Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

Now with Top, World, U.S News, and Politics Stories, including special Swine Flu Supplement.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Iraq says U.S. raid "a crime," violated security pact

By Aref Mohammed, Reuters

26 mins ago

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraq considers a U.S. military raid that killed two people a crime and wants U.S. forces to hand over those responsible to the courts, an Iraqi official said on Sunday.

Hundreds of Iraqis protested in the southern city of Kut against U.S. forces and the provincial governor also condemned the military operation.

The U.S. military had any immediate comment on the Iraqi stance but said the raid was carried out with the full approval of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government.

2 McCain differs with Cheney on interrogation memos

By Will Dunham, Reuters

2 hrs 28 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Releasing classified memos showing whether harsh Bush-era interrogation methods yielded useful information from terrorism suspects is not necessary, Republican Senator John McCain said on Sunday in a public disagreement with former Vice President Dick Cheney.

After President Barack Obama released four memos this month revealing the Bush administration’s legal justification for methods such as waterboarding — a form of simulated drowning — Cheney called for declassifying any memos showing that these techniques succeeded in producing valuable information.

“No, I don’t think it’s necessary, to be honest with you,” McCain told the CBS program “Face the Nation.”

3 Chrysler creditors urged to make concessions

By Nick Carey, Reuters

Sat Apr 25, 10:17 pm ET

DETROIT (Reuters) – With just days to go for Chrysler LLC to reach agreements to cut labor and debt costs or face bankruptcy, members of Michigan’s Democratic congressional delegation said on Saturday the onus was now on the U.S. automaker’s creditors to make concessions.

“The unions have come to the table over and over and over again and have taken huge cuts,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow on the sidelines of a Michigan Democratic Party fundraising event in Detroit, the heart of the beleaguered U.S. auto industry.

“It is now incumbent on the creditors, in particular those that have taken public funds, to make some concessions and be a part of the solution,” Stabenow said.

4 U.S. official cites progress in Chrysler talks

By John Crawley, Reuters

2 hrs 47 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – There has been some progress in U.S. government-driven negotiations to save Chrysler LLC, according to a senior White House official, who on Sunday also did not rule out an attempt to complete the company’s restructuring in bankruptcy.

“We’re hopeful this is all going to work out in a successful way,” Larry Summers, President Barack Obama’s senior economic adviser and co-leader of the government’s task force working to restructure the auto industry, told the “Fox News Sunday” program with the automaker facing a Thursday deadline to arrange viable business plan. “It’s something we want to see.”

Summers cited some gains in talks on multiple fronts but was not specific.

5 Wall Street on edge over earnings, banking sector

By IEVA M. AUGSTUMS, AP Business Writer

1 hr 37 mins ago

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The wait for news about the government’s stress tests of big banks and a crush of earnings reports are likely to keep Wall Street on edge this week.

Investors whose burst of optimism sent stocks higher Friday will see if their bets – which came in part on some stronger-than-expected earnings reports – were well-founded. Hundreds of companies will be reporting their first-quarter results and their outlooks for the coming months.

“Companies that are being challenged will continue to be challenged, but the market is looking past what happened last quarter and looking more ahead to what’s going to happen later this year,” said Jason Ronovech, portfolio manager for Paradigm Capital Management in Albany, N.Y.

6 Amid US criticism, Pakistan again battles Taliban

By NAHAL TOOSI, Associated Press Writer

Sun Apr 26, 12:57 pm ET

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan sent helicopter gunships and troops to attack Taliban militants Sunday in a district covered by a peace deal after strong U.S. pressure on the nuclear-armed nation to confront insurgents advancing in its northwest.

At least 31 people were killed in the offensive, which sent some residents of Lower Dir district fleeing carrying small children and few belongings.

The operation appeared to endanger a peace pact struck with Taliban militants in neighboring Swat Valley, although a top official insisted the deal was “intact.” Another official demanded the insurgents disarm, but a Taliban spokesman said the militants would not give up their weapons.

7 Inside accounts of interrogation approval differ

By PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writer

Sun Apr 26, 5:15 am ET

WASHINGTON – Release of Bush-era documents that shed more light on the origins of the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation tactics has ignited a backstage battle between former Bush officials over a crucial May 2002 meeting that paved the way for use of waterboarding on a suspected al-Qaida leader.

