Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread
45 stories, Business and Science to come.
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1 AP IMPACT: Security firms join Somali piracy fight
By KATHARINE HOURELD, Associated Press Writer
53 mins ago
|NAIROBI, Kenya – Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms – some with a reputation for being quick on the trigger in Iraq – are joining the battle against pirates plaguing one of the world’s most important shipping lanes off the coast of Somalia.
The growing interest among merchant fleets to hire their own firepower is encouraged by the U.S. Navy and represents a new and potential lucrative market for security firms scaling back operations in Iraq.
But some maritime organizations told The Associated Press that armed guards may increase the danger to ships’ crews or that overzealous contractors might accidentally fire on fishermen.
2 US considering implications of nuclear decline
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
Sun Oct 26, 10:08 am ET
|WASHINGTON – The mighty U.S. arsenal of nuclear weapons, midwived by World War II and nurtured by the Cold War, is declining in power and purpose while the military’s competence in handling the world’s most dangerous arms has eroded. At the same time, international efforts to contain the spread of such weapons look ineffective.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, for one, wants the next president to think about what nuclear middle-age and decline means for national security.
Gates joins a growing debate about the reliability and future credibility of the American arsenal with his first extensive speech on nuclear arms Tuesday. The debate is attracting increasing attention inside the Pentagon even as the military is preoccupied with fighting insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The unconventional tools of war there include covert commandos, but not nuclear weapons.
3 Kuwait moves to prop up major bank after losses
By DIANA ELIAS, Associated Press Writer
2 hrs 57 mins ago
|KUWAIT CITY – Kuwait’s Central Bank stepped in Sunday to prop up one of the country’s biggest banks and said it was considering guaranteeing deposits in domestic banks – in one of the first concrete signs that the global financial crisis may next hit the oil-rich Gulf.
In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, the government said it would deposit $2.7 billion into the Saudi Credit Bank to help lower-income citizens deal with financial difficulties, the country’s Al-Ektisadiya newspaper reported.
The two moves came just a day after finance ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council held an emergency meeting to echo assurances, which they have repeatedly voiced over the past few weeks, that the region’s banks face no liquidity crisis.
4 Trash is turning into key power source for NJ
By DAVID PORTER, Associated Press Writer
48 mins ago
|KEARNY, N.J. – Standing atop the 400-acre 1-E landfill, you get a panoramic view of the Meadowlands sports complex to the north and the New York City skyline to the east. You’re also standing on a critical part of New Jersey’s, and the nation’s, energy future.
Decades worth of household trash, construction waste and assorted refuse buried in the landfill is providing electricity to thousands of homes.
“It’s like you’re buying back your own garbage, but in a different form,” said Tom Marturano, director of solid waste and natural resources for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, which owns and operates the 1-E site.
5 McCain campaign: Palin returned most GOP clothes
By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press Writer
9 mins ago
|WATERLOO, Iowa – Republican John McCain said Sunday that one-third of the $150,000 that the GOP spent on clothing and accessories for his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and her family, “is given back.”
McCain strategist Mark Salter said “about a third of it was returned immediately” because they were the wrong size, or for other reasons.
Salter’s explanation was the first time the campaign has said any of the items had been returned.
6 Rebels seize east Congo army camp, thousands flee
By MICHELLE FAUL, Associated Press Writer
12 mins ago
|KIBUMBA, Congo – Rebels seized an east Congo army base and the headquarters of a refuge for some of the world’s last mountain gorillas in heavy fighting Sunday that sent thousands of civilians fleeing, U.N. officials and rebels said.
An unknown number of soldiers, rebels and civilians were killed in the renewed fighting in North Kivu province, according to civilians who said the onslaught began around 2 a.m.
Government troops raced down the road north from the provincial capital of Goma to reinforce a counterattack Sunday morning. One tank careened into a group of fleeing civilians and killed three teenage boys, civilians said.
