Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

Now with World and U.S. News.  59 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Hong Kong’s ghostly seas warn of looming tragedy

by Lawrence Bartlett, AFP

Thu Oct 29, 2:45 pm ET

HONG KONG (AFP) – The live fish facing death in the glass tanks in Hong Kong’s famous seafood restaurants tell a strange and haunting tale of a looming global tragedy.

At the heart of their story is the bizarre fact that there are more fine fish swimming in the tiny tanks than there are in the surrounding sea.

Having overfished and polluted its own waters to the point where they are home mainly to great ghosts of the past, Hong Kong now imports up to 90 percent of its seafood.

2 EU agrees climate funding deal to help poor nations

by Paul Harrington, AFP

2 hrs 13 mins ago

BRUSSELS (AFP) – EU leaders on Friday agreed that developing nations will need 100 billion euros per year by 2020 to tackle climate change, but failed to put a figure to Europe’s own contribution amid sharp east-west differences.

“We have an agreement,” said Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, at the end of a two-day European summit in Brussels.

“The EU now has a strong negotiating position and the countdown to Copenhagen now has started,” he added, referring to international climate talks in Denmark in December.

3 Honduran Congress to decide on Zelaya return

by Ana Fernandez and Noe Leiva, AFP

52 mins ago

TEGUCIGALPA (AFP) – Ousted President Manuel Zelaya looked set to be reinstated, pending approval from Congress, as rival sides in Honduras finalized a deal Friday to end months of political paralysis.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led international praise for the deal reached late Thursday, with a push from US envoys, amid a deep crisis set off by a June 28 military-backed coup.

The deal between Zelaya and de facto leader Roberto Micheletti includes a power-sharing government and a congressional decision on Zelaya’s brief reinstatement ahead of presidential polls next month.

4 Swine flu deaths soar, Ukraine closes schools


1 hr 11 mins ago

GENEVA (AFP) – The number of global swine flu deaths spiked by 700 in a week, the World Health Organisation said Friday, as Ukraine closed schools and cinemas in the toughest measures taken in Europe over the virus.

More than 5,700 people have now died from the A(H1N1) since it broke out in April in Mexico and the United States in April, the WHO said.

The biggest rise in the past week was recorded in the Americas, were 636 more people were reported killed by swine flu, bringing the region’s death toll to 4,175, the UN agency said.

5 Stimulus plan created one million jobs: US officials

by Stephen Collinson, AFP

Fri Oct 30, 10:54 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US officials said Friday that President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan has saved or created at least 650,000 jobs, and likely more than a million, as they battle a momentous unemployment crisis.

New data, to be released later in the day, provides the first solid evidence from employers on job creation spawned by the 787-billion-dollar Recovery Act passed in February despite stiff opposition from Obama’s Republican foes.

The latest measure of the economy’s struggle to emerge from the crisis comes a day after government statistics showed 3.5 percent GDP growth in the third quarter after a painful year of contraction.

6 Internet turns 40 with birthday party

by Glenn Chapman, AFP

Thu Oct 29, 4:30 pm ET

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Technology and media stars, pundits, and entrepreneurs joined the Internet’s father on Thursday to celebrate the 40th anniversary of his culture-changing child.

“It’s the 40th year since the infant Internet first spoke,” said University of California, Los Angeles, professor Leonard Kleinrock, who headed the team that first linked computers online in 1969.

Kleinrock led an anniversary event at the UCLA campus that blended reminiscence of the Internet’s past with debate about its future.

7 Japan to end some crisis steps despite deflation risk

by Daniel Rook, AFP

Fri Oct 30, 5:12 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s central bank said Friday it would wind down some of its emergency stimulus measures, but warned Asia’s biggest economy faced years of deflation as it claws back from its worst slump in decades.

Japan’s economy showed fresh signs of a recovery with the jobless rate falling to a four-month low in September and household spending rising.

But the improvement was overshadowed by fears of another long bout of deflation as seen after Japan’s economic bubble burst in the 1990s.

8 Without its Wall, Berlin an architectural free-for-all

by Francois Becker, AFP

Fri Oct 30, 2:56 am ET

BERLIN (AFP) – Plans to erect a giant staircase to straddle the remains of the Berlin Wall have long been shelved but the city is still an architectural work in progress, 20 years after the hated barrier fell.

When the Wall was finally pulled down, city planners, suddenly presented with acres of prime building land in the heart of a top European capital, were rubbing their hands with glee.

Planners thought “the building boom would soon put Berlin back on a par with Paris and London” as it was during the glory years of the 1920s, said local architect Christoph Wessling.

9 Trade opens on China’s Nasdaq-style board


Fri Oct 30, 12:03 am ET

SHANGHAI (AFP) – Trading opened Friday on China’s long-awaited Nasdaq-style board, ChiNext, with all 28 listed small and medium-sized firms rocketing in early trade on fevered interest from investors.

Trading in several shares including Anhui Anke Biotechnology (Group) Ltd. was suspended after they tripped market circuit-breakers in place to curb rampant speculation.

Anhui Anke was the biggest gainer, up 204.71 percent from its initial public offering price of 17.00 yuan at 51.80.

10 Consumer spending falls as sentiment sours

By Lucia Mutikani, Reuters

Fri Oct 30, 11:24 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumers cut spending in September and turned gloomier this month, underscoring the fragile nature of the economy’s recovery even as signs emerged that manufacturing activity may be picking up.

