Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 42 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Disease spreads in quake-hit Haiti

by Virginie Montet, AFP

29 mins ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Haiti’s desperate earthquake survivors faced a new threat Friday as the United Nations reported a rise in cases of diarrhea, measles and tetanus in squalid tent camps for victims.

A vast foreign aid effort is struggling to meet survivors’ needs 17 days after the disaster, which killed around 170,000 people and left one million homeless and short of medicine, food and water.

Several medical teams reported increased cases of diarrhea in the last few days in Haiti, Paul Garwood, a spokesman for the UN World Health Organization, said in Geneva.

2 Haiti insecurity mounts as survivor’s tale amazes

by Virginie Montet, AFP

Thu Jan 28, 7:18 pm ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Haiti’s vulnerable quake victims faced rising insecurity Thursday with criminals raping women in camps and violence erupting during handouts of sparse foreign aid, officials warned.

But a ray of hope penetrated the gloom as doctors marveled at how a 16-year-old girl who was pulled from the rubble of the capital a day earlier managed to survive 15 days buried alive without any food or water.

With aid still only trickling in despite a vast international relief effort launched after the January 12 quake, hundreds of thousands of homeless people in tent camps are not only short of food but also at risk from rising crime.

3 Bill Clinton makes Haiti plea to big business

by Michael Thurston, AFP

Thu Jan 28, 4:25 pm ET

DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) – Former US president Bill Clinton appealed for big business to help Haiti “rise from the ashes” on Thursday as a rising Chinese leader made his biggest international appearance yet at the Davos forum.

While Greece’s prime minister attacked currency speculators, Clinton told the political and business elite at the World Economic Forum that real money could be made in the Caribbean nation where nearly 170,000 people died in the January 12 quake.

“They need to be helped through this hideous natural disaster,” said Clinton, a UN special envoy on Haiti, a country he said had been “punished by either being ignored or abused”.

4 Blair says no regrets for removing Saddam

by Alice Ritchie, AFP

20 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – Former British prime minister Tony Blair said Friday he had no regrets about removing Saddam Hussein after delivering a robust defence of the 2003 invasion of Iraq at a public inquiry into the war.

Rounding off his day-long evidence session, Blair said he accepted “responsibility but not a regret for removing Saddam,” insisting the Iraqi leader was a “monster” who had “threatened not just the region but the world.”

As he left the London hearing, there were shouts of “liar” and “you’re a murderer” from the public gallery, where some of the relatives of the 179 British troops killed in Iraq watched his appearance.

5 Blair says no secret deal with Bush to invade Iraq

by Alice Ritchie, AFP

Fri Jan 29, 10:37 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – Former prime minister Tony Blair said Friday there had been no “covert” deal with then US president George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2003, and robustly defended his decision to take Britain to war.

Giving eagerly awaited evidence to a public inquiry into the conflict, he insisted he had backed war because Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had flouted UN resolutions, not because he wanted “regime change”. Related article: Saddam was a ‘monster’ says Blair

Almost seven years on, six months after British troops withdrew from Iraq, Blair’s decision to back the war remains a highly controversial subject, and hundreds of anti-war protesters demonstrated outside the inquiry venue.

6 Blair to appear before Iraq war inquiry

by Alice Ritchie, AFP

Fri Jan 29, 4:34 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – Former prime minister Tony Blair faces a public inquiry on Friday over his decision to wage war on Iraq, seven years after a bloody conflict that still divides his country.

Blair is the star witness in a long-awaited inquiry that commentators hope will finally resolve questions about the intelligence that justified the March 2003 invasion, and whether the US-led war was legal.

Anti-war campaigners, who held a million-strong march against the invasion at the time, have promised protests for the hearing in London, while the public interest is such that organisers had to hold a ballot for spectators.

7 Gates pledges 10 billion dollars for ‘miracle’ vaccines

by Michael Thurston, AFP

1 hr 51 mins ago

DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) – Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, on Friday promised 10 billion dollars (7.2 billion euros) to develop “miracle” vaccines for the world’s poorest nations.

