The Morning News

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1 Bollywood’s ‘Hari Puttar’ film sparks lawsuit

By RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM, Associated Press Writer

Tue Aug 26, 7:30 AM ET

MUMBAI, India – Let’s see Hari Puttar get out of this one. Bollywood producers set to release a film called “Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors” are working to fend off a lawsuit filed by Warner Bros. that claims the movie title hews too closely to their mega-famous boy wizard franchise.

While Bollywood films often borrow liberally from Western movies, producers of “Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors” say their movie bears no resemblance to any film in the “Harry Potter” series.

“There is absolutely nothing to link ‘Hari Puttar’ with ‘Harry Potter,'” said Munish Purii, chief executive officer of Mumbai-based producer Mirchi Movies. Hari is a common name in India and “puttar” is Punabji for son, he said.

2 SAT scores stay at lowest level in nearly a decade

By ALAN SCHER ZAGIER, Associated Press Writer

Tue Aug 26, 12:09 PM ET

COLUMBIA, Mo. – For a second straight year, SAT scores for the most recent high school graduating class remained at the lowest level in nearly a decade, a trend attributed to a record number of students now taking the test.

The 1.52 million students who took the test is a slight increase from last year but a jump of nearly 30 percent over the past decade. Minority students accounted for 40 percent of test-takers, and 36 percent were the first in their families to attend college. Nearly one in seven had a low enough family income to take the test for free.

“More than ever, the SAT reflects the face of education in this country,” said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, which owns the test and released the results Tuesday.

3 Umps can check replay on homers starting Thursday

By RONALD BLUM, AP Baseball Writer

4 minutes ago

NEW YORK – Replay ball! Umpires will be allowed to check video on home run calls starting Thursday after Major League Baseball, guardian of America’s most traditional sport, reversed its decades-long opposition to instant replay.

“Like everything else in life, there are times that you have to make an adjustment,” baseball commissioner Bud Selig said following Tuesday’s announcement. “My opposition to unlimited instant replay is still very much in play. I really think that the game has prospered for well over a century now doing things the way we did it.”

The 74-year-old Selig, who described himself as “old fashioned” and an admirer of baseball’s “human element,” softened his opposition following a rash of blown calls this year.

4 Armed men were no threat to Obama: U.S. attorney


Tue Aug 26, 1:05 PM ET

DENVER (Reuters) – Authorities on Tuesday were investigating whether three men arrested in Colorado with guns and drugs planned to kill Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, but said they posed no real threat.

“We’re absolutely confident there is no credible threat to the candidate, the Democratic National Convention (in Denver), or the people of Colorado,” U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said in a statement.

ABC News quoted federal law enforcement officials saying the men, one of whom is alleged to have strong ties to a white supremacist gang, had admitted to a “crude” plan to use a rifle to kill Obama. Local media had reported the incident on Monday.

5 Suicide bomber kills 28 police recruits in Iraq

By Sherko Raouf, Reuters

Tue Aug 26, 11:04 AM ET

QARAH TAPPAH, Iraq (Reuters) – A suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of police recruits in northern Iraq on Tuesday killing 28 people, in an attack that showed that parts of Iraq have yet to see the security gains felt elsewhere.

The bombing took place in the town of Jalawla in the north of volatile Diyala province, just a day after Kurdish Peshmerga security forces withdrew from the town at the request of the central government in Baghdad.

The attack, which also wounded 45 people, was the biggest for weeks in Iraq, where overall levels of violence have dropped sharply in the last year. It came amid Iraqi efforts to conclude a security deal with the United States that would require U.S. forces to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

6 Russia recognises rebel regions in new challenge to West

by Carole Landry, AFP

Tue Aug 26, 3:56 PM ET

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia on Tuesday formally recognised the Georgian rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states in a new challenge to the West that drew sharp warnings of consequences.

Flanked by two Russian flags, President Dmitry Medvedev announced he had signed decrees recognising the independence of the two regions at the heart of the conflict that erupted this month in Georgia.

“This is not an easy choice, but it is the only way to save the lives of people,” Medvedev said in a nationally-televised address.

7 Gori museum ready to laud Stalin again

by Stuart Williams, AFP

Tue Aug 26, 1:49 PM ET

GORI, Georgia (AFP) – When Russian jets started bombing the Georgian city of Gori, the director of the state Stalin museum had only one thought. The personal possessions of the city’s most famous son.

Robert Maglakelidze took a taxi willing to drive him to Tbilisi and hurriedly bundled the prized belongings of Josef Vissarionovich Stalin into the car.

“I was scared for the museum. On August 11, I took Stalin’s personal effects in a taxi to the state museum in Tbilisi for safe keeping. I called the taxi and paid for it myself,” he told AFP.

8 Thai police take positions at besieged govt compound

by Thanaporn Promyamyai, AFP

12 minutes ago

BANGKOK (AFP) – Riot police took up positions early Wednesday outside Thailand’s main government compound, where thousands of protesters camped out through the night to demand the prime minister’s resignation.

Deputy police spokesman Major General Surapol Tuanthong said a few officers and protesters sustained minor injuries in scuffles as police tried to break through the gates of Government House, but pledged there would be no violence.

