The Morning News is an Open Thread
34 Top Stories. You know you want to.
1 Reality TV shifting focus to everyday life
by Audrey Stuart, AFP
Wed Oct 7, 2:09 am ET
|CANNES, France (AFP) – Train to dance like Michael Jackson, cook like a chef, or just learn to be happy! Reality TV is here to stay, according to the experts, but is shifting from glamour to tackle everyday life.
Reality TV has steadily grown over the last decade, according to production companies and market watchers attending the MIPCOM entertainment industry fair taking place on the French Riviera this week.
“We’re really astounded by the extraordinary rises in audiences for our shows this year,” Tony Cohen, CEO of leading reality and format production group, Freemantle Media, told a press conference.
2 ECB interest rates to stay anchored: analysts
by William Ickes, AFP
Wed Oct 7, 1:08 am ET
|FRANKFURT (AFP) – The European Central Bank will leave its main interest rate at 1.0 percent until the 16-nation eurozone is well on its way to recovery, analysts said ahead of an ECB rate decision on Thursday in Venice.
The decision was basically certain after ECB governing council member Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell made a rare comment on monetary policy just before the meeting, one of two held yearly outside Frankfurt.
Tumpel-Gugerell told a conference in Austria Monday that the ECB’s current monetary policy stance was “appropriate,” a code word for no change in the near future.
3 Global economic crisis to slash carbon emissions: IEA
by Marlowe Hood, AFP
Tue Oct 6, 2:04 pm ET
|BANGKOK (AFP) – The global economic crisis will slash carbon emissions in 2009, opening a narrow opportunity to take decisive action on global warming, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday.
The predicted three percent fall in energy-related CO2 pollution compared with a year earlier would be the steepest drop in 40 years, chief IEA economist Fatih Birol said at a press conference in Bangkok.
The global carbon output up to now has on average grown three percent annually, he added.
4 Dollar fears stalk global finance talks
by Veronica Smith, AFP
Tue Oct 6, 4:42 pm ET
|ISTANBUL (AFP) – Fears over the dollar’s future rose Tuesday amid optimism about economic recovery at a meeting of world finance chiefs in Istanbul, where violent protests broke out in the streets.
Finance ministers and central bankers at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were under pressure to bolster fragile growth that faces the risks of surging unemployment and weak banks.
“We seem to have pulled back from the brink, and even if as we all know it is much too early to declare victory, we have at least stepped onto the road of recovery,” IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn told delegates.
5 Amazon debuts international Kindle e-reader
by Glenn Chapman, AFP
Wed Oct 7, 2:07 am ET
|CUPERTINO, California (AFP) – Amazon.com announced it is releasing an international version of the Kindle and trimming prices of the coveted electronic book readers.
Kindle models designed to synch with telecom networks in countries around the world are priced at 279 dollars and the prices of basic Kindles tailored only for use in the United States were cut 40 dollars to 259 dollars.
“For the first time ever, Kindle is available for sale outside the US,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told AFP as he provided a glimpse of the international model in Cupertino, California.
6 Cracks emerge as IMF, World Bank work for recovery
by Veronica Smith, AFP
Tue Oct 6, 9:36 am ET
|ISTANBUL (AFP) – World finance chiefs worked to bolster a fragile economic recovery in Istanbul on Tuesday but cracks emerged as Germany warned against a rise in IMF resources paid by members.
At annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in the Turkish financial capital, Europe’s largest economy, Germany, threw a spanner in the works of a plan to significantly boost the resources of the International Monetary Fund.
German central bank governor Axel Weber said the IMF’s proposal for a massive increase in its resources so that it could function as a credible global bank of last resort for countries was fraught with risks.
7 IMF, World Bank map road to recovery
by Veronica Smith, AFP
Tue Oct 6, 6:16 am ET
|ISTANBUL (AFP) – Finance chiefs from around the world focused on mapping out recovery from the global economic crisis at the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank here on Tuesday, with a plea to include the poor.
With emerging markets playing a leading role in the return to growth, finance ministers and central bank governors from 186 nations hammered out a strategy for sustainable growth and reform of the global financial system at the heart of the crisis.
International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn called for global economic cooperation that would build on efforts by the Group of 20 (G20) over the past year and which have averted the collapse of the world economy.
8 Obama to consult lawmakers on Afghan war strategy
by Stephen Collinson, AFP
Tue Oct 6, 5:47 am ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama confronts a building political storm over Afghanistan on Tuesday, as he talks through his dilemma over war strategy with leading figures in Congress.
