The Morning News is an Open Thread
120 Stories. Top, World, U.S., and Science
|From Yahoo News Top Stories|
1 Obama: Economic rescue will trump deficit fight
By BETH FOUHY and DAVID ESPO, Associated Press Writers
11 mins ago
|CHICAGO – The economy growing weaker, President-elect Barack Obama said Tuesday that recovery efforts will trump deficit concerns when he takes office in January. Yet he pledged a “page-by-page, line-by-line” budget review to root out unneeded spending.
The president-elect set no goals for reducing the federal deficit – now in record territory and headed ever higher – an obvious contrast to Monday’s announcement that he hopes to create a recession-busting 2.5 million jobs by 2010.
He spoke as he appointed Peter Orszag, currently head of the Congressional Budget Office, to be his own budget director.
2 Massive new programs aimed at loosening credit
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer
4 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – Rolling out powerful new weapons against the financial meltdown, the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve pledged $800 billion Tuesday to blast through blockades on credit cards, auto loans, mortgages and other borrowing. Total bailout commitments, loans and pledges of backing neared a staggering $7 trillion.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who has been criticized for constantly revising the original $700 billion rescue program, said the administration was considering even more changes in its final two months in office.
Reports on the nation’s economic health weren’t getting any better. The Commerce Department said the overall economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, declined at an annual rate of 0.5 percent in the July-September quarter, even worse than the initial 0.3 percent estimated a month ago as consumer spending fell by the largest amount in 28 years.
3 Venezuela’s Chavez welcomes Russian warships
By CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKER, Associated Press Writer
15 mins ago
|LA GUAIRA, Venezuela – Russian warships sailed into port in Venezuela on Tuesday in a show of strength as Moscow seeks to counter U.S. influence in Latin America. Russia’s first such deployment in the Caribbean since the Cold War is timed to coincide with President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Venezuela, the first ever by a Russian president.
Russian sailors dressed in black-and-white uniforms lined up along the bow of the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko as it docked in La Guaira, near Caracas, and Venezuelan troops greeted them with cannons in a 21-gun salute. Two support vessels also docked, and the nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great, Russia’s largest navy ship, anchored offshore.
Chavez, basking in the support of a powerful ally and traditional U.S. rival, wants Russian help to build a nuclear reactor, invest in oil and natural gas projects and bolster his leftist opposition to U.S. influence in the region.
4 Marine archaeologists find remains of slave ship
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer
19 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – Marine archaeologists have found the remains of a slave ship wrecked off the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1841, an accident that set free the ancestors of many current residents of those islands. Some 192 Africans survived the sinking of the Spanish ship Trouvadore off the British-ruled islands, where the slave trade was banned.
Over the years the ship had been forgotten, said researcher Don Keith, so when the discovery connected the ship to current residents the first response “was a kind of shock, a lack of comprehension,” he explained in a briefing organized by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
But after word got out “people really got on board with it,” he said, and the local museum has assisted the researchers. He said this is the only known wreck of a ship engaged in the illegal slave trade.
5 Germ alert: Steer clear of flatbed chicken trucks
By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer
2 hrs 29 mins ago
|ATLANTA – You’ve heard about the chicken that crossed the road. But have you heard the one about the chickens traveling down the road? It’s no laughing matter. Crates of chickens being trucked along the highway in the back of an open truck can shoot a bunch of nasty bacteria into the cars behind them, researchers have found.
Drivers stuck behind such a truck should “pass them quickly,” advised study co-author Ana Rule, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University.
Even so, it’s not clear that germy debris will make you sick. None of the scientists who studied this problem got sick. And the disease-causing bacteria in question are normally spread by food or water, not air.
6 Congress expecting more sacrifices from automakers
By TOM KRISHER and KEN THOMAS, Associated Press Writers
1 hr 28 mins ago
|DETROIT – A list of job cuts, shuttered factories, canceled bonuses and commitments to fuel-efficient cars won’t be enough next week when U.S. automakers get another shot to persuade Congress to give them $25 billion in loans.
Through the Thanksgiving weekend, teams will be tagging more meat to throw at skeptical lawmakers who vilified the automakers’ top executives the last time they went to Washington. That means executive pay cuts, union concessions, and perhaps even higher fuel economy requirements and a glimpse at top-secret product plans.
At General Motors Corp., the largest of the Detroit Three and probably the most needy, teams are preparing a detailed plan, first for GM’s board on Monday, then for delivery to Congress by a Dec. 2 deadline. The House Financial Services Committee plans to hear testimony on the loan requests Dec. 5.
7 FDIC’s list of ‘problem’ banks swells to 171
By MADLEN READ, AP Business Writer
2 hrs 42 mins ago
|NEW YORK – The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday the list of banks it considers to be in trouble shot up nearly 50 percent to 171 during the third quarter – yet another sign of escalating problems among the institutions controlling Americans’ deposits.
The 171 banks on the FDIC’s “problem list” encompass only about 2 percent of the nearly 8,500 FDIC-insured institutions. Still, the increase from 117 in the second quarter is sharp, and the current tally is the highest since late 1995.
