The Morning News is an Open Thread
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1 GM readies plans for bankruptcy it hopes to avoid
By David Bailey and Kevin Krolicki, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 3:31 pm ET
|DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Corp Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said on Friday the automaker was readying detailed plans for a bankruptcy filing that now appears more likely even as it races to complete a business plan under federal oversight.
Henderson said GM faced no pressure from the Obama administration’s autos task force to make a decision on whether to file for bankruptcy before an established June 1 deadline and said it was “feasible” that the automaker could still avoid bankruptcy despite the short time frame remaining.
But Henderson also said the automaker was drawing up a game plan that would let it emerge as quickly as possible from bankruptcy if it needed to take that route.
2 U.S. clears way to regulate greenhouse gases
By Deborah Zabarenko and Tom Doggett, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 3:31 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration opened the way to regulating U.S. greenhouse gas emissions on Friday by declaring climate-warming pollution a danger to human health and welfare, in a sharp policy shift from the Bush administration.
Environmental activists and their supporters in Congress were jubilant and industry groups were wary at the news of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s move. The White House said President Barack Obama would prefer legislation over administrative action to curb greenhouse emissions.
Congress is already considering a bill to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, which is emitted by cars, coal-fired power plants and oil refineries, among other sources.
3 Obama reaches out to Cuba in new pitch to Americas
By Jeff Mason and David Alexander, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 11:00 pm ET
|PORT OF SPAIN (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama pledged on Friday to seek a “new beginning” in ties with communist-ruled Cuba as part of a new era of U.S. partnership and engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean.
Before addressing his counterparts in the hemisphere at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, Obama also initiated a handshake with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, one of Washington’s most virulent critics in the region.
“We cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements,” Obama told the opening session of the summit after entering the conference center to warm applause.
4 U.S. stem cell proposals forbid funds for cloning
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 6:00 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New stem cell guidelines released on Friday by the U.S. National Institutes of Health would limit federal funding of the research to embryos left over at fertility clinics and prohibit federal funding of embryos made by cloning or certain other methods.
They include strict rules on making sure that people who donate unused embryos for research know what they are doing, and why, and are not coerced or paid in any way.
They reverse long-standing limits placed on funding the research by former president George W. Bush, which scientists had said restricted potentially lifesaving medical research.
5 New tactic for U.S., NATO in Afghanistan: say sorry
By Peter Graff, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 11:00 am ET
|KABUL (Reuters) – After years of alienating Afghans by being slow to acknowledge killing civilians, U.S. troops are trying a new tactic: say sorry fast.
Commanders acknowledge that soaring civilian death tolls from U.S. and NATO strikes over the past year have cost them the vital support of ordinary Afghans — and a perception that they were reluctant to take responsibility made the situation worse.
In an effort to blunt the damage, they have put in place new drills in recent months — responding more quickly, coordinating their investigations with Afghan authorities, apologizing publicly and offering compensation.
6 What recession? Funds flow for Senate races
By Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 9:42 am ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The recession shadowing the United States and draining Americans’ savings has hardly dented efforts by Senate candidates to raise cash for the 2010 elections, and Democrats appear ahead early in the game.
Several Democratic candidates have raised more than $1 million in the first three months of 2009, while available data shows only two Republicans crossing that threshold: Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who faces a potentially tough re-election, and Ohio Senate hopeful Rob Portman.
While the 2010 mid-year election is 17 months away, the races are moving into high gear to suck up money as quickly as possible for a battle both sides expect to be a referendum on President Barack Obama’s expansive agenda.
7 Thai "yellow shirt" leader Sondhi survives shooting
By Panarat Thepgumpanat, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 6:28 am ET
|BANGKOK (Reuters) – The founder of Thailand’s “yellow shirt” protest movement, which was behind the week-long occupation of Bangkok’s main airports last year, was shot and wounded on Friday, but a doctor said his life was not in danger.
The assassination attempt came hours before the government extended a state of emergency in the capital at a cabinet meeting to discuss the past week’s political violence. It also agreed to increase government borrowing to support the beleaguered economy.
Sondhi Limthongkul received a bloody head wound but survived after gunmen riddled his car with bullets at a petrol station before dawn.