The fracas over who was responsible for authorizing use of the simulated drowning tactic and other harsh techniques on captured suspect Abu Zubayda is raising new questions about that 2002 decision and follow-up moves that allowed the CIA to use the now-banned techniques.

Some former Bush officials argue that they were not properly warned by CIA officials about the potential perils of the severe methods, while others insist there were explicit cautions.

8 Crisis turning into ‘human calamity’: IMF, World Bank


28 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The global economic crisis is turning into “a human and development calamity,” with poorer countries being hit increasingly hard, the IMF and World Bank said Sunday.

“The global economy has deteriorated dramatically … Developing countries face especially serious consequences as the financial and economic crisis turns into a human and development calamity,” they said in a statement.

The crisis “has already driven more than 50 million people into extreme poverty … We must alleviate its impact on developing countries and facilitate their contribution to global recovery.”

9 IMF agrees on stimulus measures, bank clean-up

by Veronica Smith, AFP

Sat Apr 25, 6:46 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The International Monetary Fund Saturday said it had forged agreement on the stimulus measures taken to combat the global financial crisis and the need to clean up bad assets weighing on banks.

“Everybody is happy with what has been done on fiscal stimulus … all agree on the absolute necessity of cleansing the financial system,” IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn said after a meeting of the fund’s steering committee.

The IMF chief said that during discussions of the IMF board’s International Monetary and Financial Committee, it had become clear there was no longer any major disagreement over how to tackle the crisis.

10 $1 tln at risk in German banks: report


Sat Apr 25, 4:26 pm ET

BERLIN (AFP) – Germany’s banking system is exposed to over one trillion dollars’ worth of “toxic” or risky assets, news media in Europe’s largest economy said Saturday citing a confidential financial watchdog report.

Within the 816-billion-euro headline sum (1,080 billion dollars), 355 billion euros are held in the network of Germany’s regional state banks, according to the document revealed by the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and the online edition of Der Spiegel magazine.

Another 268 billion euros is attributed to the troubled Hypo Real Estate bank, which on Friday moved a step closer to becoming Germany’s first full nationalisation since 1949.

From Yahoo News World

11 ‘Megastar’ draws huge crowds in Indian election

By SAM DOLNICK, Associated Press Writer

Sun Apr 26, 1:24 pm ET

VIJAYAWADA, India – Chiranjeevi waved to the screaming boys standing in the tree branches and saluted the throngs of men dancing atop the bus roof.

As his caravan crawled down the main road of this south Indian city, the movie-star-turned-politician bowed toward the women getting trampled and the driver who abandoned his car, doors still open, to join the raucous crowd.

Chiranjeevi, the beloved hero of 149 adventure-romance films, has quickly become a political force since leaving Tollywood, the Telugu-language film industry that he ruled for three decades, to found his own party and contest elections in the key state of Andhra Pradesh.

12 Changing times: ‘Springtime for Hitler’_ in Berlin

By PATRICK McGROARTY, Associated Press Writer

Sun Apr 26, 1:17 pm ET

BERLIN – A musical in Berlin with swastikas, goose-stepping and a catchy tune called “Springtime for Hitler” might be expected to draw outrage from a German public sensitive to playing the Nazi past for comedy.

But on May 15, the German-language version of the Broadway hit “The Producers” is opening at the Admiralspalast theater, and so far no one seems to be complaining.

Three years ago, a Hebrew-language production played in Tel Aviv to packed and laughing audiences. Then a German production was staged in Austria, Adolf Hitler’s birthplace. Now the same troupe is bringing the show to the German capital.

13 Yemen’s Jews uneasy as Muslim hostility grows

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer

Sun Apr 26, 1:19 pm ET

KHARIF, Yemen – In this village in northern Yemen, where a kosher butcher slaughters chickens and the school bus carries young boys in side curls along a dirt track to their Hebrew studies, one of the oldest Jewish communities in the Arab world is fighting for its survival.

Yemen’s Jews, here and elsewhere in the country, are thought to have roots dating back nearly 3,000 years to King Solomon. The community used to number 60,000 but shrank dramatically when most left for the newborn state of Israel.

