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The week in review
Scripps Howard News Service


August 20, 2006

U.N. cease-fire ends violence in south Lebanon

Israel stopped military operations against an unexpectedly tenacious Hezbollah guerrilla movement Monday following a U.N.-imposed cease-fire that ended a month of hostilities that killed more than 900 people and demolished much of south Lebanon. Thousands of refugees streamed back to the former battleground to survey damage to their homes and businesses. Hezbollah, Syrian and Iranian officials declared victory over the Israeli army.

Suspect arrested in JonBenet Ramsey murder




American schoolteacher John Mark Karr, 41, was arrested in Thailand on Wednesday in the 1996 killing of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, one of the most sensational murder cases in U.S. history. "It's very important for me that everyone knows that I love her very much and that her death was unintentional, and that it was an accident," Karr told reporters. Asked if he was innocent of the crime, Karr replied, "No." But prosecutors urged the public not to jump to conclusions. Karr's ex-wife questioned whether he was even in Colorado at the time of the girl's death.

Judge strikes down warrantless-wiretap program

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor declared Thursday that the National Security Agency's program of monitoring international telephone calls without court warrants is unconstitutional. "There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution," Taylor said in a stinging 43-page decision. Within hours, Justice Department officials appealed her ruling to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "I strongly disagree with this decision. Strongly disagree," said President Bush. "This country of ours is at war."

Former CIA worker convicted in Afghan detainee's death

Former CIA contractor David Passaro, 40, was convicted by a federal jury in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday of assault in the death of Afghan detainee Abdul Wali, suspected of aiding rocket attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Passaro is the first civilian convicted of prisoner abuse in the war on terror. Prosecutors said Passaro kicked Wali and beat him with a heavy flashlight. "No one is above or beneath the laws of the United States of America," said acting U.S. Attorney George Holding. Passaro was found guilty of four counts and faces up to 11-1/2 years in prison.

Mel Gibson pleads no contest

Actor Mel Gibson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated Thursday, ending his legal woes. But the furor continues over the anti-Semitic tirade he made to a Jewish sheriff's deputy during the arrest. Gibson later apologized for what he called "belligerent behavior" and "despicable" remarks. The actor and producer of the "The Passion of the Christ" was stopped at 2:30 a.m. on July 28 while driving on Malibu's Pacific Coast Highway. Under the sentence agreement, Gibson must undergo alcohol rehabilitation and pay fees totaling $1,608.

Photos and video show Castro recuperating after surgery

Cuban officials released photos and a video showing a fatigued but alert Fidel Castro recuperating in bed after surgery for intestinal bleeding. One photo showed Castro holding a newspaper, as if to prove the photograph was recently taken. (There had been rumors that Castro had died.) The Cuban leader was greeted at the hospital by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Monday. Chavez told reporters after the meeting that Castro "will recover sooner than we hoped."

Dell orders recall of 4.1 million computer batteries

In the largest recall in computer history, Dallas-based Dell announced Monday that it is recalling 4.1 million notebook computer batteries because of complaints that the batteries can overheat and cause fires. The expensive lithium-ion batteries were shipped in notebooks sold between April 1, 2004, and July 18 of this year. They are used in Dell's Latitude, Inspiron, XPS and Precision laptop models. The company has set up a Web site ( to help consumers determine if their equipment is involved in the recall.

NASA loses thousands of historic Apollo moon tapes

In an admission that embarrassed NASA and dismayed historians, the U.S. space agency announced Tuesday that it has lost more than 13,000 videotapes from the Apollo program, including footage of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's historic 1969 first walk on the lunar surface. The quality of those images is far better than the flickering presentations Americans watched live at the time, engineers have said. NASA officials believe the tapes are stored somewhere at the vast Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., near Washington.

Ford Motor announces production cutbacks

Ford Motor Co. announced Friday that it will make sharp cutbacks in its 2006 North American production, temporarily closing plants in the United States and Canada after it suffered reductions in market share to foreign automakers. The Detroit-based company said it will cut production by 168,000 vehicles, or 21 percent of the originally planned output, by the fourth quarter of this year. Officials said the reductions are part of a restructuring program that will save the company.

Federal judge rules cigarette makers conspired to mislead public

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled Thursday that America's major cigarette manufacturers conspired for many years to conceal the addictive and hazardous nature of cigarettes. But her ruling did not include punitive fines. "They distorted the truth about low tar and light cigarettes so as to discourage smokers from quitting," Kessler wrote. But she said an appeals-court verdict prevented her from seeking monetary remedies.


E-mail Thomas Hargrove at hargrovet(at)
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Ketchikan, Alaska