Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kyrgyz Opposition Claims Control

The opposition in Kyrgyzstan says it is setting up a "people's government" after deadly clashes left dozens dead. The opposition said Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov had agreed to resign but President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has yet to do so.

The whereabouts of President Bakiyev are not clear but reports say that he has flown out of the capital, Bishkek. Protests at rising prices, corruption and the arrest of opposition leaders had erupted in three cities.

Kyrgyzstan is a strategically important Central Asian state and houses a key US military base that supplies forces in Afghanistan. Russia also has a base there.

The United States said it deplored the violence and urged "respect for the rule of law". It also said it believed the government was still in control.

Russian PM Vladimir Putin denied that Moscow had played any role in the unrest, saying it was a "domestic affair" and that there should be "restraint". Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the protests showed the "outrage at the existing regime".

A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon said the UN secretary general was "shocked by the reported deaths and injuries that have occurred today in Kyrgyzstan. He urgently appeals for dialogue and calm to avoid further bloodshed".

Gunfire is continuing into the night in Bishkek with shops set alight.

Flood-Hit Rio Tackles Aftermath

Rescuers are searching for survivors in the Rio de Janiero area of Brazil after landslides and floods left at least 110 people dead.
Officials said the toll could rise as many people are missing in the wake of the heaviest downpours in four decades.

The mayor of Rio has urged people in high-risk areas to evacuate their homes as officials warned that 10,000 houses remained at risk from landslides. Forecasters say the rain will continue, but with less intensity than before.

"The city is starting to return to normal, but the rains are still intense," Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes told reporters early on Wednesday.

He said 4,000 families had been made homeless and that 10,000 houses remained at risk, mostly in the slums where about a fifth of Rio's people live.

Somali Pirates Seize Turkish Ship

Somali pirates have hijacked a Turkish cargo vessel off the coast of Kenya, the EU's naval force has said. The Yasin C is reported to have come under attack some 250 nautical miles (460km) east of its destination, the port of Mombasa. Cdr John Harbour said that the carrier had a crew of 25 people on board, all of whom are believed to be Turkish.

"The MV Yasin C was taken around midday, 250 nautical miles off the Kenyan coast," Cdr Harbour said.

The pirates have expanded the reach of their attacks, recently seizing a vessel closer to India than Africa. The EU's naval force, which patrols the waters off the coast of east Africa, says it believes its new strategy has pushed the pirate gangs further afield.

Somalia has been riven by civil war and unrest since 1991, allowing the pirates relative impunity. Some of the pirates' leaders have amassed fortunes by holding ships for ransom, and the Gulf of Aden has become one of the most dangerous shipping lanes in the world.

Europeans Warned Of Toyota Pedals Before US

Long before Toyota told U.S. regulators about sticking accelerator pedals, the Japanese automaker warned its distributors throughout Europe about similar problems, according to obtained documents.

Concerns about sticking gas pedals and complaints from Toyota owners in the U.S. were rising at the end of 2009. The documents show that weeks earlier, on Sept. 29, its European division issued technical information "identifying a production improvement and repair procedure to address complaints by customers in those countries of sticking accelerator pedals, sudden rpm increase and/or sudden vehicle acceleration."

Distributors throughout Europe and in Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Israel received the technical information.

In assessing a record $16.4 million fine on Toyota for failing to alert the U.S. government to the safety problems quickly enough, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood cited the warnings to the other countries. LaHood said Tuesday that Toyota made a "huge mistake" by not disclosing the safety problems sooner.

The timeline in the documents shows that Toyota said in October it had received three reports of sticking pedals in Corollas sold in the United States. It notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the cases in November.

Bernanke: Housing, Jobs Biggest Economic Hurdles

Problems in the housing market and high unemployment are the biggest economic challenges the nation faces, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday.

After suffering through the worst recession since the 1930s, the economy seems to have stabilized and is growing again, Bernanke said. But he warned: "We are far from being out of the woods. Many Americans are still grappling with unemployment or foreclosure or both."

In remarks to business people in Dallas, Bernanke said he saw no evidence of a "sustained recovery" in the housing market, noting that foreclosures keep rising. Commercial real estate remains a trouble spot, too.

The toughest problems are in the job market. Even though layoffs have slowed, hiring is "very weak," Bernanke said. He noted that unemployment, now at 9.7 percent, is still close to its highest levels since the early 1980s.

Record-low interest rates should help foster the recovery, the Fed chief said. But economic growth won't be robust enough to quickly drive down the jobless rate, he indicated.

The Fed is widely expected to keep its key interest rate near zero at its next meeting on April 27-28 and for most of this year. The Fed has held rates at such rock-bottom levels since December 2008.

1 Hour Daily Exercise Fights 'Fatso' Gene

A new European study suggests that one hour of moderate to vigorous exercise daily can help teens beat the effects of a common obesity-related gene.

In the study, teenagers had their blood tested for a variant of what scientists call the "fatso" gene. The teens wore monitoring devices for a week to measure their activity.

Exercising an hour or more a day made a big difference for the teens who were genetically predisposed to obesity. Their waist measurements, body mass index scores and body fat were the same, on average, as the teenagers with regular genes.

The study appears in the April edition of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

6 Survive 700-Foot Plunge On ATV In Massachusetts Park

Authorities say six people survived when their all-terrain vehicle plunged 700 feet off a cliff overnight in a Massachusetts park. South Hadley District Fire Chief David Keefe says the victims are in serious to good condition after the ATV went over the cliff in Skinner State Park around 1:30 a.m. Sunday.

It took more than 50 rescuers about four hours to rescue the victims using ropes to scale down the cliff and pull the victims back up.

The victims are all 27 to 29 years old and have been taken to hospitals. They are all expected to recover. The cause of the crash wasn't immediately clear, but ATV riding is prohibited in the park.

Boy, 8, Takes Family Van For Gas, Crashes

An Ohio man says his 8-year-old son was just trying to do him a favor and get gasoline when the boy drove the family's minivan and crashed it.

James Crouch says he didn't even realize his son, Jordan, was out of the house Wednesday morning until a Clermont County sheriff's deputy came to the family's home in Bethel and woke him up to let him know what happened.

The boy says he used keys that he found in his mother's purse and backed the car out of the driveway. He started going down the road at about 5 mph but could barely reach the pedals and lost control, crashing into a telephone pole. He wasn't hurt.

Crouch says Jordan was still in his pajamas and just wanted to do something nice. He says he's going to watch his son more closely now.

AP; Reuters; TV Globol; Wall Street Journal; BBC; Sky News; UPI.

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