Proposition 8 sponsors can defend it in court, California Supreme Court rules
Los Angeles Times | Nov. 17, 2011 | 10:03 a.m.
The California Supreme Court has ruled that the sponsors of Proposition 8, the ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage in the state, are entitled to defend it in court, a ruling likely to spur federal courts to decide the constitutionality of such bans.
Today's decision, a defeat for gay rights groups, sets the stage for a federal showdown that would affect gay marriage bans outside California and probably go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
CNN 21/11/11 A new CNN poll shows that the same partisan divide that's keeping the congressional super committee from reaching a deficit reduction deal also exists among Americans who identify with a political party.
The CNN/ORC International poll released Monday shows that 59% of those surveyed who identify themselves as Republicans oppose tax increases, while 57% of Democrats polled say they oppose spending cuts. The super committee that was charged with coming up with a long-term deficit reduction plan by Wednesday remains split along party lines over those issues, say congressional aides familiar with the discussions.
Independent voters surveyed somewhat mirror the overall public attitudes toward taxes and spending – nearly seven in 10 independents favor raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, which Republicans oppose, and support cuts on domestic spending, which Democrats oppose.
The poll also found that cuts to defense programs, triggered if the comm ittee can't reach a deal, have become less popular. About half of those surveyed in August, when the super committee was formed, favored defense cuts; but the Monday poll shows that about six in 10 are now against defense cuts.
Interim government quits and elections in jeopardy after three days of violence that have left at least 22 people dead.
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2011
Egypt's interim cabinet has offered its resignation to the country's ruling military council as clashes raged for a third day in Cairo's Tahrir Square, pitting police and soldiers against protesters demanding democratic change.
"The government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf has handed its resignation to the [ruling] Supreme Council of the Armed Forces," Mohammed Hegazy, cabinet spokesperson, said in a statement aired on Monday night by the official MENA news agency.
"Owing to the difficult circumstances the country is going through, the government will continue working" until the resignation is accepted, Hegazy added.
The resignation comes as Egyptians clashed with security forces in what has been some of the worst since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, the former president, in February.
Egypt's health ministry said at least 22 people have been killed and 1,500 wounded in clashes between government forces and protesters since Saturday, raising concerns over parliamentary elections due to begin later this month.
"Thousands of people in unison are chanting 'The people want the end of the field marshal’,” Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reported on Monday night from Tahrir Square, referring to Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the leader of the military council.
“For the past 48 hours, there have been sporadic calls for some kind of organised protests.”
Locations where Egyptians were protesting on Monda
Tahrir Square has become the major rallying point for protesters, recalling the 18-day uprising that ended Mubarak's three decades of power.
Tadros reported that thousands of people began flocking into Tahrir Square on Monday evening, with ambulances coming in to take away the injured.
"The resolve of people is pretty amazing, they keep showing up… everyone seems to feel this is very much a battle between them and the police,” she said.
Egyptian political forces behind the uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak called for a mass rally to demand the army cede power to civilian rule, following three days of deadly clashes.
Tahrir Square and surrounding area in central Cai
The Coalition of Revolution Youth and the April 6 movement, among others, have called for the protest at 4:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Tuesday in Tahrir Square.
Reporting from the seaside town of Alexandria, Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh said a 'million man march' was also being planned there for Tuesday.
Sporadic clashes between protesters and security forces erupted throughout the day on Monday in Cairo and other parts of the country, notably Alexandria and Suez in the north.
During the clashes in Cairo, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets while protesters broke up pavements to hurl chunks of concrete at police.
General Saeed Abbas, deputy head of the central military region, said that the military was protecting government buildings and not targeting protesters.
"The armed forces were dispatched following a request from the interior minister. It was approved by the head of the military supreme council to assist the security forces in protecting the ministry of interior, nothing else," Abbas said. "They did not come to disperse protesters, or to remove them from Tahrir Square. They didn't leave the vicinity of the interior ministry."
Few of the protesters believe this message, however, as footage showing police brutality continues to emerge.
Military seeks distance
As the death toll continued to rise on Monday, the military tried to distance itself from the violence.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Egypt's ruling council, repeated its commitment to its "roadmap" for transition and expressed "sorrow" over the situation.
Egyptians are scheduled to elect a new parliament in a staggered vote that starts on November 28. Yet, even when the assembly is picked, executive powers would remain with the army until a presidential election, which may not happen until late 2012 or early 2013. Protesters want a much swifter transition.
"We are all insisting on having the election on time; the government, parties and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces," Mohamed Hegazy, a cabinet spokesperson, said.
In what appeared to be a concession to the protesters, Egypt's ruling generals issued a law on Monday barring anyone found guilty of corruption from politics, but protesters said it would not allay their concerns that former supporters of Mubarak may regain influence.
"The council is out of step with the people," Mohamed Fahmy, an activist, said.
Protesters are also demanding a presidential election be held by April 2012 and a complete overhaul of the interior ministry.
A press conference planned for Monday to detail how the election process would proceed was postponed with no new date set.
Meanwhile, several political parties and individual candidates said they were suspending their electoral campaign, raising concerns over whether the vote will go ahead at all.
