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Sep 29 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 39 Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 France refuses extradition of Rwanda widow

By Etienne Fontaine, AFP

4 hrs ago

A French appeals court on Wednesday rejected a Rwandan request to extradite alleged mass-killing mastermind Agathe Habyarimana, widow of the Rwandan president whose death sparked the 1994 genocide.

Juvenal Habyarimana’s widow, who has lived in France for over 15 years, was accused of genocide and crimes against humanity for her alleged role in the massacre of 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, in just 100 days.

“I’m relieved, I’ve always had faith in the French justice system,” Habyarimana said after the judge’s decision.

2 I.Coast to vote on December 11, truth panel launched

AFP

1 hr 1 min ago

Ivory Coast will go to the polls on December 11, the government said Wednesday as it launched a commission aimed at reconciling a nation emerging from a deadly political crisis.

The December 11 date became official after Ivory Coast’s cabinet approved a proposal from the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), government spokesman Bruno Kone told journalists.

President Alassane Ouattara has vowed to unite the country after a deadly five-month political standoff that was sparked by former president Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to accept defeat after a November vote.

3 Bahrain court upholds life terms for opposition leaders

AFP

2 hrs 15 mins ago

A Bahraini special court has upheld life jail sentences served on seven Shiite opposition leaders convicted of plotting to overthrow the regime in the Gulf kingdom, BNA official news agency said.

Jail sentences against seven other activists, ranging between two to 15 years and including Sunni opposition leader Ibrahim Sharif, were also upheld by the national safety appeals court, it said, quoting military general prosecutor Colonel Yusof Fulaifel.

Seven others, one sentenced to life in jail and the remainder to 15 years, remained at large and had not appealed against their sentences.

4 Libya’s battered NTC forces urge more NATO strikes

By Michael Mainville, AFP

3 hrs ago

Anti-Kadhafi forces urged NATO on Wednesday to intensify its air war as they took heavy losses in a push on the ousted despot’s birthplace of Sirte and his other remaining bastion, Bani Walid.

In a radio message, Moamer Kadhafi hailed the resistance in Bani Walid, where the NTC said 11 of its fighters were killed Tuesday in a hail of rockets fired by forces loyal to the former strongman.

And while the fugitive Kadhafi’s whereabouts remain unknown, Libya’s defence ministry spokesman said one of the deposed leader’s sons, Seif al-Islam, is in Bani Walid and other, Mutassem, is in Sirte.

5 Syria regime, opponents trade blame for scientist murders

AFP

57 mins ago

The Syrian government and regime opponents blamed each other Wednesday for the murder of a nuclear engineer, the latest death among scientists in the flashpoint city of Homs.

Meanwhile, Russia balked at Europe’s effort to get the UN Security Council to threaten sanctions against Syria, saying it encourages violence.

And despite news of still more killing in the six months of violence that has claimed the lives of some 2,700 people, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was quoted as saying the “troubling events have ended”.

6 Saudi king ‘revokes’ woman driver’s lashing sentence

AFP

1 hr 19 mins ago

Saudi King Abdullah has revoked a sentence of 10 lashes imposed on a woman for breaking the ban on women driving in the conservative kingdom, a Saudi princess said Wednesday on her Twitter account.

“Thank God, the lashing of Sheima is cancelled. Thanks to our beloved King. I’m sure all Saudi women will be so happy, I know I am,” said Princess Amira al-Taweel, wife of billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

“In tough times we stand together; in good times we celebrate together,” the princess said. “I’m proud to be Saudi. To all Active Saudi women thank u for ur efforts.”

7 US tries ‘friendship song’ diplomacy in Pakistan

By Claire Truscott, AFP

34 mins ago

Pakistan and the United States set aside an escalating row over proxy warfare for a night of musical fusion by the moonlit shores of a lake, hoping to cement public friendships, and all that jazz.

In Washington, the White House exacerbated tensions with more demands that Islamabad clamp down on the Al-Qaeda-linked network blamed for attacks on US targets in Kabul, but in the Pakistani capital, diplomats trod a softer path.