“Police have surrounded Government House and have taken up their positions. They are not going to disperse the crowd — we are trying to negotiate,” Surapol told AFP.

9 Carmakers falling short on EU emissions targets: report


Tue Aug 26, 1:37 PM ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Car makers are not doing enough to meet proposed EU targets for cutting carbon dioxide emissions, according to a report Tuesday, with some German and Japanese brands facing the biggest challenge to make the grade.

The European Commission wants all carmakers to reduce average emissions to 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre (0.6 miles) by 2012.

Under EU plans, they will be expected to make engines that emit no more than 130 grams while 10 grammes per kilometre are intended to be eliminated mainly through the use of cleaner fuels.

10 Children suffer most as US poverty rises: report

by Karin Zeitvogel, AFP

15 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – More than 37 million Americans live in poverty and nearly 46 million have no health insurance, with children bearing a disproportionate share of the burden, an official report showed Tuesday.

Highlighting key issues in the race for the presidency, an annual report by the Census Bureau showed that some 37.3 million Americans lived in poverty in the United States in 2007, an increase from the 36.5 million people in 2006.

While the numbers of poor people rose, numbers without health insurance paradoxically fell to 45.7 million people in 2007 from 47 million in 2006, the “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage Report” showed.

11 US July new home sales disappoint with 2.4% rise


Tue Aug 26, 10:54 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US new home sales rose 2.4 percent in July from June to a pace that fell short of market expectations, in a further sign of housing market distress, government data showed Tuesday.

The Commerce Department reported that sales of new one-family homes stood at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 515,000 units, while the consensus analyst forecast was 525,000.

On a 12-month basis, the pace of new home sales was 35.3 percent below the July 2007 level.

12 U.S. builds new detention center in Afghanistan

By Gordon Lubold, The Christian Science Monitor

Tue Aug 26, 4:00 AM ET

Washington – In an effort to lay to rest some of the controversy surrounding its Afghanistan detention program, the US is building a new detention facility there designed to be on par with one in Iraq that came to be seen by many as a model program.

Construction has begun on a new facility for as many as 1,100 detainees to be run by Americans at a US airbase at Bagram 50 miles north of the capital of Kabul.

Although the facility will be built on a far smaller scale than the main facility in southern Iraq, Pentagon officials hope that the new center will address widespread concern among human rights groups and independent experts over alleged secret detentions and prisoner mistreatment at Bagram.

13 Russia’s gains in Georgia may leave it more isolated

By Robert Marquand, The Christian Science Monitor

Tue Aug 26, 5:00 AM ET

Paris – Russia thirsts to once again be a great power – a lesson the West is learning in Georgia. On Monday, Russia’s parliament voted unanimously to recognize the independence of Georgian rebel regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia – the flashpoints of recent fighting. Also, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev fired a warning shot about another frozen ethnic conflict in Moldova.

In the next few weeks, the West will be closely reading Russia’s actions and intentions in the Caucasus, including energy-rich Azerbaijan – and will start to shape a long-term response to what many see as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s bid to change the post-cold-war world, and potentially dominate former Soviet states.

But Moscow should be careful what it asks for. It just might find real downsides to its pursuit of greatness, including deeper isolation from the very world Russia feels has ignored it since the Soviet empire collapsed, say Western diplomats and foreign policy specialists.

14 Township youths tackle South Africa’s ‘white sport’: rugby

By Scott Baldauf, The Christian Science Monitor

Tue Aug 26, 5:00 AM ET

Diepsloot, South Africa – The coach’s whistle bleats, and the two young players, both 8 years old, square off and run full speed toward each other. One boy carries the oblong ball, juking to the left to avoid the inevitable crunch of a rugby tackle. When the defender brings down his man, a field of young enthusiasts cheer.

It’s a scene replicated in nearly every town in South Africa, where rugby – a sport akin to football but without pads, forward passes, or TV time-outs – holds the same revered space as cricket holds in India and football in Texas. In nearly every town, that is, except for the black townships such as Diepsloot, where rugby is seen as a “white sport.”

“I’m doing this because I’m tired of hearing that rugby is a white sport,” says Bafana Thawuzeni, a Johannesburg fitness trainer and volunteer coach in Diepsloot. “Our country became free 14 years ago, so we should be equal. I’m doing this so that these kids have some exposure to all the sports in their country, not just the ones that blacks are supposed to be good at, like soccer.”

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15 US judge: No delay in White House subpoenas case

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

Tue Aug 26, 2:25 PM ET

WASHINGTON – A federal judge who ruled last month that top White House advisers must comply with congressional subpoenas refused to put that ruling on hold Tuesday while the Bush administration appeals.

The House Judiciary Committee wants to force White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers to testify about the firing of federal prosecutors and the politicization of the Justice Department.

The White House contends that top aides are immune from such subpoenas.

16 UN finds evidence 90 civilians dead in US-led strikes


Tue Aug 26, 11:51 AM ET

KABUL (AFP) – A United Nations team has found “convincing evidence” that 90 civilians, including 60 children, were killed in US-led air strikes last week, the body’s representative in Afghanistan said Tuesday.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) human rights team was sent to the western province of Herat after local claims that scores of civilians were killed in Friday’s strikes.

