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From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Obama calls Obama calls $18B in Wall St. bonuses ‘shameful’8B in Wall St. bonuses ‘shameful’

By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer

29 mins ago

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama issued a withering critique Thursday of Wall Street corporate behavior, calling it “the height of irresponsibility” for employees to be paid more than $18 billion in bonuses last year while their crumbling financial sector received a bailout from taxpayers. “It is shameful,” Obama said from the Oval Office. “And part of what we’re going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility.”

The president’s comments, made with new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner at his side, came in swift response to a report that employees of the New York financial world garnered an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses last year. The figure, from the New York state comptroller, drew prominent news coverage.

Yet Obama’s stand also came just one day after he surrounded himself with well-paid chief executives at the White House. He had pulled in those business leaders and hailed them for being on the “front lines in seeing the enormous problems in our economy right now.”

2 Senate GOP leader says party must change

By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer

6 mins ago

WASHINGTON – After crushing defeats in back-to-back elections, the top Senate Republican warned Thursday that the GOP risks remaining out of power in the White House and Congress unless it better explains its core principles to woo one-time faithful and new loyalists.

“The results of the two recent elections are real, and so are the obstacles we face as a party,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told the Republican National Committee on Thursday. “My concern is that unless we do something to adapt, our status as a minority party may become too pronounced for an easy recovery.”

“The situation is challenging, but it’s far from irreversible,” McConnell added, a dash of optimism in an otherwise stark assessment of where the Republican Party went wrong as he provided a road map for how it can right itself.

3 Officials: Army suicides at 3-decade high

By PAULINE JELINEK, Associated Press Writer

32 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Suicides among U.S. soldiers rose last year to the highest level in decades, the Army announced Thursday. At least 128 soldiers killed themselves in 2008. But the final count is likely to be considerably higher because 15 more suspicious deaths are still being investigated and could also turn out to be self-inflicted, the Army said.

A new training and prevention effort will start next week. And Col. Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the Army surgeon general, made a plea for more U.S. mental health professionals to sign on to work for the military.

The new suicide figure compares with 115 in 2007 and 102 in 2006 and is the highest since record keeping began in 1980. Officials calculate the deaths at a rate of roughly 20.2 per 100,000 soldiers – which is higher than the adjusted civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War, officials told a Pentagon news conference.

4 APNewsBreak: Justice Department hoaxes employees

By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press Writer

31 mins ago

SAN DIEGO – The Justice Department doesn’t have to look far to find a scam that preys on people whose retirement plans have been crippled by the global financial meltdown. It designed one of its own. And e-mailed it to agency employees.

The bogus offer – signed by “Thrift Savings Plan Account Coordinator” – was sent two weeks ago and directed employees to a Web site and asked them to plug in account information by Jan. 31.

On Wednesday, a memo was circulated by Ted Shelkey, assistant director for information systems security, explaining that the savings plan e-mail was a hoax.

5 Common chemical causes locusts to swarm

By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer

52 mins ago

WASHINGTON – A chemical that affects people’s moods also can transform easygoing desert locusts into terrifying swarms that ravage the countryside, scientists report. “Here we have a solitary and lonely creature, the desert locust. But just give them a little serotonin, and they go and join a gang,” observed Malcolm Burrows of the University of Cambridge in England.

The brain chemical serotonin has been linked to mood in people. It plays a role in sexual desire, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, too.

Under certain conditions, locusts triple the amount of serotonin in their systems, changing the insects from loners to pack animals, Burrows and his co-authors report in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

6 Blackwater says it could leave Iraq with 72 hours

By MIKE BAKER, Associated Press writer

2 hrs 8 mins ago

MOYOCK, N.C. – Blackwater Worldwide, which guards American diplomats in Iraq, said Thursday it would be prepared to leave that country within 72 hours after Iraqi officials denied the North Carolina-based company an operating license because of a deadly shooting spree in Baghdad.

But Blackwater founder Erik Prince told The Associated Press that while losing the State Department contract would hurt the company, the move would cause more harm to the diplomats it has protected since soon after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

“Our abrupt departure would far more hurt the reconstruction team and the diplomats trying to rebuild the country than it would hurt us as a business,” Prince said Thursday in an exclusive interview with the AP.

7 Stocks fall on fresh worries about economy

By MADLEN READ and TIM PARADIS, AP Business Writers

1 hr 1 min ago

NEW YORK – Two glaring signs that the economy remains in a deep slump sent stocks reeling Thursday.

News that unemployment claims reached a record high and that new home sales hit a record low forced the major stock indexes to give back all of Wednesday’s gains, and then some. The Dow Jones industrial average sank 226 points, or 2.7 percent, while other indicators tumbled more than 3 percent.

Volatility still has a grip on the Street. While stocks had soared Wednesday on hopes that the government will take bad debt off banks’ books, investors retreated in response to some harsh reminders that it might be a while before the nation’s 14-month-old recession ends, even if banks get more aid.

8 Turkish PM admonishes Israel president over Gaza

By JOHN DANISZEWSKI and MATT MOORE, Associated Press Writers

51 mins ago

DAVOS, Switzerland – Turkey’s prime minister stalked off the stage at the World Economic Forum red-faced Thursday after reproaching Israel’s president over the Gaza offensive by saying “You kill people.”

The packed audience, which included President Barack Obama’s close adviser Valerie Jarrett, appeared stunned as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli President Shimon Peres raised their voices and traded accusations.

Peres was passionate in his defense of Israel’s three-week offensive against Hamas militants, launched in reaction to eight years of rocket fire aimed at Israeli territory. As he spoke, Peres often turned toward Erdogan, who in his remarks had criticized the Israeli blockade of Gaza, saying it was an “open air prison, isolated from the rest of the world” and referred to the Palestinian death toll of about 1,300, more than half of those civilians. Thirteen Israelis also died.

9 Americans receiving jobless benefits hits record


Thu Jan 29, 3:26 pm ET

WASHINGTON – The number of people receiving unemployment benefits has reached the highest level on records that go back more than 40 years, the government said Thursday, and more layoffs are spreading throughout the economy.

The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans continuing to claim unemployment insurance for the week ending Jan. 17 was a seasonally adjusted 4.78 million, the highest since records started in 1967. That’s an increase of 159,000 from the previous week and worse than economists’ expectations of 4.65 million.

As a proportion of the work force, the tally of unemployment benefit recipients is the highest since August 1983, a department analyst said.

10 Ford posts $14.6B 2008 loss, still won’t seek aid


2 hrs 33 mins ago

DEARBORN, Mich. – After the worst annual loss in its 105-year history, Ford Motor Co. still doesn’t plan to seek government aid, but it’s borrowing more money and hinting at further restructuring to brace for a tough 2009 and any surprises from the unpredictable economy.

The second-largest U.S.-based automaker on Thursday reported a $14.6 billion net loss for 2008, beating its old record of $12.6 billion set two years earlier. Ford lost $5.9 billion in the fourth quarter, but more importantly it spent $5.5 billion more than it took in, dropping its cash reserves to $13.4 billion at year’s end.

The company, like other automakers, predicted a slow start to the year with a small recovery in the second half aided by government stimulus packages. But Ford is behaving like it’s expecting things to get worse. The company told lenders Thursday that it wants to borrow the remaining $10.1 billion of its secured credit line. The money is to arrive Tuesday, but Ford executives said they don’t plan to use it for operating expenses.

11 Iraqi shoe hurler inspires art in Saddam hometown

Associated Press

Thu Jan 29, 2:05 pm ET

BAGHDAD – When an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at George W. Bush last month at a Baghdad press conference, the attack spawned a flood of Web quips, political satire and street rallies across the Arab world.

Now it’s inspired a work of art.

A sofa-sized sculpture – a single copper-coated shoe on a stand carved to resemble flowing cloth – was formally unveiled to the public Thursday in the hometown of the late Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.

12 Google sets up online broadband testing lab (AP)

Associated Press

Posted on Thu Jan 29, 2009 7:26AM EST

NEW YORK – Google Inc. and two nonprofit partners Wednesday launched a Web site that lets consumers test their Internet connections to reveal possible interference and traffic management by service providers.

