Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

57 Stories.  U.S. News (done), Politics (done), Business (done), and Science (done).

Final edition until June 28th unless someone picks it up.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 War bill helps Iraqis, may ignore Katrina victims

By JOHN MORENO GONZALES, Associated Press Writer

2 hours, 16 minutes ago

NEW ORLEANS – A long way from Iraq and the war debate in Washington, Herman Moore sat outside a tent in a downtown New Orleans homeless camp, trying to make sense of a proposal that helps Iraqi war refugees but will likely exclude Hurricane Katrina victims.

“Messed up is not the phrase. I think you know the phrase,” Moore said. “This place has been forgotten, just forgotten.”

The 56-year-old lifelong city resident is referring to Congress’ plan to spend $212 billion to finance the war in Iraq. In the massive spending bill, $350 million is set aside to help Iraqi refugees while just $73 million has been allotted to help shelter physically and mentally disabled Katrina victims – and that money could be cut as early as Tuesday.

2 Suicide car bomb kills US soldier, wounds 18

By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer

49 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – A suicide truck bomber who concealed his explosives under tanned animal hides struck a U.S. patrol base Sunday in northern Iraq, killing one U.S. soldier and wounding 18 other Americans, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

Two Iraqi contractors working at the base in Tamim province also were wounded, according to a brief statement from the military.

Tamim has a mixed population of Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen, with the oil-rich city of Kirkuk as its capital. Three American soldiers were killed last Wednesday by gunfire in Tamim.

3 U.S. gasoline rises above  a gallon for first time

By Bernard Woodall, Reuters

22 minutes ago

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The U.S. average price for a gallon of regular gasoline topped $4 for the first time, a survey issued on Sunday by the travel group AAA showed.

AAA’s survey showed a national average price of $4.005 per gallon, up from $3.67 a month ago and $3.10 a year ago.

Average national gasoline prices had stabilized last week before Thursday and Friday’s spike of U.S. crude oil futures by $16 to a record above $139 a barrel. Friday’s one-day gain of $10.75 for crude oil was the biggest daily gain in history, and Thursday’s gain was the second biggest.

4 Laura Bush visits Afghanistan and urges more support

By Matt Spetalnick, Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 10:21 AM ET

KABUL (Reuters) – U.S. first lady Laura Bush appealed to the international community on Sunday not to abandon Afghanistan in the face of resurgent Taliban violence.

Rocked by daily battles with Taliban rebels that have killed some 12,000 people in two years, Kabul is to ask international donors in Paris this week to fund a $50-billion five-year development plan it hopes will undercut the insurgency.

Mrs Bush said a major thrust of her unannounced visit to Afghanistan was to shore up the international commitment as Afghan, U.S. and NATO forces struggle to contain Taliban guerrilla attacks and suicide bombs.

5 Gay Anglican U.S. bishop enters into civil union

By Jason Szep, Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 11:27 AM ET

BOSTON (Reuters) – The openly gay U.S. Episcopal bishop at the center of the Anglican church’s global battle over homosexuality, has entered into a civil union with his longtime partner at a private ceremony.

About 120 guests gathered at St. Paul’s Church in New Hampshire for Saturday’s ceremony for Bishop Gene Robinson and his partner of more than 19 years, Mark Andrews. The event was kept private out of respect for next month’s worldwide Anglican conference, Robinson’s spokesman, Mike Barwell, said on Sunday.

“It was absolutely joyful,” Barwell said by telephone. “A lot of his supporters and friends were there, including many members of the gay and lesbian community.”

6 Seven dead in Tokyo stabbing frenzy

by Harumi Ozawa, Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 10:59 AM ET

TOKYO (AFP) – A man went on a stabbing spree Sunday in a busy Tokyo neighbourhood famed for comic-book subculture, killing at least seven people and leaving around a dozen injured in Japan’s deadliest crime in years.

The assailant, who later told police he was “tired of living,” drove a truck into a crowd of pedestrians shortly after noon in Tokyo’s bustling Akihabara area before jumping out and stabbing strangers while screaming.

The assailant was identified as Tomohiro Kato, 25, from central Shizuoka prefecture. He first said he was a gangster before retracting his story.

7 G8, Asia urge oil production hike as prices soar

by Miwa Suzuki, AFP

Sun Jun 8, 9:33 AM ET

AOMORI, Japan (AFP) – Eleven nations that guzzle nearly two-thirds of the world’s energy called Sunday for an urgent hike in global oil production as host Japan warned the world could plunge into recession.

Energy ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) industrial powers were meeting in the northern Japanese city of Aomori with officials from China, India and South Korea in the wake of a record spike in oil prices.

The 11 nations represented here voiced “serious concerns” over the level of oil prices and said there was an “urgent need for increased and timely investment in the energy sector.”