Gates announced at the World Economic Forum that the money will come over the next decade from the foundation he runs with his wife Melinda, and that vaccines will become the charity’s top priority.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has now committed more than 25 billion dollars to various health projects, especially targeting AIDS and polio and other diseases that hit poor countries.

8 Climate: The long and winding road after Copenhagen

by Marlowe Hood, AFP

2 hrs 39 mins ago

PARIS (AFP) – After the near-train wreck of last month’s Copenhagen climate summit, what lies ahead for efforts to beat back global warming?

Next week may yield the first clues.

Countries are being asked to say by Sunday whether they will endorse an 11th-hour deal, the “Copenhagen Accord,” which saved the marathon meeting from collapse but sparked accusations of failure and betrayal.

9 New Toyota recall sees global tally near eight million

by Roddy Thomson, AFP

2 hrs 14 mins ago

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Japanese automaker Toyota ordered a new mass auto recall on Friday, pulling up to 1.8 million vehicles from Europe, as rivals Honda recalled 646,000 of its cars worldwide.

The latest in a series of recalls which has now hit almost eight million Toyota cars worldwide, was again due to an accelerator problem and covered eight separate models and dates ranging back to February 2005.

That is equivalent to Toyota’s entire worldwide sales last year of 7.81 million vehicles.

10 Toyota races to fix accelerator glitch

by Daniel Rook, AFP

Fri Jan 29, 2:56 am ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Toyota raced Friday to finalise a fix for sticky accelerator pedals at the centre of a massive safety recall as rival manufacturers sought to cash in on the Japanese giant’s woes.

Toyota said its parts supplier CTS had begun making pedals based on a new design that resolved the problem and the two firms are testing a remedy that will be rolled out “as quickly as possible” for cars already on the road.

The Japanese giant was believed to be putting the finishing touches to a repair whereby it would insert a “spacer” in the pedal mechanism in order to increase the tension in a spring and reduce the risk of sticking.

11 Toyota’s safety recall goes global

by Daniel Rook, AFP

Thu Jan 28, 1:49 pm ET

TOKYO (AFP) – Toyota’s coveted safety record took a major new hit Thursday as a massive recall caused by an accelerator problem grew in the United States and spread to Europe and China for the first time.

Toyota raced past US giant General Motors in 2008 to become the world’s top-selling automaker, but it has been bedevilled by a series of safety issues that have raised questions about whether its quality control has suffered.

Toyota shares tumbled 3.91 percent to 3,560 yen Thursday, after a drop of 4.26 percent the previous day in response to the group’s decision to suspend sales in United States of eight models due to the safety concerns.

12 West backs Afghan security pledges, Taliban plan

by Bronwen Roberts

Thu Jan 28, 2:44 pm ET

LONDON (AFP) – World powers agreed Thursday that Afghanistan should take increasing control of its own security from the end of this year and backed President Hamid Karzai’s plan to reward moderate Taliban who disarm.

Afghan security forces will take over an unspecified number of provinces “by late 2010/early 2011”, the powers said after a conference in London, saying it marked “a new phase on the way to full Afghan ownership”.

Western powers like the United States hope the pledges will allow them to cut troop levels in Afghanistan.

13 West backs fund for Taliban as UN meets Afghan militants


Fri Jan 29, 2:05 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – World powers supported Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s plan to woo moderate Taliban fighters who disarm, as it emerged that senior figures in the Islamist militia held secret talks with UN officials.

While leaders meeting in London to discuss the war-shattered country agreed to back a multimillion-dollar fund for militants who lay down their arms, a UN official said UN envoy Kai Eide had met Taliban members in Dubai this month.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not indicate which Taliban members were at the meeting, but said they were “active members of the insurgency” and that the meeting was held at the militants’ request.

14 Former French PM acquitted in Sarkozy smear trial

by Carole Landry, AFP

Thu Jan 28, 4:39 pm ET

PARIS (AFP) – Former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin was acquitted Thursday on charges of plotting a smear campaign against long-time rival Nicolas Sarkozy in order to sabotage his presidential bid.