A new CNN/ORC International poll shows Newt Gingrich was the top choice by far of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents asked who was most qualified to be commander in chief.
On the eve of a CNN debate on national security issues, the former House speaker was the choice of 36% of those polled on that question -- 16 points ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and nearly triple the percentage of those choosing GOP rivals Rick Perry or Herman Cain.
In a sign of the surge Gingrich has had in preference polls over the last month, he was the top choice of 24% of those surveyed, with Romney favored by 20%. The poll’s sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points means the poll is statistically a dead heat between the two.
The roles are reversed when it comes to likability: While 29% of those polled see Romney that way, only 9% say that about Gingrich. And Romney still is seen as having the best chance to beat Pr esident Barack Obama next November.
Watch the debate live on CNN and CNN.com on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET and visit CNNPolitics.com for in-depth coverage of Gingrich's resurgence.
Arab League finance ministers recommended Saturday that sanctions be levied against Syria for its part in ongoing violence within its borders, a senior Arab League official told CNN. Arab League foreign ministers will meet at 11 a.m. Sunday (4 a.m. Sunday ET) to consider the proposal.
Syria failed to respond to a Friday deadline to allow Arab League observers to monitor the government's response to civil unrest.
The 22-country Arab League suspended Syria from its membership this month after President Bashar al-Assad's regime ignored demands to end its crackdown on citizens.
Al-Assad has resisted mounting calls for his resignation in recent weeks. He says his government is battling armed terrorist groups.
The United Nations says more than 3,500 people have died in the course of an eight-month government crackdown on protests.
Arab finance ministers approve a draft plan for sanctions against Syria in an attempt to end the country's violence.
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2011 21:00
Finance ministers from the Arab League have agreed on a draft plan for a package of economic sanctions against Syria, including the suspension of commercial flights to the country and dealings with the central bank.
The decision came after a meeting of the league's economic and social committee in Cairo on Saturday night. Its recommendations will now be passed to the full Arab League for consideration.
The organisation had set a Friday deadline for Damascus to allow rights monitors into the country, but the deadline passed with no firm commitment from Syrian officials.
The sanctions package also calls for Arab states to freeze the overseas bank accounts of key Syrian regime officials.
Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Muallem criticised the decision in a letter to the Arab League, accusing it of trying to "internationalise" the conflict in Syria.
Muallem called the sanctions an invitation "for foreign intervention instead of a call to avoid one... what we understand, by this latest Arab League decision, is a tacit green light for the internationalisation of the situation in Syria and to meddle in its domestic affairs."
The sanctions were strongly opposed by both Lebanon and Iraq, which have both said they will not impose sanctions against their neighbour. Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, said on Saturday that it was "not possible" to impose economic sanctions on Syria due to its commercial ties with Iraq and the large number of Iraqi refugees there.
The US and the European Union have already imposed major sanctions, including an oil embargo, on the Syrian leadership.
Activists in Syria said that at least nine people were killed on Saturday, most of them in the eastern town of Deir az-Zor, and that army defectors killed eight Syrian soldiers.
The violence followed an even bloodier day on Friday, when activists said 26 people were killed, most of them in Homs. The province also saw an ambush which led to the killing of 10 security personnel, including six elite military pilots, according to the Syrian armed forces quoted by the state-run SANA news agency.
The military blamed "terrorists" for the attack, and threatened to "cut every evil hand" that targets the country's security.
The Syrian leadership blames the unrest in the country on a foreign plot, saying "armed terrorists" are driving the uprising.
Breaking News Alert The New York Times Tuesday, November 29, 2011 -- 8:23 AM EST -----
Iranian Students Storm British Embassy in Tehran, Associated Press Reports
In the latest sign of deteriorating relations with the West, around 20 Iranian protesters entered the British Embassy compound in Tehran chanting “death to England,” tearing down a British flag and ransacking offices, news reports said.
The episode came a day after Iran enacted legislation on Monday to downgrade relations with Britain in retaliation for intensified sanctions imposed by Western nations last week to punish the Iranians for their suspect nuclear development program. Britain promised to respond “robustly.”
The British Foreign Office in London said it was “aware of the reports” from Tehran about its embassy on Tuesday, but declined to comment further.
I certainly hope they can come to an agreement, or the fallout will be immediate, not just delayed.
Eurozone crisis sparks global economic fears
US president offers only moral support as European finance ministers meet to discuss bolstering bailout reserve.
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2011 10:06inShare6Feedback
Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee reports from London on predictions that the eurozone and UK could be entering a recession
The financial crisis that began in Europe now poses a real threat to the entire global economy, according to a major economic organisation.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued the warning as it cut its global growth forecast for this year and next, and European leaders struggled to contain debt and save their common currency.
The British finance minister is to deliver on Tuesday a statement that is expected to support strict spending cuts, despite a planned general strike.
And in Brussels, eurozone finance ministers are meeting to discuss bolstering their bailout reserve, the European Financial Stability Fund (EESF), to help prevent contagion in bond markets.