8 BBC reporter among 16 dead in Afghanistan

AFP

Sun Jun 8, 11:25 AM ET

KABUL (AFP) – An Afghan reporter for the BBC was found dead in southern Afghanistan on Sunday as authorities reported that 15 other people were killed in a wave of unrest linked to a Taliban-led insurgency.

The reporter, working in the volatile southern province of Helmand, was kidnapped on Saturday and his body was found near the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, the Afghan Independent Journalists Association said.

An employee with the BBC in Kabul confirmed on condition of anonymity the death of the reporter for its Dari and Pashtu services.

9 Iraq will not be used against Iran, PM vows

by Stuart Williams, AFP

2 hours, 47 minutes ago

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sought to reassure Iran over a planned security pact with Washington on Sunday, vowing Iraq would never be used as a platform to attack the Islamic republic.

“We will not allow Iraq to become a platform for harming the security of Iran and neighbours,” Maliki said after a late-night meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran.

Maliki’s comments come amid Iranian alarm over American pressure on Baghdad to sign an agreement that would keep US soldiers in the country beyond 2008. Iran has always called for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Recommended

10 German solar sector starting to attract investors

by Lenaig Bredoux, Afp

1 hour, 25 minutes ago

FRANKFURT (AFP) – Germany’s solar energy industry can breathe a sigh of relief: Subsidies are set for smaller cuts than expected, and the sector is set for consolidation many say is the crucial next step in its development.

The global electronics group Bosch was first off the mark, announcing the purchase last week of German solar energy equipment producer Ersol.

Bosch is set to spend more than 500 million euros (770 million dollars) for a majority holding in Ersol and could invest up to 1.1 billion if it decides to take full control.

11 New Fossils Suggest Ancient Cat-sized Reptiles in Antarctica

Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer, LiveScience.com

Sat Jun 7, 10:20 PM ET

Cat-sized reptiles once roamed what is now the icebox of Antarctica, snuggling up in burrows and peeping above ground to snag plant roots and insects.

The evidence for this scenario comes from preserved burrow casts discovered in the Transantarctic Mountains, which extend 3,000 miles (4,800 km) across the polar continent and contain layers of rock dating back 400 million years.

“We’ve got good evidence that these burrows were made by land-dwelling animals rather than crayfish,” said lead researcher Christian Sidor, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Washington and curator at UW’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

12 CDC: Salmonella illnesses spread to 16 states

By MATT MYGATT, Associated Press Writer

Sat Jun 7, 9:29 PM ET

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Salmonella food poisoning first linked to uncooked tomatoes has spread to 16 states, federal health officials said Saturday.

Investigations by the Texas and New Mexico Departments of Health and the U.S. Indian Health Service have tied 56 cases in Texas and 55 in New Mexico to raw, uncooked, tomatoes.

“We’re seeing a steady increase,” Deborah Busemeyer, New Mexico Department of Health communications director, said Saturday.

An additional 50 people have been sickened by the same Salmonella “Saintpaul” infection in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Viewed

13 AP Exclusive: Networks, Olympics organizers clash

By STEPHEN WADE, AP Sports Writer

48 minutes ago

BEIJING – Television networks that will broadcast the Beijing Olympics to billions around the world are squaring off with local organizers over stringent security that threatens coverage of the games in two months.

Differences over a wide range of issues – from limits on live coverage in Tiananmen Square to allegations that freight shipments of TV broadcasting equipment are being held up in Chinese ports – surfaced in a contentious meeting late last month between Beijing organizers and high-ranking International Olympic Committee officials and TV executives – including those from NBC.

In response to the complaints from broadcasters, Sun Weijia, head of media operations for the Beijing organizers, asked them to put it in writing, only to draw protests about mounting paperwork.

From Yahoo News World

14 Zimbabwe opposition: Mugabe supporters stop rally

Associated Press

53 minutes ago

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Ruling party militants prevented the opposition from holding a rally in a Harare suburb Sunday, while police attacked supporters in Bulawayo and stopped them from putting up election campaign posters, party officials said.

However, two other gatherings went ahead as planned in Harare despite militants threatening and intimidating supporters at the venue, Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Nelson Chamisa said.

“The people are so strong and so courageous. It was very successful,” he said.

15 Musharraf faces more calls for ouster in Pakistan

By ZARAR KHAN, Associated Press Writer

Sun Jun 8, 8:05 AM ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A junior party in Pakistan’s government called Sunday for its main coalition partner to back the impeachment of President Pervez Musharraf, a day after the former army strongman rebuffed calls from both parties to resign.

Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s party, called Musharraf “a virus in the democratic computer” and said Asif Ali Zardari’s party should not hesitate to “join us for Musharraf’s impeachment.”