Villepin immediately vowed to return to the political fray, criticising Sarkozy’s policies for “not giving results” and saying he would challenge the president from within the ruling UMP party that both men belong to.

He is now believed to be considering a run for president in 2012.

15 French prosecutors seek second trial for Sarkozy rival

by Carole Landry, AFP

Fri Jan 29, 6:51 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – French prosecutors on Friday sought a second trial for Dominique de Villepin after the former prime minister was acquitted of plotting to smear rival Nicolas Sarkozy and wreck his presidential bid.

Villepin branded the decision to lodge an appeal as politically-motivated, accusing Sarkozy of being “consumed with hate” and fiercely determined to see him behind bars.

A second trial for the 56-year-old will probably take place at the end of the year or early 2011, chief prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin told Europe 1 radio.

16 Eurozone unemployment rate hits 10%

by Roddy Thomson, AFP

Fri Jan 29, 7:33 am ET

BRUSSELS (AFP) – Unemployment hit 10 percent in Europe on Friday, amid rising inflation and a weakened euro currency according to new data that shows recession-mired Spain bearing the brunt of a jobless recovery.

The human cost of post-recession, structural economic rebirth could be seen in updated European Union data when the seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate for the 16 euro countries hit a miserable one in 10 in December.

The news came on top of rising inflation — with separate official figures showing the annual rate of price rises hitting 1.0 percent, a new peak after falling to an all-time low of minus 0.7 percent six months earlier.

17 Greek woes cloud Davos recovery talks

by Philippe Onillon, AFP

Fri Jan 29, 6:55 am ET

DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) – Worries over Greece’s debt woes and more alarm bells over Europe’s economy clouded debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou held new meetings to overcome what they admit is a “credibility deficit” as Athens battles the fallout from a huge national debt.

But the euro lost more ground as worries deepened about Greece and the state of other European economies. The European currency fell to 1.3938 dollars in Tokyo afternoon trade from 1.3966 in New York late Thursday.

18 Defiant Blair says no regrets over Iraq war

By Michael Holden and Keith Weir, Reuters

1 hr 8 mins ago

LONDON (Reuters) – Former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Friday he had no regrets about the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, saying Saddam Hussein was a threat to the world who had to be disarmed or removed.

Blair said the September 11 al Qaeda attacks on the United States meant rogue states had to be dealt with to prevent weapons of mass destruction (WMD) falling into the wrong hands, risking even greater carnage.

Facing the first official public grilling on why he sent 45,000 British troops to war in Iraq, he repeatedly said he was concerned that such a risk remained today, referring to fears over Iran’s disputed nuclear program.

19 Administration considering other sites for 9/11 trials

By Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters

5 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is looking for places other than the heart of New York City to prosecute the accused September 11 attack plotters in the face of fierce criticism about security and costs, U.S. officials said on Friday.

President Barack Obama has been slammed for plans to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators a few blocks from where the World Trade Center twin towers stood because of concerns about giving them certain legal rights, a large security cordon, and the impact on area businesses.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in November decided to put the trials in New York City, whose lower Manhattan courthouse is connected to a fortified detention center with a tunnel.

The United States is the most cowardly nation on the face of the earth.

20 Obama assails Republican foes, urges bipartisan effort

By Steve Holland, Reuters

1 hr 1 min ago

BALTIMORE (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Friday scolded his Republican opponents for trying to block his legislative agenda at almost every turn and urged them to join a bipartisan push to create jobs and spur economic recovery.

The Democratic president delivered the double-edged message in a sometimes tense session at a Republican congressional retreat in Baltimore as he sought to dig out of his deepest political rut since taking office a year ago.

Facing down his Republican critics two days after a State of the Union speech aimed at reconnecting with the public, Obama sought to counter their attempt to paint him as a big-spending liberal who only wants to expand government.

How’s that bi-partisanship thing working out for you Barack?