Hosting a concert by the shores of Rawal Lake, the US embassy brought together America’s “Ari Roland Jazz Quartet” and Pakistani rock band “Fuzon”, capping the night with the “world premiere” of a special friendship song.

8 Suspect in USS Cole case faces Guantanamo trial

By Dan De Luce, AFP

20 mins ago

The prime suspect in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole will face a military tribunal in Guantanamo and a possible death sentence if convicted, defense officials said Wednesday.

The Pentagon announced it had formally referred charges against Abd al-Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al-Nashiri of Saudi Arabia, in the first new case to go to trial at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Nashiri is one of three detainees the CIA has admitted to waterboarding — a technique widely condemned as torture — and his harsh treatment at the hands of American interrogators is expected to play a crucial role in the trial.

9 Athens debt crisis hits crunch

By John Hadoulis, AFP

1 hr 18 mins ago

Global creditors announced Wednesday the return of auditors to Greece in a bid to break an impasse over billions of euros in blocked bailout loans Athens needs to avoid default.

Nearly four weeks after abruptly leaving the city, EU and IMF negotiators will restart tough number crunching from Thursday amid mounting social tension and what the European Union describes as the biggest challenge of its history.

Efforts to resolve the wider debt crisis, which the United States fears will trigger another worldwide downturn, are embroiled in national feuding with German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggesting a second Greek bailout may need to be renegotiated.

10 UAW union approves 4-year contract with GM

By Joe Szczesny, AFP

1 hr 45 mins ago

The United Auto Workers said Wednesday its members had approved a new four-year union contract with General Motors that will add more than 6,000 new jobs.

The $2 billion contract covers more than 48,000 workers at GM and is effective immediately, the UAW said.

GM, the biggest US automaker, is the first of the Detroit “Big Three” to clinch a new UAW contract. The union is in negotiations with Ford and Chrysler.

11 Amazon launches iPad rival, the Kindle Fire

By Charlotte Raab, AFP

7 mins ago

US online retail giant Amazon launched a touchscreen tablet computer, the Kindle Fire, on Wednesday that costs $199, less than half the price of the cheapest iPad from market-leader Apple.

The Kindle Fire, which has a seven-inch (17.78-centimeter) screen, smaller than the iPad’s 9.7 inches (24.6 cm), will ship in the United States on November 15 and could emerge as a strong rival to the Apple device.

“Kindle Fire brings together all of the things we’ve been working on at Amazon for over 15 years into a single, fully-integrated service for customers,” Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said.

12 Libya’s NTC thinks Gaddafi hiding near Algeria

By Joseph Logan and Sherine El Madany, Reuters

3 hrs ago

SIRTE (Reuters) – Libya’s new rulers said on Wednesday they believed fugitive former leader Muammar Gaddafi was being shielded by nomadic tribesmen in the desert near the Algerian border, while his followers fend off assaults on his hometown.

Intense sniper and artillery fire from pro-Gaddafi fighters has so far prevented National Transitional Council (NTC) forces from taking Sirte despite more than two weeks of fighting and two full-on assaults.

One of Gaddafi’s last two bastions, it has withstood a siege, NTC tank and rocket fire as well as NATO air strikes, and the United Nations and international aid agencies are worried about conditions for civilians trapped inside.

13 Peacekeepers deploy in tense Kosovo

By Aleksandar Vasovic and Branislav Krstic, Reuters

2 hrs 25 mins ago

BELGRADE/MITROVICA (Reuters) – NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo (KFOR) reinforced troops at a border crossing in the ethnic Serb north on Wednesday, a day after more than a dozen people were injured in clashes.

About 50 German KFOR troops in armored vehicles and bulldozers were also deployed close to the main bridge in the divided town of Mitrovica.

A Reuters correspondent said KFOR troops deployed armored vehicles, sand bags and barbed wire at the Jarinje crossing on the border with Serbia, about 100 km (60 miles) from Kosovo’s capital Pristina.

14 Analysis: Pakistan’s double-game: treachery or strategy?

By John Chalmers, Reuters

2 hrs 52 mins ago

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Washington has just about had it with Pakistan.