A spokesman for Zardari’s party said it would “consider” pushing for impeachment proceedings in light of Musharraf’s defiance.

The president’s fate has been a key focus of squabbling in Pakistan’s fractious coalition government. The infighting comes as the country faces a dire economic situation and ongoing militancy in its regions bordering Afghanistan.

16 Kosovo prime minister’s home attacked

By NEBI QENA, Associated Press Writer

Sat Jun 7, 6:42 PM ET

PRISTINA, Kosovo – Armed assailants trying to break into the home of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci exchanged fire with guards, but the leader was away and his family was not hurt, police said Saturday.

Police later said they had arrested a 19-year-old ethnic Albanian man suspected in the shooting. They said they found the suspect, who was already known to authorities, after a tip from his father.

The teenager has a wound to his arm, leading police to believe he was shot in a shootout with Thaci’s security guards.

17 Myanmar denies evictions from cyclone relief camps

Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 4:37 AM ET

YANGON (Reuters) – Myanmar’s military government denied on Sunday it was evicting victims of Cyclone Nargis from relief camps, saying it was working on a voluntary resettlement program more than a month after the disaster.

The New Light of Myanmar, the voice of the ruling generals, quoted Prime Minister Thein Sein as saying survivors of the May 2 storm would be given aid to return home or settle in new areas.

“If victims want to live in areas where relief camps are being opened, arrangements will be made to resettle them there,” Thein Sein said during a tour of a relief camp on Saturday in the hardest-hit Irrawaddy delta.

18 Tibetans protest in Nepal, 185 detained

Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 9:07 AM ET

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Nepali police detained 185 Tibetan exiles as they tried to storm a Chinese visa office on Sunday, demanding freedom for their Himalayan homeland, witnesses and police said.

The protesters shouted pro-Tibet slogans and waved Tibetan flags before they were hauled into police vans and trucks.

Exiled Tibetans have been protesting regularly since a deadly riot broke out in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on March 14 followed by demonstrations in other Tibetan areas of China.

19 China says "quake lake" rising despite drainage

Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 10:41 AM ET

BEIJING (Reuters) – A lake created by the Chinese earthquake which threatens to unleash a devastating flood is still rising despite urgent efforts to drain the waters off safely, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.

Troops fired missiles and used dynamite to help blast out a sluice channel to drain off a huge volume of water which has built up behind the mud-and-rock dam at Tangjiashan.

Landslides blocked the Tongkou River in last month’s 7.9 magnitude quake, creating the biggest of more than 30 “quake lakes” formed by a disaster which has already killed 69,000 people.

20 Zimbabwe court orders release of opposition MP

By Nelson Banya, Reuters

2 hours, 32 minutes ago

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s High Court on Sunday ordered police to release an opposition member of parliament who was arrested on Saturday for the second time in a week amid mounting tensions before this month’s presidential run-off.

Eric Matinenga was initially arrested on June 1 on charges of inciting public violence in his constituency, but was released on Thursday after a magistrate dropped the charges and said he had been wrongly charged.

He was detained for a second time on Saturday morning.

Matinenga’s arrests come amid accusations by the opposition that President Robert Mugabe’s government is trying to sabotage Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s campaign ahead of a June 27 run-off presidential election.

21 Turkish military says hit PKK target in north Iraq

Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 8:39 AM ET

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkish warplanes struck a Kurdish guerrilla target in northern Iraq on Saturday night, the military said in a statement on its website.

The General Staff said the air operation was carried out at 3:30 p.m. EDT in northern Iraq’s Zap region across the border, and did not give details other than its warplanes hit the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) target “effectively.”

An Iraqi border guard official, who declined to be named, said he received no reports of casualties from the Turkish attack.

22 South Korea warns crackdown on protests over U.S. beef

By Jack Kim, Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 7:55 AM ET

SEOUL (Reuters) – The South Korean government vowed on Sunday to crack down on street protests after daily candle-lit rallies against President Lee Myung-bak’s decision to resume imports of U.S. beef turned into a violent clash with police.

Critics say the deal could expose South Koreans to mad cow disease from infected beef.

The dispute over U.S. beef imports has wider implications because it could derail a separate free-trade deal between the two countries that studies said would boost two-way trade by $20 billion annually.

23 South Korea targets poor with fiscal package as oil soars

By Yoo Choonsik, Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 3:38 AM ET

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea said on Sunday it will hand out $10.2 billion to its lowest-income citizens over the next year to offset the skyrocketing price of oil, emulating Asian neighbors in targeting subsidies at the poor.

The measures come as President Lee Myung-bak’s approval ratings plummet to 20 percent from over 50 percent, since winning December’s election in a landslide, hit by public discontent over an agreement to allow U.S. beef imports and economic troubles.

