Suicide bomber kills 40 in Pakistan mosque

LANDI KOTAL, Pakistan (June 5) - A suicide bomber killed 37 people when he blew himself up in a crowded Pakistani mosque near the Afghan border on Friday, government officials said.

The attack came hours before President Barack Obama announced a new strategy for the Afghan war, an approach U.S. officials said would also recognize Pakistan as a key part of the conflict.

Militant violence has surged in nuclear-armed Pakistan since mid-2007, with numerous attacks on the security forces and government and Western targets.

Police, paramilitary forces and government officials were among the congregation in the mosque near Jamrud town, about 30 km (20 miles) from the Afghan border, when the attack happened.

The bomber set off his explosives as an imam, or prayer leader, began the service.

"The moment the imam said Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest), the blast went off," said Tauseer Khan, 70, from a hospital bed in the nearby Pakistani city of Peshawar.

"It was huge. I still can't hear properly," said Khan, who had wounds to his hands and face. His son and grandson were also wounded.

Rahat Gul, a spokesman for the Khyber administration had earlier said 50 people had been killed and 75 wounded but Tariq Hayat Khan, Khyber's top government administrator later revised the death toll to 37.

Among the dead were 14 policemen and paramilitary soldiers while 160 were wounded, Khan said.

Between 250 and 300 people were in the mosque at the time of the blast, he said.

"The attacker was seen jumping into the courtyard of the mosque and blowing himself up," Khan told Reuters.

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Lance Armstrong and his girlfriend Anna Hansen welcomed a baby boy in Aspen

Lance Armstrong's girlfriend Anna Hansen gave birth to a son with the champion cyclist, and Armstrong wasted little time in announcing the good news via Twitter: "Wassup, world? My name is Max Armstrong and I just arrived. My Mommy is healthy and so am I!"

Baby's first tweet!

He sent out the announcement shortly before midnight on Thursday, following up later with the pertinent stats: Max weighed in at 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and is 20 inches long.

Armstrong has three children with his ex-wife, Kristin, all conceived with frozen sperm and through in vitro fertilization because the cyclist had to undergo chemotherapy to treat testicular cancer. His reps confirmed that he conceived the baby with Hansen naturally.

After romancing a number of high-profile blondes including actress Kate Hudson, designer Tory Burch, and Sheryl Crow (he reportedly ended their engagement because her biological clock was ticking but he wasn't ready to be a father again), he started dating Hansen last summer. They've settled in Aspen.

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Bryant scored 40 points to crush the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals

LOS ANGELES (June 5) - Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers produced a dazzling display at both ends of the floor to crush the Orlando Magic 100-75 in the opening game of the NBA Finals on Thursday.

Bryant scored 40 points and had eight assists and eight rebounds for the Lakers, seeking their first title since 2002.

Last year's league MVP scored 18 points in the third quarter when the Lakers turned a 10-point half-time lead into an 82-58 blowout with a quarter to play.

Bryant displayed emotion rarely seen during his 13-year career, perhaps wanting to prove to LeBron James that he is not yet ready to cede the title as the NBA's best player.

"I just want it really bad," a jubilant Bryant told reporters. "You just put everything you have into the game and your emotions kind of flow out of you.

"I feel great. This is the best I've felt late in the season in my whole career. I feel outstanding."

The 30-year-old, 11 times All-Star hit 16 of 34 shots, scoring a career high in the NBA Finals. He weaved through the lane for acrobatic lay-ups, nailed pull-up jumpers, and dribbled by team mates' picks for open shots.

"Offensively he was amazing," said Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who had 11 points and 14 rebounds. "Defensively, as well. When he gets it going, he's one of the best players of all time."

Los Angeles shot 46 percent from the floor but it was their suffocating defense that was key to the dominating win.

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US Employers cut 345,000 jobs

(NEW YORK) -- Job losses slowed dramatically in May, according to the latest government reading on the battered labor market, even as the unemployment rate rose to a 26-year high. But some experts cautioned that the job market remains weak.

Employers cut 345,000 jobs from their payrolls in the month, down from the revised decline of 504,000 jobs in April.

This was the fewest jobs lost in a month since last September, when the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers caused a crisis in U.S. financial markets and choked off credit for many businesses. Economists surveyed by had forecast a loss of 520,000 jobs in May.

There were still widespread job losses, as most sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, construction, retail, and business and professional services posted declines in jobs.

But there were also some signs of growth, notably in education and health services, as well as the leisure and hospitality sector. Nearly one third of industries added jobs during the month, the highest level of gains since last October.

Still, the unemployment rate rose to 9.4% from 8.9% in April. Economists expected unemployment would increase to 9.2%.

Strangely enough, economists said the rise in unemployment is partly a sign of an improved jobs outlook. That's because people who had stopped looking for work started looking once again, and thus were classified as unemployed rather than "not in the labor force" - which is how the Labor Department counts most discouraged workers.

"As conditions improve more people flock to the labor market," said Robert Brusca of FAO Economics. He believes the economy is poised to start adding jobs before the end of this year.

"Jobs are doing what they do at the end of recessions and in early recoveries," he said. "No one can be optimistic enough to catch the turn when it comes."

But other economists cautioned that even though it was a better-than-expected jobs report, there are still signs of weakness.

Kurt Karl, chief economist at Swiss Re, said he doesn't expect a monthly gain in jobs until at least the middle of 2010. With employers still cutting jobs and hours, he said consumers won't have enough money to spur an economic recovery in the near term.

"I think things are turning for the better. But it's a disappointingly slow turn," he said. "Consumers can't consume more with this kind of picture."

Karl pointed out that the loss of 345,000 jobs in a month was worse than any one-month drop in the previous three recessions. There have now been 6 million jobs lost since the start of 2008, with nearly half of them occurring in the first five months of this year.

"That 345,000, while an improvement, is still a lot of jobs," he said. "We're not out of the woods yet."

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