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Sep 27 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 48 stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Former aides of Japan strongman Ozawa sentenced

AFP

1 hr 17 mins ago

Three former aides of veteran Japanese power broker Ichiro Ozawa were found guilty in a political funding scandal Monday in a surprise ruling which could block his return to the centre stage.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced the trio to suspended prison terms of one to three years for filing false reports on political funds involving Ozawa.

Ozawa, 69, who helped the centre-left Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to power in a 2009 electoral landslide, has also been indicted on charges of conspiring in the case and his trial is due to start on October 6.

2 Civilians flee Kadhafi hometown as medics warn of crisis

By Rory Mulholland and Jay Deshmukh, AFP

4 hrs ago

Anti-Kadhafi fighters tightened their siege of the ousted leader’s hometown of Sirte on Monday as civilians poured out of the Mediterranean coastal city where doctors spoke of a growing crisis.

Fighters loyal to Libya’s new government also pounded Kadhafi’s forces in the desert city of Bani Walid, southeast of Tripoli, as they sought to take the last two significant remaining bastions of his loyalists.

National Transitional Council (NTC) troops advancing from the east said they had pushed 10 kilometres (six miles) inside Sirte city limits but were still 15 kilometres from the centre of the sprawling city.

3 Protests as Yemen opposition spurns Saleh call for vote

By Hammoud Mounassar, AFP

2 hrs 26 mins ago

Yemen’s opposition held mass protests Monday, escalating demands for the immediate departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh after the ailing leader said his future should be determined at the ballot box.

Tens of thousands of protesters marched in two demonstrations, one for men and another for women, from Change Square, epicentre of anti-regime protests which have rocked Yemen since late January.

Mohammed Qahtan, spokesman for the parliamentary Common Forum of opposition parties, said Saleh clearly had no intention of quitting.

4 US pushes Afghan army to stand on its own two feet

By Rachel O’Brien, AFP

1 hr 7 mins ago

The call from the Afghan army captain came in around midnight — he wanted American back-up at a police checkpoint under insurgent attack. But US troops refused.

“Tell him to kill some bad guys for me!” yelled Captain Michael Kolton, in charge at US Combat Outpost Monti in rural northeastern Afghanistan, to the interpreter on the phone to the Afghan captain.

It is not that Kolton could not help — “We could end it a little faster,” he said later — but with foreign troops pulling out by the end of 2014, the US priority now is making sure Afghan forces can deal with the enemy alone.

5 Anger spreads over Bolivia crackdown on protesters

AFP

35 mins ago

Protests spread in Bolivia on Monday over a violent crackdown on Indian marchers demonstrating against a highway planned to be built through an Amazon rainforest preserve.

A cabinet minister resigned in protest, students marched in major cities, and the Organization of American States (OAS) weighed sending a monitoring team to look into Sunday’s clashes in a major crisis for the leftist government of President Evo Morales.

Riot police had fired tear gas to disperse a march on La Paz by Amazon Indians opposed to government plans for the highway. Police rounded up hundreds of marchers and forced them onto buses in an operation that left several people injured.

6 All countries now allowing women right to vote: IPU

By Jules K Caron, AFP

59 mins ago

Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow women to vote and run in municipal elections means that no country in the world now discriminate against women on the books when it comes to elect leaders, the president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union said on Monday.

“We have checked the records,” Theo-Ben Gurirab, who is also speaker of the National Assembly of of Namibia, told AFP by phone from his home country.

“I don’t want to mention one country, but I can mention it because neither men nor women participate in politics — that is Brunei Darussalam, the oil-rich little kingdom in South East Asia,” he said.

7 Germany KOs bid to raise euro rescue guarantees

By Roddy Thomson, AFP

3 hrs ago

Germany shot down Monday moves to boost European debt rescue funding, bursting renewed optimism on markets amid global pressure for the eurozone to stave off recession.

As Greece languished without a date for the return of auditors blocking loans it needs to avoid default, European Union economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn said the 440-billion-euro ($590 billion) European Financial Stability Facility should be given “greater strength.”

Rehn’s spokesman Amadeu Altafaj added that discussions among eurozone partners involved an “increase of the means at the EFSF’s disposal,” but German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said there was no plan to boost the fund’s actual size.