Prime Minister Han Seung-soo told a news conference the government planned to refund part of the additional money that low-income earners spend on buying fuel.

24 CORRECTION: Israelis round on Mofaz’s "political" Iran threat

By Dan Williams, Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 10:24 AM ET

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli defense officials and political pundits rounded on Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz on Sunday after he threatened attacks against Iran, accusing him of exploiting war jitters to advance his personal ambitions.

Mofaz, a former armed forces chief and likely challenger to the Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in their Kadima party, said in a newspaper interview last week that Israeli strikes on Iran looked “unavoidable” given progress in its nuclear plans.

The remarks helped drive up oil prices by nearly 9 percent to a record $139 a barrel on Friday and drew a circumspect response from Washington, which has championed U.N. sanctions against Iran and only hinted force could also be a last resort.

While the White House suggested Mofaz was giving voice to the Jewish state’s fear of the Islamic republic, officials in Israel’s Defence Ministry pointed to a power-struggle roiling centrist Kadima as Olmert tries to beat off a bribery scandal.

25 New poll on Irish EU referendum puts ‘yes’ camp ahead — just

by Andrew Bushe, AFP

Sat Jun 7, 5:10 PM ET

DUBLIN (AFP) – Ireland is poised to vote narrowly in favour of a key European Union reform treaty in a referendum next week, according to the final opinion poll in the campaign being released Sunday.

The Sunday Business Post newspaper/Red C survey gave those backing the Lisbon Treaty a three-point lead on 42 percent, compared to 39 percent for the “no” side.

The knife-edge finding, which suggests rising support for opponents, illustrates the struggle still facing Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen as he bids to secure a “yes” vote in Thursday’s referendum, watched closely by fellow EU leaders.

26 Pakistani leader says Obama must change course

By Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers

Sat Jun 7, 3:48 PM ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Embattled, U.S.-backed Pakistani Pres. Pervez Musharraf Saturday warned Barack Obama that if he wins the White House, he’d have to change his policies towards Pakistan .

Musharraf, whom President Bush considers one of America’s closest allies in the war on terrorism, denied that Bush gives orders to Pakistan , a charge that’s constantly levelled against both men.

The Pakistani president also used his first press conference in six months to reject speculation that he’s about to be forced out of office, rumors that have grown so strong that Bush called him at the end of last month to pledge continued American support. Musharraf came out fighting, saying that he isn’t willing to accept the newly elected Pakistani government’s plan to reduce him to a ceremonial role.

27 Israel’s Messianic Jews Under Attack

By TIM MCGIRK/JERUSALEM, Time Magazine

Sun Jun 8, 12:10 PM ET

Messianic Jews, as these Jews who believe in Jesus are called, number just a few in Israel – anywhere between 6,000 and 15,000 – but they provoke hatred all out of proportion to their meager numbers. Many orthodox Jews view them as traitors for joining the Christian faith, which for centuries has persecuted Jews. One Messianic Jew, Tzvi Sadan, a teacher and editor, recalls telling his father, a Holocaust survivor, that he had accepted Jesus as his savior. “My Dad flipped out. He said that the SS guards in the camp had ‘God is With Us’ written on their belts. He told me, ‘You’ve joined the enemy.’ But he calmed down a bit when he saw my prayer shawl.”

From Yahoo News U.S. News

28 Arson suspected in Texas governor’s mansion fire

By KELLEY SHANNON, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 54 minutes ago

AUSTIN, Texas – Arson is suspected in the fire that struck the historic Texas Governor’s Mansion early Sunday, causing damage that state officials described as “bordering on catastrophic,” the state fire marshal said.

No one was inside the 152-year-old mansion at the time, said Robert Black, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry. The mansion had been undergoing a $10 million renovation, and Perry and his wife, Anita, had moved out last fall.

“We have some evidence that indicates that we do have an intentionally set fire,” said state Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado. “So we believe that we may be looking at a criminal act here.”

29 Food banks ask gardeners to grow extra for hungry

By CLARE TRAPASSO, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 1 minute ago

LANGDON, N.H. – Sharon Crossman hadn’t tasted fresh fruits or vegetables in a week. Since her husband had two heart attacks and stopped working, she has relied on disability checks and the free food provided by a food pantry.

But lately, the only fresh produce available at the Fall Mountain Foodshelf where she volunteers has been shriveled potatoes and sprouting onions.

Pantry director Mary Lou Huffling expects that to change soon, as she has begun asking local gardeners and farmers to grow extra rows of produce to donate.

30 Hamilton’s home moved to new spot in Harlem

By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Writer

Sun Jun 8, 1:52 AM ET

NEW YORK – Two hundred and eighty tons of American history were on the move Saturday in Harlem.