7 Central banks poised to act
By Jan Dahinten and Andrew Roche, Reuters
Sun Oct 26, 9:36 am ET
|SINGAPORE/LONDON (Reuters) – Central banks are likely to launch new coordinated emergency action this week to calm panic in financial markets, which could be rocked further by data pointing to global recession.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to cut rates sharply following share selloffs and currency collapses in developed economies and the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America.
Advance third-quarter U.S. economic growth data due on Thursday is expected to show a 0.5 percent contraction in gross domestic product after 2.8 percent growth the previous quarter.
8 Fed to slash rates as recession looms
By Ros Krasny, Reuters
1 hr 15 mins ago
|CHICAGO (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to cut lending rates at a two-day policy meeting this week in response to unprecedented turmoil in financial markets and the threat of a global recession.
The consensus among Fed watchers is for a half-point cut in overnight rates to 1 percent, which would be the lowest level since June 2004. The central bank is also expected to signal a willingness to lower borrowing costs again if needed — especially with inflation pressures fading fast.
“The economic and financial stability backdrop could not be more challenging,” said Robert DiClemente, chief U.S. economist at Citigroup. “The deteriorating economic outlook suggests still greater scope for action.”
9 Probe clears IMF chief Strauss-Kahn in affair
By Lesley Wroughton, Reuters
Sat Oct 25, 9:46 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund’s board on Saturday cleared Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of harassment, favoritism and abuse of power following an inquiry into his affair with an IMF economist.
While the board stopped short of disciplinary action, its leader, Shakour Shaalan, acknowledged there was concern among female staff about Strauss-Kahn’s behavior.
Shaalan said he personally warned Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, against further improper conduct. He said the board had accepted Strauss-Kahn’s apology.
10 Lithuania’s Conservatives on verge of ballot box comeback
by Marielle Vitureau, AFP
Sun Oct 26, 11:05 am ET
|VILNIUS (AFP) – Lithuania’s Conservatives Sunday looked poised for power for the first time since 2000, after a run-off vote that expected to cement their first-round defeat of the ruling Social Democrats two weeks ago.
“We expect the result of the election will be such that we can form a government together with the centre-right and liberal parties,” Conservative leader Andrius Kubilius told reporters.
Recent polls have suggested that the Conservatives could secure up to 50 seats, double what they held in the 141-seat parliament elected four years ago.
11 Financial markets brace for crucial week
1 hr 28 mins ago
|PARIS (AFP) – US economic figures and a string of company results out next week could push panic-stricken traders to drag the world’s economies closer to recession, financial analysts said Sunday.
“If the fall in markets has its origins in the fear of an international recession, then the coming week will be very bad,” analyst Carl Weinberg, of High Frequency Economics, said in New York
“The economic calendar is full of indicators that will be uniformly atrocious.”
12 World leaders pledge financial reform as gloom deepens
Sat Oct 25, 4:14 pm ET
|BEIJING (AFP) – World leaders vowed Saturday to overhaul the global financial system in the face of recession fears, but US President George W. Bush urged nations to “recommit” to free markets despite economic turmoil.
After a week of growing economic gloom and plunging stock markets, Asian and European leaders meeting in Beijing promised wide-ranging reforms while UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also called for quick change.
“Leaders pledged to undertake effective and comprehensive reform of the international monetary and financial systems,” the 40-member Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) said in a statement released late Friday.
13 Financial crisis? ‘Slow down’, says Slow Food founder
by Mathieu Gorse, AFP
Sat Oct 25, 3:19 pm ET
|TURIN, Italy (AFP) – The best response to the global financial crisis is to “slow down” and return to local economies that offer better food and help protect the environment, said the founder of the Slow Food movement.
“We are tired of the policy of growth at any price, and of this greed-driven financial world that has destroyed real values,” Carlo Petrini told AFP at the movement’s biennial gathering in Turin, northern Italy.
“This consumer society creates waste, people have been reduced to the role of consumers. We need to slow down,” he said.
