The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 US troops reductions in Iraq may slow

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

1 hour, 22 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is sending strong signals that U.S. troop reductions in Iraq will slow or stop altogether this summer, a move that would jeopardize hopes of relieving strain on the Army and Marine Corps and revive debate over an open-ended U.S. commitment in Iraq.

The indications of a likely slowdown reflect concern by U.S. commanders that the improvement in security in Iraq since June – to a degree few had predicted when President Bush ordered five more Army brigades to Iraq a year ago – is tenuous and could be reversed if the extra troops come out too soon.

One of those extra brigades left in December and the other four are due to come out by July, leaving 15 brigades, or roughly 130,000 to 135,000 troops – the same number as before Bush sent the reinforcements.

2 House approves economic recovery plan


31 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – The House voted Tuesday to rush rebates of $600-$1,200 to most taxpayers, but a partisan battle brewed in the Senate over Democrats’ efforts to add jobless aid and help for the poor to the economic stimulus package.

The House plan, approved 385-35 after little debate, would send rebates to some 111 million families and give tax breaks to businesses, costing $161 billion over two years.

President Bush and House leaders urged the Senate to take the bipartisan agreement and pass it quickly. Sen. Max Baucus, the Senate Finance Committee chairman, planned a Wednesday vote in his panel on a $196 billion package that could face a slower path to passage.

3 FBI is probing 14 companies over loans

By ALAN ZIBEL, AP Business Writer

1 hour, 17 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday said it is investigating 14 companies for possible fraud or insider trading violations in connection with loans made to risky borrowers, and investments spun off of those loans.

Agency officials did not identify the companies under investigation but said the wide-ranging probe, which began in spring 2007, involves companies across the industry, from mortgage lenders to financial firms that bundle home loans into securities sold to investors.

The FBI is working in conjunction with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Neil Power, chief of the FBI’s economic crimes unit in Washington, said during a briefing with reporters.

4 Bush says faith helped him beat drinking

By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 17 minutes ago

BALTIMORE – President Bush is talking more openly lately about his old drinking habit, and on Tuesday he offered perhaps his most pointed assessment yet by saying plainly that the term “addiction” had applied to him.

“Addiction is hard to overcome. As you might remember, I drank too much at one time in my life,” Bush said during a visit to the Jericho Program, a project of Episcopal Community Services of Maryland that helps former prisoners deal with problems such as drug addiction so they can find jobs and reintegrate productively into society.

Bush spoke to reporters after meeting privately with two men who have graduated from Jericho’s program and dealt with drug problems. During that session, which the White House allowed one reporter to attend, Bush spoke frankly about himself.

5 U.S. at odds with NATO over troops for Afghanistan

By Kristin Roberts, Reuters

1 hour, 28 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will press its European NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan’s violent south in response to Canada’s call for reinforcements, but the Pentagon said it will not commit any more of its own forces there.

More than six years after the U.S.-led invasion, the issue of security in Afghanistan came to a head this week when Prime Minister Stephen Harper threatened to pull out Canada’s 2,500 troops early next year unless NATO sent in more soldiers.

NATO said on Tuesday it shared Canada’s view of the need to bolster its peace operation but dismissed charges that allies were dragging their feet, noting a huge expansion since 2003.

6 Annan launches Kenya crisis talks as violence flares

by Sophie Nicholson, AFP

2 hours, 28 minutes ago

NAIROBI (AFP) – Kofi Annan launched formal crisis talks between Kenya’s president and opposition leader Tuesday as 22 people died in fresh clashes stoked by the slaying of an opposition lawmaker.

The former UN chief said he hoped the immediate political issues could be resolved within four weeks and gave Kenya one year to resolve damage inflicted by a month of chaos in which almost 1,000 people have died, sparked by the disputed re-election of President Mwai Kibaki.

The talks began as police reported 22 new deaths across the country, in brutal ethnic clashes and a police crackdown, particularly in strongholds of opposition leader Raila Odinga — who claims he was robbed of the presidency — in western Kenya and the capital’s slums.

7 UN to host first conference on human trafficking


1 hour, 34 minutes ago

VIENNA (AFP) – The first international conference on human trafficking, one of the fastest growing crimes, will be held in Vienna next month to raise awareness about what has become a billion-dollar industry, organisers said Tuesday.

“Human trafficking exists everywhere in the world, in all societies. There are no exceptions,” said Doris Buddenberg, head of UN.GIFT (the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking), an initiative by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“It’s almost certainly one of the fastest growing crimes in our globalised world,” Buddenberg told a news conference here.

8 How Kenya came undone

By Scott Baldauf, The Christian Science Monitor

Tue Jan 29, 3:00 AM ET

Nakuru, Kenya – They came at night by the hundreds, shooting villagers with arrows and attacking them with knives, hatchets, and farm tools. The killings were a warning to the rest of the village: Leave now, or die.

“These people were our neighbors, I knew them, but what I have seen is something that I cannot explain,” says Julia Muthoni, an elderly widow who found refuge in the city of Nakuru. “The problem is that we Kikuyus are being targeted because we voted for the reelection of President Mwai Kibaki. Even before the election, they were threatening us saying that whether Kibaki wins or not, Kikuyus are going to be evicted.”

Just a few weeks ago, Kenya remained an oasis of stability surrounded by nations at war. The tourist-friendly country is East Africa’s economic engine, a hub for global trade, and a base for international humanitarian work. It has been a been a model of what other African countries could achieve if they worked hard, developed their economies, and embraced free democracy. So the explosion of violence that has left more than 750 people dead – including more than 100 in the past few days – and forced a quarter-million to flee their homes since the disputed Dec. 27 presidential election came as a shock to many. But under the placid surface, Kenya boils with deep ethnic resentment that some observers say has been ignored for too long.