“Investigations by UNAMA found convincing evidence, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses and others, that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, 15 women and 15 men,” special representative Kai Eide said.

17 Who’s reading your medical files today?

By Sue A. Blevins, The Christian Science Monitor

Tue Aug 26, 4:00 AM ET

Washington – How would you feel about your personal health information flowing freely over the Internet between public health officials, healthcare providers, insurance and data clearinghouse companies, and others – without your permission?

If this doesn’t sound like a good idea, it’s time to become informed about federal health privacy law.

Today, when Americans visit a healthcare provider for services (including dental and eye exams), they receive a form with a title such as “Notification of Privacy Rights.” Many assume that signing the form guarantees that personal information won’t be shared with third parties. But the form offers no such guarantees. And neither does federal law.

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18 ICE: Nearly 600 detained in Mississippi plant raid

By HOLBROOK MOHR, Associated Press Writer

41 minutes ago

LAUREL, Miss. – The largest single-workplace immigration raid in U.S. history has caused panic among Hispanic families in this small southern Mississippi town, where federal agents rounded up nearly 600 plant workers suspected of being in the country illegally.

One worker caught in Monday’s sweep at the Howard Industries transformer plant said fellow workers applauded as immigrants were taken into custody. Federal officials said a tip from a union member prompted them to start investigating several years ago.

Fabiola Pena, 21, cradled her 2-year-old daughter as she described a chaotic scene at the plant as the raid began, followed by clapping.

19 Kucinich electrifies convention arena

Kevin Flynn, Rock Mountain News

1 hour, 3 minutes ago

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, erstwhile presidential candidate and strident opponent of the Bush administration, gave the most spirited speech of the session Tuesday condemning the war, the economy and the Republicans

Short in stature, the Ohio congressman leaped up onto his tip toes time and again, thrusting his arms out and up, getting the crowd to roar so loudly he had to yell into the microphone to be heard.

It will become known as the “Wake Up, America” speech.

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20 Neanderthals were not ‘stupid,’ says new research


Tue Aug 26, 11:09 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) – Neanderthals were not as stupid as they have been portrayed, according to new research Tuesday showing their stone tools were as good as those made by the early ancestors of modern humans, Homo sapiens.

The findings by a team of scientists at British and US universities challenge the assumption that the ancestors of people living today drove Neanderthals into extinction by producing better tools.

The research could lead to a fresh search for explanations about why Neanderthals vanished from Europe around 28,000 years ago, after living alongside modern humans for some 10,000 years.

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21 Zimbabwe leader heckled during parliament opening

By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer

Tue Aug 26, 2:09 PM ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Opposition legislators jeered President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday as he opened Zimbabwe’s parliament, singing and chanting and sometimes drowning out his voice.

The rare show of defiance – broadcast live on national television – set the stage for a combative legislature, even as Mugabe and his political foes try to negotiate a power sharing arrangement after disputed elections.

Mugabe’s speech could sometimes not be heard over the jeers of his opponents, who clapped and sang songs deriding him and the ZANU-PF. “ZANU is rotten. You are great liars,” they sang.

22 Georgians angry but not shocked at Russian move

By Mark Trevelyan, Reuters

Tue Aug 26, 3:04 PM ET

TBILISI (Reuters) – Georgians on the streets of Tbilisi reacted defiantly but without surprise on Tuesday to Russia’s recognition of two rebel provinces, some refusing to accept they may have lost Abkhazia and South Ossetia for good.

“I give you a 100 percent guarantee we will return,” vowed Yermile Kheladze, a Georgian from the Black Sea region of Abkhazia.

But like others questioned in street interviews in the capital, he was at a loss to say how Georgia would win back territories that have cemented their secession and emerged as Russian protectorates from this month’s short war between the two countries.

23 More people living below poverty line: World Bank

By Lesley Wroughton, Reuters

2 hours, 24 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank said on Tuesday more people are living in extreme poverty in developing countries than previously thought as it adjusted the recognized yardstick for measuring global poverty to $1.25 a day from $1.

The poverty-fighting institution said there were 1.4 billion people — a quarter of the developing world — living in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day in 2005 in the world’s 10 to 20 poorest countries. Last year, the World Bank said there were 1 billion people living under the previous $1 a day poverty mark.

The new figures are likely to put fresh pressure on big donor countries to move more aggressively to combat global poverty, and on countries to introduce more-effective policies to help lift the poorest.

24 Kurdish journalists under assault in Iraq

By Missy Ryan and Shamal Arqawi, Reuters

10 minutes ago

ARBIL, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraq’s northern Kurdish enclave may be a haven of relative peace and serenity but independent journalists there say challenges to the political establishment are being met with intimidation and threats.

In the largely autonomous territory, streets are swept clean and people walk without fear — a stark contrast to the concrete walls and barbed wire that have defined life for most Iraqis in more than five years of war.