8 Disaster aid at stake as US lawmakers feud

By Olivier Knox, AFP

1 hr 0 mins ago

Polarized US lawmakers hunted Monday for a way to defuse an angry spending feud that risked choking off disaster relief in Hurricane Irene’s wake and even threatened a government shutdown at week’s end.

Barely two months after a debt-limit battle cost Washington its sterling debt rating and weighed the already stumbling US economy down with more doubts, the divided US Congress had just days to break its paralysis.

The Senate was to vote at 5:30 p.m. (2130 GMT) on a Democratic bill that would replenish a key disaster relief fund expected to run dry this week while keeping government agencies open past the October 1 dawn of fiscal year 2012.

9 ANA takes Boeing’s first 787 Dreamliner

AFP

1 hr 15 mins ago

Boeing and All Nippon Airways celebrated Monday the long-awaited delivery of the world’s first 787 Dreamliner airplane to the Japanese airline.

More than three years behind schedule due to production and design problems, Boeing touts its all-new 787 as a game changer for the aviation industry.

It is the first mid-sized airplane capable of flying long-range routes, responding to passengers’ demands for non-stop travel, the Chicago-based company says.

10 Treasure hunters eye huge silver haul from WWII ship

AFP

2 hrs 30 mins ago

When the SS Gairsoppa was torpedoed by a German U-boat, it took its huge silver cargo to a watery grave. Seventy years later, US divers said they are working to recover what may well be the biggest shipwreck haul ever.

Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration on Monday confirmed the identity and location of the Gairsoppa and cited official documents indicating the ship was carrying some 219 tons of silver coins and bullion when it sank in 1941 in the North Atlantic some 300 miles (490 kilometers) off the Irish coast.

That’s worth about $200 million today, which would make it history’s largest recovery of precious metals lost at sea, Odyssey said.

11 Libya’s NTC says Lockerbie case closed

By William Maclean in Tripoli and Peter Griffiths, Stephen Addison and Michael Holden in London, Reuters

30 mins ago

LONDON (Reuters) – The investigation into the 1988 bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner over Lockerbie in Scotland is closed and Tripoli will not release more evidence that could lead to others being charged, Libya’s interim leaders said on Monday.

The British Foreign Office, however, said the investigation into the bombing “remains open.”

Scottish prosecutors had asked Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) to give them access to papers or witnesses that could implicate more suspects, possibly including deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi.

12 Libyan forces close on Gaddafi loyalists in Sirte

By Alexander Dziadosz and Sherine El Madany, Reuters

2 hrs 17 mins ago

SIRTE (Reuters) – Libyan provisional government forces backed by NATO warplanes raced through the eastern outskirts of Sirte on Monday, closing in on Muammar Gaddafi loyalists holed up in one of the last two bastions of the deposed leader.

Thick, black smoke billowed into the air as National Transitional Council (NTC) fighters battled loyalist troops at a roundabout about 2 km (1.2 mile) from the center of Gaddafi’s home town, Reuters journalists said.

The thud of large explosions could be heard as NATO aircraft roared overhead. NTC fighters said the jets were striking the positions of Gaddafi loyalists.

13 Syrian forces kill 4 defecting soldiers: activists

By Dominic Evans, Reuters

3 hrs ago

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Four Syrian soldiers were shot dead on Monday as they tried to escape a military camp and troops sealed off towns in a continuing crackdown on opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, activists said.

The military campaign has focused on towns and villages north of the city of Homs, where increasing numbers of defectors have been organizing and mounting guerrilla raids on roadblocks manned by troops and gunmen loyal to Assad.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in Britain, said the four soldiers were killed by military police when they tried to flee their post in the northern province of Idlib, which borders Turkey. Another seven soldiers were arrested.

14 Afghan employee kills U.S. citizen at Kabul CIA base

By Mirwais Harooni and Emma Graham-Harrison, Reuters

1 hr 34 mins ago

KABUL (Reuters) – An Afghan security guard employed by the U.S. Embassy opened fire inside a CIA office in Kabul on Sunday evening, killing an American contractor and injuring a second person, U.S. and Afghan officials said, in the second major breach of embassy security in two weeks.

The killing adds to a sense of insecurity already heightened by a 20-hour siege of the diplomatic district in mid-September, and the assassination a week later of the top government peace envoy, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

The CIA compound inside the Ariana hotel is one of the most heavily guarded in Kabul, and has been off-limits to the public — along with the road that runs beside it — for almost a decade.