9 As dollar falls, migrants feel pinch

By Tom A. Peter, The Christian Science Monitor

Tue Jan 29, 3:00 AM ET

Cambridge, Mass. – Working in the kitchen at a mid-priced restaurant in Cambridge, Mass., Jose Lucas managed to cover all the expenses of his wife and three kids in his native Brazil. But that changed when the real appreciated 60 percent against the US dollar in the past three years.

“I had to get more hours at work so I could send more money,” says Mr. Lucas. “I used to work 40 hours a week. Now, I work 56.” So far, the extra hours have made up the difference.

Across the US, the falling dollar value has sent ripples through immigrant communities that send money to family overseas. As some currencies for developing countries have risen substantially against the dollar, many immigrant workers are increasing their workweek by up to 20 hours or taking second jobs. If the dollar’s slide continues, the US may become less attractive to migrant workers, analysts say.

10 Fed’s tough call: how far to cut interest rates

By Ron Scherer, The Christian Science Monitor

Tue Jan 29, 3:00 AM ET

New York – A newly aggressive Federal Reserve is poised to take its next push to jump-start the US economy.

But how hard to push comes at a sensitive moment for the economy. Cut interest rates too little and already jumpy markets could plunge, worsening an economic slump. Cut rates too much and, because of the lag time involved, the central bank risks overheating an economy later in the year.

That is why only a week after the central bank cut interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point, Fed watchers are divided over how much it will knock down rates: Some say only one-quarter of a percentage point; others expect the Fed to go with half a percentage point.

11 Tecktonik: It’s techno with a Parisian twist – a lot of really crazy twists

By Robert Marquand, The Christian Science Monitor

Tue Jan 29, 3:00 AM ET

Paris – At first glance it looks tribal or even charismatic – arms flail, legs juke. These are dancers “battling” one another right on Paris streets, in a scene found from Notre Dame to the Marais – and all over France.

A dance craze mixing hip-hop, techno, and aerobics, “Tecktonik,” or “Tck,” is spreading among young working-class Parisians. Made popular via websites like YouTube, it’s inspiring a sub-subculture with a post-postmodern kaleidoscope of fashion, symbols, and moves. Like disco, it’s nonpolitical. As a scene, it ignores alcohol and drugs. The kids say it’s all about freedom.

Tecktonik claims French, or at least European, origins. In the past 18 months, huge numbers of suburban kids have latched onto the dance that started in small Paris circles in 2001, was put online, and then reemerged on the street.

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Recommended

12 New treatment can clear brain clots


2 hours, 17 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – It’s a tiny vacuum cleaner for the brain: A new treatment for stroke victims promises to suction out clogged arteries in hopes of stopping the brain attack before it does permanent harm.

Called Penumbra, the newly approved device is the latest in a series of inside-the-artery attempts to boost recovery from stroke, the nation’s No. 3 killer.

Now the question is how to determine which patients are good candidates – because, illogical as it may sound, unclogging isn’t always the best option.

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Viewed

13 Lieberman rules out running with McCain

By ANDREW MIGA, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 36 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent who nearly won the vice presidency as a Democrat in 2000, says there’s no way he’ll be Republican Sen. John McCain’s running mate should McCain become the party’s presidential nominee.

“No, I’d tell him, ‘Thanks, John, I’ve been there, I’ve done that. You can find much better,'” Lieberman told The Associated Press during an interview Tuesday in his Senate office. “I’m not seeking anything else.”

The Connecticut senator said he was unequivocally ruling out sharing the GOP ticket with McCain.

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Emailed

14 Foreclosures lead to abandoned animals

By EVELYN NIEVES, Associated Press Writer

2 hours, 16 minutes ago

STOCKTON, Calif. – The house was ravaged – its floors ripped, walls busted and lights smashed by owners who trashed their home before a bank foreclosed on it. Hidden in the wreckage was an abandoned member of the family: a starving pit bull.

The dog found by workers was too far gone to save – another example of how pets are becoming the newest victims of the nation’s mortgage crisis as homeowners leave animals behind when they can no longer afford their property.

Pets “are getting dumped all over,” said Traci Jennings, president of the Humane Society of Stanislaus County in northern California. “Farmers are finding dogs dumped on their grazing grounds, while house cats are showing up in wild cat colonies.”

15 Middle-age is truly depressing, study finds

By Michael Kahn, Reuters

Tue Jan 29, 7:25 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) – Middle age is truly miserable, according to a study using data from 80 countries showing that depression is most common among men and women in their forties.

The British and U.S. researchers found that happiness for people ranging from Albania to Zimbabwe follows a U-shaped curve where life begins cheerful before turning tough during middle age and then returning to the joys of youth in the golden years.

Previous studies have shown that psychological well-being remained flat throughout life but the new findings to be published in the journal Social Science & Medicine suggest we are in for a topsy-turvy emotional ride.

From Yahoo News World

16 Poor Haitians resort to eating dirt

By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press Writer

42 minutes ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – It was lunchtime in one of Haiti’s worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti’s poorest can’t afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country’s central plateau.

The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places like Cite Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.

They are eating dirt.

17 Bush ignores Afghan school violence

By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer

Tue Jan 29, 4:29 PM ET

KABUL, Afghanistan – In his State of the Union address, President Bush called Afghanistan a young democracy where children go to school and Afghans are hopeful. But he didn’t mention the violence that has killed 147 students and teachers, and closed 590 schools in the last year – almost as many as the 680 the U.S. has built.

