GENEVA – The World Health Organization has told its member nations it is declaring a swine flu pandemic - the first global flu epidemic in 41 years.
The move came Thursday as infections climbed in the United States, Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere.
In a statement sent to member countries, WHO says it decided to raise the pandemic alert level from phase 5 to 6, meaning that a global outbreak of swine flu has begun. The decision was made after the U.N. health agency held an emergency meeting on swine flu with its experts.
BERLIN – German and British economy ministers have met to discuss ways to save General Motors' European assets in case a deal with Canadian parts maker Magna International falls through.
German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told reporters today the government only has a memorandum of understanding from Magna to acquire GM unit Adam Opel -- which includes Britain's Vauxhall. It's still talking with other bidders.
PARIS – Air France's chief executive says he is "not convinced" that faulty speed monitors caused the crash of Flight 447.
Pierre-Henri Gourgeon told journalists on Thursday that replacement external speed monitors - or Pitot tubes - for jet models of the same type as the crashed plane arrived three days before the fatal accident.
Airbus ordered the replacements on April 27 after pilots noted a loss of airspeed data in flight on Airbus A330 and A340 models.
WASHINGTON – New crash tests on those fuel-efficient mini cars suggest that crash repairs can be an expensive proposition.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that repairing damage to microcars in low-speed crashes of 3 to 6 miles per hour could cost anywhere from $474 to $3,701.
The Institute conducted low-speed crash tests on the front and back bumpers and the front and rear corners of seven 2009 vehicles. The Kia Rio racked up the most damage in the four tests, averaging $2,705.
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama takes his push for health care reform on the road today, hosting a town-hall meeting in Green Bay, Wis.
The president wants to overhaul the current system to extend coverage to the 50 million people who don't now have health insurance. Lawmakers have been wrestling over whether to add a government-sponsored insurance plan to the mix.
In order to personalize what's at stake, the president will be hearing directly from people about their problems with the system as it is.
WASHINGTON – The director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum says their security training helped save lives when guards quickly shot an elderly gunman who opened fire with a rifle.
Sara Bloomfield also paid tribute to a guard who was killed in the Wednesday attack. She told NBC's "Today" show Thursday that 39-year-old officer Stephen Tyrone Johns was both a terrific professional and a warm, jovial person.
AUBURN HILLS, MI – Alana Beard scored 15 points, Crystal Langhorne added 14 and the Washington Mystics improved to 3-0 for the first time in franchise history with a 75-69 victory over the Detroit Shock.
Rookie Marissa Coleman added 13 points to help Washington end a six-game losing streak against the defending WNBA champion Shock (1-2).
Taj McWilliams and Katie Smith had 14 points each for Detroit.
Detroit led by 10 points early in the second quarter, but the Mystics finished the half with a 23-4 run to take a 38-27 lead.
CHICAGO – CHICAGO (AP) - Justin Verlander pitched a six-hitter for his first victory ever at U.S. Cellular Field as the Detroit Tigers defeated the Chicago White Sox 2-1.
Jim Thome hit his 552nd career home run and John Danks pitched 7 1-3 strong innings, but the White Sox still fell 6 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Detroit. Adam Everett homered for the Tigers, who have won five of their last six games.
PITTSBURGH – No matter what happens in Detroit when the puck drops for Game 7 tomorrow night, the Penguins have gotten further than last year.
In 2008, the season ended one game earlier against the Red Wings, who took Game 6 in Pittsburgh and paraded around the Mellon Arena ice with the Stanley Cup.
Not that the Penguins would feel any better to see the Red Wings celebrate again at home. But Pittsburgh at least knows it has a shot to win the Cup with one win in a place that hasn't produced many happy moments for them.
LANSING, MI – A state House committee voted unanimously Tuesday to require insurance companies to cover autism treatment for Michigan's children.
There are an estimated one and a half million people living with autism in the nation. According to the U-S Department of Education the number of diagnoses increases by about 15 percent every year, making it one of the most pervasive developmental disorders in the county.
WASHINGTON – The wind, a favorite power source of the green energy movement, appears to be dying down across the United States. And the cause, ironically, may be global warming - the very problem wind power seeks to address.
The idea that winds may be slowing is a speculative one.
Scientists disagree whether that is happening. But a first-of-its-kind study suggests that average and peak wind speeds have been noticeably slowing since 1973, especially in the Midwest and the East.
BOSTON – BOSTON (AP) - The Boston Globe is reporting that The New York Times Co. has hired Goldman Sachs to manage the possible sale of the financially struggling newspaper.
The Globe, citing two potential buyers who wished to remain anonymous, reported Wednesday that Goldman Sachs has begun accepting bids for the 137-year-old newspaper. That was before the Boston Newspaper Guild, the Globe's largest union, voted Monday to reject $10 million in pay and benefit cuts demanded by the company.
WASHINGTON – WASHINGTON (AP) - The head of a congressional panel overseeing the federal financial system bailout fund says Washington initially underestimated how much banks in America were struggling to stay afloat.
Elizabeth Warren says the approval of a repayment to the government of $68 billion by several of the banks receiving taxpayer assistance amounts to "phase two of the economic recovery" in the system.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. trade deficit edged up in April as crude oil prices hit the highest level since December, but the imbalance so far in 2009 is well below last year's total as the recession dampens demand for imports.
The Commerce Department says the deficit rose for a second straight month in April, climbing 2.2 percent to $29.2 billion. That was slightly higher than economists' expectations.
GARNER, NC – Officials say the body of one person killed in an explosion at a Slim Jim factory in North Carolina has been recovered. Crews are still trying to reach another body and one employee is unaccounted for.
The search and rescue chief says that crews will enter the ConAgra Food plant in Garner through its roof and work slowly because the structure is unstable.
DETROIT – Italian automaker Fiat says it has closed a deal to take over Chrysler's good assets, forming a new company and clearing the way for the struggling Chrysler to emerge from bankruptcy protection.
Fiat signed on to the deal early today after the U.S. Supreme Court late yesterday refused to hear an appeal of lower court rulings that approved the asset sale.
The deal means that Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne will take over control of Chrysler.
WASHINGTON – WASHINGTON (AP) - The focus to boost new car sales and get old gas guzzlers off the road now turns to the Senate after easy House approval.
The "cash for clunkers" bill, which passed the House 298 to 119, would give consumers instant vouchers of up to $4,500 when they turn in older, gas guzzling vehicles and buy new, more fuel-efficient ones.
The aim is to help the ailing auto industry, which has seen sales drop by more than a third in just two years.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is ready to issue broad new principles on how to compensate top financial sector executives.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke want to give the Fed and the Securities and Exchange Commission greater powers to set compensation guidelines across the financial sector.