With debate heating up on the unpopular war following a spike in US troop deaths, Obama is under intense pressure to offer lawmakers of both parties more detail on his evolving internal review of Afghanistan policy.
The afternoon talks will “walk (lawmakers) through where we are in (the) process and solicit their views,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, cautioning that Obama was still far from deciding on a new strategy.
9 Obama holds intense talks on Afghan war
by Stephen Collinson, AFP
Tue Oct 6, 11:05 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama told top lawmakers not to politicize his deliberations on whether to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, but failed to quell raging debate on the unpopular war.
Obama’s meeting with Democratic and Republican power brokers did little to bridge flagrant party divisions over Afghan strategy, and reflected the lonely nature of what will be the most fateful decision of his presidency so far.
The White House talks came as Obama plunges deeper into an exhaustive, weeks-long review of Afghan policy, against a backdrop of rising troop deaths, a quickening Taliban insurgency and public anxiety over the course of the war.
10 Fallout from Honduras’s presidential crisis – in Washington
By Howard LaFranchi, The Christian Science Monitor
Tue Oct 6, 5:00 am ET
|Washington – The military ouster of Honduras’s president in June has led to deep ideological fissures, paralysis in a legislative committee, and efforts to undermine national foreign policy.
And no, that’s not a sampling of what’s happening in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, but rather in Washington, where a deep and cranky divide has formed between Democrats and Republicans over what most Democrats call a “coup” in America’s backyard.
Honduras thus becomes another entry on a long list of Latin American countries that have served as Olive Oyls to Washington’s left-right tug of wars.
11 U.S. & quot;stumbling block& quot; in U.N. climate talks: Mexico
By David Fogarty and Chisa Fujioka, Reuters
1 hr 27 mins ago
|BANGKOK (Reuters) – The United States came under pressure to show leadership in U.N. climate talks on Wednesday with Mexico saying its neighbor is a stumbling block in efforts to try to craft a tough global climate agreement by December.
The United States has been criticized by developing countries and green groups in talks in the Thai capital for not being able to put a tough emissions reduction target for 2020 on the table, instead focusing on a 2050 target.
Developing nations also worry over Washington’s position that any new climate pact should set legally binding domestic steps to cut emissions as a benchmark for global action to fight climate change.
12 Gold spike gives Asian consumers pause, not fever
By James Regan and Ruchira Singh, Reuters
11 mins ago
|SYDNEY/MUMBAI (Reuters) – Gold consumers across Asia greeted bullion’s run to a record high cautiously on Wednesday, with a few moving to cash in gains but the majority opting to wait for the rest of a rally they believe has only just begun.
In contrast to a second day of busy trade on global gold markets, the scene at shops and jewelry merchants from Sydney to Hong Kong to Mumbai was marked by a distinct lack of occasion, suggesting that the wave of retail scrap selling that greeted gold’s record run in March 2008 may not be quick to recur.
“Today’s been like any other day,” said David Carr, of KJC Coins Australia in Sydney, which deals in precious metal coins and bars. “No one’s coming in to sell gold because the price jumped overnight, it’s more wait and see, business as usual.”
13 Tough to meet Guantanamo closing deadline: Holder
By Jeremy Pelofsky and James Vicini, Reuters
Tue Oct 6, 4:35 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday that it would be tough to meet the fast-approaching January deadline to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that houses terrorism suspects.
President Barack Obama ordered the controversial detention camp closed on his second day in office and gave administration officials a year to do it, but they have since run into numerous legal, political and diplomatic hurdles.
“It’s going to be difficult for us to make the January 22 deadline,” Holder told reporters, quickly adding that they would still try to meet the goal.
14 AP Poll: Health care overhaul has a pulse
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR and TREVOR TOMPSON, Associated Press Writers
16 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – The fever has broken. The patient is out of intensive care. But if you’re President Barack Obama, you can’t stop pacing the waiting room. Health care overhaul is still in guarded condition.
The latest Associated Press-GfK poll has found that opposition to Obama’s health care remake dropped dramatically in just a matter of weeks. Still, Americans remain divided over complex legislation that Democrats are advancing in Congress.
The public is split 40-40 on supporting or opposing the health care legislation, the poll found. An even split is welcome news for Democrats, a sharp improvement from September, when 49 percent of Americans said they opposed the congressional proposals and just 34 percent supported them.
15 INSIDE WASHINGTON: Oversight lacking on war costs
By RICHARD LARDNER, Associated Press Writer
5 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – During a routine check of a watch tower at a U.S. military base in Kuwait, an Army sergeant found the guard leaning back in a chair, his sunglasses on, apparently sound asleep. When the soldier woke the guard, an employee of a defense contractor named Combat Support Associates, he denied he’d dozed off while on duty.