The home of Alexander Hamilton, who conceived the country’s banking system and was killed in a duel with a political rival, rolled inch by inch down a Harlem hillside to its new location overlooking a park.

“This was the only home Hamilton ever owned,” said Steve Laise, a National Park Service official dressed in a vest, tie and pants typical of the 1800’s. “It represented the consummation of Hamilton’s lifelong dream – a successful social position for a man who came to the American colonies as a penniless 17-year-old born out of wedlock in the West Indies.”

31 NYC festival reminds grown-ups how to play

By SAMANTHA GROSS, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 48 minutes ago

NEW YORK – Running down a busy Manhattan sidewalk, drawing funny looks from passers-by as his teammates wearing green T-shirts and feather headdresses brought up the rear in their quest for more water balloons, David Abrams felt entirely unlike himself.

“I feel about 12,” the 30-year-old corporate lawyer said with a laugh as the game clock ticked down and he dashed for a chance to earn his team a few more points.

This weekend, Abrams and hundreds of other participants in the Come Out and Play street games festival gave their grown-up selves permission to engage in child’s play.

32 Top Cuban baseball player defects to United States

Reuters

34 minutes ago

MIAMI (Reuters) – A top Cuban baseball player has defected to the United States in the latest move by a promising young athlete to abandon the communist-ruled island.

Dayan Viciedo, a hard-hitting, 19-year-old third baseman from Cuba’s central Villa Clara province, left his homeland late last month and has settled in south Florida, local media said on Sunday.

El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language edition of the Miami Herald, was the first to report the defection of Viciedo, who started playing baseball in the Cuban majors when he was just 15.

33 Obama faces runaway expectations from US allies

by Jitendra Joshi, AFP

Sun Jun 8, 12:47 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The world is agog at the prospect of a Barack Obama presidency, but are expectations of a revolution in US diplomacy justified?

No US leader, including Obama if he beats Republican John McCain, can wave a magic wand to bring peace to the Middle East, or halt climate change, or force “rogue states” to renounce their nuclear schemes.

No president can ram through an international treaty or trade agreement if Congress takes umbrage.

What a president Obama would bring, however, is a vast well of goodwill in a world thirsting to re-engage with the sole remaining superpower after eight years of President George W. Bush.

34 Energy surge prompts move to 4-day work week in US

by Rob Lever, AFP

Sat Jun 7, 11:43 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Skyrocketing energy costs have fueled fresh interest in the four-day workweek across the United States as a means to help workers as well as employers cope with the surge.

In Birmingham, Alabama, city officials decided to implement a four-day week starting July 1 for some 2,400 municipal employees and later in the year for around 1,000 police and firefighters.

The move, allowing employees to work four 10-hour days, may save 500,000 to one million dollars annually in fuel costs alone for the employees, according to April Odom, director of communications for the mayor’s office in the city of 242,000 people.

35 Gay Bishop vs. Straight Bishop

By DAVID VAN BIEMA, Time Magazine

22 minutes ago

Bishop V. Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Church USA and Bishop Martyn Minns of the Anglican Church of Nigeria are the twin bookends of the current struggle within the worldwide Anglican Communion. Fallen bookends, one might add, insofar as they are the only two Anglican bishops so far to be dis-invited from the Communion’s once-a-decade Lambeth Conference this July by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

36 A Rush to Judgment at Guantanamo?

By ADAM ZAGORIN, Time Magazine

24 minutes ago

Although Osama bin Laden remains at large as President Bush’s tenure winds down, the Administration clearly hopes that legal proceedings begun last week against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators will offer a public demonstration that the alleged principal planners of the 9/11 attacks are finally being brought to justice. But their arraignment at Guantanamo on Thursday suggested that the political overtones of the case could call that effort into question and overshadow strictly legal aspects of the trial.
From Yahoo News Politics

37 McCain, Obama reject NYC offer on town hall

By SARA KUGLER, Associated Press Writer

2 hours, 38 minutes ago

NEW YORK – John McCain and Barack Obama rejected an offer Sunday from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and ABC News to host the first proposed presidential town hall because they do not want it limited to one television network.

McCain, the likely Republican nominee, last week asked his Democratic counterpart to join him for 10 meetings in the coming months, and campaign managers for both sides said they had agreed in spirit to schedule some type of joint appearances.

But the campaigns rejected a formal offer outlined in a letter from Bloomberg and ABC News on Sunday that envisioned kicking off the town hall series with a 90-minute, prime-time broadcast from New York. The campaigns said the candidates want the meetings open for broadcast on all television networks or on the Internet, rather than be sponsored by a single network or news organization.

38 EU-US summit: A discord of climate

by Paul Harrington, AFP

Sun Jun 8, 1:18 PM ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) – President George W. Bush will attend his last EU-US summit on Tuesday, with some Europeans already looking to the post-Bush era to narrow differences with Washington on divisive issues such as climate change policy.