The site, Measurement Lab, addresses a need among academics who want to gather data on how Internet connections work in practice. While the workings of the core Internet “highways” are well known and standardized, it’s difficult to find out what happens on the network of an Internet service provider, between the “highway” and the customer’s home.

Internet service providers say they increasingly find it necessary to act as traffic cops on this stretch of the Internet to make sure that heavy users don’t slow down their neighbors’ connections. But the traffic management systems can have unintended consequences, and ISPs have been secretive about their workings for fear that subscribers will circumvent them. The Federal Communications Commission sanctioned Comcast Corp. last year for secretly stifling one particular form of traffic without telling subscribers.

13 Lab confirmed salmonella for Ga. peanut plant

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Writer

19 mins ago

WASHINGTON – A lab company president called to testify before Congress in the salmonella outbreak investigation said Thursday that manufacturers “can’t retest away a positive result.”

Charles Diebel, whose labs conducted tests for Peanut Corp. of America, said that if 100 containers were tested and only one or two turned up salmonella, the company should “throw the whole lot out.”

Federal health officials say Peanut Corp. shipped tainted peanut products from its Blakely, Ga., facility after retesting them and getting a negative result for salmonella.

14 U.S. to lay out menu of bank fixes next week: source

By Karey Wutkowski, Reuters

21 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration aims to roll out a menu of options next week to help stabilize the U.S. banking industry, with government aid tailored to individual banks’ needs, a source familiar with the administration’s thinking told Reuters on Thursday.

The source, who spoke anonymously because the plan is still being finalized, said the options are likely to include a “bad bank” that could soak up mortgage securities and other distressed investments weighing down banks’ balance sheets and holding back new lending.

The plan would also include government insurance on a select portfolio of banks’ troubled assets to help shield banks from future losses.

15 Guantanamo judge refuses Obama’s request for delay

By Jane Sutton, Reuters

Thu Jan 29, 3:46 pm ET

MIAMI (Reuters) – The chief judge for the Guantanamo war crimes court on Thursday refused U.S. President Barack Obama’s request to delay proceedings against a Saudi charged with plotting an attack that killed 17 U.S. sailors.

The surprise ruling could force the Pentagon to withdraw the charges, though they could be refiled later if the Obama administration decides to keep the special tribunals at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Hours after taking office last week, Obama ordered Guantanamo prosecutors to seek 120-day delays in all pending cases to give his administration time to decide whether to scrap the widely criticized tribunals created by the Bush administration to try suspected terrorists outside the regular U.S. court system.

16 U.S. Army pulls body armor after testing criticized

By Andrew Gray, Reuters

1 hr 29 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Army said on Thursday it was withdrawing some 16,400 sets of body armor, even though it considers them safe, because a Pentagon watchdog found that the designs had not been properly tested.

The Army said it did not agree with the conclusion by the Pentagon’s inspector general and has asked Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England to adjudicate.

But it said it would replace the armor currently used in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world, until the dispute was resolved. It said the sets to be replaced represented 1.6 percent of its total body armor inventory.

17 Pakistan arrests gang over Danish embassy attack

by Rana Jawad, AFP

Thu Jan 29, 12:46 pm ET

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistani police said Thursday they had arrested a nine-member gang wanted for multiple bombings, including a deadly attack outside the Danish embassy, and for links to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

“We have busted a gang of nine high-profile terrorists, who were involved in several high-profile attacks in recent times,” said Rao Iqbal, police chief in Rawalpindi — the garrison city close to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

A senior police investigator told AFP the nine were linked to Al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas, which US officials say have become a safe haven for hundreds of extremists fleeing Afghanistan.

18 Iraqi courts to decide fate of America’s detainees

By Tom A. Peter, The Christian Science Monitor

Thu Jan 29, 3:00 am ET

Baghdad – Within days the US military will begin transferring 1,500 detainees – many of them suspected bombmakers, insurgents, and criminals – every month for the next year to Iraqi authorities. Iraqi courts will then decide who should be freed and who should stay in jail.

Those decisions will have a profound impact on the future of Iraq and the fragile state of security here. While freeing many of the 15,100 detainees who remain in US custody is key to national reconciliation, it could also feed an insurgency that has largely been defeated.

What’s more, while Iraqi courts have made great strides, some international observers question whether the system that is notorious for torturing prisoners is ready for a massive influx of detainees.

19 First of 8,000 antitobacco suits to go to trial in Florida

By Richard Luscombe, The Christian Science Monitor

Thu Jan 29, 3:00 am ET

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – A civil case that begins Thursday in a courtroom here not only brands Florida as a hotbed of tobacco litigation, but also marks the advance of a huge stream of lawsuits against America’s largest cigarette manufacturers.

About 8,000 plaintiffs are lined up to sue Big Tobacco in the Florida court system, a conveyor belt of cases that is likely to clog the calendars of state and federal judges for months, if not years, to come.

This wave of lawsuits from smokers, or their estates, stems from a 2006 ruling in the Florida Supreme Court that broke up a class action suit of more than 700,000 plaintiffs and quashed a $145 billion award against the tobacco industry, the biggest penalty in US civil court history.

20 Tampa welcomes fans to the, well, Subdued Bowl

By Patrik Jonsson, The Chritian Science Monitor

Thu Jan 29, 3:00 am ET

Tampa, Fla. – Billboards across Tampa Bay, host of Super Bowl XLIII, show big smiling faces under the slogan: “Get your game face on.”

At a time of economic slump, and with an oddball matchup on the gridiron, that municipal appeal has suddenly taken on unintended meaning for residents like Leonard Johnson, hawking T-shirts to the empty streets of Tampa’s Ybor City neighborhood Tuesday night. “I’m nervous,” he said. “This place should have been a party by now, and it’s not.”

Coming only a few months after Tampa hosted the worst-rated World Series of all time, the lead-up to the Super Bowl has been noticeably subdued. That’s testing not only the game faces of the area’s boosters, but also a National Football League that, some critics say, has sacrificed fan passion for a 15-year effort to achieve competitive parity among the teams.

From Yahoo News World

21 At Davos, sometimes sorry is the hardest word

By BRADLEY S. KLAPPER, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 48 mins ago

Amid the profound pain of the financial meltdown enveloping the globe, this week’s World Economic Forum might have been expected to feature apologies – even a massive mea culpa from the movers and shakers of the financial community that created the crisis.

There have been plenty of excuses, recriminations, hand-wringing and analysis. But scant few have owned up to the pervasive effects of bad business decisions that cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and brought the world economy to its knees.

“There’s a tremendous arrogance about the whole process,” Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told The Associated Press. The top bankers “think that it just happened, that it was nobody’s fault. But they should feel sorry.”

22 Arctic’s thaw brings security risks for NATO

By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 35 mins ago

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – NATO will need a military presence in the Arctic as global warming melts frozen sea routes and major powers rush to lay claim to lucrative energy reserves, the military bloc’s chief said Thursday.

NATO commanders and lawmakers meeting in Iceland’s capital said the Arctic thaw is bringing the prospect of new standoffs between powerful nations.

“I would be the last one to expect military conflict – but there will be a military presence,” NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer told reporters. “It should be a military presence that is not overdone, and there is a need for political cooperation and economic cooperation.”

23 Three political candidates slain in Iraq

By BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press Writer

Thu Jan 29, 4:20 pm ET

BAGHDAD – Gunmen apparently targeting political candidates staged attacks around Iraq on Thursday, leaving at least three people dead as Iraqi forces began imposing a full-scale security clampdown in advance of voting for provincial council seats.

The level of violence around Iraq is significantly lower than in past years, but Saturday’s election is seen as an important test of Iraqi self-reliance and competence as the U.S. military turns over more authorities to local forces.

Blanket security measures were scheduled to take effect beginning Friday, including closing Iraq’s international borders, ordering traffic bans across Baghdad and major cities and halting air traffic. Hundreds of women, including teachers and civic workers, have been recruited to help search women voters after a rise in female suicide bombers last year.

24 Sunni political voice gets tuned for elections

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer

Thu Jan 29, 1:01 pm ET

YOUSSIFIYAH, Iraq – Salah Jalab is a Sunni strongman in training.