Bush’s rosy outlook for a country that once hosted al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden didn’t contain any falsehoods. New roads and hospitals are being built, just as he told the nation Monday night.

Boys and girls are going to school in record numbers. Some 5.8 million students, including 2 million girls, are now in class, compared with less than a million under the Taliban.

18 Study: Afghanistan could fail as a state

By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 48 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Afghanistan risks sliding into a failed state and becoming the “forgotten war” because of deteriorating international support and a growing violent insurgency, according to an independent study.

The assessment, co-chaired by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones and former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, serves as a warning to the Bush administration at a time military and congressional officials are debating how best to juggle stretched warfighting resources.

The administration wants to re-energize anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where al-Qaida is regenerating. But the U.S. still remains heavily invested in Iraq, and officials are sending strong signals that troop reductions there will slow or stop altogether this summer.

19 U.S. sees some fraud likely in Pakistan election

By Arshad Mohammed, Reuters

1 hour, 50 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A senior U.S. diplomat said on Tuesday some fraud was to be expected in Pakistan’s elections on February 18 but the United States was working hard to ensure a poll that is “as free and fair as possible.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher made the comments at a congressional hearing where lawmakers questioned whether a fair election was possible under President Pervez Musharraf, who has fired Supreme Court justices, placed restrictions on the media and detained opposition lawyers.

The election is meant to complete a transition to civilian rule in nuclear-armed Pakistan, a U.S. ally which has suffered from a surge of attacks by al Qaeda-linked militants based on the Afghan border.

20 Severed heads and bodies found in Iraq field: police

By Paul Tait, Reuters

Tue Jan 29, 12:33 PM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Police found nine bodies and 10 severed heads in an abandoned field north of Baghdad on Tuesday, in a region where U.S. and Iraqi forces were pressing ahead with offensives against al Qaeda forces.

In the northern city of Mosul, a suicide car bomber killed one civilian and wounded 15 others in an attack on a U.S. convoy, U.S. and Iraqi security officials said.

The U.S. military said none of its soldiers were wounded in the latest attack in Mosul, where extra Iraqi troops and police have been sent for what Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has called a “decisive” final push against al Qaeda.

21 Nine headless bodies, 10 heads and nine complete corpses found in Iraq

By Leila Fadel and Hassan al Jubouri, McClatchy Newspapers

2 hours, 45 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – Civilians stumbled upon nine headless bodies in a field about 60 miles north of Baghdad on Tuesday.

The nine, including three women, had been targeted because they were suspected of being part of a local awakening council, or concerned local citizens group, that was working with U.S. troops to fight al Qaida in Iraq , said a police officer involved in the investigation.

The officer said the nine headless bodies were found with two DVDs showing one of the dead men confessing that he was a member of an awakening council and another man refusing to confess.

22 Opposition lawmaker shot dead as Kenya talks open

By Shashank Bengali, McClatchy Newspapers

Tue Jan 29, 5:00 PM ET

NAIROBI, Kenya – Post-election tribal violence claimed its first political victim Tuesday- a young opposition lawmaker- as Sen. Barack Obama and former United Nations leader Kofi Annan urged Kenyans to find a peaceful solution.

Obama, D-Ill., whose late father was Kenyan, spoke on a popular FM radio station and urged President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga to negotiate without conditions.

“To refuse to do so ignores the will of Kenyans and the urging of the united international community,” the Democratic presidential candidate said on Nairobi’s Capital FM. “Now is the time for Kenya’s leaders to rise above party affiliation and past divisions for the sake of peace.”

23 U.S. soldiers die in Iraq in 2nd-deadliest attack this year

By Steve Lannen and Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers

Mon Jan 28, 6:37 PM ET

BAGHDAD – Five U.S. soldiers were killed Monday afternoon in northern Iraq when explosives detonated near their vehicle, the second-deadliest attack on American soldiers this year.

The attack occurred in Mosul , a city that the Iraqi government has dubbed al Qaida in Iraq’s last major stronghold, and the site of some of the biggest attacks in the country so far this year.

Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki last week announced a major offensive against Mosul , sending Iraqi troops and tanks to Iraq’s third-largest city. The prime minister promised a “decisive” push through the northwest province.

24 Pakistani Taliban grows bolder, taking fight to doorstep of frontier city

By Tim Johnson and Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers

Mon Jan 28, 6:26 PM ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Islamic militants known as the Pakistani Taliban have extended their reach across all seven of Pakistan’s frontier tribal regions and have infiltrated Peshawar , the provincial capital, heightening U.S. concerns that an insurrection may be broadening in the nuclear-armed nation.

Fighting over the weekend spilled into previously peaceful parts of the tribal belt that borders Afghanistan and intensified in South Waziristan, Bajour and Mohmand. In Bannu, southwest of Peshawar , gunmen fleeing police took dozens of schoolchildren hostage for several hours Monday before tribal elders brokered a deal offering them safe passage, state-run television reported.

“It’s worsening day by day,” said Safraz Khan , a political scientist at the University of Peshawar . “People feel vulnerable. People feel scared.”

25 A New Burst of Killings in Kenya


52 minutes ago

Even as Kenya’s President and main opposition leader launched negotiations aimed breaking their violent political impasse, the crisis reached a troubling new low with news that a recently elected member of parliament had been gunned down outside his home. At the same time, a new wave of ethnic violence has broken out across the country.