15 Russian finance chief ousted in power struggle

By Alexei Anishchuk, Reuters

2 hrs 19 mins ago

DIMITROVGRAD, Russia (Reuters) – Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin was ousted on Monday in a bitter and public conflict with President Dmitry Medvedev that has exposed deep cracks in unity over Vladimir Putin’s plan to return to the Kremlin.

Western investors regarded Kudrin as a guarantor of financial stability and said his departure would be a heavy blow to Russia’s economy, setting back prospects for reforms.

“I have resigned. My resignation was accepted,” Kudrin told Reuters after the sudden end to his more than 11-year tenure as finance minister, a departure from Putin’s script when he announced on Saturday he would run for president in March.

16 Kudrin sacking: Bad timing for Russia

By Douglas Busvine, Reuters

2 hrs 18 mins ago

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Alexei Kudrin’s sudden departure on Monday after 11 years as finance minister could hardly come at a worse time as Russia contends with capital flight, turmoil on financial markets and growing oil-price risks.

Kudrin brought Russia back from the trauma of default and devaluation in 1998, running a string of budget surpluses and building an oil-funded war chest of $200 billion that helped stave off the shock of the 2008 financial crisis.

In that time, the mild-mannered economist won the respect of financial markets while keeping the ear of Vladimir Putin, the man he helped bring into the Kremlin and who, in return, handed him the job of finance minister in May 2000.

17 Euro zone struggles to stem crisis; Obama urges action

By Emily Flitter and Luke Baker, Reuters

27 mins ago

NEW YORK/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Euro-zone officials are working to magnify the firepower of the region’s rescue fund, a senior European Central Bank policymaker said on Monday, while President Barack Obama piled on pressure for Europe to staunch a sovereign debt crisis that threatens the world economy.

Obama, saying the crisis “is scaring the world,” said the leaders of the 17-nation euro zone were not responding quickly enough.

The region has not fully healed from the 2007 financial crisis or fully addressed issues in its banking system, and its problems have been compounded by the Greek debt crisis, he said.

18 Greeks feel drip-drip torture of austerity

By Renee Maltezou and Angeliki Koutantou, Reuters

7 hrs ago

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greeks expressed their misery on Monday at the erosion of their daily lives by austerity measures demanded by international lenders in exchange for bailout funds, ahead of a key parliamentary vote on extra property tax.

Greece said last week it would deepen pension cuts, extend the painful property tax and put tens of thousands of workers on notice to secure new aid and save the nation from bankruptcy, causing more pain for an increasingly embittered electorate.

“The drip-drip torture cannot continue,” Dimitris Lintzeris of the ruling socialist PASOK party said, adding he would vote for the change in the property tax on Tuesday but was not sure about approving further cuts.

19 EU lawmakers push to tweak Basel bank capital rule

By Huw Jones, Reuters

13 mins ago

STRASBOURG, France (Reuters) – European Union lawmakers want to change how globally agreed bank capital rules will be applied in the 27-nation bloc, a move that risks a backlash in the United States.

A draft EU measure now being discussed by member states and the European Parliament puts into law the Basel III accord, the world’s core regulatory response to the financial crisis to make banks safer.

All the EU’s 8,000 lenders will have to comply when the requirements are phased in from 2013 over six years.

20 UBS’s new CEO commits to keeping U.S. brokerage

By Joseph A. Giannone, Reuters

1 hr 42 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – UBS AG’s top two executives reassured the company’s U.S. brokers and advisers on Monday that the embattled Swiss banking giant has no plans to sell UBS Wealth Management Americas.

“Again: this business is not for sale,” UBS Chairman Kasper Villiger and interim CEO Sergio Ermotti wrote in an internal memo. Ermotti was installed as CEO over the weekend after the sudden departure of group chief executive Oswald Gruebel, a strong backer of the U.S. business.

Villiger and Ermotti also affirmed their support for the Wealth Management Americas CEO Robert McCann, a former Merrill Lynch executive hired two years ago to lead the U.S. unit’s turnaround.

21 Special Report: How a rogue trader crashed UBS

By Emma Thomasson and Edward Taylor, Reuters

4 hrs ago

ZURICH/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Late last Friday afternoon, as Formula One teams readied their cars for a practice session ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, the entrance hall of the nearby Ritz-Carlton buzzed with activity.