He’s already taken over the Saidat clan’s 250-strong militia force. His father, an influential sheik, has schooled him in the nuances of local politics in their district south of Baghdad.

But when it comes to Iraq’s central government, he complains about feeling helpless and bullied.

25 Zimbabwe government to deal in foreign currencies

Associated Press

Thu Jan 29, 4:25 pm ET

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwe’s government admitted defeat Thursday in a fight against dizzying inflation, allowing business to be done in U.S. dollars and bank notes of neighboring countries.

Zimbabwe has the world’s highest official inflation, with its currency now printed in the trillions of dollars. This month, the central bank introduced a new 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar note.

The announcement by acting Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa acknowledged the black market practices that have been a reality for months because of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown.

26 France’s big general strike hobbles services

By ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press Writer

Thu Jan 29, 2:44 pm ET

PARIS – France’s largest general strike in three years hobbled transportation, school, hospital and mail services Thursday as unions demanded that President Nicolas Sarkozy’s better protect jobs and consumers during the global economic crisis.

More than 1 million protesters took part, with tens of thousands of youths, retirees and unemployed people marching across towns and cities, police said.

The powerful CGT – one of eight unions that called the one-day “black Thursday” strike – claimed that 2.5 million people took part.

27 After several centuries, Mortlake Brewery to close

By GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press Writer

Thu Jan 29, 3:38 am ET

LONDON – They say booze is recession proof – that people don’t quit drinking when times are tough.

But Britons’ collective passion for beer, ale and hard cider wasn’t enough to save the centuries-old Mortlake Brewery. The brewery is scheduled to close next year, putting roughly 300 workers out of work and depriving London of the last major brewer set on the banks of the River Thames.

The demise of Mortlake follows the recent closure of several other breweries in Britain. The breweries are victims of changing times: Beer sales are falling nationwide, and pubs, like breweries, are closing across the country.

28 India to sign IAEA deal on Monday: ambassador

By Sylvia Westall, Reuters

2 hrs 34 mins ago

VIENNA (Reuters) – India is set to sign an inspection agreement with the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog on Monday, India’s ambassador to the agency said.

The inspection deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is a precondition of a United States-led agreement allowing nuclear nations to supply India with nuclear material and technology for its domestic power sector.

“We have set some time aside for this on Monday,” Saurabh Kumar, India’s ambassador to the Vienna-based IAEA said on Thursday, referring to the signing of the pact.

29 Somalia’s parliament to elect new president

By David Clarke, Reuters

1 hr 6 mins ago

DJIBOUTI (Reuters) – Somalia’s parliament on Friday elects a new president who will face the daunting task of delivering peace and stability to a country tormented by violence and anarchy for nearly two decades. The Horn of Africa nation has had no central government since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. It is grappling with Islamist insurgents fighting for power and a food crisis which has left a third of the population reliant on aid.

There are 14 candidates running in the election, which is being held in neighboring Djibouti because the lack security at home has scuppered hopes parliament could assemble there.

The president will be chosen by a new, expanded assembly which includes moderate Islamist opponents sworn in this week at a U.N.-brokered peace process in Djibouti.

30 Afghan elections in August as violence rises

By Golnar Motevalli, Reuters

Thu Jan 29, 6:23 am ET

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan on Thursday announced presidential elections for August 20, hoping a U.S. troop surge will improve security at a time when violence is at the highest levels since the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban.

President Hamid Karzai has strongly hinted he will run for re-election saying he still has “a job to complete,” but his popularity has waned both among Afghans and his Western backers due to rampant corruption and weak government outside Kabul.

President Barack Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, which a White House official said would have a “significant non-military component,” a reference to a likely increase in development aid.

31 Jewish backlash against Vatican gathers pace


Thu Jan 29, 3:56 pm ET

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel’s chief rabbinate on Thursday cancelled talks with Catholic officials in Rome as a backlash against Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to reinstate a Holocaust-denying bishop gathered pace.

“The five representatives of the chief rabbinate who were due to meet five Vatican representatives in Rome in March will not be able to participate in this meeting in the current state of affairs,” the rabbinate’s director general Oded Wiener told AFP.

“The dialogue that we began in 2000 following the visit of former Pope John Paul II cannot continue as if nothing has happened after such a decision, announced nearly on the day that the international community commemorates the Holocaust,” he said.

32 ‘City of death’ may be key to Iraq’s future

By Leila Fadel, McClatchy Newspapers

1 hr 24 mins ago

BAQOUBA, Iraq – The trip from Baghdad to Diyala province, a land of mostly farmers and shepherds that connects the mountains of northern Iraq to the fields, crosses a landscape of dust and devastation. Driving into the province’s capital city, once synonymous with death and still violent, the first words on a small concrete wall at an Iraqi army checkpoint are, “Patience, my beloved Iraq .”

Although the blood is gone and so are the bodies, residents of Baqouba still look away when they pass the square where al Qaida in Iraq killed hundreds of people.

Diyala was once the bloodiest of the 14 provinces where Iraqis will vote Saturday for new provincial councils. Shiite Muslim Arabs, Sunni Muslim Arabs and Kurds rub against each other, and their battles transformed Baqouba from the city of oranges to the city of death. Just last week, a family of nine was slaughtered in their home, and two other people were taken. They’re still missing.

33 Behind Iraqi walls plastered with promises, tragic stories

By Leila Fadel, McClatchy Newspapers

1 hr 31 mins ago

BAQOUBA, Iraq – Every wall that surrounds the homes of potential voters in Diyala province is covered in posters promising change and hope, but behind them there are likely to be tragic stories of loss.

Badriya Waleh Habab , 62, lives in a low-slung home, barren except for a carpet on the concrete floor and two wooden benches. The Shiite Muslim woman is alone. Her first son was killed in the eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s. Her husband died four years ago, and masked gunmen from al Qaida in Iraq dragged her last son, Mohammed, from her home in 2006 as he was eating dinner.

She kissed the gunmen’s feet and begged them to leave her only son. They took him away anyway, and now she has no one left.

34 Iraq won’t allow Blackwater security firm to stay in country

By Leila Fadel, McClatchy Newspapers

Thu Jan 29, 1:57 pm ET

BAGHDAD – Iraq told the United States this week that it won’t renew the license of Blackwater Worldwide, a North Carolina -based security firm that’s provided protection for U.S. diplomats in Iraq but has been widely criticized as using force excessively.

“We have been informed that Blackwater’s private-security company operating license will not be granted,” a U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to talk on the record. “We don’t have specifics about dates. We are working with the government of Iraq and our contractors to address the implications of this decision.”

A new U.S.- Iraq security agreement that took effect Jan. 1 lifts immunity from prosecution for contractors, including Blackwater .

35 Northern Ireland Peace Proposal Draws Outrage

Time Magazine

1 hr 49 mins ago

It didn’t look much like peace. At the launch on Wednesday of a report on how post-conflict Northern Ireland should best deal with the legacy of its three decades of the Troubles, a Protestant woman, whose parents died in an IRA bomb attack 15 years ago, confronted Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein President and best known face of Irish Republicanism. “Murderer!” she screamed, amid boos from some participants and cheers from others.

36 Massive Strike Closes France

Time Magazine

1 hr 51 mins ago

France shut down today, as an estimated million or more people throughout the country demonstrated the impact of the recession and government policies to deal with the downturn. Scores of flights were canceled, countless schools, post offices, and even courts closed, and armies of commuters endured long slogs to work as public transport services suffered disruption of varying severity.

37 Will Kashmir Be an Obama Foreign Policy Focus?

Time Magazine

Thu Jan 29, 11:15 am ET

Indian officials may be celebrating what they believe to be their thwarting of Richard Holbrooke, the new U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they may want to hold off on the champagne. Despite the fact that India’s behind-the-scenes lobbying may have helped ensure that the country was left out of Holbrooke’s official mandate, the Obama Administration is unlikely to ease up efforts to pressure India to come to terms with Pakistan over their long, bitter dispute over Kashmir.
From Yahoo News U.S. News

38 Newly homeless plead: ‘We’re not throwaway people’

By EVELYN NIEVES, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 4 mins ago

SAN FRANCISCO – In the first major census of people living on the streets since the recession, thousands of volunteers across the country are fanning out in the thick of night this week to count the most desperate members of their communities.