Still, about 60 Kurdish journalists were killed, threatened, attacked, or taken to court in the first half of 2008, says the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

25 Pakistani stability hope fades with coalition split

By Robert Birsel, Reuters

Tue Aug 26, 4:48 AM ET

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Prospects for political stability in Pakistan faded on Tuesday, a day after a split in the ruling coalition, with a battle looming over who will become the next president of the nuclear-armed U.S. ally.

The resignation of the unpopular Pervez Musharraf as president last week raised hopes the coalition, led by the party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, would focus on mounting militant violence and a sagging economy.

But a week after Musharraf stepped down, the alliance’s second biggest party, led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, pulled out, complaining Bhutto’s party had reneged on promises to resolve a judicial dispute and on a replacement for Musharraf as president.

26 India extends curfew to quell Kashmir protest

By Sheikh Mushtaq, Reuters

Tue Aug 26, 12:30 PM ET

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – Indian police beat Kashmiri protesters who defied a curfew on Tuesday and troops searched for separatist leaders as the biggest anti-India protests in two decades showed no sign of abating.

Authorities said they had detained four separatist leaders since Monday. They raided the homes of dozens of leaders in a sweep that began on Monday night.

Asiya Andrabi, chief of Kashmir’s women’s separatist group Dukhtaran-e-Milat (Daughters of the Muslim Faith) who led series of anti-India protests over the last two weeks was detained late on Tuesday, police said.

27 Pre-Incan female Wari mummy unearthed in Peru

By Dana Ford, Reuters

2 hours, 12 minutes ago

LIMA (Reuters) – Archeologists working at Peru’s Huaca Pucllana ruins pulled a mummy from a tomb on Tuesday, thought to be from the ancient Wari culture that flourished before the Incas.

Besides the female mummy, the tomb contained the remains of two other adults and a child. It is the first intact Wari burial site discovered at Huaca Pucllana in the capital Lima, and researchers believe it dates from about 700 AD.

“We’d discovered other tombs before,” said Isabel Flores, director of the ruins. “But they always had holes, or were damaged. Never had we found a whole tomb like this one — intact,” she said, standing on the ancient plaza, a huge partially excavated mound of rocks, bricks and dirt.

28 Sudan tightens grip on Darfur camp

by Jennie Matthew, AFP

Tue Aug 26, 12:35 PM ET

KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudan boosted forces outside a volatile camp for displaced people in Darfur on Tuesday, sparking fears of new armed clashes as residents prepared to bury dozens of dead from fighting a day earlier.

Police moved into the impoverished and volatile Kalma in South Darfur on Monday. Casualty figures from subsequent clashes are impossible to verify, but residents have asked UN troops for burial shrouds and protection for funerals.

“It seems last night there was a build-up of security forces around the camp,” one UN official told AFP.

29 Top U.S. diplomat in Peshawar, Pakistan, unhurt after gun ambush

By Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers

Tue Aug 26, 2:40 PM ET

Islamabad, Pakistan – Gunmen opened fire on a vehicle carrying the top U.S. diplomat in the volatile northwestern city of Peshawar Tuesday. But consul-general Lynne Tracy was unhurt as were the other two U.S. consular employees.

The assault comes as Pakistani security forces are battling Taliban militants in two areas that border Peshawar – the Bajaur tribal area and the valley of Swat. The extremists have vowed revenge, carrying out two suicide bomb attacks last week, although there was no claim of responsibility for the attempt on Tracy.

Tracy was attacked in her armor-plated vehicle just after she was driven out of her home in the university town residential district of Peshawar , the capital of the insurgency-plagued North West Frontier Province.

30 Germans probing whether Bayer pesticide caused honeybee colony collapse

By Sabine Vollmer, Raleigh News & Observer

Tue Aug 26, 2:28 PM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. – Bayer CropScience is facing scrutiny because of the effect one of its best-selling pesticides has had on honeybees

A German prosecutor is investigating Werner Wenning , Bayer’s chairman, and Friedrich Berschauer , the head of Bayer CropScience , after critics alleged that they knowingly polluted the environment.

The investigation was triggered by an Aug. 13 complaint filed by German beekeepers and consumer protection advocates, a Coalition against Bayer Dangers spokesman, Philipp Mimkes, said Monday.

31 Picking Up the Pieces in Pakistan


Tue Aug 26, 10:10 AM ET

Pakistan’s five-month-old coalition government has fallen apart a week after it forced Pervez Musharraf to step down as President. Dispelling any hope that Musharraf’s departure would inaugurate an era of political stability, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced today that his minority party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), would pull out of the troubled government, retreating into opposition of the majority, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), led by Asif Ali Zardari.

32 Where China Goes Next


Tue Aug 26, 10:10 AM ET

With the Chinese media gushing over the success of the Olympics, the latest issue of Southern Window – a highbrow news magazine with a circulation of 500,000 – caught my eye. The cover illustration features a couple of law textbooks and a teacher with a wooden pointer giving instruction to a businessman and a government official. The coverline: “Rule of Law Starts With Limitation of Power.” Sounds boring? In China, it’s almost revolutionary.