8 Pakistan stripped of 2011 World Cup matches
by Shahid Hashmi, AFP
Fri Apr 17, 1:09 pm ET
|DUBAI (AFP) – Pakistan was stripped of its 2011 World Cup matches by the International Cricket Council on Friday as growing security concerns cast the Asian giants firmly into the sporting wilderness.
The decision came at an ICC executive board meeting here with the international body saying it had acted after noting the “uncertain political situation” in Pakistan.
Ijaz Butt, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, expressed his regret at the decision to AFP.
9 Mixed signals abound, but economy remains weak
By MARCY GORDON and DANIEL WAGNER, AP Business Writers
Fri Apr 17, 5:30 pm ET
|Companies are turning in surprisingly good quarterly earnings – including better-than-expected news Friday from two relative weaklings in the banking and manufacturing industries – but economists say a recovery is probably still months away.
Of the 52 companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index that have reported first-quarter earnings so far, 62 percent have posted results that beat Wall Street expectations. And recent data has provided faint hope of a comeback.
Not so fast, economists say.
10 Vatican decries reaction to pope’s condom remarks
By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 1 min ago
|VATICAN CITY – Critics of the Catholic Church’s social teachings are trying to intimidate Pope Benedict XVI into silence, the Vatican charged Friday in responding to attacks on the pontiff’s remarks about AIDS and condom use.
In a strongly worded statement, the Vatican defended the pope’s view that condoms aren’t the answer to Africa’s AIDS epidemic and could make it worse. On his way to Africa last month, he said the best strategy is the church’s effort to promote sexual responsibility through abstinence and monogamy.
France, Germany, the United Nations’ AIDS-fighting agency and the British medical journal The Lancet called the remarks irresponsible and dangerous. The Belgian parliament passed a resolution calling them “unacceptable” and demanded Belgium’s government officially protest.
11 CIA objections slowed torture memos release
By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 6 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – Four former CIA directors opposed releasing classified Bush-era interrogation memos, officials say, describing objections that went all the way to the White House and slowed release of the records.
Former CIA chiefs Michael Hayden, Porter Goss, George Tenet and John Deutch all called the White House in March warning that release of the so-called “torture memos” would compromise intelligence operations, current and former officials say. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to detail internal government discussions.
President Barack Obama ultimately overruled those concerns after internal discussions that intensified in the weeks after the former directors intervened. The memos were released Thursday.
12 Test of Lincoln DNA sought to prove cancer theory
By RON TODT, Associated Press Writer
1 hr 2 mins ago
|PHILADELPHIA – John Sotos has a theory about why Abraham Lincoln was so tall, why he appeared to have lumps on his lips and even why he had gastrointestinal problems. The 16th president, he contends, had a rare genetic disorder – one that would likely have left him dead of cancer within a year had he not been assassinated. And his bid to prove his theory has posed an ethical and scientific dilemma for a small Philadelphia museum in the year that marks the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth.
Framed behind glass in the Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library in northeast Philadelphia is a small piece of bloodstained pillowcase on which the head of the dying president rested after he was shot at Ford’s Theater in Washington 144 years ago.
Sotos, a cardiologist and author, is hoping a DNA test of the strip will reveal whether Lincoln was afflicted with multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 2B. The disorder, which occurs in one in every 600,000 people, would explain Lincoln’s unusual height, his relatively small and asymmetric head and bumps on his lips seen in photos, he said.
|From Yahoo News World|
13 Attorney: man killed in G-20 riots by hemorrhage
By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 17, 5:02 pm ET
|LONDON – An attorney representing the family of a man who died during the riots before Group of 20 summit said Friday he suffered from an abdominal hemorrhage – not a heart attack, as was first thought.
Jules Carey said a second autopsy was conducted on Ian Tomlinson after videotape emerged appearing to show the newspaper vendor being shoved to the ground by police. The first autopsy had said he died as the result of a heart attack.
Carey said Friday that the findings increase the possibility that the officer implicated in the incident could face charges.