The talks, mediated by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, began with President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga attending a ceremony that was shown in real time on television despite a government ban on live broadcasts that has been maintained since shortly after the disputed December 27 vote. “We all have multiple identities but I hope you see yourselves as Kenyans first,” Annan said. “To the leaders gathered here today, I say that the people want you to take charge of the situation and do whatever possible to halt the downward spiral that is threatening this beautiful and prosperous country.”

26 Turkey Busts Alleged Murder Network


Tue Jan 29, 5:35 AM ET

Turkey’s Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk might sleep a little easier tonight – or not. A series of dramatic arrests over the weekend has laid bare what is alleged to be a shadowy network of ultra-nationalist killers with connections in high places. Their hit list allegedly included the famous writer, targeted for speaking out about Turkey’s patchy treatment of its minorities.

The allegations, widely reported by Turkish newspapers, are certainly as dark as anything Pamuk ever wrote. Istanbul prosecutors have arrested 13 people, including a former general and a high-profile lawyer, on charges of “provoking armed rebellion against the government.” They are suspected of involvement in last year’s string of nationalist-motivated murders, which cost the lives of prominent ethnic Armenian journalist Hrant Dink and three Christian missionaries, according to newspapers.

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27 Mukasey won’t comment on waterboarding

By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer

9 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Tuesday he will refuse to publicly say whether the interrogation tactic known as waterboarding is illegal, digging in against critics who want the Bush administration to define it as torture.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, Mukasey said he has finished a review of Justice Department memos about the CIA’s current methods of interrogating terror suspects and finds them to be lawful. He said waterboarding currently is not used by the spy agency.

Since waterboarding is not part of what Mukasey described as a “limited set of methods” used by interrogators now, the attorney general said he would not rule on whether it is illegal.

28 Wecht lawyers address cadaver charges

By JOE MANDAK, Associated Press Writer

Tue Jan 29, 5:38 PM ET

PITTSBURGH – The first witness in the fraud trial of celebrity pathologist Cyril Wecht answered questions Tuesday about federal prosecutors’ most salacious accusation – that Wecht illegally traded cadavers from the county morgue for free lab space at a local university.

Edward Strimlan, assistant chief deputy coroner under Wecht, was called by prosecutors trying to show that Wecht committed a crime in giving bodies to Carlow University.

Wecht’s attorneys, in their cross-examination of Strimlan on Tuesday, tried to show that the university still supports Wecht and that Strimlan himself engaged in the kinds of activities that led to the charges against his former boss.

29 U.S. 10-city home price drop a record in Nov: S&P

By Al Yoon, Reuters

Tue Jan 29, 12:54 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Home prices in 10 major metropolitan areas fell a record 8.4 percent in the year through November, suggesting the housing slump is worsening, according to a Standard & Poor index released on Tuesday.

The decline in the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index topped the 6.7 percent annual drop for October and was deeper than predicted by economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The consensus was for a 7.1 percent fall, Goldman economists said.

Home prices across big cities have now declined for 11 consecutive months and show little sign of bottoming, said economists, including Robert Shiller, a founder of the index and chief economist at MacroMarkets LLC. The decline in the index accelerated to 2.2 percent in November over October, from 1.4 percent in the previous month, S&P said.

30 Schwarzenegger to press universal health insurance

By Jim Christie, Reuters

47 minutes ago

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday vowed to continue pressing for legislation that would provide health insurance to his state’s uninsured, a day after a universal health care bill he supported died in a Senate committee.

Lawmakers had missed a golden opportunity for California to show the rest of the United States how to establish universal health care, Schwarzenegger said in a speech to the press club of the state capital.

“I’m as determined as ever,” Schwarzenegger said. “The issue is not going to go away.”

31 For the mature woman who has everything: a boy toy

By Robert Campbell, Reuters

Tue Jan 29, 1:50 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wanted: rich older women interested in hot younger guys. Applicants must be over 35, earn at least $500,000 a year or have a minimum of $4 million in liquid assets, entrusted assets or divorce settlement.

That’s the basis of a speed-dating event organized by a New York entrepreneur bringing together 20 “sugar mamas” and 20 “boy toys” vetted by an elite New York matchmaker.

“Symbiosis has allowed ugly rich men to attract young, gorgeous, money-hungry women for centuries; it’s now the women’s turn,” proclaims, the Web site that Jeremy Abelson is using to promote the event.

32 N.Y. lawmakers want sex offenders’ email addresses

By Paul Thomasch, Reuters

Tue Jan 29, 5:22 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York lawmakers proposed legislation on Tuesday that would provide new protection from convicted sex offenders hanging out on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

The bill would require sex offenders to register instant messaging and email addresses, which would then be passed to social networking sites. The sites could then block access to the network by the sex offenders.

MySpace and Facebook said they will block access to such offenders.

33 Bush seeks to reassure US on Iraq, economy

by Olivier Knox, AFP

Tue Jan 29, 7:46 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President George W. Bush has warned against pulling the plug on his Iraq strategy and assured the US public — now more worried about the US economy than the war — that help was on the way.

With barely 12 months before his term ends, and less before the race to the November elections all but sidelines him, Bush also vowed to “confront” Iran where necessary and do “everything we can” to reach a Middle East peace deal.

The president used his final annual State of the Union address to defend his deeply unpopular handling of what US voters say are their top two concerns: the nearly five-year-old Iraq war and economic turmoil.

34 Drug offers hope in treating deadly leukemia: study


1 hour, 55 minutes ago

CHICAGO (AFP) – A drug currently used to treat kidney cancer has shown promising results in treating the most common and deadly form of adult leukemia, according to a US study released Tuesday.