On the streets and in shelters, volunteers conducting the count in the wintry dead of night have found an untold numbers of hard-luck stories from those homeless for the first time, working poor victimized by the foreclosure and unemployment crises.

“I call it the double trouble,” said Philip F. Mangano, executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. “You would have to be naive to believe that the loss of over 850,000 homes and over two million jobs wouldn’t have an impact.”

39 Judge: Anti-gay marriage donors must be public

By STEVE LAWRENCE, Associated Press Writer

41 mins ago

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A federal judge denied a request Thursday to keep secret the names of donors to California’s anti-gay marriage initiative, saying the public had a right to know who gave money to state ballot measures.

Supporters of the Proposition 8 initiative, which overturned a state Supreme Court ruling that allowed gay marriage, had sought a preliminary injunction to remove the identities of those who contributed to their campaign from the secretary of state’s Web site. The initiative was approved by voters in November.

They also had asked U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. to block the Monday release of the names of donors who either gave money two weeks before the election or shortly afterward. Those names will be publicly released in postelection campaign finance reports.

40 Food makers don’t report in-house test results

By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 3 mins ago

ATLANTA – A federal probe into a deadly salmonella outbreak has exposed a dirty secret: Food producers in most states are not required to alert health regulators if internal tests show possible contamination at their plants.

The legal loophole surfaced this week when federal investigators disclosed internal Peanut Corp. of America reports that documented at least 12 positive tests for salmonella between 2007 and 2008 at their Blakely, Ga., plant, which has been identified as the source of the nationwide outbreak. In each case, the plant did not alert state or federal regulators.

The flaw has infuriated regulators and food safety experts, who are pushing legislation that would require the alerts at the first sign of contamination. They say stricter requirements could have stemmed an outbreak, which may have started months ago and has sickened at least 500 people and may have led to eight deaths.

41 Hair-raising! Super Bowl could see dreaded tackles

By BEN WALKER, AP National Writer

1 hr 48 mins ago

TAMPA, Fla. – Try this in high school or at the mall, and you’d have an all-out brawl.

But at the Super Bowl, it’s perfectly OK: Go ahead and grab Larry Fitzgerald or Troy Polamalu by their long hair, then yank ’em down.

“It’s legal. It is a body part, like someone’s arm or leg,” NFL head of officials Mike Pereira said.

42 LA cardinal says he’s ‘mystified’ by federal probe

By THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press Writer

Thu Jan 29, 11:11 am ET

LOS ANGELES – Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said Thursday he was “mystified and puzzled” by a federal grand jury investigation into the handling of alleged clergy child molestation cases by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Mahony told KNX radio that he would gladly testify before a grand jury, but that he believed investigators were looking into issues that have been thoroughly dealt with.

“Well, basically we were mystified and puzzled by the whole thing,” Mahony said. “We have been through these investigations for years now.”

43 Feds probe L.A. cardinal over priest cases: reports

By Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

2 hrs 15 mins ago

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Cardinal Roger Mahony and the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles are being investigated by federal authorities over accusations of covering up the sexual abuse of minors by priests, two newspapers reported on Thursday.

The probe is being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles through a federal grand jury, according to the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal. If Mahony were charged he would be one of the highest-ranking Catholic church officials to face prosecution in U.S. clergy sex scandals.

A spokesman for the Attorney’s office, Thom Mrozek, declined to comment on the reports.

44 Accused NY financier Cosmo detained for now: judge

By Martha Graybow, Reuters

Thu Jan 29, 2:41 pm ET

CENTRAL ISLIP, New York (Reuters) – A private New York financier accused of bilking clients who invested $370 million with his firms should be detained until his lawyers and prosecutors agree on bail conditions, a U.S. judge ruled on Thursday.

Agape World Inc chief executive officer Nicholas Cosmo, 37, was arrested on Monday night and charged with wire fraud, one of a rash of Ponzi schemes investigators across the United States say they have uncovered in the wake of the market meltdown.

Authorities on New York’s Long Island accused Cosmo of using investor money for personal expenses such as jewelry, limousine rides and hotel stays, and to pay more than $212,000 in court-ordered restitution to investors following a prior fraud conviction.

45 New talk of who escaped Madoff scheme sparks anger

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss, Reuters

2 hrs 56 mins ago

BOSTON (Reuters) – Bernard Madoff’s alleged massive financial fraud has sparked more outrage as news circulates a major U.S. bank may have cashed out early while other investors were left high and dry.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that JPMorgan Chase & Co suddenly began pulling its money out of two hedge funds that invested with Madoff last fall before Madoff was arrested, but did not tell investors.

According to the newspaper, JP Morgan said its potential losses related to Madoff are “pretty close to zero.”

46 Stem cell transplants show promise for MS: study

By Julie Steenhuysen, Reuters

1 hr 11 mins ago

CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. researchers have reversed multiple sclerosis symptoms in early stage patients by using bone marrow stem cell transplants to reset the immune system, they said on Thursday.

Some 81 percent of patients in the early phase study showed signs of improvement with the treatment, which used chemotherapy to destroy the immune system, and injections of the patient’s bone marrow cells taken beforehand to rebuild it.

“We just start over with new cells from the stem cells,” said Dr. Richard Burt of Northwestern University in Chicago, whose study appears in the journal Lancet Neurology.

47 Whiners or satirists? Blog charts woes of dating Wall St bankers (Reuters)


Posted on Thu Jan 29, 2009 6:00PM EST

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Their clothing allowance has been halved, they’ve had to fire their personal trainers and their sex lives have tanked.

They’re the once-pampered — now highly disgruntled — women partners of U.S. bankers and they’re speaking out about how the financial meltdown has changed their lives and their relationships.

Dating A Banker Anonymous (, a blog started by two New Yorkers, has made waves on the blogosphere this week with its tales of woe.

48 NFL hopes U.S. Hispanics ready for football

By Ben Klayman, Reuters

Thu Jan 29, 4:59 pm ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The National Football League hopes Hispanics in the United States are ready for some good ol’ American football as well as tickets, jerseys and other gear that make the sports league one of the most profitable.

When the Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals kicks off on Sunday, the league will tackle the problems of boosting its appeal to Hispanic sports fans.

Of all the major North American sports leagues, “football is probably going to be the toughest sell for the Hispanic market,” said Richard Ettenson, marketing professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona.

49 Despair spreads amid mounting job losses

By Carey Gillam, Reuters

Thu Jan 29, 3:41 am ET

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas (Reuters) – It has been nearly a year since Todd Wilson last collected a paycheck. The Kansas computer salesman wasn’t too worried at first, for he had a solid work history, decent savings, and a wife with a job.

But now, with unemployment on the rise all around him, such as the 8,000 new cuts announced this week by Overland Park, Kansas, based Sprint Nextel, competition for ever fewer jobs is growing — and desperation is setting in.

“Anybody who is looking for a job now is feeling an economic tsunami,” said 48-year-old Wilson, who says he has exhausted his family’s savings and now spends most days searching for jobs at an area employment-assistance center. “It feels like all of a sudden, it has just fallen apart.”

50 N.Y. museums head to trial in rights over Picassos

By Christine Kearney, Reuters

Wed Jan 28, 9:36 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two major New York museums have lost a bid to throw out claims by a Jewish scholar that he is the owner of two Picasso paintings and the case will head to trial next week.

The Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation will battle the scholar, Julius Schoeps, in court for the ownership rights to the paintings, “Boy Leading A Horse” and “Le Moulin de la Galette.” The trial is due to begin on Monday in Manhattan federal court.

In December 2007, the two museums sued Schoeps, who says he is the heir of wealthy German Jewish art collector and banker Paul Robert Ernst von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. Schoeps contends the banker, his great uncle, was forced to pass on the paintings under duress in Nazi Germany.