14 Trial begins of Pakistan suspect in Mumbai attacks
By ERIKA KINETZ, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 17, 12:34 pm ET
|MUMBAI, India – The trial of the man police say is the only surviving gunman in the bloody Mumbai siege began Friday, with the prosecutor unleashing innuendo against Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishments and the defendant’s attorney alleging his client was tortured into confessing.
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said that Mohammed Ajmal Kasab had a direct hand in the deaths of 72 people and was part of “a criminal conspiracy hatched in Pakistan,” which could not have been undertaken without training from “intelligence professionals” in Pakistan.
Nikam said the ultimate goal of the attack was the capture of Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan; both countries claim the region and have fought two wars over it.
15 More aid needed for struggling Pakistan: Holbrooke
Fri Apr 17, 11:11 pm ET
|TOKYO (Reuters) – World donors must keep supporting Pakistan as it battles militants and tries to repair its economy, U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke said on Saturday, one day after Islamabad secured more than $5 billion in fresh aid.
Donors including the United States, Japan, Europe, Saudi Arabia and Iran pledged more than $5 billion in fresh aid over two years at the conference in Tokyo after President Asif Ali Zardari vowed to step up the fight against militants.
The pledges, bigger than an expected $4 billion, reflect the international community’s worries that an economic meltdown in nuclear-armed Pakistan, propped up with a $7.6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund over two years, could fan popular support for al Qaeda and other militant groups.
16 U.S. ends Zimbabwe travel warning, sanctions stay
By Sue Pleming
Fri Apr 17, 4:44 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has scrapped an advisory warning Americans against travel to Zimbabwe but this does not signal a shift in U.S. policy toward the unity government, the State Department said on Friday.
U.S. officials said there were no immediate plans to lift targeted sanctions or give any substantial aid to help rebuild Zimbabwe until there is firm evidence that President Robert Mugabe is serious about sharing power with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“We can’t seriously decide to take decisions on aid or lifting sanctions until much, much more is done,” said a State Department official, who declined to be named as the issue is under review and his comments were sensitive.
17 Bolivia aims to untangle plot to kill Morales
By Eduardo Garcia, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 8:45 pm ET
|LA PAZ (Reuters) – Bolivia launched an investigation on Friday into a suspected militant group that police say was plotting to kill President Evo Morales, but the opposition slammed the probe as an “international show.”
Three suspected mercenaries were killed in a shootout on Thursday in the anti-Morales stronghold of Santa Cruz after police moved to arrest a gang that officials say traveled from Ireland or Croatia to kill leading public figures in the Andean nation.
“The investigative work is now in the hands of prosecutors. I hope they do their work quickly so we can have clear and concrete information” about who was behind the conspiracy, police chief Victor Hugo Escobar told state television.
18 G8 farm ministers plot world food strategy
By Svetlana Kovalyova, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 1:47 pm ET
|PIEVE DI SOLIGO, Italy (Reuters) – Farm ministers of the Group of Eight meeting in Italy this weekend aim to forge a strategy to secure food supplies and stabilize prices, as rich nations scramble for acreage abroad to feed their people.
But tensions caused by the pull toward protectionism may also simmer at the first-ever meeting of G8 farm ministers and their counterparts from major developing nations.
The idea of creating a global grain reserve was likely to be on the agenda, said host Italy’s Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia.
19 Russia’s Medvedev warns NATO over Georgia war games
Fri Apr 17, 12:35 pm ET
|MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO Friday that planned military exercises in neighboring Georgia were an attempt at muscle-flexing by the Western alliance that could hinder efforts to mend ties.
Russia fought a brief war with Georgia last year and is vexed by what it describes as NATO support for the ex-Soviet state, a crucial transit route for Caspian Sea oil and gas to Europe long controlled by Moscow.
NATO says it does not understand why Moscow is upset by the long-planned exercises involving 1,300 troops from 19 countries from May 6 to June 1.
20 Mugabe urges Zimbabweans to help fight sanctions
Fri Apr 17, 4:58 am ET
|HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe made a strong call for national unity and urged Zimbabweans to help push for the lifting of sanctions imposed by the West.
In an interview with Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster ahead of Saturday’s 29th independence anniversary, Mugabe said Zimbabweans should help the government put pressure on the Western powers and work together, rather than against each other.