“We’ve had profound problems in our financial markets that are taking a rising toll on the real economy,” said FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair in a statement, adding that Tuesday’s report “reflects these challenges.”
8 Protesters swarm Thai airport, takeoffs suspended
By AMBIKA AHUJA and GRANT PECK, Associated Press Writers
1 hr 21 mins ago
|BANGKOK, Thailand – Protesters swarmed Thailand’s main international airport Tuesday, forcing the cancellation of departing flights just hours after their comrades opened fire on government supporters in a clash on the streets of the capital.
It was the boldest move yet by the People’s Alliance for Democracy in a monthslong campaign to topple Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, whom it accuses of being the puppet of a disgraced fugitive predecessor, billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra.
Tuesday’s events saw for the first time the open use of guns by the alliance’s so-called guards and the entanglement of foreigners – the thousands of tourists trapped at the international airport.
9 Jury deliberating whether MySpace hoax was crime
By LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent
Tue Nov 25, 4:21 pm ET
|LOS ANGELES – Jurors on Tuesday began deliberating whether a Missouri mother conspired with her daughter and an assistant to harass a 13-year-old girl with Internet messages that allegedly prompted the girl’s suicide.
In Monday’s closing arguments, prosecutors stressed the emotional component – the suicide of Megan Meier, who was allegedly drawn into an Internet ruse devised by Lori Drew, the mother of Megan’s one-time best friend.
She is accused of conspiring with her daughter, Sarah, then 13, and her 18-year-old assistant to cause emotional distress to Megan.
10 U.S. officials find trace of melamine in baby formula
By Susan Heavey, Reuters
23 mins ago
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. health officials have found trace amounts of the chemical melamine in one sample of infant formula sold in the United States, a Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
“There’s no basis for concern because we’re talking about trace levels that are so low … that there’s absolutely no risk,” FDA spokeswoman Judy Leon said.
Melamine-tainted formula was found earlier this year in China, where thousands of children fell ill and several died. In September, the FDA sought to assure parents and said there was no similar contamination threat in the United States.
11 U.S. launches support plan as contraction takes hold
By Bill Rigby, Reuers
Tue Nov 25, 2:24 pm ET
|NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve unveiled an $800 billion plan on Tuesday to buy mortgage-related debt and back consumer loans as it tries to revive the U.S. lending market and steer the global economy away from a deep recession.
As the Fed announced its move, the United States posted the sharpest fall in gross domestic product since 2001, likely joining Europe in recession, while China’s economy is now expected to grow next year at the slowest pace since 1990.
Mining company BHP Billiton’s $66 billion bid for rival Rio Tinto became the latest corporate casualty of global economic turmoil, with BHP blaming the financial crisis and sliding metals prices.
12 Economy shrinks at fastest pace in seven years
By Lucia Mutikani, Reuters
Tue Nov 25, 4:38 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy contracted at its fastest pace in seven years in the third quarter as consumer spending plunged to a 28-year low, data showed on Tuesday, raising the specter of a deeper recession.
Separate reports showed U.S. home prices continued their downward spiral, with the cost of single-family homes plunging by a record 17.4 percent in September from a year earlier.
The data painted a dismal picture of the troubled economy and backed views the Federal Reserve could push benchmark lending rates to an unprecedented zero percent by early 2009.
13 Recession keeps more Americans home for holidays
By Jasmin Melvin, Reuters
Tue Nov 25, 3:42 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More Americans will stay close to home during the holiday season because of financial woes instead of traveling to see family, marking the first decline in Thanksgiving travel since 2002, a motorist group said.
The American Automobile Association expects 600,000 fewer people to travel more than 50 miles from their homes this Thanksgiving, the fourth consecutive U.S. holiday where travel has declined.
“The overall state of the economy continues to present real challenges for some Americans looking to travel,” Chief Executive Robert Darbelnet said in a statement.
14 Rio Tinto says can weather storm without BHP
By James Regan, Reuters
1 hr 51 mins ago
|SYDNEY (Reuters) – Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd sees no need to raise equity and is confident of selling assets soon to pay off debt, its chairman said on Wednesday, a day after rival BHP Billiton Ltd dropped its bid for the firm.
BHP’s shock decision on Tuesday to pull its $66 billion bid sent Rio’s London shares plunging by almost 40 percent, raising concerns that Rio would struggle to sell assets and bring down its $39 billion in net debt during a severe global economic downturn.
But Rio Chairman Paul Skinner, speaking at a scheduled business breakfast, said the group was comfortable with its financial position, dismissed market speculation that Rio would now need to raise equity and said it would make asset sales in the next few months.
15 U.S. urges continued tough Russia line over Georgia
By Sue Pleming, Reuters
2 hrs 50 mins ago
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia is still failing to meet its ceasefire obligations with Georgia and Washington’s European allies must not overlook this and rush to embrace Moscow, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday.
Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said Moscow must pull back its forces as agreed in a French-brokered ceasefire that ended the war in August before there could be “business as usual.”
