By THOMAS HARGROVE
Scripps Howard News Service
July 28, 2006
Despite political pressure to reduce U.S. troop strength in Iraq, President Bush said Tuesday that additional forces will be assigned to patrol Baghdad, where sectarian violence threatens Iraq's new government. "Obviously, the violence in Baghdad is still terrible," Bush said at a White House meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. "This government stands by the Iraqi people." The U.S. Central Command said that 5,000 additional troops in armored vehicles will patrol Baghdad streets, where nearly 100 civilians die each day, many of them victims of reprisal killings by death squads.
Israel's war with Hezbollah intensifies in Lebanon
Israeli attacks against Hezbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon intensified this week as warplanes and artillery battered the region, killing at least 443 Lebanese civilians and four U.N. observers. But Hezbollah has continued a steady barrage of missile attacks that killed at least 19 civilians in northern Israel. The Israeli army reported that 33 troops have died so far and estimates that 200 Hezbollah guerrillas have been slain, although Hezbollah reports only 35 casualties. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will return to the region this weekend.
Heat wave kills at least 132 in California
The record-breaking heat wave throughout California was blamed for 132 deaths, mostly elderly people who perished during two weeks of temperatures of up to 119 degrees in Los Angeles County. The Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services reported 29 heat deaths, well up from its usual average of only one such death a year. Utility officials were forced to cut power in some areas as air conditioners statewide soaked up a record 6,165 megawatts of electricity. Friday was the first day since July 16 that highs remained in the double digits statewide.
Bush, Blair call for troops for Mideast mission
President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed Friday to call for a multinational force to be dispatched quickly to end hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah in the widespread fighting throughout southern Lebanon. "This is a moment of intense conflict in the Middle East. Yet our aim is to turn it into a moment of opportunity and a chance for broader change in the region," Bush said. The two leaders, appearing at a press conference at the White House, also promised to push for a resolution in the United Nations to enforce a lasting cease-fire.
Official resigns amid Big Dig debacle
Under pressure from Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, state turnpike authority chairman Matthew Amorello agreed to resign Thursday in the wake of structural failures in the $14.6 billion Big Dig highway project. A woman was crushed to death July 10 when part of the tunnel system's ceiling collapsed. The governor promised to replace Amorello, a career politician, with someone who has technical training to oversee public-works projects. "I want somebody who knows how the wheels of automobiles and trucks turn and how engineers can do a fine job finishing the work of the Big Dig," Romney said.
Exxon Mobil posts $10.36 billion profit
Exxon Mobil Corp. announced Thursday that it earned $10.36 billion in the three-month accounting period that ended in June, the second-largest quarterly profit ever posted by a publicly traded American corporation. The world's largest oil company said that its earnings, which have soared after gasoline prices hit $3 a gallon, were 36 percent greater than in the same period last year. Exxon Mobil's revenue of $99.03 billion was only surpassed by its own third-quarter revenue last year, which reached $100.7 billion.
Washington state's gay-marriage ban upheld by court
Washington state's Supreme Court voted 5-4 Wednesday to uphold the state ban on gay marriage, a new setback to gay-rights advocates who hoped the state would join Massachusetts in allowing gays to legally wed. Justice Barbara Madsen, writing for the majority, said the ban "is constitutional because the Legislature was entitled to believe that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation, essential to survival." Nineteen gay and lesbian couples had filed suit to overturn the law.
Tour de France winner suspected of doping
American Floyd Landis, winner of the Tour de France, was suspended from his team after the International Cycling Union announced Thursday that he tested for high testosterone levels in a urine sample taken during a key phase of the race. If found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs, Landis will be stripped of his Tour de France title. Officials at Phonak, the Switzerland-based company that sponsored Landis, has asked that a backup sample of urine also be tested. Landis told reporters that "this is not a doping case but a natural occurrence."
Mad-cow cases stifle U.S. trade with Canada
The U.S. Agriculture Department announced Friday that new outbreaks of mad-cow disease in Canada have stopped a plan to increase U.S. imports of beef from its northern neighbor. Canada has reported that seven cows were infected with the disease. Some of the animals were born after the Canadian government set safety regulations barring the use of beef byproducts in feed grain. Currently, only Canadian cattle younger than 30 months are permitted to be sold in the United States. The White House was considering lifting all trade restrictions until the new cases were discovered.
Harris demands apology for comparison to Stalin
Rep. Katherine Harris, a Florida Republican running for the U.S. Senate, demanded an apology Thursday from Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean after he compared her to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. Dean gave a speech Wednesday predicting that the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Bill Nelson, is "going to beat the pants off Katherine Harris." Dean said it was "ethically improper" that Harris was the Florida secretary of state who certified George W. Bush's disputed 537-vote victory in her state in 2000 at the same time she was also honorary chairman of Bush's state campaign. "This is not Russia and she is not Stalin," Dean said.
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