51 SEC charges financial planner with TARP fraud


Wed Jan 28, 5:10 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged a financial planner on Wednesday with fraud related to the U.S. government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

The SEC said Nashville, Tennessee-based Gordon Grigg and his firm ProTrust Management defrauded clients out of at least $6.5 million by telling them their money was invested in the federal TARP financial bailout program and other securities that do not exist.

The agency filed in federal court for disgorgement of ill- gotten profits and financial penalties against Grigg and his firm. A U.S. district judge has issued an order freezing the defendants’ assets.

52 California court approves Schwarzenegger cuts


Thu Jan 29, 3:31 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – A California judge ruled Thursday that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger can close some state offices for two days each month from February as the state grapples with its spiraling budget deficit.

Unions representing state workers had gone to court to try to block the move, saying Schwarzenegger had exceeded his authority and that only state legislators could approve the cuts to the working week.

But Judge Patrick Marlette said the state’s fiscal emergency justified the governor’s executive order, which translates into a pay cut of around nine to 10 percent for affected workers.

53 Mini-Madoffs crawl from pyramid fraud wreckage

by Sebastian Smith, AFP

Thu Jan 29, 3:06 pm ET

NEW YORK (AFP) – Bernard Madoff allegedly ran the mother of all pyramid schemes. Now meet the kids. Call them mini-Madoffs — men less ambitious, perhaps, but copying the same alleged fraud and, like Madoff himself, being hauled before judges.

The latest is Long Island financier Nicholas Cosmo, arrested Monday and told by a court Thursday that he must remain in detention while lawyers and prosecutors negotiate bail terms.

Cosmo’s alleged 370 million dollar pyramid, or Ponzi fraud, would be peanuts compared to Madoff’s alleged 50 billion dollar scam.

54 Condoleezza Rice to return to Stanford


Thu Jan 29, 3:12 pm ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice is to return to Stanford as a political science professor, rejoining the university where she served as provost for six years before joining the Bush administration, the college confirmed Thursday.

Rice, who was national security advisor to President George W. Bush in 2001-2005 and then secretary of state during Bush’s second term, will return to the campus’s Hoover Institution in the next few months.

She started teaching political science at the university in 1981, but said this week that she might not return to teaching right away — instead focusing at first on writing books, doing lectures and pursuing business activities.

55 Hollywood actors, producers union to meet next week


Thu Jan 29, 10:39 am ET

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Hollywood’s warring producers and actors unions said Wednesday they plan to meet for the first time in more than two months next week, signalling a possible breakthrough in their contract feud.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) issued a terse joint statement saying representatives of the two bodies would meet for two days from Tuesday.

“We will have no further comment about the meeting,” the statement said.

56 Behind the Family-Planning Flap

Time Magazine

Thu Jan 29, 4:20 pm ET

Early Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives passed President Obama’s $819 billion plan to stimulate the struggling U.S. economy. But while the package that passed on a 244-188 near-party-line vote (and didn’t garner a single Republican vote) included a bevy of tax cuts and spending programs, one particular item that has been the subject of much debate this week was notably missing.

57 New Playground Architecture: Bye, Jungle Gym. Hello, Loose Parts

Time Magazine

1 hr 22 mins ago

It’s happened to every parent: you buy little Sammy the hottest new toy, and he’s more excited to play with the box it came in and the Styrofoam peanuts.

58 How Safe is the U.S. Army’s Body Armor?

Time Magazine

54 mins ago

The U.S. Army has ordered the recall of more than 16,000 sets of body armor after an audit by the Inspector General of the Defense Department concluded they failed tests to see if they met Army specifications. The I.G. fingers the Army for failing to conduct adequate testing before contracting for the armor. This is the second audit to blame the Army for the quality of body armor. A year ago, the I.G. found that the Army failed to follow federal contracting rules in procuring armor, and concluded that the Pentagon had “no assurance” that nearly half of 28 contracts – worth nearly $3 billion – “met the required standards.”


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  1. From Yahoo News Politics

    59 Senate passes children’s health bill

    Associated Press

    15 mins ago

    WASHINGTON – The Senate has approved legislation that would increase spending on children’s health insurance and extend government-sponsored coverage to 4 million uninsured children.

    The bill passed 66-32 and now goes back to the House, where a similar measure was approved two weeks ago.

    Democratic lawmakers consider the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program one of their top domestic priorities.

    60 Official: Obama to repeal 4 Bush executive orders

    By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer

    47 mins ago

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama intends to overturn four Bush-era executive orders that unions opposed, officials said Thursday.

    Obama planned to reverse one order Friday that allowed unionized companies to post signs informing workers that they were allowed to decertify their union, an order some claim is unfair because nonunion businesses are not required to post signs letting workers know they were legally allowed to vote for a union.

    Two Democratic sources also said Obama would prevent federal contractors from being reimbursed for expenses that were intended to influence workers’ decisions to form unions or engage in collective bargaining. A third order would require federal vendors with more than $100,000 in contracts to post workers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act.

    61 On second thought, never mind about that bailout

    By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

    Thu Jan 29, 1:36 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – A small but growing number of community banks are backing out of the government’s bailout, which they see as fraught with hidden strings and government interference.

    About 20 banks so far that applied for or had been approved to receive about $1 billion combined in taxpayer money have reversed course in the past month and refused to take the money. That’s just a fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars the government already has spent, but it shows that taxpayers aren’t the only ones anxious about the financial bailout.

    “The government’s going to own a good portion of these banks,” said David Heintzman, president of Stock Yards Bank & Trust in Louisville, Ky. The bank recently turned down $43 million in approved bailout money.

    62 Republicans demand details on Pentagon nominee

    By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer

    Thu Jan 29, 5:39 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s decision to waive his own ethics requirements for Pentagon nominee William Lynn caused problems anew Thursday, as Republicans sharply demanded more details on Lynn’s lobbying ties.

    The fresh challenges – posed by GOP Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Charles Grassley of Iowa – were unlikely to derail the nomination, at least just yet. McCain has said he believes the nomination should proceed, and a spokeswoman for Grassley said the senator is not prepared to say whether he would block the appointment.

    But even if it’s just Republican bluster, the effort is forcing the Democratic administration to publicly reconcile its decision to appoint a defense lobbyist as the No. 2 Pentagon official with its much-touted crackdown on the “revolving door” between government and big business.

    63 Banks borrow more from Fed, investment firms less

    By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

    Thu Jan 29, 5:25 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – Commercial banks boosted their borrowing over the past week from the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending program, while investment firms drew less.

    The Fed on Thursday said commercial banks averaged nearly $65 billion in daily borrowing over the week ending Wednesday. That was up from $61.6 billion in average daily borrowing logged over the week that ended Jan. 21.

    Investment firms drew $32 billion over the past week. That was down from an average of nearly $32.7 billion the previous week. This category includes any loans that were made to the U.S.- and London-based broker-dealer subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch.

    64 TARP overseer wants stricter executive compensation

    By Rachelle Younglai, Reuters

    Thu Jan 29, 6:37 pm ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Financial regulators should consider revoking bonus pay for executives of failing institutions needing government help, said a watchdog panel for the government’s $700-billion financial bailout on Thursday.

    Executives might be motivated to avoid excessively risky behavior if faced with the prospect of losing their bonuses, the Congressional Oversight Panel said in a report.

    The recommendations came as officials reported that Wall Street companies paid $18.4 billion in bonuses to employees even though the government had to save the companies from collapsing.

    65 Lawmakers see efforts to calm Chinese currency row

    By Paul Eckert, Asia Correspondent

    Thu Jan 29, 6:27 pm ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama is expected to contact his Chinese counterpart soon and assure Beijing that Washington is not seeking a “currency war” a lawmaker closely involved in U.S.-China issues said on Thursday.

    Representative Mark Kirk, co-chair of the U.S.-China Working Group, said he and others in the bipartisan congressional group were told by administration officials that “the president will undercut the anti-currency message pretty directly.”

    “My understanding is today or tomorrow there will be an Obama call to Hu Jintao in which the talking points are basically that the president will commit that we are likely not to have a currency war,” the Illinois Republican said.

    66 U.S. economy will still need aid in 2011: White House


    Thu Jan 29, 5:04 pm ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy will still need support in two years’ time from a massive fiscal stimulus currently in the works, the White House said on Thursday, signaling that it expects only a very slow recovery.