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14 Civil War re-enactor’s injury shakes die-hards
By STEVE SZKOTAK, Associated Press Writer
Sat Oct 25, 10:56 am ET
|RICHMOND, Va. – In the passionate world of Civil War re-enactors, authenticity is everything – from uniforms with historically correct stitching to hardtack made from scratch.
A battle re-enactment last month pushed realism to the limits: a retired New York City police officer portraying a Union soldier for a documentary film was shot in the shoulder, possibly by a Confederate re-enactor.
The shooting sent the 73-year-old to the hospital and left the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office in rural southeastern Virginia with a Civil War-style CSI case. Investigators used film to piece together what happened and have narrowed a suspect to one re-enactor.
15 Californians float a plan: Return of the zeppelin
By TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press Writer
Sat Oct 25, 10:10 pm ET
|SAN FRANCISCO – Zeppelins, the giant floating airships used to carry passengers and drop bombs until the 1930s, haven’t been seen in American skies for more than 70 years.
Now a California company is bringing the iconic aircraft back to the United States, with plans to offer aerial tours of the San Francisco Bay area in a newly built zeppelin. It’s one of just three in the world – the others are in Germany and Japan.
Airship Ventures Inc.’s zeppelin arrived in the Bay Area on Saturday, passing over the Golden Gate Bridge en route to its new home at Moffett Field, a former naval air station in Mountain View, about 40 miles south of San Francisco.
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16 Sand snatchers shrink Caribbean beaches
By DANICA COTO, Associated Press Writer
Sun Oct 26, 11:18 am ET
|SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Ahh, the Caribbean. Sun, surf. But where’s the sand?
It is disappearing at alarming rates as thieves feed a local construction boom.
Caribbean round grains, favored in creating smooth surfaces for plastering and finishing, are being hauled away by the truckload late at night. On some islands not much bigger than Manhattan, towns and ecologically sensitive areas are now exposed to tidal surges and rough seas.
17 Japan’s burgeoning class: Working Poor
By SHINO YUASA, Associated Press Writer Shino Yuasa
Sun Oct 26, 11:23 am ET
|TOKYO – In one of the world’s wealthiest nations, Junpei Murasawa is a poor man.
He skips meals to make ends meet. A bachelor, he lives in a tiny apartment in Tokyo, sharing a kitchen, toilet and shower with nine neighbors. He doesn’t have health insurance because he can’t afford the premiums.
The 29-year-old laborer is one of a burgeoning class in Japan – the working poor. The number of Japanese earning less than $19,610 a year surged 40 percent from 2002 to 2006, the latest data available, the government says. They now number more than 10 million.
18 Indian government ally drops Sri Lanka resignation threat
By S. Murari, Reuters
1 hr 20 mins ago
|CHENNAI, India (Reuters) – A key regional ally of the Indian government has withdrawn a threat to stop supporting the coalition over the escalating conflict in Sri Lanka, Indian Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee said Sunday.
Mukherjee was given reassurances by the chief minister of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, whose ruling party had threatened to pull out in protest against the Sri Lankan government’s intensifying offensive against the LTTE.
“The Chief Minister assured me that he will not precipitate any crisis in the UPA government,” Mukherjee said.
19 China says working with West to avoid Darfur strife
By Alaa Shahine, Reuters
1 hr 1 min ago
|KHARTOUM (Reuters) – China, the biggest foreign investor in Sudan, said on Sunday it was trying to work with Western powers to lessen the fallout from war crimes charges filed against Sudan’s president.
Liu Guijin, the special Chinese envoy on Darfur, said he held talks in the United States, Britain and France to discuss the charges brought by the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
He accused Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in July of masterminding a campaign of genocide in Sudan’s Darfur.
20 Iraqis await resurrection of scarred Mosul
By Missy Ryan, Reuters
Sun Oct 26, 5:51 am ET
|MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – Five years of war have reduced much of Mosul to rubble, and U.S. and Iraqi authorities are pledging to deliver on long-time promises to rebuild as they launch a new campaign to rout a stubborn insurgency.
