Euro, Asian Markets Rebound After Fed Move

NEW YORK, Aug. 10 (UPI) — European and Asian stocks rebounded Wednesday before Wall Street’s opening bell on a Federal Reserve pledge to keep U.S. interest rates near zero for two years.

British, German and French stock indexes rose more than 2 percent in early-morning trading following a “relief rally” in Asian markets.

In late-afternoon trading, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up more than 3.25 percent and Seoul’s Korea Composite Stock Price Index gained more than 2 percent, recouping some of Tuesday’s losses during an extraordinarily volatile session that included a plummet of nearly 10 percent at one point.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index was slightly more than 1 percent higher on fears a strengthening yen would hurt exporters.

Indexes in Taiwan, the Philippines and mainland China were also higher.

In Australia, the Standard & Poor’s/ASX 200 advanced more than 2.5 percent, and New Zealand’s NZX 50 index reversed a three-day decline, jumping more than 3 percent.

The U.S. dollar fell against the Japanese yen and the euro.

The price of gold — considered a safe haven at times of uncertainty — rose to about $1,755 a troy ounce.

Oil also rose, climbing more than $2 to top $81 a barrel. Crude was almost $115 a barrel in May.

The moves came after U.S. stocks surged broadly late Tuesday following the Fed’s statement it would hold short-term interest rates near zero for at least two more years to support the faltering U.S. economy.

The Fed, which has kept its benchmark interest rate near zero since December 2008, previously pledged to keep rates low for an “extended period,” a phrase usually taken to mean several months.

The central bank — which said it expected slow U.S. economic growth, with high unemployment and subdued inflation — also said it was “prepared to employ” a “range of policy tools” to spur the U.S. economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped nearly 4 percent Tuesday and the S&P 500 stock index rallied 4.7 percent — in sharp contrast to Monday, when Wall Street recorded its worst day since 2008.

U.S. stocks peaked in October 2007, when the Dow exceeded 14,000 points. It then entered a pronounced decline, which accelerated markedly in October 2008. By March 2009, the Dow reached a trough of around 6,600.

It has since recovered much of the decline, exceeding 12,000 for most of the first half of this year but closing at 11,239.77 Tuesday.

S&P futures were up Wednesday morning.

Woman Who Fought For Garden Plans Moves Out

OAK PARK, Mich., Aug. 10 (UPI) — A Michigan woman who battled city officials to win the right to keep her front yard vegetable garden said she and her family are moving to Seattle.

Julie Bass made headlines in June when she was ticketed by the city of Oak Park for planting vegetables in her front yard. She said on her blog Monday her family is moving to Seattle so her husband can take a job with Amazon.com, The Detroit News reported Tuesday.

“I’m trying to delay the move until we pick every single last vegetable,” Bass wrote.

Bass drew national attention to her battle with the city on her blog and a Facebook page titled “Oak Park Hates Veggies.” The related charges, which carried a maximum 93 days in jail and a $100 fine, were dropped last month by City Prosecutor Eugene Lumberg.

Bass said the home garden “was worth it” despite the controversy.

“It was a tremendous thing for our neighbors and our friends … We’re sorry to see it go,” she said.

Six Die In Karachi Violence

KARACHI, Pakistan, Aug. 10 (UPI) — Ethnic and targeted killings claimed six more lives in violence-ravaged Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and its main port and financial capital, police said.

The victims in the overnight drive-by shootings and other acts of violence in different parts of the city included activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan’s Daily Times reported.

The violence comes as Muslims have been observing Ramadan, the holy month-long fasting period.

Karachi, which has a population of 18 million people belonging to various ethnic and other groups, has been hit by ethnic, political and target killings for more than four years. Various measures taken by authorities have failed to bring peace to the city, further damaging Pakistan’s fragile economy and adding to its other problems related to fighting terrorism and militant violence.

Some reports say at least 300 people have died in the latest round of killing in the city which began last month.