“I am worried that Russia is not fulfilling its most important obligations under the ceasefire agreement. There are many partners of ours who would like to sweep that all under the rug and return to some semblance of normal operations,” Bryza said in an interview with Reuters.
16 More Americans are getting on the bus
1 hr 58 mins ago
|NEW YORK (Reuters) – Many Americans have abandoned their love of getting behind the wheel during the last year, and opted to hop on buses instead, according to a study released this week.
Inter-city bus service jumped 9.8 percent between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008, the highest growth rate in more than 40 years.
“The growth in intercity bus traffic is being driven by a number of factors, chiefly the spiking price of fuel over the past year,” said Joseph Schwieterman, professor of public service and director of the Chaddick Institute, who directed the study, released on Monday.
17 U.S. "surge" could prop up allies in Afghan south
By Jon Hemming, Reuters
Tue Nov 25, 8:15 am ET
|KABUL (Reuters) – British, Canadian and Dutch troops are doing their best to fight the Taliban in southern Afghanistan with limited resources, but with progress slow, the United States is considering a surge of its own firepower to tip the balance.
The decision whether to send more than 20,000 extra U.S. troops to Afghanistan to safeguard presidential polls next year is likely to be one of the first faced by President-elect Barack Obama when he becomes commander-in-chief in January.
“The main problem is that there aren’t enough troops. It’s just a big area and you need a boat-load more people,” a U.S. defense official said.
18 Black Friday weekend could see 5 percent fewer shoppers
Tue Nov 25, 6:02 am ET
|SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Up to 128 million shoppers and would-be shoppers could be expected this holiday weekend, but the numbers represent a drop of more than 5 percent from a year ago, according to a survey released Tuesday.
Some 49 million U.S. shoppers already plan to hit stores this coming holiday weekend, prompted by pent-up demand and lured by deep discounts, according to the BIGresearch study for the National Retail Federation (NRF).
An additional 79 million would-be shoppers are playing wait-and-see, planning to suss out the weekend promotions before deciding whether to shop, the survey found.
19 Bank "went wrong" in real estate: Citigroup CEO
34 mins ago
|NEW YORK (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc Chief Executive Vikram Pandit on Tuesday blamed prior management for diving too deeply into real estate, causing losses that led to this week’s massive government bailout of the second-largest U.S. bank by assets.
“What went wrong is we had tremendous concentration in the sense we put a lot of our money to work against U.S. real estate,” Pandit said in an interview on PBS’ Charlie Rose show. “We got here by lending money, and putting money to work in the U.S. real estate market, in a size that was probably larger than what we ought to have done on a diversification basis.”
The government late Sunday rescued Citigroup by agreeing to shoulder most potential losses from a $306 billion portfolio of risky assets, and by injecting $20 billion of new capital, in its biggest effort to prevent a large U.S. bank from failing.
20 UN to send Obasanjo on second Congo peace mission
1 hr 50 mins ago
|KINSHASA, DR Congo (AFP) – Special envoy Olusegun Obasanjo will embark on a second peace mission to Congo this weekend, the UN said Tuesday, as AFP learnt of a row developing with Kinshasa over Indian peacekeeping troops.
Obasanjo, a former Nigerian president who undertook a first trip as UN envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo on November 15-16, will arrive in Kinshasa on Saturday and hold meetings with President Joseph Kabila, the UN said.
Obasanjo will then travel to Goma, capital of eastern Nord-Kivu province and the frontline of the conflict between Laurent Nkunda’s rebels, the Congolese army and an assortment of militias.
21 Zimbabwe cholera crisis worsens as political talks resume
by Aderogba Obisesan, AFP
Tue Nov 25, 3:53 pm ET
|JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Mounting cholera deaths in Zimbabwe piled pressure Tuesday on the country’s squabbling leaders to salvage a power-sharing accord as as they relaunched deadlocked unity talks.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned in Geneva that the outbreak could snowball across southern Africa, pointing to reports from South Africa’s health ministry of suspected cholera cases in Botswana.
“The cholera outbreak is not yet under control. Reported cases have reached 8,887, with 366 deaths as at 25 November. This is an increase of 1,604 cases and 53 more deaths,” said OCHA, reporting the new toll figures for Zimbabwe.
22 Argentina unveils 21 billion USD in infrastructure megaplan
51 mins ago
|BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – President Cristina Kirchner on Tuesday unveiled a massive public spending plan to pump more than 21 billion dollars into Argentina’s infrastructure and counter effects of the global cash crunch.
“On December 15 we will launch the most ambitious public works programs in memory,” said Kirchner, making the announcement at the closing ceremony of the trade association representing builders.
Argentina expects economic growth to slow to four percent in 2009, down from 6.5 percent expected for 2008. This follows years of growth nearing nine percent following the 2002 crisis.
23 Young Americans learn budget basics at theme parks
by Nathalie Laville, AFP
Tue Nov 25, 12:30 pm ET
|RICHMOND, Virginia (AFP) – For one day last week, Antoine was not 13 years old but 35 and married with children. He was making 4,800 dollars a month and suddenly had to worry about paying taxes and meeting the bills.