The Europeans are not expecting a major breakthrough on the issue at the summit in Slovenia, where it is likely to be a main bone of contention, with the two sides expected merely to restate their positions.

“On climate change, the positions are split,” Dimitrij Rupel, foreign minister of current EU president Slovenia, put it bluntly last week.

39 Oil price crisis: world powers trade blame, skirt responsibility

by Veronique Dupont, AFP

Sat Jun 7, 11:36 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) – Leaders of the world’s major powers voiced alarm on Saturday after the unprecedented one-day hike in the price of crude, expected to jolt world economy, trading blame but taking no responsibility.

“We are in such an upward spiral that governments are being hounded by the public to do something, but the room for maneuver has been trimmed to nothing,” said Francis Perrin, editor-in-chief of the monthly Arab Oil and Gas Magazine.

So they’re “likely to look for a scapegoat,” he said.

From Yahoo News Business

40 Uneasy Wall Street eyes oil, retail data this week

By MADLEN READ, AP Business Writer

2 hours, 27 minutes ago

NEW YORK – That economic rebound in the second half of the year so many experts have predicted – including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke himself – is starting to look dicey.

Wall Street has just three weeks left until July starts, and signs of trouble keep surfacing.

Sure, there have been a few upbeat readings recently, including better-than-expected sales figures from some retailers and strong first-quarter worker productivity. But last week culminated in a spike in the unemployment rate and a huge leap in oil prices that returned to record levels – two pieces of news that drove the Dow Jones industrials down nearly 400 points Friday.

41 USDA papers: Burger recall followed riskier procedures

By JEFFREY GOLD, AP Business Writer

Sun Jun 8, 12:16 PM ET

NEWARK, N.J. – While the Topps Meat Co. churned out millions of frozen hamburgers a month, beef ground one day was often stored and “reworked” with meat from another production cycle, government documents show.

A conveyor belt that moved raw patties to packaging was marred by “gouges, cracks and tears,” inspectors said. They found residue on surfaces that fresh meat came into contact with.

But the plant kept operating, until an outbreak of E. coli last summer and fall sickened at least 40 people in eight states and led to one of the nation’s largest beef recalls.

42 Companies offering free gas to attract business

By DINESH RAMDE, AP Business Writer

2 hours, 33 minutes ago

MILWAUKEE – Two magic words are turning consumers’ heads lately. Not “Get rich” or “Lose weight.” Try “Free gas.” Businesses from banks and hotels to golf-club makers and blood-donation centers are offering promotions that involve free gas – generating more attention and goodwill from price-stunned drivers than traditional promotions might deliver.

For example, Callaway Golf Co. is giving away gas cards worth as much as $100 with the sale of certain drivers. Guests who book three nights through hotels.com will get $50 gas cards. And TCF Bank, based in Wayzata, Minn., is giving $50 gas cards to customers who open checking accounts.

The trend will grow in the short-term as more businesses jump on the free-gas bandwagon, predicts Baohong Sun, a marketing professor at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.

43 Leaders of No. 2 union OK Hollywood labor contract

By ROBERT JABLON, Associated Press Writer

Sun Jun 8, 8:18 AM ET

LOS ANGELES – Leaders of Hollywood’s second-largest actors union approved a new contract with studios that grants actors more money for Internet work – an issue that sparked a crippling writers strike this year.

The board of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists approved the three-year deal late Friday, and it will go to the union’s 70,000 members for ratification this month, the union said Saturday. The existing contract was set to end June 30.

The agreement “makes sense for all performers,” AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon said in the statement. “AFTRA members now have the opportunity to vote ‘yes’ for higher pay, improved working conditions, and continued right of consent for use of excerpts in New Media.”

44 Icahn’s big bet on Yahoo hinges on Microsoft sale

By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer

2 hours, 14 minutes ago

SAN FRANCISCO – Antagonistic investor Carl Icahn became a billionaire by bullying already distressed companies, but his harassment of Yahoo Inc. could leave him with a black eye – and a hole in his wallet – if he’s wrong about Microsoft Corp.’s desire to buy the Internet pioneer.

Icahn, 72, has used a combination of guile, gall, grit and gamesmanship to get his way more often than not since he began tormenting vulnerable companies 30 years ago. The conquests helped Icahn build an estimated fortune of $14 billion after starting out on Wall Street with a $4,000 bankroll from his winnings playing poker.

His roll call of stock market successes include profitable showdowns with Marshall Field, Phillips Petroleum, Texaco, USX and, most recently, BEA Systems. There have been flops, too: the now-defunct airline TWA and video rental chain Blockbuster Inc., whose stock has lost nearly two-thirds of its value since Icahn bought a stake in the company in 2005 and muscled his way on to the board of directors.