The federal government has offered rewards for those providing information and other details of those involved in the killings. It has also given police powers to paramilitary forces deployed in the city.

The violence has largely involved supporters of the Urdu-speaking Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami National Party representing mostly the ethnic Pashtuns.

Until recently the MQM, which is mostly made up of immigrants from India, has been the main force in Karachi and its politics. However, it role now is under challenge from the Pashtuns.

Authorities say local underworld dons and their supporters also have been involved in the city’s violence.

Bats Drive Woman From Apartment

ABERDEEN, Scotland, Aug. 10 (UPI) — A Scottish woman says she has temporarily left her apartment in Aberdeen to hundreds of bats roosting in a crawl space.

Alison Murray, who works for an oil company, bought the top-floor flat in January, The Scotsman reported. In May, she realized she was sharing it with the bats — about 500 female pipistrelle bats and their pups.

Because the bats are protected under both British and European conservation laws, her only legal recourse is to wait until the bats move out at the end of summer and then seal up the holes they used to turn the crawl space above her apartment into a nursery.

“I found the first pipistrelle in my kitchen and I thought at first it was a one-off,” she said Tuesday. “But after I found bat number four I realized there was a problem. I found them sleeping in the plug hole in the kitchen sink and flying about the living room.”

Murray decided to take refuge with her parents when she dried herself after a shower and found a bat in the towel.

She says she isn’t sure she will feel comfortable in the apartment even if the bats leave.

Food Day, Modeled On Earth Day

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (UPI) — Chefs, nutritionists and food activists are asking U.S. restaurants to buy more products locally or collect for food banks for Food Day in October.

Groups such as Chefs Collaborative, American Culinary Federation and the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture are encouraging local restaurants to seek out partnerships with area hunger and sustainable-agriculture groups Oct. 24.

“Food Day is a great opportunity for restaurants to show their commitment to locally produced artisan foods, to showcase a variety of whole grains and to reach out to an audience hungry for more sustainable ways to consume that are more in keeping with the health of our bodies and our environment,” Ellen and Todd Gray, owners of Equinox Restaurant, Watershed and Todd Gray’s Muse at the Corcoran, all in Washington, said in a statement.

Modeled on Earth Day, organizers hope Food Day will inspire Americans to hold thousands of events in schools, college campuses, houses of worship, restaurants, and even in private homes aimed at fixing America’s diet and food system.

For example:

— A chain of vegan restaurants, Native Foods, will organize cooking demonstrations and tastings in its seven locations in California.

— In Manhattan, the massive Italian market Eataly is handing out Food Day materials and bringing in 20 farmers to talk to customers.

— A New Haven, Conn., Real Food Restaurant Week will offer special meals featuring local produce and healthier options.

Suspected Militants Killed In Drone Strike

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Aug. 10 (UPI) — Missiles that may have been fired by a U.S. drone Wednesday killed several suspected militants in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region, officials said.

CNN, quoting two Pakistani intelligence officials, said the missiles killed seven suspected pro-Taliban militants in the region near the border with Afghanistan. Other reports gave a much higher toll.

CNN reported the missile strikes targeted a militant hideout in the Gora Qabristan area of the region, seen by U.S. experts as a haven used by militants to launch attacks on U.S. and NATO forces across the border in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani intelligence officials told CNN the militants belonged to a Haqqani network, accused of attacking the coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The report said U.S. officials — who maintain rogue elements within Pakistan’s main spy agency the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate are supportive of the militants — have been urging the Pakistani military to go after the Haqqani network in North Waziristan.

Search On For Missing Cargo Plane

MOSCOW, Aug. 10 (UPI) — A search was on Wednesday in Russia’s Far East for a cargo plane that crashed with 11 aboard, officials said, denying reports its wreckage had been found.

Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said it had renewed its search for the Antonov An-12 that was carrying more than 17 tons of food supplies when it crashed Tuesday, RIA Novosti reported.