One by one, senior executives of Swiss bank UBS entered the lobby, which is designed by Pritzker-winning architect Kevin Roche and features a soaring glass ceiling, and made their way to the gold-colored lifts that whisk guests up to rooms that overlook the Marina Bay street circuit.

As the bankers sped past works of art by the likes of Henry Moore, David Hockney and Frank Stella, some made their way straight to a lounge UBS had hired to entertain clients during the race weekend. At its entrance stood three Singaporean women wearing red and white polo shirts, each holding a sign emblazoned with the UBS logo and the slogan “Welcome, the race starts here”.

22 SEC mulls charges against S&P in CDO case

By David Henry, Reuters

1 hr 36 mins ago

(Reuters) – Regulators disclosed they may take action against Standard & Poor’s for securities law violations after the ratings agency gave top grades to a package of securitized mortgages in 2007 that quickly soured.

The possible action could be the first by the United States against one of the major credit rating agencies, which have been accused of enabling the lending excesses that led to the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008.

The disclosure follows S&P’s downgrade of the debt of the U.S. government in August, an unrelated move that was not followed by other rating agencies and that drew darts from the Obama administration and a bipartisan group of politicians.

23 Insight: Last year’s golden boy, CFTC boss under siege

By Christopher Doering, Reuters

1 hr 23 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly a year after launching ambitious reform plans, the top cop for U.S. futures markets, Gary Gensler, is beset by dissent from inside his agency and political attacks from outside it.

In the last two months, signs of friction within the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission have spilled into public view: internal complaints by whistleblowers, and the surprise release last Thursday of a key position-limit rule by Reuters. The leak of confidential trading data has also caused waves.

The strains are not necessarily surprising for an agency that has been thrust from relative obscurity into the forefront of sweeping reforms, and is now undertaking an overhaul of derivatives trading without the big increase in funding and additional staff it is seeking.

24 Merkin funds win dismissal of Madoff lawsuits

By Grant McCool, Reuters – 1 hr 50 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Three hedge funds run by New York financier and philanthropist Ezra Merkin won dismissal of civil lawsuits accusing them of being part of swindler Bernard Madoff’s massive fraud.

In an order dated Friday and made public on Monday, U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts in Manhattan threw out 2008 lawsuits alleging fraud and misrepresentation by the Ascot Fund, the Gabriel Fund and the Ariel Fund. Another defendant was BDO Seidman LLP, the auditor of the Ascot Fund.

“No misrepresentation was made when defendants relied on Madoff, as a third-party manager, to follow the investment strategies that aligned with the stated investment strategies of the funds,” the judge’s order said.

25 Recession drove up poverty rates in most states

By Lisa Lambert, Reuters

1 hr 39 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Poverty rates increased in almost all U.S. states and the District of Columbia over the course of the economic recession, with the worst spike in the South, according to a congressional report released on Monday.

In the South the number of people living below the poverty threshold grew by 3.3 million, the Joint Economic Committee found, comparing U.S. Census data from 2007 with the decennial statistics recently released. The South also still has the highest poverty rate, at 16.9 percent.

The number below the poverty line grew by 2.4 million people in the West and 1.6 million in the Midwest. In the Northeast, the ranks of the poor rose by 912,000 in those three years.

26 Fed officials defend latest easing measure

By Mark Felsenthal, Reuters

52 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two top Federal Reserve officials on Monday defended the central bank’s most recent effort to boost growth, and one suggested further steps may be justified.

The Fed last week announced it would weight its $2.85 trillion portfolio more heavily with longer term securities in an effort to drive borrowing costs lower, warning of “significant” downside risks to the economy,

Fed Governor Sarah Raskin and the president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, James Bullard, both defended that move as warranted given the U.S. 9.1 percent unemployment rate. Raskin hinted she would support more action.

27 Berkshire to launch surprise buyback plan

By Ben Berkowitz, Reuters

1 hr 34 mins ago

(Reuters) Warren Buffett’s conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway will launch a share buyback program, an unprecedented move from Buffett that comes after months of investor complaints that the stock is undervalued.

Buffett long balked at a buyback, saying he preferred using spare cash to buy companies that would increase his own company’s profit margins.

Yet some long-time investors have said Berkshire shares were lately at their cheapest in a generation, and even analysts who were cautious on the stock said it was attractively priced.