The Commerce Department said on Friday that consumer spending fell 0.5 percent last month, the largest drop since December, after a 1.4 percent increase in August. The decline, which was in line with market expectations, followed the end of a government program to boost auto sales.

A separate report showed factory activity in the nation’s Midwest expanding for the first time in more than a year, but employment conditions deteriorated. A dismal job market appeared to weigh on consumers, with the Reuters/University of Michigan final index of sentiment for October slipping to 70.6, from 73.5 last month.

11 Clinton leaves Pakistan with pointed question on al Qaeda

By Andrew Quinn, Reuters

Fri Oct 30, 7:55 am ET

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wound up a bridge-building visit to Pakistan on Friday leaving a pointed question ringing in her hosts’ ears: Where are the al Qaeda leaders operating in your country?

While no Pakistani officials were immediately prepared to answer, ordinary citizens told Washington’s top diplomat the country was living on a daily basis with the consequences of the September 11, 2001 attacks engineered by the militant Islamist group.

At a televised women’s forum on Friday, Clinton was pressed on U.S. attitudes toward Pakistan, questioned about the use of robot drones to attack suspected militants, and reminded of the costs the country faces as it battles its own insurgency.

12 Afghan officials defend plan for more voting centers

By Golnar Motevalli, Reuters

Fri Oct 30, 9:20 am ET

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan election officials on Friday defended plans to open more polling centers for next week’s presidential run-off despite fears not enough is being done to prevent a repeat of the fraud which marred the first round.

Security is also a major concern ahead of the November 7 run-off, which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt, underlined by a suicide attack this week on a guest-house used by the United Nations in which five foreign U.N. staff were killed.

Western officials have already described as “disturbing” plans for the run-off, which both Kabul and Washington hope will end weeks of political uncertainty.

13 After election win, Merkel may face new U.S. demands

By Noah Barkin, Reuters

Fri Oct 30, 11:18 am ET

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to face pressure to offer more help to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan when she meets U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington next week.

Merkel, who began a second term this week as leader of a new center-right coalition, is also expected to discuss climate change and Iran’s nuclear program in talks with Obama on Tuesday before addressing a joint session of Congress.

But the Afghanistan mission will be of central importance as NATO allies search for a new strategy in the face of rising public frustration with the eight-year conflict.

14 Honduran rivals agree a deal to end crisis

By Sean Mattson, Reuters

1 hr 59 mins ago

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduras’ de facto government has accepted a U.S.-driven deal that opens the door for the return to power of President Manuel Zelaya, toppled in a military coup four months ago.

The breakthrough late on Thursday followed renewed pressure from senior U.S. officials who traveled to Honduras this week for a last-ditch effort to end a crisis that has given U.S. President Barack Obama a foreign policy headache.

“It is a triumph for Honduran democracy,” the leftist Zelaya said after the rival sides agreed to a deal that he said should see him restored to office in the coming days.

15 U.S. economy stabilized but risks remain: Geithner

By Karen Pierog and Glenn Somerville, Reuters

Fri Oct 30, 2:31 am ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. economy’s return to growth during the third quarter shows stability has been regained but recovery is fragile and needs nurturing, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Thursday.

The government estimated that gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent from July through September. Still, Geithner said the government must be ready to reinforce growth if needed to avoid risks of a credit crunch.

In a one-hour question-and-answer session at the Economic Club of Chicago, Geithner said the United States can’t borrow-and-spend its way to health and pledged every effort to encourage an investment-led recovery.


16 Personal spending falls 0.5 percent in September


Fri Oct 30, 8:35 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. consumer spending fell in September for the first time in five months as the boost from a government auto incentive faded, data showed on Friday, adding to fears that consumers may be pulling back as they head into the last quarter of the year.

The Commerce Department said spending fell 0.5 percent, the largest decline since December, after an upwardly revised 1.4 percent increase in August. Consumer spending in August was previously reported to have advanced 1.3 percent.

September’s decline was in line with market expectations. Consumer spending, which normally accounts for over two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, in August was bolstered by the popular “cash for clunkers” program that gave discounts on some new motor vehicle purchases.

17 Obama "too big to fail" plan blasted in Congress

By Kevin Drawbaugh, Reuters

Thu Oct 29, 4:50 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration’s new proposal for tackling financial risk in the U.S. economy, unveiled just two days ago, came under attack on Thursday from Congress and regulators, with questions raised about its funding and scope.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner scrambled in a congressional hearing to defend the plan against critics who said it would give too much power to regulators and enshrine government bailouts for troubled financial firms in law.

Released by the Treasury Department and Democratic Representative Barney Frank on Tuesday, the plan is an bold attempt to make sure the Bush administration’s confused handling of last year’s financial crisis doesn’t happen again.

18 Obama’s review of Afghan war strategy nears end

By Adam Entous, Reuters

Thu Oct 29, 6:40 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. military chiefs plan to present recommendations on troop strength and strategy in Afghanistan to President Barack Obama on Friday as White House deliberations reach an end stage, Pentagon officials said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General James Cartwright will be joined at the White House meeting by leaders of the Army, Marine Corps., Navy and Air Force, a sign Obama was delving into details of troop readiness and availability before deciding on numbers.

“They will present those views to the president, collectively and individually,” an official said. “The chiefs’ views in regard to resources will be an important factor.”

19 Accused Rajaratnam "confident" can win at trial

By Grant McCool, Reuters

Thu Oct 29, 4:24 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lawyers for Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire founder of Galleon hedge fund accused of insider trading, said the U.S. government’s case is weak and they were confident of winning any trial, according to a letter filed in court on Thursday.