33 Afghanistan’s Epidemic of Child Rape


2 hours, 33 minutes ago

Sweeta tucked her hands between her thighs and began to rock as she told her story. The details emerged in a monotone, her face expressionless. Last winter she had just stepped out of her house in Afghanistan’s northern province of Jowzjan to fetch water from the well when a neighbor approached her. He told her that her father was ill and had been taken to the hospital. He offered her a ride. When she refused, he threw her into his car, his hand over her mouth so no one would hear her scream. He took her to a room in the nearby army garrison. “And then he took off his pants,” she says. “He raped me.” Sweeta is only 11 years old.

34 Trying to Boo Mugabe Offstage

By ALEX PERRY, Time Magazine

1 hour, 34 minutes ago

With Zimbabwe’s economy in ruins, millions of its people living as refugees abroad and its security forces beating, torturing and killing dissenters to Robert Mugabe’s regime on a daily basis, Zimbabwe’s opposition could be forgiven for having a few things to get off their chests. On Tuesday, they did. For the first time in living memory, 84-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 28 years, was heckled and drowned out in parliament. As Mugabe tried to deliver a keynote speech opening a new session of parliament, opposition members – who now form a majority in the assembly and reject Mugabe’s authority to call them together – broke out in whistles, shouts and even song. From the opposition benches, where the MPs refused to stand, a chorus of “Zanu Yaora” rang out, meaning ‘Zanu is rotten.’ (Zanu is the shortened acronym for Mugabe’s party, the Zanu-PF or Zimbabwean African Union-Patriotic Front.) Mugabe tried to ignore the noise and continued to speak but many of his words were lost.
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35 Hurricane recovery confronts low literacy rate

By JOHN MORENO GONZALES, Associated Press Writer

2 hours, 28 minutes ago

NEW ORLEANS – Marsha Williams had always hesitated when mail arrived from the government. After Hurricane Katrina, she began to fear the letters.

One warned that her apartment building could be shut down because of unrepaired storm damage. There were legal notices and forms. What did they all mean? At age 51, Williams was embarrassed she could not read much more than her own name and address.

Three years after Katrina, residents of New Orleans are still buried in a blizzard of government paperwork. But for thousands of storm victims seeking federal aid, the challenge is made more difficult by a little-known obstacle: More than 40 percent of the city’s adults lack the literacy skills to comprehend basic government forms. And recovery programs have done little to ease the burden.

36 Mattel gets $100 mln in Bratz case, wanted billions

By Syantani Chatterjee, Reuters

1 hour, 39 minutes ago

RIVERSIDE, Calif (Reuters) – A California jury on Tuesday awarded Mattel Inc $100 million in damages in the copyright infringement case it brought against MGA Entertainment Inc over the Bratz doll franchise, which has steadily taken market share from Mattel’s iconic Barbie doll.

News of the award, which fell far short of the more than $2 billion in punitive damages that Mattel had asked the jury to award, sent the toy maker’s shares down 3.7 percent in after-hours trade.

The issue of whether MGA can continue to sell its flagship product will be decided at a later hearing by U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson, who presided over the three-month trial.

37 Judge orders release of Rosenberg trial evidence


1 hour, 9 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday ordered the release of a further eight grand jury transcripts from the 1951 espionage prosecution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a lawyer for the National Security Archives said.

The Rosenbergs were convicted in 1951 of passing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union and executed in 1953. Rosenberg supporters describe the case as a frame-up amid anti-communist McCarthyism hysteria and Cold War fear.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein allows the release of secret testimony from some key prosecution witnesses and offers historians an almost complete record of the secret testimony, lawyer David Vladeck said.

38 Retailers put off spring buying

By Alexandria Sage, Reuters

Tue Aug 26, 2:04 PM ET

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Cautious apparel buyers are foregoing orders to be delivered months down the road and instead are buying for the moment, unwilling to take on excess inventory and unsure over what the future holds.

At the Magic Marketplace apparel trade show in Las Vegas, the largest such convention in the United States, apparel vendors and the retailers that sell their styles agreed that placing orders in August for spring is the exception, rather than the rule, in a sharp change from recent years.

The reason is insecurity over inventory levels in a difficult U.S. retail environment, where shoppers have curtailed spending on items such as apparel and footwear amid other more pressing concerns, such as higher gasoline and food prices.

39 Medicare officials underestimated improper payments: report


Tue Aug 26, 4:15 AM ET

(Reuters) – Medicare officials had undervalued the amount of improper payments made for medical equipment in 2006 because it failed to review sufficient medical documents, according to a government report.

The report by the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office said Medicare had matched purchases only with limited medical records from suppliers and not with orders from doctors.

Medicare had concluded it made about $700 million in improper payments in 2006 for equipment such as wheelchairs, oxygen and surgical supplies. It assumed that 7.5 percent of the claims were incorrect.

40 California stop-smoking campaign saved $86 billion: report


Tue Aug 26, 7:42 AM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) – California’s large-scale tobacco control campaign has saved $86 billion in health care costs in its first 15 years, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

The $86 billion reduction in health costs, based on 2004 dollars, represents about a 50-fold return on the $1.8 billion California spent on the program, they said.

