By THOMAS HARGROVE
Scripps Howard News Service
December 09, 2006
At least 32 U.S. troops died this week in escalating violence throughout Iraq. Thursday was the bloodiest day, with 13 dying in firefights in Al Anbar Province and bombings in Kurkuk. Last weekend was also unusually bloody, with at least 11 American deaths. U.S. forces used air strikes to attack suspected al Qaeda strongholds. The Army said the attacks Friday killed 20 insurgents, including two women. "Al Qaeda in Iraq has both men and women supporting and facilitating their operations, unfortunately," the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.
Iraq Study Group calls for diplomacy and redeployment
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group issued its long-awaited recommendations Wednesday by calling for diplomacy with Syria and Iran and for a withdrawal of most U.S. combat troops by early 2008. The group said conditions in Iraq are "grave and deteriorating" and that President Bush's war policy "is not working." More than 2,900 U.S. troops have died in Iraq. "The ability of the United States to shape outcomes is diminishing. Time is running out," the group concluded. "There are some very good ideas in there," Bush said. However, administration sources have been cool to the group's top suggestions involving negotiations with Damascus or Tehran.
Gates quickly approved to head the Pentagon
In a rush to replace Donald Rumsfeld, the Senate took quick action confirming Robert Gates as the next secretary of defense by holding confirmation hearings Tuesday and voting 95-2 in favor of him Wednesday. Gates bluntly told senators that he does not think the United States is winning the war in Iraq. "What we are now doing is not satisfactory," he said. Although once a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal under President Ronald Reagan, Gates won universal support among Democrats. Only Republican Sens. Rick Santorum and Jim Bunning opposed him. "Mr. Gates has repeatedly criticized our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan without providing any viable solutions," Bunning said.
House investigation takes no action in Foley scandal
The House ethics committee Friday completed its investigation into former Rep. Mark Foley's improper sexual advances to male congressional pages, concluding that congressional leaders and their aides failed to protect the youths. But the panel found no evidence that they violated House rules. The report found that outgoing House Speaker Dennis Hastert was "likely told" about Foley's e-mails to pages by two Republican leaders last spring. "The speaker's reported statement ... that the matter 'has been taken care of' is some evidence that the speaker was aware of some concern regarding Rep. Foley's conduct," the report said. Hastert has said he doesn't recall this.
Investigation widens into ex-KGB agent's poisoning death
London police investigating the fatal poisoning of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko this week focused on a meeting at a London hotel bar where at least 10 people may have been exposed to radioactive polonium-210. Detectives want to interview Andrei Lugovoi, another former KGB agent now in Moscow, about what he did and saw at that meeting. Dr. Michael Clarke of Britain's Health Protection Agency said the poisoning likely was carried out at the hotel bar. Litvinenko died from the rare radioactive material last month, blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for his poisoning. Putin denies this.
Green onions blamed for E. coli outbreak at Taco Bell
Taco Bell executives ordered the removal of green onions from its 5,800 restaurants nationwide Wednesday after private lab tests found evidence of E. coli in its New York facilities. At least 77 people were reported sickened, several with acute kidney failure. "In an abundance of caution, we've decided to pull all green onions from our restaurants until we know conclusively whether they are the cause of the E. coli outbreak," said company president Greg Creed. Public health departments in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have yet to isolate the exact strain of the disease or confirm that green onions were responsible.
Oregon man found dead after family lost
Searchers using a helicopter found the body of James Kim, 35, near Central Point, Ore., Wednesday. Kim's wife, Kati, and their two daughters were rescued Monday. Their car became stuck Nov. 25 in a blinding snowstorm. Kim left his family to try to summon help from the nearby town of Galice, Ore., which he thought was only four miles away. Galice was actually 15 miles away. Kim walked about 10 miles before dying of hypothermia, according to a medical examiner's report. "James Kim did nothing wrong. He was trying to save his family," said Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police.
Scientists find evidence of recent water on Mars
Scientists at San Diego's Malin Space Science Systems lab, which operates the camera on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, announced Wednesday they have found geologic evidence that water still flows on the Martian surface. The group said photographs taken by the surveyor show recent changes in craters on Mars, strongly suggesting water still flows. Liquid water could support life. "This is a squirting gun for water on Mars," said scientist Kenneth Edgett.
Hewlett-Packard to pay $14.5 million for dirty tricks
Hewlett-Packard Co. agreed Thursday to pay $14.5 million to settle a lawsuit over unfair business practices in its attempts to plug news leaks from boardroom meetings. The lawsuit had been brought by California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. Most of the money will go to a fund to assist state and local investigations into privacy rights or violations of intellectual property rights. The company was accused of hiring private detectives who deceived telephone companies into disclosing private phone records of company directors and journalists in an effort to ferret out sources of leaks.
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com
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