SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


The week in review
Scripps Howard News Service


August 13, 2006

British foil plot to use liquid explosives on airliners

British officials announced Thursday the arrests of 24 people in England suspected of plotting to use liquid explosives hidden in carry-on luggage to destroy as many as 10 airliners flying from Britain to the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security posted for the first time its highest threat alert for flights headed from the United Kingdom to the United States, and all other flights were raised to the second-highest alert level, causing long lines at dozens of airports. Most liquids are now banned from carry-on luggage. Meanwhile, five Pakistanis and two Britons of Pakistani origin were arrested in Pakistan under suspicion of being "facilitators" of the plot. U.S. officials described the sophisticated plot to strike multiple targets simultaneously as a hallmark of al Qaeda.




BP shuts down critical Alaska oil pipeline

Heavy corrosion inside a 20-year-old pipeline forced petroleum giant BP to shut down the Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, oil field this week. BP President Bob Malone issued a public apology for the maintenance oversight that will stop 400,000 barrels of crude a day, or 8 percent of domestic crude production. The company said it does not know how long the 16-mile pipeline will be idle or even how much of it has been damaged. The shutdown comes at a time of uncertain Middle Eastern oil supply and production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico that still have not fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina.

SitNews' Editor's Note: Senior BP corporate officials called Alaska Governor Frank H. Murkowski late Friday to inform him that aggressive testing of flow lines and transit lines on Prudhoe Bay's western half provided sufficient evidence that the company could safely operate that half of the field. BP officials asserted that they were confident that there would be no repeat of the corrosion and leaks that prompted the company to shut down the eastern half last Sunday.

Murkowski said, "The shutdown of the eastern side reduced daily production by approximately 200,000 barrels. Daily production from the western side currently totals approximately 120,000 barrels, but we are assured that can be ramped up to about 190,000 by the end of August."

Lieberman defeated in Democratic primary, runs as independent

Three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., was defeated Tuesday in a Democratic primary by cable television owner Ned Lamont in a campaign that focused on Lieberman's support of the U.S. military mission in Iraq. Lieberman lost, 48 percent to Lamont's 52 percent, in very heavy primary voting. As he conceded defeat, Lieberman announced he'll run as an independent in the November general election. Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger is unlikely to take advantage of a split Democratic vote following a discloser that he gambled at a Connecticut casino under an assumed name and has been sued for gambling debts owed to casinos in New Jersey.

U.S. warns of al Qaeda attacks in India

The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, issued warnings Friday that foreign militants, perhaps members of al Qaeda, are planning a campaign of bombings in New Delhi and Bombay next week. U.S. officials sent e-mails to American citizens in India warning that the attacks are expected on India's Independence Day, which is Tuesday. Indian authorities said they are taking precautions. Guards armed with assault rifles began searching vehicles and checking IDs on roads leading to New Delhi's international airport.

Israel rejects cease-fire, expands military action in Lebanon

The United States and France agreed Friday on a final draft resolution, to be taken to the U.N. Security Council, for a cease-fire to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. Diplomats were uncertain whether the Israelis would comply, however. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered an expanded ground offensive in southern Lebanon. Israeli warplanes and artillery attacked suspected Hezbollah positions to gain control of strategic high ground in the south. Israeli jets also exploded a bridge connecting northern Lebanon to Syria, killing at least a dozen civilians. Hezbollah said it sent a barrage of 150 missiles into Israel, but officials estimated that only half that number entered Israeli airspace.

Leno grills cyclist Landis on drugging charges

NBC talk-show host Jay Leno had some tough questions for beleaguered Tour de France champion Floyd Landis on Tuesday on why the American cyclist tested positive for high testosterone levels. Landis offered multiple theories, including the possibility that "I ingested something that caused the tests to be that way." He also said that "I'm beginning to wonder" about the testing process. "I give them a sample, I don't know where it goes," Landis said. Landis' Swiss racing team has fired him, but it may be months before Landis is officially stripped of his title.

Part of Boston's Big Dig reopened after fatal collapse

Frustrated Boston motorists got a slight respite Wednesday when a key Big Dig ramp connecting the Ted Williams Tunnel with the approach to Logan International Airport was reopened to traffic. The tunnel system was closed July 10 after falling concrete panels crushed a female motorist. "This makes a huge difference," Gov. Mitt Romney said when announcing the reopening. But 90 percent of the $14.6 billion Big Dig project remains closed. Inspection of remaining tunnels may take months.

One-time Interior employee pleads guilty in Abramoff scandal

Roger Stillwell, a former Department of Interior employee, pled guilty Friday to a misdemeanor charge of failing to report hundreds of dollars' worth of football and concert tickets provided by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff, who was lobbying for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands at the time, in 2003 gave Stillwell four Washington Redskins tickets and two tickets to a Simon and Garfunkel concert. Stillwell worked for Interior's Insular Affairs Office, which oversees the island government. He faces up to a year in prison.

Ohio congressman Bob Ney retires amid scandal

Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, abandoned his re-election bid Monday after Republican Party officials urged him to step down amid his troubles in the widening corruption scandal centered on convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The six-term incumbent said he is innocent but wanted to spare his family. "I must think of them first, and I can no longer put them through this ordeal," Ney said. Republican strategists, struggling to retain the GOP's 15-seat House majority, urged Ney to quit in time for a replacement to be selected.

Former CIA contractor on trial for detainee's death

Former CIA contractor David Passaro began a federal trial in Raleigh, N.C., this week on assault charges in the death of Afghan detainee Abdul Wali, who was beaten and died in American captivity in 2003. Wali was suspected of aiding rocket attacks against U.S. troops. Army paratroopers testified that Passaro hit Wali with a metal flashlight and kicked him in the groin. Dr. Reinhard Motte, a medical examiner from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., testified Friday that Wali died from "blunt force abdominal and pelvic injuries." Passaro is the first civilian charged in the death of suspected terrorists held by the United States.

Bush officials seek criminal protections in War Crimes Act

The Bush administration has proposed changes to the War Crimes Act that would retroactively protect federal policymakers from criminal charges when approving humiliating and degrading treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism, The Washington Post first reported Wednesday. The White House then issued a statement that the bill "will apply to any conduct by any U.S. personnel, whether committed before or after the law is enacted."

Ex-talent agent wins $12 million in poker world series

Former Hollywood talent agent Jamie Gold, 36, bluffed his way to a $12 million grand prize Friday in the World Series of Poker competition. After bluffing his way through one hand, he convinced former restaurant manager Paul Wasicka, 25, of Westminster, Colo., who held two 10s, to bet all of his remaining chips on the hand. Gold held two queens. They were the finalists from a field of 8,773 entrants to the annual Las Vegas poker championship.


E-mail Thomas Hargrove at hargrovet(at)
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