GOP senators criticize AG over his response to leaks

Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday fended off GOP demands that he appoint a special counsel outside of the Justice Department to look into national security leaks.

Holder said both he and FBI Director Robert Mueller have already been interviewed by the FBI as part of a fast-moving Justice Department leak investigation.

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said they want the attorney general to appoint a special counsel to look into the leaks, rather than Holder’s choices, U.S. Attorneys Ron Machen and Rod Rosenstein, who hold political appointments.

Graham and Grassley were referring to a procedure by which a special counsel appointed from outside the Justice Department conducts the leak investigations.

Holder praised the two U.S. attorneys as experienced and respected.


More than half of U.S. teens unemployed in the summer

Summer jobs for teens are disappearing.

Fewer than three in 10 American teenagers now hold jobs such as running cash registers, mowing lawns or busing restaurant tables from June to August. The decline has been particularly sharp since 2000, with employment for 16-to-19-year olds falling to the lowest level since World War II.

And teen employment may never return to pre-recession levels, suggests a projection by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The drop in teen employment is partly a cultural shift. More youths are spending the summer in school, at music or learning camps or in other activities geared for college. But the decline is especially troubling for teens for whom college may be out of reach, leaving them with few options to earn wages and job experience.

Older workers, immigrants and debt-laden college graduates are taking away lower-skill work as they struggle to find their own jobs in the weak economy.


Wildfire that’s 60 miles away blankets Denver with smoke

A northern Colorado wildfire 60 miles away wrapped Denver in a pungent cloud of smoke for several hours Tuesday and complicated the aerial offensive against the spreading 68-square-mile mountain blaze, which has killed one person and destroyed more than 100 structures.

Smoke temporarily grounded the air attack on the High Park Fire, centered 15 miles northwest of Fort Collins.

Larimer County authorities let some residents return home – but issued 25 more evacuation notices to residents on the fire’s western flank.


Japanese astronomers see what could be oldest galaxy

A team of Japanese astronomers using telescopes on Hawaii say they’ve seen the oldest galaxy, a discovery that’s competing with other “earliest galaxy” claims.

The Japanese team calculates its galaxy had formed by 12.91 billion years ago, and their research will be published in the Astrophysical Journal. The scientists with the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan used the Subaru and Keck telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea.

Richard Ellis of the California Institute of Technology, a cosmology and galaxy formation expert, said the latest work is more convincing than some other galaxy discoveries.

He said the Japanese claim is more “watertight,” using methods that everyone can agree on. But he said it’s not much of a change from a similar finding by the same team last year.


Opposition demonstration draws tens of thousands

Tens of thousands thronged Moscow’s tree-lined boulevards Tuesday in the first mass protest against Vladimir Putin since he returned to the presidency in May.

The crowd was even larger than at a protest on the eve of Putin’s inauguration, which disintegrated into violent clashes and ushered in a Kremlin crackdown on the opposition. Tuesday’s rally ended peacefully.

Putin himself spoke of the need “to strive for mutual understanding and to find compromise.” But in his address on Russia Day, a national holiday, he also warned of the dangers posed by attempts to split society.

Some protest leaders were called in for questioning Tuesday, a day after investigators raided their apartments, carting away computers and cellphones. The interrogations are to continue throughout the week. Fines for taking part in unauthorized rallies were stiffened under a new law.


Diesel fumes cause cancer, WHO cancer agency declares

Diesel fumes cause cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency declared Tuesday, a ruling it said could make exhaust as important a public health threat as secondhand smoke.

The risk of getting cancer from diesel fumes is small, but since so many people breathe in the fumes in some way, the science panel said raising the status of diesel exhaust to carcinogen from “probable carcinogen” was an important shift.

Kurt Straif, director of the IARC department that evaluates cancer risks, said the fumes affected groups including pedestrians, ship passengers and crew, railroad workers, truck drivers, mechanics, miners and people operating heavy machinery.