28 China lures WTO to brink of procurement deal: sources

By Tom Miles, Reuters

3 hrs ago

GENEVA (Reuters) – Forty-two countries are close to agreeing an upgrade of their Global Procurement Agreement (GPA), a reform that could unlock tens of billions of dollars of commercial opportunities, and many times more if China gets on board, trade sources said on Monday.

The GPA, a voluntary agreement within the World Trade Organization, opens a wide spectrum of public contracts in member countries to bidders from other members, improving competition and efficiency as well as providing massive new markets in areas such as infrastructure and transport.

By upgrading the existing 1996 agreement, its members hope to bring their rules into the internet age, deepen market access and offer special treatment for developing countries, which could persuade China to join — as it has committed to do at some stage — and bring in a vast new pool of contracts.

29 Composites a big bet for 787 and for Boeing

By John Crawley, Reuters

2 hrs 52 mins ago

(Reuters) – To engineers, the Boeing Co 787 is made from reinforced carbon composites. To everyone else, the Dreamliner is the world’s first plastic jet.

Boeing’s departure from traditionally reliable aluminum construction was driven by airlines demanding a big plane that requires less fuel to operate and is less costly to maintain.

Common in military aircraft for some time and in a range of everyday products from soup ladles to golf clubs, composites are showing up more frequently on commercial planes.

30 FEMA buys time in budget dispute

By Andy Sullivan, Reuters

46 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The government probably will not run out of disaster aid until the end of the week, buying more time for Congress to resolve a budget dispute that has raised the specter of a government shutdown.

Capitol Hill gridlock has threatened aid for thousands of Americans who have been hit by a spate of natural disasters and raised the possibility that the government may not have money to continue operating when the fiscal year ends on Friday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it might have enough money to limp to the end of the fiscal year without needing an extra infusion of funds, meaning that Democrats and Republicans might be able to drop their fight over how to pay for the additional aid.

31 California policeman pleads innocent in homeless man’s death

By Tori Richards, Reuters

2 hrs 51 mins ago

SANTA ANA, Calif (Reuters) – A California policeman pleaded not guilty on Monday to killing a schizophrenic homeless man who was beaten and repeatedly shocked with a Taser in a videotaped July confrontation with six officers.

Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos was charged last week with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the death of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas, and the judge in the case refused on Monday to reduce his $1 million bail.

Corporal Jay Cicinelli, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive use of force in the same incident, pleaded not guilty last week and was free on $25,000 bail.

32 Libya orders state security courts abolished

By BEN HUBBARD and HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press

2 hrs 50 mins ago

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) – Libya’s transitional justice minister said Monday that he has approved a measure to abolish the country’s state security prosecution and courts, which sentenced opponents of the old regime to prison.

At a press conference in Tripoli, Mohammed al-Alagi, part of Libya’s new leadership after the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi, said he has signed a document to disband the bodies. The step still needs approval by the National Transitional Council that now runs the country.

“I am personally very happy to sign an approval to end the state security prosecution and court, and the state security appeals court,” al-Alagi said.

33 [Eni, Total resume some oil production in Libya p://news.yahoo.com/eni-total-resume-oil-production-libya-191919212.html]

By FRANCES D’EMILIO and NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press

1 hr 1 min ago

ROME (AP) – Italian and French energy companies have resumed partial oil production in Libya after months of civil war, a potential economic lifeline for Libya’s new government as it scrambles to rebuild.

Officials of Libya’s transitional government are still awaiting U.N. action to unfreeze billions of dollars in assets. They say the funds unfrozen so far aren’t enough to significantly rebuild Libya’s health, education and other institutions after 42 years of languishing under Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

Italian energy giant Eni said Monday it has resumed oil production in Libya after months of interruption due to the civil war that toppled Gadhafi’s rule. By Monday, 15 wells had been tapped, producing some 31,900 barrels of oil per day.

34 Attack on Kabul CIA office kills agency contractor

By HEIDI VOGT and RAHIM FAIEZ, Associated Press

4 hrs ago

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – An Afghan working for the U.S. government killed a CIA contractor and wounded another American in an attack on the intelligence agency’s office in Kabul, officials said Monday, making it the latest in a series of high-profile attacks this month on U.S. targets.