Rajaratnam’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, said the hedge fund manager was being treated worse than epic swindler Bernard Madoff, who was released on $10 million bail last December after his initial confession to a multibillion-dollar fraud.

Dowd asked a Manhattan federal court magistrate judge to reduce his client’s bond to $25 million from $100 million and to modify his travel restrictions, arguing he had no incentive to flee because of strong family ties to the United States and $30 million in property.

20 Will governors elections render judgment on Obama?

By Steve Holland, Reuters

Thu Oct 29, 3:18 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans and Democrats are debating whether voting next Tuesday in Virginia and New Jersey governor’s races will render a first judgment on President Barack Obama.

Republicans, looking ahead to 2010 congressional elections, hope the races will show they have signs of life as they try to claw back from devastating 2006 and 2008 losses.

Democrats, attempting to keep Republicans in a deep political hole, have doubts that the results from two states will tell much at all about the mood of the country.

21 Ahmed Wali Karzai and the CIA: America’s conundrum in Afghanistan

By Mark Sappenfield, The Chritian Science Monitor

Wed Oct 28, 5:00 am ET

A report in Wednesday’s New York Times alleging that the CIA is secretly paying Ahmed Wali Karzai, a man reputed to be one of Afghanistan’s biggest drug barons, throws into sharp relief the most crucial question the administration now faces in Afghanistan:

Should America continue its policy of working with warlords and disreputable power-brokers in an attempt to use their influence to advance US interests? Or should it instead focus on protecting the Afghan people – in many cases from the very warlords the US has supported in the past?

The answer is not as simple as such a bald statement might suggest, and it is precisely this question, in its many forms, that President Obama is now considering.

22 Obama endorses military commissions for Guantanamo detainees

By Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor

Wed Oct 28, 5:00 am ET

In signing the National Defense Authorization Act on Wednesday, President Obama has personally endorsed yet another attempt by the US government to conduct military-commission trials of terror suspects currently held at the Guantánamo detention camp.

Similar efforts have stalled with legal challenges and Supreme Court decisions. But supporters say that the Military Commissions Act of 2009 balances the demands of fairness and due process against a real-world need for flexibility when seeking to prosecute accused Al Qaeda leaders and supporters.

Critics say that the 2009 act is an improvement over prior versions of military-commission regimes passed during the Bush administration. But they say it is still substandard, offering a second-class system of justice designed to obtain quick convictions.

Another sellout.

23 Consumer spending falls in September, incomes flat


54 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Consumer spending plunged in September by the largest amount in nine months, reflecting the end of the government’s Cash for Clunkers auto sales program. Incomes, the fuel for future spending, were flat.

While the government reported that the overall economy grew in the July-September period, signaling the end of the worst recession in seven decades, the weakness in spending and incomes as the quarter ended underscores the fragility of the recovery.

On Wall Street, investors pulled back and stocks erased all the previous day’s big gains. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped about 235 points in afternoon trading, and broader indexes also plunged. The biggest declines were among banks, energy and materials companies.

24 Clinton faces Pakistani anger at Predator attacks

By ROBERT BURNS, AP National Security Writer

1 hr 18 mins ago

ISLAMABAD – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton came face-to-face Friday with Pakistanis’ simmering anger over U.S. aerial drones firing missiles in their country. She drew back slightly from her blunt remarks suggesting Pakistani officials know where terrorists are hiding.

In a series of public appearances on the final day of a three-day visit, Clinton was pressed repeatedly by Pakistani civilians and journalists about the secret U.S. program that uses drones to launch missiles to kill terrorists.

But she refused to discuss the drone strikes along the porous border area with Afghanistan that have killed key terror leaders but also scores of civilians.

25 Gov’t says stimulus saved or created 650,000 jobs

By MATT APUZZO and BRETT J. BLACKLEDGE, Associated Press Writers

1 hr 30 mins ago

WASHINGTON – About 650,000 jobs have been saved or created under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, the White House said Friday, saying the president’s goal of 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year is on track.

New job numbers from businesses, contractors, state and local governments, nonprofit groups and universities were scheduled to be released publicly later Friday. White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein said the figures will show that, when adding in jobs linked to $288 billion in tax cuts, the stimulus plan has created or saved more than 1 million jobs.

Government recovery plans – everything from the $787 billion stimulus to tax credits for buying new homes to government deals on new cars – are credited with helping the economy grow again after a record four straight losing quarters.

So is it 650 K or 1 Million?  Read the second graph.  The headline lies.

26 Ousted Honduran leader: Pact will restore me

By JUAN ZAMORANO, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 22 mins ago

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Deposed President Manuel Zelaya and his opponents have agreed to a U.S.-brokered deal that he said will return him to power four months after a coup shook faith in Latin America’s young democracies.

The power-sharing agreement reached late Thursday calls for Congress to decide whether to reinstate the leftist Zelaya. While the legislature backed his June 28 ouster, congressional leaders have since said they won’t stand in the way of an agreement that ends Honduras’ diplomatic isolation and legitimizes presidential elections planned for Nov. 29.

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Thomas Shannon said Friday that the two sides finally made concessions after realizing the international community wouldn’t recognize the elections or restore aid without a compromise.