The drug sorafenib attacks a genetic mutation active in about a third of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

“AML patients with this mutation have a particularly poor prognosis, so this highly targeted drug appears to be a significant step forward in leukemia therapy,” said senior author Michael Andreeff of the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

35 US home foreclosures surge

by Justin Cole, AFP

Tue Jan 29, 4:17 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Home foreclosures spiked across the United States during 2007 leaving more than one percent of all households in danger of losing their homes, an industry report showed Tuesday.

RealtyTrac, a California-based research company, said 2.2 million foreclosure filings were issued by banks and lenders during 2007, marking a 75 percent increase compared with the prior year.

The percentage of American households in foreclosure almost doubled from 0.58 percent in 2006, signaling the slump in the US housing market has yet to abate.

36 Bush’s Last Stab at a Legacy


Tue Jan 29, 1:35 PM ET

This year’s State of the Union address should be called the State of the Legacy address. George W. Bush enters his last year as President unpopular, politically weak and with his place in history largely dependent on the unpredictable future of Iraq. But Bush believes his revamped staff and newly centrist foreign policy can broaden the view of his presidency and reframe him as an agent for freedom at home and abroad. Beneath Bush’s modest proposals and lofty rhetoric Monday evening, the subtext will be simple: history will vindicate me.

37 No More Fight Left in Giuliani?


2 hours, 32 minutes ago

The surest signs of a campaign in trouble are the stories about confounding expectations. When it’s Rudy Giuliani’s campaign in trouble, the stories come, naturally, with a healthy dose of ego.

Giuliani’s first surrogate at a rally Monday night in Miami told the story of the making of Midnight Cowboy in 1968-69, when it looked like the actor Jon Voight had no chance to play the lead, until the casting director declared: “There’s no doubt who’s the best actor: Jon Voight!” The surrogate: Jon Voight. The next surrogate recalled the story of the Republican revolution of 1994, when it looked like the G.O.P. had no chance to take Congress, before a Congressman named Bill McCollum assured Newt Gingrich they would pull off a miracle. The surrogate: Bill McCollum. Finally, Giuliani took the stage to tell a few confounding-expectations stories of his own about beating the Mafia and taming New York: “I’ve been doing the impossible all my life!”

38 ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Turns 15


9 minutes ago

It was 15 years ago, Tuesday, that President Clinton rolled out the policy that came to be known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which relaxed the long-standing bar against gay men and women serving in the U.S. military. While the move was initially hailed as progress for the rights of gays in the military, today many see it as a liability.
From Yahoo News Politics

39 Romney, McCain split wings of GOP in FL

By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 16 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Conservatives and voters troubled by abortion and illegal immigration were backing Mitt Romney as he fought for victory in Florida’s Republican presidential primary on Tuesday. Lining up behind John McCain’s bid were party moderates, Hispanics and the state’s numerous older voters.

As the two struggled for a triumph that could provide momentum for next week’s Super Tuesday voting by nearly half the states, they were dividing Floridians along generational lines, according to preliminary results from exit polls of voters conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks. McCain was doing best among the oldest voters, while Romney’s appeal was stronger among the middle-aged.

The survey showed Romney and McCain dividing those calling themselves Republicans about evenly.

40 Lawmakers near immunity fight, extend spy bill

By Thomas Ferraro, Reuters

2 hours, 38 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Amid a high-stakes battle over whether to grant telephone companies immunity, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to extend for 15 days an expiring anti-terror surveillance law.

On a voice vote, the House sent the proposed extension to the Senate for needed concurrence. President George W. Bush was expected to sign it into law, a House Republican aide said.

Bush and Republicans have pushed for passage of a bill that would replace a surveillance law, set to expire on Friday, that expanded the power of U.S. authorities last August to track suspected enemy targets without a court order.

41 Giuliani defiant in face of possible Florida loss

By Jim Loney, Reuters

Tue Jan 29, 3:24 PM ET

SUNNY ISLES BEACH, Florida (Reuters) – The stubborn defiance that endeared Rudy Giuliani to millions of Americans on September 11, 2001, was on open display on Tuesday as the tough-talking former New York mayor made his final push for Florida votes at a Jewish deli.

“We are going to win today and then we will get the nomination,” Giuliani said, ignoring polls that had him running a poor third to Arizona Sen. John McCain and ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential contest in Florida, the state where he staked his political fortunes.

If the man whose international stature rose from the smoke and ash of the al Qaeda attacks six years ago was making his final stand, he did it with the brash confidence that marked his tenure as anti-mob prosecutor, crime-fighting mayor and icon of one of the worst days in American history.

I told you not to waste your time on those Guiliani Photoshops blueeyed.

42 Rate cut expectations high as Fed opens meeting

by Rob Lever, AFP

Tue Jan 29, 3:46 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Federal Reserve opened a two-day policy meeting Tuesday amid high expectations for another cut in interest rates as part of a concerted effort to keep the economy out of a severe downturn.

A central bank spokesman said the Federal Open Market Committee opened the session around 2:00 pm (1900 GMT). A decision was expected Wednesday around 1915 GMT.

The meeting was expected to see heated debate on the economic outlook in view of a global stock market swoon and heightened recession fears that prompted the Fed to slash rates by 0.75 percentage points in an emergency move last week.

43 Rice says Kenya violence ‘deeply concerning’

by Lachlan Carmichael, AFP

Tue Jan 29, 12:14 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday the violence in Kenya was “deeply concerning” and again urged its feuding leaders to find a political solution to last month’s disputed election.