“It’s so weird that I can close my eyes for one second and then you appear out of nowhere,” the guard said, according to the sergeant’s March 2008 inspection report.
The episode illustrates the problems between the U.S. armed forces and the industrial army supporting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Demand for contractor services is heavy, while oversight of their work isn’t. That means problems often aren’t discovered until long after the payments have been made.
16 Obama weighs options on anniversary of Afghan war
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer
11 mins ago
|WASHINGTON – On the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama is gathering his national security team for another strategy session.
Obama is examining how to proceed with a worsening war that has claimed nearly 800 U.S. lives and sapped American patience. Launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to defeat the Taliban and rid al-Qaida of a home base, the war has lasted longer than ever envisioned.
House and Senate leaders of both parties emerged Tuesday from a nearly 90-minute conversation with Obama with praise for his candor and interest in listening. But politically speaking, all sides appeared to exit where they entered, with Republicans pushing Obama to follow his military commanders and Democrats saying he should not be rushed.
17 Billions in US aid sparks debate in Pakistan
By NAHAL TOOSI, Associated Press Writer
7 mins ago
|ISLAMABAD – Pakistani leaders jousted Wednesday over a multibillion-dollar U.S. humanitarian aid bill that the ruling party praises as a lynchpin to strengthening democracy here but that opponents say will lead to greater American interference in Pakistani affairs.
The bill, which awaits President Barack Obama’s signature, would give Pakistan $1.5 billion annually over the next five years for democratic, economic and social development programs. It also allows “such sums as are necessary” for military aid.
The U.S. says the bill is aimed at alleviating poverty here and lessening the allure of Islamist militant groups in a country seen as crucial to the American fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida in neighboring Afghanistan.
18 Al-Qaida showing smaller presence in Afghanistan
By ROBERT H. REID, Associated Press Writer
Wed Oct 7, 1:15 am ET
|KABUL – Al-Qaida’s role in Afghanistan has faded after eight years of war.
Gone is the once-formidable network of camps and safe houses where Osama bin Laden and his mostly Arab operatives trained thousands of young Muslims to wage a global jihad. The group is left with fewer than 100 core fighters, according to the Obama administration, likely operating small-scale bomb-making and tactics classes conducted by trainers who travel to and from Pakistan.
Assessing the real strength and threat posed by al-Qaida is at the heart of an evolving policy debate in Washington about whether or not to escalate the U.S. military presence in this country. The war was launched soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to root out al-Qaida and deny the militant movement a safe haven in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
U.S. national security adviser James Jones said last weekend that the al-Qaida presence has diminished, and he does not “foresee the return of the Taliban” to power.
19 AP Poll: Obama’s job approval rises amid concerns
By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 9:46 pm ET
|NEW YORK – President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are starting to rise after declining ever since his inauguration, new poll figures show as the country’s mood begins to brighten. But concerns about the economy, health care and war persist, and support for the war in Afghanistan is falling.
An Associated Press-GfK poll says 56 percent of those surveyed in the past week approve of Obama’s job performance, up from 50 percent in September. It’s the first time since he took office in January that his rating has gone up.
People also feel better about his handling of the economy and his proposed health care overhaul.
20 Top Rwanda genocide suspect caught in Uganda
By GODFREY OLUKYA and RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, Associated Press Writers
Tue Oct 6, 9:26 pm ET
|KAMPALA, Uganda – A top suspect wanted for orchestrating the killings of thousands of people in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide – including children, hospital patients, priests and even an elderly and revered African queen – has been captured, police said Tuesday.
Former Rwanda Deputy Intelligence Chief Idelphonse Nizeyimana was arrested Monday in Uganda, police said, under an indictment from the Rwanda war crimes tribunal on charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, and direct and public incitement to commit genocide in the systematic slaughter of more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days in 1994.
Until last week, Nizeyimana was believed to have hidden in the jungles of eastern Congo, where he belonged to a militia called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, that continues to commit atrocities. The Rwandan militia, made up of Hutus, is accused of having killed at least 1,000 civilians this year, including rampaging through a village and throwing children into a fire, human rights groups said.
21 Ensign denies wrongdoing in job for former staffer
By LAURIE KELLMAN, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 9:26 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – Sen. John Ensign said Tuesday that he will not resign, even as a watchdog group raised questions about whether he improperly tried to appease his mistress’ husband with a lobbying job and made phone calls on behalf of the man’s clients.