“Turns out they are disloyal, deceptive and a danger to the United States,” fumed Republican Representative Ted Poe last week. “We pay them to hate us. Now we pay them to bomb us. Let’s not pay them at all.”

For many in America, Islamabad has been nothing short of perfidious since joining a strategic alliance with Washington 10 years ago: selectively cooperating in the war on extremist violence and taking billions of dollars in aid to do the job, while all the time sheltering and supporting Islamist militant groups that fight NATO troops in Afghanistan.

15 Wall Street drops, led by commodities on economic fear

By Edward Krudy, Reuters

1 hr 42 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Commodity-related stocks drove Wall Street lower on Wednesday as stiff declines in energy and metals prices underscored investor concerns about global economic weakness and Europe’s raging debt crisis.

A sharp 7 percent dive in the price of copper, seen as a leading indicator for the economy, rattled investors and led to a drop of 4.5 percent in the S&P materials index. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc fell 7.3 percent to $32.29.

Investors were on a knife edge as inspectors from the EU and IMF headed to Greece to scrutinize austerity plans while German Chancellor Angela Merkel worked to defuse a revolt within her government ahead of a vote to expand Europe’s bailout fund on Thursday.

16 Greece faces auditor verdict, fresh aid at stake

By Harry Papachristou, Reuters

12 mins ago

ATHENS (Reuters) – International auditors return to Athens on Thursday to deliver a verdict on whether Greece’s tougher austerity measures qualify for aid to avert a default that would plunge the country into bankruptcy.

Inspectors from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) quit Greece on September 2, after the government failed to convince them it was doing enough in terms of deficit cuts and economic reforms to deserve further payments under its 110-billion-euro ($150 billion) bailout agreed last year.

Despite the acrimony, analysts expect the talks to usher in the disbursement of a sixth bailout tranche for Greece, money the country badly needs to avoid running out of cash next month and plunging the euro zone into an even deeper crisis.

17 Exclusive: CFTC lacks votes on position-limit plan

By Christopher Doering, Reuters

1 hr 14 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. futures regulator delayed a final vote on controversial measures to crack down on excessive speculation in commodity markets because it lacks the three votes needed for approval, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission announced on Tuesday it was delaying by another two weeks to October 18 its meeting to consider the long-awaited rule on position limits. It was the second time a vote had been postponed.

The disagreements hinge on some of the smaller, seemingly less-contentious elements of the plan, not on the areas in which the CFTC has yielded to industry complaints.

18 Carlyle, Blackstone chiefs downbeat on U.S. economy

By Paritosh Bansal, Reuters

4 hrs ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The heads of two of the world’s most powerful private equity firms issued a dire report on the U.S. economy on Wednesday, signaling problems for political leaders and their own firms’ ability to realize profit on their portfolios.

“We never really emerged from the last recession,” Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein said at a breakfast session at Lincoln Center that also featured Blackstone Group Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman.

“It will last a few more years before we get unemployment to a level that is tolerable,” Rubenstein said.

19 Debt panel eyes dual Medicare/Medicaid patients

By Donna Smith, Reuters

6 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Government health benefits for some 9 million of the sickest and poorest U.S. citizens will come under scrutiny from the congressional “super committee” seeking to cut the nation’s debt.

These are Americans who qualify for both the Medicare and Medicaid programs for the elderly and the poor, based on their disability, age and low income.

In bureaucratic parlance they are called “dual-eligibles” and both Democrats and Republicans see their care as one major area for potential savings. The super committee panel, with six members from each party, is taking a look at proposals to reduce spending on this group, a congressional aide said.

20 U.S. watchdogs target tax-exempt campaign money

By Patricia Zengerle, Reuters

2 hrs 55 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. campaign finance watchdogs challenged the tax-exempt status on Wednesday of four political groups raising millions of dollars in largely unregulated money to influence elections, terming claims they promote social welfare “nonsense.”

Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center wrote to U.S. tax authorities calling for a prompt investigation of the Republican-leaning Crossroads GPS and American Action Network; the Democratic group Priorities USA; and a centrist group, Americans Elect.