“We are certainly asking everyone to maintain calm. It’s deeply concerning,” Rice told reporters. “There needs to be a political resolution of this conflict.”

The United States considers Kenya, recently held up as a model for a more stable and prosperous Africa, a key strategic partner that fights terrorism and promotes stability across the Horn of Africa.

From Yahoo News Business

44 French rogue trader says his bosses knew


Tue Jan 29, 2:26 PM ET

PARIS – The trader accused of causing about $7 billion in losses at Societe Generale told investigators that he believes his bosses were aware of his massive risk-taking on markets but turned a blind eye as long as he earned money, a judicial official said Tuesday.

Societe Generale, which said last week that Kerviel’s actions cost it nearly 5 billion euros, quickly accused Kerviel of lying. In another twist to the multifaceted case, France’s financial markets authority opened an investigation into the bank, France’s second-largest.

Kerviel, a 31-year-old junior trader, told investigators of efforts to mask his massive transactions, but said the bank must nonetheless have noticed something suspicious, according to excerpts of his police testimony published in Le Monde newspaper. Kerviel’s remarks were confirmed by Isabelle Montagne, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office.

45 Yahoo to lay off 1,000 workers

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer

Tue Jan 29, 6:11 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo Inc.’s financial funk deepened at the end of 2007, prompting the slumping Internet icon to draw up plans to lay off 1,000 workers.

The Sunnyvale-based company disclosed the upcoming 7 percent reduction in its 14,300-employee work force during a Tuesday conference call to review a 23 percent decline in its fourth-quarter profit.

Yahoo didn’t specify which areas of its operations will be trimmed. Yahoo jettisoned 650 workers in the wake of the dot-com bust seven years ago. Management indicated further details will be released by mid-February.

46 Judge extends Microsoft oversight for two years


35 minutes ago

SEATTLE (Reuters) – A federal judge ruled on Tuesday to extend the U.S. government’s antitrust oversight of Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) for two more years, but stopped short of granting a five-year extension sought by states accusing the company of continuing monopolistic behavior.

District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said she will extend the government’s oversight of Microsoft until November 12, 2009, two years after its original expiration date, due to delays by Microsoft in filing technical documents to software licensees.

The consent decree settled the landmark U.S. antitrust case against Microsoft in 2002. The decree covers the company’s ties to computer makers, how its software works with other types of software and enforcement to ensure it does not repeat past practices.

47 France warns off hostile bidders for crisis-hit bank

by Eve Szeftel, AFP

Tue Jan 29, 3:34 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) – The French government vowed Tuesday to fight off any hostile takeover bid for Societe Generale as the bank’s chairman faced mounting pressure to stand down over multi-billion-euro rogue trade losses.

Finance Minister Christine Lagarde warned the bank was “in crisis”, calling on Societe Generale’s board to decide the fate of chairman Daniel Bouton following the losses of 4.82 billion euros (7.1 billion dollars).

Although Lagarde said she was “not convinced” the bank needed a “change of captain”, President Nicolas Sarkozy zeroed in on Bouton’s role as head of the chain of command on Monday.

48 IMF lowers global growth forecast, citing financial crisis

by Veronica Smith, AFP

Tue Jan 29, 1:04 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday lowered its 2008 global growth outlook, citing a US slowdown and financial market turmoil that have put emerging economies at risk.

The global economy is poised to grow 4.1 percent this year, down 0.3 percentage points from a previous estimate, the IMF report said.

The US economy, the world’s largest, will expand by 1.5 percent, 0.4 points lower, the IMF said in an update of its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook.

49 EU court supports privacy of music downloaders


Tue Jan 29, 1:37 PM ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Europe’s top court on Tuesday dealt a blow to the defenders of authors’ rights, upholding a Spanish Internet provider’s refusal to reveal the identity of customers sharing music downloads.

The protection of authors’ rights “cannot … affect the requirements of the protection of personal data,” the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in its ruling.

European copyright laws “do not require the (EU) member states to lay down, in order to ensure effective protection of copyright, an obligation to communicate personal data in the context of civil proceedings,” the court said.

50 IMF lowers global growth forecast, citing financial crisis

by Veronica Smith,AFP

Tue Jan 29, 1:04 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday lowered its 2008 global growth outlook, citing a US slowdown and financial market turmoil that have put emerging economies at risk.

The global economy is poised to grow 4.1 percent this year, down 0.3 percentage points from a previous estimate, the IMF report said.

The US economy, the world’s largest, will expand by 1.5 percent, 0.4 points lower, the IMF said in an update of its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook.


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  1. From Yahoo News Science

    51 Research: Asteroids pose greater danger

    By SUE MAJOR HOLMES, Associated Press Writer

    2 hours, 7 minutes ago

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – An asteroid that exploded over Siberia a century ago, leaving 800 square miles of scorched or blown down trees, wasn’t nearly as large as previously thought, a researcher concludes, suggesting a greater danger for Earth.

    According to supercomputer simulations by Sandia National Laboratories physicist Mark Boslough, the asteroid that destroyed the forest at Tunguska in Siberia in June 1908 had a blast force equivalent to one-quarter to one-third of the 10- to 20-megaton range scientists previously estimated.

    Better understanding of what happened at Tunguska will allow for better estimates of risk that would allow policymakers to decide whether to try to deflect an asteroid or evacuate people in its path, he said.

    52 Calif. salmon population declines

    By TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press Writer

    2 hours, 7 minutes ago

    SAN FRANCISCO – The number of chinook salmon returning to California’s Central Valley has reached a near-record low, pointing to an “unprecedented collapse” that could lead to severe restrictions on West Coast salmon fishing this year, according to federal fishery regulators.