27 Some who get vaccine not in high-risk groups

By SHAYA TAYEFE MOHAJER and ALICIA CHANG, Associated Press Writers

Fri Oct 30, 10:18 am ET

LOS ANGELES – It was bound to happen: Some people who aren’t at high risk for swine flu complications got the much-in-demand vaccine.

Sometimes they were healthy adults or senior citizens instead of kids, pregnant women and people with health problems.

Before Los Angeles County health officials stepped up screening at their flu clinics, Natalie Thompson sailed through the long line and got the vaccine along with her 8-year-old son, even though she’s not in one of the priority groups.

28 Congressional ethics report leaks, revealing names

By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 18 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Internal investigations into the conduct of over two dozen House members were exposed in an extraordinary, Internet-era breach involving the secretive process by which Congress polices lawmaker ethics.

Revelations of the mostly preliminary inquiries by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct – also known as the Ethics committee – and a panel that refers cases to it shook the chamber as lawmakers were immersed in a series of scheduled votes Thursday.

The panel announced that it was investigating two California Democrats – Reps. Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson – even as its embarrassed leaders took pains to explain that several other lawmakers’ names should not have been revealed and they may have done nothing wrong.

29 Hebrew, Hindi, other scripts get Web address nod

By KELLY OLSEN, Associated Press Writer

Fri Oct 30, 8:08 am ET

SEOUL, South Korea – The nonprofit body that oversees Internet addresses approved Friday the use of Hebrew, Hindi, Korean and other scripts not based on Latin characters in a decision that could make the Web dramatically more inclusive.

The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – or ICANN – voted to allow such scripts in so-called domain names at the conclusion of a weeklong meeting in Seoul, South Korea’s capital.

The decision by the board’s 15 voting members was unopposed and welcomed by applause and a standing ovation. It followed years of debate and testing.

30 Health care businesses at risk in House overhaul

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press Writer

Fri Oct 30, 7:22 am ET

WASHINGTON – The health care overhaul bill produced by House Democrats would impose an array of new taxes, fees and government mandates on major players in the health industry, including insurers, doctors and drugs and medical devices makers.

In most cases, the pain has been meted out with an eye toward raising the money needed to finance President Barack Obama’s plan for reshaping the health system but also with careful regard for gaining the votes that will be needed to pass a final bill.

Democrats hope to vote next week on the measure, which would extend health coverage to tens of millions of Americans who don’t have it, impose sweeping new restrictions on private insurers and create a government-run insurance plan to compete with them.

Boo Who?

31 France’s Jacques Chirac ordered to stand trial

By NICOLAS VAUX-MONTAGNY, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 11 mins ago

PARIS – A French judge ordered former President Jacques Chirac to stand trial on embezzlement charges predating his presidency – a case that could mark the first time a former leader of modern France is forced to defend himself in court.

Chirac is to be tried for embezzlement and breach of trust in a corruption case dating back to his tenure as mayor of Paris, a judicial official said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing. A prosecutor can still appeal the judge’s decision, and if so, the ensuing judicial deliberations could last months.

Still, the judge’s bold pursuit of Chirac, who lost his presidential immunity when his 12-year presidency ended in 2007, stunned many observers. Judges chased Chirac unsuccessfully in various corruption scandals for years, and prosecutors had requested that this particular case be dropped.

32 Haitian Senate ousts another prime minister

By JONATHAN M. KATZ, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 22 mins ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haitian lawmakers ousted the prime minister Friday in a power struggle that threatens to undermine a campaign to attract foreign investment to the impoverished country.

Michele Pierre-Louis was removed when 18 of 29 senators voted for censure and dissolved the Cabinet.

Most of the votes against the prime minister came from President Rene Preval’s own Lespwa movement, which took control of the Senate after winning June elections.

33 Sony stays in the red, trims annual loss forecast

By YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business Writer

Fri Oct 30, 7:24 am ET

TOKYO – Sony reported a smaller-than-expected 26.3 billion yen ($289 million) quarterly loss as cost cuts combined with healthy sales of PlayStation 3 game consoles and Michael Jackson hits helped it inch toward recovery.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment giant has been battered by the global slowdown, sliding prices of gadgets and its failure to produce new blockbuster consumer products. But Tokyo-based Sony Corp. said Friday it now expects a smaller flow of red ink for the full fiscal year through March 2010.

It’s forecasting a 95 billion yen ($1 billion) loss compared with the initial projection for a 120 billion yen ($1.3 billion) loss. The new forecast is marginally better than the 98.9 billion yen loss it suffered the previous fiscal year.

34 Analysis: Obama has mixed message on recovery

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer

Fri Oct 30, 10:02 am ET

WASHINGTON – Tugged in different political directions, the White House is seeking credit for good economic news and trying to escape blame for the bad stuff.

President Barack Obama greeted as “obviously welcome news” a government report showing the economy grew 3.5 percent from July through September after four quarters of declines. That’s unofficial confirmation that the long, harsh recession has ended.

But he had to serve it up with a dose of political reality. Even though the downturn that began in December 2007 may be technically over, a high level of joblessness will persist for months, perhaps years, to come.

35 Powerful Islamic movement sees leadership struggle

By HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press Writer

Fri Oct 30, 5:12 am ET

CAIRO – The Middle East’s most powerful Islamic political movement is undergoing a leadership struggle as young, more moderate activists try to push the Muslim Brotherhood to soften its fundamentalist ideology and become a more democratic force.