He was taking part in an educational project aimed at introducing notions of personal finance and responsibility to middle grade and high school students by allowing them to become adults for a day.
The “JA Finance Park” aims to increase the awareness among young Americans about the cost of living by tasking them with managing a monthly budget that included transportation, lodging, utilities and outings.
24 Russian politician ordered Politkovskaya murder: defence lawyer
by Svetlana Ivanova, AFP
Tue Nov 25, 11:13 am ET
|MOSCOW (AFP) – The murder of outspoken journalist Anna Politkovskaya was ordered by a Russian politician based inside the country in revenge for critical articles, a defence lawyer said Tuesday.
The lawyer’s comments — which were based on files of the case that he had seen — came as the judge in the case decided to reopen the trial to the public just days after declaring it closed.
“In the files of the case, the motive and the individual who ordered the killing are mentioned,” said lawyer Murad Musayev, who is defending one of the four men charged in connection with the killing.
25 Discontent over Maliki threatens US-Iraqi security pact
By Jane Arraf, The Christian Science Monitor
Tue Nov 25, 4:00 am ET
|Baghdad – A wave of discontent with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has spilled over into opposition to a crucial pact governing a US troop withdrawal from Iraq, leaving Iraqi officials scrambling to find enough votes to pass the legislation in parliament.
In a rare coordinated campaign, several cabinet members have publicly warned of dire economic repercussions and security woes if the deal isn’t approved and US forces begin decamping Jan. 1.
Iraq’s most influential Shiite spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has called for politicians of all parties and sects to support the deal. But against a backdrop of parliamentary wrangling – which included a brawl in parliament – the government has lowered its expectations for a broad consensus.
26 In Michigan’s auto belt, it’s nail-biting time
By Amanda Paulson, The Christian Science Monitor
Tue Nov 25, 3:00 am ET
|Warren, Mich. – For Jackie Kelly-Smith, the General Motors pensions that support her and her husband, and pay for their healthcare, are on the line.
Dan Dostine, a furnace repairman at Chrysler, is worried he may lose his $33-an-hour job, with few prospects for other decent-paying work in the area.
The mayor of Warren, Mich., is on pins and needles, wondering if his city’s already-strapped budget will take a hit in the event that revenues from automakers – which make up 15 percent or more of the total – slide precipitously.
27 Schools feel pinch from economic woes
By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo, The Christian Science Monitor
Mon Nov 24, 3:00 am ET
|School districts across the United States are tightening their belts in anticipation of a meager fiscal diet that could carry into 2011.
As state and local revenue declines, officials are looking for the trims least likely to harm the quality of education. Although some districts have rainy-day funds to tap, concern is growing that students, particularly those who are struggling to learn or who are homeless, are going to feel the pinch.
Just over a third of superintendents in a recent national survey said they’ve already increased the size of classes because of the downturn, according to the American Association of School Administrators, an organization in Arlington, Va., that supports high standards for public education. Thirty percent of superintendents are considering layoffs. Of the two-thirds who said their districts are inadequately funded, 83 percent think it’s detrimental to their ability to close achievement gaps for minority groups.
|From Yahoo News World|
28 Mystery ‘Eleanor Rigby’ document goes to auction
By GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 25, 1:20 pm ET
|LONDON – Eleanor Rigby: fact or fiction?
That question, which has bedeviled Beatles’ fans for decades, may be answered in part by a 1911 hospital payroll sheet to be auctioned in London on Thursday.
The document, sent by Paul McCartney in 1990 to the director of a music charity who had asked for funding, contains the signature of a scullery maid named “E. Rigby” who worked in a Liverpool hospital.
29 Sunni might withhold support for US pact
By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 25, 3:43 pm ET
|BAGHDAD – A leader of the largest Sunni Arab bloc in parliament hinted he might withhold support for a proposed pact that would allow American troops to stay in Iraq through 2011, making it difficult for the Shiite-led government to win the big victory it needs in Wednesday’s vote.
A comfortable parliamentary majority would ensure the legitimacy of an agreement that sets a clear timetable for U.S. withdrawal after years of war and could lead to full sovereignty for Iraq.
But intense debate and backroom dealing continued over the pact, which has supporters and detractors from both Sunni and Shiite communities jockeying for political gain ahead of provincial and general elections next year.
30 Tibetan exiles waver between hope, confusion
By TIM SULLIVAN, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 25, 2:27 pm ET
|NEW DELHI – On one side is China, the world’s most populous country, with its generations of experience in controlling its population and 1.8 million police.
On the other is a poor Himalayan region, home to some 5 million Tibetans. Its most prominent leader hasn’t been home in almost five decades, and its best-known politicians are in exile. When Tibetans tried to stand up to Beijing last March, the unrest was brutally quashed.
So the idea of hundreds of Tibetan exiles gathering from around the world to discuss the future of their freedom struggle might seem like an exercise in pointlessness. Or perhaps hopelessness.