    The sharp drop in chinook, or “king,” salmon returning from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in the Sacramento River and its tributaries last fall is part of broader decline in wild salmon runs in rivers across the West.

    The population dropped more than 88 percent from its all-time high five years ago, according to an internal memo sent to members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council and obtained by The Associated Press.

    53 Study debunks personality link to breast cancer

    By Will Dunham, Reuters

    Tue Jan 29, 4:30 PM ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The idea that a woman’s personality traits can make her more prone to breast cancer appears nothing more than a myth, according to a Dutch study.

    Women who were unemotional, depressed or anxious were no more or less likely to get breast cancer than any other women, the study found. Nor were women who were optimistic, angry or understanding, or had any combination of personality traits.

    The Dutch researchers measured 11 personality traits in 9,705 Dutch women in a survey in 1989 and 1990, then tracked them through 2003 to see who got breast cancer.

    54 Black Death did not kill indiscriminately: study

    By Will Dunham, Reuters

    Tue Jan 29, 5:45 AM ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Black Death that decimated populations in Europe and elsewhere during the middle of the 14th century may not have been a blindly indiscriminate killer, as some experts have believed.

    An analysis of 490 skeletons from a London cemetery for Black Death victims demonstrated that the infection did not affect everyone equally, two U.S. scientists said on Monday.

    While many perfectly healthy people certainly were cut down, those already in poor health prior to the arrival of the plague were more likely to have perished, they found.

    55 Satellite unlikely to pose danger to humans

    By Andrea Shalal-Esa, Reuters

    Mon Jan 28, 6:58 PM ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A disabled U.S. spy satellite is likely to break into small pieces when it falls to Earth within weeks, posing little danger to humans, U.S. government officials and space experts said on Monday.

    Most, if any, debris that survives the intense heat of re-entry would likely fall into the oceans, which cover more than 70 percent of the Earth, White House National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

    But he said the U.S. government was monitoring the satellite’s descent from orbit and examining different options to “mitigate any damage.”

    56 Japan minister eyes deeper cuts in greenhouse gas


    Tue Jan 29, 2:21 PM ET

    TOKYO (AFP) – Japan should look at cutting greenhouse emissions by even more than the 50 percent by 2050 sought by the last Group of Eight summit, the environment minister said Tuesday.

    Japan, home of the landmark Kyoto Protocol, is hoping to play a major role in the fight against global warming when it hosts the next summit of the Group of Eight major economies in July.

    The previous summit in Germany last year agreed to “seriously consider” 50 percent cuts by 2050, as recommended by UN climate experts. But there was no binding commitment and the base year for the reductions was ambiguous.

    57 How the hummingbird got his whistle


    Tue Jan 29, 7:17 PM ET

    PARIS (AFP) – American zoologists say they can settle a long-running debate about how male hummingbirds are able to whistle at females of the species to try to entice them into mating.

    The Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna), native to the US West Coast, makes the brief but loud chirp as he dives to impress females that venture into his territory.

    Christopher Clark and Teresa Feo of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California at Berkeley set up high-speed video cameras and a microphone near perches used by Anna’s hummingbirds at a park in Albany.

    58 Europe Sets Launch Plan for First Unmanned Cargo Ship

    Peter B. de Selding, Space News Staff Writer,

    Tue Jan 29, 12:46 PM ET

    PARIS – Europe’s large unmanned space tug is undergoing final preparations for a maiden flight to the International Space Station sometime between Feb. 22 and March 9, with docking at the station likely to occur during windows of March 15-19 or March 30-April 5, program managers said Tuesday.

    At a briefing at European Space Agency (ESA) headquarters here, ESA and industry officials said the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), has passed most of its key pre-launch milestones at Europe’s Guiana Space Center spaceport in French Guiana.

    The ATV is designed to carry food, water, fuel and other supplies to the space station once every 18 months or so. It will also reboost the station into its operating orbit. Flying at between 217 and 267 miles (350 and 430 km) in altitude, the station gradually loses altitude because of the force of the Earth’s gravity and because of atmospheric drag at that altitude.

    59 Rogue Stars: The Miscreants of Our Galaxy

    Andrea Thompson, Staff Writer

    Tue Jan 29, 9:01 AM ET

    A young star speeding away from the Milky Way is in fact an alien visitor, astronomers have confirmed. The wayward object is one of several rogues that are giving astronomers a glimpse into the volatile nature of our galaxy and others.

    Astronomers have found about 10 stars hurtling away from our galaxy, at speeds that exceed its gravitational grasp. While most stars rush through space at speeds on the order of hundreds of kilometers per second, these aptly-named “hypervelocity stars” are rocketing away at least twice as fast.

    Most of these speedy stars are thought to be exiles from the center of our galaxy, flung out into intergalactic space by the powerful forces of the massive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Their violent creation is giving astronomers insight into the almost impenetrable world at the center of the Milky Way, the mysteries of our nearby galactic neighbors, and the nature of intergalactic space.

    60 Blast Investigation Delays Rocket Engine Work for SpaceShipTwo

    Tariq Malik, Staff Writer

    Mon Jan 28, 7:46 PM ET

    An ongoing investigation into a fatal explosion last summer has delayed rocket engine development for the passenger spacecraft SpaceShipTwo, the vehicle’s lead designer has said.

    Aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan, who is building the suborbital SpaceShipTwo with his Mojave, Calif.-based company Scaled Composites, said the firm must first determine the cause of the July 26 blast that killed three Scaled workers and injured three others before completing the spacecraft’s rocket engine.