Those remaining, variously estimated to number 250 to 400, are feeling new and sometimes violent pressure from Yemeni Muslims, lately inflamed by Israel’s fierce offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza that cost over 1,000 Palestinian lives.

14 Iceland’s leftist coalition win general election


Sun Apr 26, 12:50 pm ET

REYKJAVIK – Iceland’s leftist coalition was confirmed on Sunday as the winner of the country’s general election – a blow for the pro-business Independence Party that many blamed for the collapse of the country’s banking system.

Results showed that a left-wing coalition made up of the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement won 34 out of the 63 seats in Parliament.

With 97.9 percent of the votes tallied, the Social Democrats won 30.5 percent of the vote, or 20 parliamentary seats, while the Left-Green Movement won 21.5 percent, or 14 seats. Both parties have long said they will form a coalition government. The left-wing coalition is led by interim Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

15 Bomb kills 2 guards from Afghan community force

By RAHIM FAIEZ, Associated Press Writer

55 mins ago

KABUL – A roadside bombing in Afghanistan killed two members of a new U.S.-funded civil defense force Sunday, while authorities destroyed 6.5 tons (6 metric tons) of drugs and chemicals seized in the battle against the rampant narcotics trade.

The two guards from the Afghan Public Protection Force were the first members of the new program to die in the line of duty, said Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman for Wardak province’s governor. Three vehicles were patrolling in Nirkh district of Wardak when the explosion ripped through one truck, he said.

The program trains and equips villagers to provide security in their own areas. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Wardak last week to inspect the program and said early reviews were positive.

16 Global aid ministers warn of risk of rising poverty

By Lesley Wroughton, Reuters

2 hrs 50 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Global finance and aid ministers on Sunday warned that world poverty will rise sharply as more nations fall victim to the financial crisis unless donor countries step up funding for the developing world.

The ministers from the 185 member countries of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund said the crisis should not be allowed to set back progress made in recent years under targets set by the U.N. to halve poverty by 2015.

“A clear message must go out from this meeting, that despite the crisis, we will not allow achievement of the Millennium Development Goals to be jeopardized,” German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul told the joint IMF-World Bank Development Committee.

17 Taiwan, China in landmark financial services deal

By Lin Miao-jung, Reuters

Sun Apr 26, 5:10 am ET

NANJING, China (Reuters) – Taiwan and China signed a series of landmark agreements on Sunday laying the groundwork for a flood of financial services investment to flow across the Taiwan Strait for the first time in six decades.

The agreements are the latest sign of warming ties between the former Cold War adversaries under the year-old administration of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who ran for office promising to improve the economy through closer ties with the mainland.

The centerpiece of the latest cross-strait talks, the third since Ma took office, is an agreement setting up a regulatory framework for financial services firms on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to invest and do business in each others’ markets.

18 Ecuador votes, Correa expected to win easily

By Maria Eugenia Tello, Reuters

2 hrs 2 mins ago

DURAN, Ecuador (Reuters) – Ecuadorians voted on Sunday in an election incumbent President Rafael Correa was expected to easily win, even as the economy flags, because of solid support for his welfare programs.

Polling stations were busy into the afternoon across the volatile Andean country of 14 million people known as much for toppling presidents as its Galapagos Islands and remote Amazon tribes.

A Correa win would confirm him as the most powerful leader in Ecuador’s 30-year-old democracy and mark another victory for a generation of left-wing presidents like Venezuelan Hugo Chavez who govern most countries in the region.

19 Correa’s socialist agenda at stake in Ecuador vote

by Hector Velasco, AFP

Sun Apr 26, 12:51 pm ET

QUITO (AFP) – Ecuadorans voted Sunday in general elections predicted to give leftist President Rafael Correa an easy victory, after only two years in office.

Surveys late Saturday predicted the economist would win 49 percent of Sunday’s presidential vote, but it remained uncertain if his party would garner a majority in the congress, key for the pursuit of his socialist revolution.

Correa has taken a tough stance with investors and refused to repay foreign debt, in moves welcomed by supporters who blame the effects of the economic crisis on foreign liberalism.

20 Berlin religion referendum fails

by Simon Sturdee, AFP

1 hr 9 mins ago

BERLIN (AFP) – Ethics classes imposed after an “honour killing” in Berlin’s Muslim minority will stay compulsory after supporters of religion lessons failed on Sunday to force a change via referendum.