The direction the Brotherhood takes could have wider implications. The group is the strongest opposition movement in Egypt, though officially banned. Moreover, it is highly influential beyond Egypt’s borders as the father of Islamic movements across the Arab and Muslim world – including the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Egypt’s autocratic government has cracked down fiercely on the group, arresting many of its members and branding it a front for extremists. The United States has been reluctant to open up channels to the Brotherhood in deference to the government, a close Mideast ally.

36 School sued for punishing teens over MySpace pix

By CHARLES WILSON, Associated Press Writer

12 mins ago

INDIANAPOLIS – Two sophomore girls have sued their school district after they were punished for posting sexually suggestive photos on MySpace during their summer vacation.

The American Civil Liberties Union, in a federal lawsuit filed last week on behalf of the girls, argues that Churubusco High School violated the girls’ free speech rights when it banned them from extracurricular activities for a joke that didn’t involve the school. They say the district humiliated the girls by requiring them to apologize to an all-male coaches’ board and undergo counseling.

Some child advocates argue that schools should play a role in monitoring students’ behavior, especially when dealing with minors. And the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that students can be disciplined for activities that happen outside of school, so long as the school can prove the activities were disruptive or posed a danger and that it was foreseeable the activities would find their way to campus.

37 Fishermen school up to criticize new catch rules

By JAY LINDSAY, Associated Press Writer

21 mins ago

GLOUCESTER, Mass. – Hundreds of fishermen from the Northeast rallied in front of the headquarters of federal fishery managers Friday, demanding changes in the “dysfunctional” management that they say is destroying their industry.

Some fishermen held signs reading “Let Fishermen Fish”; other signs pictured Adolf Hitler with the word “Nazi” replacing the first word in National Marine Fisheries Service.

One group marched toward the New England regional headquarters entrance chanting, “Down with NMFS! Down with NMFS!” while a man roamed the crowd dressed as the grim reaper, with NMFS printed on his scythe.

38 Blacks still drawn to Islam despite FBI raids


57 mins ago

By now, Sekou Jackson is used to the questions: Why does he need to leave a work meeting to pray? Don’t black Muslims convert to Islam in jail? Why would you even want to be Muslim?

“It’s kind of a double whammy to be African-American and Muslim,” said Jackson, who studies the Navy at the National Academy of Science in Washington. “You’re going to be judged.”

Jackson’s struggle may have gotten harder when the FBI on Wednesday raided a Detroit-area warehouse used by a Muslim group. The FBI said the group’s leader preached hate against the government, trafficked in stolen goods and belonged to a radical group that wants to establish a Muslim state in America. The imam of the group’s mosque, a black American named Luqman Ameen Abdullah, was killed in a shootout with agents.

39 Where’s the beef? In land of cowboys, pig thrives

By TED ANTHONY, AP National Writer

Fri Oct 30, 11:14 am ET

The president of the National Pork Producers Council – the person who represents the people who represent the nation’s pigs – appeared recently before Congress to talk about sales in the swine flu era.

He wasn’t happy. “Things look bleak going forward,” Don Butler told America’s lawmakers.

Around the same time, the following events transpired:

• The usually beef-and-beany Taco Bell erected signs at the mouth of its drive-thru lanes, exhorting motorists around the republic: “TOP IT OFF WITH BACON.”

• Uncle Jack’s, one of New York City’s signature steakhouses, put out its sidewalk chalkboard of dinner specials. Getting top billing at the beef emporium, for $24,95, was not sirloin, not rib-eye, not filet mignon, but slow-roasted Berkshire pork shank.

• The brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, using an intricate process, crafted 25 experimental cases of – wait for it – bacon ale.

40 Master distillers take star turn in bourbon world

By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press Writer

Fri Oct 30, 10:14 am ET

BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Jimmy Russell and Fred Noe aren’t household names, but they’re stars when it comes to fine sippin’ spirits made in bourbon country.

Russell is in his 55th year at the Wild Turkey Distillery, where he has been the master distiller in charge of plant operations since the late 1960s. Noe is a great-grandson of Jim Beam himself.

Both travel the world promoting their Kentucky brands to fans who want bottles autographed or pictures taken with the bourbon barons during promotional events in bars, restaurants and liquor stores from Singapore to Sweden.

41 China expands language institutes at US colleges

By CHRISTINE ARMARIO, Associated Press Writer

Fri Oct 30, 3:26 am ET

TAMPA, Fla. – In a small room at the University of South Florida, Maya Ueda and two classmates prepare for a Mandarin exam. A pot of green tea idles nearby and Chinese folk instruments, games and movies fill the cabinets and bookcases.

Although the students are doing their work at a state school on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the center they are studying in is part of a global outreach by the government of China called the Confucius Institute. The cultural and language centers have sprung up around the world, hosted at universities eager to boost their Mandarin offerings as China’s economic influence grows.

The Confucius Institute at South Florida is one of nearly 60 such centers in the United States, and 396 globally in 87 countries. They fill language instruction needs at a time when many universities are grappling with budget cuts. Most receive initial funding and faculty from China.

From Yahoo News World

42 Fraud surrounds women voters in Afghan election

By HEIDI VOGT, Associated Press Writer

34 mins ago

KABUL – One man cast 35 votes for female relatives. Others lugged in sacks full of voting cards they said were from women. And in a village of just 250 people, 200 women supposedly voted in three hours.

In Afghanistan’s recent presidential election in August, one of the ripest areas for fraud was women’s voting. And the same is likely to be true again in the Nov. 7 runoff between President Hamid Karzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

The stakes are high. The Obama administration, which pushed Karzai to accept the runoff vote, is hoping it will restore legitimacy to a government that has been undermined by blatant ballot-box stuffing and Karzai’s long delay in accepting fraud rulings that forced the runoff.