Mistrust runs deep among residents of this ethnically and religiously diverse city, which U.S. forces see as one of their last battlegrounds against al Qaeda militants as violence drops sharply across most of Iraq.
Near a giant U.S. military base, American humvees rumble down “Baghdad Highway.” The thoroughfare is lined by buildings flattened into heaps of cinderblock or pockmarked by mortar blasts and bullets.
21 Dalai Lama losing hope for Tibet autonomy: aide
Sun Oct 26, 6:50 am ET
|NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The Dalai Lama has lost hope of reaching an agreement with Beijing over Tibetan autonomy under Chinese rule, but is not going into retirement, a senior aide said on Sunday.
“Because of lack of response from Chinese we have to be realistic, there is no hope,” Tenzin Taklha told Reuters.
“His holiness does not want to become a hindrance to the Tibetan issue, and therefore has sent a letter to the parliament regarding what options he has.”
22 Pakistani, Afghan elders to meet to ponder violence
By Zeeshan Haider, Reuters
2 hrs 26 mins ago
|ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani and Afghan political and ethnic Pashtun tribal leaders meet in Islamabad on Monday to try to agree on ways to tackle rising militant violence including the possibility of opening talks with the Taliban.
The meeting, dubbed a Pakistan-Afghanistan “Jirgagai,” or mini-jirga, is a follow-up to a grand assembly in Kabul last year in which delegates called for talks with Taliban militants to end bloodshed in both countries.
A jirga is a consultative system the proudly independent Pashtuns have used for more than 1,000 years to settle affairs of the nation or rally behind a cause.
23 Brazilians begin voting in runoff local elections
Sun Oct 26, 11:51 am ET
|SAO PAULO (AFP) – Brazilians began voting early Sunday in runoff municipal elections, in which the ruling coalition of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva faces a tough challenge from the conservative opposition.
The incumbent mayor for Sao Paulo, Latin America’s most economically vital city, looked likely to win the vote against a rival put forward by Lula, according to polls.
Gilberto Kassab, a centre-right politician from the Democrats party, has a comfortable eight-point lead over Marta Suplicy, a former tourism minister in Lula’s leftwing government, a poll published by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper Thursday showed.
24 Italians flood Rome in anti-Berlusconi protest
Sat Oct 25, 3:51 pm ET
|ROME (AFP) – Italy’s opposition staged a giant rally in Rome Saturday, claiming 2.5 million people had taken to the streets to protest against tycoon Silvio Berlusconi’s right-wing government.
In a demonstration organised by Walter Veltroni’s centre-left Democratic party (PD), left-wing activists marched to the Circus Maximus under a sea of red and green opposition flags proclaiming that “another Italy is possible.”
Veltroni, whose PD is riding low in the polls after its defeat to Berlusconi’s new conservative People of Freedom (PDL) in May, called the protest the biggest in recent years.
25 Powerful Iraqi party claims U.S. killed innocent man
By Leila Fadel, McClatchy Newspapers
Sat Oct 25, 6:07 pm ET
|BAGHDAD – The most powerful Sunni Muslim party in Iraq issued an angry statement Saturday accusing Americans of covering up the killing of an innocent member of the party.
The Iraqi Islamic Party of Vice President Tariq al Hashimi suspended all “official communication” with American military and civilian officials in Iraq Saturday until it receives an “explanation . . . official apology . . . and a vow to stop the campaign of harassment against the party.”
The statement followed an incident Friday in which U.S. and Iraqi forces raided a home six miles west of Fallujah in predominantly Sunni Anbar province, detained one man and killed another. The Islamic Party accused the American military of detaining five innocent members of the party and killing Sajed Yasseen Hameed , 44, “in his bed in cold blood.”