31 Some fearful Christians hope to flee Iraq
By DENIS D. GRAY, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 25, 12:01 pm ET
|TAL KAEEF, Iraq – Young Christian women in tight jeans mingle easily with Arab matrons draped in black, head-to-toe robes. Both church spires and mosque minarets rise above the low-slung houses. Violence is rare.
“The people here look out for each other – Arabs, Christians, Kurds, Yazidis. If all of Iraq was like this, it would be a great place,” said 1st Lt. Jeremy Glosson, leading a U.S. Army patrol through Tal Kaeef’s medieval-like alleys.
And yet, many Christians here say they want to flee a town where their ancestors have lived for generations and, if possible, to abandon a country where their religion has survived for some 2,000 years – longer than in Europe – but one they fear is growing ever more violent.
32 IMF approves Pakistan loan package
By STEPHEN GRAHAM, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 25, 12:45 pm ET
|ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The economic crisis threatening Pakistan eased Tuesday after the International Monetary Fund agreed a $7.6 billion bailout, though experts warned that the militancy-torn country remains at risk without more aid from the West and painful reforms at home.
The IMF loan program approved Monday banished the immediate risk of a currency crash and debt default in a country already creaking under the pressure of 25 percent inflation and slowing economic growth.
The Pakistani rupee had slid some 20 percent since March as economic storm clouds gathered around Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country increasingly seen as vital to stabilizing neighboring Afghanistan.
33 UN says aid to Darfurians can’t go on indefinitely
By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 25, 9:39 am ET
|KALMA CAMP, Sudan – The U.N. humanitarian chief warned Tuesday that international aid for millions of Darfur residents can not go on indefinitely and said the Sudanese government and rebels must negotiate a solution that would allow the displaced to return home.
John Holmes made the comments as he visited Kalma camp, home to around 100,000 of the more than 2.5 million people displaced by fighting in the large region of western Sudan since 2003.
Earlier this month, Holmes appealed for $2.2 billion in donations to fund U.N. aid for Sudan, most of which would go to Darfur. The world body is providing food and other supplies not only to residents of camps but also to much of the remainder of Darfur’s 4.7 million population who still live in their homes.
34 China expands police presence below Mount Everest
By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press Writer
Tue Nov 25, 11:11 am ET
|BEIJING – China’s border police have significantly beefed up their presence at the base of Mount Everest amid rising visitor numbers and increasing cases of theft, prostitution and gambling, state media reported Tuesday.
The influx of people to the area has brought increased crime to the north face of Everest, and Chinese authorities last year pledged to boost the police presence following reports of thefts of food, oxygen tanks and climbing gear.
Visitors to Everest also complain about unethical guides, tricksters selling defective oxygen bottles, prostitution and gambling on the Tibetan side.
35 UAW head says inaction on bailout ‘not an option’
Thu Nov 20, 2:25 pm ET
|DETROIT – United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger urged Congress and the Bush administration to act immediately on loans for U.S. automakers, saying one or more of them could collapse by the end of the year without it.
Gettelfinger spoke at a Detroit news conference just as reports surfaced that a bipartisan group of auto-state senators had reached a compromise on bailing out Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp.
The union president called on Congress to vote on the loans on Thursday, but that appeared unlikely. Congressional officials say Democratic leaders have decided to put off a bailout vote until December and will insist that the automakers first come up with a plan showing how the money would help transform their industry.
36 Refugees: Troops go on looting spree at Congo camp
By ANITA POWELL, Associated Press Writer
Mon Nov 24, 5:58 pm ET
|KIBATI, Congo – Government soldiers went on an overnight looting and shooting spree in a sprawling Congolese refugee camp, stealing from hungry and traumatized people who have fled fighting with rebels in the country’s east, witnesses said Monday.
They said one woman was killed by a stray bullet Sunday night in Kibati, a village north of the eastern provincial capital of Goma that has been overrun by about 70,000 refugees.
Patrice Sebahunde, 60, said he was awakened at 10 p.m. by four soldiers pointing guns in his face. They took his family’s food, clothes and their plastic water bucket.
37 Justice done as Matisse finds a new home
By JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press Writer
Mon Nov 24, 3:13 pm ET
|PARIS – Finally, justice for Henri Matisse’s “Le Mur Rose.”
The oil painting, which was stolen from a rich German Jewish family sometime after 1937 and kept by a Nazi officer responsible for delivering poison gas to Auschwitz, is to be given Thursday to a British charity that supports medical rescue in Israel.
The story of how “Le Mur Rose,” or “The Pink Wall,” made its way through the war to France is as surprising as the colorful painting itself, and steeped with death, mystery and injustice. Stolen from Jews, proceeds from the expected sale of the painting will go toward the Magen David Adom network of ambulances, paramedics and emergency treatment centers in Israel.
38 Russian FM blames Georgia for shooting incident
By MATT SIEGEL, Associated Press Writer
Mon Nov 24, 1:31 pm ET
|AKHMAJI, Georgia – Russia’s foreign minister has suggested that Georgia’s U.S.-backed government staged a shooting incident near a motorcade carrying the presidents of Poland and Georgia in order to discredit Russia and South Ossetia.