    “We are not likely to wake up on the 1st of January in 2011 and find everything going so great,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told a daily press briefing.

    A collapse in the U.S. housing market tipped the U.S. economy into a recession in December 2007 and the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that it expects the recovery to be gradual and to begin later in 2009.

    67 Republicans must reach out to voters: McConnell

    By Andy Sullivan, Reuters

    Thu Jan 29, 4:24 pm ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the U.S. Senate, warned his party on Thursday it must appeal to a broader spectrum of American voters if it hopes to recapture power in Washington.

    As Republican insiders gathered to pick a chairman, the Kentucky senator cautioned that the party would cease to be competitive outside its Southern stronghold unless it reached out to black and Hispanic voters and other groups that have increasingly voted Democratic in recent years.

    “Unless we do something to adapt, our status as a minority party may become too pronounced for an easy recovery,” McConnell told members of the Republican National Committee.

    68 Gates to give Obama Afghan troop plan in days


    Thu Jan 29, 12:51 pm ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates will give President Barack Obama his formal recommendation on new U.S. troop deployments to Afghanistan within days, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

    “I would think in the coming days the secretary hopes to be able to present the president with his recommendation,” said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

    He said Obama would also receive a recommendation from the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen.

    69 ‘Buy American’ stimulus alarms US businesses, trade partners

    by Veronica Smith, AFP

    Thu Jan 29, 4:31 pm ET

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – A new “Buy American” push in President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan is sparking protests about protectionism from US businesses and trading partners.

    Obama has pushed for swift passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as vital to prevent the collapse of the fragile US economy as it reels from the global financial crisis.

    The US House of Representatives passed an 819 billion dollar economic stimulus package Wednesday with a “Buy American” provision that generally prohibits the purchase of foreign iron and steel for any stimulus-funded infrastructure project.

    70 US diplomat challenges Clinton’s appointment


    Thu Jan 29, 6:28 pm ET

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – A US diplomat has filed a lawsuit charging that Hillary Clinton’s appointment as secretary of state is unconstitutional, a watchdog group representing him said Thursday.

    The lawsuit filed by David Rodearmel argues that Clinton is “ineligible” for the job because the Senate approved, while she was a senator, a salary raise for her predecessor Condoleezza Rice, Judicial Watch said in a statement.

    According to article one, section six of the US constitution: “No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time.”

  2. From Yahoo News Business

    71 CAW to restart talks with automakers


    Thu Jan 29, 6:25 pm ET

    DETROIT (Reuters) – The Canadian Auto Workers union said on Thursday it was open to negotiating new wage and benefit deals with embattled U.S. automakers, opening the door to concessions less than a year into three-year contracts.

    “Labor costs clearly did not cause the worldwide crisis in the auto industry, and labor concessions cannot possibly solve that crisis,” CAW President Ken Lewenza said in a statement.

    “But we can’t ignore the precarious financial state of these companies,” he said.

    72 Mine jobs lost worldwide as recession hits metals

    By Steve James, Reuters

    Thu Jan 29, 4:37 pm ET

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – All over North and South America, miners are losing their jobs as the recession hits demand for metals that enjoyed a boom in recent years.

    In Chile, where copper mining is a major contributor to the economy, unions estimated 14,000 jobs have been lost. Peru reported more than 5,000 layoffs and Mexico put the number of out-of-work mine workers at 2,000.

    In the United States, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc (FCX.N), said it is laying-off 3,000 workers, many of them at its Morenci mine in Arizona, where it is reducing operations to cut costs as copper prices have plummeted.

    73 States urge Congress to regulate hedge funds

    By Rachelle Younglai, Reuters

    Thu Jan 29, 3:28 pm ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – State regulators urged Congress on Thursday to restore their authority to protect investors from fraud in the banking sector and to beef up oversight of hedge funds.

    Hedge fund advisers should be subject to the same kind of scrutiny as investment advisers, the North American Securities Administrators Association told reporters.

    The NASAA said Congress should give the Securities and Exchange Commission explicit authority to regulate the $1.4 trillion industry, which has the potential to destabilize markets.

    74 Disney plans 5 percent job cuts at ABC group


    2 hrs 43 mins ago

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co plans to lay off 200 people at its ABC division, a Disney executive familiar with the situation said, underscoring the media industry’s struggle with sliding ad sales.

    The media giant intends to also freeze 200 vacant jobs, resulting in an overall, 5 percent reduction of ABC’s workforce of about 6,500 to 7,000, said the Disney source, who declined to be identified because the cuts had not been made public.

    Disney said last week it planned to combine its two ABC divisions — ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios — into one umbrella organization, hoping to streamline the twin business units.

    75 Kodak to cut up to 4,500 jobs

    By Franklin Paul, Reuters

    Thu Jan 29, 11:28 am ET

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Eastman Kodak Co (EK.N) posted a sharp quarterly loss and said it would cut up to 4,500 jobs this year after suffering a dramatic decline in demand for digital cameras and commercial printing equipment.

    The report sent shares of Kodak down 25 percent to a historical low, making the company one of the biggest percentage losers on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.

    The maker of cameras, picture frames and consumer printers and provider of commercial printing services, also plans another round of restructuring to cut costs, the latest in a string of such moves dating back to at least 2003.

    76 Online retail growth seen slowing to 11 percent in 2009


    Thu Jan 29, 2:50 pm ET

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – E-commerce will slow this year to a growth rate of 11 percent as consumers cut back sharply on spending, according to research data released on Thursday.

    Forrester Research projected the total to be spent online in 2009 at $156 billion, up from $141 billion last year, with growth slowing from 13 percent in 2008 and 18 percent the prior year.

    Last year in January, Forrester projected that 2009 online sales would increase by 15 percent.

    77 Manufacturers to slash spending in downturn

    By Scott Malone and Helen Chernikoff, Reuters

    Thu Jan 29, 1:45 pm ET

    BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Top U.S. manufacturers, having shed tens of thousands of jobs in the face of a severe global recession, are now cutting back capital spending in a struggle to preserve cash as economic conditions worsen.

    That was the word on Thursday from major diversified manufacturers including 3M Co (MMM.N) and Textron Inc (TXT.N).

    “We believe 2009 is setting up to be the most challenging year ever for most manufacturing companies,” said Textron Chief Executive Lewis Campbell on a conference call.

    78 Japanese output dives, unemployment rises

    by Kyoko Hasegawa, AFP

    1 hr 13 mins ago

    TOKYO (AFP) – Japan said Friday industrial output plummeted at the fastest pace on record in December while consumer spending slumped and unemployment hit a near three-year high as the recession deepened.

    The global economic slowdown is crushing demand for Japanese goods, raising fears that Asia’s biggest economy suffered its sharpest contraction in three decades in the fourth quarter of last year, analysts said.

    Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano said it was “impossible to predict” when the Japanese economy would bottom out.

    79 Toyota to revise down profit forecast further: reports


    Thu Jan 29, 7:22 pm ET

    TOKYO (AFP) – The world’s biggest automaker Toyota Motor Corp. is to revise its annual earnings forecast dramatically down, just a month after it lowered earnings expectations due to falling sales, reports said Friday.

    In December Toyota forecast its first-ever operating loss for the financial year to March as the global slowdown hit sales, putting the figure at 150 billion yen (1.67 billion dollars).

    It is now expecting an operating loss of 400 billion yen, the business daily Nikkei reported, without citing sources.

    80 Airlines face hard landing in slump: IATA

    by Peter Capella, AFP

    Thu Jan 29, 2:32 pm ET

    GENEVA (AFP) – Airlines are on course for one of their toughest ever years, top industry association IATA warned on Thursday as the global slump pushes air cargo into free fall and slashes passenger growth.

    “2009 is shaping up to be one of the toughest ever years for international aviation,” International Air Transport Association Director General Giovanni Bisignani said.

    “The 22.6 percent drop in international cargo traffic in December puts us in uncharted territory and the bottom is nowhere in sight. Keep your seatbelts fastened and prepare for a bumpy ride and a hard landing,” he said.