26 IMF Tries to Recover from Strauss-Kahn Affair
By BRUCE CRUMLEY / PARIS, Time Magazine
54 mins ago
|The Director General of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Dominique Strauss-Kahn has saved his skin. Now, many people wonder if he’ll save the world.|
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27 Fraud a problem for 11 states with bottle deposits
By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press Writer
20 mins ago
|LANSING, Mich. – “Seinfeld” characters Kramer and Newman once tried driving a mail truck full of empty cans and bottles to Michigan to profit from the state’s dime deposit law.
But illegal returns are a real-life phenomenon and are no laughing matter in 11 states that encourage recycling by adding a refundable deposit to beer, soft drink and other beverage containers.
Michigan would have at least $10 million a year more for environmental cleanup if not for people redeeming containers that were bought in other states. California could be spending more on recycling programs and a conservation corps for at-risk young adults.
28 Wall Street workers leaving NYC for fresh start
By VALERIE BAUMAN, Associated Press Writer
15 mins ago
|ALBANY, N.Y. – Bankers and brokers looking to escape the financial meltdown are scrambling to relocate their families, possessions and rarified talent far from Wall Street to places such as Florida, Chicago, Milwaukee, Virginia and Asia.
Travis Lacey left investment bank Jeffries & Co. and Wall Street behind in September to work for Baird in Chicago. He also left behind the nagging sense of worry that had plagued him since his company had started announcing layoffs earlier in the year.
“Anyone in that environment, you never know what’s going to happen,” Lacey said. “There are a lot of good bankers that unfortunately are at the wrong place at the wrong time, especially in New York.”
29 Calif. gay marriage ban becomes big money race
By LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer
50 mins ago
|SAN FRANCISCO – At least 64,000 people from all 50 states and more than 20 other countries have given money to support or oppose a same-sex marriage ban in California, reflecting broad interest in the race that some consider second in national importance only to the presidential election.
Ten days before the vote on Proposition 8, campaign finance records show that total contributions for and against the measure have surpassed $60 million, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.
That would be a record nationally for a ballot initiative based on a social rather than economic issue, campaign finance experts say. It also eclipses the combined total of $33 million spent in the 24 states where similar measures have been put to voters since 2004.
30 Growing Asian-American vote sheds passive past
By JESSE WASHINGTON, AP National Writer
2 hrs 45 mins ago
|LORTON, Va. – For a long time, says Loc Pfeiffer, his fellow Asian-Americans were passive participants in American politics. But things are changing.
“Asians don’t like confrontation or being adversarial, but that’s politics,” says Pfeiffer, a 41-year-old lawyer who was 6 when his parents brought him to America from Vietnam.
“The more we’re raised and bred here, the less likely we are to be passive. So much of our culture, it’s a very, very obedient culture. … You don’t argue with the government. You don’t argue with Big Brother. There’s the assumption that you give up all your individual rights for the whole. Which is astounding to me, because I’m American now.”
31 New Merck HIV drug works in untreated patients
Sun Oct 26, 10:36 am ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A new class of HIV drugs can help control the virus in untreated patients, researchers reported on Sunday.
Merck and Co. hopes the findings will open a new market for its drug Isentress, the first drug on the market in a new class called integrase inhibitors.
Isentress worked slightly better than an older HIV drug called efavirenz in suppressing levels of the AIDS virus, the researchers told a meeting of the American Society of Microbiology and the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
32 McCain shrugs off plunging polls in White House race
by Rob Woollard, AFP
2 hrs 51 mins ago
|WATERLOO, Iowa (AFP) – Republican presidential nominee John McCain on Sunday brushed off opinion polls indicating he is set to lose against Barack Obama, insisting that his bid for the White House is still afloat.
McCain, who has been trailing Democratic rival Obama by more than 10 points in some national and state polls, told NBC television’s Meet the Press that his campaign was “doing fine.”
“Those polls have consistently shown me much farther behind then we actually are,” McCain said. “We’re doing fine.