21 Guilty verdict in slain Kansas abortion doctor case

By Carey Gillam, Reuters

59 mins ago

KANSAS CITY (Reuters) – A man accused of gunning down one of America’s few late-term abortion providers was found guilty of first-degree murder on Friday after he said he had to act to stop the doctor from performing more abortions.

Scott Roeder, 51, was convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated assault by a Wichita, Kansas jury which deliberated for just over 30 minutes. The case attracted anti-abortion protesters from around the nation to support Roeder.

Abortion has been one of America’s most contentious and divisive issues for decades, affecting everything from local and national elections to the selection of U.S. Supreme Court justices.

22 Honda sets own recall as Toyota details action

By Nobuhiro Kubo and Helen Massy-Beresford, Reuters

Fri Jan 29, 12:12 pm ET

TOKYO/PARIS (Reuters) – Toyota said its global safety withdrawal would take up to 1.8 million vehicles off Europe’s roads and rival Honda announced its own recall, placing the vaunted pedigree of Japan’s carmakers under fresh scrutiny.

The move by Honda, tipped to benefit from Toyota’s woes, came as suppliers, consumers and analysts weighed the financial impact on Toyota of its recall and its suspension of U.S. sales.

Investors also assessed the fall-out for an industry just emerging from global crisis as well as the damage to Japanese automakers’ prized reputation for safety and reliability.

23 Major global banks split on regulation fight

By Lisa Jucca and Martin Howell, Reuters

1 hr 3 mins ago

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – The world’s top bankers are at odds about how to fight back against a global push for tougher financial regulation, with commercial and investment banks struggling to reach agreement.

Top executives from leading U.S. and European banks held behind-the-scenes talks on their response, people attending the talks said. But a deal has proved elusive.

Regulators and policymakers, meanwhile, appeared to have struck some common ground at the World Economic Forum, agreeing on the need to ensure changes to the rulebook — from banker pay to lenders’ activities — are global, and not unilateral.

24 Obama proposes his first arms sales to Taiwan

By Jim Wolf and Paul Eckert, Reuters

1 hr 33 mins ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration notified the U.S. Congress on Friday of its first proposed arms sales to Taiwan, a potential $6.7 billion package bound to anger Beijing and add to rising U.S.-China strains.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency proposed five separate sales, including 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, 114 Patriot “Advanced Capability-3” anti-missiles and a command and control enhancement knows as Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems.

The United States also would supply 12 advanced Harpoon missiles capable of both land-strike and anti-ship missions plus two refurbished Osprey-class mine-hunting ships, the security agency said in notices to Congress.

25 Taliban say no decision yet on Karzai offer of talks

By Hamid Shalizi and Abdul Malek, Reuters

Fri Jan 29, 10:01 am ET

KABUL/LASHKAR GAH (Reuters) – Taliban leaders will decide soon whether to join talks with the Afghan government, a militant spokesman said on Friday, after President Hamid Karzai invited them to a peace council aimed at ending the Afghan war.

In the country’s south, suicide attackers launched an assault in the capital of Helmand, Afghanistan’s most violent province, with gunmen holed up in three buildings, battling government and NATO troops who returned fire with helicopter strikes.

When the fighting stopped before dusk a Reuters reporter at the scene saw the bullet-riddled bodies of four gunmen dragged out of a building by Afghan troops and displayed in the street. Two of the dead gunmen wore police uniforms.

26 Senate backs Bernanke for second term at Fed

By Mark Felsenthal and Thomas Ferraro, Reuters

Fri Jan 29, 7:54 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate on Thursday backed Ben Bernanke for a second four-year term running the Federal Reserve, the world’s most powerful central bank, despite deep misgivings over his perceived policy missteps.

Bernanke survived a revolt by lawmakers angry at big banks and their regulators, including the Fed. He still faces acute political pressure to ease economic strains at a time when the Fed is showing divisions over how much support the economy needs.

President Barack Obama welcomed the Senate vote and said he looked forward to working with Bernanke going forward.