    81 Shell posts 2.8 bln dlr loss on tumbling oil prices

    by Ben Perry, AFP

    Thu Jan 29, 12:55 pm ET

    LONDON (AFP) – Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell said Thursday it made a net loss of 2.81 billion dollars (2.15 billion euros) in the final quarter of 2008 as plunging oil prices slashed the value of inventories.

    The loss compared with a net profit of 8.47 billion dollars during the fourth quarter of 2007 when crude prices were far higher, Europe’s largest oil company said in a statement.

    “During the fourth quarter 2008 worldwide oil and gas related commodity marker prices declined significantly,” Shell said.

    82 WTO deal achievable in next months: India


    Thu Jan 29, 2:16 pm ET

    DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) – Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath said Thursday he was optimistic that the World Trade Organization could reach a new global free-trade deal in coming months.

    “I see that there are greater sensitivities and comprehension of each others problems,” he told delegates at the Davos forum.

    “I am optimistic that in the next couple of months with intensive negotiations we should be able to close this round,” he added, referring to the stalled Doha round of world trade talks launched in 2001.

  3. From Yahoo News Science

    83 Bird discovery shows China’s ecological potential

    By MICHAEL CASEY, AP Environmental Writer

    Thu Jan 29, 4:31 am ET

    BANGKOK, Thailand – A new species of the fist-sized, babbler bird has been found in network of underground caves in southwestern China, raising the prospect the country could become a hot spot for other new discoveries, a conservation group said Thursday.

    Ornithologists Zhou Fang and Jiang Aiwu first spotted the dark bird, which has with white specks on its chest, in 2005 and have since confirmed its identity as an undescribed species. They named it the Nonggang babbler, or Stachyris nonggangensis, for the area of China in which they discovered it.

    A formal description was published last year in The Auk, which is the quarterly journal of the Virginia-based American Ornithologists’ Union.

    84 Odd planet’s extreme global warming: Highs of 2240

    BY SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer

    Wed Jan 28, 3:18 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – Astronomers have found a planet with a galactic case of hot flashes. In just six hours, this planet four times the size of Jupiter heats up by more than 1,200 degrees, according to a study published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature. “It’s the first observation of changing weather” on a planet outside our solar system, said study author Gregory Laughlin, an astronomy professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to study the planet.

    Change is a mild way to put it for the lifeless world, called HD80606b, where the word “mild” would never enter a weather forecast.

    Normally, the planet is a toasty 980 degrees or so. But in the few hours it whips around its sun the planet gets zapped with mega-heat, pushing the thermometer closer to 2,240 degrees.

    85 Snowy owls swoop southward, delighting birders

    By MARY ESCH, Associated Press Writer

    Wed Jan 28, 7:34 am ET

    ALBANY, N.Y. – Biologists say an increase in snowy owl sightings in the South suggests that the arctic species did so well in its northern breeding grounds last year that competition is driving the young ones to warmer climates.

    The mostly white owls of “Harry Potter” fame are spotted in small numbers in upstate New York and other northern states every winter. This year, they’ve also been spotted farther south, in states where they’re rarely seen.

    In Tennessee, birders armed with spotting scopes and telephoto lenses scrambled from as far away as Georgia and Alabama to see the first snowy owl reported in that state in 22 years.

    86 Super-rich still want to boldly go into space

    By Ben Hirschler, Reuters

    Wed Jan 28, 9:37 am ET

    DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – The economic downturn has not dampened rich people’s enthusiasm for space tourism, the world’s first commercial space flight company says.

    “Business is good,” Eric Anderson, chief executive of privately owned Space Adventures, told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

    The U.S. company has sold seats worth about $175 million on Russian rockets to the International Space Station and is preparing to send Hungarian computer software executive Charles Simonyi into space for the second time in March.

    87 Key food, biofuel crop sorghum’s genome deciphered

    By Will Dunham, Reuters

    Wed Jan 28, 7:14 pm ET

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists have deciphered the genetic make-up of sorghum, a drought-tolerant crop and important food and biofuel source, and said the breakthrough could help develop better crops for arid regions.

    Sorghum is one of the world’s leading cereals, along with corn, wheat, oats and barley, and can thrive in hot, dry conditions other crops cannot tolerate.

    An international scientific team, writing in the journal Nature on Wednesday, mapped the genome which includes about 30,000 genes.

    88 Australia cracks down on Great Barrier Reef pollution


    Thu Jan 29, 10:13 am ET

    SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia announced a crackdown on pollution of the Great Barrier Reef Thursday as the World Heritage-listed site comes under increasing threat from toxic chemicals and climate change.

    Farmers who allow pesticides and fertilisers to run off into the seas around the reef — described as the world’s largest living organism — will be fined under new conservation laws, officials said.

    “I want my grandchildren to see this natural wonder, and I want to be able to say to them that we did everything we possibly could to protect it,” said Queensland state Premier Anna Bligh.

    89 Shy fish inspire boldness in mate: study


    Thu Jan 29, 12:13 pm ET

    CHICAGO (AFP) – How do you make a fish come out of hiding? Pair it up with a shy mate, a study published Thursday has found.

    British researchers studying the behavior of tiny stickleback fish have found that they are much more willing to take risks in search of food in pairs than alone.

    Not surprising, perhaps, given that fish tend to find protection in numbers.

    90 Indonesian NGO backs villagers in fight against palm oil

    by Cecilia Castilla, AFP

    Thu Jan 29, 1:47 am ET

    PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia (AFP) – Deep in the forests of Indonesian Borneo, a small environmental group is using education and common sense to arm villagers against the devastating onslaught of palm plantations.

    Yayasan Orangutan Indonesia (Yayorin) was founded in 1991 with the goal of saving Indonesia’s endangered orangutans and other wildlife as well as the forests that those species need to survive.

    Since then the spread of palm oil plantations into forests and peatlands on Sumatra and Borneo islands have helped make Indonesia the world’s third-highest greenhouse gas emitter, thanks partly to the craze for “eco-friendly” biofuels.

    91 Deadly attacks shed light on Indonesia’s human-animal conflicts


    Thu Jan 29, 8:32 am ET

    BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AFP) – A spate of recent deadly animal attacks in Indonesia has thrown the spotlight on growing conflicts between humans and animals triggered by the rapid dwindling of the country’s forests.

    In the latest attack, two women were trampled to death by a pair of elephants in Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra island Tuesday after the elephants entered an illegally cleared field from nearby jungle.

    The attack, from which another six villagers narrowly escaped with their lives, came just days after a rubber-tapper was reportedly killed by two rare Sumatran tigers as he urinated outside his hut in Jambi province, also on Sumatra.

    92 Climate change: Scientists doubt claims over sea ‘fertilisation’


    Wed Jan 28, 2:31 pm ET

    PARIS (AFP) – Proposals to combat global warming by sowing the sea with iron to promote carbon-gobbling plankton may be badly overblown, according to a study published on Wednesday.

    Ocean “fertilisation” has ignited fierce scientific controversy, with supporters saying these schemes could stave off damaging climate change and critics warning that swathes of ocean may turn stagnant or acidic.

    Fertilisation has now touched off a political storm as well. An experiment by scientists aboard a German research ship in waters off Antarctica has pitted Germany’s environment ministry, which opposes the scheme, against the country’s research ministry, which supports it.

    93 Gore: US must lead world on climate

    by Olivier Knox, AFP

    Wed Jan 28, 4:26 pm ET

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former US vice president Al Gore called Wednesday for urgent new US leadership on climate change, “reversing years of inaction,” and paving the way to a new global treaty completed by 2010.

    Gore urged US lawmakers to quickly pass President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus package, highlighting its environmental investments as “a down payment” on clean energy and a job-creating boon amid a paralzying recession.

    “How can we afford not to do this?” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Oscar winner, who jokingly called himself “a recovering politician,” told the packed hearing room of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    94 Leftist groups meeting in Brazil call for Amazon protection

    by Yana Marull, AFP

    Wed Jan 28, 2:05 pm ET

    BELEM, Brazil (AFP) – Leftist groups attending the World Social Forum (WSF) in Brazil kicked off their week of activities Wednesday with a call for greater protection of the Amazon basin.