“The benefits of the program accrued very quickly and are very large,” Stanton Glantz, director of the University of California San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said in a statement.

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41 AT&T has high profile presence at Dem convention

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer

Tue Aug 26, 5:57 PM ET

The telecommunications giant is virtually everywhere, wining and dining delegates and members of Congress with a relentless schedule of luncheons and evening parties.

AT&T has the most high-profile corporate presence in Denver. It is a major sponsor at the convention, it is holding daily lunches for state delegations at the Pinnacle Club, with its startling views of the Rocky Mountain range, and is co-hosting other receptions as well.

On Monday, AT&T threw an exclusive party for the Blue Dogs, the House’s moderate and conservative Democrats, at the historic Mile High Station in downtown Denver. Among the guests was House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who in June led Blue Dogs in crafting a compromise bill that shielded telecommunications companies from lawsuits arising from the government’s terrorism-era warrantless eavesdropping.

42 Republicans crash Democratic party in Denver

By Jeff Mason, Reuters

1 hour, 55 minutes ago

DENVER (Reuters) – Who says the Democratic National Convention is just for Democrats?

The party of President George W. Bush and his would-be successor, Arizona Sen. John McCain, has sent a slew of its leading stars to crash Democratic White House hopeful Barack Obama’s party in the electoral battleground state of Colorado.

The former Massachusetts governor, who dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination and is said to be on McCain’s short list for a vice presidential running mate in the November 4 election, came to Denver for lunch with reporters and a splashy news conference to hammer home a message that Obama is not ready to lead.

43 Throw the flag against: Michelle Obama. Call: Illegal shift

By Steven Thomma, McClatchy Newspapers

Tue Aug 26, 12:51 PM ET

What happened: In her Monday night speech to the Democratic National Convention , Barack Obama’s wife said she gave up what sounded like a lucrative career for public service.

“In my own life, in my own small way, I have tried to give back to this country that has given me so much,” she said. “See, that’s why I left a job at a big law firm for a career in public service, working to empower young people to volunteer in their communities.”

Why that’s wrong: She omitted the fact that she later went on to a high paying job at the University of Chicago Medical Center , where she worked in community and external affairs. In March 2005 , she was promoted to vice president for community and external affairs, and her salary jumped from $121,910 to $316,962 , which included a one-time bonus. In 2006, her salary was $273,618 , according to the Chicago Tribune .

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44 Ford to spend $75M to retool plant for small cars

By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer

Tue Aug 26, 4:19 PM ET

WAYNE, Mich. – Demand for Ford Motor Co.’s Focus and other small cars has been superheated ever since gas prices headed toward $4 per gallon in May, and since then, Ford hasn’t been able to build the Focus quickly enough.

On Tuesday, though, the automaker took two steps toward further cranking up Focus production, announcing that it would sink $75 million into the body-making part of an SUV factory next door to the Wayne Assembly Plant, where the Focus is built.

If demand stays strong, the SUV plant will quickly start producing Focus bodies, eliminating what is now a bottleneck that is slowing production.

45 Hog producer Smithfield Foods swings to 1Q loss

By EMILY FREDRIX, AP Business Writer

Tue Aug 26, 3:03 PM ET

MILWAUKEE – Smithfield Foods Inc. swung to a loss in its fiscal first quarter as high commodity costs hurt the nation’s largest pork producer and processor. The commodities market is so volatile, its chief executive said, the company doesn’t even want to try to predict its future earnings.

Costs for key ingredients like corn and soybean meal were up more than 33 percent in the quarter and the price it took to raise hogs soared 25 percent. The hog production sector lost $38.8 million – down from a profit of $93 million a year ago – on the higher costs.

Overall, Smithfield said Tuesday, it lost $12.6 million, or 9 cents per share, in the period, down from a profit of $54.6 million, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier. The company said the loss was due in part to a $20.1 million write-down in the value of commodity contracts, which hurt earnings by 15 cents a share.

46 FDIC: 117 troubled banks, highest level since 2003

By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer

Tue Aug 26, 4:03 PM ET

WASHINGTON – The number of troubled U.S. banks leaped to the highest level in about five years and bank profits plunged by 86 percent in the second quarter, as slumps in the housing and credit markets continued.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data released Tuesday show 117 banks and thrifts were considered to be in trouble in the second quarter, up from 90 in the prior quarter and the biggest tally since mid-2003.

The FDIC also said that federally-insured banks and savings institutions earned $5 billion in the April-June period, down from $36.8 billion a year earlier. The roughly 8,500 banks and thrifts also set aside a record $50.2 billion to cover losses from soured mortgages and other loans in the second quarter.

47 Citi pays $18M for questioned credit card practice

By MADLEN READ, AP Business Writer

Tue Aug 26, 4:25 PM ET

NEW YORK – Citigroup Inc. will pay nearly $18 million in refunds and settlement charges for taking $14 million from customers’ credit card accounts, California’s attorney general said Tuesday.

Citigroup will make refunds to the 53,000 customers affected, and pay $3.5 million in damages and civil penalties to the state of California, which had been investigating the questionable practices for three years, the attorney general said.

