By BARTHOLOMEW SULLIVAN
Scripps Howard News Service
December 31, 2006
Former President Gerald R. Ford, the nation's 38th and only president to assume the office without being elected to it or to the vice presidency, died late Tuesday at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 93 and the country's oldest-ever former president.
The former Michigan congressman chosen by Richard Nixon to become vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned amid scandal, became president on Aug. 9, 1974, when the Watergate scandal and impending impeachment brought Nixon down. Ford served 896 days as president but was defeated in 1976 by Jimmy Carter.
President Bush on Thursday declared Tuesday, Jan. 2, a national day of mourning and ordered all federal offices not critical to national security closed for the day. Ford will lie in state in the Capitol in Washington before a funeral at the National Cathedral and interment near his presidential museum in Grand Rapids.
U.S. Fatalities in Iraq Nearing 3,000
Days before the end of a bloody year in Iraq, the Department of Defense said Friday that 2,983 U.S. military personnel, including seven civilians, have died since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. In addition to the Iraqi war dead, the Pentagon reported 353 U.S. military personnel killed in or near Afghanistan through Dec. 23. The war has cost $350 billion and the Bush administration is asking the incoming Congress to authorize another $170 billion for the fiscal year that began in October.
James Brown, the Godfather of Soul, Dies
James Brown, the tireless entertainer, songwriter, civil rights activist and legend died Christmas morning of heart failure. He was 73.
Brown, whose signature "Say it loud - I'm black and I'm proud" and songs such as "I Got You (I Feel Good)" made him a Soul icon. He had planned to work a gig on New Year's Eve but died after a bout with pneumonia in Atlanta. Before a planned funeral in Georgia, Brown's coffin was paraded through the streets of Harlem Thursday and later set up for viewing at the Apollo Theater, where he and other giants got their start.
Saddam Hussein's Death Sentence Is Upheld & Carried Out
Saddam Hussein's death penalty was upheld by a Baghdad court on Tuesday. The former Iraqi dictator was found guilty in early November in the deaths of 148 Shiite residents of the Tigris River town of Dujail in 1982. The nine-member court reviewing the verdict said the sentence should be carried out within 30 days. The sentence was carried out Saturday.
Major Labor Agreements Near Resolution
More than 800 Alcoa workers are expected to go back to work next week after ratifying a contract that provides an employer contribution to 401(k) retirement plans. Meanwhile, more than 14,000 unionized workers at Goodyear plants were considering a pact with the tire maker. They have been on strike for more than two months.
Climate Change Cited in Protecting Polar Bears
Days after the Bush administration's Interior Department cited climate change as grounds for protecting the endangered polar bear population, scientists reported that a 41-square mile chunk of Ellesmere Island has broken free in the Canadian Arctic.
"Super Saturday" Retail Sales Boost Economy
Retail spending on the Saturday before Christmas reached $8.72 billion and spending for the week ending Dec. 23 was 5.2 percent higher than the same period a year earlier, according to ShopperTrak, which keeps track of retail spending.
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com
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