43 Iran’s Sunni militants carve secretive path

By KATHY GANNON, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 1 min ago

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Seven years ago, a little-known group called Jundallah emerged in Iran with claims to fight for the rights of minority Sunnis in the unruly tribal areas near the border with Pakistan.

But just last week, Iranian leaders say, this shadowy group with reported connections to countries as diverse as the U.S., Pakistan and Saudi Arabia delivered a devastating attack on Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard. The Oct. 18 suicide bombing in an Iranian border village killed at least 42 people, including top Revolutionary Guard commanders.

The bombing suggests that ambitions by Jundallah – the Soldiers of God – have risen, and that the group is moving toward a wider uprising. Jundallah’s attack on a Shiite mosque in May and recent use of suicide bombers could point to the growing influence of militant Islamic groups seeking a Sunni revolt against Shiite control in Iran, experts say.

44 World’s largest cruise ship sets sail from Finland

By MATTI HUUHTANEN, Associated Press Writer

38 mins ago

HELSINKI – The world’s largest cruise liner on Friday began its maiden voyage to Florida, gliding out from a shipyard in Finland with an amphitheater, basketball courts and an ice rink on board.

The 16-deck Oasis of the Seas spans 1,200 feet (360 meters) from bow to stern. Its 2,700 cabins can accommodate 6,300 passengers and 2,100 crew.

Commissioned by Royal Caribbean International, the ship cost euro1 billion ($1.5 billion) and took two and a half years to build at the STX Finland Oy shipyard in Turku, southwestern Finland.

45 UN panel faults Russia’s support for human rights

By DOUGLAS BIRCH and ELIANE ENGELER, Associated Press Writer

Fri Oct 30, 11:52 am ET

MOSCOW – From Russia’s North Caucasus to the streets of Moscow, those who find themselves at odds with authorities can wind up as targets of deadly violence. So increasingly, some are working quietly or have abandoned their efforts altogether.

On Friday a new U.N. Human Rights Committee report on Russia called for a series of sweeping legal reforms, saying the country is still struggling to guarantee some of the most basic rights, including to a fair trial, freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Meanwhile a spate of killings has forced Memorial, one of Russia’s leading human rights organizations, and the crusading newspaper Novaya Gazeta, to pull out of the Russian region of Chechnya. Young people are now thinking twice before volunteering to work with rights groups, said Lev Ponomaryov, director of the group For Human Rights.

46 US admiral concerned about China military buildup

By JEREMIAH MARQUEZ, Associated Press Writer

Fri Oct 30, 7:55 am ET

HONG KONG – A U.S. Navy admiral expressed new concern Friday over China’s military buildup and urged Beijing to be clearer about its intentions.

With China’s military growing at an “unprecedented rate,” the U.S. wants to ensure that expansion doesn’t destabilize the region, Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan told reporters on a visit to the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.

Donegan referred to China’s expanded weaponry. His remarks echoed the concerns of other U.S. military leaders who have said the growth in China’s military spending – up almost 15 percent in the 2009 budget – raises questions about how Beijing plans on deploying its new power.

47 Afghan officials defend plan for more voting centers

By Golnar Motevalli, Reuters

14 mins ago

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan election officials on Friday defended plans to open more polling centers for next week’s presidential run-off despite fears not enough is being done to prevent a repeat of the fraud which marred the first round.

Security is also a major concern ahead of the November 7 run-off, which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt, underlined by a suicide attack this week on a guest-house used by the United Nations in which five foreign U.N. staff were killed.

Western officials have already described as “disturbing” plans for the run-off, which both Kabul and Washington hope will end weeks of political uncertainty.

48 France’s Chirac ordered to face embezzlement trial

By Thierry Leveque and Estelle Shirbon, Reuters

Fri Oct 30, 10:00 am ET

PARIS (Reuters) – Former French president Jacques Chirac has been ordered to stand trial on embezzlement charges dating back to his time as mayor of Paris, an unprecedented move against a former French head of state.

Magistrate Xaviere Simeoni gave the order over allegations that the Paris City Hall awarded contracts for non-existent jobs as favors to people who were politically useful to Chirac.

Chirac’s office said Friday that he and nine others had been ordered to stand trial over 21 contracts from the 1990s.

49 Southern African states to hold Zimbabwe summit

By Cris Chinaka, Reuters

1 hr 32 mins ago

HARARE (Reuters) – Southern African countries are expected to hold a summit on the political crisis in Zimbabwe, a regional group said Friday, to try to keep the unity government from crumbling.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change said a fortnight ago it was “disengaging” from government over a dispute with rival President Robert Mugabe on the implementation of the fragile coalition’s power-sharing deal.

Friday Mugabe upped the rhetoric against the MDC.

50 US sacrifice weighs on Obama after air base vigil

by Stephen Collinson, AFP

Thu Oct 29, 6:19 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – After watching fallen Americans borne home from Afghanistan, President Barack Obama said Thursday the war’s heavy human toll was weighing on his decision on whether to order more troops into battle.

Obama spoke movingly of his surprise, midnight trip to a Delaware air base, where he stood vigil as the remains of 18 personnel, in cases draped in US flags, were carried from the belly of a huge transport plane.

“It was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day,” Obama said in the Oval Office, hours after attending the “dignified transfer” ceremony.