The watchdogs based their request on the terms of the U.S. tax code. The Internal Revenue Service exempts non-profits — called 501(c)(4) organizations — from income taxes because they promote social welfare.

21 Perry aides told different stories in lawsuit

By Murray Waas and Peter Henderson, Reuters

47 mins ago

(Reuters) – Contradictions in sworn statements about Rick Perry’s fundraising for his 2006 reelection bid raise questions about whether aides to the Texas governor, who is now running for president, gave false or misleading testimony under oath.

In a civil suit later filed by Chris Bell, Perry’s Democratic challenger in that race, the testimony of aides David Carney and Deirdre Delisi was directly contradicted by a sworn statement from Perry’s own gubernatorial campaign committee.

At issue were the circumstances surrounding a $1 million contribution to the campaign, and whether the Republican Governors’ Association, which paid out the funds, was used as a conduit to camouflage their true origin. The lawsuit alleged that the actual donor was Texas multi-millionaire Bob Perry, a long-time supporter of Rick Perry (no relation) better known for bankrolling the Swift Boat campaign that torpedoed Senator John Kerry’s presidential bid.

22 Union claims Keystone XL’s Canadian permit expired

By Jeffrey Jones, Reuters

3 hrs ago

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Canada’s energy regulator said on Wednesday it is looking into a complaint that TransCanada Corp’s permit to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline within its own borders has expired, adding the prospect of more delays to a project environmentalists hope to block.

The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, which opposes the $7 billion oil pipeline to Texas from Alberta, contends TransCanada had not begun construction of the project by March 11, 2011, as spelled out in the permit the National Energy Board granted in March 2010.

Start-up of Keystone XL has been delayed by about a year by an extended review by the U.S. State Department amid a growing political debate in the United States on the pipeline’s merits. The State Department is not expected to release its decision until the end of 2011.

23 Insight: Social media – a political tool for good or evil?

By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent, Reuters

7 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After the “Arab Spring” surprised the world with the power of technology to revolutionize political dissent, governments are racing to develop strategies to respond to, and even control, the new player in the political arena — social media.

Anti-government protesters in Tunisia and Egypt used Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to run rings around attempts at censorship and organize demonstrations that ousted presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.

That served as a wake-up call to those in authority. By allowing millions of citizens to coordinate political action quickly and often without conventional leadership, the new technology is challenging traditional political power structures.

24 GM sees "minimal" impact on profits from UAW deal

By Ben Klayman and Bernie Woodall, Reuters

20 mins ago

DETROIT (Reuters) – Workers represented by the United Auto Workers union approved on Wednesday a four-year labor contract with General Motors Co, the first such deal for the top U.S. automaker since its 2009 bankruptcy.

Ratification of the GM deal, which covers 48,500 hourly workers, paves the way for the UAW to complete talks with GM’s crosstown rival, Ford Motor Co. Talks are also under way at Chrysler Group LLC, which is controlled by Fiat SpA.

GM said the contract would allow it to break even if U.S. auto sales plunged by just over 15 percent from the still-weak levels of 2011 and boost its costs by only $20 million annually in 2012 and 2013.

25 Reebok settles charges over toning shoe claims

By Diane Bartz, Reuters

4 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Reebok International Ltd has agreed to pay $25 million to settle charges that it made unsupported claims that its “toning shoes” help wearers get fit faster, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday.

The money will go toward consumer refunds.

Reebok advertisements said the shoes strengthened hamstrings and calves by up to 11 percent more than regular sneakers, and toned the buttocks up to 28 percent more, the FTC said.

26 Diabetes again linked to colon cancer risk

By Amy Norton, Reuters

3 hrs ago

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A new research review confirms that people with diabetes have a somewhat increased risk of colon cancer — but the reasons for the connection, and what should be done about it, remain unclear.

Combining the results of 14 international studies, researchers found that overall, people with diabetes were 38 percent more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer than those who were diabetes-free.

There was also a 20 percent increase in the risk of rectal cancer, though that appeared to be confined to men.