27 Obama takes retooled agenda on road after speech

By Ross Colvin, Reuters

Fri Jan 29, 7:51 am ET

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) – President Barack Obama vowed on Thursday he would not rest until businesses were hiring again, as he took his recast agenda on the road and sought to dig out of his deepest political rut since taking office.

The day after a State of the Union address in which he tried to reconnect with the public with a hard focus on the economy, Obama went to Florida where he unveiled $8 billion in grants for high-speed rail projects the White House says will create employment and transform train travel.

With his poll numbers down and his presidency faltering after his first year, Obama told a friendly audience at a townhall-style meeting that he understood the economic pain they were feeling because of double-digit unemployment.

28 Medicine running out at Haiti hospitals, clinics

By BEN FOX, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 58 mins ago

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Doctors and aid workers are running dangerously low of supplies in Haiti’s capital and in the countryside, complicating efforts to treat 200,000 people in need of post-surgery care following the earthquake and increasing the potential of many more deaths due to infection and disease.

As days turn to weeks, doctors struggling to keep up with demand in devastated hospitals and improvised clinics are warning of a looming public health calamity as earthquake survivors with untreated injuries fail to get proper attention, Elisabeth Byrs, of the U.N.’s humanitarian coordination office said Friday in Geneva.

Poor sanitation can also kill as tens of thousands of Haitians living in squalid camps with limited water, she said.

29 APNewsBreak: Toyota sends gas pedals to factories

By TOM KRISHER, AP Auto Writer

41 mins ago

DETROIT – The Associated Press has learned that Toyota is sending new gas pedal systems to car factories rather than dealerships who want the parts to take care of millions of customers whose pedals may stick.

Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons confirms information in a company e-mail obtained by the AP that says parts were shipped to factories. Lyons says that’s how the company normally distributes parts.

But some dealers say they should get the parts first because they now have no way to fix the pedals on any of the 4.2 million recalled vehicles affecting eight U.S. models.

30 Man convicted of murdering Kan. abortion provider

By MARIA SUDEKUM FISHER, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 15 mins ago

WICHITA, Kan. – Jurors swiftly convicted an abortion opponent of murder Friday for shooting to death one of the only doctors to offer late-term abortions in the U.S., a killing the gunman claimed was justified to save the lives of unborn children.

The jury deliberated for just 37 minutes before finding Scott Roeder, 51, of Kansas City, Mo., guilty of premeditated, first-degree murder for putting a gun to the forehead of Dr. George Tiller on May 31 and pulling the trigger.

Defense attorney Mark Rudy described his case as helpless and hopeless.

31 Blair fights for his legacy as he defends Iraq war

By GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press Writer

33 mins ago

LONDON – He was right and he’d do it again.

That was Tony Blair’s message Friday as he fought for his place in history against critics who contend it was folly to join the Americans in invading Iraq based on intelligence that was faulty and weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist.

The highly anticipated testimony before an official inquiry into Britain’s role in the Iraq conflict provided both a reprise and a coda to the Blair years: The former prime minister showed his impressive rhetorical skills and high-minded principles, but left unanswered whether the war that defines his mixed legacy was justified.

Many in the audience, including the relatives of soldiers and civilians killed in the war, were not impressed. Blair’s claim to have no regrets drew an angry outburst. As he left, one man stood up and shouted “You are a liar!” A second added: “And a murderer.”

32 Obama, GOP exchange barbs, ideas in rare encounter


1 min ago

BALTIMORE – In a remarkably sharp face-to-face confrontation, President Barack Obama chastised Republican lawmakers Friday for opposing him on taxes, health care and the economic stimulus, while they accused him in turn of brushing off their ideas and driving up the national debt.

The president and GOP House members took turns questioning and sometimes lecturing each other for more than hour at a Republican gathering in Baltimore. The Republicans agreed to let TV cameras inside, resulting in an extended, point-by-point interchange that was almost unprecedented in U.S. politics, except perhaps during presidential debates.