51 In rare move, Russia president condemns Stalin purges

by Stuart Williams, AFP

Fri Oct 30, 11:31 am ET

MOSCOW (AFP) – The mass killings under Joseph Stalin cannot be justified, President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday, in a rare condemnation by the Kremlin of the Soviet dictator still seen as a hero by many in Russia.

Millions of people were killed in purges and forced collectivization as Stalin asserted his power in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s, actions seen by most historians as one of the worst crimes in human history.

Yet Stalin remains lauded in Russia for his role in leading the Soviet Union to victory in World War II, and last year even came a close third in a television poll for the greatest Russian ever.

52 Clinton challenges Pakistan to find bin Laden

By Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers

Thu Oct 29, 4:14 pm ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday pressed her one-woman blitz on Pakistani public opinion, bluntly challenging the country to defend its territory from an onslaught by religious extremists and asking why Pakistan’s powerful military was unable to find Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden .

Venturing where leading local politicians rarely go, she told university students in Lahore that Pakistan will have to fight the extremists unless “you want to see your territory shrink.”

She delighted her audience by emphasizing her opposition to former President George W. Bush , saying the difference with the current administration was “like daylight and dark.”

53 Will U.S. go empty-handed to world climate talks?

By Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers

Thu Oct 29, 6:36 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Without a new law requiring cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. could end up going empty-handed to the international climate talks in December.

Many nations are watching to see whether the Senate will make progress on a climate and energy bill that would spell out the U.S. national emissions-reduction plan. Without an offer of such cuts from the largest source of emissions that are already in the atmosphere, there won’t be a global deal at the talks in Copenhagen, Denmark .

At the same time, other countries have started to put forward their own plans to cut emissions. If that momentum builds, it could put pressure on the Senate to pass the bill, possibly early in 2010, and open the way for another negotiating round on a global treaty next year.

54 Defying U.N., Afghans to keep fraud-marred polling centers

By Hal Bernton, McClatchy Newspapers

Thu Oct 29, 6:46 pm ET

KABUL, Afghanistan — In a rebuff to the United Nations , an Afghan commission named by President Hamid Karzai disclosed Thursday that centers rife with fraudulent votes during the summer’s presidential election will remain open for the Nov. 7 runoff against challenger Abdullah Abdullah .

U.N. officials had hoped to shut down polling centers where the worst fraud was documented in a recent audit, but the Independent Election Commission said it will open 6,322 polling centers — about 500 more than U.N. officials had proposed and 17 more than were open in the first round.

Commissioner Zekria Barakzai said that polling centers would be closed only if because of security concerns or weather, not because of past problems with fraud.

From Yahoo News U.S. News

55 Colo. ski town could push marijuana legalization

By KRISTEN WYATT, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 10 mins ago

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – Voters in this Rocky Mountain resort town will decide next week whether to legalize pot for all adults at a time when the movement to allow medical marijuana is gaining steam around the country.

A measure before Breckenridge voters in Tuesday’s municipal election would legalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana along with bongs, pipes and other pot paraphernalia. Supporters of the measure say it would inch the whole state closer to full legalization.

Other cities around the country have taken similar action in recent years, including a measure in Denver that decriminalized possession.

56 Too few in U.S. seek flu treatment: CDC

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor, Reuters

14 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Only half of the people in the United States who most need immediate treatment for H1N1 swine flu are actually seeking it, even as the virus spreads at unprecedented speed, U.S. health officials said on Friday.

The latest count shows 114 children have been killed by the virus in the United States since April, during a time when there is usually virtually no influenza, said U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

H1N1 is widespread, he said, and case counts continue to rise in most states.

57 Amgen, Amerisource sued over drug kickback scheme

By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

1 hr 17 mins ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Biotechnology giant Amgen Inc and drug wholesaler AmerisourceBergen Corp were sued on Friday by 14 U.S. states and the District of Columbia over an alleged kickback scheme designed to boost sales of Amgen’s popular anemia drug, Aranesp.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Boston.

It joins a related whistleblower lawsuit filed in the same court in 2006 and is one of many lawsuits accusing drugmakers of illegally marketing their products.

58 BP hit with record US fine for safety violations

by Mira Oberman, AFP

1 hr 58 mins ago

CHICAGO (AFP) – British oil giant BP has been hit with a record US fine of 87.4 million dollars for safety violations at a Texas refinery where 15 people were killed in a 2005 explosion, officials said Friday.

It was the latest in a series of actions taken by the US government over trading abuses and safety and environmental violations for which BP has paid more than 573 million dollars in various fines and settlements.

US Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said BP reneged on an agreement to address critical safety issues discovered after the 2005 blast and failed to correct hundreds of new violations discovered in subsequent inspections.

59 A GOP Civil War in Upstate New York

By KATE PICKERT, Time Magazine

Fri Oct 30, 10:25 am ET

My home Congressional district, New York’s 23rd, may cover 14,000 square miles of what’s known as the North Country, but in many ways, it’s really one big small town. With a population of just over 650,000 – most of whom are white and working- or middle-class – the key issues in the rural district that sprawls across the northeast part of the state are typically things like the future of the local Army base, falling milk prices and whether anyone can ever lure enough jobs back to the area to replace those lost when the region’s manufacturing sector dried up in the 1980s and 1990s.