The shooting late Sunday stoked anger months after Georgia and Russia fought a brief war over the separatist region of South Ossetia. The August conflict worsened Moscow’s relations with the West.
It also left South Ossetia entirely under the control of separatist forces and Russian troops. Before the war, Georgian forces held parts of South Ossetia.
39 Georgia, Ukraine years away from NATO seats: U.S.
By Susan Cornwell, Reuters
1 hr 19 mins ago
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – NATO will probably not offer membership to Ukraine and Georgia for years to come, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday before an alliance meeting next week that is expected to discuss the issue.
The Bush administration has supported putting the two former Soviet republics on a formal path, called a Membership Action Plan, toward joining NATO. But there is considerable European opposition, which has grown since Georgia’s war with Russia in August.
Rather than get into a “huge debate” next week, NATO should make it clear that Ukraine and Georgia are still welcome and the alliance stands ready to help them become members, Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried said.
40 Georgia war hearing marred by angry exchanges
By Margarita Antidze and Matt Robinson, Reuters
Tue Nov 25, 1:39 pm ET
|TBILISI (Reuters) – A Georgian parliament hearing into the country’s war with Russia broke up in angry scenes on Tuesday when a commission member threw a pen at Tbilisi’s ex-envoy to Moscow after he said Georgia had been the aggressor.
Russia says it intervened in ex-Soviet Georgia after Tbilisi began shelling the breakaway South Ossetia region. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili accused Russia of invading and thus starting the war.
Erosi Kitsmarishvili, Georgia’s former ambassador to Russia, told the parliamentary commission he had received information “from high-ranking Georgian officials” that Tbilisi was preparing to “militarily storm” the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali.
41 Congo says no talks with Nkunda outside peace pact
By Joe Bavier, Reuters
Tue Nov 25, 2:54 pm ET
|KINSHASA (Reuters) – Congo’s government ruled out direct talks with Tutsi rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, saying on Tuesday any meeting was “impossible” outside the framework of a January peace deal the rebels have already rejected.
Nkunda’s month-long campaign against chaotic government forces in the eastern province of North Kivu has displaced 250,000 people and prompted the U.N. Security Council to send 3,000 more troops to its biggest peace force.
The U.N. Human Rights Council said on Tuesday it would meet this week to discuss rights violations during the conflict.
42 Darfur peacekeepers short of men, gear: general
By Andrew Heavens, Reuters
Tue Nov 25, 5:00 pm ET
|EL FASHER, Sudan (Reuters) – Overstretched peacekeepers in Darfur lack vehicles, helicopters and other equipment and could be in trouble if seriously attacked, the force’s deputy commander said on Tuesday.
The joint U.N.-African Union force now has about 12,000 soldiers and police, less than half of a promised 26,000, almost a year after it arrived in Sudan’s violent west.
Major General Emmanuel Karenzi told reporters the mission was severely short of equipment, including a total lack of transport and attack helicopters.
43 Russia, West inch toward U.N. deal on Kosovo
By Louis Charbonneau, Reuters
Tue Nov 25, 5:01 pm ET
|UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia and Western powers on the U.N. Security Council were negotiating behind closed doors on Tuesday in an attempt to clinch their first agreement on the issue of Kosovo since it seceded from Serbia.
Security Council diplomats, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, said they hoped to agree a statement supporting the deployment of a European Union law and justice mission in Kosovo to be adopted by the council as early as Wednesday.
As with all things related to Kosovo, negotiations on the EU mission, known as EULEX, have been divisive.
44 Kuwait’s ruler puts cabinet resignation on hold
By Ulf Laessing and Rania El Gamal, Reuters
Tue Nov 25, 9:38 am ET
|KUWAIT (Reuters) – Kuwait’s ruler decided to put on hold the resignation of the OPEC country’s cabinet on Tuesday, leaving his options open for intervention to end a crippling crisis between the government and parliament.
The cabinet tendered its resignation as parliament was about to look into a request by three legislators to question the prime minister, a member of the royal family, over the visit of an Iranian Shi’ite cleric accused of offending Sunni Muslims.
But the three deputies had also wanted to question Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah over a wide range of accusations including alleged corruption and mismanagement in the world’s seventh-largest oil exporter.
45 Richer Romanians still worry about basics
By Justyna Pawlak, Reuters
Tue Nov 25, 9:05 am ET
|BUMBESTI-JIU, Romania (Reuters) – After Pirelli turned parts of Bumbesti-Jiu’s crumbling industrial zone into a new factory last year, residents of this small town in southwestern Romania hoped the lean years were over.
After all, one investor brings another and before you know it, there is thriving industry and jobs. Or so the story went throughout Romania in recent years as foreign manufacturers poured billions of euros into the new European Union state.
But for all of Romania’s economic progress made possible by foreign cash, last year’s EU entry and four years of structural reforms, thousands of villages and small towns like Bumbesti-Jiu have yet to benefit from modernization and wealth.