With voters angry about partisanship and legislative logjams, both sides were eager to demonstrate they were ready to cooperate, resulting in the GOP invitation and Obama’s acceptance. After polite introductions, however, Friday’s exchange showed that Obama and the Republicans remain far apart on key issues, and neither side could resist the chance to challenge and even scold the other.

33 Official: Terror case may happen outside Manhattan

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press Writer

Fri Jan 29, 1:16 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Facing growing opposition to its plans to hold the Sept. 11 terrorist trial in New York City, the Obama administration is considering moving the proceedings elsewhere.

Two administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Friday the Justice Department is drawing up plans for possible alternate locations to try professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged accomplices in case Congress or local officials prevent the trial from being held in Manhattan.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deliberation.

34 Walmart pendants recalled as Disney bans cadmium

By JUSTIN PRITCHARD, Associated Press Writer

33 mins ago

Federal consumer safety regulators on Friday announced the recall of “The Princess and The Frog” pendants sold at Walmart stores because of high levels of the toxic metal cadmium, an unprecedented action that reflects concerns of an emerging threat in children’s jewelry.

The recall affects two products, about 55,000 items in total, sold exclusively by the world’s biggest retailer for $5 each. The action was taken voluntarily by Rhode Island-based jewelry company FAF Inc., which did not respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which disclosed the recall, had been testing for cadmium in children’s metal jewelry for several weeks in response to an Associated Press investigation that reported high levels of the known carcinogen in the Disney movie-themed pendants and other children’s metal jewelry imported from China.

35 ACORN foe: Phone scheme meant to embarrass senator


18 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS – A conservative activist accused of trying to tamper with Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu’s phones said he and three others charged in the incident wanted to investigate complaints that constituents calling her office couldn’t get through.

“On reflection, I could have used a different approach to this investigation, particularly given the sensitivities that people understandably have about security in a federal building,” James O’Keefe wrote Friday on the Web site

Landrieu’s spokesman called his explanation “feeble.”

36 Obama retools tax credit idea for creating jobs


1 hr 54 mins ago

BALTIMORE – President Barack Obama renewed his call for tax incentives to create jobs Friday, saying a greater effort is needed even though his administration has “stopped the flood of job losses.”

Obama wants to give companies a $5,000 tax credit for each net new worker they hire in 2010. Also, businesses that increase wages or hours for their existing workers in 2010 would be reimbursed for the extra Social Security payroll taxes they would pay.

No company could reap more than $500,000 from the combined benefits, one of several features meant to tailor the program more to small businesses than to large corporations.

37 In Davos speech, Summers warns bankers of reforms

By ALEXANDER G. HIGGINS, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 31 mins ago

DAVOS, Switzerland – Confronting bankers head on, President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser told them Friday to put their customers first and insisted the U.S. government would push through new banking reforms despite pressure from lobbyists.

“Our challenge now is to put in place a new system,” said Lawrence H. Summers, telling a crowd at the World Economic Forum that the reforms wouldn’t last forever but should be able to protect a generation from banking excesses.

Summers, the top U.S. official in Davos this year, said there needed to be rules restraining how risky these banks can become. His session came after three days of complaints from senior officials in the banking industry that governments – and the U.S., in particular – risked choking off growth with a glut of new financial regulations.

38 Illinois, new Massachusetts setback for Obama?

By CHRISTOPHER WILLS, Associated Press Writer

Fri Jan 29, 11:11 am ET

CHICAGO – If the Massachusetts special election was a kick in the shins for President Barack Obama, the political turmoil in Illinois, his home state, is a pain in the neck that never seems to go away.

His former Senate seat, already stained by an ethics scandal, is a major takeover target for Republicans. So is the governor’s office.

Going into Tuesday’s Illinois primary, the first of the 2010 campaign season, Democrats are in disarray, with no political heavyweights in their lineup for the Senate seat that Obama gave up for the White House.