    The issue was the first of many to be discussed at the gathering in Belem, northern Brazil, which is designed as an anti-globalization counterweight to the Davos World Economic Forum under way in Switzerland.

    The WSF, which opened its six-day program on Tuesday, has brought together an estimated 100,000 people from unions, ecological organizations, feminist groups and other associations committed to its overarching slogan, “Another World is Possible.”

    95 Vesuvius volcano still ‘very dangerous’


    Wed Jan 28, 11:49 am ET

    ROME (AFP) – Mount Vesuvius remains a threat to hundreds of thousands of people even though the volcano overlooking the southern Italian city of Naples has not erupted since 1944, a geologist warned Wednesday.

    “Vesuvius is a very dangerous volcano,” Francesco Russo told a news conference in Rome. “According to some statistics, there is a 27 percent chance of an explosive eruption in the next 100 years.”

    Russo, head of a Naples-area geologists association, said civil protection measures against a possible eruption were “inadequate.”

    96 EU unveils international climate change blueprint

    by Paul Harrington, AFP

    Wed Jan 28, 1:02 pm ET

    BRUSSELS (AFP) – The European Commission Wednesday called for 30 percent cuts in greenhouse gases for developed countries along with other steps it hopes will provide a blueprint for global talks in Copenhagen.

    The EU executive also proposed 15-30 percent cuts from all but the poorest developing countries below “business as usual levels” as part of international measures it says are vital to combat climate change.

    However environmental groups complained that the commission plan, which will be put to the 27 EU states at a March summit, is not ambitious enough.

    97 Congo must do more for forests: NGO


    Wed Jan 28, 1:47 pm ET

    KINSHASA (AFP) – British NGO Global Witness hailed the Congolese government Wednesday for cancelling a raft of logging contracts but warned it needs to do more to ensure forest wealth benefits its people.

    The organisation, which combats the corrupt exploitation of natural resources, said that despite last week’s decision to revoke the contracts, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government control over the forestry sector remained “extremely weak”.

    It was responding to a decision last week to cancel some 60 percent of all contracts with logging companies, and convert others into long term concessions which are subject to strict social and environmental rules.

    98 Climate change setting penguins on march to extinction: study


    Wed Jan 28, 7:04 am ET

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – The emperor penguin, the species popularized in modern culture by the 2005 movie “March of the Penguins,” are at serious risk of extinction in parts of their range because of climate change, according to a new study published this week.

    Researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), predicting the effect climate change and resulting losses of sea ice will have on the penguins, found that disappearing habitat will have a profound impact on the species.

    If climate change continues to melt sea ice at the rate highlighted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the large emperor penguin colony in Terre Adelie, Antarctica is set to shrink from its current 3,000 breeding pairs to only 400 pairs in 2100.

    99 NASA Calls on Public to Vote For Hubble Telescope’s Target Staff

    Thu Jan 29, 5:17 pm ET

    NASA is turning control of the Hubble Space Telescope over to the general public to give non-scientists a chance to choose which target the iconic observatory should turn its camera eyes on next.

    The U.S. space agency is inviting the public to vote for one of six candidate astronomical objects for Hubble to observe in honor of the International Year of Astronomy, which began this month. The options, which Hubble has not previously photographed, range from far-flung galaxies to dying stars. Votes can be cast until March 1.

    Hubble’s camera will take a high-resolution image revealing new details about the object that receives the most votes. The image will be released during the International Year of Astronomy’s “100 Hours of Astronomy” from April 2 to 5.

    100 Attempts to Contact Aliens Date Back More Than 150 Years

    Michael Schirber, Astrobiology Magazine,

    Thu Jan 29, 9:20 am ET

    The desire to contact intelligent life on other planets is much older than the UFO craze and the SETI movement. Several 19th century scientists contemplated how we might communicate with possible Martians and Venusians.

    These early proposals – which predate by 150 years the first extraterrestrial message that was sent in 1974 – were based on visual signals, as the invention of radio was still decades away.  

    In fact, as history shows, ideas for interplanetary communication have largely been driven by whatever the current technology allowed – be it lamps, radios or lasers.

    101 Mars Rover’s Unexpected Behavior Puzzles NASA

    Tariq Malik, Senior Editor

    Thu Jan 29, 9:20 am ET

    NASA engineers are scratching their heads over some unexpected behavior from the long-lived Spirit rover, which began its sixth year exploring Mars this month.

    Spirit failed to report in to engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., last weekend, prompting a series of diagnostic tests this week to hunt the glitch’s source. The aging Mars rover did not beam home a record of its weekend activities and, more puzzlingly, apparently failed to even record any of its actions on Sunday, mission managers said.

    “We don’t have a good explanation yet for the way Spirit has been acting for the past few days,” said NASA’s Sharon Laubach, who leads the JPL team that that writes and checks commands for the rover and its robotic twin Opportunity. “Our next steps will be diagnostic activities.”

    102 Playstation 3 Consoles Tackle Black Hole Vibrations

    Tariq Malik, Senior Editor

    Wed Jan 28, 1:15 pm ET

    When black holes are perturbed, they vibrate somewhat like a ringing bell. Now astronomers have narrowed down the rotational speed at which that vibration should stop.

    As is typical, they did it out by running a simulation. But instead of a supercomputer, they used a batch of Sony Playstation 3 gaming consoles wired together.

    The so-called PS3 Gravity Grid, a network of 16 Playstation 3 consoles grouped together in a cluster capable of running simulations that rival a dedicated supercomputer at a much lower cost.

    103 Air Force drops plan to make fuel from coal in Montana

    By Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers

    Thu Jan 29, 6:39 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – The Air Force on Thursday dropped plans to build a coal-to-liquid plant to produce fuel for its aircraft, a plan that would’ve reduced dependence on oil but increased the emissions of the heat-trapping gases that cause global warming.

    The Air Force has a goal to certify that all aircraft could fly on a 50-50 blend of fuel by 2011. It’s been purchasing fuel made from coal from Sasol of South Africa , most recently 300,000 gallons, said Air Force spokesman Gary Strasburg .

    The B1, B52 and C-17 already have been certified to run on the coal-mix blend, and the F-15, F-22, C-5 and KC-135 all have also used the blend, Strasburg said.

    104 Space detectives delve into mystery of missing carbon

    By Robert S. Boyd, McClatchy Newspapers

    Thu Jan 29, 5:09 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – For years, scientists have been trying to solve what they call the “Mystery of the Missing Sinks.”

    No, they’re not talking about misplaced kitchenware. These “sinks” are the world’s forests, pastures, crops and soil, which soak up the excess carbon – in the form of carbon dioxide – that’s a major driver of global warming. Even golf courses and suburban lawns serve as carbon sinks.

    “Humans dump about 9 million tons of carbon daily into the atmosphere, but only half stays there,” said David Crisp , principal investigator for NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory .

    105 Stand Down: Black Holes Won’t Destroy Earth

    Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer

    Wed Jan 28, 6:15 pm ET

    The world’s largest, most powerful particle smasher probably won’t generate any planet-gobbling black holes, according to a new analysis.

    That’s contrary to suggestions in a news article Wednesday that invoked a possible doomsday scenario and said black holes created by the collider could stick around longer than predicted.

    The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mile (27-kilometer) circular tunnel running 300 feet (91 meters) underground at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva, is expected to recreate the conditions that occurred a fraction of a second after the Big Bang, the theoretical instant in which the universe was born from an incredibly small point.

    106 Ancient Lefties: The History of Obama’s Handedness

    Heather Whipps, LiveScience’s History columnist

    Thu Jan 29, 9:48 am ET

    Something sinister is going on, and newly-inaugurated President Obama is behind it.

    From the Latin for left, “sinistra,” southpaw Obama is another notch for the column of left-handed presidents, now totaling eight – a proportion (out of all 43 men who have been POTUS) that is well above their representation in the total population, which hovers around 10 percent.

    (Let’s count James A. Garfield as a lefty, although some say he was ambidextrous and others say he was a lefty; many ambis are lefties who learn to do some tasks with their right hands.)

  4. No rest for the wicked.

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