Skip to comment form

    • TMC on October 30, 2009 at 21:12

    What is the problem with the US indicting Bush and Cheney for war crimes? Obama and Holder are complicit. Obama has already signed the bill to cover up evidence. The Homeland Security Appropriations bill contained a clause that authorizes the DoD to withhold the photos of torture victims . These are the same photos that the Court of Appeals ordered released under a FOIA request from the ACLU. How legal is it for Congress and the President to hide evidence?… President Signs Law Giving Defense Department Authority To Exempt Photos From Freedom Of Information Act]

    WASHINGTON – President Obama yesterday signed into law a Homeland Security appropriations bill that grants the Department of Defense (DOD) the authority to continue suppressing photos of prisoner abuse. The amendment, which would allow the DOD to exempt photos from the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), is aimed at photos ordered released by a federal appeals court as part of an American Civil Liberties Union FOIA lawsuit for photos and other records related to detainee abuse in U.S. custody overseas, although it would apply to other photos in government custody as well. Earlier this month, the ACLU sent a letter to Secretary Robert Gates urging him not to exercise the authority to suppress the photos in their case, stating that the photos “are of critical relevance to an ongoing national debate about accountability.”

    Let’s allow the criminals to cover up their own crimes. Good going there. Mr. Obama

    • TMC on October 30, 2009 at 21:24

    Now that I got that off my “chest”.

    1. WHO experts say flu vaccines safe, one dose needed

    By Jonathan Lynn

    GENEVA (Reuters) – Only one dose of vaccine is needed for protection against pandemic H1N1 flu and the jabs have so far proved to be safe, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

    Health experts have been debating whether one or two shots are necessary to protect against H1N1, known as swine flu. The number of doses required is key to estimating how many vaccines are needed in total.

    2. When moms get flu shot, babies benefit too: study

    By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When pregnant women get vaccinated against flu, their babies are bigger, healthier and less likely to be premature, researchers reported on Thursday.

    The studies show that influenza vaccines protect not only women, who are extremely vulnerable to flu when pregnant, but also their babies before and after birth, the researchers said.

    3. Experimental group B strep vaccine shows promise

    By Julie Steenhuysen

    CHICAGO (Reuters) – An experimental vaccine cut the chances of a pregnant woman carrying group B strep bacteria, a leading cause of blood and brain infections in newborns, U.S. researchers said on Friday.

    They said pregnant women who got the Group B Streptococcus vaccine were about one third less likely to carry the bacteria in the vagina and 43 percent less likely to carry the organism in the gut.

    4. Children Without Insurance Are More Likely to Die, a Study Finds

    Uninsured children who wind up in the hospital are much more likely to die than children covered by either private or government insurance plans, according to one of the first studies to assess the impact of insurance coverage on hospitalized children.

    Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center analyzed data from more than 23 million children’s hospitalizations in 37 states from 1988 to 2005. Compared with insured children, uninsured children faced a 60 percent increased risk of dying, the researchers found.

    5. Obama lifts ban on U.S. entry of those with HIV/AIDS

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama announced on Friday that a 22-year-old ban on allowing people infected with the AIDS virus into the United States will be lifted on Monday.

    Obama made the announcement in signing an extension of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Act, which provides for education, prevention and treatment programs for U.S. HIV patients.

    Obama said the ban was imposed 22 years ago when visitors to the United States were treated as a threat.

    About time the US came out of the dark ages with lifting of this ban.

    6. Risotto With Winter Squash and Collard Greens

    1 1/2 pounds winter squash, such as butternut, banana or hubbard, peeled, seeded and cut in 1/2 inch dice (about 2 cups diced squash)

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

    1 bunch collard greens, about 1 pound, stemmed and washed

    2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock, or 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth and 1 quart water

    1 small or 1/2 medium onion

    2 large garlic cloves, green shoots removed, minced

    1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice

    1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc

    Pinch of saffron (optional)

    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)

    3 to 4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and spread on the baking sheet in an even layer. Place in the oven, and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until tender and caramelized. Remove from the heat.

    2. While the squash is roasting, blanch the collard greens. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the collard greens. Blanch for four minutes and transfer to the ice water with a slotted spoon or skimmer. Drain and squeeze out extra water. Chop coarsely, or cut in ribbons.

    3. Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Heat the remaining oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick frying pan or a wide saucepan, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about three minutes, and add the garlic and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and the garlic fragrant, about one minute, and add the rice. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate.

    4. Stir in the wine, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble but not too quickly. When the wine has just about evaporated, add the collard greens, a third of the squash and the saffron. Stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock, enough to just cover the rice. The stock should bubble slowly. Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add another ladleful of the stock, and continue to cook in this fashion — not too fast and not too slowly, adding more stock when the rice is almost dry — until the rice is tender all the way through but still chewy, 20 to 25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.

    5. Add the remaining roasted squash and another 1/2 cup of stock to the rice. Stir in the Parmesan and parsley, and remove from the heat. Add freshly ground pepper, taste one last time and adjust salt. The mixture should be creamy (add more stock if it is not). Serve right away in wide soup bowls or on plates, spreading the risotto in a thin layer rather than a mound.

    Yield: Serves six.

    Advance preparation: You can roast the squash and blanch the collards up to three days ahead. You can get ahead on the risotto, cooking it halfway through step 4, about 10 to 15 minutes, then spreading the rice out in the pan or on a baking sheet. Reheat and proceed with the recipe shortly before serving.

  1. Whew!  Whatta’ lotta’ stuff — agree with you that the Chirac case SHOULD be an example — sigh!

Comments have been disabled.