The bank will also pay 10 percent interest to California customers, who accounted for $1.6 million of the money “swept” out of accounts and into a Citi fund between 1992 and 2003.

48 Fannie, Freddie capital can absorb losses: report


Tue Aug 26, 1:41 PM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Fannie Mae (FNM.N) and Freddie Mac (FRE.N), the two biggest U.S. mortgage finance giants, have enough capital to absorb probable losses through the end of the year, reducing the need for emergency government support, according to Citigroup equity research.

Estimated second-half losses of more than $1 billion each would likely leave the two with excess capital over minimums of $20.3 billion for Fannie Mae and $12.7 billion for Freddie Mac, Citigroup analyst Bradley Ball said on a conference call on Tuesday.

“Our analysis suggests they have breathing room, and where they probably need to raise additional capital at some point, there is no urgency to do so,” said Ball. He recommended buying shares despite “challenges.”

49 Fed saw weak growth, financial stress: minutes

By David Lawder, Reuters

Tue Aug 26, 4:21 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal Reserve monetary policy-makers this month saw a weakening economic outlook and financial market stress as supporting the case for steady interest rates despite persistent concerns about inflation.

At their latest policy meeting on August 5, members of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee agreed that softening labor markets, high energy prices and a continuing housing contraction would weigh on future growth, leaving U.S. economic activity “damped” for several quarters.

“In addition, members saw continuing downside risks to this outlook, particularly reflecting possible further deterioration in financial conditions,” the Fed said in minutes of the meeting released on Tuesday.

50 German economy nearing danger zone, surveys show

by William Ickes, AFP

Tue Aug 26, 2:48 PM ET

FRANKFURT (AFP) – Germany faces the prospect of a full-blown recession after key surveys on Tuesday showed business and consumer confidence falling away in Europe’s economic powerhouse.

The economy contracted 0.5 percent in the three months to June and economists, in light of the latest poor data, now question whether it could tip into recession, defined as two straight quarters of falling output.

A monthly business climate index calculated by the economic research institute Ifo fell from 97.5 points in July to 94.8 points this month, its lowest level since August 2005.


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  1. From Yahoo News Science

    51 Cows seem to know which way is north

    By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer

    Mon Aug 25, 5:02 PM ET

    WASHINGTON – Talk about animal magnetism, cows seem to have a built-in compass. No bull: Somehow, cattle seem to know how to find north and south, say researchers who studied satellite photos of thousands of cows around the world.

    Most cattle that were grazing or resting tended to align their bodies in a north-south direction, a team of German and Czech researchers reports in Tuesday’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    And the finding held true regardless of what continent the cattle were on, according to the study led by Hynek Burda and Sabine Begall of the faculty of biology at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.

    52 Monkeys reward friends and relatives

    By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer

    Mon Aug 25, 5:01 PM ET

    WASHINGTON – For capuchin monkeys, it seems, it’s better to both give and receive, than just to receive. At least, that’s what researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta have found.

    Monkeys were given a choice of receiving a food reward, or receiving a food reward and also having another monkey receive food.

    When paired with relative or “friend” the monkeys primarily went for the double reward, known as the “prosocial” choice, researchers led by Frans de Waal report in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    53 Tests clear way for "Big Bang" experiment

    By Robert Evans, Reuters

    Mon Aug 25, 12:16 PM ET

    GENEVA (Reuters) – Tests have cleared the way for the start-up next month of an experiment to restage a mini-version underground of the “Big Bang” which created the universe 15 billion years ago, the project chief said on Monday.

    Lyn Evans of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) said weekend trials in the vast underground LHC machine in which the particle-smashing experiment will take place over the coming months and years “went without a hitch.”

    “We look forward to a resounding success when we make our first attempt to send a beam all the way round the LHC,” said Evans, who heads the multinational team of scientists that shaped the project and the machine, the Large Hadron Collider.

    54 Going veggie can slash your carbon footprint: study


    Tue Aug 26, 11:19 AM ET

    BERLIN (AFP) – Giving up meat could drastically reduce your carbon footprint, with meat-eaters’ diets responsible for almost twice the emissions of those of vegetarians, a German study said on Tuesday.

    A diet with meat is responsible for producing in a year the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving a mid-sized car 4,758 kilometres (2,956 miles), the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IOeW) said.

    But the food a vegetarian consumes in 12 months is responsible for generating the same emissions as driving 2,427 kilometres, the IOeW said in a study commissioned by independent consumer protection group Foodwatch.

    55 McCain to Bush: Keep Space Shuttle Options Open

    Brian Berger, Space News Staff Writer

    2 hours, 8 minutes ago

    WASHINGTON – Acknowledging that a NASA authorization bill is unlikely to be enacted this year, three Republican senators – including presidential candidate John McCain (R-Ariz.) – have written President George W. Bush imploring him to direct NASA to hold off for at least a year taking any action that would preclude the agency from flying space shuttles beyond 2010.

    McCain, joined by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and David Vitter (R-La.), also cited Russia’s recent military incursion into neighboring Georgia earlier this month as evidence that Russia’s continued cooperation on the international space station program should not be taken for granted.