The incident marked the most recent in a growing number of attacks this year by Afghans working with international forces in the country. Some assailants have turned out to be Taliban sleeper agents, while others have been motivated by personal grievances.

The assailant in Sunday evening’s shooting was killed, and it was not yet clear if he acted alone or if he belonged to an insurgent group.

35 WHO: Iran, South Asia worst for city air pollution

By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press

2 hrs 48 mins ago

GENEVA (AP) – Cities in Iran, India, Pakistan and the capital of Mongolia rank among the worst on the planet for air pollution, while those in the U.S. and Canada are among the best, according to the first global survey released Monday by the World Health Organization.

The southwest Iranian city of Ahvaz walked away with the unfortunate distinction of having the highest measured level of airborne particles smaller than 10 micrometers.

WHO released the list to highlight the need to reduce outdoor air pollution, which is estimated to cause 1.34 million premature deaths each year. The global body said investments to lower pollution levels quickly pay off due to lower disease rates and, therefore, lower healthcare costs.

36 Obama, GOP trumpet jobs plans in Silicon Valley

By BROOKE DONALD, Associated Press

22 mins ago

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) – President Barack Obama said Monday that the optimism and forward-looking attitudes in Silicon Valley are what can help steer the American economy away from recession and get people back to work.

Obama took questions on health care, Social Security, job-training programs, taxes and business regulations during an hour-long, town-hall-style meeting hosted by LinkedIn, the career-oriented social networking site.

Looking out over the enthusiastic, high-tech crowd at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Obama said, “what you see is … a belief that if you have a good idea, and you want to put in the sweat and blood and tears to make it happen, that not only can you succeed for yourself but grow the economy for everybody.”

37 Obama defends push to raise taxes on rich

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press

2 hrs 46 mins ago

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) – Inviting questions, President Barack Obama got one he was happy to answer.

“Would you please raise my taxes?” one man asked the president at a town hall here Monday, hosted by the social networking company LinkedIn.

The questioner described himself as unemployed by choice after succeeding at a search-engine startup company that did “quite well” – he was later identified as former Google executive Doug Edwards – and said he wants the nation to spend more on education, infrastructure and job training. That gave Obama a chance to promote his nearly $450 billion jobs plan that would be paid for by higher taxes opposed by Republicans but not, evidently, by some of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest.

38 Republican candidates seek Trump stamp of approval

By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press

50 mins ago

NEW YORK (AP) – Donald Trump has become a must-stop for GOP candidates looking for advice or hoping to bask in the celebrity real estate mogul’s star power.

All the major Republican presidential hopefuls have sought an audience with Trump, just months after President Barack Obama dismissed the TV reality show personality as a “carnival barker” for raising debunked questions about Obama’s citizenship.

Trump’s money and fame as host of “Celebrity Apprentice” are part of the draw for GOP candidates. But Republican strategists say candidates could also learn a lot politically from Trump, whose aggressive criticism of Obama and blunt portrait of the U.S. as a nation in decline have resonated with conservative voters looking for an in-your-face challenge to the president.

39 Shutdown averted; disaster aid dispute surmounted

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

40 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Ending weeks of political brinkmanship, Congress finessed a dispute over disaster aid Monday night and advanced legislation to avoid a partial government shutdown this weekend.

The breakthrough came hours after the Federal Emergency Management Agency indicated it had enough money for disaster relief efforts through Friday. That disclosure allowed lawmakers to jettison a $1 billion replenishment that had been included in the measure – and to crack the gridlock it had caused.

Senate passage of the legislation was expected within hours. There was no immediate comment from House Republican leaders, although their agreement seemed a formality after the party’s Senate leader signed off.

40 Govt won’t seek appeal in Atlanta on health care

By PETE YOST, Associated Press

1 hr 24 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration has decided not to ask a federal appeals court in Atlanta for further review of a ruling striking down the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care overhaul.

The administration’s decision makes it more likely that the U.S. Supreme Court would hear a case on the health care overhaul in the court’s term starting next month, and render its verdict on the law in the midst of the 2012 presidential election campaign.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler disclosed the administration’s decision. She declined to elaborate on next moves.

41 Embezzled campaigns could face sanctions

By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press

2 hrs 50 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Talk about adding insult to injury. The campaigns for several Democratic lawmakers reeling from the arrest of their campaign treasurer face the prospect of financial penalties themselves.