Tuesday's meeting of the Eurogroup brings together finance ministers from the 17 eurozone members who are likely to approve the next tranche of emergency loans for Greece and Ireland.
Underlining the threat to European economies, however, the ratings agency Moody's warned on Tuesday it could downgrade the subordinated debt of 87 banks across 15 countries on concerns that governments would be too cash-strapped to bail them out.
Standard & Poor's, Moody's rival, could downgrade the outlook on France's top-level triple-A credit status with the next 10 days, hinting at a possible ratings cuts, a newspaper reported. The news briefly hit the euro.
Under US pressure
Barack Obama is pressuring European Union officials to act quickly and decisively to resolve their sovereign debt crisis.
Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said the US president's message, delivered to senior EU officials behind closed doors on Monday in Washington, was that: "Europe needs to take decisive action, conclusive action to handle this problem, and that it has the capacity to do so."
Documents obtained by the Reuters news agency on Sunday show the detailed guidelines for the EFSF were ready for approval, opening the way for new operations and multiplying the fund's effective size.
The documents spell out rules for EFSF intervention on the primary and secondary bond markets, for extending precautionary credit lines to governments, leveraging its firepower and its investment and funding strategies.
"I would expect we will be in a position to approve the guidelines at a political level," a euro zone official involved in the preparations for the ministers' meeting said.
The EFSF guidelines will clear the way for the 440bn euro facility to attract cash from private and public investors to its co-investment funds in coming weeks.
Germany and France stepped up a drive on Monday for coercive powers to reject euro zone members' budgets that breach EU rules, alarming some smaller nations who fear the plans by-pass mechanisms for ensuring equal treatment.
Berlin and Paris aim to outline proposals for a fiscal union before an EU summit on December 9 increasingly seen by investors as possibly the last chance to avert a breakdown of the single currency area.
"We are working intensively for the creation of a Stability Union," the German finance ministry said in a statement.
"That is what we want to secure through treaty changes, in which we propose that the budgets of member states must observe debt limits."
Heart of Europe
Rumours about the threat to France's credit rating, which have circulated for several months, illustrate how the crisis has moved from indebted peripheral nations such as Greece and Portugal to the heart of Europe.
La Tribune, an economic and financial daily, reported on its website that S&P's was preparing to change its outlook on France's sovereign rating from "stable" to "negative".
The news coincided with the warning on subordinated debt from Moody's, which said the greatest number of ratings to be reviewed were in Spain, Italy, Austria and France, and knocked the euro a third of a cent before the currency recovered.
"Moody's believes that systemic support for subordinated debt in Europe is becoming ever more unpredictable, due to a combination of anticipated changes in policy and financial constraints," the agency said in a report.
Mario Monti, Italy's prime minister and finance minister, will attend Tuesday's meeting in Brussels to explain the reforms Italy plans to undertake to regain the confidence of markets.
Worrisome, but not nearly as worrisome as the hundreds of thousands of sites google has shut down, and the types of sites they were.
Yahoo Shuts Down 4 Entertainment Blogs (Updated)
Published: December 02, 2011 @ 2:23 pm
By Brent Lang
Updated: 4:23 p.m. PST
Four Yahoo entertainment sites are going to the blogosphere in the sky.
The portal is letting The Projector and The Set flicker out and die, the movie and television blogs acknowledged on Twitter Friday.
In addition, Yahoo is shuttering The Amplifer, a music blog, and The Famous, a gossip site.
Yahoo said that despite the closures, its entertainment coverage would not be negatively impacted.
"We’re continuing to invest in original content and expert voices on the entertainment topics the fans want most such as awards season, first looks at blockbuster movies and red carpet fashion," Sibyl Goldman, vice president of Yahoo! Entertainment, said in a statement to TheWrap.
The sites' editorial staffs were understandably less sanguine.
"As was just announced, Yahoo has decided to let @YahooProjector shuffle off this mortal coil. It's a damn shame: We were having such fun," Will Leitch, the site's co-editor, tweeted.
In addition, the managing editors of the collection of entertainment blogs, Mark Lisanti, Gawker's original Defamer editor, and Courtney Reimer, previously of MTV Networks, are among the casualties.
"Yeah, so: Yahoo's shutting down our blogs. (Oh, and us.) Couldn't be more honored and proud to have worked with such talented people," Lisanti tweeted.
"Starting to think that this giant purple Y! tattoo I got last year wasn't the best idea. #maw," he joked.
The Projector is a co-production between Leitch and Tim Grierson. The Set is run by Lindsay Robertson and Tara Ariano.
Both sites features reviews, news items and film clips, written with a fun and semi-autobiographical flare. The two sets of writers are friends, according to the sites.
The Famous and The Amplifier are primarily news aggregators.
"We're obviously quite sad about this: We were having so much fun, something we sometimes fear is lacking in movie writing," The Projector editors tweeted on the site's Twitter feed.
They said they would be busy screen-grabbing old reviews, so they don't disappear along with the site.
I think Romney will be the Republican nominee. I am not surprised at how poorly Perry did, those debates really hurt him. I am very surprised that Santorum has done as well as he has tonight. The Iowa Caucuses are still to close to call.