45 OPEC sees no need to pump more after price surge

By Simon Webb, Reuters

Sun Jun 8, 11:04 AM ET

DUBAI (Reuters) – OPEC members saw no need on Sunday to pump more oil in response to last week’s double-digit surge in oil prices to over $139 a barrel that top exporter Saudi Arabia described as unjustified.

More pain was coming for consuming economies hurting from record fuel costs as prices were likely to climb further, officials from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said.

Oil soared more than $16 a barrel – over 13 percent – in a two-day rally on Thursday and Friday on weakness in the U.S. dollar and rising tension between Israel and Iran.

46 Spanish fishermen and truckers widen their protest

AFP

Sun Jun 8, 12:41 PM ET

MADRID (AFP) – Spanish fishermen and truck drivers stepped up their national strike against rising fuel prices Sunday, staging direct action to disrupt public events.

In the morning, truck drivers in the northeast region of Catalonia launched a go-slow operation on a highway.

That created a three-kilometre (two-mile) tailback on the way to the Montmelo racetrack where the Catalan Motorcycle Grand Prix was taking place, said local officials.

Fishermen in Spain have been on an indefinite strike since May 30, while truckers began rolling out a parallel protest on Friday. A truckers’ group calling itself the “Platform for the Defence of the Transport Sector”, who say they speak for 50,000 truckers, walked off the job.

47 Fewer, pricier flights and job cuts: airlines’ response to oil prices

by Thomas Urbain, AFP

Sun Jun 8, 12:03 AM ET

PARIS (AFP) – As oil prices soar, airlines are coming back down to earth with a bump — cutting routes and capacity, ramping up prices and axing jobs as bosses freely admit the industry is in the “worst crisis since 9/11.”

Oil prices on Friday broke through the 139-dollar-a-barrel level for the first time in New York and 138 dollars in London, powered by a wilting dollar.

A weakening US currency lowers the cost of dollar-priced goods, such as oil, for foreign buyers and drives up demand.

48 French bid is on for leading UK nuclear utility: reports

AFP

Sun Jun 8, 9:25 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) – French state-owned energy giant EDF should get the green light to take over the country’s leading nuclear energy producer within a fortnight, a newspaper said Sunday.

An announcement could be made as early as this week, said The Observer weekly, saying the board of British Energy was expected to recommend the takeover once EDF, the world’s biggest nuclear energy producer, tables its bid.

Rival bidders RWE from Germany and Spain’s Iberdrola have not yet formally given up on grabbing British Energy.

49 Iran sees oil at 150 dollars a barrel this summer

AFP

Sun Jun 8, 1:27 PM ET

TEHRAN (AFP) – The price of crude oil is set to rise even further to 150 dollars a barrel by the end of summer, Iran’s representative to the OPEC oil cartel warned on Sunday.

“I foresee the price of oil reaching around 150 dollars a barrel by the end of the summer,” the state broadcaster’s website quoted Mohammad Ali Khatibi as saying.

His comments came after New York’s main oil futures contract, light sweet crude for July delivery, on Friday leapt 10.75 dollars a barrel — its biggest one-day jump ever — to close at a record 138.54 dollars.

50 EU to try to break working rules deadlock on Monday

AFP

Sun Jun 8, 12:56 AM ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) – EU labour ministers will seek on Monday to break years of deadlock on granting temporary workers more protection and setting work time rules, blocked mainly by Britain.

The prospect of a breakthrough at a meeting in Luxembourg on the long-stalled issue of temporary agency workers emerged last month after London announced an agreement on equal rights for such workers in Britain.

The agreement paves the way for Britain to lift its opposition to setting minimum EU standards for such workers, who are estimated to count eight million across the 27-nation bloc and whose numbers are growing.

51 World banking activity grows: BIS

AFP

1 hour, 11 minutes ago

BASEL, Switzerland (AFP) – The international banking market expanded in the fourth quarter of 2007, as new credit to Asian, African and Middle Eastern emerging markets offset impact of the financial turmoil in mature markets, the Bank for International Settlements said Sunday.

“Activity in the international banking market continued to expand in the fourth quarter of 2007, despite the ongoing tensions in the interbank market.

“A significant portion of this increase was accounted for by new credit to emerging markets,” said a new report by the bank (BIS).

Inter-bank borrowing in mature markets, particularly the United States, hit a snag in the same period as banks were wary of lending to each other due to the unravelling subprime crisis.

The US Federal Reserve and key European central banks have had on several occasions to pump billions of dollars of liquidity into the system to ease gridlocked lending.

