Analysis: High-profile Davis execution raises questions

By James Vicini, Reuters

1 hr 36 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Controversy at home and abroad over the execution of Troy Davis, who was put to death in the United States late on Wednesday for the 1989 killing of a policeman, has renewed questions about the death penalty.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last-minute plea for a stay of execution, and Davis, 42, received a lethal injection at a prison in Georgia.

“The Troy Davis case is going to bring a lot of doubt into people’s minds,” said Fordham University law professor Deborah Denno, an opponent of the death penalty.

32 Fancy last supper requests off the menu on Texas death row

By Jim Forsyth, Reuters

2 hrs 11 mins ago

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) – The Texas prison system abolished on Thursday the time-honored tradition of offering an opulent last meal to condemned inmates before their executions, saying they will get standard prison fare instead.

“Enough is enough,” state Senator John Whitmire wrote in a letter on Thursday to prison officials, prompting the move. “It is extremely inappropriate to give a person sentenced to death such a privilege. It’s a privilege which the perpetrator did not provide to their victim.”

The letter was in apparent response to the dinner requested, but not eaten, by white supremacist Lawrence Brewer before he was put to death on Wednesday night for the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr.

33 Mouse virus link to chronic fatigue crumbling

By Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters

2 hrs 25 mins ago

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Scientists have retracted part of a 2009 study from the journal Science linking chronic fatigue syndrome with a mouse virus as evidence continues to mount against the virus as a cause of the mysterious disease.

In addition to the partial retraction, Science published on Thursday new research that cast doubt on the theory. A U.S.-backed study found no trace of the XMRV virus, and a related mouse virus, in blood samples taken from healthy people and those with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The disease causes muscle pain, memory loss and overwhelming fatigue. While the XMRV research had offered some hope of identifying its cause, and therefore a treatment, scientists say the link was likely the result of contaminated lab samples.

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