39 Oh, snow! Ski areas exaggerate weekend snowfalls?

By LISA RATHKE, Associated Press Writer

Fri Jan 29, 5:26 am ET

WARREN, Vt. – Ever hit the slopes only to find 4 inches of fresh snow instead of the 8 inches you were promised? That may be because ski areas have exaggerated their snowfalls on weekends to entice skiers, according to a study by two Dartmouth College professors.

That depth deception may fall by the wayside, however, as skiers and snowboarders can now use an iPhone application to report real-time snow levels and keep resorts honest, the study said.

Economists Jonathan Zinman and Eric Zitzewitz, skiers who took offense to a fluffed-up claim, studied snow reports from 2004 to 2008 and compared them to area government weather stations. They found that ski resorts across the U.S. and Canada reported more fresh snow – 23 percent more, on average – on skier-coveted weekends than during the week. Resorts with more business to gain were the ones most likely to boast of deeper snowfalls, their study said.

40 Obama pleads for civility, cooperation in politics

By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer

Thu Jan 28, 11:57 pm ET

TAMPA, Fla. – Trying to bury a year of polarization, President Barack Obama on Thursday escalated his appeal for politicians and voters alike to settle differences without tearing each other apart. His plea: “Let’s start thinking of each other as Americans first.”

Obama made sure to weave that message throughout his stop in Florida, one otherwise intended to promote his economic agenda by announcing $8 billion in high-speed rail awards.

Coming one day after his State of the Union address, and one day before meeting with House Republican leaders with whom he continues to battle, Obama’s emphasis on civility was a nod to political reality. He needs Republicans more than ever to get his agenda passed, and he is getting saddled with more public blame for the partisanship he promised to change.

41 Brown tells AP he’ll sometimes side with Democrats

By GLEN JOHNSON, AP Political Writer

Thu Jan 28, 6:27 pm ET

BOSTON – Scott Brown says he has already told Senate Republican leaders they won’t always be able to count on his vote. The man who staged an upset in last week’s Massachusetts Senate special election, in part by pledging to be the 41st GOP vote against President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday that he staked his claim in early conversations with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip Jon Kyl.

“I already told them, you know, `I got here with the help of a close group of friends and very little help from anyone down there, so there’ll be issues when I’ll be with you and there are issues when I won’t be with you,'” Brown said Thursday during the half-hour interview. “So, I just need to look at each vote and then make a proper analysis and then decide.”

Asked how McConnell and Kyl responded, Brown said, “They understood. They said, `You can probably do whatever you want, Scott. And, so, just let us know where your head’s at, and we’ll talk it through, and just keep us posted.'”

42 Pakistani scientist denies shooting at Americans

By TOM HAYS, Associated Press Writer

Thu Jan 28, 6:03 pm ET

NEW YORK – A U.S.-trained Pakistani scientist being tried on charges she tried to kill Americans while she was detained in Afghanistan in 2008 told a jury Thursday that she didn’t picked up a gun or fire it.

“This is crazy,” Aafia Siddiqui testified when cross-examined about the accusations at her attempted murder trial in Manhattan. “It’s just ridiculous. … I never attempted murder, no way. It’s a heavy word.”

The 37-year-old Siddiqui claimed that she was shot by two men while trying to escape.


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  1. Then they ate Robin’s minstrels.

    And there was much rejoicing.


  3. There’s never a want of news — mostly all bad, eh!

    As to Tony Blair — HE IS, nonetheless, being exposed, and the news is traveling.  Relentless chanting was going on while Blair was questioned about the Iraq war!  Protest as Blair Before War Inquiry.

    As least the British are DOING sometime, and Blair is being “publicly” exposed.

    As to Haiti — just a massive “Katrina.”

    Some 800 to 1,000 aid flights were still awaiting permission to land, a seven-day backlog, U.N. and European officials reported Tuesday. On top of that, “trucks are needed,” U.N. spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva – especially small trucks because “the streets are extremely congested.”

    The U.N.’s Holmes estimated that 2 million people need food, but only 500,000 have received some so far.

    The medical picture has improved, but remains critical. World Health Organization spokesman Paul Garwood said more medical staff were still needed, especially rehabilitation specialists, to help with postoperative recovery of 200,000 people who have had amputations or other surgery.