“The sanctions are unwarranted and it is important that we sing the same song,” Mugabe was quoted as saying in the interview which was published in the state-owned Herald newspaper. The television interview will be broadcast Friday night.
21 Serb leader calls for peace in landmark Kosovo visit
by Ismet Hajdari, AFP
Fri Apr 17, 1:18 pm ET
|VISOKI DECANI (AFP) – Serbian President Boris Tadic paid a rare visit to Kosovo on Friday as Belgrade launched a fresh offensive against Kosovo’s independence ahead of a world court case on the move’s legality.
Flown in on a NATO-backed helicopter and escorted by heavily-armed peacekeepers, Tadic was welcomed by Serbian Orthodox monks at Visoki Decani, a UNESCO-listed monastery dating from the 14th century.
“My message today in Decani is a message of peace for Serbs, peace for Albanians, peace for all people living in Kosovo, in our Serbia,” Tadic told reporters after lighting a candle in the church.
22 Pakistan on course to become Islamist state, U.S. experts say
By Jonathan S. Landay, McClatchy Newspapers
Thu Apr 16, 7:15 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – A growing number of U.S. intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials have concluded that there’s little hope of preventing nuclear-armed Pakistan from disintegrating into fiefdoms controlled by Islamist warlords and terrorists, posing the a greater threat to the U.S. than Afghanistan’s terrorist haven did before 9/11.
“It’s a disaster in the making on the scale of the Iranian revolution,” said a U.S. intelligence official with long experience in Pakistan who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.
Pakistan’s fragmentation into warlord-run fiefdoms that host al Qaida and other terrorist groups would have grave implications for the security of its nuclear arsenal; for the U.S.-led effort to pacify Afghanistan ; and for the security of India , the nearby oil-rich Persian Gulf and Central Asia , the U.S. and its allies.
23 Radical Pakistani cleric, out on bail, calls for revolution
By Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers
Thu Apr 16, 7:41 pm ET
|ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A radical cleric, just freed from detention on bail, returned in triumph Thursday night to the Red Mosque in the Pakistani capital and raised the slogan of Islamic revolution before thousands of excited supporters.
Bearded men packed the mosque, long associated with extremist Islam and with links to al Qaida , while outside on the sidewalk rows of women sat clad in all-enveloping black burkas, only their eyes showing. Many were young adults who had come from Islamic seminaries.
“We will continue our struggle until Islamic law is spread across the country, not just in Swat,” Aziz, who’d been chief cleric at the mosque, told the fired-up congregation. Dressed in white flowing traditional clothes, with a white turban and his long white beard, he looked a messianic figure.
24 Bush-era interrogations: From waterboarding to forced nudity
By Marisa Taylor and Margaret Talev, McClatchy Newspapers
Thu Apr 16, 8:45 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – The long-awaited release Thursday of four Bush-era memos lays out in clinical detail many of the controversial interrogation methods secretly authorized by the Bush administration – from waterboarding to trapping prisoners in boxes with insects – while former President George W. Bush was publicly condemning the use of torture.
The memos were made public by the Justice Department with assurances from President Barack Obama that the intelligence officials who followed their guidance won’t be prosecuted. However, the president’s assurances don’t apply to the former administration officials who crafted the legal justification for the interrogation program.
The newly released memos offer the public the most unvarnished and explicit look yet at once-top secret efforts to psychologically break high-level terrorism suspects.