33 Economic slump delays ride into retirement sunset for US seniors
by Virginie Montet, AFP
1 hr 14 mins ago
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – US seniors are having to put off their golden years of retirement as the global economic slump affects their savings and pensions and the cost of living climbs.
At least seven in 10 Americans older than 45 expect they will have to continue to work beyond 65, the usual age of retirement, a study by the AARP, a huge lobbying and interest group for people over 50, showed Monday.
Most of them said they would have to continue to work because they will need the money or will need to support members of their family.
34 Does Anyone Care About a Trillion Dollar Deficit?
By MARK KUKIS / WASHINGTON, Time Magazine
1 hr 13 mins ago
|When out-of-control federal spending runs smack into sluggish tax revenues, red ink splashes all over Washington. In September, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the deficit this year would be $407 billion, a sum that reflected the $168 billion economic stimulus package approved by President Bush in February and the estimated $188billion spent for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2008. Add to that the $700 billion financial bailout package passed in October, plus another economic stimulus package likely to take shape in the coming months that could cost as much as $175 billion, and you’re talking about an all-inclusive fiscal 2008 deficit exceeding $1 trillion.|
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35 McCain cautious on auto industry bailout
By Donna Smith, Reuters
Sun Oct 26, 12:29 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Sunday declined to embrace the idea of $15 billion more in government aid for the struggling U.S. automobile industry but did not rule it out.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” McCain was asked about a suggestion by a Michigan economist that the government provide $15 billion cash to help the U.S. auto industry survive the financial crisis.
McCain noted the U.S. Congress recently authorized $25 billion in low-interest loans to help the industry retool to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles.
36 Bush leaves successor a world of trouble
by Olivier Knox, AFP
1 hr 6 mins ago
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President George W. Bush’s successor inherits a world of troubles come January, including wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a defiant Iran, and a US economy battered by the global financial crisis.
The new president will take the reins of a limping superpower facing deep doubts overseas about the limits of its strength, and sharply diminished US standing even among Washington’s closest friends, recent studies find.
“America’s moral leadership and decision-making competence will continue to be questioned at home and abroad, despite the arrival of new leadership in Washington,” a Georgetown University working group said earlier this year.
37 Republicans brace for night of doom in Congress
by Stephen Collinson, AFP
53 mins ago
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – Republicans who fear seeing the White House fall to Democrat Barack Obama are bracing for more pain with the deepening economic crisis set to scythe through their ranks in Congress.
Still reeling from 2006 mid-term polls which saw Democrats wrench away their control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Republicans look set to take further losses in a toxic political climate.
Reverberations from the economic crisis look set to help Democrats widen majorities in both chambers, and the party is envisioning years of dominance in Congress.
38 Back to the future in an Obama White House
by Jitendra Joshi, AFP
42 mins ago
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – If Barack Obama is elected president in just over a week, his administration can draw on a deep bench of Democratic grandees who hark back to the stability and prosperity of Bill Clinton’s time.
If Republican John McCain can pull off an upset on November 4, judging by his advisors, his own cabinet is likely to be staffed with hawkish figures on foreign affairs and instinctive deregulators in economic policy.
Obama’s advisors include such luminaries of the Clinton White House as Larry Summers, who is touted by some pundits as staging a possible return to the Treasury as the United States grapples with its worst economic crisis in years.
39 Al-Qaeda propagandist to go on trial at Guantanamo
by Lucile Malandain, AFP
2 hrs 30 mins ago
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – Al-Qaeda propagandist Ali Hamza Ahmad al-Bahlul will go on trial in front of a US military tribunal at the Guantanamo prison Monday, with the Pentagon saying it expects he will appear despite his vows earlier this year to boycott the proceedings.
Only the second person to face trial in Guantanamo since the facility opened in 2002 for hundreds of war-on-terror detainees, Bahlul, 39, will face terrorism and murder charges under the special military tribunal system set up for Guantanamo detainees.