    “No question, we are having delays in development of the rocket engine,” Rutan said after unveiling designs for SpaceShipTwo and its WhiteKnightTwo mothership in New York City on Jan. 23. “We just don’t know how long those delays will be yet.”

    61 Astronauts to Repair Solar Wing Motor in Wednesday Spacewalk

    Clara Moskowitz, Staff Writer

    Mon Jan 28, 6:16 PM ET

    Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are preparing for a Wednesday spacewalk to restore some of the power-generating ability of the orbiting laboratory’s expansive solar wings.

    ISS Expedition 16 commander Peggy Whitson and flight engineer Dan Tani will replace a broken joint motor at the base of the station’s two starboard solar wings during a planned six-hour spacewalk.

    The solar wing has been unable to track the sun continuously since early December, when the joint motor suffered a series of electrical shorts. Without the repair, the space station will have enough power to make it through at least the next shuttle mission – targeted for a Feb. 7 launch – but not much further said Kirk Shireman, NASA’s ISS deputy program manager.

    62 Strange Creature Immune to Pain

    Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

    Mon Jan 28, 8:31 PM ET

    As vulnerable as naked mole rats seem, researchers now find the hairless, bucktoothed rodents are invulnerable to the pain of acid and the sting of chili peppers.

    A better understanding of pain resistance in these sausage-like creatures could lead to new drugs for people with chronic pain, scientists added.

    Naked mole rats live in cramped, oxygen-starved burrows some six feet underground in central East Africa. Unusually, they are cold-blooded – which, as far as anyone knows, is unique among mammals.

    63 Rare 3-Foot Spitting Earthworm Found in Legal Battle

    Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

    Tue Jan 29, 8:25 AM ET

    A rare 3-foot-long spitting earthworm that smells like lilies is at the heart of a legal battle between conservationists and the U.S. government.

    When taxonomist Frank Smith discovered the giant Palouse earthworm (Driloleirus americanus) in 1897 by, he described it as “very abundant.” Nowadays, however, sightings of the worm are rare.

    The only recent confirmed worm sighting was made in 2005 by a University of Idaho researcher. Before that, the giant worm had not been spotted in 17 years, since 1988.

    64 Arctic Ice Fields ‘Receding Like Mad’

    Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer

    ue Jan 29, 12:25 PM ET

    Ice fields on an Arctic island have shrunk 50 percent in the past 50 years and will be gone in 50 more, scientists said this week.

    Located just west of Greenland, Baffin Island is the fifth largest island in the world, with an area of 196,000 square miles (about 508,000 square kilometers). That’s larger than California.

    A study published in the Jan. 28 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters reveals the expanses of ice blanketing Baffin’s northern plateau in the Canadian Arctic are smaller than at any time in at least the last 1,600 years.

    65 Turtle Migrates 12,774 Miles

    Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Staff Writer

    Tue Jan 29, 6:05 PM ET

    A leatherback turtle was tracked by satellite traveling 12,774 miles (20,558 kilometers) from Indonesia to Oregon, one of the longest recorded migrations of any vertebrate animal, scientists announced in a new report on sea turtle conservation.

    Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest of all living turtles and are widely distributed throughout the world’s oceans. They have been seen in the waters off Argentina, Tasmania, Alaska and Nova Scotia.

    Adult leatherbacks periodically migrate from their temperate foraging grounds to breeding grounds in the tropics.

    From Yahoo News Entertainment

    66 Talks, progress raise hopes for deal

    By LYNN ELBER, AP Entertainment Writer

    Tue Jan 29, 7:01 PM ET

    LOS ANGELES – While negotiators edge toward agreement on the thorniest issues in the 3-month-old writers strike, many in Hollywood are nurturing new hope that an end is near for the walkout that has brought their industry to a standstill.

    The Writers Guild of America and studio executives, beginning a second week of renewed talks, have made progress on the key issue of payment for Internet-distributed work, said a person familiar with the talks who was not authorized to publicly comment and requested anonymity. But hard work remains to be done, the person said.

    The guild agreed last week to take proposals to unionize animation and reality TV writers – demands that contributed to December’s abrupt collapse – off the table. That left new-media compensation as the major hurdle to overcome.

  2. Too much content!

    This was a struggle.

    • pfiore8 on January 30, 2008 at 15:33

    buhdy visited the pony party last night AND actually recommended it.

    cool huh?

    • pfiore8 on January 30, 2008 at 15:35

    Four @ Four hit a milestone on Monday and went over 100 comments.

    kudos to Magnifico.

    • pfiore8 on January 30, 2008 at 15:41

    it’s too good, really:Rusty1776 will be writing a Valentine’s Day in the raw.

    now, as it happens, writing in the raw is scheduled for Thursdays at 10pm. and this year, Valentine’s Day, which is Feb. 14, is ON THURSDAY. how’s that for synchronicity?

    … or am i reading too much into this?

    • pfiore8 on January 30, 2008 at 15:44

    maybe we could do a DD news thing… people moving, getting jobs, new babies

    now this is something i could help you with… even from the NL. have people mail their news. i could format it and send it in to you, magnifico, and mishima.

    because it should be broken up to get people into the different threads.

    or is that a silly idea?

  3. I am not to keen on the almost 44 year old body, I think my grumpy personality keeps depression away.

    • kj on January 30, 2008 at 16:32

    then just had to quit reading.  cookies made of dirt prized by pregnant women in Haiti, mother of god.

    yes, saw the news about Edwards.  at least he’ll announce in New Orleans.  

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