In a vote that caused lively and sometimes heated debate, 51.3 percent of those that voted were against allowing children in secondary schools the choice of taking religion instead of ethics, final results showed.

The opposing side scored 48.5 percent but even if it had inched ahead and won, turnout was too low for the referendum to have been valid with only 14.2 percent of Berliner’s 2.4 million voters ticking the “yes” box.

From Yahoo News U.S. News

21 Police fire pellets at Kent State rioters

By MEGHAN BARR, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 1 min ago

COLUMBUS, Ohio – An end-of-year college block party spiraled out of control as police fired pellets and used pepper spray to break up hundreds of rioting students who sparked a string of street fires at Kent State University.

Video posted on the Internet shows students hurling furniture and street signs into the flames on Saturday night as a SWAT team in riot gear converged on the crowd. Kent police said the party grew violent after one reveler was arrested and students began pelting officers with bottles, bricks and rocks.

It was the first violent clash between Kent State students and police in years. In 1970, four Kent State students were killed by Ohio National Guard troops during a campus protest of the invasion of Cambodia.

22 Iowans unsure of benefits gay marriages will bring

By AMY LORENTZEN, Associated Press Writer

Sun Apr 26, 1:11 pm ET

DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa counties begin processing same-sex marriage applications Monday and the first gay weddings could happen within hours, but details of just what changes and benefits the ceremonies will bring are still being untangled.

However, any questions lingering under the Iowa Supreme Court’s April 3 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage aren’t expected to slow the initial rush to county recorder offices.

And while Iowa requires a three-day waiting period before marriages can occur, judges may waive that delay and allow immediate weddings. At least one pro-gay marriage group is counting on waivers and has announced its members will hand out bouquets to newly married couples Monday in five of Iowa’s larger cities.

23 2 Iowa towns, 2 perspectives on immigration raids

By NIGEL DUARA, Associated Press Writer

Sun Apr 26, 1:06 pm ET

POSTVILLE, Iowa – For immigrant advocates, the raid on a meatpacking plant in Postville last May was evidence of all that is wrong with large-scale arrests of illegal workers.

Families were hurt, and empty shops and lines at the food bank show that the town was, too. One rental agency says nearly 70 percent of its properties are vacant. The City Council even sought a federal disaster designation because of the lingering effects of the raid on the Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse.

“At what point do we acknowledge that the system is so broken that we’re no longer willing to participate?” wondered Maryn Olson, a coordinator with Postville Response Coalition, a group established after the raid.

24 GM retirees watch, worry as day of reckoning nears

By Soyoung Kim, Reuters

1 hr 14 mins ago

DETROIT (Reuters) – John Martinez, a former autoworker, feels as though he is watching his future sink as General Motors Corp slips closer to failure.

Pressured to take an early retirement in April, Martinez had been pinning his hopes on GM’s once-generous pensions and health-care benefits to help look after his four children and his disabled father, also a GM hourly retiree.

But with the 100-year-old industrial icon teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, Martinez and the nearly 1 million other Americans who rely on the automaker for healthcare and pensions face new risks and heightened uncertainty.

25 Fed to stay aggressive, but prepare for recovery

by Rob Lever, AFP

Sun Apr 26, 1:32 am ET

WASHINGTON, (AFP) – The Federal Reserve is likely to maintain its aggressive efforts to lift the US economy out of deep recession but also seek to lay the groundwork for a potential recovery, analysts say.

The Federal Open Market Committee, which opens a two-day meeting on Tuesday, is likely to signal no change in policy since its March gathering, when it added over one trillion dollars to its arsenal to fight the economic crisis.

The FOMC statement due Wednesday is expected to depict a weak economy that still needs extraordinary support, justifying its policy of near-zero interest rates and vast lending facilities to pump up credit availability.

26 Will Gay Marriage Pit Church Against Church?


1 hr 54 mins ago

The fight over gay marriage may be far from over, but already some conservative Christian leaders are looking beyond the courtroom dramas and the legislative infighting. The trouble they see is not just an America where general support for gay marriage will have driven a wedge between churches and the world, but between churches themselves.
From Yahoo News Politics

27 Holder close to making decision on Gitmo detainees

By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer

Sun Apr 26, 3:15 pm ET

LONDON – The United States is “relatively close” to making decisions on what to do with an initial group of Guantanamo Bay detainees, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Sunday.