25 Thai Hopes for Healing Fade AAfter Protest Leader Shot
By ROBERT HORN / BANGKOK, Time Magazine
Fri Apr 17, 4:00 am ET
|A protest leader whose followers commandeered Bangkok’s international airport for eight days last December was shot early Friday morning in Bangkok in an apparent assassination attempt, shattering hopes for calm and political reconciliation following the dispersal of violent anti-government demonstrations earlier this week that paralyzed the Thai capital, brought the army on to the streets, and forced the cancellation of a summit of regional leaders.|
26 What 60-Year Chill? Why Chinese Tourists Are Loving Taiwan
By NATALIE TSO / TAIPEI, Time Magazine
Fri Apr 17, 6:05 am ET
|“We love Taiwan!” shouted a group of Chinese Amway employees as they disembarked their cruise ship and walked along a long red carpet flanked by a colorful dragon dance in Taiwan’s Keelung harbor. The enthusiastic gang – 12,000 of them will arrive on nine different ships by the end of this spring – and Taiwan’s eager welcome are a symbol of the vibrant new ties being formed – and bank notes being exchanged – between China and Taiwan. Chinese tourists have not been allowed in Taiwan for the past 60 years because of tensions between China and Taiwan, a democratic island that China claims as its own.|
27 For Crimea’s Tatars, a Home That’s Still Less than Welcoming
By JAMES MARSON / SIMFEROPOL, UKRAINE, Time Magazine
Fri Apr 17, 11:35 am ET
|When Shevket Osmanov moved to his family homeland in 1987 after spending all his life in Uzbekistan, the welcome he received was less than effusive. “People were terrified of us,” says Osmanov, who was part of the first wave of Crimean Tatars to return to the Crimean peninsula on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast during perestroika in the late 1980s. “Ten days before Eid al-Adha [the Muslim Festival of the Sacrifice], they closed all the schools because there were stories that we were going to sacrifice children.”|
28 A Plot to Kill Bolivia’s Leftist President?
By JEAN FRIEDMAN-RUDOVSKY / LA PAZ AND TIM PADGETT, Time Magazine
Fri Apr 17, 11:40 am ET
|Bolivia had been enjoying some well earned quiet in recent days. South America’s poorest nation seemed on the verge of a civil war last year between forces loyal to President Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state, and those aligned with the country’s white elite. But after a new Constitution was finally approved in January, and an agreement was struck earlier this week to hold new presidential and congressional elections, calm seemed at hand.|
29 Report Shows Torture Is Widespread in Iraq
By MARK KUKIS / BAGHDAD, Time Magazine
Fri Apr 17, 4:40 pm ET
|The White House release of Bush administration torture memos marked another step towards closure in what President Obama called a “dark and painful chapter in our history.” But in Iraq, torture is not a thing of the past, according to the findings of a new study on civilian causalities.|
30 At Pakistan’s Red Mosque, a Return of Islamic Militancy
By ARYN BAKER / ISLAMABAD, Time Magazine
2 hrs 1 min ago
|Nearly two years after the arrest of Abdul Aziz on multiple charges of inciting violence against the state of Pakistan, the firebrand cleric of Islamabad’s radical Red Mosque has returned to the pulpit with a promise that he will continue with his struggle to establish Shari’a, or Islamic law, throughout the country.|
31 Sarkozy’s Comments on Leaders Draw Shock, Denial
By BRUCE CRUMLEY / PARIS, Time Magazine
1 hr 2 mins ago
|French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s triumphant march to the Elysee was paved with a promise to ignore formality. To his credit, that style has helped deliver some reformist victories at home. But that undiplomatic swagger can also get Sarkozy into trouble – especially when he talks trash about foreign leaders.|
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32 Court papers: Merkin got Madoff warning years ago
By SAMUEL MAULL, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 17, 10:41 pm ET
|NEW YORK – A former employee of hedge fund manager J. Ezra Merkin claims Merkin was warned about Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff years before losing tens of millions of dollars of investors’ money in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, according to court papers unsealed Friday.
New York University filed the documents as part of its lawsuit against Merkin and his Gabriel Capital fund, which gave Madoff $24 million of the school’s endowment before the massive scheme collapsed and the money was lost. The court papers were filed in response to a lawsuit by the Fox Business Network cable news channel asking the documents be unsealed.
The documents unsealed by state Supreme Court Justice Richard Lowe include e-mails by Victor Teicher, a former financial analyst and convicted felon sometimes employed by Merkin in the 1990s. They also include Merkin’s sworn depositions and letters from Merkin to investors telling them how well Gabriel Capital was doing.
33 Military chief: No plan to ramp up border presence
By ALICIA A. CALDWELL, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 17, 6:32 pm ET
|SUNLAND PARK, N.M. – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff toured a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border Friday but said there are no plans to send troops there as some politicians are seeking.
Adm. Michael Mullen took a brief tour of the border in and around El Paso, Texas, but said his first trip to the area should not be taken as a sign of any intentions to send the military to the border as a bloody drug cartel war plagues Mexico.