    Once the space shuttle is retired, Russia stands to possess the only means of transporting astronauts to and from the space station until the shuttle’s successor – the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and Ares 1 launcher – comes on line around 2015.

    56 Mars Lander Digs Deeper Into Mars

    Andrea Thompson, Senior Writer

    Tue Aug 26, 1:00 PM ET

    For its next trick, NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander will dig a trench in the Martian surface three times deeper than any it has dug so far, as it completes its original three month-mission and embarks upon its extended mission.

    Today marked the last day of the 90-sol (1 sol is one Martian day) primary mission since the spacecraft landed on Mars on May 25. Phoenix will continue its mission through the end of September, as NASA announced in July.

    “As we near what we originally expected to be the full length of the mission, we are all thrilled with how well the mission is going,” said Phoenix project manager Barry Goldstein of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

    57 Mars Rover Begins Climb Out of Vast Crater Staff

    Tue Aug 26, 5:45 PM ET

    NASA’s Opportunity rover is slowly but surely hauling itself out of a vast Martian crater after nearly a year plumbing the interior for secrets of the red planet’s ancient past.

    Opportunity will take the same route it used to enter Victoria crater on Sept. 11, 2007, after a year of scouting from the rim. Engineers want the rover to make a graceful exit after seeing an electric current spike in its left front wheel – a reminder of a similar spike that occurred when its robotic twin Spirit lost use of a front right wheel in 2006.

    “If Opportunity were driving with only five wheels, like Spirit, it probably would never get out of Victoria Crater,” said Bill Nelson, a rover mission manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. “We also know from experience with Spirit that if Opportunity were to lose the use of a wheel after it is out on the level ground, mobility should not be a problem.”

    58 NASA’s Newest Space Telescope Renamed Fermi

    Clara Moskowitz, Staff Writer

    Tue Aug 26, 3:33 PM ET

    NASA’s new GLAST space telescope is up and running in orbit, and going by a brand new name.

    On Tuesday, NASA rechristened the Gamma-ray observatory the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope after Italian scientist Enrico Fermi, a pioneer in high-energy physics.

    “Enrico Fermi was the first person to suggest how cosmic particles could be accelerated to high speeds,” said Paul Hertz, chief scientist for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. “His theory provides the foundation for understanding the powerful phenomena his namesake telescope will discover.”

    59 TV’s ‘Mythbusters’ Tackle Moon Landing Hoax Claims

    Robert Z. Pearlman,

    Tue Aug 26, 5:45 PM ET

    In 2005, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, special effects experts better known by the title of their popular Discovery Channel series, “MythBusters”, were asked during an interview about the myth they would most like to test provided an unlimited budget.

    “Jamie and I have done the research, and figured that the only way to end the debate about the ‘myth’ of the Apollo moon landing is to go there,” Savage replied to Slashdot, a technology news website, about the belief held by some that the United States faked the lunar landings.

    Three years later, the Mythbusters are ready to share the results of their ‘trip’ as they devote their next show, airing on Wednesday, to the moon landing hoax claims.

    60 FDA Allows Irradiation of Your Vegetables

    Christopher Wanjek, LiveScience’s Bad Medicine Columnist

    Tue Aug 26, 2:51 PM ET

    The Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it will allow food producers to irradiate spinach and iceberg lettuce to extend shelf life and limit the growth of food-borne pathogens, such as Salmonella and E. coli.

    Irradiation is safe and effective, the FDA says. But in not addressing the root problem – a centralized food-processing and distribution system riddled with inherent flaws that allow for the mass distribution of contaminated food – irradiation is as effective as using a hammer to drive in a screw. There are better tools.

    And “safe” really only applies to consumers, not the workers tasked with irradiating the vegetables. At best, irradiation is a Band-Aid solution to keep a broken system hobbling along.

    61 Animal Chatter More Varied Than Thought

    LiveScience Staff

    Tue Aug 26, 11:11 AM ET

    Animals know how to speak up, pipe down, cut to the chase or spin a long yarn in order to stand out amidst the din when it comes to communicating with peers, a new set of studies suggests.

    A special August issue of the Journal of Comparative Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, presents a host of studies that investigate the ways that animals adapt their calls, chirps, barks and whistles to their social situation.

  2. Tonight was just horrible.

    Tia couldn’t publish and sent me an emergency email that I only looked for 10 minutes after the deadline (I have screwed up in the past and didn’t want to panic this time).

    So I changed my title and hit publish which screwed up OND and pine and I got a swift rocket ride to oblivion under the avalanche of convention diaries (maybe pine not so much).

    But I don’t care at all.

    • Edger on August 27, 2008 at 11:16

    Heh! Thanks for that one ek. 😉

  3. If a couple of questionable guys with rifles and only a “vague plan” to kill McCain ( much though I despise his policies I don’t advocate that kind of thing ) were found at the Repub convention would they be considered a credible threat? Hmmmm….

    Today I have to sit for six hours interviewing Manager candidates for our unit with a guy I absolutely despise and won’t be getting paid for it. I am not bitter at all!!!!!

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