Holder spoke to The Associated Press during a flight to London, the first of several stops where he will visit with European leaders to discuss terrorism, drugs, and cyber-crime.

The attorney general did not say how much longer he thought it would take to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. Before officials can meet President Barack Obama’s January deadline, the U.S. must first decide which detainees to put on trial and which to release to the U.S. or other countries.

28 Democrats push for interrogation investigations

By DOUGLASS K. DANIEL, Associated Press Writer

Sun Apr 26, 2:14 pm ET

WASHINGTON – A leading Democratic senator said Sunday independent investigators should determine whether Bush administration officials ought to face charges over the harsh interrogation techniques used against suspected terrorists.

The White House had hoped to put the matter behind it by letting the attorney general make that call.

Other liberal Democratic lawmakers appearing on the Sunday news shows joined Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., in pressuring the Obama administration to pursue investigations into the interrogations policies. But they stopped short of demanding charges against the Bush-era lawyers and other officials who devised the policies that critics have denounced as torture.

29 Security problems uncovered at US bases in Iraq

By RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press Writer

Sun Apr 26, 8:24 am ET

WASHINGTON – A commission investigating waste and fraud in wartime spending has found serious deficiencies in training and equipment for hundreds of Ugandan guards hired to protect U.S. military bases in Iraq, The Associated Press has learned.

The problems at Forward Operating Bases Delta and Hammer include a lack of vehicles used to properly protect the two posts, a shortage of weapons and night vision gear, and poorly trained guards. Both bases house several thousand U.S. military personnel.

Concerned the shortages leave the bases vulnerable, the Commission on Wartime Contracting alerted military officials in Iraq and at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

30 World Bank: Nations should speed aid to poor

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 5 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The World Bank on Sunday urged donor nations to speed up delivery of the money they’ve already pledged – and open their wallets wider – to help poor countries reeling from recessions rooted in rich nations.

The economic nosedive is turning into a human and development “calamity,” which already has driven more than 50 million people into extreme poverty this year, the World Bank’s policy steering committee said in a communique issued at the close of its spring meeting.

“There is widespread recognition that the world faces an unprecedented economic crisis, poor people could suffer the most and that we must continue to act in real time to prevent a human catastrophe,” World Bank chief Robert Zoellick said.

31 100 days of Obama: Turning peril into possibility

By NANCY BENAC, Associated Press Writer

Sat Apr 25, 11:15 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama opened his presidency by drawing an unflinching portrait of the challenges. Then he set about turning those perils into possibilities.

In a dizzying dash to the 100-day mark, Obama made a down payment on the changes he’d promised and delivered a trillion-dollar wallop to wake up the moribund economy. He put the country on track to end one war, reorient another and redefine what it means to be a superpower.

All this with a cool confidence that has made increasing numbers of Americans hopeful that the country may at last be heading in the right direction.

32 Change comes as promised, but what does it mean?

By TED ANTHONY, AP National Writer

Sun Apr 26, 8:21 am ET

Decades ago, a joke about the country’s 34th president went like this: Did you hear about the new Eisenhower doll? Wind it up and it stands still for eight years.

Not so Barack Obama. Today, such a joke would probably involve references to caffeine, hundred-yard dashes and the fast-forward button. Rarely has an American administration sprinted from the starting gate in a manner so vigorous, so sweeping, so sharply different from its predecessor.

Over and over he repeated it as he barnstormed across the land to secure our votes. Change you can believe in. The change we need. Change for America. Change, change, change. On Election Night, he said this: “Tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.”

33 U.S. seeks reins in new set of climate talks

By Jeff Mason, Reuters

Fri Apr 24, 4:59 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States hopes to take the reins of international efforts to battle global warming next week with a meeting of major economies aimed at facilitating a U.N. pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat who took office in January, called the meeting last month to relaunch a process that began under his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, whose commitment to curbing climate change was viewed with skepticism by much of the world.