“No,” he told The Associated Press, when asked if he intended to resign. “I’ve been saying that all day.”
Indeed, reporters have trailed the embattled Nevada Republican all over the Capitol complex during a busy day of Senate business, amid a sex-and-influence scandal that has spawned a preliminary ethics committee inquiry and lots of questions about the two-term senator’s conduct.
22 Limbaugh, Checketts interested in buying the Rams
By JIM SALTER, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 3:59 pm ET
|ST. LOUIS – The lowly Rams have someone who loves them. Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday he is teaming up with St. Louis Blues owner Dave Checketts in a bid to buy the Rams, owners of the NFL’s longest losing streak at 14 and just 5-31 since 2007.
In a statement, Limbaugh declined to discuss details, citing a confidentiality agreement with Goldman Sachs, the investment firm hired by the family of former Rams owner Georgia Frontiere to review assets of her estate, including the NFL team.
Limbaugh also declined to discuss other partners that might be involved in the bid, but said he and Checketts would operate the team.
23 Keeping warm should be a bit cheaper this winter
By H. JOSEF HEBERT, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 4:16 pm ET
|WASHINGTON – Staying warm won’t be quite as expensive this winter.
People who heat with natural gas should do especially well, seeing their lowest bills in five years. But no matter what fuel is used, heating costs are expected to take less of a bite out of household budgets in the coming months – from $20 to as much as $280 lower than last winter depending on what fuel is used, the government says.
An expected milder winter, along with lower fuel costs, should cut average residential heating expenditures by 8 percent from last year, the Energy Information Administration said in its annual winter outlook on Tuesday.
24 Edgar Allan Poe finally getting proper funeral
By BEN NUCKOLS, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 1:08 pm ET
|BALTIMORE – For Edgar Allan Poe, 2009 has been a better year than 1849. After dozens of events in several cities to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth, he’s about to get the grand funeral that a writer of his stature should have received when he died.
One hundred sixty years ago, the beleaguered, impoverished Poe was found, delirious and in distress outside a Baltimore tavern. He was never coherent enough to explain what had befallen him since leaving Richmond, Va., a week earlier. He spent four days in a hospital before he died at age 40.
Poe’s cousin, Neilson Poe, never announced his death publicly. Fewer than 10 people attended the hasty funeral for one of the 19th century’s greatest writers. And the injustices piled on. Poe’s tombstone was destroyed before it could be installed, when a train derailed and crashed into a stonecutter’s yard. Rufus Griswold, a Poe enemy, published a libelous obituary that damaged Poe’s reputation for decades.
25 Collectors named as suspects in Calif. art heist
By BROOKE DONALD, Associated Press Writer
Wed Oct 7, 2:39 am ET
|SALINAS, Calif. – Two men who claim thieves broke into their rental home in the ritzy coastal enclave of Pebble Beach and made off with millions of dollars worth of art were named as suspects in the case Tuesday.
Monterey County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Mike Richards said Benjamin Amadio and Dr. Ralph Kennaugh may be involved in a “criminal enterprise,” and that authorities were investigating “other scenarios.”
“This whole thing stinks,” Richards said. He would not provide details.
26 Jury expert: Knowledge of CA shooting widespread
By TERRY COLLINS, Associated Press Writer
Wed Oct 7, 1:01 am ET
|OAKLAND, Calif. – A jury expert testified Tuesday that publicity ahead of the trial of a former San Francisco Bay Area transit officer accused in a fatal train platform shooting has resulted in an “astronomical” level of public knowledge in the case.
The expert, Craig New, said a recent survey by a California State University, Chico professor found that nearly 97 percent of about 400 potential jurors knew details about the case. Nearly 46 percent of those surveyed in Alameda County believe that the officer – Johannes Mehserle – is “definitely guilty” or “probably guilty,” he said.
“The numbers are off the chart,” said New, who was hired by Mehserle’s defense. He added that 82 percent of those surveyed also feared violence if Mehserle, 27, is acquitted.
27 Parents in prayer death get 6 months in jail
By ROBERT IMRIE, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 9:28 pm ET
|WAUSAU, Wis. – A central Wisconsin couple who prayed rather than seek medical care for their 11-year-old dying daughter were sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail and 10 years probation in the girl’s death.
Dale and Leilani Neumann could have received up to 25 years in prison for the March 2008 death of Madeline Neumann, who died of an undiagnosed but treatable form of diabetes. They were convicted of second-degree reckless homicide in separate trials earlier this year.
In sentencing the couple, Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Vincent Howard said the Neumanns were “very good people, raising their family who made a bad decision, a reckless decision.”