The report said the plane disappeared from radar shortly after reporting a fuel leak and fire in an engine following take off from the city of Magadan for Chukotka early Tuesday.

The agency had reported the wreckage had been found near a gold and silver mining operation in the Omsukcha district. However, it quoted the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency as saying the remains of the passengers and crew had not been found.

Authorities said the search effort — conducted by 120 emergency workers using two Mil Mi-8 transport helicopters and a Beriev Be-200 aircraft — was hampered by rain and fog.

RIA Novosti said production of the Antonov An-12, which can accommodate as many as 14 people and carry 22 tons of cargo, stopped in 1973. The craft has been in service since 1963 and is considered obsolete by the Russian Air Force.

The report said the United Arab Emirates banned An-12 flights after a number of crashes.

The Hindu reported the latest incident comes a day after an Antonov An-24 with 41 crew and passengers skidded off the runway while landing in stormy weather in Blagoveshchensk on China’s border, injuring 12 people.

Prince William And Wife Get SAS Training

LONDON, Aug. 10 (UPI) — Prince William and his wife, the former Kate Middleton, have received special training by British special forces on what to do if taken hostage, officials say.

A source told the Evening Standard the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent a day at the Special Air Service base in Hereford. They also opened a memorial garden honoring fallen members of the regiment to mark its 70th anniversary, the newspaper said Tuesday.

The couple is expected to go back to the base soon to participate in a mock kidnapping and rescue from a two-story building with the uncomforting nickname the Killing House, the source said.

“The training is designed to show VIPs exactly what to expect if they are taken hostage and how to behave so that they do not interfere with the rescue,” he said. “These soldiers do this day in and day out so there would be no risk to William and Kate but it could be a little scary.”

Other members of the royal family, including Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles have had similar training, the newspaper said.

Hospital Reports High Number Of Snakebites

LOGAN, Utah, Aug. 10 (UPI) — A Utah hospital reports treating six cases of snakebite so far this year, far more than the average one or two a year.

Staffers at Logan Regional Hospital say an unusual number of rattlesnakes have been reported in residential districts in the area in Cache County on Utah’s border with Idaho, The Herald Journal of Logan reported.

Two of the bites occurred in the past week.

“This is highly uncommon as far as the number that we’ve seen,” Debbie Ostrander, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said Monday. “And our emergency department physicians and our hospital, we are urging people to be safe and cautious and just aware when they’re out in any location that could have the habitat for snakes.”

Breck Rushton, director of emergency services at the hospital, said two of the six bite victims were trying to capture snakes. The others were bitten when they surprised a snake while walking in brush or traversing rocky areas.

Two of the six were “dry bites” with the snake breaking the skin but not injecting venom. That is in line with the usual percentage.

Treating snakebite is expensive, with victims requiring four to five vials of anti-venin at $2,000 a pop, followed by a 48-hour hospital stay for observation.

Swamp Fire Consumes 2,500 Acres

SUFFOLK, Va., Aug. 9 (UPI) — A wildfire in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge has burned at least 2,500 acres of swampland near Suffolk, Va., officials say.

An air quality alert has been put into place for the Hampton Roads region until midnight Tuesday, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported.

However, refuge officials don’t believe the smoke will be dissipate anytime soon.

“It’ll be smoking for a while,” said Cindy Lane, a spokeswoman for the refuge.

“We need rain desperately,” she said. “The vegetation that’s burning is just dry because it hasn’t rained in so long or significantly. It’s good conditions for a bad fire.”

Firefighters from North Carolina, Maryland and elsewhere have been on site helping fight the fire that officials say they fear will be much like the swamp fire of 2008 that slowly burned 5,000 acres.

“With this heat and no rain — it’s been dry — there’s no telling what’s going to happen with this fire,” Skip Holbrook, a Chesapeake, Va., resident, said.