The stakes are higher now. The Kyoto Protocol, which caps greenhouse gas emissions, runs out in 2012 and leaders from around the globe will gather in Copenhagen in December to forge a successor treaty. Environmentalists hope renewed engagement by the United States and Obama’s push for U.S. leadership on the issue will result in a deal.

34 WTO’s Lamy says Doha round relaunch awaits U.S.

By Doug Palmer, Reuters

Fri Apr 24, 11:08 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A renewed push to finish long-running world trade talks cannot begin until the United States is ready to engage, the head of the World Trade Organization said on Friday.

Completing the Doha round of talks would help pull the global economy out of recession by unleashing new trade flows and “help restore confidence at this moment of crisis,” Pascal Lamy, the WTO’s director general, said at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.

“I cannot restart a political process without the U.S. being ready,” Lamy said.

35 Russia’s Kudrin says U.S. treats his country as pupil

By Gleb Bryanski, Reuters

Fri Apr 24, 9:16 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States’ treatment of Russia as a junior partner in negotiations is the biggest hurdle in bilateral relations, Russia’s Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Friday.

The Obama administration has pledged to “reset” relations with Russia after they reached post-Cold War lows under former President George W. Bush, most recently over Russia’s war with Georgia and the planned U.S. anti-missile system.

“Russia does not accept being treated as a junior partner. Russia has enough grounds to count on equal partnership, not just be given marks as a pupil,” Kudrin said in a speech in Washington where he is meeting G20 finance ministers.

36 Obama dominates in first 100 days

by Stephen Collinson, AFP

Sun Apr 26, 1:01 am ET

WASHINGTON, (AFP) – In his high-velocity first 100 days, Barack Obama has sketched the outlines of a presidency of astounding ambition, which would remake the United States at home and transform its role abroad.

Yet the new president’s agenda still faces tests of fire posed by a punishing economic crisis, the scheming of US allies and foes abroad and a poisoned political environment back home.

“It is clearly the most ambitious agenda at least since the 1960s,” said Princeton University historian and political scientist Julian Zelizer.

37 US senator backs commission to probe torture


Sun Apr 26, 4:02 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A senior US lawmaker on Sunday called for a special commission to investigate the US government’s alleged torture of terror detainees, amid calls by some that the country bury the controversy.

“I know some people say, let’s turn the page. Frankly, I’d like to read the page before we turn it,” Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy told CBS television’s “Face the Nation” program.

“Why not have a nonpartisan or bipartisan commission do it, like we did in 9/11, and just go back and find everything that happened?” said the Democratic senator, referring to the investigative panel assembled in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

38 Stakes high as Obama shifts from Iraq to Afghan war

by Dan De Luce

Sun Apr 26, 3:05 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama has moved quickly to shift the US military’s focus to the Afghan war instead of Iraq, but the success of his new strategy could hinge on events beyond his control in volatile Pakistan.

In his first 100 days in office, Obama has announced plans to withdraw most US combat troops from Iraq before 2011 while ordering an escalation of the US commitment in Afghanistan, approving the deployment of 21,000 reinforcements.

His new strategy for the Afghan war places Pakistan at the center of efforts to turn the tide against emboldened Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants, whose advances on both sides of the Afghan border have raised global alarm.

Swine Flu Supplement

39 World flu epidemic risk grows, Mexicans shelter

By Catherine Bremer, Reuters

25 mins ago

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Fears of a global swine flu pandemic grew with new infections in the United States and Canada on Sunday, and millions of Mexicans hid indoors to avoid a virus that has already killed up to 81 people.

While the only deaths have been in Mexico, the flu is spreading with 20 cases in the United States and six in Canada, and possible cases as far afield as Europe and New Zealand.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said most of the roughly 1,300 people in Mexico suspected of having this new strain of swine flu have been given a clean bill of health. He said more than 900 people had been declared healthy. Nearly 400 were in hospitals being checked.

40 Mexico City streets empty as swine flu toll climbs

By DAVID KOOP, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 28 mins ago

MEXICO CITY – Churches stood empty Sunday in predominantly Roman Catholic Mexico City after services were canceled, and health workers screened airports and bus stations for people sickened by a new strain of swine flu that experts fear could become a global epidemic.

Mayor Marcelo Ebrard said two more people died of swine flu overnight in the overcrowded capital, and three other deaths are suspected to have been caused by the strain. Another 73 more people were hospitalized with influenza, possibly swine flu.

