By THOMAS HARGROVE
Scripps Howard News Service
June 24, 2006
Seven Marines and a Navy corpsman were charged with murder Wednesday in the shooting death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad, an Iraqi killed April 26. The troops entered the town of Hamdania, west of Baghdad, in a search for insurgents. When they did not find anyone to arrest, the men allegedly pulled the unarmed Awad from his home, randomly, and shot him. Authorities said they also planted a shovel and a Russian-made AK-47 rifle near Awad's body to make it appear he was an insurgent setting explosives. The eight could face the death penalty if convicted.
Top former Bush official convicted in Abramoff scandal
A federal jury in Washington on Tuesday convicted David Safavian, the top procurement officer in the Bush administration, of lying and obstruction of justice for covering up his dealings with fallen super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. During the eight-day trial, prosecutors said Safavian provided insider information to Abramoff in exchange for lavish trips, including a round of golf at world-famous St. Andrews in Scotland. The verdict makes Safavian the highest-ranking federal official convicted in the scandal so far.
Bodies of two U.S. soldiers recovered in Iraq
The bodies of two Army privates were recovered Tuesday after they were missing for four days following an insurgent attack on their guard post at a hydraulic bridge over a Euphrates River canal south of Baghdad. Iraqi officials said the insurgents tortured Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore., before beheading them. Thousands of U.S. forces searched the neighborhood in hopes of recovering the men. A third man, Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., died in the attack.
Episcopalians promise "restraint" on future gay bishops
The Episcopal General Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, voted Wednesday to "exercise restraint" when considering gay candidates for bishop, following complaints in the worldwide Anglican church that Episcopalians in the United States were wrong to consecrate Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003. Church conservatives wanted an absolute ban on future gay bishops. The convention also elected Katherine Jefferts Schori as the first female presiding bishop in the history of the Anglican church.
New Orleans calls out National Guard after six killings
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin appealed to Louisiana authorities Monday to activate 300 National Guard troops to provide security in the Big Easy after six people, including five teenagers, died over the weekend. The state also assigned 50 state police officers to help patrol city streets, which have become increasingly violent as thousands return following last year's Hurricane Katrina evacuations. One of the victims was fatally stabbed after an argument over beer. "We've had enough," Nagin said.
Bush Cabinet's lone Democrat resigns
The White House said Friday that Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the only Democrat in President Bush's Cabinet, will resign effective July 17. No reason was given for the departure, although Mineta, 74, has been hospitalized for back problems. White House press secretary Tony Snow praised Mineta's record of public service, which includes 20 years in the House, a stint as commerce secretary in the Clinton administration and five years as transportation secretary.
Seven charged with plotting to bomb Chicago's Sears Tower
Seven young men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Miami on Thursday on charges that they were plotting to bomb Chicago's Sears Tower and the Miami federal building. Five are U.S. citizens, two are citizens of Haiti. Prosecutors said all had sworn to support the al Qaeda terrorist movement. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the seven are "homegrown terrorists" who "for whatever reason came to view their home country as the enemy."
Cheney believes he'll testify in CIA leak trial
Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday that he may have to testify about his "state of mind" in the CIA leak trial of his former chief of staff. According to recent court documents filed by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, Cheney's "state of mind" is important to determining if I. Lewis Libby deliberately lied to the FBI and a federal grand jury about how he learned of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity. "I may be called as a witness," Cheney said in a CNN interview.
House report challenges Ney's denials in scandal probe
House investigators released a report Thursday that cast doubt on assurances by Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, that he did not help an Indian tribe represented by lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The 373-page report indicates that Ney assured leaders of the Tigua tribe of El Paso, Texas, at least twice that he would support legislation to reopen the tribe's casino. Ney made the promise once in a face-to-face meeting with Indian leaders and once in a telephone conversation, the report said. Ney has denied that he has ever "engaged in any improper, unethical or illegal activity."
Iraq declares state of emergency in Baghdad unrest
Brazen attacks by insurgents in downtown Baghdad on Friday prompted the new Iraqi government to declare a state of emergency and order a curfew starting at 2 p.m. Anti-government gunmen were seen setting up roadblocks on streets near the heavily defended Green Zone in the center of the city. At least seven police and Iraqi soldiers were killed. The Pentagon reported five U.S. military have died recently, including two soldiers killed by an improvised explosive device planted on a road southeast of Baghdad.
Investigators warn the avian flu mutated in Indonesia
Investigators for the World Health Organization said the H5N1 virus that infected eight members of an Indonesian family last month appears to have mutated slightly. Seven members of the family died from the so-called "avian flu" the virus causes. Health experts have feared for many months that H5N1 would mutate so that person-to-person transmission is possible. The report from WHO indicates a 10-year-old boy appears to have passed the virus on to his father. Some experts say the mutation is not yet sufficiently dangerous as to cause a pandemic.
Police arrest millionaire suspected in sniper shooting of judge
Police arrested multimillionaire Darren Mack, a pawnshop owner from Reno, Nev., Thursday at a Mexican hotel and charged him with the June 12 murder of his estranged wife, Charla Mack, and the sniper-style shooting of Family Court Judge Chuck Weller. Weller, who had presided over the couple's divorce, was shot at the courthouse. He survived and is recovering under guard at an undisclosed location, police said.
Distributed to subscribers for publication by
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com
Publish A Letter on SitNews Read Letters/Opinions