In the first test of the “war crimes” tribunals — the first time they have been used since World War II — military jurors in August found Osama bin Laden’s former driver Salim Hamdan guilty of providing material support to terrorism but rejected stronger terrorist conspiracy charges the government lodged.
40 Guantanamo trials flout US legal fundamentals: critics
by Lucile Malandain, AFP
1 hr 51 mins ago
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – The military “war crimes” commissions created to try US war-on-terror detainees held in Guantanamo bear only a partial resemblance to normal US courts and are heavily criticized for flouting fundamental principles of American law.
Created in 2006 by the US Congress, the commissions have been put to the test just once, in the trial of Salim Hamdan, the former driver of Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden.
The result of that trial, concluded in August, was mixed: defense lawyers say he was denied basic rights under the special military commissions legislation, and the military jury found him guilty of supporting terrorism.
41 Bush renews support for Georgia, Ukraine NATO entry
by Olivier Knox, AFP
Sat Oct 25, 1:37 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President George W. Bush on Friday assured Georgia and Ukraine of US support for both former Soviet states to join the NATO alliance despite Russia’s fierce opposition.
“Other nations seek a path to NATO membership, and they have the full support of the United States government,” Bush said as he signed NATO accession protocols for Albania and Croatia, bringing them one step closer to membership.
“Today I reiterate America’s commitment to the NATO aspirations of Ukraine, Georgia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Montenegro,” said the US president, who has made the alliance’s eastward expansion a foreign policy priority.
42 Obama woos middle class, McCain tars him as ‘socialist’
by Francoise Kadri, AFP
36 mins ago
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – In the final sprint to the White House, Democrat Barack Obama hopes to win over middle-class America with his economic plan, while John McCain charts a traditional Republican course of lowering taxes, even for the wealthy.
Earlier in the year, with several months to go before the US election November 4, neither candidate had unveiled many details of their socio-economic plans to prospective voters.
But as steadily souring US economic trends — property foreclosures have skyrocketed and unemployment rose to 6.1 percent in September, heightening fears of recession — snowballed into a full-bore global crisis, the rivals are now locked in a vicious battle over who whose economic plan would do better for the US public.
43 Terrorist ‘tweets’? US Army warns of Twitter dangers
Sat Oct 25, 2:22 pm ET
|WASHINGTON (AFP) – A draft US Army intelligence report has identified the popular micro-blogging service Twitter, Global Positioning System maps and voice-changing software as potential terrorist tools.
The report by the 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, posted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), examines a number of mobile and web technologies and their potential uses by militants.
The posting of the report on the FAS site was reported Friday by Wired magazine contributing editor Noah Shachtman on his national security blog “Danger Room” at wired.com.
44 Bitter infighting over ‘diva’ Palin in McCain campaign: report
Sun Oct 26, 12:45 am ET
|WATERLOO, Iowa, (AFP) – Bitter infighting between aides to John McCain and Sarah Palin erupted into public view in a sign of tension gripping the Republican camp with the election 10 days away.
A series of recent surveys have suggested Palin’s presence on the ticket is hurting McCain’s chances in the November 4 election, at a time when Democratic rival Barack Obama has surged clear in most key polls.
The inquests into what has gone wrong with McCain’s campaign appear to have already begun, according to reports, with Palin’s camp blaming the Arizona senator’s senior advisers for mismanaging her contribution.
45 US pledges $320m to fight bird flu at Egypt talks
Sat Oct 25, 12:02 pm ET
|CAIRO (AFP) – The United States will provide an additional 320 million dollars to aid in the fight against bird flu, a US official said on Saturday during an international bird flu conference being held in Egypt.
The US had pledged 629 million dollars last December during a conference in New Delhi that raised 2.7 billion dollars to fight against the avian flu, which the UN says could cause a global crisis.
“The United States is pledging an additional 320 million dollars in international assistance for avian and pandemic influenza,” said Paula Dobriansky, US Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs told the conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.