President Felipe Calderon has assumed new powers to isolate people infected with the deadly swine flu strain that health officials say has killed up to 86 people and likely sickened about 1,400 in the country since April 13.

41 Swine flu fears prompt quarantine plans, pork bans

By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press Writer

13 mins ago

GENEVA – Canada became the third country to confirm human cases of swine flu Sunday as global health officials considered whether to raise the global pandemic alert level.

Nations from New Zealand to Spain also reported suspected cases and some warned citizens against travel to North America while others planned quarantines, tightened rules on pork imports and tested airline passengers for fevers.

Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer, Dr. Robert Strang, said the east coast Canadian province had confirmed four “very mild” cases of swine flu in students ranging in age from 12 to 17 or 18. All are recovering, he said.

42 Swine flu confirmed in NYC high school students

By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 40 mins ago

NEW YORK – New York City was dealing with a growing public health threat Sunday after tests confirmed that eight students at a private Catholic high school had contracted swine flu. Some of the school’s students had visited Mexico on a spring break trip two weeks ago.

New York officials previously had characterized the cases as probable, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that it was swine flu, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

About 100 students at St. Francis Preparatory School complained of flu-like symptoms; further tests will determine how many of those cases are swine flu.

43 Global alarm as killer swine flu spreads

by Sophie Nicholson

35 mins ago

MEXICO CITY (AFP) – World health officials Sunday stepped up the battle against a new swine flu, blamed for dozens of deaths in Mexico, as the US declared a public emergency amid signs the disease was spreading.

The United States will screen visitors arriving in the US from infected areas, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said, as 20 cases were confirmed in five states.

Suspected cases were also being investigated in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, and six new infections were confirmed in Canada.

44 World govts race to contain swine flu outbreak


21 mins ago

WASHINGTON – The world’s governments raced to avoid both a pandemic and global hysteria Sunday as more possible swine flu cases surfaced from Canada to New Zealand and the United States declared a public health emergency. “It’s not a time to panic,” the White House said.

Mexico, the outbreak’s epicenter with up to 86 suspected deaths, closed churches, markets and restaurants. Few people ventured onto the streets, and some wore face masks. Canada became the third country to confirm cases, in six people, including some students who – like some New York City spring-breakers – got mildly ill in Mexico. Countries across Asia promised to quarantine feverish travelers returning from flu-affected areas.

The U.S. declared the health emergency so it could ship roughly 12 million doses of flu-fighting medications from a federal stockpile to states in case they eventually need them – although with 20 confirmed cases of people recovering easily, they don’t appear to for now.

45 Is swine flu ‘the big one’ or a flu that fizzles?

By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer

30 mins ago

ATLANTA – As reports of a unique form of swine flu erupt around the world, the inevitable question arises: Is this the big one?

Is this the next big global flu epidemic that public health experts have long anticipated and worried about? Is this the novel virus that will kill millions around the world, as pandemics did in 1918, 1957 and 1968?

The short answer is it’s too soon to tell.

46 U.S. acts swiftly to contain swine flu outbreak

By Ross Colvin, Reuters

1 hr 16 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States declared a public health emergency on Sunday because of an outbreak of swine flu that has been diagnosed in 20 people in this country — the same strain suspected of killing 81 people in Mexico.

The outbreak is yet another distraction for President Barack Obama as he focuses on rescuing the economy from its worst crisis in decades. His administration will also be mindful of the damage to former President George W. Bush over his government’s inept handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“At this point, a top priority is to ensure that communication is robust and that medical surveillance efforts are fully activated,” John Brennan, assistant to the president for Homeland Security, told a White House briefing.

47 US declares swine flu outbreak a health emergency


1 hr 14 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States declared a swine flu outbreak a public health emergency Sunday as officials confirmed 20 cases in five US states and warned that they expected more in the coming days.

President Barack Obama is monitoring the spreading virus and has reviewed US capabilities to counter the deadly flu outbreak, which has killed up to 81 people in Mexico, White House homeland security advisor John Brennan told reporters.

Obama has ordered a “very active, aggressive, and coordinated response,” Brennan said.


  1. I’ll put up the pieces as fast as I find them.

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