46 Blasts at Bangkok airport, other sites wound seven: officials
1 hr 7 mins ago
|BANGKOK (AFP) – A blast at Bangkok’s international airport and grenade attacks elsewhere in the city wounded at least seven people on Wednesday, as lawlessness spread amid anti-government protests, officials said.
The explosion at Suvarnabhumi Airport happened a day after demonstrators stormed the airport, forcing it to close down and stranding thousands of passengers.
“At least two people were wounded by a bomb blast at Suvarnabhumi this morning,” Petpong Kamchornkitkarn, an emergency medical services official, told AFP.
47 Greenland goes to the polls in self-rule referendum
by Slim Allagui, AFP
2 hrs 16 mins ago
|NUUK, Greenland (AFP) – Greenlanders were expected to vote overwhelmingly for self-rule in a referendum that ended late Tuesday that would give them rights to potentially lucrative Arctic resources and could pave the way for full independence from Denmark.
Opinion polls had suggested that a large majority of Greenland’s 39,000 electorate would vote in favour of greater autonomy. The territory was granted semi-autonomy from Denmark in 1979, and withdrew from the European Union in a 1982 referendum.
Polls across Greenland’s 80 towns and villages had closed by 8:00 pm (2300 GMT), with final results expected around midnight (0300 GMT Wednesday).
48 Jury finds US-based Muslim charity guilty of funding terrorism
by Jason Trahan, AFP
Mon Nov 24, 6:08 pm ET
|DALLAS, Texas (AFP) – The leaders of what was once the largest Muslim charity in the United States were found guilty Monday of acting as a front for Palestinian militants in the largest terrorism financing prosecution in American history.
It was a major victory in the White House’s legal “war on terror” and comes after a mistrial was declared last year in the case involving the now defunct Texas-based Holy Land Foundation, charged with funneling 12 million dollars to Hamas.
Family members could be heard sobbing in the Dallas courtroom as guilty verdicts were read on all 108 charges of providing material support to terrorists, money laundering and tax fraud.
49 Outrage over Guinea-Bissau attack as army hunts ‘mutineers’
by Malick Rokhy Ba, AFP
Mon Nov 24, 3:34 pm ET
|BISSAU (AFP) – Security forces in coup-prone Guinea-Bissau were on Monday hunting the mastermind of an attack by soldiers on the residence of President Joao Bernardo Vieira, only days after elections here.
Sunday’s attack punctured hopes that last week’s largely peaceful parliamentary elections would usher in a new period of stability.
It was widely condemned by the international community, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joining other world leaders to denounce the assault.
50 Belarus president warns of new arms race in Europe
by Dario Thuburn, AFP
Mon Nov 24, 2:10 pm ET
|MINSK, Belarus (AFP) – Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko warned of a new arms race in Europe and derided his opponents in an interview with AFP on Monday that also left the door open to better ties with the West.
Lukashenko, who has ruled this former Soviet republic of 10 million people for 14 years, also said that he planned to run for another presidential term in 2011 and that Belarus would retain “very strong relations” with Russia.
“You fly NATO planes near our country’s borders. Why? We begin strengthening our air defences. This is pushing a mini arms race,” Lukashenko said in an exclusive interview in the presidential administration in central Minsk.
51 US to return bin Laden driver to Yemen
by Lucile Malandain
Tue Nov 25, 12:42 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – In its final days, President George W. Bush’s administration is changing tactics on its Guantanamo Bay prison, preparing to return Osama bin Laden’s ex-driver to Yemen, which may pave the way towards freeing 100 other Yemenis.
Salim Hamdan’s repatriation represents a major breakthrough after three years in which Sanaa and Washington had been unable to reach a deal on the return of Guantanamo detainees.
It also brings to a close one of the most visible chapters in the US effort to detain and prosecute “enemy combatants” in the “war on terror” — marked by a series of setbacks for the US government.
52 Dueling interpretations hang over U.S.-Iraq security pact
By Adam Ashton, Jonathan S. Landay and Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers
Tue Nov 25, 5:32 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – The Bush administration has adopted a much looser interpretation than the Iraqi government of several key provisions of the pending U.S.- Iraq security agreement, U.S. officials said Tuesday – just hours before the Iraqi parliament was to hold its historic vote.
These include a provision that bans the launch of attacks on other countries from Iraq , a requirement to notify the Iraqis in advance of U.S. military operations and the question of Iraqi legal jurisdiction over American troops and military contractors.
Officials in Washington said the administration has withheld the official English translation of the agreement in an effort to suppress a public dispute with the Iraqis until after the Iraqi parliament votes.
53 London’s new look: outward, upward _ and modern
By Julie Sell, McClatchy Newspapers
2 hrs 37 mins ago
|LONDON – When Charles Dickens wrote “A Tale of Two Cities” in the 19th century, he was trying to capture the spirit of two history-soaked European capitals, London and Paris , in the days before and during the French Revolution. If Dickens were alive today, though, he could write a book of the same title without ever leaving London .