Federal prosecutors earlier this month accused Kinde Durkee of siphoning nearly $700,000 from a California assemblyman. She told authorities she had been misappropriating money from her many Democratic clients for years.

Her client list has several hundred names on it, including the California campaigns of Sen. Dianne Feinstein and U.S. Reps. Susan Davis, Loretta Sanchez, and Laura Richardson.

42 Deloitte sued for $7.6B in mortgage fraud case

By CURT ANDERSON, AP Legal Affairs Writer

2 hrs 49 mins ago

MIAMI (AP) – A pair of lawsuits filed Monday claim that Deloitte & Touche LLP, one of the nation’s largest accounting firms, should pay $7.6 billion in damages for failing through years of audits to detect massive fraud at a now-defunct Florida mortgage company.

“They certainly did not do their job,” said attorney Steven Thomas, who represents those suing Deloitte. “This is one of those cases where the red flags are staring you in the face, and you’ve got to do a lot, and they did not.”

Deloitte spokesman Jonathan Gandal responded that the company rejects the claims, calling them “utterly without merit.”

43 Possible SEC move vs. S&P may be first legal shot

By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer

2 hrs 50 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering taking civil action against Standard & Poor’s for its rating of a 2007 mortgage debt offering. Such action could be just the first shot in a legal assault against the major credit rating agencies.

The three major agencies – S&P, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings – gave high ratings to mortgage investments that turned out to be worthless and contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

If the SEC charges S&P with violating securities laws, it would mark the first time it’s brought an enforcement action against a top rating agency.

44 Jewelers want states to replace limits on cadmium

By JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press

3 mins 5 secs ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The U.S jewelry industry wants states to overturn laws that limit the toxic metal cadmium in children’s trinkets and adopt new voluntary guidelines it helped create, saying stricter rules in several states create chaos for manufacturers and importers.

Persuading legislators to reopen the issue won’t be an easy sell: Many consumer and environmental advocates say the new guidelines weaken protection of children’s health.

While the voluntary rules have the support of federal regulators, states that passed much stricter limits over the past year would have to backtrack and allow higher levels of a metal that can cause cancer.

45 Home-buying season the worst in at least 50 years

By DEREK KRAVITZ, AP Real Estate Writer

2 hrs 53 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – The home-buying season was a bust.

March through August are typically the peak buying months. But this time, Americans bought fewer new homes in that stretch than in any other six-month period since record-keeping began a half-century ago.

And sales of previously occupied homes didn’t fare much better. They nearly matched 2009’s total for the peak buying months. And that was the worst since 1997.

46 Pentagon extends program to defend cyber networks

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

2 hrs 49 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon is extending a pilot program to help protect its prime defense contractors, an effort the Obama administration can use as a model to prevent hackers and hostile nations from breaching networks and stealing sensitive data.

The move comes as cybersecurity officials warn of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks against U.S. defense companies, including data related to critical Pentagon weapons systems and aircraft.

Officials at the Department of Homeland Security are reviewing the program, with an eye toward extending similar protections to power plants, the electric grid and other critical infrastructure.

47 Living people on US stamps: Who would you choose?

By HOPE YEN and STACY A. ANDERSON, Associated Press

2 hrs 54 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Who would you put on a stamp? Charlie Sheen? Lady Gaga? Yourself?

Hoping to boost sagging revenue, the U.S. Postal Service on Monday abandoned its longstanding rule that stamps cannot feature people who are still alive and is asking the public for suggestions.

It’s a first that means living sports stars, writers, artists and other prominent – or not-so-prominent – people could take their places in postal history next to the likes of George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., and Marilyn Monroe.

48 Study: Dads less likely to die of heart problems

By MARILYNN MARCHIONE, AP Medical Writer

6 mins ago

Fatherhood may be a kick in the old testosterone, but it may also help keep a man alive. New research suggests that dads are a little less likely to die of heart-related problems than childless men are.

The study – by the AARP, the government and several universities – is the largest ever on male fertility and mortality, involving nearly 138,000 men. Although a study like this can’t prove that fatherhood and mortality are related, there are plenty of reasons to think they might be, several heart disease experts said.

Marriage, having lots of friends and even having a dog can lower the chance of heart problems and cardiac-related deaths, previous research suggests. Similarly, kids might help take care of you or give you a reason to take better care of yourself.

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  1. ek hornbeck

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