    Haitian and volunteer staff from dozens of countries worked around the clock. In some hospitals, they were still performing up to 100 amputations a day. . . .

    foreign and overseas aid ministers gathered for the one-day meeting billed as a first step towards generating an international blueprint for long-term recovery for Haiti. The aid effort has been momentous in scope, not least on the part of the United States, yet difficulties with distribution and coordination have meant that aid still has not reached many survivors.

    Even as the Montreal meeting was starting, Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, found himself mending a diplomatic rift after a cabinet colleague dispatched to Haiti spoke disparagingly of the relief effort in general and of the role played by the US military. Guido Bertolaso, the civil protection minister, said that the US intervention had been “pathetic”. . . .

    “UN must look at why the US sent troops to Haiti” – Fidel Castro

    24 January, 2010, 20:48

    The leader of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro is questioning why the U.S. and other countries sent soldiers to quake-ravaged Haiti.

    According to RIA Novosti News Agency, Castro wrote in an article on Sunday that “without anyone knowing how or why, Washington dispatched troops to occupy Haitian territory and other nations followed suit.”

    Castro said that “neither the United Nations nor the government of the United States has offered an explanation to the people of the world” for sending soldiers.

    Castro noted that “several governments” complained that the troop presence kept them from landing aid flights in Haiti, saying it “complicated international cooperation.” He called on the U.N. to investigate.

    He also wrote that Cuban specialists were not experiencing any problems with getting to Haiti until now.

    “We send our doctors, not our soldiers,” Castro added.

    In one accounting, mattresses were delivered to outlying areas, where citizens had lined up expecting food and water.

    Since it’s the “second time” around for the utter lack of priorities practiced by us, we can hardly charge this  to “ignorance.”

  4. Just Foreign Policy:

    Al Jazeera


    Friday, January 29, 2010

    18:55 Mecca time, 15:55 GMT

    Jean-Max Bellerive, the Haitian prime minister, has told Al Jazeera that he does not understand why so much water and food in storage facilities at the airport is not being distributed.

    In an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Bellerive expressed his frustration with security decisions made by the US military that are hindering the earthquake relief effort.

    “Haitians don’t care about the security, they just want the water, food and medicine to get to them … they don’t feel that there is the need for so much security,” he said.

    Faultlines presenter Avi Lewis reports.

  5. Haitians tire of waiting, start own rebuilding

    By PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press Writer Paisley Dodds, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 4 mins ago

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Defying pleas to wait for Haiti’s reconstruction, families lugged heavy bundles of wood and tin up steep hillsides Friday to do the unthinkable: build new homes on top of old ones devastated in the earthquake.

    The defiance reflects growing anger and frustration among Haitians who complain that their leaders – and any rebuilding plans – are absent more than two weeks after the Jan. 12 earthquake damaged or destroyed thousands of homes in the capital.

    Few tents have been supplied, rubble remains strewn in many streets, and signs begging for help in English – not Haitian Creole – dot nearly every street corner in Port-au-Prince. . . .

    It’s not for want of aid — aid has been offered and coming from all over the world — so, . . . . . ?

  6. US military airlifts of Haiti quake victims halted

    By JENNIFER KAY, Associated Press Writer Jennifer Kay, Associated Press Writer – 27 mins ago

    MIAMI – The U.S. military has halted flights carrying Haitian earthquake victims to the United States, apparently in a dispute over medical care costs.

    The evacuations were temporarily suspended Wednesday, said Capt. Kevin Aandahl, spokesman for U.S. Transportation Command. The flights were halted a day after Florida Gov. Charlie Crist asked the federal government to help pay for care.

    “There were some critical cases that were recommended stateside facility care or follow-up care,” Aandahl said Saturday. “As I understand it, there were some states that were unwilling to approve transportation for that follow-up. We can’t fly anyone without an accepting hospital on the other end.”  . . . .

    See, it’s the money!  Words escape me . . . !

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