From Yahoo News Science

52 Drought, tourism endanger Marrakech palm grove

By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU, Associated Press Writer

Sun Jun 8, 4:33 AM ET

MARRAKECH, Morocco – Abdellilah Meddich’s childhood memories of the famous palm grove of Marrakech are of a “magical” place, a lush desert oasis of flowers, animals and farmers who tended tree-shaded plots.

No longer.

Today, the unique and vast World Heritage site is “nothing like it used to be when I was a child,” says the 37-year-old Meddich, a forestry engineer overseeing a plan to plant more palms.

53 Mars lander Phoenix struggles with soil sample

AFP

33 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A soil sample from the Martian arctic dug up by the Phoenix probe appears to be too firmly clumped to deliver any particles into the spacecraft’s main test instrument, mission experts said.

Apparently no testable bits from the 200 milliliters (12 cubic inches) of Martian permafrost which researchers hope will provide clues to whether the planet was once habitable for microbial life passed through a screen into Phoenix’s thermal and evolved gas analyzer (TEGA), Phoenix team experts at the University of Arizona said Saturday.

That deduction came after TEGA failed to signal it had received any material from the sample, following its retrieval from the Mars polar surface by Phoenix’s articulated robot arm.

54 Brain sparks, not just size, makes for smarter species: study

AFP

Sun Jun 8, 2:16 PM ET

PARIS (AFP) – Relentless evolution towards more intelligent species may have been driven not just by progressively larger brains but by the increasingly complex way in which they were wired, reports a study released Sunday.

Scientists in Britain probing the origins of the human brain focused on the role of synapses, the junctions between nerves which transfer electrical signals — and information — from one brain cell to the next via a series of biochemical switches.

Most research to date has assumed that synapses, made of proteins, are essentially the same in all animals, ranging from the lowly earthworm all the way up the evolutionary ladder to humans.

55 G8 wants 20 carbon-burying projects by 2010

AFP

Sun Jun 8, 9:45 AM ET

AOMORI, Japan (AFP) – The Group of Eight industrial powers said Sunday they hoped to launch 20 large projects to bury greenhouse gas by 2010 and aimed to broadly deploy the technology a decade later.

G8 energy ministers, meeting in Japan, said in a statement that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), which stops emissions at their root, played a “critical role” in “tackling the global challenge of climate change and energy security”.

The International Energy Agency, a Paris-based energy security body set up in 1974 after the first oil crisis, has recommended commercial use of the CO2-burying technology by 2020.

56 Firm rejects Amazon logging fine: source

AFP

Sat Jun 7, 1:28 PM ET

LONDON (AFP) – Accusations that the firm Gethal had been illegally logging in the Brazilian rainforest are false and politically motivated, a source close to owner Johan Eliasch told AFP on Saturday.

The company has “no intention” of accepting a fine announced by the Brazilian government Friday, and is prepared to take the matter to court, the source said.

The Brazilian government’s environmental agency Ibama fined Gethal 450 million reals (275 million dollars, 175 million euros) for illegally cutting down 230,000 trees and lacking certification for Amazon land it owns.

“Those allegations are false, fabricated and unsubstantiated,” said a source close to the Swedish tycoon, saying the logging stopped once Eliasch bought the firm in order “to protect the rainforest.”

“Gethal has been fined because the company didn’t comply with its management plan, which had been decided by the previous owners, which planned for the logging in the rainforest,” the source said.

57 As energy bills soar, Japanese test fuel of future

by Karyn Poupee, AFP

Sun Jun 8, 1:24 PM ET

TOKYO (AFP) – As world oil prices skyrocket, thousands of households in energy-poor Japan are taking part in an ambitious experiment to use fuel cells to light and heat their homes.

Since the prime minister’s official residence became the first house in the world to be equipped with a domestic fuel cell in 2005, about 3,000 households have signed up to have the grey boxes installed outside their homes.

The project aims to thrust Japan to the forefront of a “hydrogen society” that has kicked its addiction to fossil fuels and produces affordable energy while spewing out far less of the greenhouse gas that is blamed for global warming.

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  1. Yes, a trifle late.

  2. Just returned from cooking class and boy oh boy am I ever stuffed. French food might not be the best thing to eat when it is 95 degrees out.

  3. been meaning to ask you how you make these lists.  

    Is it a plug-in or something?

    Or does the master not like to divulge his secrets? 😉

    • Viet71 on June 9, 2008 at 12:28 am

    about everyone comments, as if they are like the weather.

    But gas prices, which have risen rapidly, are going to change America more than anything Obama or McCain (or Hillary) may say.

    Gas prices are going to favor communities that are self-sufficient and not favor travel.

    Suburbs, malls, commutes, and the like are dinosaurs.

    It’s like a big meteorite hit the planet.  All of a sudden the top predators are at risk.  And the little guys scurrying under the underbrush are going to be the winners.

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