28 CIA records: Cuban exile informed on colleagues
By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ, AP Hispanic Affairs Writer
Tue Oct 6, 8:45 pm ET
|MIAMI – Recently released CIA files from the mid-1960s show Cuban exile and accused terrorist Luis Posada Carriles informed on violent Miami-based efforts to attack Fidel Castro’s fledgling Cuban government even as he was deeply involved in helping them.
In the files, the CIA also appeared confident that Posada was a moderate force who would not embarrass the agency or the United States.
“A15 is not a typical kind of ‘boom and bang’ individual. He is acutely aware of the international implications of ill-planned or overly enthusiastic activities against Cuba,” Posada’s CIA handler, Grover T. Lythcott, wrote in a July 26, 1966, memo, using a code name for the Cuban exile.
29 Utah Gov. Herbert meets with gay rights groups
By BROCK VERGAKIS, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 8:31 pm ET
|SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Gov. Gary Herbert met with gay rights advocacy groups Tuesday for the first time since saying he opposes providing legal protections for gay and transgender people.
Herbert took office in mid-August after Jon Huntsman resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China.
Within weeks of his inauguration, Herbert said he doesn’t think it should be illegal to discriminate against someone for being gay or transgender.
30 Feds limit Arizona sheriff’s immigration powers
By JACQUES BILLEAUD, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 8:16 pm ET
|PHOENIX – An Arizona sheriff known for aggressively cracking down on illegal immigration has been stripped of some of his special power to enforce federal immigration law, and he claims the Obama administration is taking away his authority for political reasons.
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose office faces racial profiling allegations over crime and immigration sweeps in some heavily Latino areas of metro Phoenix, said officials from Washington won’t let him renew a deal that let his deputies make federal immigration arrests.
“Let them all go brag that they took away the sheriff’s authority. Let them all do that. That doesn’t bother me. I don’t have an ego. I will continue doing the same thing,” the Republican sheriff said, noting he can still enforce state immigration laws. “What has changed, other than the politics and the perception emanating from Washington?”
31 Ohio considering bone, muscle for lethal injection
By STEPHEN MAJORS, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 3:59 pm ET
|COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio is considering injecting lethal drugs into inmates’ bone marrow or muscles as an alternative to – or a backup for – the traditional intravenous execution procedure, a prisons department spokeswoman said Tuesday.
“Everything is on the table” as the state researches ways to adjust its death chamber procedure in the wake of a failed execution last month, when officials couldn’t locate suitable veins on inmate Romell Broom, said Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman Julie Walburn.
Broom’s execution is on hold at least until a federal court hearing takes place on Nov. 30. Gov. Ted Strickland issued reprieves for two other death-row inmates on Monday, saying that more time is needed to study the execution procedure.
32 30 years after gay march, activists head to DC
By LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 3:54 pm ET
|SAN FRANCISCO – A Democrat in the White House. Demands for sweeping civil rights protections. Religious opponents working to undo a string of state-based victories.
That was the backdrop in 1979 when gay rights activists staged their first national march in Washington. Thirty years later, with the landscape looking much the same, thousands of advocates are preparing to rally again in the nation’s capital this weekend.
And they are demanding many of the same things: a bill to outlaw job discrimination based on gender, a law that would treat attacks on gays as federal hate crimes, and a presidential order allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
33 Top Iowa candidates? It’s anyone’s guess
By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 3:19 pm ET
|DES MOINES, Iowa – Little more than a year before the general election, Iowa’s top two races are effectively frozen – one by a potential candidate who hasn’t decided whether to run, the other by a promised candidate who hasn’t decided whether to be named.
Republicans are waiting to see if former four-term Gov. Terry Branstad will seek the office again after a 12-year absence. And Democrats wonder who the mystery candidate is that party leaders assure them will give GOP Sen. Charles Grassley “the race of his life” as he seeks a sixth term.
“Both sides are doing the same thing,” said former Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Stewart Iverson.
34 Army town braces for bad news after Afghan attacks
By IVAN MORENO, Associated Press Writer
Tue Oct 6, 3:04 pm ET
|COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Barber Art Rico says he dreads looking at the newspaper these days for fear he’ll see the picture of another customer who was killed in combat.
“We’ll sit there and we’ll look and say, ‘I remember cutting his hair,'” said Rico, 63, owner of Rico’s Barbershop in a strip mall a few miles from the main gate to Fort Carson.
The sprawling post and its neighbors were bracing for bad news Tuesday after a fierce weekend battle in Afghanistan left eight U.S. soldiers dead.