Nation & World Briefly July 22

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Greece gets new rescue deal, with help from private creditors but temporary default likely

BRUSSELS (AP) - Eurozone leaders on Thursday agreed to a sweeping deal that will grant Greece a massive new bailout - but likely make it the first euro country to default - and radically reshape the currency union's rescue fund, allowing it to act pre-emptively when crises build up.

The eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund will give Greece a second bailout worth (euro) 109 billion ($155 billion), on top of the (euro) 110 billion already granted a year ago.

Banks and other private investors will contribute some (euro) 50 billion ($71 billion) to the rescue package by either rolling over Greek bonds that they hold, swapping them for new ones with lower interest rates or selling the bonds back to Greece at a low price.

"For the first time since the beginning of this crisis, we can say that the politics and the markets are coming together," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Initial reaction from markets and analysts was cautiously positive. The euro, which had rallied sharply on expectation of the, edged up further to gain 1.2 percent against the dollar.

James Murdoch contradicted by legal manager over London testimony; another journalist is fired

LONDON (AP) - James Murdoch has been contradicted over testimony in which he claimed to have been unaware of a critical piece of evidence in Britain's phone hacking scandal.

Murdoch was quizzed by parliamentarians earlier this week over an email dating back several years which suggested that other journalists at his company were involved in the campaign of illegal espionage whose exposure has rocked Britain's public life.

At the time, Murdoch's News International claimed that only a single rogue reporter was responsible for the spying.

But in a joint statement former News of the World editor Colin Myler and former News International legal manager Tom Crone said Thursday that they had in fact informed Murdoch of the email.

Meanwhile News International has fired another journalist in relation to the scandal.

Gunfire, explosions erupt as Syrian security forces sweep through city

BEIRUT (AP) - Gunfire and explosions erupted Thursday in the city at the heart of Syria's anti-government uprising as soldiers launched a massive crackdown, witnesses said. Terrified residents cowered inside their homes and used mosque loudspeakers to call for blood donations to help the wounded.

Details about the siege in Homs were sketchy, as most witnesses told The Associated Press they were too scared even to look out their windows. The city has seen some of the most intense violence as the regime tries to stamp out a revolt that has lasted more than four months.

"I can see smoke billowing from the neighborhood," a witness told The Associated Press by telephone from the Bab Sbaa area of Homs, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Damascus. Heavy gunfire crackled in the background. "We cannot leave our homes."

Calls for blood donations blared from mosque loudspeakers, raising fears of mass casualties. But the gunfire was too intense for people to collect any victims.

As darkness fell, another resident said the violence had tapered off, with only intermittent cracks of gunfire. He said Syrian soldiers in personnel carriers were leaving the area.

Heat that's broiled Midwest for days marches onward; warnings in place from Kansas to Mass.

CINCINNATI (AP) - Hot weather that has plagued the Plains for days spread eastward Thursday, blanketing several more states under a sizzling sun that made people sick, shut down summer schools and spurred cities to offer cooling centers and free swimming.

The temperature could soar to 101 in Toledo, Ohio - 2 degrees above a record set in 1930. Combined with the humidity, it could feel as hot as 115 across Ohio.

"It feels very sultry, very uncomfortable, and it's just very dangerous," said Jim Lott, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Wilmington, Ohio.

Government forecasters issued excessive heat warnings for a huge section of the country, from Kansas to Massachusetts, while some southern states were under heat advisories.

Thursday shaped up as the hottest day of a steamy week in Ohio, with temperatures climbing to 97 in the southwestern part of the state. Farther east, the worst of the heat waited for Friday and the weekend.

Doctors debate if it's right to test for Alzheimer's disease if you cannot treat it

PARIS (AP) - Picture yourself in Barbara Lesher's shoes: 54 years old and fearing you are developing Alzheimer's disease.

"I don't remember if I had a bath," said Lesher, who lives north of Harrisburg, Pa. "It took me two hours to follow a recipe. I drove to my childhood homestead the other week instead of my own home. It's really scary."

Doctors are arguing about whether to test patients for signs of the incurable disease and tell them the results.

The debate raged this past week at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in France, where research on new methods - easier brain scans, an eye test, a blood test - made it clear there soon may be more such tools available.

Here's why it's an issue: Many people have brain plaques, suggesting they might be developing Alzheimer's even if they don't have any symptoms. This plaque can be seen decades beforehand and does not ensure someone will get the disease. Many also won't live long enough to develop symptoms.

Judge: Lindsay Lohan needs to speed up community service; actress sued over rehab spat

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A judge warned Lindsay Lohan Thursday that she must spend more time doing community service and enroll in psychological counseling or risk running into problems with her probation.

In a separate development, Lohan was sued for assault and battery in Riverside County by a former worker at the Betty Ford Center who had a dispute with the actress in December.

In Los Angeles, Superior Court Judge Stephanie Sautner reminded the actress during a status hearing in her criminal cases that she had to complete 480 hours of community service by next April, and that she would not grant any extensions, even if Lohan is working on a film.

"She's not going to get five minutes more than one year" to complete the service at a shelter for women and the county morgue, Sautner said.

The judge opened the hearing by telling Lohan that probation officials had submitted a report stating she had violated the terms of her release.

Microsoft unleashes 'Star Wars'-themed Xbox 360 console at Comic-Con

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The Force will be with the Xbox 360.

Microsoft Corp. unveiled a limited edition Xbox 360 console at a Comic-Con panel on Thursday that will be modeled after the character R2-D2, with a wireless gold-colored controller resembling his droid pal C-3PO.

The console will make the character's signature beeping sounds when the white-and-blue console is turned on and the disc tray is opened. It will also feature a 320-gigabyte hard drive, the largest available for Microsoft's gaming system.

The "Star Wars"-themed console, available later this year, will cost $449.99 and come with a white Kinect sensor, headset and "Kinect Star Wars," an action-adventure game utilizing the camera-based controller system.

"Kinect Star Wars" developers also confirmed that a pod-racing mode based on "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace," would be featured in the game.


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