27 Egypt’s Islamists demand changes to election law

AP

1 hr 26 mins ago

CAIRO (AP) – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday turned up the pressure on the country’s military rulers to change a disputed new election law, even holding out the possibility of a boycott of upcoming parliamentary elections unless the bill is amended.

In a statement posted on the website of the Brotherhood’s political arm, the group demanded the law be changed to allow party lists to contest all of the seats in parliament, including those currently allocated to only to individual candidates.

“We reject participation in the elections unless the article is changed,” said the statement, which was signed by the coalition of The Democratic Alliance, which includes 37 parties along with the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Equality party.

28 Cantaloupe outbreak is deadliest in a decade

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press

1 hr 51 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Health officials say as many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths, are linked to the tainted fruit. State and local officials say they are investigating three additional deaths that may be connected.

The death toll released by the CDC Tuesday – including newly confirmed deaths in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas – surpassed the number of deaths linked to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago. Nine people died in that outbreak.

29 Cantaloupe illnesses and deaths expected to rise

By MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press

18 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal health officials said Wednesday more illnesses and possibly more deaths may be linked to an outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe in coming weeks.

So far, the outbreak has caused at least 72 illnesses – including up to 16 deaths – in 18 states, making it the deadliest food outbreak in the United States in more than a decade.

The heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said consumers who have cantaloupes produced by Jensen Farms in Colorado should throw them out. If they are not sure where the fruit is from, they shouldn’t eat it.

30 Noncandidates are keeping presidential buzz alive

By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press

2 hrs 21 mins ago

NEW YORK (AP) – Chris Christie isn’t running for president but says he’s listening to those who want him to. Donald Trump opted out of a bid for the Republican nomination but hasn’t ruled out running as an independent. Rudy Giuliani’s aides are courting New Hampshire activists. And Sarah Palin says she’ll decide soon whether to join the field, even as she worries the White House might be “too shackling.”

Welcome to The Big Tease, when political stars stoke the hopes of supporters by hinting they just might join the presidential fray.

A few do succumb to the temptation – most recently Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who joined the GOP field in August after months of insisting absolutely he had no interest. Others milk their moment in the spotlight, boosting their national stature, broadening their fundraising base and laying the foundation for a possible future run.

31 Gingrich Inc. wounded by presidential bid

By SHANNON McCAFFREY, Associated Press

1 hr 18 mins ago

ATLANTA (AP) – A floundering presidential bid has fractured what was once a rock star Republican image. Not long ago, Newt Gingrich sat atop a lucrative political empire, the sought-after intellectual guru of the GOP.

Now, all but broke, he’s traveling coach. His vaunted political operation, American Solutions, has gone under. And he’s finding himself fighting for air time – if not respect – at Republican presidential primary debates.

Gingrich has become an asterisk in the race.

32 Judge upholds key parts of Ala. immigration law

By JAY REEVES, Associated Press

1 hr 7 mins ago

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) – A federal judge refused Wednesday to block key parts of a closely watched Alabama law that is considered the strictest state effort to clamp down on illegal immigration, including a measure that requires immigration checks of public school students.

U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn wrote in a 115-page opinion finding some parts of the law that conflict with federal statutes, but others that don’t. Left standing at least temporarily are several key elements that help make the Alabama law stricter than similar laws passed in Arizona, Utah, Indiana and Georgia. Other federal judges already have blocked all or parts of those.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said most of the law was still intact and the state will enforce it. He planned to work with the state attorney general’s office to appeal those parts that the judge blocked. The judge’s previous order blocking the entire law expires Thursday.

33 Obama says he can’t fix immigration on his own

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press

4 hrs ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Facing weakening support among Hispanics, President Barack Obama expressed deep frustration Wednesday over what he called an inaccurate and damaging perception that he can fix the nation’s flawed immigration system on his own.

“This notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true,” Obama said during a White House roundtable targeting Hispanic voters, a key constituency for the president’s re-election campaign.