Europe’s largest city is in the midst of a physical transformation greater than any it’s seen since the post-World War II era. The museums, monuments, cathedrals, and palaces that have lured foreign tourists for centuries are still there, but new developments are changing London’s character in significant and controversial ways.
“Despite what visitors may expect, we’re not all thatched cottages, beams and Tudor,” says Peter Murray , director of the London Festival of Architecture.
54 U.S. shrugs as Russian ships, president visit Venezuela
By Tyler Bridges, McClatchy Newspapers
1 hr 56 mins ago
|CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela fired a 21-gun artillery salute Tuesday as Russian warships made their first trip to this South American nation since the Cold War ended. Protocol officials, however, will have little time to rest, for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrives on Wednesday – the first visit by a top Russian leader.
It was a long journey for the destroyer Admiral Chabanenko, which docked at La Guaira port, near Caracas’ international airport, and Peter the Great, a nuclear-powered cruiser and one of Russia’s biggest vessels, which anchored offshore. Along with two other vessels, they traveled two months from their home port near Murmansk, Russia .
The visits by the warships and Medvedev mark a convergence of interests between two oil-producing nations – both of which want to be taken more seriously by the rest of the world, but especially by the U.S.
55 Candidate for top intelligence post withdraws name
By Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers
1 hr 18 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – A former senior U.S. intelligence official Tuesday withdrew from consideration for a top intelligence post in the new Obama administration amid protests from liberal groups linking him to the Bush administration’s “enhanced interrogation” and secret transfers of terrorism suspects to nations that torture prisoners and political opponents.
The move by John Brennan , a former senior CIA official and head of President-elect Barack Obama’s intelligence transition team, is the first personnel setback to hit what’s otherwise been a swift and smooth transition to the White House for Obama.
In a letter to Obama, a copy of which was obtained by McClatchy , Brennan denied involvement in the Bush administration’s detainee and interrogation policies and said he was taking himself out of the running to avoid entangling the new administration in unnecessary controversy. Brennan, who held a succession of CIA posts, was reported to have been under consideration as the successor to CIA director Michael Hayden .
56 In Anbar Province, Iraq’s Sheikhs Discover Democracy
By BOBBY GHOSH / RAMADI, Time Magazine
Tue Nov 25, 4:40 am ET
|It’s a scene rarely witnessed by foreign eyes: a meeting of the great sheikhs of Iraq’s Anbar province, at the heavily guarded compound of the powerful chieftains of the al-Hais family, on the outskirts of the provincial capital. Some 300 tribal elders have gathered here, most of them in traditional garb, and much of the morning has been taken up in the elaborate Arab rituals of salutation. Every newcomer must greet every person already present with handshakes, hugs and kisses – on the cheek to show friendship, on the shoulder for respect. Then there are the endless cups of tea and coffee. The early arrivals bask patiently in the November sun as they wait for the laggards.|
57 Viewpoint: Thailand Needs A Real Hollywood Ending
By HANNAH BEECH, Time Magazine
Tue Nov 25, 4:50 am ET
|Hollywood, the land of ultimate battles and last stands, doesn’t have a monopoly on dramatic endings. On Nov. 24, thousands of anti-government protesters swarmed Thailand’s parliament in what they called – drumroll please – the “final showdown.”|
58 Why Not to Be the Richest Man in China
By AUSTIN RAMZY / BEIJING, Time Magazine
Tue Nov 25, 11:15 am ET
|There’s no better way to say you’ve arrived in China than to be named on one of the country’s rich lists. Of course, such an honor can also be an indicator that you will soon disappear for a long, long time. In recent years the rankings of China’s wealthiest have included several prominent tycoons who have later been jailed on fraud and corruption charges.|
59 Battling the Somali Pirates: The Return of the Islamists
By TONY KARON, Time Magazine
2 hrs 17 mins ago
|T.E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”) famously compared counterinsurgency warfare to “eating soup with a knife.” The same idea might apply to the efforts of Western navies to protect commercial shipping from the marauding pirates of Somalia, except for the fact that soup is typically contained within a bowl – and the pirates have the freedom of a vast ocean in which to move. They recently captured the [ITALIC “Sirius Star,”] a Saudi supertanker carrying $100 million in crude oil, by striking hundreds of miles away from the shipping lanes being patrolled by some of the world’s most powerful navies. But if the pirates have the wind at their backs out at sea, they got some bad news back on shore last weekend, when five armored vehicles loaded with fighters of the Islamist Shabab militia arrived in the port town of Harardhere, where the pirates who seized the Sirius Star are based.|
60 As Obama Pushes a Stimulus, Europe Lags Behind
By BRUCE CRUMLEY / PARIS, Time Magazine
2 hrs 18 mins ago
|Rattled Americans have found some solace in the news that President-elect Barack Obama is working quickly with congressional Democrats to finalize details of a mammoth stimulus package expected to total between $500 billion and $700 billion. Europeans have been less lucky. So far, they’ve had to content themselves with a patchwork of national recovery plans frequently at odds with one another. A European Union-wide program, if leaders can even agree on one, is likely to be worth a comparatively anemic $130 billion.|