“There are (no plans) that I am aware of or that I would talk about,” Mullen said. “I’m here to learn more about it (the border), specifically because of my responsibilities, and we’ll continue to support just as we have in the past.”
34 Security on governor’s travels costs La. taxpayers
By MELINDA DESLATTE, Associated Press Writer
Fri Apr 17, 3:38 pm ET
|BATON ROUGE, La. – When Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gabbed with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” about how he adopted his first name from one of “The Brady Bunch” kids, taxpayers paid for his state trooper security detail watching from the wings.
As Jindal’s national profile in the Republican Party rises, so does the bill for the troopers’ hotels, food and transportation when the possible presidential contender heads out of state, even for campaigning.
An Associated Press review of travel records shows that providing legally mandated security on the trips has cost the state tens of thousands of dollars since Jindal took office in January 2008 – money that hasn’t been reimbursed by him or his campaign. Jindal insists he’s only interested in being re-elected governor, but he has traveled to a dozen states to collect campaign dollars and stump for himself or other Republicans.
35 U.S. court strikes down Bush oil leasing plan
By Yereth Rosen, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 5:40 pm ET
|ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – An appeals court on Friday struck down the Bush administration’s five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing, saying it was put into effect without proper environmental review.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. ordered the Interior Department to rewrite the 2007-2012 plan, which was challenged by a coalition of environmental groups and Alaska Natives.
That entire leasing program, which includes several lease sales to be held as well as a 2008 sale in the Chukchi Sea that drew a record $2.66 billion in high bids, is vacated because its “environmental sensitivity rankings are irrational,” the ruling said.
36 Obama sticks by auto chief despite NY probe link
By Megan Davies and Rachelle Younglai, Reuters
Fri Apr 17, 6:33 pm ET
|NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama stood by his auto task force head on Friday, saying Steven Rattner had not been accused of any wrongdoing related to an alleged pension kickback scheme in New York.
Rattner was one of the executives involved with payments being probed by New York state and federal regulators in the alleged scheme, a source familiar with the situation said on Friday.
He is the person only identified as a “senior executive” of Quadrangle Group in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission complaint against two former New York political officials and others, the source said. His identity was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
37 Former Bush officials slam release of torture memos
Fri Apr 17, 2:10 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – Amid calls for torture prosecutions, former Bush administration officials Friday slammed President Barack Obama’s release of terror interrogation memos, warning the move would fuel “timidity and fear” among US spies.
Unhappy with Obama’s promise not to prosecute CIA officials, human rights groups have demanded criminal investigations of officials who approved or used the interrogation techniques chillingly detailed in the Justice Department memos.
But in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, former CIA director Michael Hayden and former attorney general Michael Mukasey charged that disclosure of the memos “was unnecessary as a legal matter, and is unsound as a matter of policy.”
38 Art-lovers despair as lights go out for Vegas museum
by Steve Friess, AFP
Fri Apr 17, 10:02 am ET
|LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AFP) – Museums dedicated to neon, Liberace and pinball machines remain, but Las Vegas’s more high-brow cultural scene has achieved a new nadir: Sin City is now the largest metropolitan area in the United States without a public art museum.
The 59-year-old Las Vegas Art Museum went broke and shut down, the latest in a string of bad news for the arts that also included the closure last year of a Guggenheim outpost in the Venetian Hotel-Casino and the decision in 2007 by Steve Wynn to convert a gallery at his Wynn Las Vegas resort into a Rolex shop.
“This is a community of two million people and it doesn’t have a museum,” said Libby Lumpkin, the LVAM’s last executive director, who quit in January hoping to save the institution money.
39 US inmates get early release amid budget crisis
by Bryan Mitchell, AFP
Fri Apr 17, 9:19 am ET
|CLEVELAND, Ohio (AFP) – With the recession eating away at government budgets, several US states are reconsidering tough-on-crime policies that have led to swollen jail populations and spiralling costs.
Ohio is the latest state to propose early release for non-violent offenders and increasing community-based probation programs.
“We’re facing an historic economic downturn here and we have to do something differently,” said Terry Collins, Ohio’s director of corrections.