The president said comprehensive immigration reform continues to be a “top priority” for his administration. But he blamed Republicans in Congress for failing to join Democrats in supporting legislation that would address the flow of foreigners into the U.S. and deal with illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

34 Obama appeals health care setback to high court

By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press

44 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Raising prospects for a major election-year ruling, the Obama administration launched its Supreme Court defense of its landmark health care overhaul Wednesday, appealing what it called a “fundamentally flawed” appeals court decision that declared the law’s central provision unconstitutional.

Destined from the start for a high court showdown, the health care law affecting virtually every American seems sure to figure prominently in President Barack Obama’s campaign for re-election next year. Republican contenders are already assailing it in virtually every debate and speech.

The administration formally appealed a ruling by the federal appeals court in Atlanta that struck down the law’s core requirement that individuals buy health insurance or pay a penalty beginning in 2014.

35 Bernanke: Long-term unemployment a national crisis

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer

6 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that long-term unemployment is a “national crisis” and suggested that Congress should take further action to combat it. He also said lawmakers should provide more help to the battered housing industry.

Bernanke noted that 45 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for at least six months.

“This is unheard of,” he said in a question-and-answer session after a speech in Cleveland. “This has never happened in the post-war period in the United States. They are losing the skills they had, they are losing their connections, their attachment to the labor force.”

36 Wis. gov calls another legislative session on jobs

By TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press

1 hr 21 mins ago

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (AP) – Gov. Scott Walker said he wants lawmakers to focus like “laser beams” on putting people back to work during a special legislative session he announced Wednesday, marking the second time this year he’s asked the Legislature to work solely on job creation.

Walker promised on the campaign trail to create 250,000 jobs by 2015. He called a special session on jobs the first day he took office in January, but it doesn’t appear to have had much long-lasting effect.

Wisconsin has added about 30,100 non-farm jobs since he took office, according to state Department of Workforce Development data. But the unemployment rate has risen from 7.4 percent in January to 7.9 percent last month, and the state has lost 8,700 jobs since June.

37 Tax credit task force studies economic incentives

By TIM TALLEY, Associated Press

1 hr 24 mins ago

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – State tax credits awarded to Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry help support thousands of jobs across the state and are unlikely to be scaled back, the chairman of a task force that is scrutinizing some of the state’s estimated $5 billion in tax credits and exemptions said Wednesday.

Oil and gas industry executives appeared before the House Task Force on State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives to discuss the benefits of tax credits for deep oil and gas production wells, wells drilled horizontally and other expensive, high-risk ventures they said help support about 300,000 jobs in the exploration and production fields and their support industries.

“There are tens of thousands of people working at good-paying jobs in our state who would simply not be there without the oil and gas industry,” said the task force’s chairman, Rep. Dave Dank, R-Oklahoma City. Dank told reporters following the meeting he expects no changes in the tax credit package for oil and gas producers.

38 General Motors workers ratify new labor contract

By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer

1 hr 11 mins ago

DETROIT (AP) – Factory workers at General Motors have overwhelmingly approved a new four-year contract with the company that includes profit-sharing instead of raises for most workers and promises thousands of new jobs.

The United Auto Workers union said Wednesday that 65 percent of production workers voted for the deal, while 63 percent of skilled-trades workers such as electricians were in favor. Voting by GM’s 48,500 blue-collar workers ended on Wednesday.

GM was the first company to reach a deal with the union, which is now negotiating with Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. The GM pact is a template for the others, but there will be differences. The deal sets pay and benefits for more than 112,000 auto workers nationwide, and influences pay at foreign-owned auto plants in the U.S., auto parts supply companies and for other manufacturing businesses.

39 New 75 mph limit puts Maine in the fast lane

By GLENN ADAMS, Associated Press

29 mins ago

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – If you drive along Interstate 95 in the nation’s far northeastern corner, “it’s trees, trees, trees” for mile after mile, says one motorist. So why not set the cruise control on 75 mph?

That’s what a lot of drivers have been doing for years, but now it’s legal on one lonesome stretch, making Maine the only state east of the Mississippi River where drivers aren’t breaking the law by driving 75 mph.

The new law authorizing the higher limit went on the books Wednesday, though it actually takes effect when new signs replace the old 65 mph ones next Tuesday.

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